The sun has risen over Ridgefield Farm & Orchard for more than a century, dusting its orchard's apple trees, its winding cornfield maze, and its acres of pumpkins with warm, nurturing rays. Generations have flocked there from across the country, snipping fresh buds from flower gardens during the summer months or scampering though the pumpkin patch come fall. The advent of autumn also marks the beginning of the farm’s apple-picking season, when dwarf orchard trees grow heavy with juicy gala, empire, and 13 other varieties. After the annual pumpkin-picking and Halloween celebrations have passed, the grounds offer up an abundance of firs and spruces to be used as Christmas trees or stacked up and tied together into one giant Christmas tree. Throughout the year, the onsite country store peddles seasonal produce and housemade jams to boast the bounty of the farm's fields and to keep visitors fueled.
Though spectral forms and shadowy figures still reside in The Haunted Cottage, its greatest legacy is as the occasional vacation home of assassin John Wilkes Booth. Also known as the Booth House, The Haunted Cottage is home to paranormal researcher Vince Wilson, who helms the haunted abode's ghost tours and maintains the paranormal library and history museum, where guests can spy a vampire skeleton among other supernatural exhibits. All this knowledge pours from Vince's mouth during tours and investigations, which pair breakdowns of the house's 150-year history with actual equipment designed to catch ghosts, from cameras and digital recorders to EMF meters delicately hoisting a morsel of cheese.
The Haunted Cottage also strives to school spirit-seekers with paranormal-research training that cycles through parapsychology topics such as extrasensory perception, hypnosis, and psychic healing.
River & Trail Outfitters owners Lee and Eunsook Baihly have been acquainting customers with the area's natural beauty since 1972. Their outdoor-exploration company's more than 70 friendly staffers accompany customers on relaxed, informative rafting, kayaking, canoeing, biking, and tubing excursions. In addition to having mastered river- and boat-safety skills, staff members are experienced in first aid, CPR, and the correct way to ask dolphins for directions. River & Trail Outfitters also accommodates businesses, organizing team-building events and rock-climbing excursions or hiking trips. The Baihlys' environmental commitment extends to an in-house recycling program and the use of biodiesel fuels.
Named for its location at the western end of the W&OD Trail, Trail's End Cycling Co welcomes cyclists of all stripes with a hefty inventory of gear and bikes alongside mechanical services. Each of the store's experienced staffers is also a mechanic qualified to fit bikes to riders' proportions or the gaudiness of racing stripes to their egos. When not training for the bicycle Iditarod, lead mechanic James Hodges channels 20 years of bike-industry experience into his tune-up tasks, and pro wrencher Bill McCarrick specializes in triathlete bike repair and prep.
The same able staffers also lead custom tours of wineries, fall foliage, and other seasonal sights in warm weather. During the winter, riders can pedal out of hibernation with indoor training rides atop their own bikes, which are secured on special mounts to keep them from zipping away.