Four Great Autumn Lake Escapes

by  Donna Heiderstadt | Sep 22, 2010
Mirror Lake Inn
Mirror Lake Inn / Photo courtesy of the property

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When the leaves turn golden and there’s a nip in the air necessitating a cozy wool sweater, it’s a wonderfully romantic time to take a spur-of-the-moment trip to a scenic lake – be it rustic and relaxing or chic and sophisticated. Here are four of my favorite lakeside locales in the U.S. and Canada:

Lake Placid This upstate New York hamlet, which hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics, takes the gold for small-town charm and romantic Adirondack décor. Whether you seek relaxation (quite walks, spa treatments, canoe paddles) or action (hiking, mountain biking, or even bobsledding – with or without snow), there’s plenty to keep you satisfied. Stay at historic Mirror Lake Inn, set on tranquil Mirror Lake (shown above; courtesy of Mirror Lake Inn) and located just a short walk from the shops and restaurants of downtown Lake Placid, from $225/night. Foodies might consider splurging on the inaugural Food & Wine Weekend at the luxurious Lake Placid Lodge, for three days and nights (Oct. 21-24) of guest-chef-prepared dining, from $2,995, including accommodations, breakfasts, wine-paired dinners and more.

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Lake Tahoe Visit two states, California and Nevada, during one getaway while enjoying the spectacular cobalt-blue serenity of pine-tree-studded Lake Tahoe (shown at left; courtesy of Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino) backed by the rugged Sierra Mountains. For a more laid-back escape, stay on the less-developed North Shore and visit the scenic sights and attractions on the South Shore during day trips. The newest resort is The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, set mid-mountain on the California side at Northstar ski area (just a 15-minute drive from the lakeshore) with 170 rooms and an alpine-themed spa, from $279/night. Gambling’s legal on the Nevada side, so romantics can combine panoramic splendor and a bit of nightlife at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino, which mixes lake vistas with full-scale resort services (golf, spa, dining) and a 24-hour casino, from $210/night.

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Lake Louise Head north of the border to Canada to enjoy crisp days and starry nights at one of Alberta’s most beautiful alpine lakes. What’s more, two equally scenic smaller lakes, Peyto and Moraine, are just a short drive away.  Wake up to surreal glacial blue water views backed by snow-dusted serrated peaks at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, a circa-1911 landmark (shown at right; courtesy of The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise) that in recent years has adopted a proactive environmental stewardship with an emphasis on conservation and education. It’s also a great base for hikes around and above the lake, from $279/night.

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Lake Michigan Lakeside autumn romance can be big, bustling, and blustery, too – just head to Chicago to enjoy the Windy City’s sophisticated multicultural offerings. Fall brings farmers’ markets and street fairs, plus all the restaurants, theaters, and museums the city is known for. Parks, beaches, and attractions line the city’s 24 miles of lakefront (shown at left; courtesy of City of Chicago/GRC), ready to be explored. If you’re in the mood for whimsical romance, stay at Hotel Monaco Chicago, which offers playfully colorful rooms and complimentary evening wine service, from $309/night. For contemporary-chic surroundings with museum-quality artwork and astounding city views, book a room at The Park Hyatt Chicago, where luxury surrounds you at every turn, from $375/night.

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