Bring on the autumnal splendor!
Saturday, September 23 marks the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. Here in New England, we usually refer to autumn as fall, and I am excited for it to begin! Here in New England, we have glorious foliage, apples and pumpkins galore, spooky Halloweens, and a delicious kickoff to the holiday season. In this post, I’m sharing my Fall Bucket List, packed full of incredible autumnal activities. I’m planning to do nearly all of these activities solo, making for a Happily Single autumn!
I invite you to make your own Fall Bucket List, too!, and to help, there’s a free treat down below (no trick!). I’d love to hear what you’re looking forward to this season. Share your list on Instagram and tag me (@wonderandsundry), and I’ll share your update in my stories!
Fall Bucket List
Summer 2023 Highlights
I became a “summer person” again this year, thanks in part to my Summer Bucket List
With the summer, I worked on becoming a “summer person” again by taking advantage of my location to do summer activities that make me happy. While I have two items unchecked on my Summer Bucket List (I ate all the gorgeous wild blueberries for my berry galette, and a travel note below), the spirit of it proved a smashing success.
For the first time in over a decade, I can tell you that I absolutely loved my summer (well, maybe not the rain so much, but even that prompted me to relax).
A change in the air
Looking out the window, though, the leaves have just begun to turn, the AC and fans are off, and I’m feeling back-to-school, even if my school days are long past. I love autumn, and the place to be for it is right here in New England. While I don’t need a bucket list to convince me to become a “fall person,” because I already am, I had so much fun with my Summer Bucket List that I decided to make another one. Bring on the Fall Bucket List!
Some family reasons for sticking around
Before I begin, you may have noticed that I haven’t traveled much this year. While I hadn’t planned on traveling for the first part of the year, some family reasons are keeping me here through the holidays. Everything is OK, but this just isn’t the right time to travel abroad. I’m looking a warm weather break in January, and I’ll be on the Maine coast for a few days next week. Luckily, I still have a ton to share from my recent adventures, and I’m taking advantage of my location in the meantime.
If sticking around means sticking around in New England in autumn, that’s fine with me
Truth be told, I grew up in one of the best locations in the world to take in the autumnal splendor. Foliage in New England, especially in New Hampshire and Vermont, draws people from around the world. It’s been a while since I’ve really “done the things” for fall in New England, so I’ve planned out an autumn to remember.
Fall Bucket List 2023
1. Take the Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer Train
I’ve shared about my adventure up the Mount Washington Cog Railway, with its majestic views of New Hampshire’s White Mountains from the summit of our highest peak in the Northeast. Well, there’s a stunning foliage train in New Hampshire as well, and I already have my ticket! The Conway Scenic railroad offers several scenic train rides in classic train cars, and I’m taking the Mountaineer in early October (peak foliage time for northern New England).
This 4–5.5 hour train ride through the Mount Washington Valley and over Crawford Notch promises jaw-dropping scenery, taken in with style. I’m excited.
2. Vermont foliage day trip
Even as a biased New Hampshire native, I have to admit that Vermont has it going on when it comes to fall foliage. Growing up, my family always took an annual foliage drive to Weston, Vermont, often stopping at Quechee Gorge and Woodstock along the way. Alas, Weston, along with much of Vermont sustained some serious flood damage this summer, but I’m still planning on taking a foliage drive through Vermont to see what I can see.
3. Drive “the Kanc” through the White Mountains
I’m really excited for my train ride through the Mount Washington Valley, but no autumn in New Hampshire is complete without a drive on the Kancamagus Highway. This 56-mile/90-kilometer nationally recognized scenic byway on NH 112 is stunning any time of year (a little scary in winter), but foliage season is this mountainous highway’s time to shine. There’s tons of places to stop along the way, with hikes and scenic overlooks, and stops along the river. I ventured a bit on the Kanc last year with some friends, but it’s been too long since I’ve driven it in autumn. Time to remedy that.
New England fairs and harvest activities
4. The Sandwich Fair
Envision the most charming New England town you can imagine, and I bet that you’ve envisaged Sandwich, New Hampshire. This charming village dating back to the mid-eighteenth century, truly shines in autumn. To celebrate, they also put on the annual Sandwich Fair, a true country fair. This year I’ve marked my calendar, and I’m going!
5. New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival
I don’t have to venture very far at all for another New Hampshire autumn treat—the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival takes place a short walk away. The New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival celebrates all things autumn, including a Zombie Walk! There’s also a fun dinner train leaving from the Laconia Train station, and I already have my ticket.
6. Go apple picking at a local apple orchard—and maybe take a hay ride
I haven’t gone apple picking in years and years, and I live right near some excellent and scenic apple orchards. Maybe one of them will have a hay ride I can take. I have all kinds of apple dishes I’m excited for, including Savory Apple Galette, and Spiced Apple Sorbet.
7. Do some traditional New England autumnal cooking
It’s time to turn on the oven again, and I want to do some traditional New England autumn cooking this year. Think Boston Brown Bread, Johnny Cake, and the like (no, I will not be making Boston Baked Beans, because I do not like them).
8. Halloween movie backyard fest!
If you’re a long time reader, you may know about my love of scary movies. Well, I still have my projector that I got for Jaws, and I’m thinking that it would be fun to pop some popcorn, bundle up and watch a couple of Halloween classics outdoors. If you hear screaming, it will be me.
9. Tour a haunted house
I don’t think I’ve been to a haunted house since I lived in Salem, Massachusetts, twenty years ago (pardon me while I ponder time’s passage). It’s time to rectify that. Maybe that means going to a carnival, perhaps it means visiting a spooky house in the area, we shall see what I dare!
10. Finally finish that photography course
I take all the photos for Wonder & Sundry (except for product images in the shop), and I just absolutely love photography. A couple of years ago, I bought a Fujifilm X-T4, and I have meant to actually learn photography. Dear Reader, I learned exactly as much as I needed to snap a reasonable photo, and nothing else.
I signed up for a Udemy course years ago (thank goodness for perpetual access!), and I keep meaning to finish it. What better motivation than splendid autumn foliage to get serious about the class?
What’s on your Fall Bucket List? Free treat!
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