Summer has come and gone, and while we’re enjoying all things pumpkin spice, we’re having a hard time letting go of the pool parties, travel plans, and outdoor adventures that come with summer. If you’re like us, then you’re also still craving the carefree vibes of seasons past. Well, we can live in denial together by jetting off to domestic destinations where temperatures are still high and the sun is shining.
In fact, many such spots come up on the 2022 Uproxx Fall Travel Hot List.
To help you stay warm while the weather cools, three of our travel writers are sharing their domestic go-to destinations for warm-weather adventures. From Austin, Texas to California’s wine country to Arizona’s finest lake, read on for where to adventure, stay, eat, and party in order to avoid fall for as long as possible.
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Steve Bramucci (@stevebramucci) — Austin, Texas
Where to Adventure —
If I’m paying money to travel the country in fall, it’s to get in the water. And Austin is warm enough to swim into late October and even November. Paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake is practically an institution, you’ve got to do it at least once when you visit town — and it’s right in the city. Rentals are affordable and you’re not burning a whole day — it’s an easy three-hour activity.
If that’s not adrenaline worthy enough for you, you might want to hit the very Instagrammable Jacob’s Well. The swimming hole got massive on IG and has since had to become reservation-only. Note that it’s closed to swimmers for the remainder of the year but hiking is still open.
Pure popularity-wise, the Barton Springs Public Pool — which is an aquamarine natural spring — is still open and thriving. It’s a truly wonderful shared space, just a few miles from downtown, and has to be in the top 20 picnic spots in the country.
If you have a little more time and are down for a three-hour drive to Waco, you can hit Waco Surf — a wave pool and wakeboarding lagoon that has been drawing incredible reviews from some of the best surfers on earth. The season shuts down soon, so make sure to check their website. I haven’t been but it’s on my personal travel bucket list.
Where to Eat — Diner Bar
In the Editor’s Letter to kick off the 2022 Uproxx Fall Travel Hot List, I praised Mashama Bailey’s fried ugali (sorghum porridge) at her new concept, Diner Bar in Austin, as my favorite bite of the year. I also gushed over her deviled eggs which are, I am 100% sure, the best I’ve ever tasted in my life. Oh, and I forgot to mention the foie and grits, which is fantastic — with grits providing possibly the most ideal platform ever for quick-seared foie gras. Who needs shrimp when you have fatty goose liver?
The cocktails carry a vibe that fits nicely with the menu — refined-yet-accessible. I loved the “Pirates in a Hot Tub” which was basically autumn in a glass without veering too sweet. “The Sinning Sisters” was strong without trying too hard to be boozy (while actually being quite boozy) and was nicely balanced. That’s a tough trick to pull off when you’re dealing with a smoky mezcal as the base spirit.
Knowing I was headed to his city recently, Uproxx’s Josh Kurp pointed me to Nixta Taqueria, where they make tortillas by hand with heritage corn. The Beard Award-winning restaurant opened in 2019 but has been booming of late (thanks to that ’22 Beard Award and great local buzz) and it was easy to see why. Those incredible tortillas and the duck-fat refried beans are huge differentiators from Austin’s many excellent taco shops. If you’re only getting one taco, go for the duck confit, it’s not a common dish and if you’re not use to duck you’ll appreciate its tenderness; if you’re getting a second (you’ll want one), I think the Enchilada Potosina, with potato and chorizo puree, just might be the best item on the menu.
Where to Stay — The Thompson
If you’re opening a hotel in downtown Austin, you know it’s going to be hard to compete with mid-century darling, The Line. So how do you pull it off? You go “full boutique” for starters, with a moody-yet-sumptuous design befitting your city. Then you get mega-star chef Mashama Bailey to open not one but two restaurant concepts on property – Diner Bar and The Grey Market. Add a more affordable sister hotel in the same space, tommie Austin, featuring a unique design concept of its own.
Boom. You’ve got something special on your hands.
