Maine’s Midcoast, and the Penobscot Bay region glows in the harvest hues of Mother Nature’s fall colors from mid-September through October. From the water, the Maine Windjammer Association captains watch as color sets in and the reds, yellows, and oranges of the hillsides bathe the entire region in fall foliage vistas. Add in a fabulous fall sunset and you can only imagine the beauty of fall cruising along the coast of Maine. Each month has its draws, but for many, fall is the best time of the year for a cruise with the Maine Windjammer Association fleet. For those not quite sure, here are six reasons to book a fall cruise this year.
Fall fleet events are among the favorites
The Camden Windjammer Festival, which is typically celebrated annually on the Friday and Saturday before Labor Day, is canceled this year. Instead, the fleet has organized an event called the Windjamboree where the fleet gathers at a destination they choose the day of the event, and small boat shenanigans are organized that evening. Captain, crew, and guests all partake in the race in hopes to win the coveted Oar Award.
Then, just a few days later, the Maine Windjammer fleet finishes out the season at the WoodenBoat Sail-In on September 11, 2021. The whole fleet gathers, with a few additional windjammers, at WoodenBoat School for the annual end of the summer mussel feed. Enjoy more small boat shenanigans fun, fine music, and lots of laughs and conversation with other guests. Dancing encouraged!
There’s still availability for last-minute planners
While availability changes daily, and not every cruise still has openings, it’s worth asking. You don’t have to assume that there’s no room on the boat because you wait to make your plans. The early bird may get the best choice of cabins, but the last-minute planner can still find cabins available. Call your favorite windjammer directly to learn more about availability this fall.
Best sleeping weather
There’s just about nothing better than sleeping on a boat. Whether you choose to enjoy a cozy bunk or to sleep on deck with the stars and moon to light your night, that gentle rocking of the boat will put you to sleep quickly. Add in a fabulous day, pulling lines on deck or exploring islands and taking in the ideal September temps, a great dinner, and it’s no wonder you sleep well on a windjammer. September and October offer cooler nights and days too. You’ll enjoy snuggling under the covers, perhaps with a good book. We challenge you to get through more than a few pages before you nod off, snug as a bug in a rug…. And that’s another reason….no bugs in September.
From music to mocktails and lighthouses in-between – great fall-themed cruises
From apple pies to squash dishes and hearty roasts, you’ll enjoy fresh fall fare on your September and October cruises. Talented chefs scour the markets for the freshest produce, meats, and offerings, and you can be assured that feasts aboard your September and October cruises will be delicious. From soups enjoyed on deck as you cruise at 10+ knots down Penobscot Bay in a fresh fall breeze to Pumpkin Pie for dessert, your fall feasts will be among the greatest memories you bring home from your windjammer cruise.
Maine’s brilliant fall foliage
There are few sights more beautiful than seeing the changing fall colors in the hills as they slope to the sea. Mother Nature’s harvest hues paint a patina of color that will mesmerize the mind when seen from the water. There are not many ways to capture this view other than from the deck of a windjammer. For those who yearn to experience the sight of New England’s fall foliage, seeing it from the deck of a windjammer simply can’t be beaten. The longer you go into October, the more brilliant the colors get. What day will the leaves turn? We’d be rich if we knew the answer to that question. Fall colors depend on a number of factors including summer temps, rainfall, changing daylight hours, and more. However, generally by late September, the leaves will start to turn and by mid-October, the colors will be approaching peak. The later in September or early October you cruise, the better the fall colors.
You can visit each of the Maine Windjammer Association’s individual vessels online at their websites by clicking below.
Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
For a COVID getaway, which we just did over Labor Day, enjoy fall foliage colors and no quarantining required (if you live in the Northeast) in New York State’s Adirondacks State Park.
While in North Creek (Gore Mt ski area), visit and/or take a class with artist-in-residence glassblower extraordinaire, Greg Tomb — last day for classes this season is September 23, 2020.
In cooperation with North Creek’s Tannery Pond Center, Tomb has made hundreds of colorful, glass-blown pumpkins that will be sold at the “Glass Pumpkin Patch” weekend, September 25-27, 2020, from 10am – 6pm daily. Each pumpkin has been hand-blown by Tomb, giving them their unique and distinctive sizes and designs (starting price of $35). A sizable percentage of all sales goes towards the arts and operations of North Creek’s Tannery Pond Center, North Creek, NY.
