It’s funny the things we take for granted and living in New England for fall foliage season is one of them. If you don’t get in the car at least once every fall to check out fall foliage in New England it’s a shame. I was so lucky to go to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and be surrounded by the fall beauty. New England’s six states New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island offer some of the most beautiful drives in New England and the perfect place to celebrate fall. There are many amazing destinations for a road trip of fall foliage in New England, but here are just a few that I fell in love with during my years living and driving around New England.
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Here are a few quick tips for road tripping to see Fall Foliage in New England:
- Download Roadtrippers and read my tips on best apps for road trips.
- The Roadtrippers is perfect to find places to stop along the way. Get outside to do some apple and pumpkin patch exploring.
- Pack a cooler of drinks and snacks for the road to save some money.
Kancamagus (New Hampshire)
Fall drives in New Hampshire are the epitome of fall lover’s dream world. I love the Kanc, as the locals call it. Recently I took another drive along the 35 miles from North Conway to Lincoln, New Hampshire making many stops along the way. Some must-see spots along the Kancamagus Highway include: Sabbaday Falls, Albany Covered Bridge, Lower Falls, and finally the C.L. Graham Overlook with vistas of the White Mountain National Forest.
North Conway is also a beautiful New Hampshire mountain town with gems cute shops, and gems like the Zeb’s General Store. Want a fall festive photo of a barn? Head to the Russell- Colbath house where you can see how life was in the area in the mid-1800s. One of my favorite quiet spots to pull over is Lily Pond, maybe you will get lucky and spot a moose!
Where to stay to see fall foliage in New Hampshire?
Bretton Woods – Stay at the historic Omni Mount Washington Resort. This place is worth visiting almost any time of the year in my opinion. There are always many outdoor activities since it is located close to Mount Washington where you can check out the Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center!
Mohawk Trail (Massachusetts)
There is no excuse if you happen to be in the Boston area around the fall time you are close to one of the most epic Fall Foliage road trips in New England. All you have to do is hop on Route 2 and 2A, the route is named after the original Native American trade route that connected the Atlantic and Upstate New York tribes. Now it is a scenic byway offering the best route to the Berkshires and views of some of the best fall foliage in New England.
Notable points of Interest:
Shelburne Falls- Head for a walk on the Bridge of Flowers in the quaint town that makes you feel like you are walking on a set of a movie.
Check out the Bissell Covered Bridge just off of Route 2 in Charlemont, Massachusetts.
Scared of heights? Well, don’t think about that as you drive past Hairpin Turn with aerial views of the fall leaves below. If you are like me and love to stop for a bite on a road trip, then check out the Golden Eagle Restaurant on the hairpin turn since 1914.
Where to stay along the Mohawk Trail and the Berkshires?
Well the Berkshires is right at the end of the northern region of the Berkshires. So I would suggest you read my guide on the Berkshires (wink, wink, hint, hint).
Williamstown is at the end of the Mohawk Trail and is absolutely a wonderful New England College town that is perfectly manicured with leaves, surrounding trails, and historic buildings. There are also some very nice places to stay in Williamstown.
The Williams Inn
House on Main Street
Acadia National Park Loop Road (Maine)
There is no going wrong in Maine when it comes to amazing places to see fall leaves. However, Acadia National Park’s loop road tops the cake, when it comes to the perfect fall getaway and drive. Whether you want to get outdoors hiking trails, or take in the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain the landscapes are amazing.
Best trails to see epic views of the best fall foliage in New England:
Precipice Trail and Beehive are intense, but they also offer the best views of the fall foliage and water.
Want more of a leisurely hike, head to Jordan Pond and do the South Bubble Trail!
Where to stay near Acadia National Park?
Bar Harbor is the main spot people stay when visiting Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. However, there are many different towns on Mount Desert Island. Check out North Harbor, or other towns that are less busy they are worth it. Mount Desert is more than Bar Harbor!
Atlantic Eyrie Lodge is located close to Bar Harbor’s center and has a shuttle that brings you to the town center. The best thing is each hotel room has an insane view of Bar Harbor’s oceanfront.
