Different glassware is optimal for different types of beer, including ales, Weizens and Pilsners.


With travel restricted to a smaller radius than usual this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many travelers are exploring more deeply the regions that immediately surround them.

If you live in the Northeast, one great way to do that is to experience the plentiful and beautiful nature. Another is to experience the plentiful and tasty beers brewers in the Northeast have to offer.

Why not do both in one day? Here’s a breakdown put together by the Burlington Free Press, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, of one great natural site and one nearby brewery worth checking out this summer and fall in upstate New York and each state in New England. After punishing yourself by hiking a mountain, kayaking on a river or pedaling on a serious bike ride, you’ve earned that delicious beer.

The Northeast is among the safest areas to travel in the U.S. virus-wise these days. Just make sure to keep track of the ever-changing COVID-19 rules and regulations before venturing out, and how they might impact breweries’ hours. And as always, don’t drink and drive, especially after all that exercise and fresh air makes you extra-tired.

Travel restrictions: These states require travelers to self-quarantine or present negative COVID-19 test

A pilsner on display at Great Falls Brewing Co. in North Canaan, Connecticut. (Photo: COURTESY)


The Nutmeg State is known for its seafaring history, but the hiking is pretty good, too, especially in the northwestern corner of Connecticut. That’s where avid walkers will find Bear Mountain, which for this fairly-flat state is a bear of a hike. You’ll climb more than 1,500 feet as you intersect at times with the Appalachian Trail before reaching the peak at more than 2,300 feet where you can see views into Massachusetts and New York.

Phew, that’s a lot of spent calories. Replenish those calories with a beer a little more than 20 miles to the east at Great Falls Brewing Co. in Canaan. Great Falls has food trucks, an outdoor deck and brews including New England-style India Pale Ales as well as lagers, stouts and porters.


Few states put the wild in wilderness quite like this north-easternmost state in the contiguous U.S. But how best to explore that nature? Hiking? Biking? Paddling? Opportunities abound for all of those activities in Maine.

Well, we have to pick one, so how about paddling? The Androscoggin River traverses Maine and New Hampshire, and a great place to access the river is not far from the New Hampshire border in Bethel. One reason that’s a great place is that there’s a boat launch close to the Sunday River Brewing Co., which tempts paddlers out of the water for another kind of liquid refreshment — this one in the form of brews such as its Redstone Ale, Black Bear Porter and Ski Town Brown, apt considering the brewery is just down the road from the Sunday River Ski Resort.


The highest point in the Bay State is Mount Greylock, which at 3,500 feet makes for a taxing but doable climb in the Berkshires. The view on a clear day might let you spy on New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut, as well as a large swath of eastern and central Massachusetts.

That peak is about 10 miles from a mighty fine beer stop, Bright Ideas Brewing, which offers brews ranging from the low-alcohol-content Blackinton Best Bitter to stiffer stuff such as The Bag Ripper double India Pale Ale and the Quaffable Waffle, a peanut-butter-infused stout. What makes a visit to Bright Ideas an even brighter idea is that it’s attached to MASS MoCA, a world-class contemporary-art museum in North Adams.

New Hampshire

The hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains is fantastic. So is the biking, as there are several excellent rail trails to choose from in the Granite State. The Ammonoosuc Rail Trail is among the most intriguing. The mostly-gravel path begins in the tiny town of Woodsville and ends 19 miles later in bustling-yet-quaint Littleton.

That’s where you’ll find Schilling Beer Co. The Littleton brewery sits bucolically along the Ammonoosuc River and produces a wide variety of ales and lagers inspired by European traditions. You can enjoy those brews with a wood-fired pizza to rebuild that energy you spent on the trail.

New York

The High Peaks in northern New York’s Adirondack Mountains can get crazy crowded in (pardon the pun) peak season. For a less-crowded, high-enough peak, consider Pharaoh Mountain outside the cozy village of Schroon Lake.

You’ll cover nearly 10 miles in more than five hours of climbing this 2,551-foot mini-mountain. You’ll be rewarded with luscious views of surrounding lakes and ponds and those very same High Peaks you didn’t huff and puff your way up. Once you’ve climbed down you can cool off by lollygagging in and around placid Crane Pond.

Cool off even more with a refreshing beer at Paradox Brewery. From your car at the trailhead it’s another 10 miles or so to the beer maker’s new site in North Hudson, replacing the much-smaller start-up facility that had been just outside Schroon Lake. Hop fans will be in paradise at Paradox, as they can sample from choices including the Beaver Bite India Pale Ale and the more-intense Cryo double IPA.

See also: 7 beautiful foliage alternatives to avoid Adirondacks High Peaks crowds

An India pale ale from Whalers Brewing Co. in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. (Photo: COURTESY)

Rhode Island

The smallest state in the union has plenty of kayaking spots, as is to be expected for a state with “Island” in its name. But Little Rhody is flat enough to make it a sweet destination for those who prefer pedaling to paddling.

The Worden Pond loop in Kingston is mellow — a shade under nine miles total — and offers an up-close-and-personal view of Great Swamp and the animals and birds that inhabit the spot. The trail is a six-mile pedal (or drive if you’ve had enough biking for the day) to Whalers Brewing Co., where you’ll find brews including Whalers’ flagship beers — the dark-amber East Coast IPA and a brew called Rise that Whalers describes as having a bright citrus aroma that “leads to a pleasant smooth body with a subtle hop spice that lingers in the background.”

Exercise and beer can make one feel a little lazy. Why not drive less than 10 miles to East Matunuck State Beach and let the lapping sound of the waves loll you into a wee nap in the sunshine?


Vermont is called the Green Mountain State for a reason — it has lots and lots of mountains, many of which make for fantastic hikes. Those trails can be plenty crowded in prime hiking season, however.

Sometimes it’s best to go off the literal beaten path. The Bristol/Middlebury area has several great hikes for all abilities, but Abbey Pond offers a perfect blend of pleasant woods, just enough climb to feel it in your hamstrings and the likelihood that you’ll have the peaceful, lily-pad-filled body of water all to yourself.

There’s no beer there, though. For that you’ll have to drive a half-dozen miles or so to Drop-In Brewing in Middlebury, which might just be the most underrated member of this small state’s high-profile beer scene. Heart of Lothian, a self-confident Scottish ale, might just put enough pep in your step to make you want to climb another of the region’s many mountains.

Looking for more ideas? Where to eat when hiking in Vermont

Contact Brent Hallenbeck at Follow Brent on Twitter at

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