Fall is the best season. We know this to be true based upon its sole importance in ending Houston's summer hellscape each year, bringing with it opportunities to wear things other than sweat, forever-damp jean shorts and the stench of doom. Also, not having to worry about giant storms (hurricane season ends on November 30) is pretty cool, too. So, thank you, fall. You're the best.
Here now are five resort getaways that speak to this most perfect of seasons.
Owls in the Ozarks
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a 10,000-acre park that sits on the edge of Missouri’s Ozark Mountains and connects to Big Cedar Lodge, which Travel + Leisure has hailed as the top Midwest resort for the past three years. The lakeside retreat and park were founded by outdoorsman Johnny Morris, who also happened to found Bass Pro Shops, so outdoor activities obviously abound.
There’s bass fishing, skeet and clay shooting, horseback riding, guided hikes, wildlife safaris, foraging, tram tours, and even golf. You name it, they've got it—including a treehouse that appeared on "Treehouse Masters,”a historic working mill, and a world-class nature center.
But coolest of all for fall is the park's “Owl-o-Ween,” happening all October-long with “Owl Prowls," guided twilight hikes to call and listen for owls; Nature Lab owl workshops; and, of course, live owl encounters courtesy of the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in nearby Springfield.
Flights are in the $250 to $300 range for travel in November.
Deciduous Beauties in Jackson Hole
If you head to Jackson Hole this season, you’ll run into far fewer travelers than in the busy winter and summer months, but far more wildlife. The most active time for animals here are in the months following summer—deer, elk and moose are in breeding season (look away, children!) and bears are actively seeking out food for winter (whatever you do, don't run). Of course, the Aspens will be turning yellow and orange, along with the willows and shrubs, transforming lake and canyon trails into autumnal wonderlands.
Head to the base of Grand Teton National Park, just a short drive to Yellowstone National Park, where you’ll find Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which offers a multitude of fall activities, including: wildlife tours, hiking and mountain biking, hot air balloon rides, horseback riding, trout fishing, and more. But don't overlook the smaller, boutique Noble House properties in Teton Village—Hotel Terra Jackson Hole, a modern Western hub for adventure-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts, and the Teton Mountain Lodge, also a great ski lodge option with a beautiful rooftop pool area.
Flights are in $400 range for November.
Hearth Happy in New Mexico
Located on the Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico (between Albuquerque and Santa Fe) the tranquil Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa just underwent a $2.5 million renovation to its reception and living room area—where you can now relax in the muted, modern interior while cozying up to its new fireplace, or taking in the views of the Sandia Mountains in the new outdoor seating area. This is all about total tranquility. A $5 million guestroom renovation was completed in 2017 as well. Ample opportunities for taking in the natural splendor near the Rio Grande abound—there’s an 18-hole championship golf course, stables for horseback riding, and even the Tamaya Cultural Learning Center. The resort hosts pueblo bread baking demonstrations and tribal dance performances.
Flights are in $250 to $350 range for October or November travel into ABQ or SAF.
Two in Texas
Howl-O-Ween heads to Grapevine's Great Wolf Lodge from October 1 to 31, with festivities including a popular Trick-or-Treat trail, Howl-O-Ween House, Monster Bash Dance Parties and more. This family-friendly resort also offers nightly story time for kids, along with a waterpark, kids' fitness programs, yoga trails, character breakfasts and more (though there is the spa and “wine down” packages for adults, just FYI).
And for all you pumpkinheads, top family destination The Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa rolls out Pumpkinpalooza for Thanksgiving this year. Yes, the Thanksgiving feast held here on November 22 will offer a “pumpkinpalooza” station with dozens of pumpkin-infused desserts, and after all you sugarplums have gone to sleep, the resort will transform overnight into a winter wonderland complete with an oversized decorated tree in the lobby, extravagant decorations throughout the property and a gingerbread village by the resort’s culinary team.