By – D.J. Wilson
Maximize the season’s beauty! Watch autumn’s blaze of colors come alive in the northeast.
Trading warm summer breezes for autumn’s crisp temperatures and new fallen leaves brings on the harsh reality that winter is on its way. Before the needles turn yellow and trees go leafless, we are met with a brief window of time where the air smells fresher, the skies grow bluer, and foliage flourishes. The season of autumnal bliss is nature’s gift to the north, perhaps to apologize for the impending bitterness of winter which lies ahead. The Dartmouth – Lake Sunapee Region of New Hampshire is a countryside escape and a delightful place to view exquisite fall foliage. The welcoming area borders the Connecticut River to the west. It is named for Hanover’s Ivy League college and for one of the area’s most beautiful lakes. Explore quiet country roads, with Mt. Sunapee, Mt. Kearsarge, Ragged Mt., and Mt. Cardigan as your backdrops. Drive past sweeping fields, rich farmlands and crofts, and through beautiful sleepy towns. Enjoy spotting historic homes, old barns, rugged stone walls, quaint churches and covered bridges. New England’s bounty of deciduous trees, namely the sugar maples, share rich shades or red, orange and yellow on five-lobed leaves. The Follansbee Inn,in North Sutton, is a moderately priced and family friendly inn. Rooms at this well established bed and breakfast are uniquely decorated with a mix of antiques and comfortable contemporary furnishings. Lake Kezar is one of the hotel’s main attractions. Guests will discover easy access to the lake across the road in front of the inn. During warmer months, enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and other lake related activities. The inn’s homemade hot breakfasts and fresh squeezed orange juice will fuel energy for family fun. Take the 1.3 mile circle loop around the lake on bicycles which are provided for guests. To meet the innkeepers, and to plan a memorable stay, visit www.follansbeeinn.com . Discover a plethora of enjoyable activities in the area, from country fairs to apple picking at a nearby orchard. New Hampshire has a bounty of important historical sites, too. Stroll along the welcoming grounds of the Muster Field Farm Museum and Matthew Harvey Homestead. Explore this 18th century historic gem, complete with 250 acres of fields and woods, bountiful gardens, farm buildings and a bicentennial working farm. For more information, head to www.musterfieldfarm.com.
Travel tips: There are 13 Welcome and Information Centers around New Hampshire which provide tourism literature and an Official State Highway Map. Before planning your trip, be sure to read the complete Visitor’s Guide of New Hampshire available online in e-book format. The guide will increase your knowledge of the area and shares Main Street and back road information. Head to www.visitnh.gov and search the link under Planning & Travel Tools. It’s chock full of information and best of all it’s free. To choose a truly colorful time to plan your trip, check out www.weather.com/activities/driving/fallfoliage/ for fall foliage updates to begin soon.
Prepare for adventure! Drive a winding west coast highway which hugs the Pacific Ocean.
Take advantage of optimal travel destinations during the fall season. Big Sur, California is a sparsely populated region of the Central Coast of California which stretches 90 miles along the rugged Pacific Ocean. The coastal region, from San Simeon north to Carmel, offers vast wilderness and dramatic views of the Santa Lucia Mountains which ascend from the depths of the sea. Big Sur’s Cone Peak features the highest coastal mountain in America’s contiguous 48 states and rises nearly one mile above sea level. California Highway 1, also known as Pacific Coast Highway, takes you along a scenic corridor featuring mountain and rocky coastal views and a bounty of natural and man-made attractions. McWay Falls, an 80-foot scenic waterfall, is located twelve miles south of Big Sur Village in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Stop at Waterfall Trail. A short hike takes you to the viewing area to observe the falls. See the breathtaking drop where water cascades onto the sandy beach below and disappears into the teal colored seawater of McWay Cove. Maximize your visit with a stay at the Big Sur Lodge, a reasonably priced and ideal vacation resort which is just a three hour drive from the Bay Area. A number of rooms boast fireplaces, and some are equipped with kitchens to provide at-home ambiance in a serene setting. Rooms have no alarm clocks, no televisions and no telephones to interrupt a peaceful stay. The lodge features a heated swimming pool and offers indoor and outdoor dining with an all-day menu. There’s an adjacent deli and café for quick and casual food fare. The hotel is located in Pfeiffer State Park and is a nature lover’s paradise. Visit www.bigsurlodge.com to book your stay. Camping within the park is an option for those seeking a rustic experience. Big Sur Village is a roughly one mile-long village with restaurants, markets and lodges. Due to a lack of development in the area, expenses for gas, food and accommodations may run higher than average. Five miles north of Big Sur Village is the Point Sur Lighthouse, a turn-of-the century National Historic Landmark which is open to the public during limited times with no reservations. Take a scenic drive across the iconic 1930’s Bixby Creek Bridge, located 11 miles north of Big Sur Village, to witness one of the tallest single-span and aesthetically beautiful concrete bridges ever built. The Big Sur region is rich in natural wonders and encompasses several state parks and two national wilderness areas. As part of the Los Padres National Forest, Big Sur attracts adventurers to explore the natural wonders of the land. Cycling, hiking, backpacking, camping, and mountain and rock climbing are challenging recreational activities befitting of the dramatic terrain.
