CAN YOU FEEL that? The ever-so-slight-you-can-barely-detect-it whiff of cool, autumnal weather? For many of us, the change of season is about much more than just the weather (and the impending shift in wardrobe); it’s about a change in mindset as well. And for those of us who, even as adults, still get a jolt when back-to-school supplies show up in stores, this is a month of transition — traveling to varied places, making our homes extra cozy, and daydreaming about the holidays on the horizon. As fall signals its return and the leaves begin to change, I, for one, couldn’t be more excited. Time to put on a scarf and step outside. — Cole
Our Favorite Travel Essentials of the Year
Everything you need for your 2023 travel: our editors’ picks for on-the-road...
Midtown Manhattan has no shortage of luxury (and not so luxury) hotels, all of which promise easy access to things like the Theater District, Times Square, and all the high-end shopping one’s heart desires. In reality, many of these hotels suffer from a kind of comfortable sameness — small, well-appointed rooms that can do little to block out the cacophony of New York’s touristy neighborhood. In this respect, The Chatwal is a true hidden gem. The glittering art-deco wonder, built in 1905 by legendary architect Stanford White, boasts 76 rooms, including 14 themed suites with private terraces and bespoke services. On my recent staycation, our suite not only included a glorious terrace view and a fireplace, but also featured a spiral staircase that granted access to the roof. While the small spa and indoor lap pool were also lovely, it was the quiet on offer that I found the most remarkable. Once inside the hotel, which is relatively understated from the outside, it’s easy to forget that you are in one of the most chaotic pockets of one of the world’s busiest cities. The hotel’s restaurant, The Lambs Club, is exceptional, and provides the kind of chic, old-school dining experience (subdued lighting, red-leather booths, mahogany-paneled walls) that feels both rare and absolutely transportive. — Cole
Walking amid the butterflies and hummingbirds through San Ysidro’s blossom-lined stone paths, the Santa Ynez Mountains rising dramatically in the distance, was an exquisite escape that will live in my memory forever.
Stanly Ranch, Auberge’s third property in the Napa Valley, offers guests a unique getaway in wine country. Built on a historic working ranch on the border of Napa and Sonoma, the property is lined with 78 stand-alone cottages surrounded by native California plants, providing you with your own home away from home. The design is modern with a touch of ranch decor, and strikes that perfect balance between luxury and comfort. The rooms have a sleek look and all the comforts of home, each offering a patio and fire pit perfect for stargazing. A deep soaking tub and outdoor shower await you in the bathroom after a long day of wine tasting. A magnificent vegetable garden with bounties of fresh produce, like tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and herbs, greets you as you enter the property. You can find that same produce in your dishes when you dine at Bear, Stanly Ranch’s culinary offering; the cuisine is Californian in flavor with a touch of Napa comfort. — Elissa
The San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara will live in my mind as perhaps the loveliest and most tranquil stay I’ve ever experienced — though I’m far from the first to have fallen. Past guests have included JFK and Jackie O, Winston Churchill, and Audrey Hepburn. The storied grounds are something out of a fairy tale: silvery-purple lavender, fuchsia bougainvillea, yellow roses, and silky grass manicured to putting-green level perfection. Set in a breathtaking cottage (really stretching the word “cottage” here; this place was massive), my lodging featured romantic details like a four-poster bed draped in French lace, and a chandelier-crowned bathroom with blossoming wallpaper and an indoor-outdoor shower (why is showering alfresco always so incredible?). At their restaurant, The Stonehouse, set inside a nineteenth-century citrus packing house, I dined beside a crackling stone fireplace, under trees strung with twinkling lights. The menu features elegant American classics and an exquisite wine list. Walking amid the butterflies and hummingbirds through San Ysidro’s blossom-lined stone paths, the Santa Ynez Mountains rising dramatically in the distance, was an exquisite escape that will live in my memory forever. My recommendation? Go with someone you truly cherish. This place is too beautiful not to share. — Sophie
My best friend growing up had a house on Shelter Island. It was the kind of house that had open doors, so it was always filled with the warm hum of a rotating cast of family, and friends who were treated like family. Throughout my twenties, I spent a lot of time there — every single weekend during certain summers. Part of the charm of Shelter Island for me was the slowness. There wasn’t much to do except ride bikes to get ice cream or collect shells on the windy beaches, and make enormous communal dinners that we ate overlooking the quiet bay. It was heavenly.
