The weather has begun to cool, and soon Connecticut foliage will bring bright hues of orange and red to the region. Although the Nutmeg State as a whole will soon feel like a fall getaway, these three spots offer a unique way to dive into the season. From a resort-style stay with farm-to-table dining, to a renovated lakeside cabin to a tiny home that focuses on encouraging guests to unplug and unwind, these getaways put the emphasis on all things fall.
When Getaway founder John Staff felt burnt out from his demanding start-up job, the Minnesota native began longing for “the role nature played in his youth.” He ended up quitting his job for life in a 26’ Airstream. After seeing how important nature was, he and co-founder Pete Davis launched their Getaway idea in 2015, and now have over 30 outposts near major cities ready to give people a chance to escape into nature.
Getaway Machimoodus in Connecticut is the Outpost (what Getaway calls their sites) designated for Boston and New York, as it is around a two hour drive from both major cities. The 45 cabins at Machimoodus sit on 86 acres surrounded by forest land near East Haddam, which Getaway general manager Allison Neeven said was chosen for its proximity to multiple parks and excursions. The site puts guests minutes away from Machimoodus State Park and a short drive from other attractions like the Gillete Castle and Devil's Hopyard State Park.
Unlike other vacation rentals that offer things like Internet and cable, the Getaway cabins put the emphasis on detaching and unplugging— especially from devices. Neeven said the minimalist concept is meant to to help guests enjoy the free time they have granted themselves. To do this, Getaway boasts a unique cabin design that encourages a technology-free escape.
“By design, the Outposts do not offer wi-fi or TVs. We provide cell phone lockboxes where we encourage our guests to rest their phones during their stay," Neeven said. "The cabins are naturally secluded and there are no communal areas.”
To encourage technology-free exploration of the the Machimoodus escape, Getaway provides guides for guests to get the most out of their stay. The guide includes trail loops, dining options and local farms or wineries to explore in the area as well. Although Getaway Machimoodus is available for an escape year round, Neeven emphasized that fall brings a unique experience at the Connecticut outpost.
“Fall is the perfect time to visit. Whether you are interested in leaf-peeping, toasting marshmallows over a campfire or nature watching, the Outpost has everything you need to relax,” Neeven said. “Guests can expect chilly mornings, leaves changing colors and quiet hikes in the local State Parks.”
Within the cabins themselves, guests can expect a queen bed, heat and air conditioning, a personal fire pit with outdoor seating and a hot shower. However, Neeven said the cabins can provide more than just the amenities.
“Beyond that, [the cabins have] fresh air, uninterrupted sleep, meals over a campfire, meaningful conversations with loved ones and other memorable moments we tend to overlook in our day-to-day,” Neeven said. “It's amazing what we can do when we put our devices away and enjoy our surroundings.”
Neeven said the cabins have served all kinds of individuals and groups looking to detach, from healthcare workers relaxing after the stress of working a pandemic to families looking to reconnect with one another. Getaway Machimoodus is also dog-friendly and includes an on-site dog park. There are one-bed and two-bed cabin options but Neeven said cabins go quickly and she encourages early booking.
Nestled up in New Fairfield, the “Little Lake Cabin” is a catalog home from 1947, meaning the pieces for the home came up the mountain on a tractor trailer, and then were assembled on site. Current homeowner and Airbnb host Jordyn Black said she can only imagine the process looked similar to a game of “Lincoln Logs.” Black and her wife Gabby Geller were frequent users of Airbnb while they traveled for many years. They acquired the cabin to give guests a welcoming home-rental experience similar to what they had seen first-hand on the platform.
“We really wanted to invest in something to give guests the same experiences that we had when we were traveling,” Black said. “The property came up for sale and we jumped on it. Then, we entered a six month renovation and by April 2019 we listed it and we've been pretty much 100 percent booked ever since.”
