Experience Mushroom Harvest Season in Northern California
As the flavors of fall arrive in Northern California’s Mendocino County so does the annual crop of coveted candy cap, chanterelle, porcini and hedgehog mushrooms. Straddling historic Highways 1 and 101 with nearly 2,500 square miles of live oak and stately redwood groves, the region is a natural hotspot for some 3,000 mushroom varieties, 500 of which are edible. The annual haul is nothing short of historic, nurturing nirvana for local chefs, winemakers and fungi foragers.
It’s a full belly experience this November as Mendocino’s annual Harvest Festival kicks into gear. Add in a variety of top-shelf wine events, farmer’s markets, cannabis events, hotel deals and 24 state and national parks to cut a chanterelle path and the seasonal salute is nothing short of fantastic. The event is county wide and runs from October 27 to November 12, 2023. Additionally, a variety of hotel packages are available throughout the Harvest Festival including the new Nicholson House in Mendocino village, ocean-friendly Hotel Breakers in Gualala, Fort Bragg’s Beachcomber Motel and the vintage Andiron Seaside Inn and Cabins. For a cannabis-friendly stay, check into the elegant Madrones in wine-centric Anderson Valley for a next-level experience set in bucolic rose gardens. Below are some of the experiences available for travelers to the area.
Take a magical mushroom ride
Take a ride back in time through old-growth redwoods and pristine wilderness aboard the historic Skunk Train (1885). The 14-mile loop departs from Fort Bragg traversing Pudding Creek Estuary before landing front and center at the new trestle pavilion at Glen Blair Junction. On tap are more than a dozen wineries pouring Mendocino AVA’s award-winning juice, a cache of local chefs crafting mushroom-infused edibles, whiskey tastings with a local master distiller, educational fireside chats and a network of nature trails to track and treasure the annual haul. Details: Saturday November 4, 2023; 11:30 am – 3:30 pm, Fort Bragg, California., $180.00/person.
Explore local forests and meadows
Join local mycological enthusiast Adrienne Long for an exploration experience. Staged at the Stanford Inn by the Sea, the event kicks off with a mushroom talk followed by a foray into the local forests and meadows in search of the season’s top gems. Private tours also available. Details: November 3-5; November 10-12; 12:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m., $55.00/person; www.stanfordinn.com.
Talk mushroom identification at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
The real deal rolls out this November at the stunning Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, which each fall and winter plays host to more than 160 species of mushrooms. Join naturalist and mycologist Mario Abreu on an identification walk among the fungi on a fun-filled and informative afternoon. Details: November 11, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., $20.00/non-members; $10.00/members; www.gardenbythesea.org.
Walk on the wild side and enjoy mushroom refreshments
Pack the boots and a sense of adventure. Jug Handle Creek Farm and Nature Center will host guided mushroom identification walks with a large mushroom display and talk by expert Eric Schramm. Forays into nature will be led by local naturalists followed by toasty mushroom refreshments and nibbles featured in Alison Gardner and Merry Winslow’s Wild Mushroom cookbook. Details: November 12, 1:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.; $30.00/person; www.jughandlecreekfarm.org.
Taste mushroom-inspired cuisine and signature dishes
From the annual epic Mushroom & Beer Dinner to a foray with Mr. Fungi at the Michelin two-star Harbor House Inn, chefs throughout the county are firing up the stoves for a seasonal repast packed with exotic flavors. Belly up to the six-course fungi-forward diner at the legendary Little River Inn, where Chef Marc Dym will deliver a savory repast paired with a thought-provoking line-up of brews from Russian River Brewing Company. Nearby, Stanford Inn’s Ravens restaurant rolls out a Medicinal Mushroom Breakfast while Ukiah’s Left Coast Seafood joins Graziano Family of Wines for a multi-course extravaganza showcasing foods freshly-harvested from farm, land and sea. Gualala’s Mar Vista Farm + Wine Dinner is a new addition this year, focused on the season’s top bounty paired with Murder Ridge Winery’s award-winning wines. Hopland The Golden Pig is also on the roster as is the HarborView Bistro & Bar with an evening of wild mushroom dishes paired with Pinot; the bar will also be serving a signature Candy Cap Mushroom Old Fashioned throughout the festival, belly up!
