10 Fall Foliage Weekend Getaways in New England

Fall in New England is a magical time, transforming the landscape into a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors. From the coastal charm of Maine to the mountainous beauty of Vermont, the region offers countless opportunities to witness this natural spectacle.

Whether you’re a seasoned leaf-peeper or planning your first fall foliage trip, this guide will take you through the 10 best spots in New England, complete with tips, details, and personal experiences.

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Before we dive into the 10 best places there is some useful tips for the conditions and weekend crowds we’d like to share with you:

Fall Foliage Conditions | Monthly Overview

Brunswick, Maine in mid-October

New England’s fall foliage is a breathtaking spectacle that paints the landscape with vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow.

The best time to witness this stunning display is typically from mid-September to mid-October, but the exact timing can vary depending on the weather and location. Let’s dive into the details of when and where to catch the fall colors at their best:

Early September:

  • Vermont’s Green Mountains and Northeast Kingdom: The foliage season starts early here, with the peak usually occurring between September 15 and September 22. The entire color spectrum of green, yellow, red, and orange can be seen.
  • Not a Time for Fall Foliage: In many other regions, it might still be too early for the fall colors.


  • Vermont: Home to 75% of the land covered by wilderness and more maple trees than anywhere else, the yellows, oranges, and reds are brighter than ever on nearly every road.
  • Wisconsin: Trees begin changing in mid-September, reaching their peak around the end of the month or beginning of October.
  • Northern Maine: Usually at or near its peak by the last week of September.

Late September:

  • Northern Reaches of New England: The colors change more rapidly in colder climates and at higher elevations. Places like Burlington, Vermont, and surrounding areas are at their best.
  • Central Wisconsin: Colors typically peak a week after northern regions.

Early to Mid-October:

  • Peak Window: This is often considered the ‘peak’ time for New England’s autumn, with vibrant hues stretching all the way to the coast.
  • Southern Wisconsin: Colors peak around mid-October.
  • Maine’s Central and Western Mountains: Possible peak during Indigenous Peoples’ Day week/weekend.

Late October to Early November:

  • Southern New England: Coastal and southern parts of Maine typically reach their peak or near peak conditions.
  • Late Bloomers: Some areas might still be basking in fiery colors, while others look towards winter.

Fall in New England is a combination of cooler temperatures and changing leaves, with each region offering a unique experience. Whether you’re exploring the wilderness of Vermont or the coastal beauty of Maine, the fall season provides a picturesque backdrop for outdoor adventures and scenic drives.

Remember, the leaves change colors more rapidly in colder climates and at higher elevations, so plan your trip accordingly. And don’t forget to book accommodations early, as leaf-peeping is a popular activity that attracts visitors from all over.

With this comprehensive guide, you’re ready to embark on a memorable journey through New England’s fall foliage. Enjoy the colors! 🍂

Weekend Tips and Crowds

Another way to escape crowds: The strenuous Beehive Loop in Acadia National Park

New England’s fall foliage destinations are perfect for weekend getaways. Imagine spending a weekend surrounded by the vibrant colors of autumn, exploring scenic trails, and enjoying cozy evenings by the fire.

It’s a dream come true for nature lovers and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. Here’s why these destinations make for ideal weekend escapes:

  • Diverse Experiences: From the wilderness of Vermont to the coastal charm of Maine, each destination offers unique experiences. Whether you’re into hiking, photography, or simply enjoying a scenic drive, there’s something for everyone.
  • Accessibility: Many of these locations are within a short drive from major cities, making them convenient for a quick weekend trip. You can leave on a Friday evening and return on Sunday, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
  • Affordable Accommodations: You’ll find a range of accommodation options, from quaint bed-and-breakfasts to comfortable cabins. Spending a night allows you to start your Sunday early and make the most of your weekend.
  • Seasonal Activities: Fall is not just about the colors; it’s also a time for apple picking, pumpkin patches, and seasonal festivals. These activities add a special touch to your weekend getaway.

However, it’s not all smooth sailing. Weekends during the fall foliage season can be crowded, especially in popular destinations. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Busy Parking Lots: With many people flocking to see the fall colors, parking lots can fill up quickly. Arriving early or choosing less popular spots can help you avoid this hassle.
  • Crowded Trails: If hiking is on your agenda, be prepared for crowded trails. Again, starting early or exploring lesser-known paths can provide a more peaceful experience. For avid hikers: the best way to avoid crowds is to hit the difficult trails (see the photo above)
  • Accommodation Availability: Since weekends are peak times, accommodations might get booked quickly. It’s essential to plan ahead and secure your stay in advance.
Acadia National Park gets busier on the weekends in fall

If you’re planning a weekend getaway to enjoy New England’s fall foliage, spending two nights is the way to go. Here’s why this approach can make your trip even more enjoyable:

  • Friday to Sunday Stay: By arriving on Friday evening and staying until Sunday, you give yourself ample time to explore and soak in the beauty of the region. This two-night stay allows you to have a full day on Saturday without the pressure of travel, and you can start early on Sunday to beat the crowds.
  • Saturday to Sunday Option: If you can’t make it on Friday, even spending Saturday night can make a significant difference. Arriving on Saturday morning and staying overnight enables you to have an early start on Sunday, avoiding the late morning and afternoon rush.
  • Avoiding Crowds: The weekends can be bustling with visitors, leading to crowded trails and busy parking lots. By spending a night or two, you can choose to explore during off-peak hours, such as early mornings or late afternoons, providing a more serene experience.
  • More Exploration Time: Spending two nights gives you the flexibility to explore multiple locations, try different activities, and truly immerse yourself in the fall scenery. You won’t feel rushed, and you’ll have the opportunity to discover hidden gems.
  • Enhanced Experience: Staying overnight in a cozy cabin or a charming bed-and-breakfast adds to the autumn ambiance. Imagine waking up to a crisp fall morning, sipping hot cider, and stepping out to a landscape painted with fall colors.
  • Strategic Planning: Booking accommodations in a central location can serve as a base for exploring various destinations. This strategy allows you to make the most of your weekend without spending too much time on the road.

