Autumn at The Umstead

It arrived last week.


Every October, I fret that the fall foliage will fail to impress here in central North Carolina. Then, as Thanksgiving draws near, the leaves do their thing and it is spectacular…and I remind myself to remind myself next year to hold my horses.

Saturday afternoon, I found myself at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina, for a late lunch with my older sister.

If you’re a fan of coffee, I recommend the Espresso Fizz. It was delish and went surprisingly well with the pickled fried chicken.

In case you need some convincing:


The ice cubes were made of frozen coffee, and a dash of cinnamon gave the Espresso Fizz a pleasing punch of sweet-spicy flavor.

After lunch we took a walk around the hotel, which is always a treat. (I’ve written about the Umstead before.) Although this five star establishment is right off of Interstate 40, it’s tucked into a wooded haven.


A view from inside the hotel hinted at the beauty awaiting outside.


Gas fire pits and heaters make the back porch at Umstead attractive to guests nearly year-round.


These roses were a reminder that it was actually 75 degrees on this particular Saturday in latish November.

Umstead’s lake, located at the rear of the 12-acre resort, is tranquil and offers walking trails and benches. This time of year, these amenities were encased in vibrant colors of autumn.






Locals and visitors alike are fortunate to enjoy this lovely place, which U.S. News and World Report has ranked as #1 in Best North Carolina Hotels.

Art & Nature Unite at The Umstead

The lovely Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina, is an award-winning and picturesque retreat for both travelers and locals alike. This local, in fact, likes it very much.

Built on 12 acres in 2007 with a focus on art and nature, the Umstead is a 150-room hotel complete with a Signature Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond restaurant (Herons), a lounge, a newly renovated spa, 10,000 square-feet of meeting/event space, and an immeasurable amount of tranquility.

Following a spectacular Sunday Brunch at Herons yesterday after church, I took a walk through the hotel, which contains pieces of modern and minimalist artwork throughout. I then worked my way outside for a stroll around the lake (to meet my indulgence of warm donuts with spiced sugar and mascarpone head-on).


The entrance to the Umstead Spa features some of the hotel’s private collection of artwork, created by renowned local and national artists. Self-guided tours of the hotel’s many pieces, ranging from pottery to paintings to glass sculpture, are open to the public. (Cary, NC)


A mockingbird sits in a tree outside the Umstead Hotel and Spa. …I later learned—thanks to an educational placard a little further down the path—that the Northern Mockingbird is a “copycat bird.” It doesn’t have its own song, but rather sings the songs of other birds near it. (Cary, NC)


Canada Geese groom near one of the two water sprays on the Umstead Hotel and Spa’s lake. (Cary, NC)


In late winter, a paper bush adds color to the bird and butterfly meadow. (Imagine the meadow in spring and summer!) — The Umstead Hotel and Spa (Cary, NC)


The Umstead Hotel and Spa’s Cypress Swamp. Cypress swamps are common in the southern United States and may also include other shrubs and trees, not just cypress. (Cary, NC)


The trail around the lake offers opportunities for exercise, observation, and leisure. Padded wooden benches provide places to watch the sunning turtles or the flying, floating waterfowl. –Umstead Hotel and Spa (Cary, NC)

The Research Triangle region of North Carolina, (which includes the cities of Raleigh and Durham, as well as the towns of Cary and Chapel Hill), is home to several appealing inns. …The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. …The Carolina Inn. …The Fearrington House Inn. …And The Umstead Hotel and Spa.