WALPOLE, N.H. - You may never have trouble getting the kids to eat their fruits and vegetables once you’ve brought the family here during the fall harvest season. If they need a little coaxing, mention that there’s also ice cream and rich chocolate, thanks in part to the dairy herds in this venerable Connecticut River village northwest of Keene and just across the river from Bellows Falls, Vt. Roadside farm stands are shifting now from corn and tomatoes to pumpkins and potatoes, but some sweet reminders of summer (late raspberries!) linger. And if all else fails, there are apples, apples, and more apples.
You won’t hear roosters crow at the Inn at Valley Farms
(633 Wentworth Road, www.innatvalleyfarms.com
, 603-756-2855; inn rooms $175-$215; cottages $220 for two, $20 extra per child, $35 extra per adult), but the gregarious clucking of 230 hens leaves no doubt you’re on a working farm. Kids can help innkeeper Jacqueline Caserta collect eggs every afternoon, and guests can help themselves to garden produce and otherwise enjoy the 100-acre organic farm. Three rooms are in the 1774 farmhouse, while the two cottages (with working kitchens) are in the former sheep barn, which dates to the 1850s. The sheep are gone, but the farm does keep cashmere goats and beef cattle. While the E.F. Lane Hotel
(30 Main St., Keene, www.eflane.com
, 888-300-5056 or 603-357-7070; doubles $189-$285) lacks the rustic qualities of the inn, its 40 genteel rooms offer an excellent urban alternative in nearby Keene.
Ice cream doesn’t get more local than the confections at Walpole Creamery
(532 Main St./Rte. 12, walpolecreamery.com
, 603-445-5700, daily noon -8 p.m.), where it’s made from the milk of Walpole-raised cows. Be modest with your order: even a single scoop is huge. Don’t let the exquisite chocolate bon-bons and truffles at L.A. Burdick Walpole Cafe, Restaurant & Chocolate Shop
(47 Main St., www.burdickchocolate.com
, 603-756-1228, entrees $12-$22; open for breakfast and lunch daily, all meals Tues.-Sat.) obscure the substantive brasserie menu of such standards as steak frites, roast chicken, or steamed mussels. More pubby, the Walpole Village Tavern
(10 Westminster St., Walpole, 603-756-3703, sandwiches and burgers $8-$10, dinner entrees $17-$22, kids menu $5, lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday) is perfect for families who like their food to speak middle American instead of French.
During the day
The Walpole Flea Market
(Route 12 at Black Jack Crossing, 603-352-9237, Sat.-Sun. through Oct. 11, 6 a.m.-3 p.m.) usually has a few dozen dealers, making it big enough to be intriguing but small enough that the kids won’t get bored. Make picking apples a highlight of your getaway at Alyson’s Orchard
(57 Alyson’s Lane off Route 12, www.alysonsorchard.com
, 603-756-4333, daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; apples $8 per peck, $15 per half bushel). The manicured hillside orchards are a popular wedding venue. With more than 50 varieties, the apple-picking season continues into late October. At nearby no-frills Boggy Meadow Farm
(13 Boggy Meadow Lane, www.boggymeadowfarm.com
, 603-756-3300), purchase farmstead cheeses around the clock. Show up at 4:30 p.m. to watch cows being milked at the nonprofit Stonewall Farm
(242 Chesterfield Road, Keene, www.stonewallfarm.org
, 603-357-7278, grounds open daily dawn to dusk, farmstand daily 10 a.m.-7 p.m.). Walk the trails and visit the sheep, goats, poultry, and rabbits. Admission is free, although there are nominal charges for pumpkins and hayrides to the pumpkin patch offered every Saturday in October between 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Walpole tends to go to bed with the chickens. Innkeeper Caserta recommends star watching, as the absence of city lights reveals the great white swath of the Milky Way. Check out the twin bulletin boards at the post office and grocery store at L.A. Burdick’s culinary complex for a church basement coffeehouse, a dance party, or even a nearby contra dance. Keene’s vintage Colonial Theatre
(95 Main St., Keene, www.thecolonial.org
, 603-352-2033; films $8, seniors, students, and matinees $6) screens movies and sometimes hosts concerts or plays.
Patricia Harris and David Lyon can be reached at harris.lyon @verizon.net.
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