In the years since, Shelter Island has evolved some, but as I was happy to see on a recent trip, not too much. The ferry, which stops running at midnight, seems to have insulated it from the frenzied popularity that has so drastically changed the landscape of nearby Sag Harbor and the Hamptons. These days, there are at least a few places to stay (if you aren’t lucky enough to have a friend as generous with their home as mine was). The most recent addition to this short list is The Pridwin. Anyone who has visited the island may recognize that The Pridwin isn’t new. The hotel, which sits right off Crescent Beach, has been there since 1927, owned by the local Petry family since 1961. But they recently partnered with Cape Resorts to undertake a two-year complete renovation of the historic property, bringing it into the modern era. In its newest iteration, the hotel offers 49 rooms and 16 stand-alone cottages, as well as a revamped pool and new spa. Guests (and other island visitors) can have drinks at The Crescent Bar and eat at The Terrace restaurant, helmed by Chef Drew Hiatt. And while many may think of Shelter Island as a summer destination, I’ve spent time there in the off-season and can attest to the charms of fall and winter there. The Pridwin has considered this too: those standalone cottages have fireplaces. — Skye
In my never-ending quest to find the perfect candle, Apotheke holds a special place in my heart, and not just because these candles are made here in NYC (the factory is only a stone’s throw from my apartment in Brooklyn). These are the candles that are most often given to me as gifts by people who know and understand my obsession with wax and wicks. Founded by self-taught scent designer Chrissy Fichtl in 2011, Apotheke candles are perfectly fragranced — nuanced smells that are strong without being overwhelming — and charmingly designed, with the kind of unfussy glass and ceramic vessels that you’ll actually want to save and reuse. This summer their Tomato candle was a mainstay in our kitchen and now, as summer gives way to fall, I keep one of their charcoal votives burning in every room in an effort to conjure the perfect seasonal vibe. — Cole
Everyone has a taste preference when it comes to water. Before consumers started moving away from single-use plastic bottles, water purists were team Fiji, Evian, or Smartwater, to name a few. But now there’s The Pentair Rocean Reservoir, a well-designed and innovative countertop water filtration system that puts sustainability first. Pentair’s filters are made from coconut husks, the pump compartment is made using 40% recycled PET plastic, and the housing and water tank material is 100% BPA-free. With the tap of a button and Pentair’s patented InstaClean Technology, 76 contaminants including lead, chemicals, and microbial cysts are removed from the water. Unlike other filters I’ve tried, Pentair’s water just tastes better. It’s subtle, but having tried many filter systems, this is the first time I can actually taste the difference. — Elissa
Makers of nonalcoholic spirits have finally gotten the memo that we need bitter options! Oregon-based spirit maker Wilderton has answered the call with a particularly herbaceous but delicate Bittersweet Aperitivo. It’s delicious on ice or mixed into your favorite mocktail. (I like it in a rocks glass with a little soda and a sprig of rosemary.) It tastes just like its high-quality Italian counterpart: a refreshing, semisweet, citrusy libation with a hearty botanical finish — perfect for the transition from workday to dinner hour. As with all of Wilderton’s offerings, the Bittersweet Aperitivo also comes in a beautiful bottle, so it’ll look good on any NA bar cart. — Nina
When it comes to fragrances, I have tended to be a serial monogamist — a strong believer in having a signature scent that I would wear for, quite literally, years. But at some point in the past few, I unwittingly became a scent collector, and the choosing of my daily fragrance has become part of my habitual wellness ritual, as well as a huge factor in how I feel each day. Wearing Outcast Blue from Parisian fragrance house Ex Nihilo is the olfactory equivalent of putting on a provocative piece of jewelry or a statement shoe. Like a blast of cedarwood, saffron, and vetiver, this fragrance is both assertive and surprisingly calming, which makes its tagline — “For Punks and Poets” — feel particularly apt. — Cole