Pumpkin spice is nice, but before Starbucks ruled the land, fall was flavored with freshly-picked apples, spiced donuts, and hot apple cider. What better way to enjoy the tastes of the season, than with a trip to an apple orchard, surrounded by crisp October weather and beautiful fall colors? The farms below are not only some of the loveliest places to visit in the fall, but offer some of the best tasting apples around. Choose one (or more!) and plan a fall weekend getaway to one of these quaint communities during their peak apple harvest. Champlain Orchards (Shoreham, Vermont) Green apples hang from branches by Thomas Kelley - Unsplash Champlain Orchards not only offers an incredible diverse variety of fresh fruit and apples, but it also a responsibly managed operation. The farm is almost entirely solar-powered, and all fruit is certified ecologically-grown or certified organic. In addition to apples, visitors can pick their own raspberries, pears, currants, cherries, peaches, and plums when in season. Also on site, is the Cider Garden, featuring locally-sourced food and beverages, as well as activities like lawn and board games, and even family-friendly movie nights on select Friday evenings. Belltown Hill Orchards (South Glastonbury, Connecticut) This fourth-generation orchard features a farm market, bakery, and pick-your-own fruit nestled in the rolling hills of New England. The season begins early with strawberries and sweet cherries, and continues through fall until the holidays with pre-cut Christmas trees. Pies, apple fritters, donuts, jams and jellies, cookies, and other delectable goods are available for purchase. Graves Mountain (Syria, Virginia) Two people carry a basket of apples by Ryan Arnst - Unsplash Weekends in October are best spent at the Graves Mountain Apple Harvest Festival in the picturesque countryside of Virginia. Each year, the festival features celebrates the local apple harvest with food and drinks, and hosts several arts and craft vendors. Apples can be purchased pre-picked, or visitors can pick their own (until the trees are bare). Live music, a petting zoo, hayrides, a hay maze, and pony rides are just some of the fun activities offered at the annual celebration. Guests can even stay on site at the Graves Mountain Lodge, cabins, or campsites. Kapnick Orchards (Britton, Michigan) A handful of apples by Natalie Grainger - Unsplash Kapnick Orchards has a great variety of apples to pick: from MacIntosh, Empire, and Red Delicious that are ripe in the early half of the season, to Granny Smith and Fuji ready in later October. The orchard also has their own bakery and cider mill on site, and an expansive product line that includes many other fruits and vegetables, homemade fudge, apple butter, jams, candies, and nuts. In addition to apples, the farm offers pumpkin picking and wagon rides through the Enchanted Forest. The annual apple festival is scheduled for October 14th and 15th this year, and features more vendors and entertainment. Red Apple Farm (Phillipston, Massachusetts) Guests can pick apples and more—including pumpkins and sunflowers—at Red Apple Farm. After picking, head over to the Brew Barn and BBQ Kitchen, open daily and serving up cider, craft brews, country barbecue, and brick-oven pizza and hosting live music and trivia nights. The farm also features giant pumpkins and an annual Thanksgiving Harvest Festival in November. Georgia Apple Festival (Ellijay, Georgia) Crates of freshly picked apples in an orchard by Terra Slaybaugh - Unsplash This year's festival in Ellijay, Georgia takes place October 14th, 15th, 21st, and 22nd. The event, now in its 52nd year, hosts hundreds of vendors with handmade, hand-crafted items, on-site demonstrations, live music, and delicious fair food. While the festival is not held at an orchard—it is held at the Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds—the area is surrounded by several local apple operations. Gilmer County is known as the "apple capital" of the state, so if you really want to get some picking in, check out this list of orchards to visit. In addition to the festival, the Apple Arts Festival in downtown Ellijay is held on the same weekends, and the apple parade takes place on October 14th. Gould Hill Farm (Contoocook, New Hampshire) One of the most beautiful farms in New England, Gould Hill grows over 100 varieties of apples. You-pick season typically is over by mid-October, but even when the apples run out, guests can enjoy items from the bakery and store (plus, they grow much more than just apples!). Be sure to pick up cider donuts and some local ice cream while you're there. Cayford Orchards (Skowhegan, Maine) Apples on the ground by Ana Essentiels - Unsplash This six-generation family farm in Maine grows a variety of fresh seasonal fruits and specializes in heirloom apples. Pick-your-own apples are available daily (while the trees have them), or visitors can grab a bag pre-picked in the store along with a jug of fresh cider.
