Are you looking for the best of New England in the fall? As New England is where we call home, I can tell you few places are as breathtaking as this region in the United States during the autumn months.
In fact, many people come from around the world to New England in the fall for tours, towns, foliage, and festivals. Many movies are filmed here, showcasing what these states have to offer. And one of our favorite things to do on the weekends is to take day trips in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, as they are so special this time of year.
New England in the Fall – there's no place like it! If you haven't experienced it yet, it should be your fall trip this year. A fall road trip to embrace the New England landscape, including stone walls and quaint towns, is so special this time of year. It's sure to include stops season at roadside stands, markets, orchards, festivals, and other seasonal activities.
If you're looking for the best things to do in the fall in addition to viewing the beautiful New England fall foliage, this post is for you!
This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a commission at no cost to you should you make a purchase using this link. See my disclosures. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids
About New England In The Fall
New England has some of the most beautiful fall foliage in the world that is a gorgeous backdrop for the quaint New England towns.
From Northern Maine down to Connecticut, you'll find fun festivals and plenty of orchards that are common to the locals but a completely new experience for many visitors. In fact a New York to Maine road trip would be an idyllic way to enjoy New England in the fall.
The kids will love picking apples, playing fun games at festivals, and eating delicious treats. And places like Acadia National Park and White Mountain National Forest are great places to see the gorgeous, unique New England scenery.
Why Visit New England In The Fall
Fall is pretty in many places in the U.S., but in New England, you can go leaf-peeping like no other place. While you can see New England fall foliage in early Autumn, sometimes as early as September, Mid October is really one of the best times to visit for the most range of color. It does depend on the year though.
If your family loves outdoor adventures, you can go hiking in one of the national parks or see the sights at local ski resorts.
Of course, taking a leisure drive or road trip is nice too.
And the fall treats are amazing. New England has it all – fall colors, apple cider, cider donuts, pumpkin patches, pumpkin-flavored snacks and drinks, and maple syrup.
Each picturesque New England town is unique, like Mystic Seaport, CT, Bar Harbor, ME, Newport, RI, and many more. And New England has around 200 covered bridges, so make sure you add a few to your itinerary.
The nice thing is you can cover multiple states on a family vacation or long weekend. And many of the fun activities are free or inexpensive, making a trip like this quite affordable.
We also love that you can see a range of scenery from mountains to farms to a national park or the coast.
What is the Best Time to Visit New England for the Fall?
The best time to visit New England to see fall foliage is late September through early October. The exact dates will vary from state to state, and the leaves start changing first in the Northeast, with the South following close behind.
What Is New England Like In The Fall?
The days are still warm in mid-September, while the nights are cool. The changing leaves make it one of the best times to visit New England because of the amazing scenery. It begins in late September, making it one of the most popular fall vacation destinations each year.
Top Things To Do In New England In The Fall With Kids by State
Here's a look at the best things to do in New England in the fall by state.
Connecticut is home to New London and the U.S. Navy's first submarine base. This small town is also known as “the Submarine Capital of the World.”
It's also where the movie Mystic Pizza was filmed in Mystic Seaport, a neat New England village right on the water. Plus, you'll find many fun fall activities.
Take a Trolly Ride to a Pumpkin Patch
You'll definitely want to add the Connecticut Trolley Museum to your list. Located in East Windsor, the kids will love an afternoon trolley ride to visit the pumpkin patch.
“REAL” Stars Hollow in Kent, Connecticut
If you love the TV show the Gilmore Girls, you won't want to miss a visit to Stars Hollow. The charming community of Washington inspired the Gilmore Girls show and is known as “Real” Stars Hollow though you won't find that on any state map.
The fictional town of Stars Hollow is a popular place to visit and a great example of small-town America/
Take a Riverboat Foliage Cruise on the Connecticut River
River Quest offers fun fall foliage cruises on the Connecticut River that you don't want to miss. You can take a small cooler for lunch and take in the stunning views of historical sights, wildlife, and colorful leaves at peak foliage.
Go Apple Picking at Belltown Hill Orchards
A visit to his orchard is the perfect activity for a family outing in South Glastonbury. You can ride around the farm in an authentic wagon and pick apples from Belltown Hill Orchard's 24 varieties.
Apple Picking at Easy Picken's Orchard
This orchard offers more fall family fun with a variety of activities such as:
- Wagon rides
- A gourd hunt
- Apple picking
- Make your own scarecrow
It's a great place to visit one fall afternoon in early October to mid-October before Halloween.