On a budget, stay at the Anchorage Inn, its’ clean, central, and puts you right in the center of town. Just be warned it is no-frills, but you aren’t in Bar Harbor to stay cooped in your hotel room.
Green Mountain Byway (Waterbury to Stowe, Vermont)
Many have heard of Stowe as being one of the best ski resorts on the East Coast. But if you get the chance to visit in the Fall you won’t be disappointed. The Green Mountain Byway turns into an explosion of colors in the fall. Autumn brings out the best of New England, including the flavors of fall. My favorite tastes of fall can be found at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury. Come try the fresh cider donuts, warm or cold (non-alcoholic cider), and Cabot cheese.
Points of Interest Along this Scenic Fall Foliage Drive in Vermont:
- Lake Elmore State Park
- Hike to see Moss Glen Falls and Bingham Falls
Where to stay in Stowe, Vermont?
The famous Stowe Mountain Lodge is the perfect spot to rest your eyes after a lot of leaf-peeping. One of the best activities to do is get an aerial view of the fall foliage with a gondola ride. The gondola runs until the end of October. Also, if you are a Sound of Music fan head to the Trapp Family Lodge where the actual family moved and ran a lodge after they left Austria.
Ocean Drive (Newport, RI)
Newport is a mix of old school wealth and splendor, and fairytale. As you wind around the 10-mile-long Ocean Drive you will be mesmerized by the immense mansions, cliffy coastline, and ocean views. Many may not think of Rhode Island to see fall leaves, but there are beautiful places here as well. Check out the views and fall leaves at Brenton Point State Park. It is also a perfect spot to experience one of the best sunsets in the state of Rhode Island.
Other notable spots to check out for your fall drive in Newport, Rhode Island, include, the historic downtown of Newport with some of the most colonial-era structures/buildings in the USA. The fall decorations and history are definitely worth for your stop. Also, be sure to check out the Bowen’s Wharf and grab a cup of chowder at the Black Pearl.
Where to stay in Newport, Rhode Island?
OceanCliff Hotel, if you don’t stay here (which you totally should), you have to just hang out on their lawn and have a bite to eat.
The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection– The Vanderbilt’s used to live in Newport, so why not live like a Vanderbilt while you are in town?
Newport Marriott– Classic and in the center of it all in terms of being in the wharf area, and near a ton of restaurants.
New Milford, Kent, and Mount Tom State Park Drive Loop (Connecticut)
Not going to lie, I didn’t explore much of Connecticut until my engine died and I decided to check out some countryside drives while I waited to know the fate of my vehicle (don’t worry it all worked out, it usually does). Well to the point! This area of Connecticut is surprisingly hilly, full of nature, and beautiful during the fall.
The fall foliage drive around New Milford, Kent, and Mount Tom State Park drive is definitely worthy of making this list of beautiful fall foliage in New England. A quaint loop road through Connecticut’s natural side will have you driving past the Housatonic River where you can go white water rafting or fishing, and through Historic Kent offering its’ many art galleries with a few covered bridges along the way. Finally, you will come to Mount Tom State Park, which part of the Appalachian Trail runs through.
Main attractions on this fall drive include:
- Bulls Bridge in Kent
- Kent Bridge in Kent Falls State Park
- Hike through Iron Mountain Preserve
Where to stay in Connecticut for fall foliage?
If you want to splurge: The Mayflower Inn and Spa- Auberge Resorts Collection
If you want a quaint bed and breakfast: Hilltop House Bed and Breakfast
What is the best time to see fall foliage in New England?
The answer is vague and complicated, you really need to check fall foliage maps and trackers. However, the best time to see the peak fall foliage in New England is in the last week of September through the first two weeks of October. Luckily many of these drives are close to major metropolitan areas and you can take a quick last minute trip if you already live in New England.
Which New England state has the best fall foliage in your opinion? My favorite will always be New Hampshire because I love all the cute stops along the way on the Kancamagus, the memories I made at college, and I love New Hampshire.