You can’t go wrong with a visit to the Northeast during any season, but New England in the fall takes the cake. From late September until November, the region comes alive with fall foliage that you won’t find anywhere else on Earth. There are so many things to do in New England in the fall, so you’ll want to rent a car (or drive your own) to see it all. Don’t miss these best New England towns to visit in fall!
Ask any New Englander, and they’ll tell you fall is the best time to visit New England. Not only is the foliage spectacular, but there are also fun things to do at local farms, orchards, and festivals. Indulge in cider donuts, go apple picking, and curl up in a cottage somewhere in the mountains with an epic backdrop of red, orange, and yellow leaves. Take in the crisp autumn air and enjoy all that fall in New England has to offer.
If you’re looking for an authentic northeast experience, visit New England in the fall. You won’t have to drive far from cities like Boston and Providence (and even NYC) to find a dreamy autumn oasis tucked in nature. From cute towns and farms to fall foliage road trips, here are 18 destinations with the best things to do in New England in the fall.
The White Mountains, New Hampshire
Is New Hampshire the best state in New England to see the fall foliage? I’d say so. The White Mountains — a hiker’s paradise home to quaint towns, stunning forest scenery, and epic mountain resorts— is a must-see on a New England road trip itinerary, especially during the autumn months. Here’s where you should go:
Things to see in the White Mountains in the fall
A 35-mile drive that’s among the best places in New Hampshire to see the fall foliage. You’ll pass by thick forests, creeks, and gorges, all tucked amid gorgeous mountain scenery. There can be a lot of traffic up there over the weekends, so try to visit during the week if you can. The day pass fee is $5 and is payable in parking areas. Cash only!
Omni Mount Washington Resort
The Omni Mount Washington Resort is a historic and luxurious hotel built in 1902. It’s easily among the most iconic buildings in New England. The hotel is not far from the Mount Washington Cog Railway, a great vantage point for seeing the fall foliage.
A quintessential New England village known for its retail outlets and antique shops. It’s one of the best New England towns to visit in fall, hands down.
Crawford Notch State Park
Thousands of acres filled with epic waterfalls, hiking trails, train rides, and more.
Franconia Notch State Park
A beautiful park in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest filled with great hiking and biking trails. Don’t miss the Artist Bluff Trail!
Tips on when to explore the White Mountains, one of the best places to visit in New England in the fall
The peak fall foliage in the White Mountains is usually in the first two weeks of October, though it can vary year-to-year. To see all of it, I recommend spending at least a few nights in towns such as Lincoln and Jackson. These are some of the best fall towns in New England for those who love the outdoors.
When you imagine fall in New England, you’re probably thinking of this area.
Best Stays in the White Mountains:
Baxter State Park, Maine
For leaf peepers, Baxter State Park is among the best places in New England to visit in the fall. It’s located in the wilderness of Northern Maine, not far from New Brunswick in Canada. So, if you’re willing to brave the long car ride to get there, you’ll be treated to some amazing views that you won’t find anywhere else.
Visiting Baxter State Park is one of the best things to do in New England in the fall
Baxter State Park is home to Maine’s highest mountain, Mt. Katahdin (5,269 ft. / 1,606 m). If you’re in good hiking shape, don’t miss the famous Knife Edge Trail, which is probably the most epic hiking trail east of the Mississippi. This marks the end of the Appalachian Trail, some 2,100 miles away from where it begins in Georgia.
Set on 200,000 acres of pristine public forest, Baxter truly embodies fall in New England at its finest. It’s a top destination in the Maine Highlands region, and it’s easy to see why. In addition to hiking and leaf peeping, you can also do other fall activities including camping, canoeing and kayaking, fishing and hunting, and even rock climbing. Moose sightings here are also quite common!
Take a drive along the Waters Scenic Byway, which connects Baxter State Park with the beautiful town of Millinocket. It’s no wonder this is among the best fall getaways in New England.
Top Stays in Baxter State Park:
|Cheap: $||Katahdin Inn & Suites|
|Mid: $$||Cabin on Ambajejus Lake|
|Luxury: $$||Lake House at Baxter State Park|
The Berkshires, Massachusetts
The Berkshires is another top New England destination for seeing the fall foliage. It’s located in Western Massachusetts, extending from the borders of Vermont to Connecticut. Here are some fall experiences you should consider in the the Berkshires:
Cool experiences in the Berkshires in the fall
Explore quaint countryside towns
Lenox, Great Barrington, Pittsfield, and Stockbridge offer some unique cultural attractions, restaurant experiences, and accommodations. Check out my article Fall in the Berkshires to see some of the highlights.
