Sunday, September 25, 2016

New England Fall Favorites

Hi all,

If you have seen my recent Instagram posts, you may have noticed a trend towards more autumnal types of foods.  Pancakes...pumpkin cheesecake...muffins...banana bread...

Fall is totally my season. 

I love the sunshine and long days of summer, such as returning home from an afternoon at the beach feeling sun-spent, tanned and exhausted, collapsing onto the couch with a great book or movie, and the feeling of pleasant wooziness and contentment that moves through your body after a day on the beach. 
The winter is just as great.  A glittering blanket of snow never fails to feel magical and romantic to me.  Watching a blizzard take place outside my window evokes feelings of coziness and contentment being indoors cuddled up on the couch watching a great TV series or holding a steaming mug of tea while having a great conversation with a friend.

But fall, autumn, is the season I find myself especially swooning over.  I cannot get enough of the explosion of colors on the trees.  (This is one of the things I miss the most about home).  The crispness that arrives suddenly in the air, taking place of the previously balmy days.  The invitation to break out fall boots, skinny jeans and woolen scarves.  All the activities that come with autumn: hiking, camping, leisurely brunches, hot chocolate and tea, diving into great books, wandering charming towns as leaves swirl in the air and temperatures drop, plaid clothing, carving pumpkins, movie marathon nights, walks in the woods, pumpkin pie, pumpkin donuts, the list goes on.  I absolutely adore all of it.  I revel in it.  I totally delight in all the aspects of autumn.

With that said, I have found myself feeling a bit nostalgic for home.  Autumn is gorgeous and charming in so many different places throughout the world, but there is something about it specifically in New England.  New England is the ideal place to experience this season

Here is the list I compiled of the best fall activities in New England.  Whether you live close enough to partake in these activities, or you can enjoy imagining it with wanderlust from afar.

1.  Leaf peeping.  First off, how cute and utterly pleasing is this word in and of itself?  Leaf peeping, or as people who do this are called, "leaf peepers."  I love it.  I imagine big eyed children peering through brightly colored foliage at stunning farm-scapes.  Leaf peeping literally means just as it sounds.  When one goes to gaze at, revel in and literally just adsorb the ambiance of New England as the leaves change color.  There are loads of places one can go to do this.  I might be biased but I would recommend New Hampshire (the state I am originally from).  But one can see the leaves catch fire at numerous places in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont as well.
A few top spots I would recommend:

Franconia Notch in New Hampshire

The Sunapee region.

The White Mountain region

Yup.  Breathtakingly gorgeous.  I love all of it.  Spellbinding.  I miss this deeply.

2. Wandering Beacon Hill in Boston.  This is one of my favorite areas in Boston.  Beacon Hill.  It feels old, historic, traditional, swanky, totally charming, slightly magical, inviting.  I think fall is the best time to experience this part of the city.  I recommend wandering.  Just get lost.  The streets are cobbled, flanked by gas lit streetlamps, the townhouses New England-esque in their red brick and black trim (stately, old money, yet they evoke a warmth and invitation in their appearance).  There are little mom and pop shops along the streets, a couple of sweet little cafes.  Now add a smattering of leaves swirling in the gutter and the shades from the photos above and you have the perfect fall scene.

3. Wandering the Commons or Public Garden in Boston.  Peaceful.  Picturesque.  Romantic.  Sit on a bench and enjoy the people watching.  If you like to people-watch (and really who doesn't?), this is a perfect spot to do so.  Spread out a blanket, lie down and get lost in a gripping book.  Grab a friend and come hang out in the garden or common with hot teas/coffee in hand, or bring along an entire picnic.  Or, grab the person your are dating to come here and stroll hand in hand. 
The point being, the gardens/commons are a stellar spot to come wander, relax and wile away an afternoon.

