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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Vermont Fall Travel Ideas

Article and photo (views from mid-Burke Mountain, Northeast Kingdom Vermont) by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareVermont is one of those "You had to be there" states.

Vermont's incredible mountain and lake scenery is almost impossible to fully describe, and has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The laid-back lifestyle, the quaint, quintessential small towns with tall white church steeples, and the long winding country roads bring back previous travelers, attract new ones constantly, and even prompts many to move to the "Green Mountain State" for its wonderful quality of life.

What better time to see Vermont than the colorful fall foliage season? The feeling of staying at a Vermont country inn surrounded by marvelous mountain and lake scenery, taking a leaf peeping driving through the Green Mountains, or going for a walk through the cool crisp fall air, rustling through the leaves, and having a nice warm cup of apple cider makes for a pure New England fall experience.

Vermont features myriad attractions any time of the year, but, to us, is especially impressive in the fall -- we can't help but fall in love with the fall foliage colors. To fully appreciate the area, VermontVacation --one of New England's most visually appealing and content-rich travel Web Sites -- offers a wealth of information for the Vermont traveler and the media. Given our media background and presence here at The Weekly New England Travel and Vacation Gazette, we thought we'd share the following press release "story ideas" documents for you, the traveler, courtesy of VermontVacation's Vermont Online Press Room:

Vermont has some of the best foliage in the world. Autumn is the perfect time to hop in the car and take a drive through the country lanes, winding streets, and scenic byways. With the backdrop of blue skies and a myriad of fall colors on the horizon, Vermont is ready for exploration.

Have Car, Will Travel; State Recognized Scenic Byways

Vermont has a number of roads that have stood out for their historic, recreational, and natural wonders. To jump-start your foliage viewing, try these routes during your travels. All have easy access parking and/or pullouts for photo opportunities or impromptu rest stops.
• Scenic Route 108, the Smuggler’s Notch Road, attracts hikers and rock climbers as it passes through Mansfield State Forest and near the Smuggler’s Notch Ski Resort.
• Scenic Route 131, Cavendish Road, runs through the town of Cavendish and follows the well-stocked Black River where anglers can be found casting for fish.
• Scenic Route 125, Middlebury Gap Road, is an ideal location to view autumn colors as it passes through the Green Mountain National Forest, a popular camping spot.
• The Lake Champlain Byway offers outstanding views of the state’s largest lake, surrounding Green Mountains and Adirondacks, as well as the area's working landscapes.
• Route 9, the Molly Stark Trail, is named after the wife of New Hampshire's General John Stark who was the victor of the August 16, 1777 Battle of Bennington.
• The Connecticut River Scenic Byway is the natural bridge that unites New Hampshire and Vermont for over half of the waterway's 410-mile journey from the Canadian border to the Atlantic Ocean.

Vermont: The Best Way to Enjoy the Best Foliage

Vermont has the highest percentage of maple trees of any of the New England states, a tree with foliage that turns vibrant orange and yellow in the fall. Foliage progresses from the north to south and from higher elevations to lower elevations. Therefore, the earlier in the season you visit, the more northerly you want to focus and the later you come, more southerly. If you want to do more planning before your arrival, research your trip on www.vermontvacation.com/seasons/fall.asp. Here you can find suggested drives, read foliage reports, learn the insider’s tips, and watch the Foliage Forecaster which helps you strategically plan where and when to visit Vermont based on the natural progression of foliage in a typical year. It is a handy tool if you've never been to Vermont before or come from an area where foliage doesn't change so dramatically.

Winding down with Wine Tour: Vermont Vineyards and Wineries

Starting in northern Vermont, begin your wine tour at Boyden Valley in Cambridge for a September Harvest Festival. Continue west to the Snow Farm Vineyard in South Hero, a leader in the Vermont wine field establishing the first commercial grape vineyard. At the Grand View Winery in East Calais, sample something decidedly different like elderberry or dandelion wine. Try a few award-winning organic grape wines at Shelburne Vineyard in Shelburne. At the Ottauquechee Valley Winery housed in the Historic Dewey Mill near the Quechee Gorge, enjoy any of their seven wines. End the tour at the southern tip of the state with the North River Winery in Jacksonville, which offers Vermont Harvest dessert wine containing cinnamon and Vermont maple syrup. For contact details, visit www.VermontBrewers.com.

An Apple a Day: Farms, Festivals and More

Vermont’s cool climate is perfect for producing apples. Almost 70 percent of the apples grown in Vermont are MacIntosh, a variety good for eating fresh picked, fresh pressed or fresh baked. When apples are harvested in September and October, there are a number of festivals with apples as the centerpiece. These celebrations feature diverse entertainment including music, crafts, cider pressing, pie baking and more. Apple picking at an orchard is a unique Vermont experience and taking home fresh cider makes for a tasty souvenir. For a complete listing of orchards and apple events, visit www.VermontApples.org.

The Vistas of Vermont: Accessing the State’s Many Mountaintops

Many of Vermont’s mountain peaks offer panoramic views, especially breathtaking in fall. Killington Resort has a gondola ride to the state’s second highest peak, where a clear day can provide views into Canada. At Killington and Bolton Valley, you can bring your mountain bikes along for the ride and bike a trail back to the base. In the Northeast Kingdom, rise to the top of Jay Peak in a sixty person capacity tram. In southern Vermont, Bromley Mountain, Stratton Mountain and Mount Snow both have lift services to their summits. The 3816-foot Mount Equinox peak can be reached via a winding drive with views of the Green Mountain range.

Take it From the Top: Viewing Foliage from Another Angle

For an entirely different perspective of Vermont foliage, take a hot air balloon ride, go skydiving, or ride the air currents on a sailplane. From the faint of heart to the hearty adventurer, there is a bird’s eye view opportunity for everyone. Soar over the treetops in a romantic sunset balloon ride over the Quechee Gorge. Tandem, static line, and accelerated free fall jumps all are available with professional instructors within a setting of mountains, valleys, and lakes. Enjoy the views on a quiet sailplane tour or take a day lesson and learn to pilot the air currents on your own. Contact the Vermont Outdoor Guide Association at www.VOGA.org for information on any of these activities.

The Bridges of Addison County: Covered Bridges in Vermont

Sure, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep and Robert James Waller can make anyone’s bridges famous. However, without a New York Times bestseller and a big budget movie to back it up, Vermont has managed to carve out a reputation for itself as the place to come for covered bridges. Vermont is home to more than 100 covered bridges and each one has a story to tell.

Treasure Hunting in Vermont: Shopping for Antiques

Vermont’s countryside is dotted with a treasure trove of collectibles and antiques. Given the richness of history, Vermont has an abundance of interesting artifacts and unique bric-a-brac. Pieces are often displayed on the roadside to lure shoppers inside where hunting among the rooms and rafters is part of the experience. In autumn, there are a number of expos, including the Annual Vermont Antique Dealer’s Association gathering and the Annual Weston Antiques Show. These shows and others make antiquing easy by assembling vendors to display, highlight and sell their wares.


