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An insiders guide to a safe foliage season in the time of COVID-19

This will be a fall foliage season like none other.  2020... Mother Nature won’t let us down, but the way we experience the fall colors has changed. Nobody wants to sit in traffic to see the fall colors of New England—or crowd into a park. The only thing worse might be to miss the fall colors entirely, by heading to the wrong place at the wrong time. 

 

Fall trail
Here are a few insider tips for enjoying New Hampshire's fall colors in the right place, at the right time, and by getting out of your car and into nature. New Hampshire’s fall colors are an annual topic of debate. Some say that too much sun--or is it too much rain? --will dull the colors. State officials then offer opinions to the contrary. Truth be known, it's really kind of a mystery, with Mother Nature calling all the shots. Plus, with the drought, who knows?

 

But, as the locals say, “Those leaves gotta come down some way or the other.” Want to save time and avoid crowds — then skip those “foliage tours” touted on websites and try these tips from the locals: New Hampshire’s foliage season runs roughly from mid-September to mid-October, but this varies widely depending on weather, topography and geography. Even as early as late August, the swamp maples surrounding some ponds and lakes may turn a fiery red, and the deciduous trees of northern New Hampshire may already begin their transformation. Indigenous People’s Day Weekend is often the focal point of fall foliage excursions, but the White Mountains can tend to have colors earlier. Whatever the year, there's no need to hurry. The leaves hang around a long time. Travelers can make a full weekend of it by visiting local apple orchards or pumpkins patches--there are plenty around--and picking their own bushels of each. There are also plenty of historical landmarks and museums to capture your interest and to learn more about the beautiful scenery you'll be passing through.

 

TAKE IN THE VIEW FROM THE WATER

 

One special place to enjoy the foliage show is Lake Winnipesaukee. It's hard to see foliage while you're driving, so why not take a cruise on the M/S. Mount Washington and let the captains do the driving (and save the gas). The big lake has amazing color and the juxtaposition of the water and sky can be breathtaking. The M/S. Mount Washington is a 230-foot vessel offering scenic cruises during the day and upscale evening dinner and dance cruises. The Mount will offer socially distanced Fall Foliage Cruises Sundays through the end of October. "Mother Nature is kind enough to put the show on for us every year," said Captain Jim Morash, a veteran of the "Big Lake". "We're lucky up here on the lake where the foliage comes into the lowlands first, then you see it up in the mountains, and then comes in around the lake." When the color has gone from the mountains, it still lingers on the shores of the lake. Another water-borne way to see the foliage is in a kayak on a river or lake. https://cruisenh.com

 

SKIP THE CROWDS, HEAD TO CONCORD

 

New Hampshire offers some of the best fall colors in the world. Each autumn, the forests of the Granite State explore in a symphony of red, orange, yellow and green. But the mass tourism flux tends to be north, not central-so we recommend leaf peepers make Concord their base, with its vibrant Main Street, tasty eateries, and abundant cultural offerings. Concord. It is an emerging destination worth a look. Set in the middle of the state, with great hikes, apple picking, and all within an easy drive. It makes for the perfect fall foliage base.

 

Every Saturday you can visit the Farmers Market. The Main Street is quite attractive, with lots of new places to shop and eat and impressive 19th century brick architecture.

 

Almost 100% of the stores and restaurants along Main Street are locally owned. They range from high fashion, to antiques, to a range of authentic cuisines including Greek, Asian, American, vegan and more. It is a small city with big city offerings, reminiscent of Newbury Street in Boston.

Concord is the state capital — that means the State House on Main Street – open 5 days week with 190+ years of history to share. But, there is a lot more. See the grave and the home of Franklin Pierce, the only US President from NH. Learn about the NH First in the Nation Primary at the State Library, Barley House Restaurant, and State House. Or, venture outside the city to see Canterbury Shaker Village, the Pierce Homestead, stone arch bridges, or Mary Baker Eddy’s home (there are 2). https://www.visitconcord-nh.com

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