Take a Tour Through American History Along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail
August 2, 2007 was a historic day in America. On that day, the bitter partisanship that pretty much defines American politics was cast aside to pass a bill that declared bourbon to be our “National Spirit” and established September as National Bourbon Heritage Month. And here’s the best part: They passed the bill unanimously. Yes, unanimously. As further evidence of bourbon’s importance to American heritage as well as the nation’s economy, this isn’t the first time Congress passed a law involving the industry. In 1967, it passed a bill to define bourbon as a whiskey that must be distilled from at least 51% corn and aged in a new charred American white oak barrel and just as Champagne can only be made in the region of the same name in France and Iberico ham can only come from Spain and Portugal, bourbon must be made in the USA. Photo by Daniel Norris on Unsplash Which brings us to today. The bourbon industry is exploding—there were over 11.4 million barrels aging in Kentucky in 2021, which works out to 2.4 barrels for every citizen of the state. So-called “whiskey pilgrims,” from millennial enthusiasts to seasoned aficionados, have been flocking to Kentucky to visit bourbon distilleries and see how the spirit is made. But even before bourbon growth took off, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association established in 1880, a trade organization, founded the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 1999. (Bourbon production increased 571% since then, from 455,078 barrels in 1999 to 2.6 million in 2021). The KBT is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to head to the source and see craftsmanship in action. And the best part: the guidance the KBT provides is completely free. Each distillery offers tours that show the many steps of whiskey-making, from fermenting to distilling to barreling to bottling and, of course, what would a tour be without a lesson in tasting. The distilleries charge a minimal admission fee. It’s worth it. Just go to the site and download the map. It shows the number of miles between distilleries, which ranges between eight and 70, and lot of other helpful logistical details. There are 46 distilleries on the trail. The KDAhas created The Bourbon Trail™ Passport & Field Guide for you to take from stop to stop. Get it stamped at each distillery and you can earn rewards. Among the stops is the iconic Maker’s Mark Distillery, a National Historic Landmark. It’s set up with the house of its founders replicated to period detail. You can watch workers dip the bottles in the red wax Maker’s is known for and even try it for yourself in the gift shop. Courtesy of Jim Beam The massive Jim Beam Distillery is a mighty sight to behold, what with 10.7 million (9 liter) cases sold in 2020 . This is indeed the slickest stop on the tour. The company is in its seventh generation of Beams and old-school heritage looms large in its mythology, yet it’s all presented with all kinds of digital bells and whistles. The visitor center is a veritable multi-story museum, with interactive educational elements. They also offer an interactive multi-sensory tour and a decanter museum that would make an antiques collector swoon. Prepare to spend a lot of time here. Heaven Hill, the oldest family-run distillery, offers the Bourbon Heritage Center, a museum of bourbon, past to present. You are welcomed onto the Heaven Hill campus by several rickhouses, filled with up to 52,000 barrels each. The newest rickhouse on site features a bird’s eye view into the resting barrels with a glass window corner spanning the seven floors. The exterior of the updated visitor center showcases a replica of how the distillery looked in 1935, an authentic, vintage barrel truck representative of what the Shapira brothers may have driven in the 1940s and an updated sign celebrating the new name. Wild Turkey and Four Roses have both invested vast sums in the last few years to open stunning visitor centers at their historic distilleries, each one a shrine to American heritage. With all the tourist pouring into (sorry, no pun intended) the state, they need someplace to eat and drink after