Editor's note: We personally love Vermont's Northeast Kingdom for its pristine and largely unspoiled scenic small town communities. Also at the top of our list is Stowe, perhaps Vermont's best example of a quintessential village that has retained its charm but still has lots of things to do. For more information on Vermont, we recommend logging onto VermontVacation, or reading Vermont: An Explorer's Guide (Explorer's Guides)


Readers' Favorite New England Scenic Fall Destinations

Article and 2008 late October photo of Cumberland Reservoir, Cumberland, R.I., by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareRecently, we have received some wonderful feedback on readers' favorite New England fall destinations. We must say that we agree with the choices, as stated below, as each area resonates with traditionally wonderful fall foliage. Readers, we appreciate your feedback, and encourage you to further add to this list with your own comments!

Here is the latest fall foliage destinations feedback:

From our Facebook New England Vacations Fan Page:
Debbie says, "Crawford Notch is gorgeous. I love going through Franconia Notch, too." Debbie adds that the "Kanc'"(Kancamagus Highway) is another favorite, as is Bear Notch Road (near the Kancamagus) and... "everywhere in northern NH!"

Marc says, "Route 100 in Vermont (also, the Thirteen Mile Woods section of Route 16 in NH)."

Kristie adds, "Quechee & Woodstock VT area, too!"

Our NewEnglandInfo Twitter followers have additional valuable feedback on prime New England fall foliage destinations:

Gil Simmons, morning Morning Meteorologist for WTNH 8 ABC , New Haven, Conn. (Twitter name: gilsimmons) recommends, "Rte. 169 in Eastern Connecticut.....Rte. 44 form Rhode Island to the NW hills of Connecticut, as well!"

Carol Casey (Twitter name: CarolCasey) says, "Ditto to what @gilsimmons said, as well as RT 214 in SE CT."

Erica Bates (Twitter name: erica_bates) states that "Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park (ANP, Maine) is gorgeous! All of ANP gorgeous!"

I'd like to add a New England area that doesn't get a lot of press: the Wrentham, Mass./Cumberland, R.I. pocket. Pleasantly rural (for Cumberland, that means on opposite side of town from the densely-populated Valley Falls area), fall foliage really starts to pick up around mid-to-late October, further enhanced scenically by area lakes and ponds, as well as local farm stands like The Big Apple and Phantom Farms.

For more information on scenic fall foliage destinations, we recommend reading our "Best New England Fall Foliage Travel Destinations, Vacations and Scenic Drives" article at VisitingNewEngland.com. For a great photo tour of the New England fall foliage, we recommend reading The Colors of Fall: A Celebration of New England's Foliage Season

We look forward to reading your comments here on your favorite scenic New England fall destinations!


More New Hampshire Fall Foliage Updates!

Photo of Echo Lake, Franconia Notch State Park, N.H., by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareWhen you hear the words and phrases "spectacular," "vibrant," and "near peak," that means New Hampshire fall foliage is virtually on your New England travel doorstep.

With the Great North Woods and White Mountains Regions showing the most vibrant colors, make no mistake that the rest of the "Granite State" has shown increasing amounts of tremendous foliage. Even the Seacoast Region (Portsmouth, Dover, Rye, Hampton Beach area) -- typically the last to display optimal fall foliage colors -- has shown some brighter moments.

Here is the latest New Hampshire fall foliage press release update, courtesy of the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism:


Great North Woods Region: Spectacular fall colors are taking over the Great North Woods region. Maple trees which were still green last week are now becoming splashed with bright oranges and vibrant reds. The colors are changing at all elevations now, and it will just be a matter of days before this area reaches peak fall foliage. Moose are being sighted frequently along Routes 26 from Errol to Colebrook and also along Route 3 from Pittsburg to Canada. The area overall is nearly 75% changed.


White Mountains Region: More beautiful foliage awaits you in the White Mountains region. Most roads throughout the area are coloring up nicely, including Route 302, especially through Crawford Notch; Route 2, which provides panoramic views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range; and Route 112, the Kancamagus Highway, mostly on the western end. Waterfalls are framed in splashes of yellow, red and orange right now, and covered bridges are surrounded with color. The towns of Franconia, Easton and Sugar Hill – all accessible by Exit 38 off Interstate 93 – are drenched in bright fall colors right now and are worth exploring.


Lakes Region: Some parts of the Lakes region are beginning to change into fall color, while other areas are still very green. Our leaf peepers here are reporting beautiful reds and oranges along Route 3 from Ashland to Meredith, and on Route 16 from Union to West Ossipee. The colors here are bright and beautiful, with lots of clear oranges and golden yellows. The trees are green with splotches of red, orange and yellow – it looks like the leaves were spray painted with dots of color. Although the area is not at peak yet, the views are pretty, and the mountain ranges are starting to show change, too.


Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region: The leaves in the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee region are showing some established color among the green. Covered bridge lovers will want to travel Route 12A north from Claremont to pass three covered bridges: The Dingleton Hill Bridge in Cornish Mills, the Cornish-Windsor Bridge, and the Blow-Me-Down Bridge just south of Plainfield. This road also brings you by the St. Gaudens National Historic Site, home of the celebrated artist. Route 4 from Lebanon to Canaan and Route118 through Orange and Dorchester is displaying nice fall color, also.


Monadnock Region: Parts of the Monadnock region are nearly 40% changed right now, with the lowlands and waterways almost at peak color. Other areas haven’t begun to change yet, so there’s plenty of time left for this region to move into the height of foliage color. Mount Monadnock is just beginning to show some yellow and orange with a speckle of red, mostly on its eastern side. Route 202 from Peterborough to Route 119 in West Rindge to Route 12 in Fitzwilliam is a nice scenic drive, as is Route 10 from Keene.


Merrimack Valley Region: It’s still pretty green in the Merrimack Valley region of the state. Despite bright reds in lowlands, the rest of the region is just beginning to change here and there. Milford and points south is in the beginning stages of fall, with low lying areas displaying a great assortment of deeps reds and golden yellows. Burning bushes are ablaze in dark reds. Route 101 between New Boston and Manchester is nearly 50% changed.


Seacoast Region: It’s beginning to look a lot like fall in the Seacoast region. Route 88 in Hampton Falls is a favorite drive, and it’s getting brighter and more beautiful every day. Route 108 from Exeter to Durham is showing some spotty color, while Route 1 is maintaining its lush summer greens. A scenic drive along Route 1A from Seabrook to Portsmouth is a must-do right now – the beaches are less crowded, and the ocean glitters in the sunlight like a cache of sparkling diamonds. Look for migrating water birds and wild hares along this road.

