Clevelanders will fall for these great fall trips

By Jason Stahl, Contributor

CLEVELAND - Autumn is around the corner, and you realize you're getting sick of the humidity and are looking forward to knocking the rock around in a cool fall breeze.

But you also want to make a trip of it and take the wife and kids and do other things like swill cider and carve pumpkins and frolick through vineyards.

The following destinations are perfect for just that, and easy on the wallet, too. Not that you have to leave Ohio for fall scenery, but why not? There are some interesting golf courses just a drive away that are calling your name.

Peek ‘N Peak Resort, Findley Lake, N.Y.

If you're after fall fun, then Peek ‘N Peak Resort seems to be the ticket. And it's fun that the whole fam-damly can enjoy.

The Resort holds a Fall Fest each year, this year held Oct. 9-10 and 16-17. Adults can partake in the beer and wine tasting, and the kids can admire the pumpkin-shooting cannon. If you don't get your fill of wine at the festival, you can head to one of the numerous New York or Pennsylvania wineries nearby.

But lets talk about golf balls, not grapes. Peek ‘N Peak features two 18-hole courses, the Lower Course and Upper Course. The Lower Course is the original course and, with its flatter and more forgiving layout, is more suited to the average golfer. The Upper Course is a lot harder given that its set in the hills and is rimmed by deep woods.

Golf Digest gave it 4.5 stars, and the Nationwide Tour visits it every year for the Lake Erie Charity Classic.

Travel time: 2-3 hours.

Eagle Crest Resort, Ypsilanti, Mich.

Living through the fall season without tasting apple cider is like going to a rock concert and not guzzling beer. So, in the interest of playing great golf and sipping great cider, Clevelanders should check out Eagle Crest Resort. The cider can be had at Wiards Orchard about 12 miles down the road. The golf? The reviews are pretty decent for this course, a former dairy farm. It plays 6,755 yards from the tips and gives you a front-row seat to the red, orange and yellow colors of fall, particularly on no. 14, a 175-yard par 3 where you can practically view the whole course.

Oh, and don't forget about the Henry Ford Museum in nearby Dearborn. There's lots to see and do on this trip! Travel time: 3-4 hours.

Culbertson Hills Golf Resort, Edinboro, Penn.

What a great town to visit…and play golf in. A pretty college town, Edinboro boasts the Edinboro Inn, conveniently located right next to the golf course. Interestingly, the course has no sand, just grass bunkers. It plays 6,395 yards from the whites, and its signature hole is No. 7, a 361-yard par 4 that bends to the right and sets up an approach over water.

The course was designed by Thomas Bendelow, who unbenownst to many golfers also designed Butler CC and Medinah No. 3. Nearby attractions include Conneaut Lake & Park and Conneaut Cellars winery. There's no better time to sample the fruits of the fall harvest than September-October!

Travel time: 2-3 hours.

Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, N.Y.

Talk about puttin' on the ritz. A two- to three-hour drive will net you a grand experience at The Spencer Hotel, a four-story Victorian frame house with 27 different rooms, all named after popular authors. The Chautauqua Golf Club features 36 holes, the first 18 designed by Donald Ross.

No. 7, a 420-yard par 4 with plenty of trees but no traps, was called one of the greatest par 4s by Ben Hogan. Hogan supposedly conducted clinics there in the 1930s and '40s. Another toughie is No. 11, a 360-yard par 4 that looks like a pushover until you realize the last 100 yards are severely uphill.

When you're through with your round, don't miss the Chautauqua Fall Festival and Regional Quilters Festival Oct. 8-10. Other attractions in the area include a host of wineries, the Lucy & Desi Museum, swimming, water sports, boating, historic walking tours, antiques shopping and art galleries.

Jason StahlJason Stahl, Contributor

Jason Stahl currently works for Medquest Communications in Cleveland, Ohio, as Editorial Manager. Prior to joining Medquest, he spent five years with Advanstar Communications as Managing Editor of Landscape Management, a trade magazine covering the professional landscaping business. He graduated from St. Ignatius High School in 1989 and John Carroll University in 1993.

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