Ways to Celebrate Fall in the Upper Valley

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Katie Donovan

Fall is by far my favorite season with crisp evenings and bright, sunny afternoons: the perfect temperature.  Add cozy ciders, pumpkin ravioli, butternut squash lasgna, and apple anything and you have a food feast to go with the dazzling colors that decorate our lovely place we call home: the Upper Valley.

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You may have your own fall traditions.  I know I've loved going to pick my own apples and make apple sauce for years.  When we had a bumper crop of apples I picked my own from my backyard but when the crop was slim, we loved the apple variety and experience at Wellwood Orchards.  Sometimes I'd even grab a fresh donut, apple cider, or pumpkin after picking.  They have a petting zoo, so it's great for the kids too.  I hope you can find a new tradition or a twist on an old one as a way to celebrate fall this year.

Apple Picking: Try a New Orchard

A lot of us go apple picking already but this year I'm branching out and going some place new: Poverty Lane Orchards.  I'm going to try some heirloom varieties I've never even heard of, which is an adventure for me because I'm really sold on macoun and honeycrisp apples.  I'm excited for the experience and hope to try all the local orchards in the upcoming years, especially after reading this great story about the orchards and their owners.  If you want to know more about the local orchards you have to pick from, you can see a list here.

See the Plainfield Pumpkin People 

One of my favorite fall activities I've recently added to my fall to-do list is seeing the Plainfield Pumpkin People.  They make me laugh.  Last year my college friend from NY and I drove around 12A and Route 120 and had so much fun looking at the pumpkin people and the creative thinking that went into the displays.  To see what it's like check out my post from 2016 here with lots of pictures and 2017 with a suggested route you can take again with new pumpkin people to see.  The featured image is one of my favorite pumpkin people from 2016 on Route 120.

This year they've started coming out and will run until Oct. 31st.  They have a website with an online map and route suggestions.  Their Facebook page has funny pictures from past years:tire swing, motor cycle biker, utility pole worker...You'll find many on Route 120 and 12A.  

Also Check out the Enfield Scarecrows

Drivers often mistake the scarecrows for real people at a distance: I know I did. Enfield has many scarecrows around town for you to enjoy and make you smile. They're out on Route 4 and 4a.   I like the eloping couple from last year.  This year it's a couple getting married by the church and the cook by Mickey's I like the best. You can read more and see cute pictures of them here.

Enjoy the Foliage: Be a Local Leaf Peeper

I love going on scenic drives, but how do you know which ones have the best foliage?  Well I know the foliage is just starting to come alive with the changing weather, so here are some places to check out in the coming weeks.

Over 10 Local Drives and a some Beyond: If you just want a road recommendation and meander.

Fall Foliage Drives: If you like to have a specific route already planned for you.  I've included the time it'll take and map screen shots.

5 Top Spots to View Fall Foliage: If you're a destination type person.  Here are places you can go, sit/stand, and be in awe.

Go to a Local Fall Festival

There are plenty to pick from during the fall season. 

My favorite is the Warner Fall Festival on Oct. 5-7 2018 because of the variety of activities, food, and even museums to check out.  I loved the Beatles tribute band the year I went. 

Harpoon and Billings Farm both have festivals the weekend of October 6 and 7 2018 too; Harpoon has Octoberfest and Billings Farm has Harvest Weekend. Octoberfest has great food, oompah music, and lots of Harpoon beer.  You could learn about harvesting and storing root vegetables, and join in the barn dance at the Harvest Weekend at Billings.  

I particularly had fun last year at the Claremont Chili Cookoff which is Oct. 6 and 7th starting at 10 am.  $5 per adult and $3 per kid to sample chili.  You can read more about what experience is like (with pictures) at my post here.

Here are some across the state and even more here to go to this year and add to your calendar for next year.  If you're looking to enjoy fall in Vermont, here are some festivals around the state.

Support a local cause on a 5K walk/run

Warner Fall Festival 5 Mile Road Race:  9 am at Sugar River Bank on Main St. $30.  There is a challenging hill on this route.

Harpoon Octoberfest Road Race: 11 am at the brewery in Windsor.  $45. This is a running race - not a walking race.  You need to be over 21 and be able to keep up with 15 min. miles.  You get free beer, food, and entry into Octoberfest after the race for participating.  A great deal for people who already enjoy running as a hobby or sport.

Chili Cook Off 5K: 9 am on Water St by the Common Man. Proceeds go to Claremont Parks and Rec. $15  Be a part of the race and get a complimentary ticket to the cook off.  There's a kid's race at 8:30 for registration is required for the kid's race.  You can see the route here.

Born to Race 5K: Each year at the end of Sept. This year the 22nd 9 am in Cornish at the Fairgrounds. Proceeds go to TLC Family Resource Center. $30. There is a challenging hill on the route.  A bonus is a pumpkin patch obstacle course race for kids for free.  I'm sure a lot of people will love that a massage therapist will be available before and after the race for massages (they're free!).  

Enjoy corn maze

Some day I'll try one.  When I have lots of time, snacks, and someone to keep me sane when I get anxious I'll never get out.  Maybe a flare or GPS or map would make me feel better.  They have those right?  For lots of people these are a blast and a challenge.  I recently heard an ad for one that sounded like a lot of fun.  The snack shop was in the maze, there were brain teasers, GPS map, and more.  I think it was Gaines Farm in VT.  Gaines Farm has a corn maize (which you can go at night too), a cow train, baby animal barn, hayride and things I don't know what they are like Jumbo Jumper, Corn Cannon and more.  Sounds like a great day trip!

Here are places to go locally.  Want to see more corn mazes?  Parenting Magazine recommends these corn mazes in NH.  I like how it briefly describes the maze, cost, and added bonuses.  You can also check out these corn mazes in Vermont, included some Halloween themed ones, and the largest one in New England.

Eat a fall treat (or drink one)

I like pumpkin ravioli, which the Common Man has in Claremont.  You can drink apple cider from Poverty Lane or Wellwood Orchards - yum.  Or you could make your fall themed drink.  They look amazing - I promise (and I'm sure they taste just as good).  After enjoy some smores or eat cider donuts.  

If you want to take a drive and enjoy a drink you can check out these beer bars that are best to drive to during foliage time.

Something New to Try...

Cheer on Dartmouth at one of their local games (or local high school team).  This coming weekend (Oct. 7-8th) there's lacrosse, football, and men's hockey to choose from.  

You could also go on a hayride (like Billings Farm), take a sip n paint with a beautiful fall theme, or a cooking class.  Or try something on this fall bucket list.

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