Fall in New England: 20 Best Towns, Farms, Activities + Festivals

by Global Viewpoint
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Crisp autumn weather begins to sets in. The leaves are changing color and freshly-squeezed apple cider is taking over the shelves. Welcome to fall in New England, where majestic mountains and coastal scenery suddenly bursts in color, as if nature itself picked up a paintbrush.

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!

This is my favorite New England fall photo taken to date
This is my favorite New England fall photo taken to date

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. From cute towns and farms to fall foliage road trips, here are 20 destinations with the best things to do in New England in the fall.

This round-up covers all New England states, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island!

A round-up of the best New England towns to visit in fall
A round-up of the best New England towns to visit in fall

#1 tip for planning fall trips to New England: Book early!

Before we dive into all the best places to visit in New England in the fall, I want to share an important tip that will save you time, money, and hassle:

If you didn’t know this already, fall in New England is well-known around the globe. The legendary fall foliage in the Northeast draws travelers from every corner of the world. With this year expected to be its busiest yet, it’s crucial to buy your hotels and car rentals well in advance. Otherwise, you run the risk of rental cars and hotels being sold out (this does happen, especially in touristy areas).

> To save money on hotels: I recommend using Booking.com, which has the biggest selection of hotels across New England (at the cheapest rates). Expedia is often a close second. For vacation rentals, I recommend VRBO.com over Airbnb to save $$.

> To save money on rental cars: I highly recommend Discover Cars. In my experience, it tends to be about $20 cheaper per day than booking directly with rental car companies or other third-party sites.

> To save money on airfare: I recommend signing up for a free email service like Scott’s Cheap Flights and Dollar Flight Club. They send out mistake fares and other flight deals directly to your inbox. I literally save thousand of dollars each year thanks to their email alerts – so I couldn’t recommend them more!

To learn more about my favorite travel websites, read this next: Top Travel Booking Sites in 2023

Keep reading to see these best New England fall getaways
Keep reading to see these best New England fall getaways

Best time to visit New England in the fall

Now, let’s quickly cover when to plan your New England fall getaway:

When is the peak New England fall foliage, you ask? It really varies by region. In other words, colors change at different times in different locations. Weather patterns also factor into this. For example, summer draughts can delay the fall foliage season, while warm, sunny days and cool nights tend to bring out the most vibrant autumn colors. Here’s a general guide for the best times to plan fall getaways in New England:

Late September:

Northern New England, especially the higher elevations of Vermont and New Hampshire, begins its transformation. This is an excellent time to explore the White Mountains or the Northeast Kingdom, where the early fall colors merge with the lingering warmth of summer.

Early to Mid-October:

This is often considered the ‘peak’ window of New England autumn. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island join the spectacle, with vibrant hues stretching all the way to the coast. The rolling hills of the Berkshires and the iconic landscapes of Cape Cod and the Islands start to glow with autumnal colors.

Late October to Early November:

Southern New England, including coastal areas, basks in its fiery best. While the northern regions are already looking towards winter, regions closer to the coast like Newport, Rhode Island, or Mystic, Connecticut, are awash with color.

For those seeking a mix of scenic drives, cozy town experiences, and outdoor activities, this entire stretch offers something unique. Just remember to book accommodations early, as this magical season attracts admirers from around the globe.

Top 20 places to see New England fall foliage

Now, without further ado, here are the best fall getaways in New England in 2023. These fall trips to New England include everything from charming New England towns and scenic cities to local farms and fall activities.

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:

Fall in New Hampshire is always a good idea.
Fall in New Hampshire is always a good idea.

Things to see in the White Mountains in the fall

Kancamagus Highway

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.

Fall in New England is well spent aboard the Mt. Washington Cog Railway.
A fall in New England is well spent aboard the Mount Washington Cog Railway.

North Conway

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.

Crawford Notch State Park is one of the coolest New England fall destinations for hikers.
Crawford Notch State Park is one of the coolest New England fall destinations for hikers.

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!

Hiking Artist Bluff Trail is among the coolest things to do in New England in the fall.
Hiking Artist Bluff Trail is among the coolest things to do in New England in the fall.

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:

Cheap: $North Colony Motel & Cottages
Mid: $$The Glen House
Luxury: $$Omni Mount Washington Resort
The Mt. Washington Resort in Bretton Woods.
The Mt. Washington Resort in Bretton Woods is a great place to see the fall color.

