Photography by Aeropex Media
Our Favorite Fall Activities on the Northshore
It wouldn’t be fall without a visit to your local farm. Whether it’s apple picking, pumpkin picking, or just enjoying a cider doughnut, nothing is more quintessential Autumn on the Northshore than a farm day. Many local farms, including our favorite, Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, host Fall Weekends. In addition to the usual weekday offerings of pumpkins, pick-your-own apples, and hot cider doughnuts, they have live music, an outdoor market, a food truck, and hayrides. They also have a delightful outdoor hard cider bar on the main lawn on Fridays 2:30 – 5:30 pm, Saturdays 11 – 4 & Sundays 12 – 4. Smolak Farm in North Andover is another excellent option for a perfect New England farm experience. Here, you can also find face painting, crafts, and an animal playground for the kids.
One of the biggest draws to the Northshore in the Fall is the Haunted Happenings in Salem, MA. The town’s tragic history has made it a mecca for people looking to embrace the spookier side of the season. The month-long event includes parades, ghost tours, haunted houses, and fireworks on Halloween night. We highly recommend visiting the Salem Witch Museum and the Witch Trials Memorial to learn about the town’s 1692 Witch Trials. Other historic highlights in town include the Witch House, the House of Seven Gables, and the Charter Street Cemetery. If you’re looking to celebrate the more fun side of the season, here are a few Hocus Pocus filming locations you can see during your visit.
There’s nothing prettier than the colors of the trees on the Northshore as the weather grows cooler. One of the best ways to experience a Northshore Fall is to get outside. Whether it’s hiking or biking, there are so many beautiful spots North of Boston to enjoy the foliage. Great leaf-peeping trails for a hike include Lynn Woods Reservation, Ravenswood in Gloucester, and Maudslay State Park in Newburyport, featuring a nineteenth-century walled garden, rolling meadows, and wooded stretches. For additional Fall fun, check out Theater in the Open’s annual Maudslay Is Haunted show and guided tour at the property happening October 21 and 22.
If biking is more your speed, take advantage of the Bradley Palmer State Park and Willowdale State Forest, abutting properties in Ipswich, and the Coastal Trails Network in the Newburyport area. The network includes the Clipper City Rail Trail in downtown Newburyport, the dirt Ghost Trail connecting Salisbury to Newburyport, and downtown Amesbury, with access to downtown Amesbury’s restaurants, shops, and breweries.
Another fantastic way to enjoy the Fall foliage is with a river cruise! Essex River Cruises is offering Fall Foliage Cider & Donut Cruises this year. Every Saturday and Sunday throughout October, they’ll cruise up close to Hog/Choate Island to view the magnificent dark spruce forest, and you’ll experience the leaves beginning to change along the banks of the Essex River. As a bonus, they also offer complimentary hot cider and donuts from Russell Orchard of Ipswich. Boats, leaves, and cider? What better way to experience Autumn on the Northshore!
Did someone say Oktoberfest? While we’re not in Germany, the Northshore is home to many outstanding breweries. Newburyport Brewing Co., True North Ale Company, and Old Planters Brewing Co. have regular live music lineups on weekends and evenings. Some spots have special events throughout the Fall. In Amesbury, BareWolf Brewing will host “Hops and Horror,” a spooky short film fest on October 26. Every Wednesday, they also have a weekly maker’s market featuring artisans, creatives, farmers, and more. Granite Coast Brewing in Peabody has a host of unique events this month, such as Horror Movie Trivia Night, Oracle Card Readings, Beer Tastings, Halloween-themed craft nights, Pups on the Patio Costume Meet Up, and more!
If you didn’t spend hours lost in a corn maze, did you even experience Fall in New England? Luckily, the Northshore of Massachusetts has plenty of corn maze experiences! Marini Farm in Ipswich’s seven-acre interactive maze gives you a game sheet upon entering that leads you to 18 stations to help you find your way out and takes an average of one and a half hours to complete. This year’s theme is Alice in Wonderland. The seven-acre maze at Connors Farms in Danvers is alien-themed and called “The Unexplained.” They also have train rides, hay rides, a ropes course, pedal carts, and more. If you’re looking for something a little spookier, Tendercrop Farm hosts a flashlight corn maze every Saturday night in October at their Dover location.