This season, drive in to the cities instead of out, for a getaway full of good eats, luxurious stays, and pampering spa treatments—and sure, a little leaf-peeping while you’re at it—and be sure to do it in style with the right set of wheels.
1. How You'll Get There and What to Bring
First thing’s first: Any road trip demands the perfect vehicle and a versatile, well-packed bag: Our pick to get you on the road is the Buick Encore, which we test drove and comes enabled with a 4G Wifi hotspot so you never have to miss a post from @Latina on Instagram. Plus, this compact SUV comes packed with safety features like blind spot detection that will put any road tripper at ease and it has enough room for you and your crew and all of your over-stuffed weekender bags. Here's what you should make sure to pack:
Smith Sidney Sunglasses in White Honey Tortoise Block: To take in all the sites, these color-blocked sunnies have lenses that render colors for their true clarity. ($169, smithoptics.com); Joanna Vargas Twilight Sheet Mask: Keep your skin looking fresh for all the road trip selfies. ($75, nordstrom.com); Parker & Clay Merkato Signature Tote: This luxe leather bag fits anything and everything you need to carry and is handcrafted in Ethiopia with a great story behind it. ($155, parkerclay.com); Harvest Snaps Black Bean Habanero Crisps: Speaking of snacks, you'll want to munch on this spicy bean-based snack in the backseat. (Target stores and harvestsnaps.com for locations); UGG Lars Leather Boot: Easily unzip out of these leather sunburst-studded boots when you're in the car, and back into them when you stop at a rest stop to pick up some snacks. Bonus: You can also rock this rocker boot to the bar at night. ($225, ugg.com); Rohto Dry-Aid Lubricant Eye Drops: For when your eyes get dry due to climate change...or just a wild night of partying. ($13.99, amazon.com)
2. Austin, TX: What to DoThe Blue Room at Lake Austin Spa Resort; Photo: Courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort
In the live music capital of the world, there's always a show going on no matter your musical taste. Austin's easy pace and big city access means you can spend time relaxing with friends at Barton Springs just as much as you can grabbing cocktails at King Bee and Midnight Cowboy, trying out the Austin Eats Food Tour, and exploring uber cute Rainey Street (Tip: Take one of the many light-up pedicabs you'll find there when the bars come alive at night.). There's also a great Graffiti Wall Crawl highlighting some of the city's best graffiti art.
For an extra special treat, especially if you’re traveling with your S.O., check in to Lake Austin Spa Resort and take the water taxi service available to guests to get there. On the way, you'll pass some of the most beautiful homes in all of Austin on a thrilling speedboat ride which quickly gets you to the spa, otherwise it's about a 40 minute drive from downtown. This destination spa offers one-of-a-kind treatments like energy balancing with Tibetan singing bowls and aqua stretching/myofascial release—all at a gorgeous proprety located right on the lake. Carve out some extra time to enjoy the spa pool, tour the herb garden, and take advantage of their relaxation room, known as The Blue Room, which is arguably one of the most well-appointed you'll ever see.
3. Austin, TX: Where to StayW Austin Living Room; Photo: Mark Knight for W Austin
While there are plenty of hotels in town, The W Austin continues to reign supreme. Aside from a superb location in the walkable 2nd Street district and just next door to the legendary Austin City Limits music venue, the hotel offers its guests a P.A.W. program (AKA pets are welcome) which means you can stick your pooch in a carrier and bring him or her along to experience a custom W pet bed and pet treat. After pampering your pooch, you can pamper yourself at W Austin's AWAY Spa, which offers a unique Ashiatsu Massage where the therapist safely walks on your back as part of their massage technique. If the weather is warm enough in the fall—and considering it's Austin, it very well might be—you can take one last dip in the pool, which is located on a fourth-floor roof deck with some of the most incredible skyline views the city has to offer (read: It’s a thirst trap Instagram opportunity!)
