Fall weather means cool breezes, cozy sweaters and outdoor festivals under the autumn moon. If you’re hoping to plan an adventure this season, consider timing your travel with some of our favorite events to experience the best of local flavor.
Sonoma County Harvest Fair
If you’ve ever wanted to experience an authentic grape stomp, you’ll get your chance October 2 to 4 at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. For more than 40 years, the hilarious, action-packed and well-attended World Championship Grape Stomp has put teams against each other in a three-day competition that has led to bragging rights and a $1,500 prize. The fair also includes food and wine events of the highest caliber, from tastings and chef demonstrations to a competition between wineries for the prestigious gold medal — an award that has put some California vintners on the map. Stay at the Four-Star Hotel Les Mars, located in Healdsburg, to have a quiet respite from the spirited festival activity.
Oktoberfest, New York City
Oktoberfest takes place for two weeks, from September 19 through October 5. Regularly hailed as one of the best festivals in New York City, the event occurs throughout the city, from pubs and restaurants like Bierhaus (think lederhosens and 24 different beers on tap) to biergartens such as Zum Schneider and The Standard’s Biergarten. Whatever you do, don’t miss the September 19 German-American Steuben Parade, which begins at noon and marches along Fifth Avenue from 65th to 86th streets. Though Manhattan is stacked with luxury hotels we’d happily toast to, for this trip we suggest going with The Surrey, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel located just blocks from the heart of the parade.
Festa dell’Autunno, Newport Beach, California
You don’t have to travel all the way to Italy to experience it, thanks to the Festa dell’Autunno. Hosted October 8 through 11, Festa will feature food, wine, art, music, all-star chefs, children’s activities, pasta-making lessons and more — all against the luxurious backdrop of Five-Star The Resort at Pelican Hill. Guests can purchase tickets for the entire weekend or for specific events. Choose from a Saturday afternoon street festival, Sunday morning jazz brunch, or a multi-course meal prepared by chef Alessandro Bocci (Saturnia’s All’Acquacotta) or one from chef Sebastiano Lombardi (Tuscany’s Ristorante Il Pellicano). No matter what you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival
As if you need another reason to travel to the Caribbean, the good folks in Barbados are making it that much harder to ignore the crashing of the waves. The 6th edition of the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum festival will take place November 19 through 22 and will highlight a host of acclaimed chefs, vintners and rum, the silky, historic spirit of the island nation. Tour distilleries, enjoy chef demonstrations (dynamic toques like Anne Burrell and Marcus Samuelsson participated a year ago) and, when the events are over, relax oceanside during your stay at amenity-filled Sandy Lane Hotel. While most folks cool down for the fall, you’ll be getting all the sun you can manage.
National Apple Harvest Festival, Arendtsville, Pennsylvania
For the 51st year running, Arendtsville will host the National Apple Harvest festival during the first two weekends in October (Oct. 3 to 4 and Oct. 10 to 11). The festival is perfect for the whole family, and admission includes an antique car show, steam engine displays, orchard tours, a petting zoo and appearances by the Pennsylvania Apple Queen. Though the apple pizza and other treats are a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Philadelphia, savvy travelers will make the trek happen in order to score a posh stay at The Rittenhouse, a Four-Star hotel that keeps the weekend’s fruity theme alive at its spa (the grapefruit-enhanced Ageless Body treatment) and Four-Star restaurant Lacroix (nectarine-topped foie gras, porcelet with raspberry).