Ideas for Columbus Day voyages

By Emily Merlino

flickr/masseea

Yes, summer is over and it’s time to hit the books.

But come Columbus Day weekend, it’ll be time, once again, to hit the road.

Many consider Columbus Day to be for tag sales and a trip home. The weekend should be seen as an excuse to pack up and get out of Amherst for a brief break from the daily grind.

The roads are clearer than during Thanksgiving or even Memorial Day, the weather is lovely and cheap escapes abound for those looking to save a buck.

Here’s a look at some others spots to head out to over the weekend.

 

Cadillac Mountain, Maine

Set in Arcadia National Park, this mountain is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard.

At 1,532 feet, Cadillac Mountain is a bit of a hike, but if you’re not up for it there is a free bus service available from the village of Bar Harbor to the most important points on the mountain.

As beautiful as it is, the main draw of Cadillac Mountain is that it is the first place to view the sunrise in the United States from Oct. 7 through March 6.

There are some bed and breakfasts in Bar Harbor, but to save money and catch the sunrise, park officials recommend camping on one of the several campgrounds available in the park.

Distance from Amherst: 343 miles, six hours.

Estimated cost: $120.

 

Newport, R.I.

Imagine being on an island, near some mansions, sipping lots of beer.

If that sounds appealing, head to Rhode Island’s Aquideck, which hosts a rowdy Oktoberfest celebration. This two-day Bavarian celebration is filled with food, entertainment and, most importantly, beer.

Set amongst the famous Gilded Age mansions that line Newport’s streets, Oktoberfest invites beer vendors, food stands and musicians to ring in autumn.

Tickets for Saturday’s celebrations are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate, while Sunday’s are $17 in advance and $20 at the gate. A two-day pass is $30 in advance and $40 at the gate.

Numerous hotels and bed and breakfasts of all different price ranges are available in Newport, but booking early ensures you get the best prices and hotels.

Distance from Amherst: 120 miles.

Estimated cost: $135.

 

Newfane, Vt.

This classic Vermont village, located 14 miles north of Brattleboro, Vt., is the site of the Newfane Heritage Festival. Held on Oct. 6 and 7, this 40-year-old festival includes a wide range of activities including a flea market, raffles and live music.

Thousands of visitors from around the United States and even the world come every year to experience a slice of quintessential small-town New England life.

Distance from Amherst: 52 miles.

Estimated cost: $95.

 

Somerville

This town is the site of the seventh annual Honk Festival, a non-profit event filled with street music.

Held in Davis Square from Friday Oct. 5 through Monday Oct. 8, Honk hosts more than 350 street musicians that focus largely on ideas of freedom, justice and emancipation.

The festival includes parades, food, free music, an Oktoberfest celebration held in Harvard Square and workshops and discussions held at the Harvard University School of Education.

Distance from Amherst: 93 miles.

Estimated cost: Varying.

 

Boston

There’s just so much to do in New England’s unofficial capital city. And since it’s so close, it makes for an ideal getaway location.

The city hosts the third Annual Boston Local Food Festival on Oct. 7. Held on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the festival includes local farmers, specialty foods and beer and wine tastings.

For those not drawn to the event for its food, there are plenty of events to keep you entertained including local music, arts and crafts and an abundance of exhibitions and activities.

The event is free to attend and servings of locally grown foods are available for just $5, making the festival one of the cheapest Columbus Day weekend vacations in New England.

Distance from Amherst: 94 miles.

Estimated cost: Priceless