Fall in New England: The Best Towns, Orchards, Farms, Foliage, & Festivals


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Of all places on earth, fall in New England may be one of the prettiest. The region is totally MADE for the autumn season, and every fall activity you could dream of can be found here, with a backdrop of brilliant foliage and quaint little towns.

That picture-perfect autumn. Can’t you just see it? Picking apples on a crisp September day. Cozy nights in front of a crackling fire, sipping hot cider. Octobers bursting with ruby, gold, and amber. A spooky Halloween night where your breath shows in the chilly air.

We know just what you’re looking for, and we know exactly where to find it: New England.

As you plan your autumn travels, we think New England MUST be on your list. And if you’re going to visit, you should choose the very best spots. Here are nine amazing destinations where you can find numerous things to do in New England in the fall.

New England Fall Foliage Info

First, let’s cover the basics of fall foliage in New England: when and where to see it. 

It’s important to note that foliage conditions vary each year, due to that year’s weather conditions and other factors. However, in general, you can expect to see fall foliage throughout New England from early/mid-September through the end of October. Peak foliage, when the leaves are at their best and brightest of the season, typically hits in October. The foliage develops from north to south, with northern spots like Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire generally experiencing “peak” before Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

Here is an excellent visual representation of how the foliage changes in New England in the autumn: Yankee Magazine Peak Foliage Map

So if you’re planning to visit New England in the fall, keep this progression in mind and try to plan your travels accordingly. 

The Best Places to Enjoy Fall in New England

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is a gorgeous village in a prime foliage spot. In a valley surrounded by Vermont’s Green Mountains, it’s a top destination to see vibrant fall colors (although you do have to plan your visit just right to catch peak foliage!)

The leaves tend to be brightest and boldest in early October, but this may change slightly according to conditions each year.

With its white-steepled church, the village of Stowe presents the perfect fall photo opportunity. While it is also a popular winter destination due to its nearby skiing and other winter activities, Stowe is resplendent in fall.

Many come here to hike or to enjoy cycling, shopping, and art. It’s also a good place for foodies, with delicious restaurants both in Stowe and nearby Waterbury.

Fall foliage hike options in Stowe include: Moss Glen Falls, Stowe Pinnacle Trail (great views!), and Sterling Pond. You might want to investigate nearby cabin rentals, for an utterly autumnal experience!

The Cold Hollow Cider Mill – Waterbury, Vermont

For the best fall delicacies, stop at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury for fresh-pressed cider and what I’d consider some of the best apple cider doughnuts on the planet.

This place just SCREAMS fall, and the scent of cinnamon, apples, and happiness hits you as soon as you get out of your car. 

Take time to wander the adorable store filled with every apple gift and food item you could imagine, and then head across the parking lot to their onsite restaurant and cidery. Come hungry!

Read Next: The Best New England Fall Foliage Tours Worth Your Money

Burlington, Vermont

Not far from Stowe is the lovely lakeside town of Burlington, VT. This hip, artsy town is home to numerous galleries, coffee shops, breweries, and shopping opportunities.

It all overlooks the beautiful Lake Champlain, an enormous body of water that stretches from north to south, separating the states of Vermont and New York. The vista of the lake, with the mountains of New York in the background, is especially excellent in the fall.

The activities centered around the lake–boating, scuba diving, ferry rides, etc.–are best enjoyed in the warmer months. However, the sheer number of shops and places to hang out, the beautiful hillside neighborhoods with their unique New England architecture, and the breathtaking views of Lake Champlain all make Burlington a great place to visit in New England in the fall.

For more ideas on things to do in Burlington, check out our list!

Acadia National Park, Maine

The most northerly option on this list, Acadia National Park is a fall destination that offers wilderness and adventure.

This 47,000-acre national park is set on the coast of Maine, nearly in Canada, and is a perfect spot for outdoor lovers to experience a New England autumn. There are countless options for hiking and camping. Many hikes offer incredible views of oceanside cliffs and inlets.

couple standing at a mountain top overlooking a river. fall leaves are on the trees and the sun is setting in the distance

Breathtaking scenery isn’t the only great thing about the area. The cozy town of Bar Harbor offers dining, shopping, and culture, so you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

After roughing it, spend the night in a warm Bar Harbor B&B. Bar Harbor has some great restaurants whose chefs love using local, seasonal flavors. A fall-inspired meal on coastal Maine sounds amazing.

