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Top 20 Foliage Day Trips in New England

A leisurely drive to enjoy New England's brilliant fall foliage is a joy by itself, but it's also fun to juice up the adventure with a stop at a farm stand, cider press, nature trails, farmers market, and vineyards or wineries. Taste and enjoy the bounty of fall, and take a sample home. Great stops for kids and families.

New England has plenty of farmers markets, but the Coventry Farmers Market at the Nathan Hale Homestead, 2299 South Street, rises above and beyond your expectations. With kudos from Yankee Magazine and USA Today, this market, held Sundays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., has been described as a small country fair, ripe with all the good sights and smells of the harvest. Look for special days like Cider & Spirits, Fiber Twist & Bead Bash, or the Fungus Festival.

A trip to the B.F. Clyde Cider Mill at 1129 North Stonington Road is a fall tradition for many families. The mill, founded in 1881, claims to be the only steam-powered mill in the United States. Visitors can see cider-making demos on weekends. Mom and Dad can indulge in the purchase of hard cider or apple wine and the kids can choose a pumpkin, Indian corn, gourds and fall treats like kettle corn or cider donuts. Use the opportunity to drive some gorgeous back roads, like routes 49 and 2.

Before the snow flies, plan a day of driving among the luxurious carriage roads and pretty bridges of Acadia National Park. Also within the park, visit the the Abbe Museum at Sieur de Monts Spring. This museum honoring the local tribes of Native Americans is smaller than its counterpart in the town of Bar Harbor. The woodland property of paths and trails leading from the museum includes the beautiful Wild Gardens of Acadia and the Nature Center. Open through mid-October.

You have met cranberries on the Thanksgiving dinner table; now come and meet them in their nature habitat: in the bogs and farms of southeastern Massachusetts. Flax Pond Farms at 58 Pond Street welcomes visitors to chat with the farmers, see and tour a cranberry bog (tours in the afternoon), and learn about cranberry harvesting (done partly by helicopter!). Taste and buy cranberry treats and decorations to warm up for the coming holidays. Take a side road over to seaside Plymouth.

MASSACHUSETTS -- Old Deerfield to Shelburne Falls

Historic Deerfield , right off Route 5 in the heart of Massachusetts’s Pioneer Valley, is on the threshold of the wonderful Mohawk Trail (Route 2), which you can follow through the delightful village of Shelburne Falls and as far as North Adams. First, enjoy a walk among the gracefully preserved Colonial buildings of the village and stop for lunch in the exquisite Champney’s Restaurant at the Deerfield Inn. Then make a beeline for the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls.

A stone’s throw from the gorgeous, mountain-skimming Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains is Loon Mountain ski area, where the ski gondolas carry you through the air to the 2,733-foot summit of Loon Peak. From there, you can climb the observation tower, stroll along a short nature trail, or explore the summit glacial caves, where kids can hunt for Lost Loon Gold. Found some hunger pangs? Make a side trip to the Summit Café for a hearty lunch.

The historic Kenyon Grist Mill at 21 Glen Rock Road in West Kingston continues to produce stone ground cornmeal, a living tradition for making traditional Rhode Island jonny cakes. Guests can see the village-like establishment and buy real corn meal. Also the mill will host an Autumn Weekend with clam cakes and chowder, tours and demos October 18 & 19. The mill is near Route 138, a country road that passes the serene rural campus of the University of Rhode Island.

Right off Vermont’s beautiful Route 100 is Cold Hollow Cider Mill at 3600 Waterbury Stowe Road. Visitors can watch cider being pressed the old-fashioned way and taste it from a sample tank. Next, watch the activity of honey bees -- a major work force in the orchard -- in an observation hive, and see the Donut Robot churn out 800 dozen cider donuts a day. Enjoy lunch at the Applecore Luncheonette and take home treats apple, pumpkin and maple treats.

VERMONT -- Lunch in Chittendon; dinner in Woodstock

Vermont prides itself on its gorgeous fall foliage and its historic and sophisticated food culture. Give both a test run on a drive along Route 4 and 100 between Woodstock and Chittenden. Enjoy a fabulous lunch in an old-world tavern atmosphere at the Woodstock Inn . Stop in at the nearby Billings Farm & Museum, which is sure to be hopping, then wander westward on Route 4 and dine among views of mountains and lakes at the Mountain Top Inn in Chittendon.

