aine may be known far and wide for its summers and winters, but those who have been here in the autumn know that’s when Maine really shows off its true colors. Leaves glimmer as they transform from green to gold and a glance at a pristine lake reveals a collage of color as changing trees from the mountains above reflect onto the water. Visitors come from around the world for leaf-peeping as a combination of warm sunshine during the day and cool, crisp nights provide ideal conditions for leaves to most spectacularly turn.
Maine’s roads are bathed in rich color and mountain trails are lined with fallen, fragrant leaves; simply visit www.mainefoliage.com or call 888-MAINE45 for up-to-the-minute foliage conditions across the state, as well as photographs, tips for catching the best color and suggested touring loops.
A luxurious way to view the foliage is by hopping aboard the new Maine Eastern Railroad (www.maineeasternrailroad.com) as it runs between the charming coastal communities of Brunswick and Rockland. From the windows of well-appointed, climate-controlled coaches, you’ll spot trees that glimmer in a kaleidoscope of color.
Those who want to view the foliage up close and personal should consider a visit to one of Maine’s many state parks (http://www.parksandlands.com). The well-maintained parks dot the state from the mountains to the sea and provide an abundance of hiking opportunities.
A visit to Maine in September and October is worth it for the foliage alone, but there is more here than meets the eye. Autumn is a time when a bountiful harvest is reaped across the state, from Castine to Caribou, Kingfield to Kittery. Apple orchards speckled with orbs of rich red are around every corner, pumpkin patches abound and corn mazes provide hours of explorative fun for young and old alike.
While farms used to be primarily private, today, Maine’s farmers and growers throw their gates open and encourage visitors to join in the harvest (http://www.getrealmaine.com/). Here, the only pressing commitment is to catch a wagon ride and your only responsibility is to save room for another slice of homemade pie. With a focus on warm hospitality, top quality products and an authentic experience, Maine’s autumn agricultural offerings are sure to delight.
Apple picking is popular and many farms offer hand pressed cider, tart and fresh from the field. Or, pay a visit to the barn and feed the animals, pick cranberries, watch alpaca wool be spun, or browse through the farm store and pick up some fresh meats, cheeses and milk.
Nothing represents autumn in Maine better than a fall fair and for those longing for a return to simpler, slower times, there’s no better way to do that than to take part in one of Maine’s many agricultural fair experiences.
Maine’s 24 licensed agricultural fairs are known for their world-class animal exhibits (over 20,000 birds and animals are exhibited at the state’s fairs during the year) and endless exhibit halls. Browse the barns. See a pile of piglets tear around their pen during playtime. Admire the strength of a pair of broad draft horses. Even learn how to milk a cow.
Hungry? Sure, there is the typical fair food but while you are in Maine, take time to try out some of the state’s culinary delights. How about French fries made from hearty Maine grown potatoes, fresh fish chowder, or blueberry pie ala mode?
With so many fairs, it’s tough to choose since each has its own unique flavor. The Fryeburg Fair (www.fryeburgfair.com) is the state’s last fair of the season, running October 2-9, and it just so happens to be one of the best. Its reputation as Maine’s largest agricultural fair is known far and wide and with several full service restaurants, camping and one of a kind events like a skillet throw contest, an authentic 19th century little red schoolhouse for the kids to attend, and a grand parade, the fair is truly an essential slice of fall in Maine.
The Common Ground Fair (www.mofga.org) in Unity is perhaps Maine’s most distinctive fair. Put on by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, this three-day event is a celebration of rural, sustainable living and highly educational. The food is organic, Maine grown or produced, and always delicious. It’s here you can learn about stone carving, pet a llama, listen to Wabanaki drumming and dancing, watch sheep dog trials, and learn about the latest environmental, political and social movements, all while reveling in Maine’s rejuvenating autumn air.
Because fall is such a spectacular season here, Maine’s hospitality industry rolls out the welcome mat, offering exceptional package deals and promotions. For a complete listing of autumn activities as well as special travel packages, log on to www.visitmaine.com or call 888-95-MAINE.
Courtesy The Maine Office of Tourism at VisitMaine.com
Photos courtesy Maine Office of Tourism, Maine Eastern Railroad and The Common Ground Fair
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