Editor's note: For recorded report of the latest New Hampshire fall foliage updates, please call 1-800-258-3608. For a great photo guide of New England fall foliage, we recommend reading The Colors of Fall: A Celebration of New England's Foliage Season



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Apple Pie in the New England Fall Time

Article and photo (of Andrea DiReda Tabor, Ever So Humble Pie Company) by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareFall time in New England and apple pie have always seemed like a perfect autumn duo.

Picking apples at the local farm and then coming home to start the process of apple pie-making truly brings out the best in fall. The unmistakable sweet apple pie aroma resides quite harmoniously with the outside fall colors, the slight chill in the air, a football game on the television, and a roaring fireplace in the living or dining room (in our case, an electrical version).

For those who would rather buy an apple pie than make one, we recommend shopping at your local farm stand or bakery over the supermarket -- generally, the fresh taste comes out more when shopping locally. At the top of the pie chain, however, is the local pie shop -- if you are lucky enough to have one near you. In the southwest metro Boston suburbs, we recommend the Ever So Humble Pie Company's, of Walpole, Mass., all-natural version of apple pie. Freshly-peeled apples tossed with brown sugar and spices, and heaped high beneath a delicate, flaky crust make this apple pie a "you just can't eat one slice" concoction.

Andrea DiReda Taber, owner of the Ever So Humble Pie Company Apple Pie, creates this remarkable-tasting ready-to-bake pie, made out of all-natural ingredients, at her East Walpole production and retail shop. This is certainly not your basic healthy-but-cardboard-tasting apple pie! While some other pie-makers include trans fats, monosodium glutamate, artificial colors and flavors, and and other offending, unhealthy chemicals, Tabor crafts her hand-crimped apple pies with a slower production process, paying close attention to using quality ingredients.

"Mass produced products use more seasonings than fruits, so customers know they are tasting the 'real thing' with our pies," said Taber.

For a detailed article on the Ever So Humble Pie Company, its products (some really innovative pie flavors here!) and where you can purchase these gems, we recommend reading our VisitingNewEngland.com article on the Ever So Humble Pie Company.

Ever So Humble Pie Company Contact Info:
Retail Location: 153 Washington St., East Walpole, MA 02081
Telephone: (508) 660-9731
Retail Hours: Mon. - Fri., 9-6 and Sat. 9-3 (pie sampling is offered during these weekend hours, also!)
Web Site: http://www.eversohumble.com


Maine Fall Foliage Traditionally Ranks Amongst New England's Best

Article by Eric H. Photo left: A mix of evergreens and hardwood trees creates a colorful display on Songo Pond along Route 5 south of Bethel. Credit: Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce

Bookmark and ShareMaine boasts 7 million acres of forest and more land covered by trees than any other state in the country, so it's no surprise that fall foliage has traditionally held a popular presence amongst locals and travelers.

Granted, Maine has a lot of pine trees, but the reality is that you'll find foliage colors in the myriad other tree species that's every bit as good as the prime-time New England fall foliage players, New Hampshire and Vermont. You just have to know where to go, and when. Additionally, Maine shines colorfully, not only with its inland fall colors, but also at the coast. Any part of the state is capable of turning out vibrant yellow, orange, red and purple hues -- great news for those who prefer the Maine coast. Depending upon location, you can expect the best Maine fall foliage from the last week of September (now!) to the third week of October.

For the latest updates on Maine fall foliage colors, we recommend you check in often at MaineFoliage.com, a state-run site that prides itself on being up-to-date and detailed in its information. For added perspective, we feature a VIsitingNewEngland.com article centering on our take on Maine coastal and inland fall foliage. If you like New Hampshire and Vermont fall foliage, we have no doubt that you'll enjoy Maine's, too!


Autumn Art Fair, Oct. 3, at Briggs Nursery, North Attleboro, Mass.


Bookmark and ShareOne of our favorite local art stores, Village Artisans Collaborative, of North Attleboro, Mass., just sent us a message that they will be sponsoring a fall arts and crafts day at Briggs Nursery, 295 Kelley Blvd. in North Attleboro, Sat., October 3, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. in the beautiful atrium at Briggs Nursery in North Attleboro.

The show will feature many works by local artists along with a free raffle for a $50.00 gift certificate to the Village Artisans Retail Store at 21 North Washington St., in downtown North Attleboro (Tel. 508-695-1010). We encourage you to stop by the event to support what we feel is a model not-for-profit organization -- Village Artisans showcases more 30 local artisans at its retail store while working closely with local organizations to foster creative programs. This local cultural vision helps make North Attleboro even that much better than it's already impressive presence as a close-knit, community-oriented town!

The Oct. 3 event should be a lot of fun. In addition to the wonderful service Village Artisans provides, Briggs Nursery remains one of the most impressive of its kind in the southern Massachusetts/northern Rhode Island area with an impressive array of plant and flower, gardening, tree and shrub, outdoor decor, home and gifts, lawncare, and landscape design merchandise and services.

Briggs Nursery
295 Kelley Blvd.
North Attleboro, Mass.
Tel. (508) 695-4721



Monday, September 28, 2009

Country Store, Vermont-Style!

Article and photo (of Bailey's and Burke country store) by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareEveryone loves a good New England country store with the exception of those who don't love a good New England country store.

Not exactly a statement of Mark Twain-caliber there (more like Yogi Berra, perhaps), but the reality is that many country stores remain quite popular in an otherwise modern, "superstore" retail generation. Most people we know especially love going to country stores in Vermont, with the fall being the most popular time to visit these "trip-back-in-time" destinations -- given the accompanying fall foliage colors, community events, a little apple cider and that unmistakable great-smelling autumn mountain air. Yes, some people would rather go to the shopping mall for convenience and love of the modern retail trend of the week, but we believe most New Englanders embrace a country store as part of a New England way of life. It is just part of our traditional fabric.

In Vermont, the Vermont Country Store in Weston, Vt., stands out, arguably, as the most popular country store in the state (and probably New england) with its rustic, rural presence and "everything but the kitchen sink" variety of merchandise. The Vermont Country Store is best known as the "Purveyors of the Practical & Hard to Find" with thousands of items that you'd thought you'd never see again -- that could mean anything from a manual typewriter to Lifebuoy soap! It's a great experience, one that could take up the better part of a morning or afternoon.

Country store life in Vermont does not end at the Vermont Country Store, however. We particularly like Bailey's and Burke in the high and lonesome Northeast Kingdom town of East Burke. Another quintessential country store, Bailey's and Burke carries a lower profile but with no less the charm and character of the best Vermont country stores with two stories of delightful "nooks and crannies." Built in 1897, the look and feel of an old country store resonates at Bailey's and Burke with each step on the creaky, narrow hardwood floorboard. Downstairs, you'll find fresh baked breads and pastries, Vermont specialty foods, homemade pizza, deli sandwiches, homemade fudge, more than 40 varieties of bulk candies, and a very unique wine cellar. Upstairs, you'll come across casual clothing, Vermont crafts, baskets, country linens, kitchen treasures, pottery and Christmas inspirations. Lending authenticity to the store is the work of many Vermont artisan's handcrafts for sale.

