For my birthday last year, Gene and I had some wonderful Northeast Fall Adventures through ME, VT and NH for my birthday in October. We even had some friends from California join us for a few days which made it even more special. I am going to do more posts in the upcoming weeks, but wanted to share some of the highlights from our explorations in the northeast.
We started our Northeast Fall Adventures near Scarbrough, Maine with a lot of time spent in the Portland area. One of the main things we wanted to see was the Portland Head Lighthouse and the Atlantic Ocean. The Portland Head Lighthouse is located in Cape Elizabeth in Casco Bay.
There is also a Maritime Museum within the park which is called Fort Williams Park. Even though the lighthouse and museum were closed for the season, we had a great time walking around with our friends, taking pictures, and shopping in their little gift shop. Sadly we had bad timing as 5 or 6 huge buses pulled up after a while and the area got packed with other tourist. Still we had a great time the seeing the water splashing against the coast and it was amazing.
Had you ever had a donut made from potatoes? We had heard about this place called the Holy Donut while doing some research and knew we had to check it out. It all started in 2010 when founder Leigh Kellis, started making donuts from scratch in her kitchen on Portland’s Munjoy Hill using the unique ingredient riced potatoes, which added a flavor, texture, and consistency unlike any donut that was on the market at the time.
These donuts are definitely different, but very good. We all noticed that they were also a lot heavier than other donuts out there. Currently they have four locations, two in Portland, one in Scarbrough, and one in Arundel. There is also another location coming soon in Brunswick. If you are in Maine, you should definitely try a Holy Donut and see what you think of this unique riced potato donut.
On our continual quest to visit all state capitol building, we definitely made a point to visit the Maine State Capitol in Augusta which is actually about an hour north in Scarbrough. During our tour we learned that the building was completed in 1832, one year after Augusta became the capital of Maine. It was built using Maine granite, and was based on the design of the Massachusetts State House. I feel so embarrassed to admit this, but I did not know that Maine was formerly part of Massachusetts, and became a separate state in 1820. Well I will definitely not forget that now. Lol The capitol is about 150 feet (46 m) in length, including the central portion with columns and cupola and two wings extending north and south. I found it interesting that the building’s cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1829, amid impressive Masonic ceremonies. As stated above, construction was of granite from Hallowell quarries and took three years to complete.
A copper statue of Minerva, the draped female figure of Wisdom, tops the dome. One of my favorite things to see at a capitol are the chambers. This one was extra special as we got to go up to the desk and hold the gavel used by the Speaker of the House. It was so cool. Speaking of the House of Representatives, it occupies the third and fourth floors of the north wing and the Senate chambers occupy similar quarters in the south wing. There are portraits of governors and other men and women who have served Maine throughout its history as a province and a state throughout the building. It is a great capitol and so happy we were able to do a tour.
Being in Maine for the first time, of course we all had to try some lobster. I am NOT a seafood fan, but I figured there wasn’t a better place to try it. My friend had done some research and found an incredible place where we could get some lobster rolls for lunch one day. The place is called A Bite of Maine and I really enjoyed the few pieces of lobster I tried. The butter sauce was amazing. Gene and I also shared a bowl of clam chowder which I do enjoy and lunch was a success! They do have four locations, two in Portland, one in Elizabeth, and one in Scarbrough. We ate at the one in Portland that was actually a building, while most of the others were food trucks.
Our Northeast Fall Adventures were slowly coming to an end in Maine, but we did have one more thing planned for the area. We had booked a train ride with Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad. Their scenic train ride lasts approximately 40 minutes and travels 1.5 miles (3 miles round trip) along Portland’s Eastern Promenade, with delightful views of Casco Bay. During the trip, train crew and/or history docents are available to provide historical information about the train and the area.
During the ride they take you past scenic vistas of Casco Bay, exciting new developments along Portland’s waterfront, and they pass lighthouses, marinas, forts, public parks, and even a beach. It was fun, but we did see a lot of people walking along the trail that ran along the train tracks. However, it was fun and Gene talked to the engineer and found out a lot about the history of the train that wasn’t shared as most people probably wouldn’t have been interested. They had a great conversation but we had to leave as they DO NOT have parking, and we were parked at a meter. I do have to say, it was fun to see the area from the view of a train, and a great end to our Northeast Fall Adventures in the state of Maine.
Our Northeast Fall Adventures continued in the beautiful state of Vermont. I love the coast but I also loved the beautiful fall colors throughout Vermont, especially in the Stowe area. I have watched the Sound of Music many times and had wanted to see the Family Von Trapp Lodge in Stowe. The lodge was HUGE and spread out along their 2600 acres. This unique, four-season resort specializes in European-style accommodations and cuisine, spectacular mountain vistas, upscale amenities, and outdoor activities.
While we didn’t spend much time at the resort since we weren’t guests, we spend a few hours enjoying the beautiful fall colors and leafs while enjoying a beer at their von Trapp Bierhall. Besides serving lunch and dinner, they serve their own freshly brewed von Trapp Brewing lagers and local hard ciders. As an information note, the Bierhall is the only place in Stowe that features delicious new test batches of their von Trapp Brewing lagers. We didn’t get to try any while we were there, but like I said it was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect.
Not far from the Bierhall, in Waterbury, is another place that my friend and I really wanted to visit, Cold Hollow Cider Mill. It is a great store as well as a bakery, café and tasting room. I couldn’t believe all the different type of maple products they had. Of course they had cider, but also have a ton of maple syrup items. They sell maple shortbread cookies, maple granola, maple butter, maple kettle corn, maple leaf candy, scones, maple pecan bars, maple seasonings, and fresh made maple donuts.
