I’ve rediscovered my love for the day trip.
Over the past few years, our family abandoned the day trip in favor of an overnight stay of at least a night, if not two or three. The overnight stay, for us, meant we didn’t have to try to “beat the traffic” and could take more time to explore the area we were visiting.
But this year, we’ve been looking for adventures closer to home; places that didn’t require an overnight stay and allowed our teenagers (happily) to stay home. One Sunday found us in Orange, Mass., in search of filming locations from the first season of “Castle Rock,” Hulu’s anthology series based on the fictional universe of Stephen King.
After watching the “Berkshires UFO” episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” on Netflix, my husband and I traveled to Sheffield, Mass., to visit the Thom Reed UFO Monument Park and the Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge. Whether or not you believe in extraterrestrial life, the park, which you can read about here, is a serene spot surrounded by natural beauty.
Most recently, my husband and I traveled to Hogback Mountain in Marlboro, Vt., which brought with it a flood of childhood memories.
Growing up, the onset of fall meant that my mother and aunt would pile us kids into the largest vehicle available for our annual day trip. Some years, we headed east on Route 2 over the Mohawk Trail — stopping to visit the souvenir shops and “trading posts” peddling “Native American” kitsch leftover from the 1950s — turning around in either ShelburneFalls or at the French King Bridge.
Other years, we headed north into Vermont, a trip filled with apple cider doughnuts, dip-your-own candles and pottery. Sometimes we ended up at the “world’s largest basket shop” in Putney, but if we were lucky we’d dine on pancakes at the Skyline Restaurant on Hogback Mountain. And once, we even visited the tiny museum across the street.
Our recent trip didn’t include pancakes, but my husband and I were able to enjoy a pint and pie at a socially-distanced picnic table, with a breathtaking view of several mountain ranges, at Pizzapalooza and Beer Naked Brewery, which has taken the place of the long-closed eatery.
To my delight, I discovered the tiny museum still exists. The Southern Vermont Natural History Museum (known as the Luman R. Nelson Museum prior to 1996) is built around the collection of Luman R. Nelson, a noted naturalist and taxidermist. The exhibition is comprised of Northern birds and mammals, collected in the early 1900s, and displayed in over 250 dioramas. We purchased tickets ($5 for an adult) at the Hogback Mountain Gift Shop and headed into the museum, which we discovered includes a sanctuary of non-releasable birds of prey. Among its residents are Molly Stark and Stormy, two majestic bald eagles.
If you’re planning a day trip this fall, be sure to check out our recommended scenic drives and fall foliage hikes. For those of you looking to get away for the night, without traveling too far, we have a selection of local hotels, motels and inns that might be just what you’re looking for.
And of course, what would fall in New England be without a trip to the apple orchard or pumpkin patch? I’ll be stopping at a few of the orchards and farms found here, to pick up those quintessential ingredients for my fall baking. For ideas of how to turn your fall harvest into delicious treats, check out the recipes from King Arthur Baking, here.
Jennifer Huberdeau, Editor