4.  Having a leisurely Sunday brunch.  In recent months, breakfast has become my very favorite.  There is something luxurious about having a feast as your first meal of the day.  And don't even get me started on breakfast foods.  Pancakes, french toast, eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns.  The list goes on.  All of these foods never fail to make my mouth water.  

The Paramount on Charles Street (Beacon Hill), Cafe Luna (Cambridge), The Gallows (South End), the Rosebud (Somerville), The Friendly Toast (Kendall Square), In House Cafe (Brighton) and 3 Little Figs (Davis Square) are all awesome brunch spots in Boston.  As for great brunch spots in New Hampshire, here is a fabulous list.  (I think The Old Salt sounds particularly delicious).  

Start getting your weekend brunching checklist ready ;-)

Brunch at The Gallows

Inside The Friendly Toast

Friendly Toast breakfast
Inside of 3 Little Figs

A smattering of 3 Little Figs selection...

5.  Hiking.  There are so many gorgeous places to hike in New England.  The list is literally endless.  And during autumn, as you have seen from the photos above, the hike would be a spellbinding explosion of inflamed shades.  Warm, vivid, totally beautiful.  I used to hike Mt. Kearsarge when I was young with my family.  Mt. Major is also another amazing hike (about 4 hours) with sweeping views of the Lake Sunapee region.  Here is a link to some of the best hikes in New England.  Go anytime between mid September to mid October to see the best leaf colors. 

6. Spending a chilly autumnal afternoon wandering the aisles of a bookstore.  I.  Love.  This.  The perfect Saturday or Sunday afternoon activity.  Preferably a bookstore with a cafe inside as well so one can have a slice of cake or a hot drink as they browse and read.  The Coop in Cambridge (Boston) is a pretty charming one.  Gibson's Bookstore in Concord (New Hampshire) is another great one.  Here is a fabulous list of some noteworthy bookstores throughout New England.

7. Hot Chocolate and Lunch in Harvard Square.  There is something about this particular spot in Boston that is not only charming but fits perfectly hand in hand with autumn.  Many of the buildings are the quintessential red brick.  Hence the name, this square is home to the prestigious Harvard University, lending the area feelings of purpose, class, and the sensation of romance/freedom of a student lifestyle.  Even the sidewalks are laid with red brick.  The square manages to be bustling and trendy, inviting and lovely.     
Where to get hot chocolate, you ask?  L.A. Burdick.  This spot is reminiscent of a European cafe. The drink?  Like sipping molten chocolate.  Chocoholics?  Prepare to have died and gone to heaven.  If you arent so into chocolate, check out Finale Bakery.  They have great cheesecakes.

And where to lunch?  Three great spots in Harvard Square (my personal favorites): Crema Cafe, Mr. Bartleys Burger Cottage, and Grendel's Den.  

After eating and drinking, Harvard Square is an awesome place to just wander.  Lots of sweet little boutique shops and different types of places that entice, to duck in and out of.

Crema Cafe

Crema Cafe

L.A. Burdick

8.  Coffee/tea/great conversation with a friend in one of the charming cafes about town in Boston.  There is a reason the Europeans make this a way of life.  Because its a relaxing, cozy, inviting way to spend an afternoon.  There is something about a warm drink cupped in ones hands as the temperature drops outdoors, while sitting across from someone with whom you love to spend time, chatting/laughing the afternoon away.  Or, just as great, sitting there on your own armed with a good book or some writing to wile away the afternoon.  The best.
The places I personally would recommend:  The Thinking Cup (has a low lit, intriguing, intellectual hipster vibe to it), Crema Cafe in Harvard Square, and 3 Little Figs in Somerville,  Those are my favorites, though here is a list of other cafes in the area to check out.

9. Try a new restaurant!!  This is always an exciting way to spend an evening with your friends or romantic partner.  Obviously with a city like Boston, the places to sample are literally endless.  A few of the spots I would recommend, if you haven't tried them:  Hungry Mother (one of the best meals I have ever eaten out, ever), Stephanies, Boston Burger Company, and Rudys (Mexican food) in Somerville, Christophers in Somerville.  