Stamford Museum's Harvest Festival
If you're planning an early November trip to New England, you can visit the Stamford Museum Harvest Festival. There are many fun family activities, like a costume parade, face painting, live music, an apple slingshot, apple cider pressing, and more.
Here are some Connecticut lodging options if you want to time your trip later in the fall when peak foliage is happening in Connecticut and neighboring states.
New England In The Fall: Connecticut Towns and Villages
You may also want to add some of Connecticut's historic towns and villages to your itinerary, such as:
- Mystic Seaport is an authentic historic seaport.
- The Town of Chester, settled in 1692, is a beautiful rural town with historic beginnings.
- Litchfield Hills consists of 21 different communities with waterfalls and scenery that would make great postcards. There are state parks with waterfalls in Litchfield Hills and many other kid-friendly activities. For a long road trip to see the best of Connecticut's fall foliage, take the Litchfield Hills ramble, a 100 mile road trip beginning and ending in Torrington, in the Northwest part of the state.
- Greenwich is one of the oldest towns in the state, with stunning coastal views.
- Milford is another pretty coastal town where you can stroll the beaches, go sailing or fishing, and do other fun activities.
- Old Saybrook is another one of Connecticut's oldest towns where you can visit many cultural and historical New England sites.
- Westport is located along the Long Island Sound with a neat downtown full of restaurants and shops.
Maine is one of my family's favorite places to visit in the Northeast.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is a great place to hike and see some of the most beautiful scenery in New England. Located close to Bar Harbor, you can see the highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic in the U.S.
It's one of the ten most popular national parks in the United States and the perfect place to view the fall foliage.
You can also go hiking in Baxter State Park and Nahmakanta Public Reserved Land in Maine.
Go On a Moose Safari at Moosehead Lake
While you're in New England, consider going on a moose safari at Moosehead Lake. Maine is one of the few places in the U.S. you can see moose.
Moosehead Lake is the perfect place to enjoy the solitude that moose love. You can even take a guided safari where people take professionally guided tours all four seasons.
Apple Picking on One of Maine's Apple Orchards
You can't visit New England in the fall without taking the kids apple picking.
Boothby's Orchard is a charming family farm and a perfect afternoon outing with children. You can go on wagon rides and pick apples, and they even have wine tasting for the adults.
Brackett Orchards is the perfect example of a picturesque New England orchard with pumpkin and apple picking as well as wagon rides. There's also a train to ride that the kids will love.
OgunquitFest happens at the height of leaf-peeping in Maine from October 21 – 23 in the beautiful coastal town of Ogunquit, Maine. It includes a classic car show, a giant craft fair, and many activities for kids.
The festival also includes Halloween-themed events like trick or treating, a costume parade, a haunted theater, pumpkin carving, and more. There's even a high-heel race.
Every October, Acadia's Oktoberfest happens at Archie's Lobster in Bar Harbor. It includes wine tasting and activities centered around beer that the whole family can enjoy.
You can play beer pong and join the keg toss while the kids can visit the alpacas, take wagon rides, and get their faces painted.
New England In The Fall: Maine Towns and Villages
- Kennebunkport, Maine is located on the coast with picturesque views, and it's known for its local craft shops and charming boutiques.
- Portland is home to some of the state's most beautiful lighthouses and a mixture of outdoor activities and amazing restaurants.
- Rockport is another gorgeous seaside town where you can eat fresh seafood while viewing the fishing boats and schooners and hike nearby trails.
- Bar Harbor is one of our favorite small Maine towns with a seaside ambiance, and it's the gateway to Acadia National Park.
- Mount Desert Island is the largest island off the coast of Maine, and it is glorious during the fall, with vibrant foliage in a coastal Maine setting.
- Ogunquit got its name from the Abenaki tribe and means “beautiful place by the sea.” From a quaint fishing village to a busy tourist attraction, this gorgeous coastal Maine town is full of New England seaside charm.
Massachusetts is the most populated state in New England and is best known for Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox, the Freedom Trail, and Quincy Market. There are plenty of things to do in Boston with kids and the many other beautiful locations in the state.
Apple Picking at Honey Pot Hill Orchards
This 186-acre orchard is located in Stow, Massachusetts, with apples, blueberries, peaches, and other crops. It makes a fun stop one afternoon for apple picking.
Apple Picking at Lookout Farm
You can also go apple picking one afternoon at Lookout Farm, where they have live music and activities at the brewery. They grow 29 varieties of apples, as well as peaches, Asian pears, nectarines, pumpkins, and many other crops you can choose from.
Hike the Berkshire’s Stunning Fall Foliage Views
There's no better way to see the changing leaves than a hike in the Berkshires. Enjoy the solitude in these quiet hills and enjoy woodland scenery unique to New England and the east coast national parks.