Of course, all of Bailey's and Burke indoor country store glory would be no good if it was located in a crummy-looking town. East Burke, on the other hand, is scenic, quaint,small-town in nature, and with beautiful views nearly right outside its doorstep with Burke Mountain and other Northeast Kingdom vistas (along with nearby beautiful Lake Willoughby). Why, you'll feel like you're in Vermont! Once again, not exactly a Mark Twain-caliber statement of wisdom, but you get the picture, and it's a beautiful one -- Vermont/New England country store-style!

Bailey's & Burke
466 Route 114
East Burke, VT 05832
Tel. (802) 626-9250



Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Hampshire Fall Leaf Peeping Bike Rally for a "Wheel" Good Time, Oct. 3-4

Photo: New Hampshire fall leaves (by Eric H.)

Bookmark and ShareOne of our readers, Madeleine Clark, recently wrote in to tell us about a fantastic-sounding motorcycle-related Lakes Region, New Hampshire, fall event:

Leaftoberfest, a leaf peeping bike rally, will be held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 3-4, at Laconia Harley-Davidson, 239 Daniel Webster Hwy (Rte 3), in Meredith, N.H. Escorted leaf peeping rides will take off on both days at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.. Live music starts at noon and Laconia Harley-Davidson will be offering demos on the new 2010 Harleys. Participate in The Bike show also offers, on Oct 3rd, the chance to win a $1,000 in prizes. Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant, of Meredith, N.H., will be offering some great food!. For more information on the event, please log onto www.laconiaharley.com

What better place to see the New England fall foliage than New Hampshire? Colors have become more vibrant in most sections of New Hampshire as of late, and will continue to do so, especially with some of the more recent cool-to-cold nights throughout the "Granite State." Additionally, we have heartily recommended Hart's Turkey Farm through the years for its phenomenal turkey dishes. Hart's has seemingly been around forever, and is deservedly a household name to Lakes Region residents. Laconia Harley-Davidson chose well on choosing the right restaurant to cater its event!

Editor's note: For another great motorcycle-related New England fall tour, please read the "Scenic Motorcycle Fall Foliage Ride in Central Massachusetts and Northeast Connecticut" article, here at The Weekly New England Travel and Vacation Gazette. If interested in a book on motorcycle travel in New England, check out Motorcycle Journeys Through New England.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Gourd" Vibrations at Sunshine Farm, Sherborn, Mass.

Article and photos by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareSunshine Farm in Sherborn, Mass., is never out of its gourd(s).

Excuse the play on words, but come fall time, gourds play a prominent retail role alongside their famous cousin -- the pumpkin -- at this peaceful road side farm stand, minutes from the more hectic retail shopping pace of Route 9 in Framingham and Natick. Gourds can be used for fall decorations, or for use as sculptures, baskets, masks or musical instruments. Some people even give out gourds for Halloween. Growing up, we had neighbors that gave us hungry kids non-edible gourds instead of candy bars. Place that brilliant 1970s-style idea alongside orange shag rugs, pet rocks and Ford Pintos.

If you are so inclined to buy a gourd, Sunshine Farm offers one of the biggest selections in the area. If you are not so inclined, the third-generation, family-owned 100-acre Sunshine Farm offers a wonderful little fall destination experience with a farm market (including a bakery, and a wide variety of on-the-premises or locally-grown produce (including bags of apples), many rows of pumpkins for sale, and squash, mums (from a terrific gardening center) and corn stalks. A fantastic ice cream stand features tasty flavors like pumpkin, apple crisp, mango, pomegranate chip, and coconut.

Sunshine Farm is open May through December, offering fields of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and peaches at various times of the year. It's really the quintessential road side farm stand, looking like one and acting like one with its relaxed, rural presence, merchandise and friendly help.

Sunshine Farm will be featuring a fall event, come Columbus Day (Oct. 10-12): with "U-Pick" raspberries and pumpkins. Weekend Fall Foliage Hayrides start from noon-4pm. ($3.00 per person). Specials at the market and gardening center include pumpkins and mums and cornstalks, pies, breads, apples and cider.

Sunshine Farm really hits on all roadside farm cylinders -- produce, bakery, gardening, "u pick" fruits in the field, ice cream, pumpkins -- and yes, gourds for the biggest fans of this unique member of the Cucurbitaceae family!

Sunshine Farm
41 Kendall Ave.
Sherborm, Mass.
Tel. (508) 655-5022





Friday, September 25, 2009

New Hampshire Foliage Updates, Sept. 24

Photo by Eric H.: Woods in Franconia Notch State Park, N.H.

Bookmark and ShareJust received an update from Betty Gagne, of the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development, that more vibrant fall foliage colors have graced many parts of the "Granite State." The Fall Foliage Report for Sept. 24 states that "It’s autumn splendor in the Great North Woods region," and the "White Mountains Region is showing a blast of color in and around the area of Waterville Valley." Leaf peepers from The Lakes, Dartmouth-Sunapee, Monadnock and Merrimack Valley regions are also reporting more color, while the Seacoast region (usually the last to reach peak foliage) is showing greater progress than in past years, at this time.

For fully detailed fall foliage reports, we recommend calling the New Hamphire Division of Travel and Tourism Development Fall Foliage Hotline at 1-800-258-3608. Follow the prompts to check out the latest reports in each New Hampshire region.


Looking for Your New England Fall Foliage Travel Ideas

Article and photo (corn maze, Adam's Farm, Cumberland, R.I.) by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareThis is your site. We are merely the facilitators!

With that in mind, we are looking for your feedback, ideas, suggestions, etc., on where to go and what to do during the New England fall foliage season. Some topic ideas: best leaf peeping spots, apple picking, corn mazes, country stores, scenic drives, hikes, restaurants perfect for an autumn day, and road side farm stands. We also welcome ideas on seasonal events.

Whether it's Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island or Vermont, we'd love to hear from you on what you consider the best of New England fall foliage season travel. Please feel free to post a comment here, or send us an e-mail. Thanks for helping make The Weekly New England travel and Vacation Gazette a community to exchange New England fall travel ideas -- we truly appreciate you visiting our site!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bright Future for 2009 Maine Fall Foliage

Photo: Early foliage color Tuesday on Munsungan Lake in Piscataquis County north of Baxter State Park. Credit: Maine Department of Conservation

Bookmark and ShareEditor's preface: While New Hampshire and Vermont are household names when it comes to fall foliage leaf peeping, we suggest keeping in mind the other four New England states -- that Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have some traditionally mighty fine fall foliage. To keep up to date on fall foliage colors in New England, we recommend calling all the following state hot lines: Connecticut 888.288.4748 , Maine 1.888.MAINE.45,Massachusetts 800.227.6277, New Hampshire 800.258.3600 , Rhode Island (Department of Tourism) 800.556.2484 , Vermont 800.837.666

And now back to our regularly scheduled program... Fall Foliage in Maine!

