10 of the best things to do outdoors in New England this fall
The pandemic has invited us to embrace the joys of nature. And in New England, fall is a great time to enjoy the great outdoors. The leaves take on vibrant shades of crimson, gold and pumpkin.
The summer heat and humidity are a memory, replaced by bluebird days and comfortably cool nights. Fans of fresh air are drawn to the spectacular scenery and variety of activities, from the adrenaline rush of the zip line to a leisurely mountain hike. Water adventures like fly fishing and kayaking are a good way to get acquainted with the area’s crystal-clear streams, pristine lakes and beautiful coastline.
Check out 10 of New England’s best outdoor activities to try this fall.
Mountain biking in Gorham, New Hampshire
Mountain biking on a bright fall day is invigorating, and the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center is a perfect place to cycle without a car. Trails and motorable roads cross meadows and rivers, carpeted with crisp leaves in suggestive shades of red, yellow and orange. Buy a pass, rent a mandatory bike and helmet, and go.
To stay: At the foot of towering Mount Washington, The Glen House is adjacent to the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center. Discounted passes, panoramic views, comfortable rooms, and a restaurant with a nice selection of local beers sweeten the deal.
Falconry in Manchester, Vermont
A bird of prey on a gloved fist is a majestic feeling. Falconry is an ancient field sport involving trained but still wild falcons. At the Green Mountain Falconry School, a master falconer teaches the fundamentals of falcon handling, allowing participants to familiarize themselves with a Royal Harris Falcon in minutes.
To stay: The Equinox Golf Resort and Spa is a great place to savor Vermont’s technicolor foliage, conveniently located near the Green Mountain Falconry School.
Kayaking in Kennebunkport, Maine
For an immersion in the breathtaking seascapes of Maine, a kayak is a winning perch. Kennebunkport has a plethora of beaches tailored for kayaking.
Goose Rocks Beach is a pristine stretch of white sand fringed with dune grass. The surf is generally soft thanks to the buffer provided by its crescent shape. When the tides are right, paddle to secluded islands dotted with colorful shifting leaves as migrating birds fly above you. Kennebunkport Marina rents single and double kayaks with life jackets provided.
To stay: The Tides Beach Club is an upscale hotel located directly across from Goose Rocks Beach, with free kayaks for guests. Relax on its old-fashioned porch with ocean views. Open until October.
Zipline in Jeffersonville, Vermont
Crossing a series of cables suspended from treetops to treetops is an adrenaline-pumping aerial adventure. ArborTrek offers a fall canopy zipline tour that is a dizzying sashay on eight cables surrounded by a rainbow of colorful leaves. As you glide, friendly guides inject you with information about the local flora and fauna.
To stay: ArborTrek is located at the Smugglers’ Notch Resort. Spacious condo-style accommodations and hiking grounds are perks.
Hike to Mount Greylock State Reservation in Lanesborough, Massachusetts
The hike to the top of MountGreylock, the highest point in Massachusetts, is a low-tech way to take a peek. Trails lined with balsam fir and evergreen spruce trees provide a lush backdrop for vivid splashes of amber, orange and scarlet leaves from a wide variety of deciduous trees. The automatic roads leading to the top of the mountain generally remain open until early November.
To stay: Tourists is a riverside hotel located in a forest a short walk from Mount Greylock. Open from Wednesday to Sunday in autumn.
Surfing in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport may be known for its Golden Age mansions, but for those who dream of surfing, it’s a coastal dip straight out of a Beach Boys song. Fall is a good time to catch a wave, as seasonal Atlantic storms often bring swells.
Sachuest Beach, known locally as Surfer’s End, is a popular spot to hang ten. Easton’s Beach, with its gently sloping sand bed, is a good bet for first-timers.
Rent a board and a wetsuit at Island Surf & Sport, open all year round.
To stay: The Wayfinder is a boutique property with a laid-back vibe and a collection of surfboards. The restaurant on site is first rate.
Boating in Mystic, Connecticut
With a seaport museum and a world-class aquarium, the Mystic maritime gem is a great place to go boating. The Argia gulet offers two-hour public sailing cruises in protected waters until mid-October. For late season boaters, Mystic River Cruises charters an antique picnic boat until mid-November.
To stay: Whaler’s Inn is a charming 45 room hotel located in downtown Mystic, close to popular attractions.
Lobster in Portland, Maine
Maine and lobster go together like milk and cookies. For seasoned travelers, a ride with a professional lobster boat on Lucky Catch Cruises is a deep dive into this delicious crustacean. Pull traps and chat with lobster boats as you soak up the scenic lighthouses of Casco Bay and historic Civil War forts. Cruises run until October.
To stay: The Canopy by Hilton Portland Waterfront is within walking distance of many delicious restaurants and top Portland attractions.
Fly fishing in Woodstock, Vermont
Part mental and part physical, fly fishing is a nuanced fishing technique that appeals to many who try it. Learn or hone in on Vermont’s clean streams and ponds with Orvis-approved guides at the Woodstock Inn. Pretty postcard foliage is a seasonal bonus.
To stay: Reserve an Angler Collection room at the Woodstock Inn, decorated with antique fly rods and maps of nearby fishing spots.
Horseback Riding in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
At the Bretton Woods stables, riders cycle through bridle paths lined with tall pines, with touches of saturated saffron, burnt orange and bold burgundy leaves mixed in for good measure. Group tours and private rides allow novices and seasoned riders to saddle up, while pony rides should satisfy little travelers.
To stay: The Omni Mount Washington Resort offers its guests stunning views of White Mountain and warm hospitality.
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