Salem Museum and Witch Trials
No other place has a history like Salem, Massachusetts, home to the famous Salem Witch Trials in the 1600s. Visit the museum, and if you go in October, you can join in the Halloween and Haunted Happenings Activities.
Visit a Cape Cod Cranberry Bog
Cape Cod and Southeast Massachusetts are known for their cranberry bogs that are rich in history. Some vines in the area are over 150 years old, and even the Pilgrims served them at Thanksgiving.
Plimoth Pawtuxet and Plymouth Rock
No trip to New England would be complete without a visit to the Plimoth Plantation and Museums that bring the Pilgrims' 17th-century village to light. The kids can have fun learning about the history of the area while you dine in places inspired by history with beautiful ocean views.
Visit the Corn Maze at Davis Farmland
Have some fall fun in the world's largest corn maze encompassing more than eight acres. This maze has several fun games, and there’s a seasonal fall festival with tasty food, wine, craft beer, live music, and more.
The Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival
The Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival is on October 8-9 this year and is the perfect way to celebrate a New England fall in the Berkshires. The kids will love the:
- Sword performances
- Sand art
- Haunted house
- Hay jump
- Pete and Molly, the goats
And much more.
Martha's Vineyard Food & Wine Festival
The Martha's Vineyard food festival occurs every October over four days and is the perfect place to experience the best food and wine the island has to offer. You'll get to meet the artisans, farms, oyster producers, and local culinary leaders for the ultimate food and wine experience.
The event didn't occur in 2021, so check this website to see if they're having it this year.
New England In The Fall: Massachusetts Towns and Villages
- Cape Cod is the quintessential New England location with colorful clam shacks, peaceful beaches, bike trails, and many more things to do. Take a day trip to the tip of Cape Cod to the beautiful town of Province town, and enjoy the fall colors and weather on the cost with a stroll on Commercial Street.
- Plymouth is best known as the coastal town settled by the Pilgrims with historical places to see and pretty, colorful cranberry farms.
- Salem, made infamous by the Salem Witch Trials, has historic locations you can visit and learn more about the sad history and curse of Salem.
- Concord is another stunning Massachusetts town best known for the American Revolutionary War sites located in Minute Man National Historical Park.
- Located in the Berkshires, Lenox is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the site of Shakespeare & Company.
- Lexington was where the first shot in the Revolutionary War was fired and is rich in history from that time period.
- North Adams is another New England town in the fall to visit located in Western Massachusetts in the Berkshires. It's a great place to enjoy a vibrant foliage parade and fresh pressed cider at the Berkshires Cider Project or Hilltop Orchids.
- Boston is the hub of Massachusetts and well worth seeing in the fall. Enjoy the Freedom Trail, Beacon Hill, Duck Boat tours, historic sites, and extraordinary dining in this fantastic city.
The lovely state of New Hampshire is best known for its grand granite formations and quarries. It also has three other nicknames – Switzerland of America, Mother of River, and the White Mountain state.
The White Mountains are best known for their cultural and historical charm as well as a great place to see the fall foliage and other activities. If you take a road trip through New Hampshire to enjoy the New England fall, then be sure to include a ride on New Hampshire's Kancamagus highway for breathtaking mountain views.
New Hampshire is also home to some of the best ski resorts for families, like Loon Mountain and Bretton Woods Ski Resort. And New Hampshire's lakes region can't be beaten. In fact, it is our family's FAVORITE New England state.
The crystal clear waters of Lake Winnipesaukee is one of the most known and beautiful in the country. From Southern New Hampshire to the northern part of the state, it is also dotted with quaint towns, rolling hills, lush foliage, and country stores, and it is a great place to enjoy fall.
Franconia Notch State Park
This state park is located in the center of the White Mountain National Forest. Franconia Notch State Park has gorgeous scenery, and the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway is the perfect place to view the changing leaves from up high.
Mount Washington Cog Railway
The Mount Washington Cog Railway was the world's first railroad that climbed a mountain. This three-hour trip takes you on an adventure through history and nature and is the perfect place to view the changing trees. This area is near Bretton Woods, one of favorite ski resorts in New England.
Drive Kancamagus Highway
You don't want to miss a scenic drive on the Kancamagus Highway, where you can see the stunning changing foliage up close. This highway runs between Lincoln and Conway and is one of the most popular scenic drives in New England, with scenic areas, historic sites, and a covered bridge.
Apple Picking at Mack's Apples
Mack's Apples at Apple Crest Farm in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, is a great afternoon stop where you can visit the farmers market and go apple picking. This farm is one of the largest and oldest apple orchards in the state.
Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad
Add a ride on the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad to your itinerary for fall foliage views from a unique vantage point. The railway dates back to 1848 and offers a one or two-hour train ride along the western shore of New Hampshire's largest lake.
Eat Pancakes at Polly's Pancake Parlor
Make sure you eat breakfast at Polly's Pancake Parlor, where they've been making pancakes from scratch with New Hampshire maple syrup for more than 80 years. You can even bring some of their famous pancake mix home with you.
Visit Stone Brook Hill Farm
Stone Brook Hill Farm in Gilford, New Hampshire, is another great location for apple picking in the fall. This orchard has a hayride for the kids and a farm stand with apple cake, pumpkins, mums, and more.
The Deerfield Fair celebrates the rich agricultural history of Deerfield usually between September to October. (2023 dates are yet to be confirmed). It's your typical county or town fair with baked goods, a pig scramble, live music, alpaca shows, and other fun family activities everyone will enjoy.
Warner Fall Foliage Festival
The 73rd Annual Warner Fall Foliage Festival is on October 8 – 9 this year. Celebrate the changing leaves with wine tastings, crafts, great food, and family activities in Warner, New Hampshire.
Here are some other fun New Hampshire fall festivals.
New England In The Fall: New Hampshire Towns and Villages
- North Conway is best known for being the all-inclusive stop for the White Mountains, with plenty of outdoor activities for the whole family.
- Wolfboro is a small town with stunning views of the famous Lake Winnipesaukee and has museums and outdoor activities everyone in your family will love.
- Mill Falls is also located on Lake Winnipesaukee with charming lakeside inns and hotels and a restored 19th-century mill.
- Lincoln is best known for its stunning natural landscapes, prime skiing, and beautiful fall foliage.
- Bretton Woods is surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest with epic views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range, which makes it a prime location for leaf-peeping. The Mount Washington Omni is a National historic landmark, and very important hotel in our nation's history.
- Sugar Hill is New Hampshire's newest town, having been incorporated in 1962. Get flavors of fall with pumpkin pancakes and maple syrup at Polly's Pancake Parlor and enjoy the colorful foliage during the Autumn Celebration and large open air market in this town in the White Mountains.
Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the United States, but it's one of the prettiest and most famous for its fine jewelry and silverware. It's home to the gorgeous Newport Mansions, and you can actually tour some.
Don't miss the 3.5-mile Newport Cliff Walk along the mansions.
Jack'o'Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo
This fun event in Providence, Rhode Island, occurs usually from September through to October (exact 2023 dates are yet to be communicated). It celebrates the best music over the last 150 years that you can listen to while you walk past the thousands of carved pumpkins while visiting the animals.
Saddle Up at Sunset Stables
While you're visiting Rhode Island, consider horseback riding at Sunset Stables in Lincoln. The whole family can enjoy horseback lessons, and trail rides through beautiful Lincoln Park.
Visit Young Family Farm
Located in Little Compton, this neat family farm is perfect for picking your own fruits. They used to have an Apple Festival each October with hay rides, live music, and pumpkin picking. I'm not sure they have it anymore since COVID; you may want to check.
Enjoy Smith's Castle Harvest Festival
Smith's Castle is the first English house built in the area in 1637, so its rich history goes back hundreds of years.
This festival actually occurs on September 11th, so it's right before the leaves change. However, if you plan on being in the area, this festival has live music, apple crisps, and docents in period costumes giving tours of the castle.
There's also a pie-eating contest, a chance to meet local historians, wool spinning lessons, and more.
New England In The Fall: Rhode Island Towns and Villages
- Providence is home to Brown University, with beautiful historic 18th and 19th-century homes lining the streets.
- Block Island is another place you don't want to miss with the famous and haunted Southeast Lighthouse and popular beaches like Crescent Beach. There are many things to do in Block Island on a day trip.
- Newport has the famous Gilded Age mansions and hosted America's Cup, the popular annual sailing regatta, for a long time.
Picturesque Vermont is known for some of the best cheddar cheese in the country, maple syrup, and over 100 covered wooden bridges. It's one of the best New England states to enjoy the best of New England Fall foliage tours. Vermont also has thousands of mountain acres lined with ski resorts and hiking trails.
Visit Some of the Many Covered Bridges
If you're planning a vacation in Vermont, be sure to add some of the New England traditional covered bridges to your list of things to do. They offer stunning scenery for pictures and a glimpse at state history.