Go kayaking, canoeing, or whitewater rafting
Drive along the Mohawk Trail
A scenic byway in the Berkshires. You’ll pass by many points of interest, including mountains and streams, enveloped by crimson fall foliage. It’s easily among the best fall New England trips.
North Adams Fall Foliage Parade
A fun and festive day that includes a children’s fair, road race, craft fair, and various performances.
Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival
One of the region’s largest autumn festivals, where you can enjoy live entertainment, hay rides and games, and other farm-based activities.
Hawthorne Valley Fall Festival
A public event with live music, local food and artisan goods, apple cider pressing, and hay rides.
Spend a rainy day inside museums
The Berkshires is home to several noteworthy museums, including the Norman Rockwell Museum, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts (Mass MoCA), and Hancock Shaker Village.
If leaf peeping and cool cultural sites pique your interest, add the Berkshires to your fall road trip itinerary!
Places to Stay in the Berkshires:
Fall in New England wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Vermont. The Green Mountains—extending from the Massachusetts border to that of Canada— offer some amazing opportunities to see the fall colors. And if there’s one place amid these mountains where you should spend a couple of days, it should be Stowe.
In Stowe, you’ll feel a little bit of Austria and a lot of Vermont. It’s home to the Trapp Family Lodge, a mountain resort founded by the Von Trapp Family that fled Austria during World War II (The Sound of Music, anyone?).
Enjoy a beer at The Alchemist, one of my favorite breweries, in between some sightseeing around these places:
Things to see in Stowe, Vermont in the fall
Smugglers’ Notch State Park: Filled with stunning forests, mountains, cliffs, and waterfalls. Also home to the Smugglers’ Notch Resort, one of my fondest childhood memories. Hiking here is one of the top things to do in New England in the fall.
Mount Mansfield: The highest mountain in Vermont (4,393 ft. / 1,339 m). Offers a host of fun outdoor activities, including hiking, zip lining, and mountain climbing. Take the Stowe Mountain Auto Toll Road up to the top for some epic New England fall foliage.
Stowe Recreation Path: A 5-mile path, perfect for hikes and bike rides while soaking in the vibrant scenery. It quickly reminds you why Stowe is one of the best places to visit in New England in the fall.
Though Stowe is a year-round destination, during the fall is when it really peaks.
Coolest Stays in Stowe, VT:
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Acadia National Park, Maine
Ahh Acadia. Maine is a top vacation destination for me, but it’s really Acadia that’s the star of the show.
Located in northeastern Maine, Acadia National Park is the only national park in New England and one of few on the east coast. Plan to spend at least a few days here to see all the epic landscapes and autumn color throughout the park. Here’s where you’ll want to check out:
Things to see at Acadia National Park in the fall
For part of the year, this is the first place in the U.S. where you can catch the sunrise. From the top, the sunrise and sunset views of the Atlantic Ocean are stunning. The fall foliage below is equally impressive.
A glacial lake with crystal clear water (45+ feet of visibility on a clear day) and incredible mountain scenery. It’s easy to see why this is among the best places to visit in New England in the fall.
A rocky cove that lets out a boom of thunder as waves batter it.
A pristine lake with lots of opportunities for hiking, biking, and running. It’s also a beautiful fall foliage spot that you won’t want to miss in October.
Just outside of the park is Bar Harbor, a cozy coastal town lined with restaurants, shops, and bed & breakfasts. I recommend choosing an accommodation here for easy access to the park and a decent nightlife experience. If you’re planning to go camping, be warned that nights can get chilly here, especially later in the New England fall foliage season. If you’re not looking to rough it out, a cozy Airbnb or hotel is a great option.
After your trip to Acadia, consider heading deeper into northern Maine to Baxter State Park. The park is packed with mountains, lakes, streams, and hiking trails, ideal for spotting the fall foliage.
Maine is beautiful all year long, but the landscapes are especially breathtaking during the autumn months. So plan a fall getaway if you can!
Unique Stays in Acadia National Park:
Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts
Apple picking is one of the greatest pastimes and things to do in New England in the fall. New England has so many cool farms and orchards, but this one is near and dear to my heart. I visited Honey Pot Hill Orchards countless times growing up, and to this day, I keep coming back for more apples and cider donuts.
