As summer turns into fall, images of brilliant foliage and festivals with apples, cider and pumpkins as the main attractions come to mind. Traveling in the fall is less stressful and more pleasant as the crowd thins and the weather cools. Here are some destinations to consider for a fall vacation in the northeast.
Many people bypass Philadelphia for more exciting venues in New York City or the casinos and seashores of New Jersey. Thanks to its previous mayor, now Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell, Philadelphia has undergone a renaissance. The city is now more vibrant and exciting, much cleaner and safer. From Independence Hall to the Liberty Bell to The Betsy Ross House, there is much history to entertain you. Twenty miles northwest of the city is Valley Forge National Historical Park, where General Washington and his soldiers encamped and built huts in the winter of 1777. The park is not only packed with history, it is also beautiful to drive around, especially in the fall. Nearby King of Prussia Mall is an upscale mall that will satisfy any serious shopper.
Another lovely drive around the city is the museum area on East River Drive. Further up, the road turns into Kelly Drive and later Lincoln Road, and you will be in the town of Chestnut Hill. In the vicinity are entrances to Wissahickon Valley, declared a National Natural Landmark in 1966. This protection has kept the valley in its scenic natural state. It has over 50 miles of trails for hiking, biking, running and horseback riding. Imagine that in a big city like Philadelphia!
As for lodgings, you can stay in one of the many hotels right in Center City. If you worry about parking, hotels near the airport, across the river on the Jersey side, or in King of Prussia, near Valley Forge National Park, are all good choices.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Summer is high season in Cape Cod. Everywhere on the Cape is jammed with traffic and tourists. Hotel rooms are not only expensive, but also scarce. Come fall, the scene is totally different. No more waiting lines at the restaurants, shops or the ferry terminals. The beaches are almost deserted, and sighting of wildlife is more common as birds make their migration south. If tranquility and solitude are what you seek for a fall getaway, come to Cape Cod, a perfect place for some rest and relaxation.
Some things to do include watching glassblowing at Pairpoint, the oldest glasswork in America, biking the Cape Cod Rail Trail from Dennis to Wellfleet (making sure to stop and taste some fresh raw oysters along the way,) visiting the JFK Hyannis Museum, and whale watching.
A two hour’s drive along I-95 north of Boston will deposit you in charming Portland, Maine. A former working-class fishing town, Portland has been revitalized into an artsy town with galleries and boutiques galore, seamlessly blending old architecture with new. In 2009, Forbes.com named Portland as “America’s Most Livable Cities.” The same year, Bon Appetit magazine ranked the city as “America’s Foodiest Small Town.” And no wonder. There are so many restaurants to choose from! For a memorable meal, head over to Street and Company on Wharf St. Any seafood on the menu is always delicious. Stroll the cobblestone streets of Old Port, visit Portland Harbor Museum to learn about the maritime history of Portland, and check out Harbor Fish Market (9 Custom House Wharf, across from Pearl St) to see what the fishermen just brought in from Casco Bay. They also pack lobster for you to bring home. Check out the city’s website for plenty more things to do.