This fall, you can enjoy your favorite corn mazes, pick-your-own-fruit and vegetable activities, hayrides and haunted houses, plus farmers’ markets and craft beverage trails in New York State.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced new state guidance for agritourism businesses as New York State enters the fall season. The businesses, which include corn mazes, pick-your-own fruit and vegetable operations, hayrides and haunted houses, are considered low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment and are permitted to operate under New York’s NY Forward guidance. New Yorkers can also visit the State’s farmers’ markets and craft beverage trails, which have remained open under State guidance, supporting agriculture and tourism in the state.
“New York State’s amazing outdoor attractions and recreational opportunities are a boon for families and communities during the fall season each year, and we want New Yorkers to be able to enjoy this time with their family responsibly and safely,” Governor Cuomo said. “The new guidance announced today will ensure that these businesses can open to the public, allowing families to enjoy their favorite fall activities while providing a boost for our farming communities and local economies.”
“As one of the nation’s top agricultural states, New York traditionally comes together in the fall to celebrate the harvest—from apples to grapes to pumpkins,” State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said. “This year, while things may not look exactly the same on your favorite farm, I am happy to say we can still celebrate agriculture’s bounty and the many family-friendly activities that go with it. With this new guidance, we hope New Yorkers will be able to enjoy some of the best of New York agriculture in a safe and socially distanced manner.”
Corn Mazes – permitted consistent with Low Risk Outdoor Arts and Entertainment guidance and the following conditions:
Face coverings required
Social distance maintained between individuals/parties
Hayrides – permitted consistent with Public Transportation guidance and the following conditions:
Mandatory face coverings
Social distance required between individuals/parties
Frequently touched surfaces, such as handrails, cleaned and sanitized between rides
Pick-Your-Own Fruit/Vegetables Operations – permitted consistent with Low Risk Outdoor Arts and Entertainment guidance and the following conditions:
Face coverings required
Social distance maintained between individuals/parties.
Haunted Houses – permitted consistent with Low Risk Indoor Arts and Entertainment guidance and the following conditions:
Face coverings required
Social distance maintained between individuals/parties
Petting zoos are not permitted.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has issued a full slate of guidelines for the agricultural industry, including guidance for farmers’ markets and for its food and beverage producers. All guidance can be found at https://agriculture.ny.gov/coronavirus.
Looking for a unique experience this Halloween? Head to Lithuania, where Day of the Dead is celebrated by the whole nation, and the country offers unique glimpses into the world of crypts, crosses and ancient cemeteries.
Take one of the special tours – visit old cemeteries of Vilnius, adrift in flowers and candles; take a tour of the underground crypts of Vilnius Cathedral; head to the old pagan Lithuanian capital, Kernave, and see pilkapiai – ancient cemeteries with no crosses; take excursions to the seaside and southern Lithuania, visit national parks and local cemeteries with UNESCO-recognized cross-making traditions; head to the extraordinary Hill of Crosses – a site of pilgrimage in northern Lithuania with over 200,000 of crosses of all shapes and sizes. The first crosses were put on the hill by the relatives of the dead rebels of 1831 revolt against the Russian tsar.
On the first day of November, Lithuanian offices, shops and schools close, roads become packed with cars, families reunite, and everyone heads to one special place – the cemetery.
Lithuanian cemeteries are already different from what you’d find in other countries – they rather resemble a botanical park, sinking in the sea of trees, adorned with flowers and beautiful tombstones. On November 1st, Lithuanians celebrate Vėlinės (vėlė means “soul” and ilgėtis means “to long”) – the Day of the Dead, which is not as joyful an occasion as El Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico, but rather the day of remembrance and reunion that bears deep traditions. Cemeteries become the place of family gatherings, where young and old arrange flowers and light candles. When the sun sets, the cemeteries become enchanting, alive and mysterious from the sea of flickering candlelights and the aroma of thousands of fresh flowers.
When golden trees and low-hanging sun create special autumn atmosphere, it’s a perfect time to visit Lithuania and to get enchanted by the scenery and traditions, to explore some off-the-beaten track activities, and to see some old Lithuanian customs put into action.
According to the old Lithuanian tradition, this is the time to remember the ancestors and to re-think one’s place in the world. When Lithuania finally accepted Christianity (last country to be “baptized” in Europe), pagan and Christian traditions blended into one over time, giving special significance and depth to the Lithuanian Day of the Dead.