Why Honey Pot is a top fall activity in New England
I’ve been here early and late in the apple picking season, and I’ve never had a bad experience. Though if you can, try to visit early in the day, as it can get busy during the week with school trips and on the weekends with families. There are so many apple varieties to choose from, so get a large bag and try to fit as many in as you can.
I know you’re supposed to wash the apples before you eat them, but I eat them right then and there until my stomach aches. And then, when I feel like I can’t eat any more, I move onto the cider donuts. In my opinion, these cider donuts are the best in all of Massachusetts!
Are you into mazes? Honey Pot Hill Orchards has three of them:
The Big Green Monster Maze: Consists of 3,000 hedges. It’s 1.5 miles long and takes 1 hour to complete.
The Mini Green Monster Maze: A replica of England’s famous Hampton Court maze.
The Tunnel Maze: A maze for children ages 4-9.
Honey Pot Hill Orchards also hosts several farm animals, including goats, pigs, and cows. There’s a little dispenser where you can pay to feed the animals, a fun activity for children. Hayrides through the orchard are also a must.
Other farms and orchards in New England to visit in the fall
In addition to Honey Pot, here are a few other cool farms and apple orchards in New England:
Macks’s Apples in Londonderry, NH: A 400-acre farm in southern New Hampshire dating back to 1732. It sells apples, pumpkins, pies, and other fall goodies.
Champlain Orchards in Shoreham, VT: A family-run farm set on Lake Champlain where you can do apple and cider tastings.
Wilson Farm in Lexington, MA: An upscale market with fresh produce. It’s always filled with pumpkins, caramel apples, cider donuts, and other festive treats during the fall months.
Colby Farm in Newbury, MA: A quaint farm with an amazing sunflower field in the fall.
Applecrest Farm Orchards in Hampton Falls, NH: The oldest continuously operating orchard in the United States.
Cape Farm & Cranberry Company in Harwich, MA: The largest organic cranberry bog on Cape Cod. Cranberry harvest season runs from September through November. Fun fact: southeastern Massachusetts grows around 1/3 of the country’s supply of cranberries.
For more apple orchard inspiration, read next: Coolest Apple Picking Spots in VT
Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
Lake lovers will really appreciate this one. Located in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in the state and an amazing place to experience fall in New England. It’s comprised of hundreds of islands and hiking trails, so bring the camera with you and enjoy the breathtaking views.
Take a road trip around the lake, extending more than 60 miles, and you’ll be awestruck by the vibrant foliage. You’ll also pass by charming towns where you can stop for a bite to eat, go hiking, or take a boat ride.
Lake Winnipesaukee is over 2 hours from Boston, so it’s better to do an overnight stay than a fall foliage day trip. I recommend staying in a charming cottage or Airbnb rental in one of these towns:
Best New England Towns To Visit in Fall on Lake Winnipesaukee
Alton Bay: A small historic town on the southern part of the lake.
Center Harbor: A scenic town between Lake Winnipesaukee and Squam Lake.
Laconia: A fun and lively destination year-round (includes Weirs Beach)
Meredith: A resort town home to the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing lakeside retreat or a glimpse of the pretty fall colors, Lake Winnipesaukee has got you covered.
Best Stays in Lake Winnipesaukee:
Moosehead Lake, Maine
For an off-the-beaten-path fall getaway in New England, make the trip up to Moosehead Lake. This is one of the most remote places on the east coast, offering dark skies perfect for stargazing. In the fall, it’s also one of the best foliage spots in the northeast.
Explore the region on a Moose Safari with Northeast Whitewater Moose Tours. In addition to moose sightings, they also offers rafting adventures and camping trips. From the Moosehead Lake region, you can also do a scenic plane tour with Jack’s Air Service.
Beyond the leaf peeping and moose sightings, you may get lucky enough to see the Northern Lights up here. There’s no light pollution here and you’ll be far north enough to see them with the right solar activity conditions. Is this one of the best fall getaways in New England? It sure is!
Top Stays around Moosehead Lake:
|Cheap: $||Classic Maine Cottage Rental|
|Mid: $$||Lakefront Cabin in Greenfield|
|Luxury: $$||Lodge at Moosehead Lake|
As far as charming New England towns go, Woodstock is one of the best, especially during the fall months.
In Woodstock, idyllic farmland meets New England village vibes. The streets are filled with quaint colonial homes, boutiques, country stores, and art galleries. Covered bridges are a thing here, adding to the impressive landscapes surrounding the village.
Tip: to see even more covered bridges, check out Montgomery Vermont up North. This is another one of the best fall towns in New England.
