For many, the Labor Day weekend marks the “unofficial end of summer” as children return to school, teachers return to work and families settle back into their school-year routines. However, for the empty-nesters who like smaller crowds, cooler temperatures and lower prices, visiting us and the Mystic Country region during September and October is one of the best times of the year to visit.
We’re often asked about autumn getaways, and specifically what does our area have to offer visitors looking for a classic New England getaway here on the Connecticut shoreline. From vintage steam train and riverboat excursions along the heart of the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley, to winery harvest festivals, country fairs, chowder festivals, hiking or taking quintessential scenic drives through some of New England’s most scenic byways. We, as they say, have a little something for anyone looking to enjoy the beautiful autumn season here in southern New England. This noted, below are some of our favorite attractions and events when visiting the area from Labor Day weekend thru late October.
Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Excursions
Without a doubt, one of the most popular things to experience during the autumn season is a ride aboard the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat (http://essexsteamtrain.com/seasonal-excursions/fall-foliage/). The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat’s 2 1/2-hour journey begins at the historic 1892 Essex Station and takes you for a 12-mile, narrated round-trip into the heart of the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley. Located a short 20 minutes from our inn, the September and Fall Foliage season begins over the Labor Day weekend and runs thru late October. Call and book early as this attraction is extremely popular and sells out early.
B. F. Clydes Cider Mill – Opens for the season September 1st
While many of our guests enjoy visiting our local beaches one last time over the Labor Day weekend, others look for the early sign of autumn. And few venues offer better signs of autumn than our local B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill (http://www.bfclydescidermill.com/about_clydes_cider_mill.htm). People visit B. F. Clydes for fresh cider, apple pies and wonderful apple cider donuts as well as other seasonal farm stands with fresh vegetables, pumpkins and gourds.
B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill opens September 1st and features the only steam-powered cider mill in the U.S.
Aug 31 – Sept 3 / 158th Annual Woodstock Fair
If you’re looking to get an early taste of the autumn season, head on up to Connecticut’s Quiet Corner for the 158th Annual Woodstock Fair (http://www.woodstockfair.com/). It’s our state’s second oldest agricultural fair featuring crafts, lots of food, livestock shows, petting zoo, free stage shows, midway, go-kart races, Better Living Center, vegetables, flowers, strolling entertainers, and much more. There’s also the 36th Annual Roseland Cottage Fair (https://www.facebook.com/RoselandCottageFineArtsAndCraftsFestival/) held on Oct 13 & 14 and features fine arts and crafts.
Sept 7 – 9 / Mystic Eats Riverside Food Festival
Come experience Mystic’s food event of the year! Come and sample menu selections from over 25 of Mystic’s premier eateries. Enjoy fantastic food, beer & wine in the Seaport Marine barn, live music under a large tent all weekend, a corn-hole tournament, family entertainment, gorgeous Mystic River views plus Downtown Mystic shops will be open extended hours!
Sept 15 & 16 / Stonington Vineyards Harvest Festival
Stonington Vineyards annual Harvest Festival is Saturday and Sunday, September 15th and 16th from 11-6 daily. Live bands, artisans, wine tastings, food trucks, and more! It’s a great way to celebrate the end of another classic summer season and the beginning of the upcoming autumn season. Cheers
Sept 15 & 16 / 11th Annual Garlic Festival at Olde Mistick Village
You bring the mints and we’ll supply the flavor! This year marks the 11th annual Garlic Festival at Olde Mistick Village. An award-winning food festival dedicated to all things garlic. To celebrate the abundant fall harvest, farmers from around the region will present an amazing variety of garlic for sale in addition to fresh produce. Throughout the day and evening, dozens of local restaurants and food service establishments will be serving, for purchase, delicious garlic-related foods as well as non-garlic favorites. A host of merchants, artisans, authors and artists will line the pathways of Olde Mistick Village displaying their foods, crafts, gifts, and talents. Along with these vendors, you will find Olde Mistick Village merchants offering garlic-related activities or products at their stores.
Oct 6th – Niantic Bay Oyster Festival
Are you into oysters and small town charm? If so, consider visiting us on October 6th for the Niantic Bay Oyster Festival sponsored by Guinness. Enjoy local food vendors, an oyster shucking contest, live entertainment, and the first annual Golf Ball Drop!!
Oct 6th & 7th – Jonathan Edwards Winery Harvest Festival
Without a doubt, one of our favorite autumn events to attend. Jonathan Edwards Winery will be hosting their annual “Harvest Festival” on October 6th and 7th (http://www.jedwardswinery.com/events-2). This very popular event celebrates the bountiful Harvest season with a two-day gathering featuring, two bands each day, food trucks, an artisan vendor tent, free activities for adults, and of course Wine!!!
Bring extra pocket change for the Truck Stop – local food vendors and artisan tent with handcrafted items including fine art, jewelry, home goods and specialty items..
Oct 6th thru 9th – Chowder Days at Mystic Seaport
Over the long Columbus Day holiday weekend, Mystic Seaport hosts their annual Chowder Days event (https://www.mysticseaport.org/event/chowder-days/). The crisp New England air is the perfect time of the year to enjoy some unforgettable clam chowder and other fresh seafood specialties, along with seasonal desserts and beer, wine and apple cider. Stroll through Mystic Seaport’s village and enjoy live music or climb aboard the steamboat Sabino for leaf peeping tour up the Mystic river.
Last, but not least, how about a scenic autumn drive to CT’s Quiet Corner
We normally see the peak fall foliage in and around the area in the early to mid-October timeframe here on the Connecticut shoreline. So, if you are into exploring, country-drives and leap peeping, we often recommend heading up to the northeast corner of Connecticut called the Quiet Corner. We offer our guests a “custom itinerary” that highlights a 32 mile drive along a very scenic route that ultimately brings you to a small town called Putnam where various restaurants and antique shops are the focal point. We personally love taking that drive every year.
In closing, we hope the above summary of local attractions and events helps you plan a beautiful autumn getaway. As most New Englander’s will tell you, it’s our favorite time of the year. Should you desire more information regarding any of the above noted events and/or attractions, please feel free to contact the inn at your convenience. Here’s hoping we get to meet and host you, and wish everyone a beautiful, happy and fun-filled autumn season.