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.

Baxter State Park is a fall getaway in New England like no other
Baxter State Park is a fall getaway in New England like no other

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.

Autumn vibes in Maine
Mount Katahdin translates to “Great Mountain” in the Algonquian language

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
A bird's eye view of one of the best New England fall vacation spots
A bird’s eye view of one of the best New England fall vacation spots

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:

Situated between Boston and New York City, the Berkshires is a popular nature retreat during the fall months.
Situated between Boston and New York City, the Berkshires is a popular nature retreat during the fall months. The autumn color is phenomenal.

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.

Bash Bish Falls is a must-see place to visit in New England in the fall.
Bash Bish Falls is a must-see place to visit in New England in the fall.

Go kayaking, canoeing, or whitewater rafting

The Housatonic River and Deerfield River are popular places for these water activities. If you’re looking for what to do in New England in October, this is it!

The Berkshires is a top getaway in New England, particularly during the autumn months.
The Housatonic River in the Berkshires is a popular place to spot fall foliage in New England.

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.

The Mohawk Trail in the Berkshires is home to jaw-dropping fall foliage scenery.
The Mohawk Trail in the Berkshires is home to jaw-dropping fall foliage scenery.

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!

Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA.
Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA.

Places to Stay in the Berkshires:

Cheap: $Monument Mountain Motel
Mid: $$Harbour House Inn B&B
Luxury: $$Devonfield Inn

Stowe, Vermont

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.

Stowe, Vermont in the fall
Stowe, Vermont in the fall.

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:

Downtown Stowe covered in fall colors.
Downtown Stowe covered in fall colors.

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.

Stowe is one of the best New England towns to visit in the fall, hands down.
Stowe is one of the best New England towns to visit in the fall, hands down.

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:

Cheap: $Topnotch Resort
Mid: $$The Lodge at Spruce Peak
Luxury: $$Trapp Family Lodge
The Innsbruck Inn is one of several Austrian-style accommodations in Stowe, Vermont.
The Innsbruck Inn is one of several Austrian-style accommodations in Stowe, Vermont.

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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.

Acadia National Park, Maine in the fall.
Acadia National Park, Maine in the fall.

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

Cadillac Mountain

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.

Jordan Pond

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.

Thunder Hole

A rocky cove that lets out a boom of thunder as waves batter it.

Eagle Lake

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:

Cheap: $Bar Harbor Manor
Mid: $$Saltair Inn
Luxury: $$Atlantic Oceanside Hotel
Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park.
Jordan Pond 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.

Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts.
Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts.

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.

Hedge maze at Honey Pot Hill Orchards
Hedge maze at Honey Pot Hill Orchards

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

Apple picking is a fun family activity during fall in New England.
Apple picking is a fun family activity during fall in New England.

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.

Fall in New Hampshire looks something like this
Fall in New Hampshire looks something like this

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:

Visiting Lake Winnipesaukee is one of the top things to do in New England in the fall.
Visiting Lake Winnipesaukee is one of the top things to do in New England in the fall.

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:

Cheap: $Misty Harbor Resort
Mid: $$Center Harbor Inn
Luxury: $$Mill Falls at the Lake
Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire
Lake Winnipesaukee is beautiful this time of year

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.

Moosehead Lake in Maine is a fall in New England hot spot
Moosehead Lake in Maine is a fall in New England hot spot

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.

Sunset on Moosehead Lake is a top fall activity in New England
Sunset on Moosehead Lake is a top fall activity in New England

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
Fall colors in the north of Maine
Fall colors in the north of Maine

Woodstock, Vermont

As far as charming New England towns go, Woodstock is one of the best, especially during the fall months.

Woodstock, Vermont in the fall.
Woodstock, Vermont in the fall.

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.

Farms in Woodstock VT come to life during the autumn months.
Farms in Woodstock VT come to life during the autumn months.

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.

Maple trees bring a special flavor to one of the best New England towns to visit in fall.
Maple trees bring a special flavor to one of the best New England towns to visit in fall.

Add Woodstock to your fall in New England bucket list and you’ll see why it’s a top vacation destination in the US.

