In the Northeast, we spend October weekends chasing foliage locations that afford open vistas yet are not too far from home. (In the summer, I am all for WEEKEND trips, but come early fall and a return of school and extracurriculars – we often favor day (and half day) destinations from our suburbia home base South of Boston). I came up with these three half day fall trips themed around “Little Women” filming locations northwest of Boston. These short excursions would suit any number of tastes, but we experienced them as mom-daughter trips.
Did you know? The 2019 “Little Women” film was filmed in 11 Massachusetts towns so if you want to continue with the theme, there are a lot more places to explore.
Gibbet Hill and Bancroft Castle in Groton, MA
For our mid-October half day trip to Groton we started with a tour of Gibbet Hill Farm followed by a picnic take out from nearby Gibbet Hill Grill eaten on the fields with a view over Black Angus pastures.
We then went for a short walk (about a mile or so but UP) past the ruins of the mysterious Bancroft Castle and all the way to Gibbet Hill.
The walk was more crowded than I would have liked, but the view from the top onto Nashoba Valley decorated in fall colors was rewarding nevertheless.
Since we decided to continue with our exploration on the way home (south) we stopped in Concord, which could be a half day destination of its own.
It does not get more “Little Women”y than in Concord. During our visit last fall, we were able to take photos only of the garden and of the outside of the house, but Louisa May Alcott’s House (Museum) has recently reopened (with timed admission).
After the visit, enjoy the walk on Main street or turn it into a longer trip by visiting nearby Minute Main National Park.
Several years ago (thanks to my friend Robin) we discovered the apple orchards in the town of Harvard. Since then, we have not looked back at the other, more well-known (and crowded) orchards. Our favorite is Westward Orchards.
We typically bring a picnic and spread it out on a blanket between the apple trees. Apple cider donuts with coffee is also a tradition we do not skip!
This year we added a trip to Harvard’s Main Street centered around the General Store. It also serves as the town’s coffee bar (worth a stop!) and flower shop and restaurant with outside patio.
We were a little disappointed to realize that the row of period houses in the movie were actually a set built on the town’s Commons- situated between the Store and the Church. That disappointment led us to explore further afield to the Fruitland Museum (five minutes up the street) which has a collection of period objects and arts as well as stunning views and walking trails. By then it was too late for the Museum itself, but still some time remained to look around and purchase wild blueberry jam from the gift shop. Next year we need to come back a little closer to peak of the foliage season to appreciate the Fruitland Vista point right above the museum.
Bonus Ideas: If you feel like crossing state lines but still would like to make it home for dinner, visit Blithewold, late 19th century Country Place Era historic estate with gorgeous gardens and views over Narraganset Bay in Rhode Island.
For a full day adventure, visit Mytoi Japanese Gardens on Martha’s Vineyard.
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