It’s not quite fair to expect a downtown hotel to have a pool but… it’s also way better when one does. The Thompson’s pool deck is shared with the tommie and serviced by Wax Myrtle’s, which brings the sexy energy (Thrillist called it “Sexy AF”). Once you venture outside, you’ll find some of the city’s most classic bars and hottest restaurants within easy walking distance.
Where to Party (If You’re Not Too Tired) — The Concourse Project
The Concourse Project is… well, it’s basically a warehouse. With some trailers for food and drinks. A few food trucks. That’s basically it. But within that simple construct, the venue has become home to some of the very best parties in the nation. The venue has hosted massive DJs and incredible EDM events. Recently, I was there for its first rap show — Pusha T.
The club is just stylized enough to feel cool but there’s no artifice. No fakeness. It’s a place to party and enjoy awesome music and it nails that dual purpose. Ultra-high ceilings and lots of space make it easy but it’s the artists they bring in that really do the heavy lifting to draw the crowds.
If you don’t want to go “warehouse party” big, Austin is literally Live Music City USA. Here’s a pretty handy guide of what to look out for, but for my dollar, the best thing to do is find some good friends and wander. Pop into random bars for a drink or two and you really might hear someone special. There’s a sense of discovery in that which is very rare these days.
Chloe Caldwell (@chloeicaldwell) — Santa Margarita, California
Where to Adventure — Santa Margarita Rach
If your favorite kind of adventure includes avoiding crowds, then Santa Margarita — the southernmost point of Paso Robles wine country in Central California — is calling your name. The town is home to about 1,000 locals and it feels like stepping onto the set of an old Western film — much thanks to Santa Margarita Ranch, a nearly 14,000-acre property that’s basically the heart of the tiny town. Most (if not all) of the adventure you’ll find in Santa Margarita is operated through the ranch. You can start by embracing the ranch lifestyle by going horseback riding with Central Coast Trail Rides. Your experienced guide will take you through acres of the ranch’s vast property, which leads you past wide open views, vineyards, a lush creek-bed crossing, wildlife, and more.
Follow that up with an adrenaline rush and go ziplining with Margarita Adventures. The six-zipline course takes you soaring over the ranch, which includes sweeping views of Ancient Peaks Winery‘s estate vineyard. I recommend doing the sunset zipline tour — you’ll fly over vineyards as the sun goes down over the mountains (yes, it’s as dreamy as it sounds), then hit the last few lines in the dark (glow sticks included).
Living in LA, this was the first time I’ve been able to see a night sky full of stars in way too long.
Where to Eat — The Range
I’ll be honest, there’s not a lot to choose from in Santa Margarita. But I absolutely loved my dining experience at The Range. Sticking to the Old Town Road vibes, this family-owned and operated business is equipped with funky decor that combines rustic romance with country chic…If that makes sense?
I ate out on the patio, which I recommend if it isn’t too hot outside (besides, a chilled glass of Savvy B will cool you off).
As for the food, you’ll find hearty meals like forest mushroom ravioli, 14-hour oak-smoked brisket, and even pan-seared elk medallions. At this point in the day, I was already stuffed with wine and cheese from the local winery (more on this later), so I stuck to the starters (go with the caramelized onion pizzette) and a salad. But my boyfriend would tell you to order the roasted lamb chops, which come complete with Burbank potato gratin, veggies, and garlic herb pan jus.
Where to Stay — The Stampede Loft
Just down the street from the main stretch of Santa Margarita off Old Highway 101 is the newly refurbished vacation rental known as The Stampede Loft. Again, sticking to the good ol’ Western aesthetic, this rental does barnyard chic at its finest. It’s also located beside a small vineyard and farmhouse, which really makes it feel like a luxury version of rustic living.
The two-bedroom, one-bath apartment is the upstairs part of a duplex house (you can also rent the bottom floor) that comes complete with a private outdoor deck and a barbecue — plus WiFi and a TV with streaming services if you need a digital indulgence after your outdoor adventures. I loved the apartment-style setup of this vacation rental, which features a full kitchen, living and dining room areas, and a laundry machine. Stop at the grocery store for dinner and breakfast supplies so you can make the most of the grill and kitchen!