Just got some great news from our New England neighbors at the Maine Office of Travel and Tourism in Augusta, Maine, that fall foliage color in the northern half of Maine is ranging from 30 to 75 percent peak.

That's the word, according to the state Department of Conservation. Aroostook County and Piscataquis and Somerset County forest rangers observe 50-75 percent peak color in the northern sections and low leaf drop, the report states.

Aroostook State Park Manager Scott Thompson states that the low-lying areas surrounding the park are 50 to 60 percent toward peak, and the ridges of hills and mountains are nearing peak. He expects peak color to develop during the next two weekends if overnight temperatures continue to drop in the Presque Isle area.

Color in Northwestern locations-- including Jackman, Eustis and Greenville, and northeastern locations like Millinocket and Houlton -- have moderate color, or 30 to 50 percent toward peak according to the report. Leaf drop in both regions is still less than 10 percent, according to the report.

Rangers report 10 to 30 percent color change in the western mountains region from Bethel to Rangeley, central locations from Augusta to Bangor, and the downeast coast from Belfast to Eastport. Leaf drop is less than 10 percent in these regions.

Southern coast foliage color is still very low, or less than 10 percent toward peak, according to the report.

In related news, the Department of Conservation announced that Aroostook State Park will host the first in a series of state park guided foliage hikes on Sunday, Sept. 26. For information about the hike and to register, visit http://take-it-outside.com/hike.shtml.

Maine's fall foliage conditions are updated every Wednesday through Oct. 21 and posted on www.mainefoliage.com. Web site visitors can sign up to receive the weekly reports by email and post comments about Maine foliage adventures on the Foliage Forum page.

Other fun fall events happening this weekend include the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, the Punkinfiddle National Estuaries Day Celebration in Wells, and the Family Arts Festival in Brunswick.

For more information about events and activities happening in Maine this fall, log on to http://www.visitmaine.com.


Readers New England Fall Travel Tips #1: Windy Ridge Orchard, Haverhill, N.H.


Bookmark and ShareEditor's note: The Weekly New England Travel Gazette is interested in your feedback for New England fall travel tips. Please feel free to e-mail our crackerjack New England news team with your autumn travel suggestions for the six-state region!

Today, Jennifer L., from the Hanover, N.H., region writes us with the following New Hampshire fall travel tip, this one focusing on a special roadside farm stand:

"We just LOVE apple picking at Windy Ridge Orchard in Haverhill, N.H.. They have a little store that sells apples, apple cider, cheese, cafe with great food and fresh apple cider donuts and an area where the kids get to play. Really nice family-oriented place!"

Thanks so much, Jennifer, sounds like a wonderful New England fall destination!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Best New England Fall Foliage Travel Destinations Resource

Article and photo (2008 photo of Big Apple Farm, Wrentham, Mass.) by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareIf you're overwhelmed on where to start when traveling the six New England states during the fall foliage season, we have a resource to make autumn trip planning easier. The VisitingNewEngland.com "Best New England Fall Foliage Travel Destinations, Vacations and Scenic Drives" offers tips on places we have been to and regard as scenic, fun and relevant autumn New England fall travel spots.

We cover a wide variety of New England fall foliage season information, including our favorite vacation destinations and hotel getaways, dining spots tailor-made for autumn, best leaf peeping spots, driving tours, hikes, day trips, apple picking and apple cider recommendations.

Realizing that you might have a limited amount of time to travel -- like, perhaps, a weekend -- we feel that our "New England Fall Travel Guide" acts as sort of a "greatest hits" of New England fall foliage season travel. Of course, New England offers so much to do in the autumn that we'll constantly update this section, as we experience more great spots in the fall.

To access the article, click on the link above.


The Long and "Wining" Road in Connecticut


Bookmark and ShareOne of our Twitter followers, http://twitter.com/RuthieB2, just gave us a great autumn tip, stating the "Connecticut Wine Trail is a fantastic trip for a cool fall day."

The Connecticut Wine Trail takes visitors through 20 vineyards in some of Connecticut's most picturesque towns. This eastern and western Connecticut excursion offers award-winning wines. All wineries are members of the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association.

The wineries include:
Bishop's Orchards Winery and Farm Market, Guilford
Chamard Vineyards, Clinton
DiGrazia Vineyards, Brookfield
Gouveia Vineyards, Wallingford
Haight-Brown Vineyards. Litchfield
Heritage Trail Vineyards, Lisbon
Hopkins Vineyard, New Preston
Jerram Winery, New Hartford
Jonathan Edwards Winery, North Stonington
Jones Winery, Shelton
Land of Nod Winery, East Canaan
Maugle Sierra Vineyards, Ledyard
McLaughlin Vineyards, Sandy Hook
Miranda Vineyard, Goshen
Priam Vineyards, Colchester
Rosedale Farms & Vineyard, Simsbury
Sharpe Hill Vineyard, Pomfret
Stonington Vineyards, Stonington
Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen
White Silo Winery, Sherman

For more information on to create your own wine tour, we recommend visiting the Connecticut Wine Trail Web Site.

Editor's note: If you have any fall tips, please email us at The Weekly New England Travel and Vacation Gazette. To access our New England travel tips and updates on Twitter, visit our New England Info page.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome to the Start of the New England Fall Season!

Article and photo (2008 photo of Adams Farm, Walpole, Mass.) by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareFall begins at 5:18 p.m. today in New England!

Although the past few weeks have brought us fall-like activities like apple picking, some pockets of impressive northern New England fall foliage and local, traditional autumn-related community events, we can now officially say that summer is in our rear view mirror. In the past few weeks, in preparation for your fall travel, we have presented you some fall travel and vacation ideas. We will continue to do so until late October on virtually a daily basis. For the start of fall today, we bring you a "sampler" of some more autumn travel ideas with many more New England fall travel tips on the way:

The Century House bed and breakfast in Nantucket, Mass., tells us that Restaurant Week 2009 will take place, Sept. 28-Oct. 4, in Nantucket, and will feature "special pricing and unique menus" from 30 different local dining spots. Presented and organized by the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce and The Nantucket Magazine, Restaurant Week will feature events and specials like three-course-meals ranging from $25-45 offered by local restaurants, a food and drink tasting event, junior chef competition, a course on how to make bloody Marys, and chowder contest. For dates and times of the event, please log onto http://www.nantucketrestaurantweek.com, e-mail at info@nantucketrestauranrtweek, or call 508-228-1700.

The Maine Office of Tourism and Travel reports that The 25th Annual Harvestfest in York and York Beach, Maine, will take place from October 16-18 and includes a parade, pumpkin carving, craft fair, ox roast and bean hole baked beans, live music and fireworks.

