Where To Go This Fall

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Saying goodbye to summer is never easy. And this year it’s particularly strange, with so much still in flux surrounding Covid-19 and the Delta variant. Still, options for destinations have expanded greatly since last autumn, when vaccines were nonexistent and most borders remained closed. One welcome shift from 2020: Much of Europe is now welcoming vaccinated Americans (albeit with various restrictions after the EU’s August 30 shift in its entry recommendations). And domestically, there are no more state-to-state entry requirements within the Lower 48. Below, we share some of Indagare’s favorite destinations for a fall vacation, each of which is open to international arrivals and enacting helpful health measures to ensure safety.

Contact Indagare to book your fall vacation. Our team of expert trip designers can recommend the best hotels, restaurants, activities and more just for you.

Indagare members can also see our curated list of Indagare’s favorite destinations open to U.S. passport holders now: Coronavirus Travel Information: What’s Open To Americans

The Dolce Vita Fix: Italy

Why Go Now: Indagare members breathed a collective sigh of relief when Italy reopened to U.S. arrivals earlier this year, and once again when the country reconfirmed it would stay open to Americans.  And while summers here are idyllic—leisurely days in which jumps in the sea, scoops of gelato and glasses of chilled local wines provide escape from the Mediterranean heat— the fall is surprisingly magical as well. Harvest season brings wine, oil and truffle festivals to many regions in the country, and weather is perfect for sightseeing, from the Dolomites, Milan and Venice in the north to Puglia and Sicily in the south.

Where to Stay: Some of Indagare’s favorite hotels in the world are in Italy, including 16 properties earning spots on the Indagare IndexExpect everything from intimate villas, ornate palazzos and fabulous coastal resorts. See the list of Italy Indagare Index hotels.

Local Entry Requirements: Following the EU’s new recommendations, all U.S. visitors to Italy must show proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen test from within 72 hours prior to arrival as well as proof of full vaccination status. Unvaccinated travelers must quarantine in Italy for five days before taking a second Covid test.

Related: Join the September 2021 Indagare Departure: Hiking the Dolomites

The Fall Foliage Fantasy: Rural New England

Why Go Now: From Maine’s rugged coast to the Berkshires in Massachusetts, nowhere does fall like New England, where maple trees transition from green to yellow to crimson on rolling hills interrupted by quaint towns and stately farmhouses. Peak leaf season varies by the year and the latitude (and altitude), but usually you can find it between late September and mid October.

Where to Stay: Twin Farms, in Central Vermont, is a perennial favorite, but fills up early. Another option we love is Hidden Pond, a relaxed resort with standalone cottages in the woods near Kennebunkport, Maine. The adults-only bungalows are removed from the larger, kid-friendly two-bedroom houses, though both areas showcase classic Maine touches like stone fireplaces and spacious porches.

Related: Our Favorite U.S. Hotels with Private Cottages or Villas

The Gorilla-Trekking Adventure: Rwanda

Why Go Now: Throughout the pandemic, Rwanda has taken Covid seriously to protect its citizens, endangered primates and economy. It imposed Sub-Saharan Africa’s first lockdown in March 2020, and is ramping up local vaccination efforts now. Its managed approach also allowed it to reopen safely—first to private charter flights and then to commercial airlines. Now, Rwanda is now allowing gorilla-trekking at a much reduced capacity, with just six visitors per gorilla family. The mission was twofold: protect the primates from the virus while bolstering the local tourism industry, which raises critical funds for gorilla conservation. The new restrictions create an even more intimate experience for visitors, who now have the option to take over some of the country’s top lodges. October and November mean springtime in Rwanda, and the daily, but brief downpours make the landscape a vibrant green with flowers, ensuring that it’s also one of the most photogenic seasons to see gorillas.

Where to Stay: Indagare Index property Bisate Lodge, from Wilderness Safaris, opened in 2017 on a hillside near Volcanoes National Park. Its six thatched huts are a study in luxury meets local, high-design meets low-footprint. The thatch itself is recycled plastic, yet resembles the natural kind perfectly, and decór draws on traditional elements from Rwanda: colorful fabrics of the Great Lakes region, geometric patterned tiles and volcanic stone walls.