Boston Burger Company.  One of my favorite places to eat back when I lived here <3

10.  Camping!!!  I would argue that fall, not summer, is the best time of year to go camping.  The water is still warm enough to swim if you camp sometime in September or early October.  The leaves are a stunning array of shades.  Camp grounds will be a bit less crowded than they would be during the summer.  And there is something a tad cozier about congregating around a roaring fire to play cards, or about snuggling into your sleeping bags at night, when there is just a hint of chill to the air.  I am not referring to when its downright cold.  I mean just a slight briskness.

I would highly recommend White Lake State Park in New Hampshire.  This was one of the favorite places my family would go camping.  The lake it gorgeous, glacier water, surrounded by rolling mountains.

A snapshot of White Lake in New Hampshire.

11.  Salem, Massachusetts anytime during the month of October.  Salem is the site of the famed supposed witch trials which took place back during the 1700s.  During the Halloween-themed month of October, a number of excellent haunted houses open throughout the city, carved pumpkins glow from house stoops, and the museums entice with their tales of hauntings and odd happenings that were occurring during the alleged witch trial time period.  

This is loads of fun.  A short day trip away from Boston, I would highly recommend it.  Ideally one would visit on a Thursday or Friday during the day.  It would be much less crowded than, as opposed to on say a Saturday or a Sunday.  Also, the closer time draws to Halloween, the more crowded it becomes.  I would recommend going during the beginning of the month.

12.  Haunted Hayrides!!!  This is a quintessential fall/New England/Halloween activity, all rolled into one awesome autumnal ball.  There are loads of fun hayrides one can check out in the New England area.  There is something suspenseful and glee-inducing about being pulled along slowly through the darkness, sitting in a snug group of others along for the ride, the darkness enshrouding the fields beyond, ones breath nearly visible in the air but not quite, the trees rustling in the breeze.  Anticipation and suspense sit upon your stomach until the first "haunt" or "ghoul" races out of the woods, making you startle in your seat.  He races up to the hayride as everyone screams and cowers into one another.  Then just as quickly, he departs, vanishing back into the black night. The other passengers smile at one another, knowing and with relief.
If you haven't done this yet, definitely do so.  Such a stellar autumn/Halloween activity.  


13.  Pumpkin donuts, pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin ravioli, the list goes on and on.  The arrival of autumn brings an explosion of all things pumpkin flavored (though other fall flavor trends include butternut squash, cinnamon, sweet potato).  I personally cannot get enough of these flavors.  As you can tell via this article and via my posts on Instagram, I am an autumn girl through and through.  Get your hands on these tasty seasonal treats while you can.  They arrive and then vanish just as quickly, leaving you to mourn their absence for the remainder of the year.

This is my own photograph and personal pumpkin pie recipe!!!  With a pistachio crust.  SO yummy.  You can find the recipe here!!

 And my own pumpkin cheesecake recipe (sugar free!).  You can find the recipe for that one here!

14.  The Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts.  While I haven't been to this spot myself, I know all about it.  For those of you who have never heard of this place, its the site where a young woman, Lizzie Borden may or may not have murdered both of her parents in cold blood.  I believe she was around 30 years old at the time.  This is actually a rather fascinating case.  Loads of evidence points to the fact that she did kill them.  And yet, it couldn't be proven.  This is the house where she lived and where she allegedly killed them.  

Supposedly, its one of the most haunted places in the United States.  If you are intrigued by ghost stories and murder mysteries like I am, you can read the details of her story here.  In the meantime though, for a spooky, alternative activity during October, take a day trip to her house and tour it.  
Feeling even more daring?  Its a bed and breakfast.  You can pay to stay overnight here.  Apparently there have been numerous accounts from people saying their beds floated in the air, people hearing an ax chopping during the night, etc.

The Lizzie Borden house.

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