Best Hotels in Woodstock:

Cheap: $The Quechee Inn
Mid: $$506 On The River Inn
Luxury: $$Woodstock Inn & Resort
Beautiful colonial home in Woodstock, VT.
Beautiful colonial home in Woodstock, VT. This is a great area to find fall foliage in New England.

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.

Litchfield Hills, Connecticut in the fall.
Litchfield Hills, Connecticut in the fall.

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:

Cheap: $Homestead Inn
Mid: $$The Litchfield Inn
Luxury: $$The Mayflower Inn & Spa
Litchfield Hills fall foliage.
Litchfield Hills offers some amazing fall foliage in New England.

Camden, Maine

Looking for fall getaways in New England that are off the beaten path? Add this town in coastal Maine to your itinerary.

There’s a reason seasoned New England travelers whisper the name ‘Camden’ with a reverence usually reserved for old-world tales and myths. Located on the jagged coast of Maine, Camden stands as a quintessential New England town, especially when autumn arrives. Here’s why Camden deserves a top spot on your fall travel itinerary.

Autumn views in Camden, ME
Autumn views in Camden, ME

Why Camden is among the best New England coastal towns in fall

In Camden, autumn doesn’t just arrive; it envelops. The town becomes a canvas, painted in breathtaking shades of red, orange, and gold. Nestled between the sea and the mountains, Camden offers panoramic views of fall foliage against the backdrop of deep blue waters, a sight that’s truly mesmerizing.

What’s unique about Camden? It’s not just about looking at leaves. The town’s maritime heritage allows visitors to witness the fall spectacle from the sea. Imagine sailing on a historic schooner, the cool breeze carrying whispers of ancient maritime tales, while beneath the crimson and amber tree line.

For those who wish to rise above it all, Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park offers an unparalleled view. A short hike takes you to the summit, where you’re treated to a sprawling vista of the town, Penobscot Bay, and a sea of autumn colors.

Lastly, Downtown Camden, with its brick-lined paths and historic architecture, oozes charm. Pop into local boutiques, savor freshly caught seafood at cozy eateries, and, if you visit in September, don’t miss the Camden Film Festival.

Camden, Maine, isn’t just another fall destination in New England. It’s where nature, history, and authentic New England living converge. Every corner has a story, every wave sings a song, and every tree invites you to stay just a little bit longer. Don’t just see New England in the fall; feel it, in the heart of Camden. It’s truly one of the best places to visit in Maine, hands down!

Coolest Accommodations in Camden, ME:

Cheap: $Camden Riverhouse Hotel & Inns
Mid: $$250 Main Hotel
Luxury: $$Grand Harbor Inn
Camden Harbor
Camden Harbor

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)!

Want to see a giant pumpkin? Head to the Topsfield Fair this fall.
Want to see a giant pumpkin? Head to the Topsfield Fair this fall!

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.

Fall festivals in New England coincide with the autumn harvest.
Fall festivals in New England coincide with the autumn harvest.

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.

With the Mad River Valley being covered in fall colors, it's no wonder this is among the best places to visit in New England in the fall.
With the Mad River Valley being covered in fall colors, it’s no wonder this is among the best places to visit in New England in the fall.

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.

Looking for what to do in New England in October? Don't miss the Mad River Valley!
Looking for what to do in New England in October? Don’t miss the Mad River Valley!

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:

Cheap: $White Horse Lodge
Mid: $$The Featherbed Inn
Luxury: $$The Clay Brook Hotel at Sugarbush
The Mad River Valley is absolutely epic.
The Mad River Valley is absolutely epic.

Salem, Massachusetts

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.

Salem, MA is a huge hit in the fall, especially around Halloween.
Salem, MA is a huge hit in the fall, especially around Halloween.

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:

Cheap: $Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites
Mid: $$Harbor Light Inn
Luxury: $$The Merchant
Haunted Happenings in Salem, MA.
Haunted Happenings in Salem, MA. | Photo Credit: salemmainstreets.org

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.

Spend a weekend exploring one of the best New England towns to visit in fall.
Spend a weekend exploring one of the best New England towns to visit in fall.

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
This part of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont is one of the best fall New England trips, without a doubt.
This part of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont is one of the best fall New England trips, without a doubt.

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!

This is one of the best Northeast fall getaways imaginable.
This is one of the best Northeast fall getaways imaginable.

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.