Leaf-Peeping by Chairlift
There's no better way to take in the views of the changing leaves than by chairlift. Six of the most popular ones in Vermont include:
- Mount Snow
- Stowe Mountain Resort
- Okemo Mountain Resort
- Stratton Mountain Resort
- Sugarbush Resort
- Mad River Valley
- Killington Resort
Hiking in Vermont
Vermont is one of the best places to get up close and personal with nature so you can see the brilliant fall foliage of a New England autumn in the green mountains. From Northern Vermont to the southern tip, you can't go wrong visiting this state (one of our favorites.) Some of the best hikes to take with the family include:
- Sterling Pond Trail – Smugglers Notch
- Mount Hunger – Waterbury Center
- Mount Philo – Charlotte
- Libby's Outlook – West Bolton
- Stowe Pinnacle – Stowe
- Quechee Gorge – Quechee State Park
Apple Picking at Billings Farm
Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock is located in the center of the village and is one of the best outdoor history museums in America. It's an operating Jersey dairy farm with fun interactive programs and exhibits for the whole family. And, kids will love saying hello to the farm animals.
Apple Picking at Boyers Orchard and Cider Mill
I don't know about you, but I love apple cider, and there is nothing better than getting it right from the source. Here you can pick your own apples and sample a variety of hard ciders and wines.
Stratford Mountain Resort hosts a fall festival for a few days in October (exact 2023 dates are not yet out), where you can enjoy scenic lift rides to see peak fall foliage, eat yummy food, and more. The chairlifts provide 360-degree views of Stratton Mountain in brilliant fall colors.
Vermont Wine & Harvest Festival
If you plan on visiting New England during the last week of September, you'll love this festival that celebrates all things fall at Mount Snow. Mount Snow is another place to see the leaves change from a chairlift, and you'll love shopping for the finest Vermont goods and food.
Mount Snow Oktoberfest
Every October around the 9th, Mount Snow hosts the annual Oktoberfest that celebrates all things German and fall. Stop in to enjoy German and domestic beer, schnitzel, the yodeling contest, and keg toss.
Quechee State Park
The Quechee State Park is not just a great place to hike; it's a glimpse of the history of the area where you can learn about the first woolen mill here. There are places to camp and picnic right in the center of the changing leaves. And there are antique shops worth peeping in as well.
New England In The Fall: Vermont Towns and Villages
- Burlington sets on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain just south of the Canadian border and has the former home of Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen. It is one of the most beautiful Northern Vermont towns, and one of the best too see in New England.
- Moretown is home to the Mad River Valley, best known for the many outdoor activities like skiing, biking, kayaking, hiking, canoeing, and more.
- Stowe has all the charm of a small town with epic views and brilliant autumn colors as the leaves change.
- Woodstock is another quaint historic New England town known for its year-round outdoor recreation, good food, and fun, family-friendly events
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best New England states to visit in the fall?
As you can see from this post, all of the New England states have something to offer in the fall. My personal opinion of the best New England states to visit in the fall are Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
Vermont has some of the most brilliant fall foliage colors and many ski resorts with fall festivals where you can see colors from above. And, I love the quaint town of Woodstock that looks like something out of a magazine.
New Hampshire has the gorgeous Kancamagus Highway, that's perfect for a fall foliage tour by car. Massachusetts offers you Boston in the fall, which is glorious this time of year. You can also visit Salem and Plymouth, two towns that celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving like no other.
What is the best time to visit New England for the fall?
September through November is the best time to visit New England for the fall. The peak leaf season is usually late September through mid to late October. Though each year is a bit different. If you visit in October, you will be likely to see the most colors, especially in the middle of the month.
What is the best way to see New England in the fall?
Our family thinks going to the ski resorts in Vermont is one of the best ways to see New England in the fall, as you can take in fall festivals, fall treats, and tour the colors by chairlift. Following this, a fall foliage tour or road trip is another way to see the glorious colors. We also love pumpkin picking and apple picking as a wonderful way to see New England in the fall.
What are the best months to visit New England?
New England has four distinct seasons. Our family loves New England in the fall and the summer because it's a great time to visit Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. If you are a skier, New England in winter is wonderful. If you are not a ski family, then, this time of year may not be so appealing as it can be very cold. Our springs are a bit unpredictable, so it isn't the best month to visit New England. I recommend June through November as the best months to visit New England.
Final Thoughts on New England in the Fall
Now you know why I love the fall in New England. It's truly beautiful, and you really can't appreciate it until you see it for yourself. There are plenty of fall festivals, outdoor activities, and other family-friendly things to do.
If you're looking for a fall vacation destination, you should consider taking a trip to New England. The scenery is beautiful, the food is delicious, and the whole family will love it.