Other fall activities in New England near Woodstock, VT
Woodstock is also within reach of unique sights like the Quechee Gorge, Ottauquechee River, and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park. The fall foliage around here is absolutely stunning. And when you’re all “natured out,” you’ll be glad to know that a variety of local restaurants and farms aren’t far away.
Best Hotels in Woodstock:
Litchfield Hills, Connecticut
Get outdoors this fall and explore the Litchfield Hills, one of New England’s coolest rural destinations. It’s located in northwestern Connecticut, just under two hours from NYC. As such, it’s always been a popular city retreat, especially during the autumn foliage season.
Throughout the Litchfield Hills, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for hiking, canoeing, fishing, and leaf peeping. The Litchfield Hills Ramble is a scenic drive for spotting New England fall foliage, where you’ll encounter beautiful lakes, woodlands, and even covered bridges. Here’s a list of some covered bridges that you can look forward to. The area is also known for its historic homes, many of which now house antique shops, bookstores, and museums.
Keep in mind that Connecticut is the southernmost New England state, so the fall foliage seasons occurs later than other parts of the region. Here’s a live New England fall foliage map to help you plan accordingly!
Unique Stays in Litchfield Hills:
The Topsfield Fair, Massachusetts
For many New England families, the Topsfield Fair is an annual tradition. It was established in 1818, and is one of the oldest agricultural fairs in the U.S.
From farm animals and amusement park rides to games, live entertainment, and other unique exhibits, there’s something for everyone here. I love the old country vibe, the food and entertainment, and of course, the giant pumpkins. Each year, the fair hosts a giant pumpkin “weigh-off,” where growers compete for the heaviest pumpkin. Last year, the winner’s pumpkin weighed more than 2,294 pounds (1,040 kg)!
At the time of writing this article, the fair is still scheduled to go on as planned (October 2-12). Refer to their official website for updated information.
Other fall festivals and fairs in New England
Beyond the Topsfield Fair, there are other fairs north and west that you should consider during a fall trip in New England:
Deerfield Fair in NH: A top-notch country fair with tractor and livestock pulls and other unique exhibitions.
The Big E in MA: The biggest fall fair in New England and the sixth largest in the country.
Fryeburg Fair in Maine: A classic New England fair with horse and ox pulling, tractor pulling, and draft horse contests.
Tunbridge World’s Fair in Vermont: An authentic country fair that’s been held for more than 150 years.
Mad River Valley, Vermont
Comprised of the towns of Waitsfield, Warren, Duxbury, Fayston, and Moretown, it’s no secret that this is one of the best New England fall destinations.
Why the Mad River Valley is a top fall getaway in New England
Located in VT, the Mad River Valley is not only a popular place to visit in the winter with its incredible ski resorts. Come here in the fall, and enjoy jaw-dropping fall foliage without the crowds that you’d typically expect in a quaint Vermont region.
This valley in Central Vermont is home to scenic hills and mountains that are perfect for leaf peeping. It offers a glimpse of Vermont’s river lowlands while at the same time giving you a taste of the Green Mountains.
The best time to soak in the fall foliage of the Mad River Valley is between late September and mid-October. I could go on and on about how beautiful this part of Vermont is, but I’ll let the pictures do the talking. You truly need to see these best New England towns to visit in fall for yourself!
Best Hotels in the Mad River Valley:
If you’re looking to discover all that fall in New England has to offer, you won’t want to miss Salem. Infamous for the Salem Witch Trials that occurred in the early 1600s, Salem is a spooky coastal city with witch-themed museums, shops, and other attractions.
Top fall activities in Salem, MA in the fall
In early October, when the fall foliage reaches its peak in New England, Salem is gearing up for its Halloween festivities. Thousands of visitors come for the Haunted Happenings, a one-of-a-kind celebration where people dress up in costumes, attend ghost tours and haunted houses, and watch films on Salem Common.
Beyond the Halloween stuff, Salem is also a popular destination for its historical landmarks and shopping and dining scene. Here are some sights you’ll want to check out:
Peabody Essex Museum: A large museum that houses a vast collection of American and Asian art.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site: A group of twelve historic structures along the waterfront.
Salem Witch Museum: A museum dedicated to the Salem Witch Trials.
The House of the Seven Gables: A 17th-century mansion made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel.
Salem Willows Park: A scenic oceanfront park at the edge of town.
With such bewitching attractions and fall foliage at virtually every turn, Salem truly comes alive during the autumn months.
