New England’s fall season attracts worldwide visitors for good reason. The cool, crisp air paired with incredible color-changing leaves enhances any outdoor activity, from hiking to fall festivals to apple and pumpkin picking.
Fall is the perfect season to get outdoors, so we’ve made this list of great fall activities in the Merrimack Valley to inspire you to get outside and embrace that which makes our area so unique.
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Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens
It’s time to dust off your lederhosen and visit the Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens for the 3rd annual Oktoberfest. Stevens-Coolidge will team up with Notch Brewing for this event that will feature German fare, desserts, and cold session beer, as well as the musical talents of an authentic German band.
207 Boston Street, Topsfield, Mass.
Popcorn! Candy Apples! Cotton Candy! Carnival rides! Offering family fun for decades, the Topsfield Fair is among the most popular in New England. For just over a week, the fair features plenty of food, beverages, carnival rides and games, face painting, farm animals, live music, souvenir markets, and more exciting events. Whether you’re looking for a cute date idea or taking the family out for some fun, the Topsfield Fair is an event that people of all ages will enjoy.
Newburyport Fall Harvest Festival 2021
Come to downtown Newburyport on Sunday & Monday of Columbus Day weekend for the annual Fall Harvest Festival. Enjoy great food, live music, and family fun while celebrating autumn’s arrival. Explore downtown shops as well as craft vendor booths from artisans all over New England.
The Town and the City Festival
The Town and The City Festival is a music festival in downtown Lowell that will feature over 40 performances spanning multiple genres. Named after bestselling novelist Jack Kerouac’s “The Town and the City,” the festival will also include a musical tribute to Kerouac himself, and will take place in event spaces, bars, cafes, and galleries throughout downtown Lowell including Zorba Music Hall, Christ Church United, The Luna Theater at
Mill No. 5, Academic Arts Center, Warp & Weft, Gallery Z, Smokehouse Tavern, The Old Court and more.
Outdoor Activities & Events
Nature: A Walking Play
Appleton Farms, Ipswich, Mass.
“Nature: An Outdoor Walking Play” celebrates the dynamic connection between humanity and the natural world. This immersive and family-friendly performance tells the tale of Emerson, Thoreau, and their mutual love of the natural world. This event offers a deeply thought-provoking opportunity to experience a live performance in beautiful and historic outdoor settings.
Vintage Bazaar: Harvest Edition
Wolfsburg Farm, Holderness, N.H.
Just minutes away from the beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee, Wolfsburg Farm in Holderness, N.H., will be hosting the Vintage Bazaar: Harvest Edition, a two-day vintage and hand makers harvest festival. The event will feature over 135 curated booths with antiques, vintage finds, architectural salvage, rusty junk, repurposed goodies, indie crafts, and more. Visit the Bazaar to also enjoy live music, food trucks, hard cider, fall brews and more.
Yoga in the Gardens
Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens, North Andover, Mass.
Mondays & Saturdays through September
Relax and refresh with yoga in North Andover’s Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens. This outdoor yoga program will teach you breathing techniques to calm your mind, postures to balance and stretch your body, and relaxation to soothe your soul. Surrounded by the changing leaves and fall breeze, this is the perfect setting to connect to the earth and find peace in nature.
Foliage Hikes & Drives
347 Kenoza Avenue, Haverhill
Haverhill’s first public park, Winnekenni is a hilly, city-owned conservation area of more than 700 acres. Situated around Kenoza Lake, the park is within a few miles of downtown Haverhill and includes approximately 10 miles of easy to moderate walking trails. One can enjoy fall foliage on a walk, from the playground, on one of the many benches and picnic areas, or near the beautiful Winnekenni Castle.
Methuen, Lawrence, Salem, N.H., and Windham, N.H., Rail Trails
There are many things to love about rail trails: they’re pet-friendly; often well-paved; framed by wildflowers and forests that turn beautiful colors in the fall; available for walkers, runners bikers, roller-bladers and all of the above; and some can let you walk across multiple towns, cities and even states in an afternoon. Locally, hop on the Methuen portion of the rail trail on Railroad Street, or you can explore the Salem and Windham, N.H., rail trails by entering the parking lot on north Broadway at the Windham Town line (3 Rockingham Road). Whichever rail trail system you choose to explore, they offer great fall scenery and smooth travels suited for outdoor enthusiasts of all abilities.
Maudslay State Park
74 Curzon Mill Road, Newburyport
Located right next to the Merrimack River, Maudslay State Park features 19th century gardens and plantings, rolling meadows, towering pines, and one of the largest naturally occurring stands of mountain laurel in Massachusetts. With trails framed by beautiful scenery, this area is the perfect place for a walk, bike ride or picnic.
North Andover, Mass.
North Andover’s Weir Hill is a 60-acre oak and hickory forest located on the shores of Lake Cochichewick. There are plenty of hills, streams and wet meadows to keep hikers of all levels entertained, in addition to an abundance of plant and animal life. In the fall, leash-up your four-legged friend and head to Weir Hill to enjoy a “woodsy ascent” into the beautiful changing leaves of the hickory and oak trees.
Merrimack Valley Paddlers
If you’re interested in enjoying the fall scenery from a different point of view, consider joining the Merrimack Valley Paddler’s club. The club is made up of an informal group of paddlers who hit the water together on a regular basis and organize training trips for all levels. They paddle into the fall, so it’s not too late to join!
Views Through the Windshield
93 North, 495 North / South
If you live in or near the Merrimack Valley, chances are you are familiar with two of the main highways nearby: 93 and 495. I have always found that going for a drive on one of these highways is one of the easiest ways to enjoy fall foliage, especially if weather, injuries, allergies or other circumstances prevent you from venturing into nature. When driving up 93 north from Andover towards Windham, the highway is framed by beautiful changing colors that are just as picturesque as they are alongside a lake or in a park. Just remember to drive safely!