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Where to Celebrate Cranberries with Kids

October 13, 2016
Cranberries with Kids
Andrew W. Griffith/MassVacationKids can learn about cranberries on a farm tour on Cape Cod.

In October, a lot of attention goes to pumpkins, whether picking them, carving them, or eating them, but there’s another fall crop, especially in Massachusetts that deserves our attention: the cranberry! There are several places and ways to learn about the little red berry, including museum exhibits, farm tours, and even wading out in a bog.

Harwich Historical Society Museum
Located at the Brooks Academy in Harwich, visitors will find the area’s largest cranberry exhibit, called “Cranberry Culture,” which presents the history of cranberries on Cape Cod. The wild cranberry, one of only three species of fruit native to North America, was first domesticated here. The exhibit has photos, artifacts, and hands-on activities, as well as a diorama of a cranberry bog showing the history of harvesting techniques. Before cranberries became a staple at Thanksgiving, they were widely used by American Indians as both an important food crop and colorful dye. They taught the English how to use the berry for food, medicine, and as a dye, when they arrived in the 1620s.

Stone Bridge Farm Tours
Head to Stone Bridge Farm in Acushnet, Mass., where you can participate in the “Picture Yourself at a Cranberry Harvest” tour all through the month of October. Your visit includes an educational bog walk talk about cranberries, cranberry farming, and harvesting. You’ll check out antique cranberry equipment, then guides take you to the farm’s bogs, where one bog is flooded. After donning chest waders, everyone walks out onto the bog with cranberries floating around you. One-hour daily tours in October typically start at 9 a.m. and run through 4 p.m., depending on the weather. The cost is $25 per person (children age 5 and under are free). Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy the views.

Cranberry Bog Tours at A.D. Makepeace Company
A.D. Makepeace Company in Wareham, Mass., one of the oldest cranberry companies on Cape Cod offers public bog tours starting mid-October. The 1.5-hour tour, held rain or shine, takes visitors to the cranberry bog areas via bus, then guides explain the history and harvesting techniques, with a chance to speak with the farmers. Tours are offered on October 19, 22, and 29 and cost $12 per person, with advance registration required. On November 5, the Grumpy’s Cranberry Harvest 5K Trail Run/Walk takes place at the property and participants run or walk around the cranberry bogs. An event T-shirt, lunch, and of course, cranberry beverages, are included in the $25 registration fee (kids ages 4 to 18 pay $15). Proceeds benefit the Cranberry Education Foundation.

Cranberries with Kids
Andrew W. Griffin/MassVacationCranberry farms offer fun fall tours for kids and families.

Did You Know?

  • Cranberries were first used by American Indians, who discovered the wild berry’s versatility as a food, fabric dye, and healing agent.
  • The name “cranberry” supposedly derives from the Pilgrim name for the fruit “craneberry,” so called because the small, pink blossoms that appear in the spring resemble the head and bill of a sandhill crane.
  • There are approximately 14,000 acres of cranberry bog in Massachusetts.
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Kim Foley MacKinnon

Along with Ethan Hipple, Kim Foley MacKinnon writes AMC’s Great Kids, Great Outdoors blog. She is a Boston-based editor, journalist, and travel writer whose work has appeared in the Boston Globe, AAA Horizons, Travel + Leisure, and USA Today, among other publications. Kim has been writing about what to do and where to go in New England since her teenager was a toddler. Her latest book for AMC is Outdoors with Kids Boston.