It's our third edition of Gothamist's travel content, Gothamist Getaways. A few times a year, we'll have a week of posts featuring looks at travel, food, products and tips—near and far—for making your trips more enjoyable. So sit back, dream of your next journey and let us know if you have any hints for us—email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Okay, so maybe you're not a leaf peeper, one of the more than 130,000 tourists who flock to New England each year to gaze at (and endlessly photograph) the riotous fall foliage from Connecticut to Vermont. It might be that the word itself kind of creeps you out (creeper, peeper), or that you have a maple intolerance, or that you secretly despise Emily Dickinson and the earnest tote bags she has inspired. Whatever the reason, there' no need for leaf-avoiders to skip a trip up the Northeast corridor this fall—there are plenty of ways for cynics and those who love them to enjoy the greater Boston area on their own autumnal terms:
The Museum of Bad Artand Redbones
Begin by turning your back resolutely on Boston's storied cultural institutions and head for the Museum of Bad Art, in Somerville. Or rather, head for the basement at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square, one of MOBA's temporary homes, where you will find pieces from the museum's permanent collection of “Art Too Bad to Be Ignored,” including the critically-acclaimed “Ferret in a Brothel.”
A dish from Redbones BBQ (Paul C./Foursquare)
Clown phobics, consider yourself warned, and wait out the terror at nearby BBQ legend Redbones, which claims to have been the first American restaurant to offer bicycle valet parking.
Topsfield Fair and Nancy's Air Field Café
About half an hour north of Boston you'lll find the Topsfield Fair (October 3-13), a nearly 200-year old festival that includes all the requisite animal and vegetable competitions, along with a few must-sees: pig-racing, sand-sculpting, monster truck rallies, an appearance by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and a demonstration by the Axe Women Loggers of Maine.
Nancy's Airfield Cafe (Bob L./Foursquare)
Topsfield is close enough to Salem that a curious tourist could drop in on the House of Seven Gables after the fair for some seasonal hocus pocus, but you'd be better served by hightailing it due west to Stow, the home of the Minuteman Airfield and Nancy's Airfield Café, a sunny spot famous for its Air Bear Pancake Deluxe (with chocolate chip eyes and sausage nose) and its ever-changing view of small planes, wildlife, and the occasional crimson leaf (sorry).
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast and Museum and Hartley's Original Pork Pies
If you like your crimson with a little more carnage, consider booking a room at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast and Museum, in Fall River, about an hour south of Boston. The cheerful proprietors offer overnight guests a lengthy evening tour of the historic house (complete with all the details of Borden's famous 1892 double murder) and a breakfast the next morning that faithfully replicates the meal the Borden family ate just before Lizzie picked up her axe. How well guests sleep in between these amenities is another matter—the B&B has “ghost cams” set up around the house.
Some of Hartley's Original Pork Pies (Facebook)
From the Borden house it's just a short drive to another Fall River turn-of-the-century institution: Hartley's Original Pork Pies. Put all thoughts of bloody murder out of your head and secure yourself one of their popular chicken pies before they are sold out for the day. Who knows? Lizzie, who was acquitted and lived in Fall River for nearly 30 more years, might have been a fan.
Betsy Bradley was born in Manhattan and raised in Westchester, to her eternal disappointment. She now lives in Brooklyn and writes about New York, headless horsemen and human zoos. You can follow her on Twitter at @knickerbockerny