Scenic Fall Shopping in Peterborough

The town offers delights in foliage and retail

The Nubanusit Brook cuts through town on its way to the Contoocook River. Just below these falls, the brook passes Waterhouse Grill.

Photo by Jeffrey Newcomer

Once upon a time, Jordan Marsh stores in and around Boston had the best blueberry muffins. Placed in a plain brown box tied with baker’s string, shoppers were giddy to get a taste of the treats. Today, Jordan Marsh is no longer, but there is a magical place in Peterborough whose blueberry muffins are even better: Waterhouse Baker’s Station. Attached to Waterhouse Restaurant (though with its own storefront), Baker’s Station puts the old department store to shame. These muffins are so full of blueberries, you might expect the cake itself to turn blue.

With the changing colors of the trees, Peterborough is like a Norman Rockwell painting at this time of year. A day trip here gives you all the charm of a quintessential New England village and ample opportunities to get ahead on your holiday shopping. After all, Christmas is just on the other side of foliage.

A favorite shop among visitors is bowerbird & friends. As you enter the eclectic shop full of old repurposed items and antique finds, look deep. You can find old hotel silver, French chemises, uniquely scented soaps, orbs with feathers, old doorknobs and so much more. The back of the store houses plants and “make-it-yourself” terrariums. There’s also a new area of the shop filled with novelty décor from artful vendors.

Go figure, a trip into Monadnock Oil and Vinegar Co. is a learning experience that will take you far away from the grocery aisle full of dressings and, well, oil and vinegar. Like grapes, olives have their own flavor depending on region, when and where they are crushed and more, while some oils and vinegars are infused with fruit for a lighter, sweeter taste. Learn these tips and tricks and shop for other products such as salts and cheeses. Plan on spending some time here. Go easy on the samples.

Magnificent wind chimes playing rich tones can be found just inside the door at the Sharon Arts Center. You’ll be drawn to the landscape photos from Jon Olsen, pensive and thought-provoking. Look for jewelry, the oh-so-popular handbags from Hardwear by Renee and many more goods from local artists. You’ll be sure to find a holiday gift here for even that hard-to-buy-for person on your list.

Books are treasures, and the Toadstool Bookshop has longevity in this town of charm. Shoppers can find new books, used books, books on tape and even music CDs for those who are still in the dark about downloading. The shop’s handsome used series of Shakespeare’s plays is perfect for a stately home library.

Drumroll, please! Sometimes, you can walk in to a shop and immediately feel a “vibe” and a sense of “wow” — and Trumpet Gallery may be that place for you. Bring a sense of humor, whimsy and a funny tale to tell to Mona Adisa Brooks, the artist who runs the gallery. Brooks brings art to life with her one-of-a-kind mini-sculptures and figurines, and a lot of her art tells a story. Look carefully at the detail, color and expression. This is a happy place.

The unbelievable pricing on items to decorate your walls or add to your mirror or kitchen tool collection will force your debit card into a frenzy at Twin Elm Farm. How about a two-piece hutch with at least 10 drawers, made by Ethan Allen? Its price tag at Twin Elm is a ridiculously low $395. Linger, look and let your imagination lend intrigue to your home.

Leave happy, and drive home happy. New England’s gift of fall color is priceless.

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