4. Austin, TX: Where to EatCow Tipping Creamery; Photo: Courtesy of Cow Tipping Creamery
Cane Rosso for Neapolitan-style pizzas in Texas (yes, you read that right) will tempt you to bust your gut—but don’t!—because Cow Tipping Creamery and its insane ice cream creations are right next door and worth every last bite. For trendy Mexican fare, check out La Condesa and don’t even think about leaving Austin without getting your fix at Fixe. It’s here you’ll find some of the best biscuits in town along with many other too-damn-good noshes like fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and white BBQ, and striped bass with spring beans and farro verde. Word to the wise—come to Austin hungry.
5. Las Vegas, NV: What to DoJennifer Lopez Las Vegas Show at Planet Hollywood; Photo: Getty Images
Pay your respects to the Queens—Jennifer Lopez and Celine Dion—by catching their over-the-top acts “All I Have” and “Celine”, respectively. J.Lo’s show is exactly what you’d expect: high energy, lots of dancing, a wind machine, and a ton of tiny sequins/rhinestones. This fall is also your last chance to catch Britney Spears’ high-energy “Piece of Me” show, with its final performance on December 31st.
When you’ve officially had one too many Sin City nights out at Marquee, or JEWEL, or Omnia, or all of the above, check out 50 Shades! The Musical Parody, a sleeper hit that you wouldn’t expect to be as LOL-worthy as it is. Or, make time for some pampering at two of Vegas’s best (and biggest) spas—the beautiful ESPA Spa, located at Vdara Resort, which offers luxurious treatments and some of the best steam, sauna and aqua therapy rooms in town. Meanwhile, at Spa Bellagio, the Traveler’s Recovery Massage utilizes a suite of essential oils that are layered on your body for maximum therapeutic affect.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll also love checking out The Titanic Exhibit, where you can get up close and personal with a large piece of the sunken ship itself along with other extraordinary items recovered from the doomed ship's maiden voyage.
6. Las Vegas, NV: Where to StayAria Hotel Pool; Photo: Courtesy of the Aria Resort & Casino
Not only is this famed hotel one of the best luxury casino resorts on the strip, but Aria has all the extra amenities one could need for a weekend in Vegas: three incredible pools, mobile check-in, concierge provided transportation around Vegas, an in-house salon and spa for pampering, and countless bar, lounge, and club options to spend the evening getting your Bachata on.
Off the strip, the SLS Las Vegas has lots of trendy bars and restaruants (Cleo, Katsuya, Monkey Bar) and rooms with the best “pretty mirror” you’ll ever find. Travelers with large groups should check out the Linq Hotel & Casino, which is steps from the High Roller ferris wheel attraction and offers a variety of suite options decorated in a contemporary, boutique hotel feel.
7. Las Vegas, NV: Where to EatMB Steak; Photo: Jim Decker/Courtesy of MB Steak
MB Steak, the steakhouse tucked inside The Hard Rock Hotel has an upscale, trendy-but-not-too-trendy vibe. Don't miss the octopus, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, and porterhouse, which could feed a small family! With culinary influences from Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, Venezuelan Chef Lorena Garcia's new restaurant, Chica, is the hot spot in town for any Latin foodie in need of dinner and drinks, or just a fun brunch spot for your very own favorite chicas. Order the crab and shrimp salpicon, asado negro arepas, and every single ceviche possible. Zuma’s Izakaya-inspired menu, which includes sushi and robata grilled fare is another solid option, as is Spanish chef Julian Serrano’s Lago, which overlooks the Bellagio fountain show and has some of the tastiest Iberrico ham around, along with a veal-stuffed agnolotti pasta you do not want to miss.
8. Charleston, SC: What to DoBoone Hall Avenue of Oaks; Courtesy of Charleston Area CVB
Spend an afternoon exploring Charleston’s rich history by foot, focusing your time South of Broad Street—it’s home to some of the most wonderful architecture not only in the South, but in all of America. Then, cruise up King St.—Charleston’s “5th Avenue”—which has a mix of every store imaginable, from Vineyard Vines and Club Monaco to West Elm, plus other great home décor stores and lighting boutiques. At Brackish Bow Ties, you’ll find a shop focused on making elaborate men’s bowties with feathers if you’re looking to bring back a gift for a guy, plus a few old-school jewelry stores to find something for yourself.
