Fall officially arrives with the autumnal (fall) equinox on September 22nd. This auspicious date also heralds the arrival of leaf peeping season – my favorite time of year!
The dramatic New England fall foliage starts in the northern New England states (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire) typically in late September and moves down to the southern New England states (Connecticut, Massachusetts Rhode Island) around late October. This gives leaf peepers a month to catch the glorious foliage as billions of leaves go out in a blaze of color changing from green to a kaleidoscope of vibrant hues of scarlet, gold, yellow, and orange. The air is crisp and cool — perfect for hiking, biking or a drive along the back roads dotted with farm houses, stately mansions, and colonial churches with steeples pointing to the heavens.
If you find yourself in Vermont or upstate New York, there are two factory tours within a half hour of each other that are must-sees. First, Cabot Creamery and Visitors Center in Cabot, VT. Interesting for kids and adults with a delicious buffet of cheese samples awaiting you at the end. Choose your favorites from among Cabot’s many varieties of cheddar cheese and purchase a few blocks to bring home and enjoy – they even have cool packs for transporting your precious bounty.
Hear the story of Cabot’s cooperative of 1,200 dairy farm families located throughout New York and New England, see how cheese is made, and learn all kinds of interesting facts about cheddar cheese and how it is made. For example, did you know that cheddar cheese is lactose free?! Yes, if you are lactose intolerant you can still enjoy dairy products such as yogurt and aged cheeses.
Cheddar Cheese Fact #9: In the cheese-making process, the whey (where most of the lactose is) is separated out from the curd in the milk, and natural aging breaks down any remaining lactose. So aged cheeses, like cheddar, contain zero grams of lactose.
Lactose Intolerance: Cabot produces many cheeses that contain zero (0) grams of lactose, including Cheddar, Light Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack and Muenster. Look for the Lactose-Free icon on the packaging of your favorite Cabot cheese products to be sure they are naturally lactose-free.
College Girl and I toured Cabot when we were in upstate New York for a family vacay on Lake Champlain in August – no fall colors, but still surrounded by an abundance of nature’s beauty.
We drove from Plattsburgh, NY to the Burlington ferry and then to Cabot and Stowe where we visited The Alchemist and Idletyme breweries, before heading to Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury for dessert.
The Alchemist brewery – Stowe, VT
Crazy good Smoked Brisket Reuben at Idletyme Brewery, Stowe, VT
Food factory tours are fun, interesting, educational, and delicious for the whole family. Checking out these two lists, I’ve got some work to do! Which one’s have you visited?
USA Today‘s reader’s choice winners for the Top 10 Best Food Factory Tours (2015):
- Herr’s Snack Factory – Nottingham, Penn.
- TABASCO® Pepper Sauce Factory – Avery Island, La.
- Hammond’s Candies Factory – Denver
- Hershey’s Chocolate World – Hershey, Penn.
- Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory – Boulder, Colo.
- PEZ Visitor Center – Orange, Conn.
- Cabot Visitor Center – Cabot, Vt.
- Greenwell Kona Coffee Farms – Kealakekua, Hawaii
- Jelly Belly Visitor Center – Fairfield, Calif.
- Boudin Bakery – San Francisco
Cabot is also listed on The 10 Best Food and Drink Factory Tours in America along with Ben & Jerry’s. Even though you can buy Ben & Jerry’s in convenience stores in Vermont, we ran in and scooped up some Chunky Monkey, Phish Food and Half Backed from the original source, but we didn’t actually do the tour because they were sold out until 5:30 and we had to get back. Be prepared for a total mob scene when you visit.
- Tabasco – Avery Island, LA
- Chelsea Milling (Jiffy) – Chelsea, MI
- Cabot Cheese Visitor Center – Cabot, VT
- Ben & Jerry’s – Waterbury, VT
- Lion Coffee – Honolulu, HI
- Jelly Belly’s Candies – Fairfield, CA
- Budweiser, St. Louis, MO
- Cape Cod Potato Chips – Hyannis Port, MA
- Herr’s Snack Factory – Nottingham, PA
- Boudin Bakery – San Francisco, CA