Top Stays around Salem, MA:
Lake Willoughby (VT): Among the Best New England Towns to Visit in Fall
Nestled in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Lake Willoughby is one of the most beautiful New England fall destinations imaginable. You really can’t go wrong with a visit here anytime of year, but it’s most magical when draped in fall foliage.
If it’s warm enough during the early autumn, take a dip in the lake or go for a boat ride to soak in the fall foliage. Don’t miss the epic sights of Willoughby State Forest and Mount Pisgah. Kayaking and hiking are a must, and there are tons of unique Vermont cabins and cottage rentals in the area to justify spending at least a weekend here.
Is Lake Willoughby one of the best places to visit in New England in the fall? You bet!
Unique Stays on Lake Willoughby:
|Cheap: $||Charming Cottage on Lake Willoughby|
|Mid: $$||Mountain Lake Cottages|
|Luxury: $$||Lakefront House with Mountain Views|
Hot Air Balloon Ride in Connecticut
Ever dreamt of going hot air ballooning? Berkshire Balloons has got you covered. This is one of the coolest New England fall activities, hands down. And the best part (beyond the spectacular fall colors)? It’s just under 2 hours from Boston and NYC!
Every morning at 7am, you can take flight from one of the two launch sites in New Hartford and Bethlehem, Connecticut. This coincides with sunrise, where you’ll have incredible views of the surrounding countryside. On a clear day, you can also see New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Everyone should add this experience to their fall bucket list!
With the jaw-dropping fall views and the adrenaline of being in a hot air balloon, this is one of the top fall trips to New England.
Block Island, Rhode Island is a hidden gem during fall in New England
Block Island, considered one of the best hidden vacation spots in the US, feels even more like a hidden gem during the fall months. Watch the leaves change color amid a beautiful ocean backdrop, all while taking in the calm and serenity of this off-the-beaten-path destination. Aside from locals, few people are on the island in September and October, making it a unique destination to enjoy fall in New England.
Not far off the coast from Newport, Block Island is steeped in seaside scenery and Victorian-era charm. It’s home to beautiful beaches, historic lighthouses, and rustic farms— all connected by country roads. The island has barely changed since the late 1800s, so you’ll feel like you’re back in much simpler times.
By late September, the fall color begins to appear in the southern New England states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, but Block Island is typically a bit later.
To get to Block Island, you’ll want to take a ferry from one of the following places:
If you’re looking for some quality R&R on a secluded island, spend a day or weekend on Block Island in the fall.
Top Block Island Hotels:
Visit Burlington in the fall, and you’ll never want to leave. The lakeside foliage, paired with fantastic eateries and unique architecture, make it a top destination during the autumn months.
This city in northern Vermont is about as quirky and earthy-crunchy as it gets. Burlington is filled with breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, and shops that are quite different than what you’ll find in other parts of New England.
While in Burlington, go for a boat ride on Lake Champlain, a massive lake that separates New York from Vermont. The views of the lake and the hillside scenery are breathtaking, especially when the fall foliage is in full swing.
I recommend spending at least a couple nights here, and pairing it with a visit Stowe, which is only 40 minutes away. There’s a cool and creative spirit in this part of Vermont. It’s almost irresistible, which is why I keep coming back for more.
Best Stays in Burlington, VT:
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Everyone knows that Cape Cod is a popular summer destination. But what most people don’t know, is that the Cape is best enjoyed during the autumn months when the crowds are gone.
As most vacationers head back over the Sagamore Bridge to Boston, NYC, and other places, a handful of outdoor enthusiasts and locals stay behind to experience the fall flavor.
In the fall, Cape Cod comes alive with farmers’ markets and festivals. The weather is still perfect for a variety of outdoor activities, but thankfully, you won’t have to contend with the crowds. You’ll practically have the whole place to yourself – beaches, state parks, hiking trails, and more!
Tour a cranberry bog, go for nature walks and bike rides along the flat terrain, and eat out at restaurants without having to make a reservation in advance. These are some of the nice things about visiting Cape Cod in the fall, but there are so many more that I’ve written about in this article: 12 Reasons to Visit Cape Cod in the Fall.
Looking to visit Cape Cod anytime soon? Read next: 17 Coolest Airbnbs in Cape Cod.
Coolest Hotels in Cape Cod:
Have you ever spent a fall in New England? Let me know what experiences you enjoyed the most in the comments below. Or shoot me a message on Instagram. Cheers and stay safe out there! -Jon