The Old Cemeteries of Vilnius
The Old Vilnius Cemeteries belong in the list of European historical cemetery heritage.
There are three main cemeteries in Vilnius city center: the first one, Rasų Cemetery, was founded in 1796, and is the eternal home to famous Lithuanian poets, artists and politicians, such as the activist and folklorist Jonas Basanavicius, and composer and painter M.K. Ciurlionis. This was the first cemetery that was founded outside of the city, on a hill surrounded by old oak trees. The name of the place – Rasos – suggests this used to be an ancient pagan ceremony site.
The Bernardine Cemetery was established in 1810 by the Bernardine monks of the the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. As most cemeteries in the city center, it was closed by the Soviets and remained mostly unchanged from that time, with burials allowed only in existing family graves.
Antakalnis Cemetery is commonly referred to as the Military Cemetery. 12 of the 14 Soviet Union protest victims from 1991 TV tower attack are buried here, as well as the victims of Soviet Medininkai Massacre. Among other perished soldiers there are graves of Polish soldiers from 1919-20, Lithuanian, German and Russian soldiers who have fallen in World War I and thousands of French soldiers of Napoleon’s Army, whose remains were found in Vilnius and reburied in Antakalnis in 2001.
During Vėlinės, these old cemeteries are afloat with flowers and sinking in the sea of candles – people come to remember the dead heroes or prominent poets of the nation, but they also don’t forget the unknown graves of dead people whose relatives might not be around anymore to light a candle.
Lithuanian Cross-Making and the Hill of Crosses
If you feel like venturing outside of Vilnius, Southern Lithuanian region of Dzukija and Lithuanian seaside will offer a special glimpse into the culture of Lithuanian cemeteries, with their distinctive crosses and breathtaking nature that surrounds them.
The Lithuanian art of cross-making was recognized to be unique and added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Since Lithuania was the last country of Europe to abandon paganism and convert to Catholicism in the 14th century, pagan and Catholic elements intertwine in Lithuanian crosses – which were forbidden by Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union.
Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses, located in the northern Lithuania, is a unique and enchanting place, with over 200,000 of crosses of every shape and size, and attracting thousands of Catholic pilgrims as well as curious tourists. People started leaving crosses on the hill after the 1831 uprising against the Russian tsar – relatives put crosses to commemorate dead rebels, since they had no bodies to bury. During Soviet occupation, the KGB bulldozed the hill twice – but today, the Hill of Crosses stands tall again as the symbol of resistance and faith.
You can also find cemeteries in Lithuania that have no crosses – these are pre-Christian pilkapiai dating from 12-13th century – abandoned in the 14th century – but still reminding everyone of pagan Lithuania. The most prominent site of pilkapiai is in Kernave, whose first residents arrived in the 9th century BC, and which later became an important pagan city.
Similarly, you wouldn’t find any crosses in the ethnic Jewish cemeteries, or the cemeteries of Lithuanian Turkic minorities – Tatars and Karaites.
Lithuanian Cemetery Excursions by Vilnius in Love:
Royal Mausoleum. A visit to the crypts of Vilnius Cathedral
Uzupis neighborhood. The Bernardine Cemetery
The old Military Cemetery of Antakalnis
The pagan capital Kernaveand pilkapiai
The Hill of Crossesin Northern Lithuania
National Park of Dzukija
National Park of Curonian Spit
Trakai Castleand old Karaites cemetery
Vilnius in Love is a tour guide company that offers customizable and personalized tours across all regions of Lithuania. Hiring guides who are very well versed in local history, they are able to offer trips to unique destinations and rare attractions. Contact VilniusinLove.com to learn more.
In a time when the challenges of air travel only seem to become more complex and automobile travel more frustrating, the allure of train travel grows. Trains are easy on/off, allow continual WiFi use, have excellent on-time performance, and are affordable.
And now, you can reach one of the most sensational getaway destinations on the planet via passenger rail: Amtrak to Rhode Island.
Amtrak services Rhode Island via two routes: The high-speed Acela travels daily between Boston, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC. The Northeast Regional includes those cities as well as smaller stations such as Kingston, RI, in the southern half of the state, close to the beaches and Newport.