How I love a skin-care product that promises to work while I sleep, especially one that boosts radiance and builds up the skin’s capacity to fight environmental stressors. The best such product I’ve found recently is Saturday Skin’s Yuzu Vitamin C Sleep Mask, which I got from Soko Glam — the online Korean beauty emporium where I could easily spend an entire afternoon. This jelly-like mask has the bright, clean smell of fresh yuzu (which boasts three times the vitamin C content of other citrus fruits!) and contains niacinamide and retinol, so you actually wake up with a plump, dewy face. A perfect pick-me-up for tired skin, this one is joining the permanent rotation. — Nina
While everyone else is bemoaning the coming of winter, I am one of those people who is not so quietly celebrating the end of what has felt like the longest, hottest summer in recorded human history. As my friends plot one last beach day and debate how much longer they can wear shorts and eat outdoors, I am preemptively buying sweaters, as well as wearing long sleeves as soon as the temperature dips below 80 degrees. As I eagerly jazz up my fall wardrobe, I am most excited by the addition of a few pieces from Percival, a menswear line based in London. Created by a team of 15 multitasking designers who also produce and photograph everything in their Hackney studio, Percival offers modern takes on basic wardrobe staples. I plan to spend the entirety of autumn swanning around the city in the Waterproof Sherlock, a bonded wool jacket that looks formal and tweedy enough to serve as outerwear for a fancy event, but still cool enough to layer over a hoodie at your local dive bar. — Cole
Daytrip is a new restaurant in Oakland’s bustling Temescal neighborhood that initially drew my attention on an evening walk this summer. The place had a certain glow — everyone seated inside looked like they were genuinely enjoying themselves. I finally tried it myself this month, bringing a friend there to celebrate their birthday. I now understand why the self-described “fermentation-driven shared plates party restaurant and bottle shop” is one of the city’s hottest new spots. The hippie-mod California interior is colorful — and, at dinnertime, gorgeously sun-drenched — and the food is inspired. I am completely obsessed with their Celery Salad, a brilliantly potent, fresh combination of shaved celery, lemon verbena chlorophyll, habanero, and aged Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese. I also loved the Tokaji Beurre Blanc Mussels with Smoked Trout Roe, cooked in Hungarian sweet wine, clarified tomato juice, and house-made butter. I will be back as often as is reasonable. — Nina
The return of fall means it’s time to say goodbye to fresh berries and stone fruit at the local farmers’ market. As soon as peaches are replaced with apples, summer flavors start to fade away. Good thing Kosterina, a Greek wellness brand specializing in early harvest extra virgin olive oils, has created a line of vinegars bursting with said flavors. Available in strawberry, blueberry, and tangerine, each vinegar tastes like summer in a bottle. These cold-pressed vinegars add a boost of flavor to almost anything: salads, fresh fish, steak, chicken, granola, and yogurt. Even a splash on top of your favorite ice cream adds a kick. If you’re not a vinegar fan, this pantry staple will soon change your mind, with the perfect balance of sweet and sour. While you might expect something so flavorful to be packed with sugar, these products do not contain added sugar. — Elissa
On a dreamy end-of-summer getaway to Santa Barbara, I experienced the new dining concept at the Rosewood Miramar Beach: AMA Sushi, led by Osaka-born chef Kentaro Ikuta. The exclusive 13-seat omakase features Edomae-style sushi, skillfully sliced and patted atop glossy lumps of sushi rice. The space itself is stunning, dark, and soothing, with a flickering fireplace and a veined quartz-like omakase counter. The fish was, of course, the highest grade and absolutely delicious, but a surprising standout was in one of the earlier courses — a goma-dofu (tofu made from sesame). While exploring the iconic property, I also experienced a dinner at their first fine-dining restaurant, Caruso’s, led by Chef Massimo Falsini. Perched atop the beach overlooking the sea, it’s a criminally picturesque establishment. So much so that, quite frankly, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by the food. Lord, was I wrong. Pink-sunset views aside, softly crashing waves aside, spectacularly attentive service aside, this was one of the top food experiences of my year. — Sophie
