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Boston in Fall: Much More Than Colorful Leaves
A fall foliage tour in New England appears on many a life’s to-do list, but let’s face it, looking at trees for too long can start to seem a bit, well, pedestrian.
If you’re more of the get-up-and-go sort, you can take in the pretty colors and elevate your heart rate at the same time with a biking tour of Boston’s Emerald Necklace. The 1,000-acre chain of parkland designed by Frederick Law Olmstead stretches from Boston Common to Franklin Park, and is a favorite leisure destination of locals all year long. But it’s especially beautiful when the trees start to turn, with peak color typically occurring between mid-October and early November. After you hit the museums in your Boston CityPASS, you may need a little fresh air!
You can self-guide a tour or sign up with Urban Adventours to take an accompanied trip. The approximately 3-hour, 15-mile package includes bike and helmet.
At The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, more than 140 species of maple trees from around the world put on a particularly spectacular fall show, setting the landscape aflame with vivid reds, yellows and oranges. Free walking tours through November allow you to explore the grounds with arboretum docents, who can explain the science behind the seasonal changes taking place. You can also enjoy the trees as a beautiful backdrop to a livelier viewing subject on a fall bird walk, scheduled for October 13 and 20. On an hour-and-a-half walk, you’ll pick out the “snowbirds” heading south for winter and meet some year-round residents, who take the coming cold in stride.
Step into a corn maze, and you’ll never look at corn on the cob the same way again. From humble beginnings in an enterprising farmer’s field, New England corn mazes have grown into elaborate designs that produce stunningly realistic aerial pictures of everything from Bruins goalie Tim Thomas to the Headless Horseman to a seek-and-find word puzzle paying homage to Noah Webster, creator of the first English dictionary. Acres upon acres of towering cornhusks waving in the wind beckon intrepid visitors with a simple-sounding challenge: Step inside and see if you can find your way out again. Sounds like child’s play, but the occasional SOS call has come from adults who couldn’t get their bearings. So bring your cell phone, don’t make plans for after just in case, and prepare to get a little lost in the pursuit of some wholesome agricultural fun. Corn mazes proliferate each fall throughout the New England countryside, with an average $10 entrance fee.
At Marini Farm in Ipswich, 30 miles north of Boston, you can explore the solar system without leaving the ground in the Space Exploration maze. Stations throughout the maze provide answers to the space-related questions posed on the game sheet you pick up at the entrance — and confirmation that you’re actually headed toward the exit. The maze at Connors Farm in Danvers, located about 20 miles from the city, achieved a little more publicity than planned last year when a couple with two young children failed to find their way out before dark and called 911. But most of the time, getting lost is all part of the fun (and they were promptly rescued by the local K-9 unit). This year, the farm plays up a little local history with its Salem Witches corn-maze theme.
The 48th Head of the Charles Regatta takes place October 21-22 on the river separating Boston and Cambridge. This free two-day rowing event, the world’s largest regatta, attracts top college rowing crews, aspiring high school scullers and international club members all vying for the honorary title “Head of the Charles.” More than a quarter million spectators will turn out to cheer on 9,000 competitors in 55 races, which start at Boston University’s boathouse and end three miles upriver at the Artesani Playground in Brighton. If you want to join the crowd, find a spot on the riverbank anywhere along the race route, but closer to the finish if you prefer a front-on view.
All the activity will surely leave you starving, so if you’re in the area at the end of the month, head to the 17th Annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center to sample the fall harvest. Taking place October 27 and 28, the free festival includes cooking demonstrations by top vegetarian chefs, food exhibits with lots of free samples, noted speakers, consulting dietitians and activities for kids.