Bishop’s Orchard at 1355 Boston Post Road offers a ton of fun every day at fall foliage time. Orchards and fields of pick-your-own apples and pumpkins are busy, and the Winery serves tastings of fruit wines every day. Kids can visit the farm’s llamas, alpacas and goats, and watch a model train circle overhead. Take home fruit baskets or baked goods. This is a great stop on a pretty shoreline drive on Route 1 through Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Madison, and Branford.

Drive, sip, drive a little, sip some more. The Connecticut Wine Trail is a string of vineyards and wineries that meanders throughout the state. The trail’s website has a fine map and descriptions of the vineyards, all of which are open to travelers for tastings, purchases, beautiful views and sometimes live music. One crescent of the trail, in the western Litchfield area, arcs along eight vineyards from Shelton to Goshen.

A bit north and inland from Camden is the town of Lincolnville and the welcoming Cellardoor Winery at 367 Youngtown Road. During a drive around this Midcoast region, stop at this 200-year-old farm, with its restored 1790s barn and new winery, called Cellardoor at the Villa, built with architectural elements from an old Bowdoin College mansion. Every Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. a free pairing of food and Cellardoor wines happens at the Farmhouse.

A drive out to Prouts Neck, a curved arc of land in Scarborough that forms the northern sweep of Casco Bay, will take you to a place of beautiful ocean views near a bird sanctuary and also near the artist Winslow Homer’s studio. Stroll the cliff edge to see the very images that informed Homer’s art. Join a guided tour of the artist’s house if you wish.

Russell Orchards at 143 Argilla Road is surrounded by natural beauty, situated as it is just west of the luxurious marshes of Essex Bay and Crane Beach. The store displays luscious flowers, fruit, and wines; a barnyard with friendly farm animals; pick-your-own fields of seasonal fruit; ice cream, fudge and baked goods; and a marvelous gift shop with books, baskets and bags from Africa and Southeast Asia, and wine-related gifts. Pumpkins and Halloween items, too.

MASSACHUSETTS -- Yankee Candle & Kringle Candle

Yankee Candle Village Route 5 in South Deerfield could be renamed “luxury candle land” -- at least on the stretch from South Deerfield to Bernardston. The former town is the home of the venerable Yankee Candle Village at 25 Greenfield Road. Here, shoppers can find candles and candle paraphernalia for any occasion. Chandler’s Restaurant in the Village offers traditional New England lunch fare to romantic candlelight dinners.

Kringle Candle Company In Bernardston, just 15 miles up Route 5, the equally impressive Kringle Candle Company at 219 South Street sells 400,000 candles in 200 scents. Its cheery buildings include the Candle Store, the Country Barn, and the Chocolate Cottage. Activities include hands-on candle making, and seasonal events. A fine restaurant, The Farm Table, welcomes Kringle Candle shoppers for a wonderfully prepared meal, from casual to fancy.

A peaceful drive on country roads of southern New Hampshire can end perfectly at Pickety Place, at 248 Nutting Hill Road, a quaint red cottage that served as the model in 1948 for Little Golden Books illustrations of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Today, visitors may enjoy a delicious five-course lunch and explore the gardens, with themes of butterflies, oregano, bird, healing, moonlight, and herbs. A sweet gift shop offers fragrance gifts for cooking and decorating.

A loop drive around Lake Winnipesaukee and Squam Lake -- touching the towns of Plymouth, Meredith, Weirs Beach, Alton, Wolfeboro, or Moultonborough -- will yield beautiful fall vistas. You might want to see the lake from the inside out, so to speak, on a cruise on the M/S Mount Washington, departing from Weirs Beach. Cruises include daytime, dinner, or dancing themes, and they run through late October. Zesty air and thrilling views.

Spread along the spine of a slope overlooking the Sakonnet River, Greenvale Vineyards at 582 Wapping Road is a welcoming place to relax during a drive up rural Aquidneck Island. Just five miles north of Newport, the vineyard produces small quantities of estate grown wines. Live jazz combos perform every Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. Visitors are welcome to settle in during a drive to for from Newport, enjoy a glass and some sweet music, ask questions, and buy a bottle. Visit the farm’s two beautiful oxen.

This private road (a toll is charged) winds and twist its way up to a summit in the Green Mountains, with panoramic views of neighboring mountain ranges and the towns and valleys below, up to the peak at 3.848 feet about sea level. Views are spectacular. There are many picnics areas along the 5.2 mile drive and an easy trail to Lookout Rock.