We all know it. It’s going to be a long winter. The good news is that living in Cambridge gives us even more incentive to enjoy the precious days of autumn. From apple picking to country-style pumpkin pie contests, FM has rounded up a list of fabulously fun festivities for fall. So before the bitter cold eclipses any and all hint of warmth and sunlight, take an afternoon to explore New England in all its autumnal glory.
Cider Hill Farm, Amesbury, Mass.
If you’re looking for the real definition of fresh, head out to the Cider Hill orchards to pick your own apples (pay for pounds picked). Other pick-it-yourself produce options include Cider Hill pumpkins and raspberries. Hayrides run from 12–5 p.m. on weekends. Cider Hill calls October the “month of incredible apple cider” and those in the know rave over the famous apple cider donuts.
45 Fern Ave. (978) 388-5525. Daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
1 hour from Harvard Square. From I-95 take Exit 58B (Amesbury) onto Route 110 west. Right at the rotary onto Market Street (Route 150). Go 1 mile. Right onto Fern Avenue.
Lookout Farm, South Natick, Mass.
At the Lookout Farm, guests arrive and choose a bag (small or large) to use for a full day of fruit-picking. This weekend Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jona Gold apple varieties and Asian Pears, all for $1.50 per pound, are on the menu. The pumpkin patch is also open.
89 Pleasant St. (508) 653-0653. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 9am-5pm (closed on Mondays).
30 minutes from Harvard Square. Exit 21B off I-95/Route 128. Go 5 miles on Route 16 west into South Natick Square. Left on Pleasant Street. Go about 1 mile.
Honey-Pot Hill Orchards, Stow, Mass.
Rated the best orchard in New England for apple picking by Channel 7 news this year. While the apples may be the main attraction, the orchard also offers hayrides and a challenging hedge maze to explore. The orchard’s store sells pumpkins and 25 different varieties of apples in addition to fresh apple cider.
144 Sudbury Road (978) 562-5666. Daily 10 a.m–5 p.m.
45 minutes from Harvard Square. Take Route 2 West to Route 62 exit. Go 7 miles into Stow. Follow signs.
Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, Mass.
Only six miles from downtown Boston, this Harvard-adminstered arboreal sanctuary hosts over 14,000 types of trees, which translates into a lot of pretty colors for fall. As you walk around the arboretum’s well-groomed paths you can romanticize over nature, or romance a daytime date.
Routes 1 and 203 (Arborway) Jamaica Plain (617) 524-1718
Take the Orange Line to the Forest Hills stop or take the #39 bus from Copley Square to Centre Street.
Walden Pond, Concord, Mass.
Thoreau’s beloved hometown and now a New England classic destination, Walden Pond offers nature, nature and more nature. Visitors are free to go hiking, fishing and boating, but dogs, bicycles, floatation devices and grills are prohibited. Call ahead to check on parking availability because only 1,000 visitors are allowed at a time The park also has a gift shop, bookstore and art gallery.
915 Walden St (978) 369-3254 Open 7 a.m.- 6:30 p.m.
30 minutes from Harvard Square. Take MA 2-A, left onto Alewife Brook Parkway, right onto MA-2 West, left onto Walden Street.
Pumpkin Pie Baking Contest, Sturbridge, Mass.
As part of its annual Harvestfest weekend (Oct. 25th-26th), the Publick House hosts a super-tasty pumpkin pie contest. The pumpkin pie baking official rules and regulations include that pies should be baked in a 9” non-returnable pie plate, no pre-made pies or mixes will be allowed, and commercial, industrial or professional bakers or anyone selling bakery products are not eligible to enter. Pies will be judged based on appearance, taste, texture and creativity of recipe. Other highlights of the weekend include a scarecrow contest and a pumpkin-decorating contest.
Route 131, Post Office Box 187 (508) 347-3313
45 minutes from Harvard Square. Take exit 9 off the Mass Pike Route 90 to I-84 take exit 3-b off I-84 to Route 20 West at the lights take a left onto Route 131. Publick House is 1/2 mile down on the right
EVOO, Somerville, Mass.
For a pricier celebration of fall, sample the eclectic delectables of EVOO (stands for Extra Virgin Olive Oil). Chef Peter McCarthy will serve a five-course dinner using Massachusetts-grown foods on October 27 at ‘’Savor the Seasoning: An Autumn Dinner.” The dinner includes a smoked goat cheese and apple butter tart, creamed parsnip soup, grilled beef club sirloin and red wine braised oxtail, and spiced pumpkin pot de creme with homemade maple-walnut semifreddo and cinnamon biscotti. The dinner costs $100 per plate, but the proceeds are being donated to the nonprofit Federation of Massachusetts Farmers’ Markets. EVOO offers a seasonal menu with fall-themed items on other nights as well,
118 Beacon Street (617) 661-3866
5 minutes or less from Harvard Square on Beacon Street.