While being outdoors with family and friends is considered safer than visiting inside, there is still the need for social distancing in these times of pandemic. Here are some activities all members of the family can enjoy this fall while getting out and about and still staying safe. Because regulations are fluid and rules can change on short notice, it is best to check with any venue before you go.
Blue Hills Reservation
Covering more than 7,000 acres just a short drive from downtown Boston, Blue Hills Reservation provides a lovely green oasis amidst an urban setting. The Great Blue Hill, rising 635 feet, is the highest in the Blue Hills chain and provides a vista of the metropolitan area. The 125 miles of trails take you to rocky summits, through forests and meadows and by scenic waterways.
Hikes range from easy to challenging. Pick one suitable for your party and age group. Easy hikes range from three-quarter of a mile in 30 minutes to three miles taking about 2½ hours. Moderate hikes range from short but rigorous to longer and more isolated. The challenging hikes are longer and more intense while rewarding you with panoramic views.
Mount Tom State Reservation
In western Massachusetts, Mount Tom State Reservation also offers hikes of varying difficulty. The introductory hikes, best for families with young children, are relatively short and easy to moderate. The signature hikes are for the more ambitious, longer and more difficult but rewarding with terrific views of the Pioneer Valley. The region also is known for great bird watching, especially hawks.
Bromley Mountain, Vermont
Bromley Mountain welcomes people back this fall with some new protocols and procedures in place. And the fun there continues weekends through Oct. 12. The Mountain Adventure Park includes an Alpine Slide, mini golf course, Giant Swing, trampoline, climbing wall and Space Bikes. Woods & Meadows Disc Golf course has 18 holes open and is lift served. The Aerial Adventure Park with its ziplines and ropes course is open as well, though some attractions may be closed or limited.
Great Vermont Corn Maze
Corn mazes are a signature activity in the New England autumn. In Vermont, Danville boasts the Great Vermont Corn Maze, billed as the largest in New England. The Big Maze covers an amazing 24 acres and requires some hilly hiking.
Guests should be prepared to spend at least a couple of hours in the maze and bring snacks and water to keep up their energy and hydration. For a more relaxed experience, there is a more leisurely Scenic Maze, with beautiful views, which can be navigated in about 40 minutes. This year, reservations are required 24 hours in advance to control numbers and ensure social distancing.
New Hampshire offers a variety of activities for those crisp fall days. One of the favorites is apple picking. Farms throughout the state open their orchards so families can enjoy the fun of gathering their own fruit. In Hampton Falls, Applecrest Farms, New Hampshire’s oldest and largest apple orchard, boasts more than 40 varieties of apples as well as other fruits. Apple picking is open mid-August through the end of October.
Check the website for a list of the varieties and when the apples mature. Certain social distancing and safety requirements are in place this year, so check these out before you go.
Hanover Adventure Tours
Hanover Adventure Tours is located along the Connecticut River between New Hampshire and Vermont
The group offers electric bike rentals, called E-bikes, as well as guided tours. Whether you rent one for a couple of hours or several days, these power-assisted bicycles provide the opportunity for everyone to enjoy the same ride using as much electric power or muscle power as you wish. HAT also offers guided tours in the Upper Valley.
Visit waterfalls, scenic vistas, back roads, Dartmouth College and the many secret spots known only to locals while learning about the history of the area.
In Connecticut, there are many opportunities to get outdoors while keeping yourself and your family and friends safe. Of course, there’s fishing and golfing, activities which can be enjoyed alone or with family. For a change of pace, another option is outdoor art walks, ideal ways to get out in the fresh air while feeling the calming effect that art can bring. In New London, you can take a six-block self-guided tour of the Mural Walk. Just download the map and you are on the way to discovering a variety of murals depicting a range of subjects. The Lincoln Financial Sculpture Walk is another self-guided tour along the Connecticut River. More than 100 large-scale sculptures may be seen as you wander through gardens and courtyards at the Studio 89+ Sculpture Grounds in Old Lyme. Simsbury’s Art Trail lets you stroll or bike through this lovely town, observing various art forms along the way.
New England also offers a number of historic tours. While some, including Castle Tucker in Wiscasset, Maine; the Codman Estate in Lincoln, Mass.; and Cogswell’s Grant in Essex, Mass.; will have only the grounds open, tours nevertheless provide a lovely way to spend time outdoors in beautiful settings. The Eustis Estate at the base of the Blue Hills in Milton, Mass., is open for guided tours and boasts stunning architecture.
Myles Standish State Forest
Myles Standish State Forest in Carver and Plymouth, Mass., gives you the opportunity to participate in a myriad of activities, including hiking, biking, fishing, paddling, swimming, horseback riding and camping. Enjoy the cranberry bogs, kettle ponds and pine barrens doing the activity that suits you best.
For biking enthusiasts, the Northern Rail Trail in New Hampshire is just one of many rail trails throughout New England. Spanning 57.6 miles from Lebanon to Boscawen, the cinder and crushed stone trail offers scenic vistas, lake views, a historic railroad station and a covered bridge. Other rail trails of interest include the Blackstone River Greenway in Rhode Island, the Minuteman Bikeway in Boston, the Shining Sea Bikeway on Cape Cod and the Island Line Trail in Burlington, Vt.