Leaf-peeping families love fall for its crisp weather and dazzling foliage. At these mountain resorts in West Virginia, Colorado, and New York, the activities are endless. Go horseback riding, golf, and hike with your kids. In nearby towns tackle ziplines, ride a train to a majestic mountain peak, and savor the brilliantly colored waterscape from the deck of a boat.
Like any grande dame, The Greenbrier, a historic Allegheny Mountain resort, makes her status immediately clear. The White Sulphur Springs’ hotel is formidable with a stately columned entrance but is also welcoming and unique. Decked out in Dorothy Draper red and green floral fabrics and black and white checkerboard floors, the lobby pulls you in with its iconic flare. Kids instantly pick up on the colors and the vibrancy. Best of all for families: the Southern charmer is anything but a dull dowager: The Greenbrier engages families with plenty of outdoor activities, and the backdrop of red and yellow oaks and maples adds energy.
Step into the dappled scenery on horseback rides and hikes. Falconry and off-road driving, unavailable at many resorts, add to The Greenbrier’s allure. The precision and speed of the hawks dazzle. Motoring over boulders, through mud, and up steep hills shows how thrilling going 2-mph can be. Teens 16 and older with a driver’s license can get behind the wheel for an “epic” experience.
At Adventure Zone’s supervised program, kids 6- to 12-years-old golf, paint, pond fish, and help feed the horses. The program operates Friday to Sunday in the fall.
After a happy day, your children will be more amenable to following the dinner dress code that the resort requests for those ages 10 years and older. To lessen pushback, skip the main dining room dinners, where meals run long and dress-to-impress is expected. Opt for the more casual, Italian-inspired Forum, or skip sitting up straight altogether to munch on room service pizza from the Pizza Shoppe as you and your kids discuss the next day’s exciting activities.
A Rocky Mountain gem, The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, combines western scenery with world-class service, earning decades of Five Diamond and Five Star ratings. Don’t be put off by the formal accolades. The Broadmoor’s roster of outdoor activities makes the resort a prime pick for families, especially those with hard-to-please teens.
Hike, horseback ride, and mountain bike with your adolescents through pine and fir forests dotted with aspens the color of spun gold. Sign up for the Wild West Experience and challenge each other to hit targets with tomahawks, arrows, and pellet guns. Although it’s a workout to climb the 224 steps to the top of Seven Falls, the sounds of the cascading water soothe the spirit.
Even blasé teens whoop with joy when gliding across a canyon on a zipline, traversing suspension bridges, and rappelling 180-feet down a rockface at Soaring Adventures, two zipline courses owned by The Broadmoor. A ride on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway takes you nine miles up the mountain through woods, then beyond the tree-line to the 14,115-foot high summit for sweeping mountain views.
After your adventures, relax by a fire in the hotel’s lobby before dining at one of the resort’s 17 restaurants. You can go formal, but grade-schoolers and teens wear big grins at Play, the Broadmoor’s combination bowling alley and eatery serving burgers, salads, sandwiches, and shakes.
Situated on 70-acres that hug Lake George, The Sagamore makes a good base for discovering local history, hiking the Adirondack Mountains, and enjoying the Lake George region’s waterscapes. The reflection of the russet and yellow oaks and birches in the lakes and rivers makes the fall scenery doubly delightful.
New York’s Adirondack Park, a pastiche of six million acres of small towns, mountains, forests, and waterways, pops with brilliant colors in fall.
Enjoy panoramic lake views from The Sagamore’s decks, patios, and main lobby and from the deck of a tour boat. The mist-shrouded islands and the old and new mansions of Millionaire’s Row come into view on a Lake George sightseeing cruise, available from the resort and the Lake George Steamboat Company.
Enjoy more watery vistas from Shepard Park in the Village of Lake George. Among the region’s many hiking trails, the Pinnacle Preserve’s red trail rewards you and your kids with gorgeous views of mountains and a lake.
Two forts attest to the region’s military importance. At Lake George’s Fort William Henry Museum, learn about the 1755 structure and its role in the French and Indian War. Watch soldiers fire muskets and cannons and discover ghostly doings on the Haunted History tour. At the confluence of Lake Champlain and Lake George, Fort Ticonderoga held a strategic position that controlled transportation routes. At the fort, chat with boat builders and soldiers and watch Fife and Drum corps drills.
Back at The Sagamore, relax by splashing in the indoor pool. Make S’mores with your kids at the Saturday night sing-alongs.