Travel tips: The winding Highway 1 dangerously hugs the coast with some sheer drop offs and runs along fragile hillsides prone to mud and rock slides. Traveling during daylight hours is prudent. Read and follow rules of the highway. Be sure to keep a close watch of current road conditions. Though Big Sur typically enjoys a mild, year-round climate, be especially cautious during spring and summer travel times when fog or road conditions may suddenly worsen. Winter time is rainy season, thus fall season is generally optimal for visiting. Visit www.bigsurcalifornia.org to learn more.
Enjoy big city fun! Put on your walking shoes and capture the spirit of the metropolis.
Before the weather dips, enjoy pleasurable temperatures and good times in beautiful outdoor Louisville, Kentucky. The city’s walkable waterfront is complete with rolling hills, spacious green lawns and expansive walking paths. This 85-acre municipal park is ideally located, adjacent to the downtown area and the Ohio River. The park shares outstanding views of the city and is close to other attractions, including Louisville’s Wharf and Riverfront Plaza/Belvedere. A rich schedule of events proves that action is always present in Waterfront Park. Folks are invited to ‘come and play’ at its many festivals, concerts, health walks or boating events. Of special interest is the Centennial Festival of Riverboats, October 14-19th. Celebrate the heritage of the south aboard a cruise on the mighty Ohio River. Let six historic riverboats welcome you to the festival. Learn history of the riverboats, including the Belle of Louisville’s involvement during World War II. Veterans will join in to display tanks, military vehicles and helicopters. Watch the opening ceremonies, re-christening of the Belle, calliope contests, boat races and more. Enjoy food, art, crafts and live music. Witness the Centennial Balloon Glowto see a variety of hot air balloons. For more information on this exciting festival, visit http://festivalofriverboats.com/ The City of Jeffersonville is hosting its Steamboat Days in conjunction with Louisville’s festival. For information on that event, go to www.jeffparks.org. The Big Four Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge joins the two festivals for fun. Bid farewell to hot summer days as fall celebrations become weekend themes during the month of October. Boasting everything from food trucks to square dancing, visitors will find great fun in and around town. Kick off the tenth month of the year with the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular which runs from October 9 to November 2. This annual event is held in the city’s Iroquois Park and showcases 5,000 carved pumpkins which line a ¼ mile walking trail. It is especially “spooktacular” when illuminated at night, from dusk to 11 pm. For more information, visit www.jackolanternlouisville.com. A unique place to stay, and nestled in historic downtown Louisville, is the 21c Museum Hotel Louisville. This 90-room boutique hotel is a contemporary art museum featuring an award-winning restaurant and a civic center. Since the hotel previously existed as 19th-century warehouses, the guest rooms bear strong bones. Discover suites with soaring ceilings, expansive windows and unique art and original brick walls. Enjoy a roof-top terrace view from your balcony suite or a spacious king’s suite with luxurious accommodations and commanding views of Louisville. Spa and fitness amenities are located on the premises and feature saunas, steam room and exercise facilities and more. The atmosphere and outstanding service is superior. While an overnight stay here may be a bit pricey, let me assure you it is well worth the splurge. Check out www.21cmuseumhotels.com/louisville/.
Travel tips: Whenever popular events are hosted in a city, it’s best to make reservations well in advance. If you plan a last minute trip, or find city hotels’ costs prohibitive, look for places to stay just outside the city. Visitors will be close enough to enjoy all the best the metropolitan area has to offer, with an opportunity to retreat to a pleasant suburban hotel without the big city price tag. Be sure to use your AMAC discount at applicable hotels.
I had the good fortune of living in northern New England for three years as a teenager; and later my parents settled in that area and spent the rest of their lives there, so I got to visit there many, many times. The Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region is incredible in fall and most of the rest of the year – but so is the rest of northern New Hampshire and Vermont! If anybody wants to travel to that area, I would make two recommendations: (1) Go at any time of year except during March and April. There are a few weeks of “Mud Season” (New England’s fifth season) when the ground is thawing and the dirt roads are turning to mud, and that is the one time of year when the area is not attractive. (2) As much as I love Hanover, where Dartmouth College is located, I wouldn’t recommend staying in that area if you are on a budget. Nor would I recommend the ski areas or the most-photographed areas along Route 4 in Vermont, for the same reason. By all means go see them, but don’t stay in the charming bed-and-breakfasts there unless you can afford them. I recommend heading for the Northeast Kingdom – the three most northeastern counties of Vermont. The scenery is gorgeous there too, but it’s more off the beaten path. I love the town of St. Johnsbury, for totally different reasons than I love Hanover, NH. I also recommend driving Route 5 from St. Johnsbury down to the cutoff for Hanover, or even further. It follows the Connecticut River and pretty much parallels the Interstate, but it goes through lots of small towns and provides much more interesting scenery.
Oh I forgot to mention when I asked AMAC to check into this issue of non-coverage, I’d like to say I received a solicitous email response lacking factual information only to discover later that AMAC supported these changes.
Thank you so much AMAC for hiding your agenda.
I would love to go to the places recommended but my out of pocket medical expenses this year was my vacation. And I will rebuild now that I received the care I should have received paid by insurance BUT of course the insurance companies could change their policies based on the Affordable Care Act.
Well I can enjoy my local leaf changes. It’s better than nothing.
Once, running late, I drove part of the PCH at night, in fog, trying to reach Big Sur Village – certainly memorable, and educational as far as planning future trips was concerned!