Of course we all had to try one. Besides the maple items, there were tons of merchandise like shirts, hats, keychains, shot glasses, jams, jellies, etc. One cool thing is that they have this huge vat of cider and guests are able to have free samples. The cider was so good and I had to have two, lol. It is also a great place to pick up some fresh apples. I can highly suggest checking out this place while in the area.
If you are in Vermont, the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory is a must do for the whole family or group. FYI, you have to have reservations to do a tour and reservations and can be made two weeks in advance. We made our reservations exactly two weeks out and met our friends at the factory. We had an enjoyable time checking out the store shop while waiting for the COW BELL to announce our tour was starting. Hilarious way to start the tour 🙂
As a lot of tours begin, we were ushered into a small theatre where we watched a short MOO-vie about the early days of Ben and Jerry. The movie wasn’t too long and we continued into the factory. On the tour we learned that the first factory opened in 1985 and manufactures upwards of 350,000 pints per day. We were able to look down below from their mezzanine level where we saw pints of ice cream being produced. The interesting part was that the pints were upside down. We all thought that was a little strange, but there is a reason. Sadly we couldn’t get pictures as they weren’t allowed. 🙁
We did had a wonderful ending to the tour in their Flavor Room where we were entertained with more cow jokes as well as so wonderful ice cream samples. As part of the tour, we all purchased pints of ice cream and had fun picking out the flavor we wanted. One more thing to share before I end this sect ion, is to make sure to mention the Flavor Graveyard which is home to their Dearly De-pinted flavors they discontinued through the years. Ben and Jerrys is a great place to visit while in the area, especially if you have kids.
Another place we had to visit while on our Northeast Fall Adventures in Vermont was their State Capitol building in Montpellier. Our friends had never been to a capitol so it was really fun to explore with them at their first visit to a US Capitol. They weren’t giving tours at the time we were visiting, but were able to grab a brochure and did a self-guided tour. While reading the brochure I found out that this capitol is 160 years old and is in the smallest capitol city in the US. They also state that their House and Senate chambers are the oldest active legislative halls in the United States that have preserved their original interiors. I was not surprised to find out that the beautiful marble throughout the building was quarried from several locations in Vermont.
They seemed to enjoyed Senate and House of Representatives chambers. They are both exquisite and I was so happy to see them on a self-guided tour. Sometimes they close the chambers unless there is a tour guide. Another cool thing to see was the bust statue of President Abraham Lincoln. Located in the Hall of Inscriptions, it was a study by Larkin Goldsmith Mead for a larger statue which is installed at the Lincoln Tomb in Springfield, Illinois. Its stern gaze has looked down one of two main hallways on the first floor of the mid-19th century building ever since.
My friend and I both enjoyed checking out covered bridges, so we made sure to check out a few while in the area. The one that we both seemed to enjoy the most is called Gold Brook Covered Bridge, or Emily Bridge as it was originally called. It has become better known as Emily’s Bridge because of a young woman named Emily who is said to have died there heartbroken.
There are many stories about how Emily died, but many visitors have said that they can feel her presence while in the area of the bridge. Some have even heard a woman crying in the distance or footsteps on the bridge. I didn’t feel anything, but I wished I had known more about this bridge before visiting. Sadly I didn’t learn about its history until a few months later. I hope to be able to visit this bridge again in a future. If you have been, did you feel or hear anything? Would love to hear your story.
The last state we visited on our Northeast Fall Adventures was New Hampshire. We happily visited our last capitol building on this trip in the town of Concord. The New Hampshire Capitol is a very interesting capitol and we spent a couple of hours checking out the dome, chambers, and their replica Liberty Bell in front of the capitol. The grounds were also impressive. It was built in the Greek Revival style with smooth granite blocks, and the entrance is covered by a small projecting portico supported by Doric columns. A statue of a huge gold-painted wooden war eagle looking to the left was raised in 1818.
One interesting note, is that the windows on the first floor are rectangular in shape, those on the second floor are arched, and those on the third floor are square panels. An octagonal drum with large arched windows supports a golden dome with bull’s-eye windows and supporting a small lantern. The Senate Chamber is located in the northeast corner of the capitol. It houses the 24-member chamber. The House Chamber houses the largest state legislative body in the United States, with 400 members.
As much as we enjoyed all the things we saw on our trip, the one thing we both were looking forward to most on our Northeast Fall Adventures was the Scenic Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountain National Forest. The Kancamagus Highway is a 34.5 mile scenic drive along NH’s Rt. 112 which goes from Lincoln, NH to Conway, NH. It was fall and we were looking forward to the brilliant colored NH Fall Foliage. We weren’t disappointed and the drive was amazing.
For those who are not familiar, while driving the Kancamagus Highway, you will see views of the White Mountains, the Swift River, Sabbaday Falls, Lower Falls and Rocky Gorge. Just so you are forewarned, there are no gas stations, restaurants, hotels or other businesses. Make sure you take provisions with you and that you have a full tank of gas before you start. It’s not a long drive, but can get backed up and take a few hours to drive the 34.5 miles. Sadly it rained A LOT the day we drove it, but it did stop here and there and we were able to get a few pictures. However, I have to say, even with the rain, the colors were phenomenal and I hope to be able to drive it again on a future fall visit.
We had a wonderful time exploring Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire during fall and seeing all theamazing fall colors, the beautiful coast of Maine, several lighthouses, state capitols, and a lot of fun with friends from California. If you ever get the chance to visit the Northeast during fall, definitely take advantage and enjoy the special time of the year. Would love to hear stories or memories you’d like to share. If you do, please comment below. If you like this post, make sure to check out my Mid West Adventures post about our visit through IA, MN, and NE. Happy travels!
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