You can also head out on the water for a scenic cruise, and of course, don’t miss the lighthouse.

Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor are likely to be less crowded in September and October, after the busier summer season, so take advantage. It will start to grow quite chilly here by the end of September–a good thing to keep in mind if you hope to go camping.

Mid-October is generally forecast to be peak foliage, but follow local reports for the most accurate info.

Read Next: The Top Things to Do in Acadia National Park, Maine

Salem, Massachusetts

Speaking of things to do in New England in October, is there be a better Halloween destination than Salem, Massachusetts? Salem has become synonymous with Halloween celebrations. This is likely due to its infamy as the site of the 1692 witch trials, but Salem today is still a witchy, eclectic town. Thousands descend upon the area each October for Haunted Happenings, the town’s annual Halloween celebration. The popular 90s film Hocus Pocus (which was filmed here) brought Salem to life for many young people, myself included!

Salem is rich with history, and you’ll be kept busy by museums, exhibits, and notable sites. Real history buffs might want to read up on the witch trials before visiting, as this will help you better understand the dark events of the town’s past. 

Want to be spooked? Check out these 9 Salem ghost tours. See also: 13 Haunted Places in New England That are Wicked Creepy

If the spiritual interests you, Salem is home to many modern-day witches and spiritualists. You can sign up for a palm reading, tarot session, or other experiences. Or simply browse the shops and peruse the magical goods.

In Salem, fall is definitely in the air. It’s a beautiful and picturesque destination that is great for shopping, dining, and walking. Its proximity to Boston makes it an easy getaway, too.

With its position on the coast, Salem is likely to experience peak foliage in mid-to-late October.

The White Mountains, New Hampshire

New Hampshire is another great state to visit in New England in the autumn. The rugged White Mountains will be aflame with color and make for spectacular hiking and leaf-peeping.

New Hampshire has many choice spots for foliage, including classic-looking towns such as Sugar Hill or Jackson as well as more tourist-centered places such as North Conway and Lincoln.

Early October is when this outdoor paradise tends to reach peak foliage, and it’s definitely worth planning ahead to catch the mountains decked out in autumnal hues.

For an extra fun fall excursion, drive the famous Kancamagus Highway, a scenic stretch of road that runs 34 miles through the White Mountain National Forest. It is bookended by Lincoln and Conway, so you’ll get the chance to stop in two top destinations during your drive.

New Hampshire is also notably beautiful in wintertime!

Read Next: The Ultimate New England Road Trip Itinerary (Flexible 2-3 Week Itinerary)

Mack’s Apples – Londonderry, New Hampshire

If you’re looking for the classic, old-timey New England fall experience, Mack’s Apples will provide. This is practically an institution in NH, an 8th-generation, family-owned 400-acre farm. In early autumn, visitors can start picking apples, selecting fruit from 100 acres of trees. 

Pumpkins can be picked, too. When you’re done picking, stop by the farm stand which offers maple syrup, fresh-grown veggies, pies, pears, squash, and more.

See more of the best places for apple picking in New England

Providence, Rhode Island

Providence is the biggest city on our list of New England fall getaways. There’s a lot going on in this city year-round, and fall is no different.

Within a short drive from Providence, you’ll be able to take in fall activities like corn mazes and pumpkin patches. You can plan for events like Oktoberfest and other fall festivals both in Providence and nearby Newport.

There’s something very cozy and autumnal about a city. Providence boasts some interesting older architecture and impressive homes. With the addition of fall foliage, these take on an imposing look.

Horror fans may know that author H.P. Lovecraft lived most of his life in Providence, his hometown. You can explore significant Lovecraft sites, such as his home and his grave, as well as locations that figure into his works of horror fiction.

There’s no better time than autumn for such things!