Local Entry Requirements: All visitors must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to departure. Visitors must then take a second COVID-19 test prior to visiting any tourist attraction.

The Adriatic Escape: Montenegro

Why Go Now: Tiny Montenegro, has been open to U.S. passport holders for much of the pandemic, giving Americans more opportunity to explore its particularly gorgeous stretch of the Adriatic coast, with incredible beaches, historic towns and a rugged interior with excellent hikes. Beach season ends in September, but a general temperate climate makes visits here enjoyable year round.

Where to Stay: One&Only Portonovi opened last year at a fjord-like narrowing near the entrance to the Bay of Kotor. Its 123 rooms and suites showcase these water views through floor-to-ceiling windows and private terraces. When they’re not sightseeing (often by boat, departing from the resort’s superyacht marina), guests can relax in 43,000-square-foot Chenot Espace wellness center, which comprises a hammam, hydro- and cryotherapy circuits, sauna, steam room, pool and a whopping 27 treatment rooms.

Local Entry Requirements: Visitors must show either proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test from within 72 hours; a negative rapid antigen test from within 48 hours; or evidence of having recovered from Covid between 14 and 180 days ago.

Related: Sneak Peek: One&Only Portonovi

The Place to Disconnect: Alaska

Why Go Now: Alaska is at its most dramatic in the fall, when the leaves change colors—blueberry bushes transform into a red carpet; birch trees become yellow; the tundra turns a russet brown—and the Northern Lights begin their dance across the night skies. Wildlife-viewing is excellent this time of year as well, as it’s migration season for a diverse group of fauna including caribou, beluga and gray whales and many species of birds, including cranes.

Where to Stay: Accessible only by helicopter, Sheldon Chalet is a stylish, five-bedroom retreat on the only privately-owned land in the mountains of Denali National Park. Panoramic windows provide unobstructed views over the national parkland, and guests are able to be wholly present in the unique Alaskan wilderness—no WiFi means no distractions here. And instead of scrolling on their phones, visitors enjoy activities like glacier trekking, crevasse exploring, mountain climbing and snow-cavern spelunking.

The Far-Flung Beach Getaway: The Maldives

Why Go Now: Rainy season in the Maldives extends through October, but that shouldn’t stop you from heading to this cluster of more than a thousand tiny islands off the southern tip of India. Fleeting storms usually pass by quickly—and actually create optimal conditions for surfing—and both air and water temperatures hover at an idyllic 80 degrees. Following a complete lockdown in March 2020, the country reopened to travelers mid-July, making it one of the only Asian destinations safely and stably welcoming U.S. passport holders for much of the last two years.

Where to Stay: We love LVMH’s Cheval Blanc Randheli, with 45 ultra-chic villas designed by Jean Michel Gathy on the Noonu Atoll. And, says Indagare’s Sasha Feldman, “snorkeling and scuba diving in the nearby reefs feels like The Little Mermaid come to life.”

Local Entry Requirements: Travelers must have proof of negative PCR test results from 72 hours prior to departure.

Related: Global Conversation with Sonu Shivdasani: The Pioneer of Eco-Luxury

The Iberian Peninsula: Spain & Portugal

Why Go Now: At the southwestern tip of Europe, Spain and Portugal  offer an intoxicating mix of dynamic cities, fascinating histories and beautiful scenery. Enjoy the thriving arts and culinary scenes in Lisbon, Madrid or Barcelona, and head to the Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts for charming towns and some off-season beach time. (In southern Spain, temperatures hit the 70s well into November, so sunbathing and swimming is possible late into the fall.) Both countries have unique, architecture and cuisines that vary region to region, making them ideal for both deep-dive trips to single-destinations, or longer itineraries that showcase the breadth of experiences.