Once in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s system of trolleys and buses makes navigating the entire state a breeze, especially the cities of Providence and Newport (see bus directions below to each destination) – not to mention superb biking (one of our favorite bike trails is the East Bay, which goes from Providence 14.5 miles, hugging the shores of Narragansett Bay to Bristol).
And Rhode Island’s great fall festivals and foliage excursions make visiting at this time of year all the more memorable. The great food scene here, from high-end, nationally-award-winning restaurants to waterside seafood shacks, is allure all by itself, and will only make your stay more enjoyable, no matter what your taste.
Getting around Providence is a snap, not just because it’s an eminently walkable city, but because RIPTA’s system of tourist-friendly public transportation is fantastic. RIPTA’s hub is located in Kennedy Plaza in the center of downtown Providence, a 5 minute walk from the train station. Check out the dozens of routes at www.ripta.com.
Getting to Newport is even easier. Regular bus service runs between Providence, Kennedy Plaza and Newport’s Gateway Center. Buses leave every 30 minutes.
Once in Newport getting around via public transportation is easy too! Newport’s public transportation hub is the Visitors Information Center at 23 America’s Cup Avenue in downtown Newport. RIPTA provides trolley and bus service to attractions throughout Newport, including the mansions, Cliff Walk, Beaches, Fort Adams, Downtown Newport, the Gateway Center, and more. Van/car service is available from the Kingston station to Newport. Call (401) 295-1100 for information and reservations (required).
Riders can buy a day pass or pay as they go directly from the bus driver. RIPTA riders pay just $2 for all-day parking at the Visitors Information Center and receive discounts to many area attractions, including mansion and harbor tours. For more information call: 401-781-9400 or log on to RIPTA.com or see specific schedules here:
Rhode Island Chinese Dragon Boat Races and Taiwan Day Festival (Sept. 6): The Blackstone Valley is one of the few places outside of China where you can experience these authentic and beautiful wooden dragon boats, made and shipped from Hong Kong, race. Boat crews consist of a drummer and 20 paddlers. The top team wins $10,000. The day also includes other festivities celebrating Asian culture. School Street Pier, Pawtucket, 401-724-2200. www.dragonboatri.com
To get there from Providence: Board Bus 11 in Kennedy Plaza towards R-Line North. The 11 departs every 20 minutes. In about 24 minutes, you’ll arrive at the Pawtucket Transit Center. Transfer to Bus 78. Travel three stops to School and Beechwood streets. Take a right and walk five minutes to the Pawtucket Boat Launch. Total travel time 40 minutes.
The 9th Annual Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival (September 19-21): Held in one of the most spectacular settings in America, Rosecliff and Marble House mansions, this remarkable weekend experience features hundreds of wines from around the world, fabulous food, cooking demonstrations by nationally-renowned chefs, live and silent auctions and a gala celebration. www.newportmansions.org
To get there from Providence: Board Bus 60 in Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. This bus departs every 20 minutes. In about an hour and 13 minutes, get off at Marlborough and Duke streets in Newport. Walk about a minute straight ahead to the next bus stop at Marlborough and Thames streets. Board Bus 67 and ride 9 stops to the corner of Bellevue and Narragansett avenues. Exit the bus and walk 5 minutes to Marble House. Total travel time is 1 hour 37 minutes.
WaterFire Providence (Sept. 27, Oct. 11, 25): A unique and beautiful artistic installation by Barnaby Evans, WaterFire, in its 20th year, is celebrated the world over. Featuring braziers placed along the middle of the Providence River and set aflame, WaterFire features music, artistic performers, food and drink and brings both locals and visitors out to celebrate the city. www.waterfire.org. (see slideshow).
To get there: Exit the Providence Train Station and make a left onto Gaspee St. Walk one minute and take a left on Francis St. Walk three minutes to the Providence River and the first viewing point for WaterFire, which starts at sunset.
International Polo Series (Through September): This royal sport has taken Rhode Island by storm. Polo matches take place every Saturday June through September. Spectators may rent tents or bring chairs and reserve space on the grounds for picnics. Teams competing come from throughout the world. Glen Farm in Portsmouth. www.nptpolo.com
To get there from Providence: Board Bus 60 in Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. This bus departs every 20 minutes. In about 55 minutes, exit the bus on East Main Rd opposite the corner of Glen Rd. Cross the street and walk about 10 minutes to Glen Farm Rd. and make a right. The polo fields will be 5 minutes down on your left. Total travel time is 1 hour 13 minutes.
