Top 5 Reasons for an Autumn New England Adventure

I had the privilege of venturing out to New England for my son, Nathan’s, wedding to his bride, Kelly. The wedding itself took place in Providence, Rhode Island, and we had an amazing time celebrating them in October of 2019.   

 

Top 5 Reasons for an Autumn New England Adventure
Nathan and Kelly’s New England Wedding. Photo Credit Caitlin Elizabeth James

Once the wedding festivities concluded, my wife and I extended our trip to embark on a few adventures throughout the New England area. As I thought about our time spent in New England during the autumn, I decided that there are five reasons that you really must set out for your own adventure.

1 Dazzling Fall Colors

You may already know that the New England region of the United States is rather famous for its fall colors. However, a photo just doesn’t quite capture the brilliance of the fall foliage. You simply have to see the stunning array of hues in person!

Top 5 Reasons for an Autumn New England Adventure
Dazzling Fall Colors, Lincoln Woods State Park, Rhode Island – Top 5 Reasons for an Autumn New England Adventure

You can begin to understand the beauty of the fall in New England by taking a good look at this photo, and then closing your eyes to picture yourself in a similar spot (such as in Lincoln Park, Rhode Island). Imagine strolling across an old wooden, covered bridge that overlooks a bit of water. You look around you and you soak in the fiery reds, the deep burgundies, the vibrant oranges and the vivid yellows of the trees surrounding the water. Pausing for a moment to appreciate the beauty, you notice a few leaves gently drifting down to float on the water and you gasp—for the dazzling colors you see in the trees are reflected even more brightly back at you in the water below the bridge, which is still as glass.

(Are you ready to start planning your trip yet?)

Dazzling Fall Colors, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts
Dazzling Fall Colors, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts

Our visit toward the end of October was past peak for colors through Vermont and New Hampshire, so we focused in on a different area. My friends at Hunt’s Photography spent some time researching Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island and came up with recommendations for viewing the best colors at this time of the year. Thank you to Don Toothaker for his amazing recommendations for all the great places to go.

Dazzling Fall Colors,, Country Church Near Bash Bish Falls Fall Massachusetts
Dazzling Fall Colors,, Country Church Near Bash Bish Falls Fall Massachusetts

We knew the classic, often-photographed location for autumn in New England is the Kancamagus Highway which cuts from west to east across to central New Hampshire. However, the areas along here were also past peak so we ultimately decided our best option was to stay farther south.

Amazing Autumn Colors, The Berkshires Western Massachusetts Quabbin Reservoir, Massachusetts - Top 5 Reasons for an Autumn New England Adventure
Amazing Autumn Colors, The Berkshires Western Massachusetts Quabbin Reservoir, Massachusetts

If you venture out to New England a bit later in autumn as we did, keep this mind. Even though we weren’t there at the perfect time, it was still some of the most stunning fall color. You won’t be disappointed!

2 Outdoor Opportunities

Closely tied in with the awesome autumn hues of the New England region is the ample opportunity it offers for all sorts of outdoor recreation.   The most obvious outdoor activity would be hiking or simply taking a leisurely stroll through a meandering road.

Top 5 Reasons for an Autumn New England Adventure
Quabbin Reservoir, Massachusetts – Top 5 Reasons for an Autumn New England Adventure

Here, in this spot, your cares will melt away as you enjoy a walk with that special someone. You can’t help but feel relaxed and a little more carefree among the scenery here! You’ll find parks like Lincoln Park, mentioned earlier, or Indian Point Park, but you’ll also find a few majestic waterfalls when you explore Campbell Falls State Park.

Campbell Falls State Park Reserve Norfolk, Connecticut
Campbell Falls State Park Reserve Norfolk, Connecticut

Is there any sound more soothing than water rushing over polished rocks? Sit awhile and just take in the beauty here. There’s no need to rush or hurry in the outdoors of New England. Pack a picnic lunch and linger a bit. You might just find yourself so relaxed that you decide to stay the whole day.

Bash Bish Falls State Park Berkshires Western Massachusetts  - Top 5 Reasons for an Autumn New England Adventure
Bash Bish Falls State Park Berkshires Western Massachusetts – Top 5 Reasons for an Autumn New England Adventure

How About Some Quidditch?

And if waterfalls and parks and picnics aren’t your thing, how about Quidditch? Yes, the sport Harry Potter himself played in J.K. Rowling’s young adult book series. We saw several Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) students playing Quidditch in the great outdoors of New England—what a fun surprise!   Truly, there is something for everyone here in New England.

3 History and Culture

New England was one of the first areas to be settled in the New World, so it’s only fitting that the area is rich with historical sites and plenty of culture. If you enjoy touring museums or reading about historical facts, you’ll want to include New England on your bucket list.

