Traveling in 2021? Please check with each state/destination for its current COVID-19 guidelines, as these are constantly changing and the most accurate, up-to-date information may not be reflected here.
Where is the magical place that everyone wants to be in the autumn? It is New England, of course.
With the best fall foliage in the nation (and perhaps in the world), New England is completely MADE for the season. Every fall activity you could dream of can be found here in abundance: apple picking, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, leaf peeping, harvest festivals, and so much more.
But where in New England can you have the ultimate fall experience? We’ve selected 6 charming, delightful towns in New England that are absolutely idyllic in the fall.
With a backdrop of vibrant foliage and signature New England charm, here are 6 wonderful places to visit this fall. (Or any time of year!)
6 New England Towns to Visit in the Fall for Autumn Magic
Manchester is one of the best places to experience fall in New England, and it especially convenient if you’re traveling up from points south.
Located in the southwest corner of Vermont, Manchester is such a lovely area; perfectly quaint and quiet, yet with plenty of shopping and activity. Interestingly, the foliage here often is really vibrant, sometimes peaking earlier and brighter than points north.
Some of the highlights of the Manchester area include driving up or hiking Mount Equinox (beautiful autumn views), visiting Hildene, the Lincoln family mansion, and shopping at Manchester’s luxury outlets.
In terms of fall activities, you can’t go wrong with the Equinox Valley Nursery, home to a pumpkin patch, corn maze, and gift shop, plus the best apple cider donuts for miles around.
Also make time to visit the nearby village of Dorset, which always displays a plethora of pumpkins and fall decor on their village green.
Bar Harbor, 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.
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. Doesn’t a fall-inspired meal on the coast of Maine sound amazing?
You can also head out on the water for a scenic cruise, and of course, don’t miss the Bass Harbor Head Light. Read all the best things to do in Acadia here.
Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor are likely to be somewhat 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.
There may be no better fall spot than the classic Halloween destination of Salem, Massachusetts. As the site of the 1692 witch trials, Salem has a certain degree of infamy with its dark, tragic past. Yet residents have embraced its identity and today the witches rule. This spooky, eclectic town attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and especially in the month of October, which is the time of Haunted Happenings, the town’s annual Halloween celebration.
Filled with history and lore, a visit to Salem will keep you busy. There are museums, exhibits, historic sites, guided tours (ghost tours, too!), and other notable spots. Consider reading up on the witch trials before visiting, as this will help you better understand the dark events of the town’s past.
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. Prefer movie witches? Check out all of the Hocus Pocus filming locations around Salem.
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.
North Conway, New Hampshire
New Hampshire is excellent for foliage, filled with classic New England towns like Jackson and Sugar Hill. These are both just a hop, skip, and jump from the more populated places such as North Conway and Lincoln, which have everything you need for a fun vacation.
There is plenty to do in North Conway throughout the year, but the #1 activity has to be road-tripping along the scenic Kancamagus Highway, which winds through the White Mountain National Forest. You’ll have incredible views throughout the journey.
While Connecticut is the most southern New England state, it still boasts glorious fall foliage and photogenic scenes. As an added bonus, Connecticut claims to have the longest foliage season of all six states, so you’ve got more flexibility when it comes to planning a fall adventure.
Kent is found in the Litchfield Hills, a highly recommended spot. All the trappings of a quaint New England experience are to be found here, including covered bridges, small villages, and sparkling lakes. Hiking, kayaking, fishing, and antiquing are other popular activities in the hills, and it has also recently become something of a foodie destination, so bring your appetite.
Want a scenic fall drive? Consider embarking on the 100-mile route known as the Litchfield Hills Ramble, which runs from Torrington through Litchfield.
In Kent proper, you’ll find waterfalls, hiking trails, and a few really unique museums and shops—all worth a visit.
One of the most beautiful places in all of New England is the village of Stowe, Vermont. Nestled in a valley surrounded by Vermont’s Green Mountains, Stowe is a prime destination for viewing 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 to mid-October, but depending on the conditions each year, this could vary slightly.
With its white-steepled church, Stowe presents a picture-perfect Main Street and downtown area. Check out the general store, the 50’s style diner, and lots of other hidden gems right along the main street. photo opportunity.
Many come to Stowe 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. It is an especially popular winter destination due to its nearby skiing (at Stowe Mountain Resort and Smugglers Notch) and other winter activities.
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!
You might also like:
Amy is the founder of New England with love. A proud Vermonter, she hopes to share her love of New England and help you find the best adventures in the region. Amy is also blogger/founder at Two Drifters, where she writes alongside her husband about romantic and couples travel, relationships, honeymoons, and more. When not working on websites, Amy is probably reading, cuddling with her husband and cats, & drinking a maple latte.