Where to Stay: Most trips to Spain will—and should—include at least a few days in its capital, Madrid. Here, the just-opened Mandarin-Oriental Ritz Madrid brings the city’s most iconic hotel (built by César Ritz) back to its original 1910 glory following a 121-million-dollar renovation.

Local Entry Requirements: Following the new EU recommendations, U.S. arrivals to Portugal must have proof of a negative PCR test from 72 hours prior to travel, or an antigen test from within 48 hours of travel.

The Ultimate Safari: Botswana

Why Go Now: The northern hemisphere’s fall marks the transition between the dry and rainy seasons in Botswana, with high temperatures well into November, when the first rains begin to fall. It’s an ideal time for wildlife viewing, with strong visibility for animals such as elephants, lions and wild dogs. Days get hot, so packing light-weight clothing is essential.

Where to Stay: Botswana is a pioneer in sustainable tourism, with a low volume, low impact approach to visitors that has resulted in some of the most exclusive luxury camps in Africa. See a few of them in our Indagare Index, and contact our team for more of our favorites.

Local Entry Requirements: All visitors must show proof of a negative PCR test result from within 72 hours prior to travel.

Related: Join the October 2021 Insider Journey to Botswana on Safari with Colin Bell

The Shoulder-Season Fall Beach Destination: Caribbean Islands

Why Go Now: For any U.S. traveler looking for an #EndlessSummer, the Caribbean is the closest, most convenient option—and perhaps most gorgeous, too. Hurricane season peaks in September (and extends into November), but fall is one of the best times of year to visit the Caribbean. This is the when water is at its warmest, the air is balmy but not oppressive, and resorts usually have increased availability (the entire region is effectively sold out between Thanksgiving and Easter). Of course, having booking flexibility is key, on the off chance in case you need to alter dates due to storms.

Where to Stay: The Caribbean’s myriad islands are each unique, and a beach vacation here can lean cultural, culinary, sceney, escapist, and adventurous depending on travelers’ preferences. Discover the 10 hotels that earned spots in the Indagare Index. And if you’re looking to see more than just one island, a Caribbean yacht charter is an ideal way to explore.

Local Entry Requirements: Restrictions to travel vary by country. Most destinations require travelers to show proof of a negative test conducted within a few days prior to travel.

Related: The Best Yachting Destinations in the Caribbean to Book Now

The Exotic Wildlife Trip: The Galápagos

Why Go Now: In the Galápagos, September to November is the driest, coolest season, when daytime temperatures drop to the mid-70s, rainfall is virtually nonexistent and the Humboldt current is at its peak, bringing colder, nutrient-rich waters to the archipelago. What that means for visitors: swimming and snorkeling might warrant a wetsuit, but this is also the best time of year for seeing marine life like green sea turtles and endemic penguins, sea lions and seals. On land, bird-watchers will be able to see nesting blue-footed boobies and albatrosses.

Where to Stay: With a chic, minimalist design, the lava-built Pikaia Lodge offers unparalleled comfort with a conservationist focus on Santa Cruz island. For those looking to maximize their time at sea—yachts are the way to go. Indagare has several favorite operators for both private and semi-private sailings.

Local Entry Requirements: To enter Ecuador, travelers must provide proof of either full vaccination; a negative COVID PCR test taken within three days before entering the country; or a medical certificate attesting to current good health following the onset of Covid-19 symptoms more than 30 days before arrival. To continue to the Galápagos, travelers must provide both proof of full vaccination and of negative PCR test results before from within 72 hours prior to the transfer flight. Unvaccinated travelers are currently prohibited from visiting the remote archipelago.

Related: Explore our 2021 Impact Insider Journey to the Galápagos

Contact Indagare to book your fall vacation. Our team of expert trip designers can recommend the best hotels, restaurants, activities and more just for you.

Indagare members can also see our curated list of Indagare’s favorite destinations open to U.S, passport holders now: Coronavirus Travel Information: What’s Open To Americans

– Peter Schlesinger on September 10, 2021

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