a day of touring. Louisville has become quite an urban destination. Inventive restaurants are opening at a rapid clip, and meantime, some of the longstanding institutions banded together to form the Urban Bourbon Trail, a guide to some of the most incredible bourbon bars in Louisville, which basically means the most incredible bourbon bars in the world. Presented by Bird Dog WhiskeyBird Dog Whiskey is proud and honored to be the most-awarded flavored whiskey on the market, earning top honors in both industry and consumer competitions. Each of its flavored whiskeys is meticulously crafted to deliver a smooth, complex, and unique drinking experience that balances a delicious flavor with real Kentucky bourbon whiskey. For more information, please visit https://birddogwhiskey.com/Bird Dog Whiskey
For most people, traveling by horse is not the typical day-to-day mode of transportation, making activities like trail rides and carriage rides a fun way to experience a new destination. The four destinations below offer a variety of activities for every kind of traveler, from beach lovers to those nostalgic for a simpler time. These equine activities are the perfect way to slow-down and enjoy the sights. Take a beachside horseback ride in Florida Horseback riding in Amelia Island, Florida - courtesy of J/PR The Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida offers visitors some fantastic ways to explore the area. For an experience like none other, ride along the beach on horseback and take in the pristine ocean views. (It's also a great way to avoid getting sand in toes, if that isn't your thing!) While there, check out some of the other activities offered; explore the outdoors with small-group "Ecology Field Trips" led by the on-property naturalist to connect and educate curious guests on the local area and wildlife in neighboring state parks and nature preserves. Visitors can also adventure through the winding channels on an exciting kayak tour and investigate the island by bike with more than 40 paths to choose from. Experience cowboy culture at the Fort Worth Stockyards Horseback riding with the Fort Worth skyline - courtesy of Visit Fort Worth A true Western experience unlike any other, the Fort Worth Stockyards in Texas is also home to world's only year-round rodeo and offers twice-daily longhorn cattle drives, historic tours, live music and the world’s largest honky tonk. Better yet, you can explore the Fort Worth Stockyards via horseback riding along the original Chisholm Trail. Tour a Hawaiian town via carriage ride Horseback riding in Lanai - courtesy of J/PR The Four Seasons Resort in Lanai, Hawaii offers a unique carriage ride experience to explore the area and learn about local history of this former plantation tour. Guests can tour the town in a beautiful carriage drawn by shire horses, recognized as a family-friendly and laidback breed. The private ride for parties up to four begins in Lanai City, where you’ll circle Dole Park, and ends at Lanai Ranch at Koele, home to the resort’s horses, minis and Spur, the Ranch dog. The one-hour excursion includes snacks, water, sunscreen and roundtrip transportation. Explore a vehicle-free Mackinac Island An aerial view of Mackinac Island, Michigan - courtesy of J/PR A visit to Mackinac Island, Michigan offers a trip unlike any other, to a place that feels as if it has been suspended in a forgotten, more innocent time. Situated on just 3.8 square miles of land between the Upper and Lower Peninsula of Michigan, Mackinac takes pride in their culture celebrating and embracing their 125th anniversary of the motor vehicle ban, where modes of transportation are limited to horse-and-buggy, walking, and biking on its traffic-free roads. Guests can explore all Mackinac on carriage tours, the most enjoyable and authentic way to view the island - and you can even bring your furry friends! After a day of adventuring and exploring, guests can book a stay at Mission Point Resort, to experience a sweeping Great Lawn dotted with Adirondack chairs ideal for lounging, picnicking and lawn games, garden tours led by the resident horticulturist and through local partnerships. Mission Point guests will also enjoy horseback riding, kayaking, and more.