Overall, The Stampede Loft is perfect for a weekend with friends or a couple’s getaway.
Where to Party (If You’re Not Too Tired) — Ancient Peaks Winery
You obviously can’t go to Paso Robles wine country without drinking at least a full bottle of wine (okay, two bottles). While you won’t find any massive ragers in Santa Margarita, I certainly left Ancient Peaks Winery with a strong buzz. Ancient Peaks makes its wine on the 900-acre Margarita Vineyards, which is the only vineyard in the Santa Margarita Ranch AVA.
Visit the Ancient Peaks tasting room in town to sip on the local vino (the cafe here is a great spot for lunch, too). It’s definitely worth doing a full wine tasting to get a taste of their signature collection, as well as their limited-edition Pearl Collection. From chardonnay and merlot to petite Sirah, Ancient Peaks Winery offers the complete wine country experience. If you aren’t tired before you show up for your tasting, you certainly will be after you leave.
Emily Hart (@emilyventures) — Page, Arizona
Where to Adventure — Rafting Horseshoe Bend
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I first visited Page Arizona and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area nearly ten years ago. You might say I actually stumbled onto it, as I truly had no idea what to expect, besides the photos of surreal slot canyons that I had seen online.
I followed the directions I had found on a random forum that led me to a dirt pull-off on the side of a road. I followed the makeshift trail and a few people, wondering if I was in the right place. After a short walk, I was gobsmacked by one of the most impressive views I had ever seen. A 270-degree bend in the Colorado river below the steep drop-off of red canyon walls – it was unlike anything I had ever seen.
Of course, with the increase in social media sharing, Horseshoe Bend is now a well-known attraction. The dirt pull-out has been replaced by a parking lot and accessible viewing – and you should view it, definitely. But there is another way to see this impressive natural formation – one that you won’t be sharing with hundreds of others – rafting the river below.
While there are no rapids on this portion of the Colorado River, the half-day rafting trip I went on was absolutely a memorable adventure.
The day starts with a drive underground to the bottom of the Glen Canyon Dam where you marvel at the construction before heading off onto rafts. The 15-mile trip down the river is unlike anything I had ever seen. To view the impressive canyon walls from below, along with wildlife and petroglyphs is a once in a lifetime experience. One that you can easily still enjoy before the weather really shifts (hurry, you have one week left! Or plan for next year!).
Where to Eat — Rainbow Room at Lake Powell Resorts
On my last visit, I started my dinner with a prickly pear cocktail and a charcuterie board – both fantastic. I followed with a wedge salad and took my time savoring the seared salmon with grilled peach and jalapeno salsa, avocado crema, farro pilaf, and seasonal vegetables entree. The pastries at Rainbow Room are all made in-house, and I was happy to try the Mexican chocolate lava cake that came highly recommended.
Where to Stay — Lake Powell Resort
In my opinion, there is really only one place you should consider staying when visiting the Page/Lake Powell area, and that is Lake Powell Resorts. Located right on the lake and within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the views, access, and amenities are incredible.
I have stayed here several times now, and recommend a room facing the water for the dreamiest sunrise and sunset views. Take advantage of the two swimming pools, restaurants, a bar, and a coffee shop while also stopping by the marina to rent powerboats, watercraft, and jet skis.
Lake Powell Resort and Marinas have boat cruises and dinner sunset sails leaving right from the marina at the resort, making it central to truly everything you could need or want.
Where to Party (If You’re Not Too Tired) — Rent a Houseboat
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The best way to party in Page is unique — on a houseboat! Lake Powell is known for houseboating, and you can rent a variety right at Lake Powell Resort and Marina. This is perfect for larger groups who want to adventure all together. Lake Powell has 96 major side canyons and nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline, making it ideal for private exploration and celebration.