Fall New England trips don't get any better than this hot air balloon ride
Fall New England trips don’t get any better than this hot air balloon ride

Montgomery, Vermont

Hidden amidst the rolling hills and serene landscapes of Vermont is Montgomery, a town that seems to have been dreamt up specifically for fall lovers. As autumn rolls in, Montgomery transforms into a haven of vibrant colors and New England charm. Here’s why Montgomery should be an essential stop for any fall itinerary:

Exploring Montgomery's covered bridges during a New England autumn
Exploring Montgomery’s covered bridges during a New England autumn

Why is Montgomery one of the best Fall New England trips?

Unparalleled foliage: Montgomery isn’t dubbed the ‘Covered Bridge Capital of Vermont’ without reason. Its iconic bridges, combined with a kaleidoscope of gold, crimson, and amber hues from its dense forests, provide picture-perfect moments at every turn.

Whimsical atmosphere: Montgomery’s village-like ambiance exudes warmth and charm. The town’s historic architecture, adorned with fall decorations, sets the scene for cozy evening walks or morning strolls with a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Outdoor adventures: Montgomery’s natural environment is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The surrounding Green Mountains offer a wealth of hiking trails, each providing its own unique perspective of the fall foliage. Try the trails at Hazen’s Notch, a local favorite for a moderate hike with rewarding views.

Local charm: The town itself is an idyllic slice of New England charm. Quaint local businesses, friendly locals, and cozy bed and breakfasts provide an intimate and authentic experience. Don’t miss the seasonal bounty at local farmers’ markets. This is where you can sample regional cheeses, fresh-baked pies, and local Vermont maple syrup.

For those seeking the quintessential New England autumn town, set your sights on Montgomery, Vermont. You won’t regret it!

Unique Stays in Montgomery, VT:

Cheap: $Black Lantern Inn
Mid: $$Phineas Swann Inn & Spa
Luxury: $$Jay Peak Resort
Best fall towns in New England include Montgomery, VT
Best fall towns in New England include Montgomery, VT

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.

Block Island, Rhode Island is a relaxing place to visit during the fall.
Block Island, Rhode Island is a relaxing place to visit during the fall. The peak foliage is usually mid to late October.

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:

Point Judith, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island

New London, Connecticut   

Fall River, Massachusetts

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:

Cheap: $Old Town Inn
Mid: $$Spring House Hotel
Luxury: $$Block Island Beach House
Mohegan Bluffs on Block Island.
Mohegan Bluffs on Block Island.

Burlington, Vermont

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.

Church Street in Burlington is the place to be during all times of the year, including the fall
Church Street in Burlington is the place to be during all times of the year, including the fall.

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.

University of Vermont (UVM) campus in the fall.
University of Vermont (UVM) campus in the fall.

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:

Cheap: $Lakeshore Vermont
Mid: $$Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain
Luxury: $$Hotel Vermont
The fall foliage in Burlington VT doesn't peak until a couple weeks after the rest of northern VT.
Tip: the fall foliage in Burlington VT doesn’t peak until a couple weeks after the rest of northern 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.

Dune Shacks Trail in Provincetown is the perfect trail to hike in the fall.

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:

Cheap: $Cape Sands Inn
Mid: $$The Platinum Pebble
Luxury: $$Chatham Bars Inn
Cape Cod is one of the best places to visit in New England in the fall.
Cape Cod is one of the best places to visit in New England in the fall.

FAQs about Fall in New England

Looking to dive deeper into things to do in New England in the fall? Here are some popular questions (and answers) about New England fall vacations:

What months are fall in New England?

Fall in New England typically spans from September to November. The foliage usually starts changing in the northern regions in early September and peaks in mid-October, with the southern regions peaking a bit later in the month. By late November, most of the leaves have fallen, transitioning the region into winter. However, the exact timing can vary slightly each year depending on weather conditions.

What is the best time to see the fall colors in New England?

The best time to see the fall colors in New England varies by latitude and elevation, but generally:

  1. Northern New England (including northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and most of Maine): Peak foliage usually occurs between late September and the first week of October.
  2. Central New England (including Massachusetts, southern Vermont, and southern New Hampshire): Peak foliage is typically from the first to third week of October.
  3. Southern New England (Connecticut and Rhode Island, along with coastal areas of Massachusetts): Peak colors can be enjoyed from mid to late October.