Max Sabrin, special events coordinator with the Old Saybrook Fire Department, says that the Old Saybrook Fire Department will hold its 12th annual Haunted Hayride 2009 in Old Saybrook, Conn. for several days in October. Dates include Friday, Oct 16th, Saturday the 17th, Thursday the 22nd, Friday the 23rd, Saturday the 24th, Wednesday the 28th and on Thursday the 29th at Clark Memorial Field (Fireman’s Field) on Elm St. For more information, log onto the Old Saybrook Fire Department Web Site.

By the way, the photo above of Adams Farm on North St. in Walpole, Mass., creates a nice fall scene, doesn't it? If you like solitude in the suburbs, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better spot to stroll without noise around the Boston area. About a mile in, you cannot hear any modern-day noise annoyances -- just the pleasing sounds of Mother Nature. With about 700 acres of town-owned land connected with the New England Forestry Foundation and the Norfolk County Agricultural High School, Adams Farm makes for a perfect low-impact fall hike. Colors generally reach their peak here in mid to late October.

We'll be featuring many more New England fall events, attractions, travel tips and vacation ideas. Stay tuned, and check back in often! If you have a fall travel suggestion, please e-mail us at The Weekly New England Travel and Vacation Gazette and we'll consider it for publication.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Phantom Farms Fall Fun!

Article by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareWe've posted before on Phantom Farms in Cumberland, R.I., and will do so periodically in the future. The reason: like everything else we write here, Phantom Farms is a New England destination we love to visit and recommend (without any vested interest, of course). Why write about anything else? That way, we pass along straight-from-the-heart travel recommendations along to you!

Phantom Farms is a quintessential New England year-round farm stand that is best visited in the fall, in our opinion. With its apple picking, freshly-squeezed apple cider, pumpkins, and cornstalks, Phantom Farms, for many, seems synonymous with autumn fun in the northern Rhode Island, Blackstone Valley region. Add pies, pastries, jams and jellies, more native produce, a garden center and a beautiful rural location and Phantom Farms is truly a "one-stop" shopping roadside farm destination.

Fall events make Phantom Farms even that much more fun. For the rest of this month and October, Phantom Farms will be featuring events like an antique tractor and truck show, live music, "story time," a Jack-O-Lantern illumination and pumpkin harvest festival, car show, chili cook-off, and "family farm day." For specific dates and times for the events, please click on the flyer in this posting! We'll be there a few times, and hope to see you!



Phantom Farms
2920 Diamond Hill Rd.
Cumberland, RI
Tel.: (401) 333-2240
Fax: (401) 334-479



Latest Lodging Review: 123 Inn and Restaurant, York Beach, Maine

Article and photos by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareOur latest VisitingNewEngland.com travel review centers on The 123 in York Beach, Maine. Located directly across the street from Long Sands Beach, this oceanfront inn and restaurant features amazing views from each room's own private balcony. The 123 also fulfills a rare York Beach travel feature, offering lodging, breakfast, lunch and dinner under one roof.

Formerly the Inn at Long Sands, The 123 carries on the tradition of high quality lodging at this address and, in many cases upgrades over the former facility, including an expanded dining menu and indoor and outdoor dining, as well as memory foam mattresses and wide screen televisions in each room.

York is often thought of as a summer destination, but we have always found the community to be a wonderful travel destination in the fall where the crowds lessen and many attractions stay open through Columbus Day. We consider The 123 as a great lodging choice when vacationing in York.

For a full review on The 123, please click on the link above.




Saturday, September 19, 2009

Apple Picking and Beyond at Belkin Lookout Farm Makes for a Fruitful Day

Article by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareIf you're looking for an apple picking experience that goes beyond just picking apples, then Belkin Lookout Farm in Natick, Mass., is the place to "pick."

In the same town that brings you the densely-populated commercial stretch of Route 9 with just about every store imaginable -- and a seemingly continuous traffic jam -- Belkin Lookout Farm resides on 180 acres of beautiful farm land in a truly quiet rural section of South Natick. Belkin Farm is also one of the oldest continuously working farms in the country, having some form of farming operation since the mid-1600s! It's simply a beautiful fall New England destination, and a true oasis from growing suburbia. You'll feel like you're hundreds of miles away from the shopping mall and center craziness of Natick and neighboring Framingham -- also a bastion of shopping frenzy on Route 9.

Not that Belkin Lookout Farm doesn't become overcrowded itself, given its high level of entertaining things to do on a nice New England September day, like today. This "Metrowest" outdoor, family fun destination, a half hour from Boston, features not only fields and fields of apple picking, but also train rides to your fruit picking spot, a terrific farm market and garden center, a petting zoo, hay pyramid, caterpillar rides, a burlap maze, moon bounce, a farmed-themed children's play area and, on the weekend, live childrens' entertainment, face painting, a barbecue snack bar and pony and camel rides (additional charge).

This weekend (Sept. 19 and 20th), the Belkin Lookout Farm fall celebration continues with a magic show and a contest with the chance to win Red Sox tickets, according to the Belkin Lookout Farm Web Site. At this writing, Gala and Mac apples are ready to pick as well as Asian pears, yellow peaches, nectarines and plums. For updates, directions, hours and any possible changes in schedule, we recommend calling the Belkin Lookout Farm hotline at (508) 653-0653.

We also recommend checking out the "Hey, everyone, let's go apple picking" article on Belkin Farm at VisitingNewEngland.com for additional perspectives on this landmark New England farm.


Friday, September 18, 2009

The Latest New Hampshire Fall Foliage Updates


(2008 photo of Concord, N.H., by Eric H.) Fall Foliage report source: New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism)

Bookmark and ShareThe New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development just sent us an update on the latest fall foliage reports across New Hampshire. As could be expected, this is the time of the year when trees start to turn over an "old leaf," many transforming into bright colors. While we still have a ways to go to reach peak fall foliage in the "Granite State," areas like the Great North Woods, the Monadnock and Merrimack Valley regions and, surprisingly, the Seacoast Region have sectors of impressive colors, according to New Hampshire Travel and Tourism.

Regardless of level of fall foliage color, anytime is a great time to visit New Hampshire. Personally, we simply can't get enough of the pristine, small lake towns in the Lakes Region (Wolfeboro and Meredith, in particular), the rugged and scenic White Mountains, the charming coastline splendor of Portsmouth and Rye, the "Courier and Ives" communities of the Monadnock Region, and the classic New England Towns of Hollis, Amherst and Milford in the Merrimack Valley region. So, yes, fall foliage brings out a special element of New Hampshire. But even if the colors aren't brilliant, New Hampshire certainly is when it comes to scenic travel and vacation destinations!

