A Leaf-Peeping Road Trip in New England
September 3, 2012 | Permalink
It’s almost leaf-peeping time, folks! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then let me tell you about one of the most beautiful, colorful traditions our country has to offer. In the fall, at harvest time, in many parts of the US, the leaves turn many colors as they reach the end of their lives. They do not, to quote the Dylan Thomas poem, “go gentle into that good night,” but rather, they “rage, rage against the dying of the light.” And in so doing, they create many bright colors—festive-seeming tones ranging from yellow to red to purple. Different parts of the country have different leaf-peeping seasons. The New England season begins at the end of September.
Vermont, well-known for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and the jam band Phish, is a prime leaf-peeping destination. And the prime leaf-peeping road in the state is Route 100. This blue highway will take you through many bucolic towns with classic white-steepled New England churches, covered bridges and sugar houses selling world-famous Vermont maple syrup. I recommend stopping at the Green Mountain Sugar House, located just a few miles north of the town of Ludlow. As well as syrup, they sell Vermont’s other culinary specialty: cheddar cheese. Vermont in the fall is truly a feast for the eyes and for the belly.
Rhode Island might be the smallest state in the Union, but its leaf-peeping reputation is anything but small. If you want first-hand proof, drive the Glocester Loop, which runs through the state’s Blackstone River Valley. This road is loaded with Rhode Island’s fall fruit-and-vegetable bounty. There are a number of stands selling apples, pumpkins (both of which you can pick yourself at many at many of the farm stands) and squash. These quaint roadside attractions are the perfect places to load up on bobbing apples and carving pumpkins for Halloween.
Connecticut is an extremely beautiful state—for which it does not get its due credit. When people thing of Connecticut, they think of upscale suburbs, UConn basketball or Yale, but the state has so much more going for it. Route 169 is Connecticut’s mainline for striking leaf peeping, and this road is just loaded with history.
The Prudence Crandall Museum, located in the building that was Crandall’s school for girls in the early 19th century, is dedicated to the life and mission of Connecticut’s official state heroine. Crandall admitted African Americans to her school at a time when racism was quite widespread and virulent, even in the North.
If you are interested in architecture, the Roseland Cottage, a striking pink gothic-revival house, is not to be missed. Located on Route 169 in the town of Woodstock, Roseland Cottage was the summer mansion of Lucy and Henry Bowen. (It’s quite a bit bigger than your average cottage; last time I checked, cottages don’t require multiple chimneys.) Henry, a native of Woodstock, had the large house built after he made his fortune in New York City. The bright pink “cottage” perfectly compliments the bright leaves surrounding it in the autumn. Leaf-peeping season is without a doubt the time to visit.
After taking in the colorful bounty of Mother Nature’s palette, you’ll want a hotel where you can lay back and soak it all in—a hotel that is comfortable and doesn’t overwhelm you with pretention—a place where you feel comfortable kicking back like you do at home.
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