Enjoy donuts and coffee at The Outpost. Photo credit: Nicole Wakelin / Nerdy TravelingMom

Enjoy donuts and coffee at The Outpost. Photo credit: Nicole Wakelin / Nerdy TravelingMom

Some people may think of birds and flowers as sure signs of spring, but in New England, the first real sign of spring is maple sugar buckets attached to trees along the side of the road. The sap only flows when the temperature gets above freezing, so it’s proof positive that winter is releasing its grip on the land. The buckets started appearing on the trees in southern New Hampshire a few weeks ago, so we decided it was time to head to Parker’s Maple Barn for maple syrup and pancakes.

Worth The Trip

It’s a little hard to find Parker’s Maple Barn. It’s tucked way down the end of a winding road in Mason, New Hampshire. There are little handmade wooden signs along the way to let you know you that haven’t missed it, but just aren’t there yet. The Barn closes up for about a month after Christmas, but reopens in February when the weather is still frigid cold. It’s in March when the buckets usually appear and we feel the call to make the trek for a hearty breakfast.

Eating breakfast in the barn.  Photo credit: Nicole Wakelin / Nerdy TravelingMom

Eating breakfast in the barn. Photo credit: Nicole Wakelin / Nerdy TravelingMom

The place has grown over the years, but it’s still a barn that’s been turned into a rustic restaurant. The tables and chairs look like varnished logs in the main dining area and the walls are covered in vintage signs and old farm equipment.

They serve breakfast and lunch until about 4 p.m., but we almost always come for breakfast. So does everyone else, so you’d best get there early unless you want to wait. Especially on weekends, show up by 8 a.m. if you want to be seated right away.

Eat and Explore

If you are late, no worries, because there’s plenty to see on the property. The Corn Crib gift shop has knickknacks galore and jugs of their own maple syrup for you to take home. You can also purchase the maple coffee that’s served in the restaurant.

During sugaring season, from about March through mid-April, the sugar house operates in full-swing. You can catch a quick tour where you can see them making the syrup and learn how it’s done the old-fashioned way, over a wood fire. The best part is the sweet sugar smell in the air that lingers with you when you walk out the door. If your table still isn’t ready, then wander over to The Outpost for a hot cup of coffee and a maple donut.

Hearty pancakes and all the warm maple syrup you can manage. Photo credit: Nicole Wakelin / Nerdy TravelingMom

Hearty pancakes and all the warm maple syrup you can manage. Photo credit: Nicole Wakelin / Nerdy TravelingMom

The menu is delicious breakfast fare with eggs, bacon, sausage, and plenty of pancake options. My personal favorite is pumpkin pancakes but the kids always go for chocolate chip. There’s also a seasonal variety that constantly changes. If they have raspberry when you visit, I highly recommend you give them a try.

You’ll find maple syrup houses all over Vermont and New Hampshire and if you ask a local, they can likely point you toward a good one. Parker’s Maple Barn has been one of our favorites for years and we make sure to take out-of-towners there for a sweet taste of New England whenever they visit. Parker’s is located at 1316 Brookline Road, Mason, NH and is a great place to head with the family for a hearty and sweet breakfast.