We highly recommended calling the State of New Hampshire recorded fall foliage report hotline at 1-800-258-3608. For now, here is the latest report, thanks to the New Hampshire Divison of Travel and Tourism:

Great North Woods Region: The warm days and cool nights are pushing a little more color into the Great North Woods region, and the most color change is taking place along the banks of the Connecticut River, and on exposed trees that stand alone. Mountain views provide occasional reds and yellows among the green. Bull Moose and bald eagles were spotted this week near the Pontook Dam on Route 16 in Dummer. The area overall is less than 25% changed, but with a frost expected this weekend, that could change by next week. The Balsams is hosting the Grand Lumberjack Challenge on Saturday – watch the wood chips fly as lumberjacks compete in this one-day challenge where strength, skill and determination will decide who wins. For more information, please call 603-255-3122.

White Mountains Region: There hasn’t been much change in the foliage in the White Mountains region since Monday. The area remains mostly green with sprinkled oranges and reds along waterways and swamps. Some cold nights will push this area into colorful autumn glory soon. The weather is looking fine this weekend for a scenic drive; you can photograph waterfalls, walk across covered bridges, visit roadside farm stands, see panoramic views, and explore years of history in this part of the state, so take your time and enjoy these last traces of summer. Loon Mountain in Lincoln is the site of the 34th Annual Highland Games, the largest Scottish cultural festival in the northeast, from Friday through Sunday. For information, please call 1-800-358-7268.

Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region: The Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region remains draped in green right now, with just hints of color change in watery parts of the area. Some of the trees have that iced look that takes over before changing to bold orange and blazing red. Travelers may want to drive Route 4A, which runs along Mascoma Lake, and visit the Enfield Shaker Village Museum. Nature lovers will want to visit Rollins State Park and Mount Kearsarge State Forest this weekend. Take exit 8 off Route 89; follow Route 103 about one mile and turn right onto Kearsarge Mountain Road. Follow signs to the state park. This time of the year brings hawk migration, where thousands of broad-winged hawks can be seen flying over this small mountain. The upcoming cold nights should push some color into this region soon.

Lakes Region: A few more pockets of color have appeared in the Lakes Region this week, but overall this area is green. Route 25 toward Tamworth is a colorful ride, and Route 3 up through Weirs Beach, Meredith, and Holderness will be spectacular once the color strikes. For a real taste of New Hampshire’s fall-time heritage, a visit to the 134th Annual Rochester Fair is a must-do. This lively festival has livestock shows, motor sports, live entertainment, rides, tons of food, and lots of fair exhibits, including massive pumpkins and other prize-winning fruits and vegetables. Please visit www.rochesterfair.com for more information.

Monadnock Region: Low valleys and swamps are colored with vivid reds in the Monadnock Region of the state. Some developed color can be seen along Route 124, also. Our leaf peepers in this region tell us that Route 101 through Marlborough has the best overall color so far this season, and Route 202 south is showing some definite change. This “Currier and Ives” corner of the state has much to offer visitors, including quiet back roads, farm stands, apple orchards and country stores. The Stone Arch Bridges of Hillsborough are worth a trip to see – these marvels of yesteryear were constructed simply of stone blocks cut to fit perfectly without any mortar to keep them together. For information about these bridges, please visit www.hillsboroughnhchamber.com. The town of Antrim is holding a Home & Harvest Festival this weekend. Food, arts & crafts, children’s activities, music, and a pumpkin regatta will be featured, topped off by an awesome fireworks display on Saturday night. Please call 603-588-4835 for more information.

Merrimack Valley Region: More and more of the maples are starting to turn their familiar reds in the Merrimack Valley region. Peak colors of blazing reds and sunny yellows are alive in some bogs and meadows, while other swampy areas still have a way to go. Some of the tops of trees have turned bright orange, but the area overall is predominantly green. If you travel to this region during the weekend, you may want to attend the Hollis Old Home Days. This small-town gathering really demonstrates a slice of New Hampshire’s heritage. Enjoy music, a parade, rides, a barbecue, a dunk tank, crafts – even a pet parade – and more. Please visit www.hollisoldhomedays.org for more information.

Seacoast Region: The Seacoast region, usually the last to herald fall, is showing colors already! Our leaf peepers in this area are reporting beautiful reds and oranges along Route 27 from Hampton to Exeter, and vibrant red maples coming to life in the lowlands that surround the marshes. Route 88, a beautiful country road, is beginning to display some fiery reds and blazing oranges. Even the Spaulding Turnpike is coming alive with spotty reds and oranges here and there. Families will want to visit Portsmouth this weekend for the 5th annual Fairy House Tours. The tours are held Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4pm, starting at Pierce Island and meandering through various Portsmouth gardens and historic homes. Everyone is invited to bring natural materials to help build a Fairy House village. For more information, please visit www.fairyhouses.com.


New England Fall Travel Photo Tour


Article and photos by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareMany travelers equate New England fall travel only to leaves turning color, but that would be barking up the wrong tree.

While fall foliage colors offer the predominant travel attraction here in the New England autumn, let's not forget the other "parts" that lend a unique and unforgettable atmosphere to our six-state region.

In no particular order, country stores, roadside farm stands, apple picking, pumpkin patches, cornstalks and mazes, regional and community fairs and festivals, and cozy restaurants with rural scenery create a colorful destination on their own. Mix in the vibrant colors of the leaves and the "parts" add up to a spectacular sum of vacation bliss.

We hope you enjoy our fall travel photo tour on this posting. We incorporate all the aforementioned "parts" into this slide show to illustrate what a special time of the season it is in one of America's great regions of the country.

Unlike some other travel sites that "borrow" photos without attribution, we took all the photos in this slide show. We love New England, so it's only natural that we take photos along the way!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Scenic Motorcycle Rides for the New England Fall Foliage Season

Article by Eric H.

Bookmark and ShareFollowing up on Tom K.'s excellent article yesterday on motorcycle fall foliage rides in central Massachusetts, we received several other suggestions from our Twitter followers over the past few days.

Smugglers_Notch (Smugglers' Notch Resort in Jeffersonville, Vt.) said they see motorcyclists enjoying the drives through Smugglers' Notch Pass on Route 108, heading east to Stowe, Vt., or west to Burlington, Vt., and Lake Champlain.

NaswaResort (Naswa Resort On Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H.) states that the the White Mountains, Kangamangus Trail area "are gorgeous!"

gilsimmons (Gil Simmons, morning meteorologist for WTNH Channel 8, ABC, New Haven, Conn.) recommends Route 169 in Eastern Connecticut. Good choice, Gil! This is one of our personal favorite scenic drives in New England. We can't get enough of the farms, historic churches and classic Connecticut village green centers along the way.

For more information on Route 169, Jeffersonville-to-Stowe, and the White Mountains/Kancamagus Highway, please check out a VisitingNewEngland.com article on the Best Scenic Drives in New England!

Happy motorcycle riding during the New England fall foliage season. Please have a safe ride and let us know if you have any more favorite scenic fall foliage motorcycle rides in our six-state region!

