Spend a fall weekend exploring Route 16

Weekdays during September may be spent easing back into the school year, but September weekends are for family fun. This month’s road trip takes us along the Route 16 between Rochester and Tamworth where fairs, festivals, apple and pumpkin picking, and the first crisp colors of autumn await.

Driving north along Route 16/Spaulding Turnpike from Dover brings us to Rochester, our first destination, and a place where the end of summer and beginning of fall means only one thing: the Rochester Fair.

Setting the record as one of the two oldest fairs in New Hampshire (the Rochester Fair began in 1875), this year’s spectacle runs from September 6-16, 2018 and features livestock exhibits and agricultural displays, live music, a demolition derby and the largest midway in northern New England.

Had your fill of fried dough and Ferris wheels? Back in the car, we’re cruising north along the Spaulding Turnpike to our next destination, the New Hampshire Farm Museum, located off Exit 18 in pastoral Milton. The kid-friendly museum provides hands-on learning opportunities. Visitors of all ages can grind corn meal to feed the chickens, visit with the farm’s heritage breed livestock and go on a grand scavenger hunt to learn about New Hampshire’s proud agricultural past.

Love pie? Who doesn’t especially when it’s made with New Hampshire-grown apples and pumpkins. To celebrate the bounty of the fall harvest, and the kickoff to “pie season,” the museum will hold the Great NH Pie Festival on September 16, 2018 with pie samples from New Hampshire’s best bakers and bakeries and a pie contest for amateur bakers. Bring a pie for the contest and the festival’s admission fee is waived.

If you’re wondering where to stock up on ingredients for your pie, look no further than Milton’s McKenzie’s Farm, which offers u-pick apples throughout September and October. Doughnuts, fresh-pressed cider, pumpkins and a free hay maze (built in late September) make this a stop you’ll want to come back to.

After all that eating, do you need burn some calories? How about a lot of calories? Continuing north on Route 16 as it becomes the White Mountain Highway, pass through the breathtaking countryside of the Ossipee region. Follow the signs for Silver Lake State Park, and if it happens to be September 8, 2018 your family will be just in time for the 9th Annual Pitch Pine Challenge, a family-friendly triathlon with events for all ages. Missed the race? White Lake State Park offers plenty of hiking trails to get some exercise, and get up close and personal with the changing season.

While you’re in Tamworth, also make time to visit the Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm, another great hands-on museum where you can learn about New Hampshire’s farming traditions.

The museum ushers in autumn with the 14th Annual Harvest Fest on September 22, 2018 It’s a day filled with seasonal activities for families, delicious farmhouse food, living history demonstrations, historic games and crafts, music and tractor rides and more.

Can’t you just smell the crisp fall air?

Jacqueline Tourville is Parenting New Hampshire magazine’s travel and tourism expert.

Categories: Fall Fun