Fall in New England: 13 Best Towns, Farms, Foliage + Festivals

by Global Viewpoint
Fall in New England itinerary and tips featured image

Summer may have an allure so strong that we never want to let it go. But thankfully, fall in New England is right around the corner.

Ask any New Englander, and they’ll tell you that fall is the best time to visit New England. Not only is the fall foliage spectacular, but there are also tons of 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 fresh air and enjoy all that fall in New England has to offer.

If you’re looking for an authentic New England experience, visit here 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 13 destinations with some of the best things to do in New England in the fall.

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

Fall in New England pinterest image
Disclosure: Due to COVID-19, there will likely be travel restrictions in certain areas. Before booking any travels, be sure to follow relevant government guidance and safety protocols. And of course, be sure to practice social distancing!

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: A historic and luxurious hotel built in 1902 that’s among the most iconic buildings in New England. It’s 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.

Franconia Notch State Park: A beautiful park in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest filled with great hiking and biking trails.

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.

When you imagine fall in New England, you’re probably thinking of this area.

The Mt. Washington Resort in Bretton Woods.
The Mt. Washington Resort in Bretton Woods is a great place to see the fall color.

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.

Go kayaking, canoeing, or whitewater rafting: The Housatonic River and Deerfield River are popular places for these water activities.

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.

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.

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:

Things to see in Stowe, Vermont 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.

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.

Though Stowe is a year-round destination, during the fall is when it really peaks.

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.

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!

Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park.
Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park.

Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts

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.

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.

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:

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.

Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire
Lake Winnipesaukee

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.

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.

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

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!

Litchfield Hills fall foliage.
Litchfield Hills offers some amazing fall foliage in New England.

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 cool 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.

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.

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.

Haunted Happenings in Salem, MA.
Haunted Happenings in Salem, MA. | Photo Credit: salemmainstreets.org

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Cape Cod fall bike ride.

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! -Jon

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