Woodstock, Vermont

Woodstock is classic New England, with covered bridges, rolling farmland, and a tidy Main Street. This is a destination that is lovely in summer, picturesque in winter, and stunning in autumn. It’s probably not too bad in spring, either!

If you’re looking for a small village where you can hide away for a fall weekend in New England, Woodstock is an excellent choice. Your main activity is likely to be leaf-peeping, as the foliage will explode in late September and early October.

You can also dine on cheese, apples, and other Vermont fare, with lots of autumn specialties available at the many great local restaurants. Consider booking a farm stay at the beautiful Fat Sheep Farm. 

Antiquing is also a great fall activity here, with many roadside shops stocked with eccentricities and treasures. Be sure to stop by the Quechee Gorge overlook, to have a look at the gorge in its autumn splendor.

PS: Check out Manchester, Vermont as another alternative slightly further south.

Mike’s Maze – Sunderland, Massachusetts

Don’t just visit the best corn maze in New England, visit the best in the US, according to Yahoo.

Mike’s been creating insanely intricate mazes for nearly two decades. Check out the incredible past designs, as photographed from the sky, here. That’s some amazing stuff.

There’s way more here than just an elaborate corn maze, too. Farm animals, pedal carts, a cafe, and more make this a fall bucket list destination. 

The Litchfield Hills, Connecticut

Connecticut is the most southerly of the New England states, but it, too, enjoys glorious fall foliage. In fact, CT claims to have the longest foliage season of all six states, giving you plenty of time to come for a visit.

The Litchfield Hills are a highly recommended spot to witness fall in Connecticut. Covered bridges, small villages, and sparkling lakes await you in this area.

Many choose to drive the Litchfield Hills Ramble, a route that circles 100 miles from Torrington through Litchfield and brings passengers past lush foliage.

Here, classic farms are bordered by stone walls, covered with fallen golden leaves. Hidden waterfalls are to be found within the woods, trimmed in color.

It is best to do this road trip in late September and early October. Don’t miss the town of Kent, called one of the finest towns for foliage in all of New England.

Hiking, kayaking, fishing, and antiquing are popular activities in the hills, but it has also recently become something of a foodie destination, so bring your appetite.

READ NEXT  Hidden Gems in New England: 10 Secret Places to Visit

The Berkshires, Massachusetts

In Western Massachusetts, you’ll find the Berkshires, an area that bears some similarities to the Litchfield Hills and abounds in art and culture. There are opportunities for picking fresh apples, plus a wide array of harvest festivals and fall celebrations.

Fall seems to be beloved by Berkshires residents and visitors alike.

Hiking is popular here. The mountains never seem too high, and you can capture breathtaking scenes with only a short walk. The foliage routes are also home to antique stores and other small shops where you can stop and search for trinkets.

Gorgeous homes are also a lovely site; a particularly good spot to see them is the stately town of Lenox. Why not climb aboard for a horse-drawn carriage ride? Relics of amazing history abound throughout the Berkshire region in every season, but they are especially beautiful in fall.


9 thoughts on “Fall in New England: The Best Towns, Orchards, Farms, Foliage, & Festivals”

  1. We are planning a fall trip starting October 12. Do you think the fall festivals will still go on with the virus still active? Are they talking about quarantine visitors to the state? Love all the ideas you have put in your article. We are focusing on Rhode Island and Vermont. Do you have any restaurant recommendations? Thanks for your help. Janie Britton.

    Reply
  2. If your going to Vermont, right now they are making you quarantine for 14 days. Wanted to take in the fall in Stowe, but I guess not at the time….

    Reply
    • Hi Susan! Sorry I missed this comment. Yes, I’m not sure the current situation re: COVID in Vermont. Hoping if you don’t get there this year you will next!

      Reply
    • It’s mostly honor system. We’re in an RV traveling around New England right now. Haven’t run into any problems. There are signs when you cross into VT to check their website for info on their current guidelines. It’s really not enforced though, and things in the surrounding states have eased up as well as many travel restrictions and quarantine regulations no longer in effect.

      Reply

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