Fall Weekends in New England: 2017
This post has been updated for 2017!
While my favorite New England season is summer, fall comes very close second. With an ever time-consuming summer pass time (the beach!) no longer factoring into our weekends, there is time to appreciate many other outdoor celebrations in New England – within a short drive from Boston.
Here is what’s on our TO DO list this fall.
LEAF PEEPING IN NEW HAMPSHIRE’S WHITE MOUNTAINS
It is not difficult to find your spot to observe the bright colors of New England fall (even if only while driving to work on I-495). But with just a little driving effort, you can enjoy the legendary New England foliage colors in full glory.
We took this photo near Castle in the Clouds estate in Moultonborough, New Hampshire (2.5 hour drive from Boston).
There are several easy hikes alongside cascading brooks, and the Castle itself is a gorgeous early 1900’s estate settled “in the clouds” on top of the lake Winnipesaukee.
Another fall foliage favorite, Kancamagus Highway stretches for 35 miles across New Hampshire’s White Mountains, from Lincoln to Conway, with many opportunities to stop for a view, walk or picnic.
The peak of foliage in the White Mountains is expected in mid-October, here is a link to White Mountains’ fall foliage report to help you plan your own leaf peeping.
MASSACHUSETTS FARM VISIT
There is no apple picking at Appleton Farms in Ipswich, MA- the oldest, continuously operating farm in North America, but let that not deter you from a day of “earthy” family fun. During our recent visit as guests of The Trustees our daughter Vi met the newest baby cows on the farm and then participated in the bread and butter making class.
To pick your own farm festival to visit, check out this list of Trustee’s fall farm events and festivals here.
The Trustees is Massachusetts’ largest preservation organization with over 100 natural, scenic and cultural sites across the state in their care, including Appleton Farms and Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Weir River Farm in Hingham, Bird Park in Walpole, the Governor Ames Estate in Easton, and The Trustees KITCHEN at the Boston Public Market.
(with its companions – apple donuts and apple cider) is our other fall MUST. Our current picking choice- is Westward Orchards in Harvard, Massachusetts. You can find a quiet spot for a picnic under the apple tree, and there is a big country store with apple donuts and other goodies.
The orchard closes at 5:00pm (wagon rides 11-4 daily). Check their website for seasonal apple’s varieties.
SEASIDE BIKING IN MASSACHUSETTS AND RHODE ISLAND
Biking while leaf peeping is our favorite kind of biking and here are our 2 favorite bike paths:
Cape Cod Rail Trail in Massachusetts (CCRT) is a relatively flat paved bikeway that runs 25 miles from South Dennis to Wellfleet along scenic lakes, meadows and ocean vistas.
Our other favorite is a 14-mile East Bay Bike Path in Bristol, Rhode Island which runs for 14 miles along the Narraganset Bay and offers an opportunity to stop at a scenic Colt State Park.
Minuteman Bikeway in Massachusetts connects Cambridge and Bedford, via Arlington and Lexington.
WALKING ON THE BEACH ON CAPE COD
National Seashore beaches on Cape Cod, Massachusetts (such as Marconi Beach in Wellfleet ) offer gorgeous sea vistas in any season. See our full list of Cape Cod’s fall weekend favorites here.
There is no fall in New England without a pumpkin, and you can bring one home from a number of farms near you. For pumpkin carving turned into a form of art, check out Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, a nighttime display of 5000 illuminated lanterns (and pumpkins carved into forms of art) daily starting at 6 pm (October 5 through November 5th this year).
We made a mistake of going on a Saturday night last year and it took us about an hour and a half to get to the display. Go on a weeknight, or go late (there were no lines as we were exiting the Zoo at 10pm ). Adult tickets are $18/kids are $15 (yes, prices went up a bit this year!) Check their website for discounted fares and closing times.
HALLOWEEN GHOST TOURING IN THE BERKSHIRES, MA
There are many ghost tour options around, but why not combine the “spookiness” with some culture and haunt the ghosts at historic estates.
The Ghost Tours at The Mount (writer Edith Wharton’s estate in Lenox, Massachusetts) are hosted on Friday and Saturday nights in October, concluding with Halloween Ghost Tour on October 31 at 8 and 10:30 pm.
Naumkeag, another architectural masterpiece of the Gilded Age in the Massachusetts Berkshires (Stockbridge, MA) with magnificent garden and panoramic views offers its own version of the Haunted House on Saturday October 28.
ROAD TRIPPING IN COASTAL MAINE
With summer traffic out of the way, fall is a perfect time to visit Maine. We have gone on a coastal Maine road trip on our anniversary weekend in mid-September, but Maine’s coast could be enjoyed for many more weekends in the fall. While a visit to Portland and BoothBay Harbor are more suited for a weekend (or longer) trip, a drive to Ogunquit is less than 1.5 hours from Boston and could be easily done as a day trip.
CITY TOURING IN NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND
On a recent Saturday in Newport, RI, (as guests of Discover Newport) we took a tour with Viking Trolley Tours. We were excited to go beyond our “usual” Newport day trip itinerary of Cliff Walk and downtown’s Bannister’s Wharf to the scenic Ocean Drive where we discovered our “new” favorite spot – Gooseneck Cove.
GETTING ON THE WATER
We have done this in early September, but sailing in Newport, RI is going strong through the end of October. Just watch for sunny days (or dress warmly).
WINE TASTING at historic Greenvale Vineyards on Sakonnet River in Portsmouth, Rhode Island (6 miles from downtown Newport) is combined with live Jazz tastings 1-4 pm on Saturdays through December 9 this year. Read about our visit here.
MAKING MEMORIES AT STORYLAND, NEW HAMPSHIRE
My favorite New England kids’ park – Storyland in Glenn, New Hampshire is not your typical “amusement” park. It is smaller in size but offers many “hands-on” play areas that are popular with kids (up to age 8, probably) and their parents. The park is open through Columbus Day Monday, October 9. Check out their website for daily closing times and beware certain rides’ seasonal closing. I am sure your young kids will thoroughly enjoy the visit and you will be able to stop at scenic Kancamagus Highway on your way back home.
This year we probably won’t get to HIKE the Monument Mountain or Mount Greylock (Massachusetts highest point) in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, but I recommend to add the mountain hike to your own New England fall list.
WHAT IS ON YOUR FALL LIST?
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