The Jack O Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo (Oct. 2-Nov. 2): This annual festival features 5,000 artistically and intricately-carved pumpkins in all shapes, sizes and themes. Set along the pathways that lead throughout the Zoo, the lit-from-within pumpkins draw as many as 100,000 visitors for a part-beautiful, part-spooky celebration of the season. 1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, 401-785-9450. www.rwpzoo.org
To get there from Providence: In Kennedy Plaza, board Bus 22 towards Providence. It will turn into Bus 20. Ride for 18 minutes to the corner of Elmwood Ave. and Carlisle St. Exit the bus here and the entrance to Roger Williams Park is directly across the street. Enter the park and walk 6 minutes to the Zoo. Total travel time is 26 minutes.
Newport’s International Octoberfest (Oct. 11-12): This bona fide Bavarian weekend bubbles over with juicy bratwursts, yodeling and folk dance performances, a rousing entertainment lineup and more. This year, there will be three Biergartens and expanded outdoor courtyard space for endless amounts of festivities. A kid-friendly Kindergarten area rounds out fall’s choice festival as a place for the whole family to sample Oktoberfest’s multitude of flavors. All held along the beautiful Newport waterfront at the Newport Yachting Center. www.newportwaterfrontevents.com/event/international-oktoberfest/
To get there from Providence: Board Bus 60 in Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. This bus departs every 20 minutes. In about an hour and 13 minutes, get off at Marlborough and Duke streets in Newport. Exit the bus and walk straight ahead two minutes to Thames St. Take a left and walk 7 minutes to the Newport Yachting Center on the right side of Thames St. Total travel time is 1 hour 24 minutes.
Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival (Oct. 18-19): Honoring the “harvest of the sea,” the Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival offers copious amounts of seafood, continuous live music, and family fun, all beneath the wharf’s colorful tents. Neighboring restaurants and fisherman’s associations serve up their most celebrated seafood dishes (lobster dinners, clam chowder, stuffed quahogs, clam cakes, shrimp, scallops, raw oysters and clams, as well as a few dishes for landlubbers and kids). Under the music tent, live music – folk, Celtic, sea shanties and blues – are just a taste of what you’ll hear. Bring your dancing shoes, because these bands promise to get your feet moving! www.bowenswharf.com/events
To get there from Providence: Board Bus 60 in Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. This bus departs every 20 minutes. In about an hour and 13 minutes, get off at Marlborough and Duke streets in Newport. Exit the bus and walk straight ahead two minutes to Thames St. Take a left and walk 5 minutes to Bowen’s Wharf, on the right side of Thames St. Total travel time is 1 hour 22 minutes.
Blackstone Valley Fall Foliage Tour (Oct. 22): One of the most unique ways to see Rhode Island’s gorgeous fall foliage. Hop aboard the Blackstone Valley’s Fall Foliage Train. On Oct. 22 at 9 am the train departs Woonsocket for a day-long excursion to Putnam CT, where you can shop for antiques and dine. One Depot Sq, Woonsocket. www.tourblackstone.com
To get there from Providence: Board Bus 54 in Kennedy Plaza towards Lincoln. After 51 minutes, exit the bus at 113 Clinton St. near the corner of High St. Cross the street and make a right and walk one minute to Depot Square. Total travel time is 56 minutes.
New and exciting places to stay
The Urban Beach House at The Attwater, Newport
The Attwater is a design-driven boutique hotel with a chic and modern edge not often seen in historic Newport. Urban Beach House rooms feature “outdoor style” showers and a “sand lounge” gathering spot in the front yard of the hotel. Top-notch amenities and stylish comfort are the order of the day. 22 Liberty St., 401-846-7444, www.theattwater.com
The Dean, Providence
A brothel-turned boutique hotel, the 52-room Dean is an urban oasis for Downcity travelers. With a decidedly cool Brooklyn vibe (it was designed by Brooklyn-based ASH NYC), the hotel merges cool (there are bunk beds) with a homegrown aesthetic (many of the furnishings and accessories are crafted by RI artists). 122 Fountain Street, Providence, 401-455-DEAN, 401-732-3100. www.thedeanhotel.com.
For further information:
Newport Convention and Visitors Bureau, 23 America’s Cup Avenue, Newport, RI 02840, 401-845-9151, 800-326-6030, www.gonewport.com.