With the six month renovation, Black said they installed more modern finishes to the kitchen cabinets, tile and countertops, but they also wanted to maintain the charm of the house, leaving the original 1940s refrigerator. The original building was a seasonal property, according to Black, so when she purchased the home, it did not have an indoor shower or heat. These were added later to the property. Once it was ready for guests, Black said she wanted to personalize the experience for them, and give visitors multiple ways to enjoy and explore the property.
“We always leave small stuff, so [guests] always have a bucket of marshmallows and chocolate and graham crackers and there's tons of books,” Black said. ”… We leave robes and I make homemade pancake mix for every guest.”
The cabin is located across from Candlewood Lake, so it offers both water and land excursions for guests, whether it be hiking or venturing out on the kayaks provided by the cabin.
“We're also really close to a lot of good hiking; there are so many trails," Black said. “The kayaks are still available in the fall, and it's quieter out on the water this time of year. And — it's definitely firepit season, and roasting s'mores by the fire is awesome. It's [also] cooler, so the hot tub is a little more comfortable, at night."
Black noted there are plenty of fall activities like apple orchards and pumpkin picking near the property to help guests round out their fall getaway.
With September already half over, Black said that October has already begun filling up for the Little Lake Cabin and she has started to see November bookings as well. Book the Little Lake Cabin here.
In the 1940s, Winthrop and Vivian Smith purchased 113 acres of land up in the Litchfield Hills, in the town of Morris. The property, they decided, would be named by creating a combination of their forenames, and thus was born “Winvian Farm.”
When proprietor and owner Maggie Smith was considering what to do with the property, she said her main concern was preserving Winthrop and Vivian’s legacy. Smith and her former husband already had one property in Vermont called the Pitcher Inn. It was from this inn that the idea for individually designed and decorated cottages came from. However, for Smith, this was no easy feat.
“I thought, wouldn't it be fun to do something similar in Connecticut, except that we would do it with these individual residences, which of course, was total insanity,” Smith said. “There were no roads, no fiber optics, nothing.”
Despite the challenge, Smith built 18 unique cottages — all Connecticut themed — on the property. For example, Winvian has a Connecticut Yankee cottage, an “Industry” cottage and a stable cottage. The 18 cottages and the Hadely suite in the main property were designed by 15 different architects. Smith had a competition for architects to submit designs for the cottages, and from 25 architects she narrowed it down to the 15 that created the various properties on Winvian.
Each themed cottage has is own unique touches. For example, the camping cottage focuses on hardwood finishes throughout and murals of outdoor scenery in both the bed and bathrooms. The helicopter cabin has a fully-restored 1968 Sikorsky HH-3F Pelican helicopter under its roof where guests can sit within the cockpit which is equipped with a flat-screen TV and sofa.
Now, Winvian hosts guests year round. Smith says that although the property stuns in all seasons, fall is special up in the Litchfield Hills.
“There's that warm, cozy, inviting aspect. The foliage is just magnificent because we're abounded on three sides by 4,000 acres of the White Memorial preserve…” Smith said. “I do look forward to those crisp fall mornings and evenings with the changing of the foliage and the crunching of the leaves on the ground.”
The cottages on Winvian all come with two bikes, which Smith said are a guest favorite in terms of getting around the acres surrounding the property. In addition, the cottages and the property are peppered with fireplaces, with some cottages having more than one. Smith also said guests take full advantage of being at the edge of a nature preserve, stepping off property and into the orange and red leaves in the area.
In addition, Winvian Farm has a farm-to-table style fine dining restaurant that emphasizes seasonal produce in their dishes. The property utilizes over 3 acres of land where chefs can be spotted picking produce for the meals to be made.
“We have so many items that are grown right on site, so that the guests can look out the window and watch someone [from] the kitchen outside clipping herbs or picking the flowers or getting the berries,” Smith said. “That is the food that ends up on their plate or that flowers on their table, two or three hours later.”
For more information and booking, visit Winvian Farm's website.