No trip to Charleston would be complete without a stop at Boone Hall Plantation, site of some of the most alluring Live Oak trees in the south on a still-operational plantation. Here, you can see the gorgeous property—which was one of the filming locations for The NotebookI—through a tour of the house, which is still a private residence upstairs. There's also a tour on Gullah culture as well as an educational slave history presentation.
After a weekend on your feet, consider taking a sunrise or sunset hatha-style yoga class at Reverb to reset yourself. Located in a hip and up-and-coming part of town, Wagener Terrace, the light in this box-style studio, with its frosted floor-to-ceiling windows, floods right in for a truly magical yoga experience.
9. Charleston, SC: Where to StayBelmond Charleston Place Lobby: Photo: Courtesy of Belmond
Belmond Charleston Place is within walking distance to everything you’d want to do, and its handsome rooms are attached to a shopping center with some of the most splurge-worthy stores in town. On “Upper King”, which is Charleston code for uptown on King St., Walk Away Stays' 563 King has chic apartment-suite style rooms with great architectural details and one of the only downtown rooftops available to hotel guests. There’s also the charming Old Village Post Inn, a B&B with just six rooms built just outside the city in neighboring Mount Pleasant.
10. Charleston, SC: Where to EatCharleston Grill Restaurant; Photo: Courtesy of Belmond/Joe Vaughn
Charleston Grill, a culinary icon, which is located at the Belmond, is known for its foie gras and crab cakes and an air of Old World southern decadence. Meanwhile, the line for brunch spot Hominy Grill will literally be around the corner, but it’s well worth it for their famed “Charleston Nasty Biscuit” alone. And in a town known for its food, you’ll need a way to wash it all down. At Bay Street Biergarten, the German-style beer hall, you can pour most of the featured craft beers right from your table, which makes for an awesome beer tasting experience amongst friends
11. Montreal, Quebec: What to DoHolt Renfrew Montreal; Photo: Courtesy of Holt Renfrew
Soak up the views from the rooftop bar of the Hotel William Gray—the fancy boutique hotel where Lady Gaga recently stayed—that overlooks the entirety of Old Montreal. Spend the first part of your afternoon at the Montreal Fine Arts Museum, one of Canada's top-tier cultural institutions. Then, check out the shopping culture at Holt Renfrew, the Canadian equivalent to Saks Fifth Avenue, which will not disappoint if you're in the mood to take home an extra-special souvenir. Most importantly, get dropped off in an Uber in the heart of Mile End (Boulevard St.-Laurent at Avenue Fairmount Ouest), one of Montreal’s coolest neighborhoods with tons of one-of-a-kind home furnishing, décor, and clothing shops.
12. Montreal, Quebec: Where to StayLe Mount Stephen Hotel; Photo: Courtesy of Le Mount Stephen Hotel
Le Mount Stephen Hotel, the brand-new luxury hotel built alongside the attached George Stephen house, a stunning 19th century preserved manor, has 90 posh rooms and sky-loft suites, some with an upstairs sleeping loft, all with one of the best rainforest shower heads you’ll ever experience—period. Down the street is the Le Centre Sheraton Montreal, a more budget-friendly option that has a modern high-rise look and feel, and most importantly, is steps away from the Saint Catherine’s, Montreal’s shopping district which is any style-seeker’s dream.
13. Montreal, Quebec: Where to EatLawrence Restaurant; Photo: Courtesy of Lawrence Restaurant/Instagram
Fiorellino for wood fire burning pizza that will make you think you’re in Italy; Ferreira Café for fine Portuguese seafood; BARROCO for supper-club vibes; Le Club Chasse et Pêche for Québécois fish and game in a romantic lodge setting; Lawrence for a chill brunch with a hipster vibe; and the #1 must-try place, Joe Beef—just trust us.
14. Los Angeles: What to DoNext Health; Photo: Courtesy of Next Health
Be *very* L.A. and stop into Next Health, located in West Hollywood, a celeb-favorite medspa that focuses on longevity programming. Here, you can try out their IV therapies and vitamin boosts—that address aging, increased energy, and detoxing—and their stand-up, full body cryotherapy chamber, one of the best La La Land has to offer. Next Health also offers telomere test, which helps to reveal how well your body’s cells are aging in relation to your actual age, and other micronutrient tests.
