The crinkle of crisp leaves underfoot, the wafting aroma of fresh cider donuts at the farm, pumpkins peppering Queen Anne Square, the return of boots and floppy felt hats…fall has arrived and Mother Nature is certainly showing off this year (a bright spot during this truly bizzaro time).
Thankfully, New England knows how to do autumn right. I’ve been enjoying this season of leaf peeping and pumpkin spice (or the occasional spiced rum apple cider…). Here are some of my adventures to date that I recommend, and what’s on my must-do:
1. Apple Picking at Rocky Brook Orchard
This Middletown farm grows more than 80 varieties of apples as well as pears and quince. Each tree in the orchard is labeled by type and has a color coded spool so you know which ones are ripe for the taking (this time of year, nearly all are ready for harvest). I’ve been using this simple recipe for apple pies using my haul of mixed variety apples from Rocky Brook and it’s a home run every time. Details here.
2. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo
I had a little inside scoop on the happenings at RWPZ because of some work with the event but I only experienced the new drive-through version of this iconic New England event last week and frankly, it was spectacular! Confession: I hope the drive-through becomes a permanent fixture because enjoying it all without hoards of people around you, double strollers moving at a glacial pace and people blocking your view as they take pics via iPad (I mean, really?) was a pleasure. With thousands upon thousands of pumpkins, music and spooky vignettes, the event lives up to its spectacular name. Tip: BYO snacks and bevvies as you wait for your start time, sit back and enjoy. Details here.
3. Trinity Church Pumpkin Patch
If you ever wanted to feel you’re walking in the midst of a Normal Rockwell illustration, here’s your chance. This will mark the 12th year the lawn at Trinity, perched at the top of Queen Anne Square, will be dotted with more than 1500 plump pumpkins, and while things will be a little different this year to abide by safety guidelines, this one “small town” tradition that can’t be stopped. Details here.
6. The Hard Pressed Cider Company at Jamestown’s Windmist Farm
Is it even fall if you’re not sinking your teeth into soft, still warm, sugar- and cinnamon-dusted cider donuts while overlooking a pasture and the Newport Pell Bridge while being serenaded by crowning roosters? I think not. This seasonal sensational cider pop-up is open weekends through Nov. 22 (after that, they travel a few minutes south of The Farmer’s Daughter for the Christmas season). Tip: word is out on this humble hot spot so your best bet is to go early to avoid the lines — and bring home some naturally sweet cider while you’re at it! Details here.
7. Oktoberfest Events at Ragged Island Brewery
It’s a farm! It’s a brewery! It’s BOTH! Ragged Island has teamed up with McGrath Clambakes & Catering (YUM!) to host a series of outdoor beer and food events on at Ragged Island’s 37 rolling acres in Portsmouth. With plenty of room to social distance, it’s the perfect setting for a safe, small pod party (6-8 people). Choose from the beer garden for the 21+ only crowd only or the lawn area ticket which welcomes families. Details here.
8. Boston Lights: A Lantern Experience at Franklin Park Zoo
Yes, you do have to ship up to Boston for this experience but where else are you going right now? I have my sights set on this luminous event which includes 50 magnificent displays comprised of hundreds of beautifully crafted oversized lanterns spanning the zoo’s 72 acres. Though sold out for the rest of the month, the event was extended into the first two weeks of November and as of this post, there are some tickets are available for some nights. Details here.