Owning a private jet or mountaintop villa may be out of the budget for most—but there are other ways to experience the epic views of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Beyond the typical hiking trails and skyline drives, those looking for the ultimate birds-eye views will want to check out the experiences below that feature rides in vintage planes and hot air balloons, train tours, rock climbing experiences, and more. Tour Southern California in an open-cockpit biplane Alila Marea Beach Resort in Encinitas, California has partnered with San Diego Sky Tours to offer aerial tours and—most unique of all—air combat experiences. Guests will be able to glide over the Pacific Ocean to see all of San Diego in one hour or less or enjoy a romantic sunset ride. For those looking for a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip, visitors can also book a thrill-seeking adventure in a vintage open-cockpit biplane with a military-trained pilot. While these kind of aviation experiences understandably come with a price tag (rates for experiences start at $400), budgeting around this unique activity can easily be done thanks to relatively cheap domestic airfare into California and plenty of other affordable accommodations and dining options to round out the rest of a trip in the area. Enjoy New England's fall colors from a hot air balloon Hot air balloons over Massachusetts - courtesy of J/PR For experiential ways to take in the New England foliage hop aboard a Hoosac Valley Train Ride and embark on a scenic train route through the Berkshires, take in the autumn allure from above with a Worthington Ballooning Hot Air Balloon ride or drive out to Western Massachusetts and wind along the famed foliage streets of the Massachusetts stretch of U.S. Route 7, Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway and Mount Greylock Scenic Byway. Scale Boynton Canyon's red rocks in Arizona The Trail House at Enchantment Resort - courtesy of J/PR With access to more than 400 miles of scenic and iconic hiking and biking trails, Enchantment Resort serves as the ideal base camp for exploration and uncovering trails throughout the destination’s soaring sandstone cliffs, striking canyons and pinyon-juniper forests. Guests are encouraged to connect to Sedona’s surrounding landscape through the property’s new Trail House, an adventure hub where expert guides help guests uncover which nearby trails, whether on foot or through world-class mountain biking equipment, are ideal for them based on skill level, terrain, scenery and elevation gains. The property recently partnered up with Arizona Climbing Guides to take guests to an epic rock climbing location at The Granite Dells, just ten minutes outside the city of Prescott, and offer outstanding rock climbing opportunities for all abilities (details here). View Virginia's wine country by helicopter Vineyard at The Nicewonder Farm - courtesy of J/PR The Inn at Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards in Bristol, Virginia invites guests to take in the views with the new The Wine Flight Package, where majestic mountain terrain and lush forest greenery are paired beautifully with the property’s award-winning, homegrown wines. The package offers guests a private helicopter tour of Bristol’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and a private wine tasting and picnic on property, in addition to luxury accommodations, amenities, and daily breakfast. Cross the Continental Divide by train An unforgettable journey, travelers can take in the breathtaking sights from a luxury train with Rocky Mountaineer as they ride from Denver, Colorado to Moab, Utah on the “Rockies To The Red Rocks” route, filled with highlights best seen by train, including Ruby Canyon, Mount Garfield and crossing the Continental Divide. Once in Utah, complete your adventure with full day or multi-day rafting trips through some of the most legendary whitewater rivers, camping overnight under bright stars, next to stunning red rock formations and remote sandy beaches. Guide services such as Adrift Adventures, Mild to Wild Rafting and Jeep Tours or Sheri Griffith Expeditions can lead even new rafters through an incredible adventure, organizing everything from meals to bathroom stops. In addition to rafting, visitors can also take in much of Utah's scenery not accessible to cars and RVs. There are thousands of miles of trails open to off-highway vehicles, making off-roading one of Utah's most popular pastimes. Trails include Arapeen OHV Trail, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Paiute ATV Trail and many more. See San Francisco's landmarks by seaplane Views of San Francisco bay area and the Golden Gate Bridge - courtesy of J/PRCavallo Point in Sausalito, California sits on more than 350 acres complete with trails for running, hiking, and biking, but also offers unique and once in a lifetime tours of San Francisco. See the Bay Area from every angle from sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge to getting a bird’s-eye view of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks in a seaplane or private helicopter.