6 Fall Foliage Getaways For When You Want to Escape the DC-Area

Cabin Fever: In the fall, Savage River Lodge’s luxurious guest cabins are surrounded by colorful foliage.

Frostburg, Maryland

Right in the middle of more than 700 acres of Maryland State Forest, Savage River Lodge is a popular place to stay when the colors are at their peak in mid-September, usually mid-October. Guests can choose from 18 two-story luxury log cabins and eight glamping yurts. There is a welcoming central lodge to gather. Despite its restraint, the dining room offers upscale New American cuisine like vegan red lentil curry and wild boar stew.

Driving time from DC: About three hours.

What’s nearby: Hikers can drive to the highest points in Maryland (Backbone Mountain), West Virginia (Spruce Knob), and Pennsylvania (Mount Davis).

Autumn activity: There are almost 100 geocaches within a ten mile radius. For newcomers, the lodge offers directions and rewards you with a glass of wine for finding the four nearby caches. And don’t miss the annual Heritage Days Festival, September 9-11.

Pretty cool: You’ll find a basket of homemade muffins and orange juice on your doorstep every morning, plus a dog biscuit if you brought Fido with you.

pet friendly? Yes, in select cabins.

Photo by Oleksandr Mokrohuz.

Stanley, Va

Surrounded on three sides by Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, the luxurious Shenandoah Yurt, with its dramatic skylight, vaulted ceiling and picture windows, is an unusual family or friend getaway. The two bedrooms and loft sleep up to eight people, and amenities include a hot tub, wood stove, large deck, and pool table. Luxurious extras such as sleep masks and a dozen organic, locally sourced eggs await guests.

Driving time from DC: Two hours.

What’s nearby: Visit the largest caves in the eastern United States, Luray Caverns, about 25 minutes away.

Autumn activity: See the fall color palette change at sunset or sunrise from one of more than 70 vantage points along Skyline Drive.

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Pretty cool: Big-tire e-bikes are available for $50 a day; Drive 15 minutes to Shenandoah National Park and pedal along Skyline Drive.

Pet friendly?: Yes, with a $50 fee and prior approval.

Photo by Caroline Meyers.

Timberville, Virginia

Showalter’s orchard offers three beautifully appointed one bedroom cottages (sleeps two) amidst more than 30 varieties of apple trees and two peach trees on a hillside overlooking the Shenandoah Valley. The cottages have fully equipped kitchens and bathrooms. In addition to a family-run orchard dating back to the 1900s, there’s a cider spritzer on the premises; A free tasting for two people is included with every stay.

Driving time from DC: Two hours.

What’s nearby: There are several wineries in the area, including the family-run Cave Ridge Vineyard, about 25 minutes away.

Autumn activity: Pick a piece of apple from the orchard and prepare an apple pie in your kitchen (pans and recipe provided) while sipping on the house sweet or hard cider.

Pretty cool: Instead of the cottages, you can also stay in a renovated 1970 Airstream, complete with a mini-kitchen, bathroom, and an outdoor living area where you can sit by the fire pit — under lights on trees — and enjoy the cool mountain air.

Pet friendly?: no

Photo by Stacie Griffith.

Bittinger, Maryland

For the kid in everyone there is Ella’s enchanted tree houses– three wooden houses on stilts in the middle of 22 hectares of forest next to the state forest. (A fourth treehouse is under construction.) “It’s a recreational retreat for families to relax and spend time outdoors,” says co-owner Stacie Griffith. Each with their own unique design, these are nothing like your childhood backyard treehouse. They have full kitchens, beds, bathrooms and heating/air conditioning, and some have barnwood sliding doors, rustic Edison bulb lighting, reclaimed beams, handcrafted swings and fireplaces. Don’t feel like cooking? Restaurants can be found within a 20-minute drive.

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Driving time from DC: Two hours and 45 minutes.

What’s nearby: The Wisp Ski Area is 20 minutes away. Take the scenic chairlift ride for a bird’s-eye view of the foliage surrounding Deep Creek Lake and McHenry Cove.

Autumn activity: Browse for fresh cheese at FireFly Farms or meet alpacas at Alpaca Acres Farm and Fiber.

Pretty cool: The DayDreamer, the tallest of the houses, is wheelchair accessible and ADA compliant.

Pet friendly?: no

Photo by Juan Sierra.

Matthew, West Virginia

Form two tiny houses (with a third in the works). Lost River vacation, on 22 wooded acres between the Allegheny and Shenandoah Mountains. The four- and six-person custom-built log cabins impress with their style and use of space, with the larger ones having a patio and hot tub. Breakfast and s’mores await you in a recyclable bag. There is even an electric car charger on site. Oh, and high-speed WiFi.

Driving time from DC: Two hours and 15 minutes.

What’s nearby: Lost River State Park is five minutes away and offers archery, horseback riding and a swimming pool. Try the challenging hike to Cranny Crow Overlook.

Autumn activity: “Fall is a magical time here – the weather is perfect for enjoying our hot tub and our sauna should be ready by fall,” says co-owner Jane Jonas. You can also pick your own apples at Paugh’s Orchard in Quicksburg, Virginia, about 40 minutes away.

Pretty cool: Owned by three Gallaudet University alumni, the mini-resort is owned by the deaf, with houses built by deaf artisans and artwork created by deaf people. It’s an attempt to raise awareness of the talent and vibrancy of the deaf community.

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Pet friendly?: Yes

Etlan, Virginia

In a large field surrounded by woods, with a wide view of the mountains beyond, Big Dipper Ranch houses four large glamping tents on raised platforms, each sleeping up to four people. Fall is a great time to visit. “In fact, it was a clear, cool fall day when we first saw the sugar maple-lined pond in full fall color,” says co-owner Lisa Buchanan. “Jud and I looked at each other and knew this was the place we wanted.” Each tent has its own covered patio, queen bed, fire pit, outdoor Adirondack chairs, grill and picnic table. The bathroom situation?

Driving time from DC: Almost two hours.

What’s nearby: The trailheads for the popular Old Rag and White Oak Canyon hikes are less than 20 minutes away.

Autumn activity: Stargazing is outstanding – with little light pollution, the property enjoys unobstructed views of the Big Dipper and other constellations.

Pretty cool: The fish pond on the property is stocked and there is a floating dock.

Luxury according to camping standards: Each tent has its own bathroom tent on the aft deck with an eco-friendly composting toilet and sink. Camping shower bags are available and can be hung in the sun for hot showers. For meals, bring a cooler and a BBQ or dine at nearby restaurants.

Pet friendly?: Yes, but animals are not allowed on the beds.

Noria Quintos

Alexandria-based Norie Quintos travels the world as a contributing editor for National Geographic Traveler. She is also a content strategist, advising destinations and travel companies on how to tell their stories. On Twitter and Instagram she is @noriecicerone.

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