Editor's note: If interested in a book on motorcycle travel in New England, check out Motorcycle Journeys Through New England.



Maine Fall Foliage Updates

Information Source: Maine Office of Tourism. Map - Current Maine foliage conditions for September 16. (Credit: Maine Department of Conservation)


Bookmark and ShareThe Maine Office of Tourism in Augusta, Maine, just sent us a message stating that all that rain that occurred during the first half of the summer proved beneficial for the impending fall foliage season, as leaf-bearing trees are healthy and primed for their annual color change.

"Good foliage development is a prerequisite for good fall color," said Bill Ostrofsky, a forest pathologist with the Maine Forest Service. "The plentiful summer rain allowed the foliage to develop vigorously, and most crowns now appear full, dense, and very lush. All regions appear to be on track for another spectacular season."

Aroostook County and northern portions of Piscataquis and Somerset County forest rangers report low leaf color, at this writing -- less than 30 percent peak and low leaf drop. For the remainder of the state, low color and very leaf drop is the norm.

Ostrofksy states that the health of foliage in northern, southern and "Downeast" regions is particularly good. With overnight temperatures in the low 40s and a continued decrease in daylight will create the gradual change in leaf color from north to south through late October.

Multiple Maine state parks will offer guided hikes on Sundays in October, allowing for some anticipated spectacular views of turning foliage.

"Maine state parks are popular destinations for leaf peepers," said Department of Conservation Commissioner Patrick McGowan. "The educational hikes will be a fun way to see and photograph foliage in a park forest."

Maine's fall foliage conditions are updated each Wednesday through Oct. 21 at http://www.mainefoliage.com. Web Site visitors can sign up to receive the weekly reports by email and post comments about their Maine foliage adventures on the Foliage Forum page.

Some Maine fall events happening this weekend:

*The inaugural Acadia Night Sky Festival on Mt. Desert Island
*The 3rd Annual Two Countries, One Bay Art Studio Tour in Lubec, Eastport and Calais
*The 12th Annual Bethel Harvest Fest.

"It's the perfect time to visit an apple orchard or a family farm with a cornstalk maze," said Pat Eltman, director of the Maine Office of Tourism. "And there's fun for all ages at community harvest festivals happening through October."

For more information about events and activities in Maine this fall log onto http://www.visitmaine.com.

Editor's note: If interested in a photo essay book on New England fall foliage, check out The Colors of Fall: A Celebration of New England's Foliage Season



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Scenic Motorcycle Fall Foliage Ride in Central Massachusetts and Northeast Connecticut

Editor's note: Mid-October is usually the best time to enjoy peak fall foliage in Central Massachusetts. For updates on best leaf peeping times, call the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism at 800.227.6277

Article by Tom K., avid motorcycle enthusiast

Bookmark and ShareThis route starts out in Rutland Mass., takes a scenic route through Charlton, Mass., and down to Pomfret, Conn., for lunch at the Vanilla Bean Cafe.

We then head northwest from the Vanilla Bean through the central Massachusetts towns of Southbridge, Sturbridge and eventually, Ware. From Ware, we head into Hardwick, around the eastern side of the Quabbin, up to Athol, and down the western side into Belchertown, but not without stopping at the Hamilton Orchards in New Salem for warm cider doughnuts, first.

I have taken this route many times and still enjoy the ride!

Start at Colonial Convenience/Mobil gas station at the Intersection of Route 122 (Barre Paxton Rd.) and Pleasantdale Rd. Follow Pleasantdale Road into Spencer where it merges with Route 31. Stay on Route 31, south into Charlton. Follow Route 31 south into Connecticut. Take a right onto RT 197 into Woodstock, Conn. Take a left onto Route 198 south. Follow Route 198 south into Pomfret. The Vanilla Bean is at the intersection of Routes 198 and 44. Enjoy the wide variety of menu items. Be prepared to wait in line on a weekend, but they move fast. Be careful of the gravel parking lot! More than one biker has taken a tumble here in front of everyone (not me, thank God!).

When you are full, head north on Route 169, again into Southbridge. Take a left onto Route 131 north. Follow Route 131 into Sturbridge. Take a left on Route 20 west into Fiskdale. Take a right onto Route 148 north. Follow Route 148 into Brookfield. Take a left onto Route 9 west. Follow Route 9 through West Brookfield toward Ware. Take a right onto Route 32 north toward Gilbertville. Take a left onto Route 32A toward Hardwick. As you head North on Route 32A, the eastern side of the Quabbin Reservoir is on your left. Just after you enter Petersham, if you feel like a walk (need to walk-off lunch so you can have those doughnuts), stop at Gate 40 on the left had side. This is the old road to Dana Commons. Dana was one of the towns that was taken by the State to create the Quabbin Reservoir. Dana Center is approximately 1.8 miles from Gate 40. There is a Granite marker where the town common was once located. There are cellar holes all along the road where old homes used to be. Check them out! Quite a thing to see what once was!

Back to the ride! Continue on Route 32A and take a left onto Route 122 north toward New Salem. You are now on the north side of the Quabbin. Take a left onto Route 202 south toward Belchertown. Keep an eye out for wildlife as you head south. I saw a bobcat cross the road last year! The Quabbin is on your left now and there are a few places to pull off and look at the beauty of the area. As you head south on Route 202, you will see signs about fresh cider, doughnuts, pies, and, of course apples! Stop at Hamilton Orchards on West St. in New Salem. Take a few minutes to enjoy the apples, treats, apple-smoked pork loin sandwiches (if you are hungry again) and, of course, the warm doughnuts! Take a few home with you and don’t forget to say "hi" to the doggies roaming around!

Continue down Route 202 into Belchertown. Take a left onto Route 9 east towards Ware. A few miles down on your left is the entrance to the Quabbin Museum at Windsor Dam. They have a history center that you visit to learn about the making of the Reservoir. Very informative. Continue down Route 9 east and a few more miles up on the left is the Quabbin lookout tower. Take this in and climb the steps and you can see for miles all the way south to Connecticut and north to Athol. Continue on Route 9 west through Ware and into West Brookfield. Take a left onto Route 67 north and follow into North Brookfield. Take a left onto Route 67 and then after the center, take a right onto Route 148 north towards Oakham. Follow Route 148 north to Route 122. Take a right on Route 122 South and follow back to the Colonial Convenience store on your left.

This will be an all-day ride. I usually leave Rutland about 10:00 a.m., stop for lunch at the Vanilla Bean about noon, hit Hamilton’s around 3 p.m., and then back to Rutland by about 5 p.m.. The total miles is probably close to 250, so gas up in Rutland, again in Southbridge, and then again in Belchertown.

Editor's note: We also recommend reading Tom's (and his wife Anne's) excellent article on camping around New England at VisitingnewEngland.com/

If interested in a book on motorcycle travel in New England, check out Motorcycle Journeys Through New England.



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