I know you’ve seen these bottles. Statuesque and hand-painted, the decanters of Clase Azul tequila are often displayed in beautiful bars or on the shelves of your most discerning friend. I recently got my hands on their latest bottle, the limited-edition Clase Azul 25 Aniversario. Blended for eight months, the reposado tequila is creamy yet peppery, with notes of vanilla and citrus. The agave is milled using a tahona, a traditional stone mill, and the fermentation process lengthened to highlight the spirit’s fruit notes. The tequila is, to use the technical term, damn delicious. Best sipped from a small tulip-shaped glass, it feels like cashmere on the tongue and tastes like toasted caramel. Rich and warming, consider it the perfect special occasion drink as we move into fall. — Sophie
Dairy milk hasn’t made an appearance in my fridge for nearly two decades; I can count the number of times I’ve consumed full-fat dairy on one hand, and most of those times were by mistake. Nut milks, on the other hand, line my pantry (it looks like the plant-based aisle of your local grocery store). Almond, cashew, and macadamia were staples until I tried my first pistachio milk. Táche’s pistachio milk elevates alternative milk options with its nutty flavor, subtle color, and thicker consistency. I love adding a splash to my morning matcha or drowning a heaping bowl of granola and fruit with it. The vanilla unsweetened is my favorite because it’s tasty without masking the flavor of what it really is. On top of its delicious taste, Táche’s pistachio milk leaves behind a smaller footprint; it takes 75% less water to produce the same amount of pistachio milk as almond milk. — Elissa
If you seek a memorable culinary experience, look no further than Osito in San Francisco’s Mission District. From the 26-seat community table at the new live-fire fine-dining restaurant opened by Chef Seth Stowaway, you can observe the goings-on in the open kitchen. Everything served during the multicourse meal is either raw or has been cooked in the restaurant’s wood oven or massive hearth. The fire is constantly tended, and dish after dish of innovative, hyperlocal food is brought to the table and lovingly described by the charismatic and knowledgeable staff. My favorite bite was called Antelope and Cantaloupe, a slice of raw antelope with melon, house-made cottage cheese, and mint — a delicious and truly surprising combination. Each dish is thoughtfully paired with a global wine — on the night I visited, these were almost all biodynamic bottles from women-run wineries in Central Europe. Next door is Liliana, Stowaway’s cozy cocktail bar, which serves more accessible small plates and features a drink menu starring ingredients like ramp pickling jus. Yum. — Nina
Skye Parrott is the executive editor of Departures. A magazine editor, photographer, writer, and creative consultant, she was previously a founder of the arts and culture journal Dossier, and editor in chief for the relaunch of Playgirl as a modern, feminist publication.
T. Cole Rachel Writer
T. Cole Rachel is the deputy editor of Departures. A Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working in print and digital media, his writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Interview, and the Creative Independent.
Nina Renata Aron Writer
Nina Renata Aron is a writer and editor based in Oakland, California. She is the author of “Good Morning, Destroyer of Men's Souls.” Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, the New Republic, Elle, Eater, and Jezebel.
Sophie Mancini Writer
Sophie Mancini is an editor at Departures. Born and raised in New York City, she holds a degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and has a background as a writer in brand and editorial.
Elissa Polls Writer
Elissa Polls is the senior director of content production for Departures. A producer who typically stays behind the scenes, she has worked with creatives from around the world, helping bring their ideas to life. Elissa has over 15 years of production experience and lives in Berkeley, California.