However, it’s essential to note that these are general guidelines. The exact timing of peak foliage can shift each year based on weather conditions leading up to the fall season. For real-time updates, I recommend using this online foliage tracker and checking local tourism websites. They tend to provide weekly color updates during the autumn season in the Northeast.

New England autumn awaits you
New England autumn awaits you

What is the best scenic drive in New England in the fall?

One of the most renowned scenic drives in New England, especially in the fall, is the Kancamagus Highway (NH Route 112) in New Hampshire.

This route stretches for about 34 miles through the heart of the White Mountain National Forest. It offers some of the most breathtaking views of New England’s fall foliage.

As you traverse the highway, you’ll be surrounded by a tapestry of vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows, especially during peak foliage season. Along the way, there are several lookout points, hiking trails, and waterfalls, making it perfect for both driving and exploring on foot. The Swift River runs alongside part of the route, providing picturesque views of the water contrasting with the autumn colors.

While the Kancamagus is arguably the most famous, New England boasts several other scenic routes like the Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts and Vermont’s Route 100. Each offers a unique perspective of the region’s stunning fall beauty. However, the “Kanc,” as it’s affectionately known, is often celebrated as the quintessential New England fall experience. If planning a drive during peak season, do expect heavier traffic, as it’s a popular destination for leaf-peeping tourists.

Which New England state has the best fall foliage?

The best fall foliage in New England is somewhat subjective and can depend on personal preferences. After all, each state offers its own unique and stunning autumnal display. Here’s a breakdown of what each state has to offer:

New England states with the best fall foliage

  1. Vermont: Often touted as having some of the most spectacular fall foliage in all of New England, Vermont’s Green Mountains provide a backdrop of vibrant oranges, reds, and golds. New England fall towns like Stowe and Woodstock become especially picturesque during the autumn months.
  2. New Hampshire: The White Mountains, particularly along the Kancamagus Highway, offer dazzling displays of color. The higher elevations can lead to a mix of vibrant colors that are hard to match.
  3. Maine: The vast expanse of forested land, especially in areas like Acadia National Park, offers a rich tapestry of fall colors. Maine’s foliage often starts earlier than the southern New England states due to its northern location.
  4. Massachusetts: The Mohawk Trail in Western Massachusetts is renowned for its fall beauty. The Berkshires, in particular, are a magnet for those seeking autumnal splendor.
  5. Connecticut: The Litchfield Hills area, with its rolling landscapes and picturesque towns, becomes even more enchanting during the fall.
  6. Rhode Island: While the smallest of the New England states, Rhode Island’s foliage, especially in places like Blackstone Valley, is beautiful. The state’s coastal locations also offer a unique blend of fall colors against the backdrop of the sea.

Each state has its own charm and character during the fall. This makes it hard to declare one as the definitive “best.” The optimal experience might also vary from year to year based on weather conditions. As such, I recommend exploring multiple states to appreciate the full breadth of New England’s autumn beauty.

Life is better on the lake
Life is better on the lake

Why visit New England in the fall?

Visiting New England in the fall is a sensory delight that appeals to both the heart and soul. Here are some compelling reasons for New England fall getaways:

  1. Vibrant fall foliage: New England’s autumn palette is legendary. As the region’s dense forests transition from green to a mesmerizing array of reds, oranges, and yellows, the scenery becomes a painter’s dream. This spectacle draws leaf-peepers from around the world.
  2. Cool, crisp air: The crispness of the fall air, combined with the scent of leaves and wood fires, is invigorating. It’s the perfect weather for cozying up in a sweater and exploring the outdoors.
  3. Harvest festivals: Fall is harvest time, and New England towns celebrate with fairs, parades, and festivals. Experience hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and apple picking, while savoring cider doughnuts, and other seasonal treats.
  4. Historic charm: New England’s historic towns, with their colonial homes and white steepled churches, take on a special charm amidst the autumn hues. Towns like Salem, Massachusetts also offer a deep dive into Halloween festivities, given their witch trial history.
  5. Outdoor activities: From hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire to taking scenic drives along Vermont’s country roads, there’s no shortage of outdoor adventures. Plus, the cooler temperatures make these activities even more enjoyable.
  6. Less crowded: While popular spots attract leaf-peepers, the fall season generally sees fewer tourists than summer, making it a great time to explore more serenely.
  7. Local produce: Autumn brings a bounty of fresh produce to New England. Relish farm-to-table experiences with apples, pumpkins, cranberries, and more.
  8. Cozy accommodations: Imagine staying in a historic bed and breakfast, surrounded by fall foliage, with a roaring fireplace to warm your evenings. New England offers countless such cozy accommodations.