Mount Holyoke College South Hadley, Massachusetts
Mount Holyoke College South Hadley, Massachusetts

Fellow art lovers absolutely cannot miss the RISD museum. It dates back to 1877 so you will be able to take in the art as well as plenty of history. Or, go back even further in time with a trip to the Slater Mill historic site. This one will transport you all the way back to 1793 with attractions like a restored shop, a home and a huge water wheel. It will leave you thankful for modern conveniences like electricity and running water!

slater mill historic site pawtucket ri
Slater Mill Historic Site Pawtucket RI

The Lighthouses

New England’s lighthouses are another reason to go out and visit. With almost 200 lighthouses, you could fill an entire trip with just visits to lighthouses! We had a few other plans for our own New England adventure so we chose just one: the Portland Head Light lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Portland Head Light lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine

 
Portland Head Light lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Portland Head Light lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine From the South Evening Light

Several years prior, we visited Acadia National Park and loved it; we intended to visit Portland Head Light but I was much too tired and grumpy. (Travel is wonderful but can be exhausting—so much to see and do!) We drove by it but did not stop and I have been kicking myself ever since! Do yourself a favor and make it a point to visit here on your New England excursion.   As you can see, Portland Head Light is quite possibly the most iconic lighthouse in the country. George Washington himself gave the order to build it, so you could say it has been around for a few years. And during those years, what glorious sunsets it must have presided over!

Portland Head Light lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Portland Head Light lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine From the North Morning Sunrise

And here is where I must issue a word of caution as you plan your own trip to Portland Head Light. I was out on the rocks, trying to capture the perfect angle for a few photos, as the tide was coming in. I was getting a little nervous and eventually a giant wave splashed up and soaked me and the camera gear, which we had to work to save. Luckily, we didn’t get washed away and I got the most amazing shot ever! A photographer will do anything to capture the perfect shot—but be sure to be safe, too.

Portland Head Light lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Portland Head Light lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine in the Waves

Inn by the Sea

You won’t regret staying at the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth (a 5 Star Resort, stay mid week for best rates) or somewhere nearby for at least a night, because you will not want to miss the sunrise. The colors can rival the fall foliage!

5 The Food

In my book, a top five list is not quite complete without mentioning the regional cuisine and dining opportunities that abound in New England. Within the Berkshires of Massachusetts, you will find that many restaurants and shops are closed down during this time of the year, so do take that into account if you plan to visit.

Coffee

I happen to consider coffee one of the major food groups so I must point out a rather unique little café. We had been driving quite a while when we happened upon The Southfield Store which was one of the few places open for business during the beginning of the week in October. We ended up meeting the producer from ZZ Top who, as it turned out, owns the place. This is a fantastic place to visit, especially if you are a fan of ZZ Top (and coffee).

Try All the Great Coffee in New England
Try All the Great Coffee in New England

Greek

When it comes to enjoying dinner, you will want to dine at the Aegean Breeze Restaurant of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The food here is Greek and so fresh while the atmosphere calls to mind a slice of Santorini right here in the U.S.

The Lobster Shack in Port Elizabeth Maine

If you are a lobster lover, you need to hit the Lobster Shack in Port Elizabeth Maine.  There are good places to eat in Southern Maine. Other restaurants have nice views…But nothing compares with The Lobster Shack at Two Lights. Located at the end of Two Lights Road on the rocky shores of Cape Elizabeth, Maine–The Lobster Shack is an award-winning restaurant that has been a local landmark since the 1920s. Enjoy your meal oceanside on the picnic tables, perched just above the crashing surf, below the lighthouse and next to the fog horn. Or stay in the cozy dining room, watching the ships entering Portland Harbor and the local fishermen haul up their daily catch.

Lobster Shack in Port Elizabeth Maine
Lobster Shack in Port Elizabeth Maine

Enio’s Eatery in South Portland

Plan to experience Italy next at Enio’s Eatery in South Portland. Oh, the Italian food there makes me so happy! You will leave with a smile on your face and a full stomach after enjoying an appetizing meal paired with a delightful sampling of wines from Europe or a range of craft beers.

Dinner at Enio’s Eatery in South Portland
Dinner at Enio’s Eatery in South Portland

Stroll the Historic Streets of Portland

It is worth taking your time here and enjoying a stroll through historical downtown Portland afterward to allow your food some time to digest.

 

Take a Stroll in Historic Portland Maine
Take a Stroll in Historic Portland Maine

Map of New England Fall Road Trip

 Map of New England Fall Road Trip - Top 5 Reasons for an Autumn New England Adventure

Map of New England Fall Road Trip – Top 5 Reasons for an Autumn New England Adventure

Conclusion

There is just so much to see, do and eat in New England that you simply must plan an adventure there during the fall season. Whether you are into history, sightseeing or simply enjoying leisurely walks through vibrant fall foliage, you are sure to find something to pique your interest during autumn in New England.

 

Co Author: Brittany VanDerBill – www.bvanderbillconsulting.com

 

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