After you’ve gotten your fill of that healthy L.A. lifestyle, you can take a behind-the-scenes tour at one of the movie studios, head to Griffith Park or Runyon Canyon for a day in nature and sunshine, get cultured at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, cheer on the Dodgers, and hunt for bargains at the historic Farmer’s Market.
But above all else, make some time to drive out to Malibu (yes, the same one Miley sings about) to check out the outdoor vino oasis that is Malibu Wines, where yes—you can really pet a giraffe if you so please.
15. Los Angeles, CA: Where to StayHotel Palomar Lobby; Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Palomar
L.A. is a massive city, so your hotel choice should really reflect your vibe. The Orlando is centrally located on 3rd St., a great spot to be if you’re a first timer or want to be equidistant from all that L.A. has to offer; all of the The Orlando’s comfortable rooms are just steps from retail haven 3rd St., The Grove, The Beverly Center, and Melrose Ave.
In trendy downtown, check out the unique Los Angeles Athletic Club (an in-operation athletic club with ‘50s vibes that was used as a filming location for Mad Men), or the brand-spanking-new and trendy Hotel Indigo, which incorporates elements of downtown’s diamond district past into its décor and has some of the most stunning views you’ll ever see over Los Angeles.
In West Hollywood, the “gayborhood” of L.A., you’ll love The Andaz’s incredible views and location on Sunset Blvd., amongst a sea of trendy nightlife and restaurant options.
And over by the beach in Santa Monica, you’ll find relaxed-but-luxe California coastal vibes and superb service at Shutters on the Beach.
16. Los Angeles, CA: Where to EatVerlaine Restaurant; Photo: Courtesy of Verlaine
71Above for craft cocktails and signature dishes like farm egg with crispy potato, chorizo, cilantro and milk-poached young chicken with chicharron, plum and pepita—all with views 71 stories in the sky. At Peruvian joint Rosaliné, the ceviches and Latin-inspired cocktail menu will make you want to try one of everything. Just make sure you leave room for the juane de chancho pork ossobuco. Verlaine is also very buzzy right now thanks to Baja Chef Diego Hernández’s California-inspired Mexican food in a cool garden setting. You can’t go wrong with the fish tostada, Octopus ceviche, Half Chicken (trust!) and Chartreuse Swizzle libation.
17. New York, NY: What to DoCentral Park in Fall; Photo: Adobe Stock
Spend a day taking in everything Central Park has to offer, which really does change up depending on the season. Watch a comedy show at Gotham or Comedy Cellar, head to Yankee Stadium for a game, go on one of the many “sip and learn” boozy tours like the Drunk History tour or the Sex and the City tour, or partake in a leisurely full-day cruise to historic Bear Mountain, where you can hike the trails and interact with animals at the Bear Mountain Zoo.
18. New York, NY: Where to StayA Signature Suite Bathroom at Loews Regency New York; Photo: Courtesy of Loews Regency New York
The Time New York Hotel. Located in the center of all the action, nestled in-between the Theater District and Times Square, this hidden gem is the perfect home base option to be close to everything worth doing: shopping, museums, and restaurants. The rooms are contemporary and cute, the staff is friendly, and the outdoor terraces with unbeatable city views provide that one-of-a-kind big city magic feel.
New York hotels are notoriously tiny, so if you do need to stretch out or you’re looking to accommodate a larger group, look into the Loews Regency New York, which has six different Signature Suites, one of which was designed by Nate Berkus. Or—if you’re ready to splurge—check in to one of the brand new Turret penthouse suites at The Beekman Hotel, built inside the trendy lower Manhattan hotel’s historical turret towers.
19. New York, NY: Where to EatFonda Restaurant; Photo: Courtesy of Fonda
Fonda, La Pulperia, ABC Cocina, Yerba Buena, Macondo, and Barrio Chino for the best Latin American comida in The Big Apple. If you're feeling like changing it up, cusine-wise, look no further than Williamsburg's Antica Pesa, a trendy Williamsburg spot where you can carb-load on delicious pastas and wash it all down with a second-to-none tiramisu.