Visiting New England in the fall is not just a trip; it’s an immersive experience that touches every sense.

What are the top things to do in New England in the fall?

New England in the fall offers countless activities that celebrate the region’s natural beauty, rich history, and cultural traditions. Here are the top fall things to do in New England:

  1. Leaf peeping: The vibrant fall foliage is the star attraction. Drive scenic routes like the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire or the Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts to see nature’s colorful display.
  2. Apple picking: Visit orchards in any of the New England states and spend a day picking apples, sipping on cider, and indulging in fresh apple cider doughnuts.
  3. Pumpkin patches: Select the perfect pumpkin for carving, enjoy hayrides, and get lost in a corn maze.
  4. Hiking: Explore the region’s vast network of trails. Popular spots include the White Mountains in New Hampshire, the Green Mountains in Vermont, and Acadia National Park in Maine.
  5. Attend fall festivals: From the Deerfield Fair in New Hampshire to the Fryeburg Fair in Maine, New England towns celebrate the season with food, crafts, music, and parades.
  6. Haunted happenings: Visit Salem, Massachusetts, known for the 1692 witch trials. In October, Salem offers a month-long series of haunted events and tours.
  7. Cranberry harvest: Witness cranberry harvesting in Massachusetts and learn about this vibrant fruit’s history in the region.
  8. Covered bridge tours: New England is home to numerous historic covered bridges, especially in Vermont and New Hampshire. A drive to see these architectural beauties against the backdrop of fall colors is a must.
  9. Brewery and winery visits: Many local breweries and wineries offer seasonal brews and wines. Enjoy tastings and tours to see how your favorite drinks are made.
  10. Farmers’ Markets: Experience the local bounty of fresh produce, cheeses, and artisanal products.
  11. Stay in a Cozy Inn or B&B: Embrace the ambiance of a quaint New England bed and breakfast, many of which offer roaring fireplaces and stunning foliage views.

With its unique activities, experiences, and natural beauty, New England in the fall offers memories of a lifetime.

Is it cold in October in New England?

In New England, October is a transitional month where temperatures begin to drop in anticipation of the winter season. The weather can vary, but generally:

  • Early October: Daytime temperatures often range from the mid-50s to the mid-70s Fahrenheit (13°C to 24°C),. Nighttime temperatures can dip to the 40s and sometimes even the 30s Fahrenheit (4°C to 9°C).
  • Late October: Daytime temperatures are typically in the 50s to mid-60s Fahrenheit (10°C to 18°C). Nighttime temperatures frequently drop into the 30s Fahrenheit (0°C to 4°C).

Keep in mind that the weather can be more unpredictable in the mountainous regions, where it can get quite a bit chillier, especially at night. Additionally, the coastal areas might be slightly milder due to the moderating influence of the ocean.

It’s a good idea to pack layers when visiting New England in October. While daytime temperatures can be mild and comfortable, mornings and evenings tend to be cooler. Light jackets, sweaters, and scarves are commonly worn during this time.


Recap: things to do in New England in the fall

I hope you enjoyed reading this guide to the best New England fall getaways. The Northeast in the fall is truly a special experience. The region bursts with bright colors, making every view seem like a postcard.

From the beautiful fall leaves to the fun activities like apple picking and festive events, there’s something for everyone. Its blend of stunning scenery and welcoming towns gives travelers a unique taste of autumn.

Simply put, visiting New England during this season is a memorable journey that captures the heart of fall like no other place. It’s a must-visit for anyone looking to fully embrace the autumn spirit.

Have you ever spent a fall in New England? Let me know about your experience in the comments below. For more New England fall inspiration, follow my adventures on Instagram: @Global.Viewpoint.

Happy Fall Travels! -Jon

Fall in New England activities pinterest photo
Enjoyed reading about these New England fall activities? Pin it!

Disclosure: This article about things to do in New England in the fall contains affiliate links, where I may earn a commission at no cost to you. For more information, please refer to my privacy policy.


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