Attention leaf-peepers: If the itinerary for your New England getaway is based on endless hours of admiring the fall foliage from behind your windshield, then it's time to get out of the car and get into the scenery.
So says Jackie Ennis, and she should know. Ennis is the managing director of Discover New England, an organization that markets vacations in the six New England states to visitors from the United Kingdom and Germany.
''The majority of these Europeans come to New England in the fall, because the foliage season fits their ideal image of what this part of America is like,'' she says. ''Many of the best events and activities New England has to offer take place in the autumn season, so it is easy for us to give these visitors an authentic New England experience.''
American visitors would do well to follow the lead of their international counterparts and partake in activities that will bring them closer to New England's natural beauty, history and culture. From the region's cornucopia of autumn offerings, Ennis recommends the following:
Essex Steam Train: These 12-mile, one-hour train rides through the foliage-rich Connecticut River Valley appeal to visitors of all ages. Special trips scheduled for fall are the Goodspeed Express (Sept. 16), which includes the train trip and a riverboat ride to the Goodspeed Opera House with a picnic on the lawn; The Essex Clipper Dinner Train, two-hour excursions scheduled for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through October; and the Trick or Treat Special, especially for children, on Oct. 27 and 28. Reservations and information on the Web: http://www.essexsteamtrain.com.
Mystic Seaport Museum: A premier museum of American seafaring heritage, Mystic Seaport is home to four major historic vessels and 400 smaller craft, the largest collection of its kind in the United States. Autumn events include sailing excursions for adults, elderhostel programs, and youth boating programs. ''Ghoulish Gourmet & Shipboard Scares,'' a Halloween-themed sailing program, is scheduled for Oct. 19, 20, 26 and 27. For admission details and full calendar of events, go to http://www.mysticseaport.org.
Sea Kayaking: Maine's Midcoast near Bar Harbor and Boothbay Harbor is perfect for sea kayaking in autumn, and you don't have to be an experienced paddler to try it. Boothbay Harbor holds its Fall Foliage Festival during the Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 6 -7. No fewer than three Web sites have information or links to sea kayaking guides and instructors: http://www. visitmaine.com, http://www.maine attraction.com, and http://www. mainesmidcoast.com.
Hiking and Camping in Acadia National Park: Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park is the first place in the United States to see the sun rise every morning. Hikers of all abilities can take advantage of 120 miles of hiking trails; walkers can explore 45 miles of carriage roads. Camping is available year-round at Blackwoods campground, at Isle au Haut through Oct. 14, and at Seawall through Sept. 30. For campground reservations, call 1-800-365-CAMP. Information on the Web is available at http://www.nps.gov/ acad and http://www.acadiachamber.com.
Plimoth Plantation: This re-creation of the 1627 Pilgrim settlement features costumed interpreters who interact with visitors in the manner and speech of Colonists from that period. The Pilgrim village features re-creations of homes and buildings that were in the settlement during the early 17th century. Autumn events include 1620 Theme Dining (Oct. 6 and 7), Dutch Days (Oct. 6-8) and Witches of the 17th Century (Oct. 18 - 25). Details on the Web: http://www.Plimoth.org.
Old Sturbridge Village: This re-creation of a circa 1830 New England village is an educational bonanza for adults and children alike. Interpreters demonstrate dozens of crafts from the period; visitors can take advantage of a full schedule of hands-on learning programs and workshops. Fall events include the Early 19th Century Agricultural Fair (Sept. 29-30), Autumn Apple Tasting (Oct. 6), Harvest Weekend (Oct. 20 - 21), and Halloween, 19th Century Style (Oct. 27). Details on the Web: http://www.OSV.org. RHODE ISLAND
Jack-O-Lantern Spectacu-lar:Some 5,000 professionally carved jack-o-lanterns will be illuminated at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence from Oct. 11 - 31. This event was named a ''local legacy'' by the Library of Con-gress. On the Web: http://www.rwp zoo.org.
Northeast Kingdom Fall Foliage Festival: From Sept. 30 through October, this festival moves from village to village in this pristine, rural region of northeastern Vermont. Visitors are invited to join locals in a series of art exhibits, concerts and food events. Access to the town of St. Johnsbury is easy via Interstate 93 North. Visit the Web site http://www.1-800-Vermont.com for information, and click on the Northeast Kingdom link.
Shelburne Museum: Located minutes from Burlington near Lake Champlain, this museum of Americana is beloved by children and adults alike. Within its 37 buildings and 45 acres are impressive collections of antique toys, quilts, crafts and carriages; an authentic apothecary, one-room schoolhouse, covered bridge, steam train, a steamboat that once ferried passengers across Lake Champlain, a collection of priceless paintings, and an eye-popping miniature replica of a 19th-century circus train. From Sept. 8 through Dec. 7, the museum will host ''Great Grandma Moses!,'' an exhibit of the artist's paintings from the permanent collection as well as others on loan from private collections. Harvest Days events are scheduled for Sept. 10 through Oct. 14. On the Web: http://www.shelburnemuseum.org.
Village of Woodstock: This historic village in central Vermont is renowned for its elegant inns and art galleries. New within the last two year is the Rockefeller Mansion house museum, which is the only National Historic Park in Vermont. Fall events include a series of concerts, art gallery exhibits, Pumpkin Day on Sept. 29, the Harvest Celebration on Oct. 7, and the Apples & Crafts Fair on Oct. 6 - 7. On the Web: http://www.easternvermont.com.
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