In summary, spending two nights, whether from Friday to Sunday or at least from Saturday to Sunday, enhances your weekend getaway in New England’s fall foliage destinations. It provides a more relaxed and enriching experience, allowing you to connect with nature and enjoy the seasonal beauty without the stress of crowds.

Plan ahead, book your stay, and get ready for a memorable autumn adventure!

Now, let’s explore the 10 best places, each with its unique charm and beauty!

1. Stowe, Vermont

  • Fall Foliage Rating: Exceptional
  • Best Time: Mid-October
  • Google Maps Location: Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is a picturesque town nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Known for its stunning fall foliage, it offers breathtaking views of the colorful landscape.

I visited Stowe last fall and was mesmerized by the vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow that adorned the mountains. The town itself is charming, with a classic New England feel, and it’s easily accessible by car via Route 100.

Things to Do:

  • Drive the Scenic Route 100: This road offers incredible views of the fall colors. It’s a leisurely drive that takes you through the heart of Vermont’s foliage country. The route is well-marked, and there are plenty of spots to pull over and take photos.
  • Hike the Pinnacle Trail: A moderate hike that rewards you with panoramic views. The trailhead is just outside of town, and the hike takes about 2 hours round trip. The view from the top is worth every step.
  • Visit Smugglers’ Notch State Park: Explore the park’s trails and enjoy the vibrant foliage. Located just a short drive from Stowe, the park offers hiking, picnicking, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring a camera; the photo opportunities are endless!

Where to Stay: Stowe offers a range of accommodations from cozy bed and breakfasts to luxurious resorts. Whether you prefer a rustic cabin or a modern hotel, you’ll find something to suit your taste.

2. Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park is a gem of the East Coast, especially during fall. The park’s diverse landscape, from mountains to coastline, provides a unique backdrop for the fall colors.

I’ve been to Acadia several times, and each visit feels like a new experience. The combination of sea and foliage creates a tranquil and picturesque setting. Located near Bar Harbor, the park is accessible.

Things to Do:

  • Drive the Park Loop Road: A scenic drive that takes you through the best spots in the park. The 27-mile loop offers views of mountains, forests, and the ocean. There are numerous pull-offs for photos, and the road is well-maintained.
  • Hike the Cadillac Mountain: Witness the sunrise along with the fall colors. The trail is moderately challenging but offers an unforgettable view. It’s a popular spot, so arrive early to find parking.
  • Explore Jordan Pond: A serene spot perfect for a leisurely walk or picnic. The pond is surrounded by colorful trees, and the nearby Jordan Pond House offers delicious popovers.

Tip: Plan to spend at least a full day in the park to truly enjoy all it has to offer.

Where to Stay: Nearby Bar Harbor offers a variety of lodging options, from quaint inns to larger hotels. Camping is also available within the park for a more immersive experience.

3. White Mountains, New Hampshire

New Hampshire, White Mountains: Scenic view from the Kancamagus Highway

The White Mountains of New Hampshire are a must-visit for any fall foliage enthusiast. The rugged mountain landscape provides a dramatic backdrop for the vibrant colors of autumn.

I spent a weekend here last year, and the beauty of the area left me speechless. From scenic drives to challenging hikes, the White Mountains offer something for every traveler. The region is accessible via I-93 and Route 16.

Things to Do:

  • Drive the Kancamagus Highway: Known as the “Kanc,” this scenic byway offers some of the best foliage views in New England. The 34-mile drive is filled with overlooks, hiking trails, and waterfalls. Stop at Sabbaday Falls for a short hike to a beautiful waterfall.
  • Hike Mount Washington: For the adventurous, a hike up Mount Washington provides stunning views. The trail is challenging, but the view from the summit is unparalleled. Be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions.
  • Explore Franconia Notch State Park: Home to the famous Flume Gorge, this park offers hiking, biking, and beautiful foliage views. The visitor center provides maps and information to help you plan your visit.

Tip: Dress in layers, as the weather in the mountains can change quickly.

Where to Stay: The White Mountains offer a range of accommodations, from mountain lodges to vacation rentals. Consider staying in a town like North Conway or Lincoln for easy access to the area’s attractions.

4. Berkshires, Massachusetts

Gorgeous autumn foliage in the Berkshires region

Intro: The Berkshires, located in western Massachusetts, offer a cultural twist to the fall foliage experience. The region is known for its art museums, music festivals, and historic sites, all set against a backdrop of stunning fall colors.

I visited the Berkshires during a music festival and was enchanted by the blend of culture and nature. The area is easily accessible via the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90).

Things to Do:

  • Visit MASS MoCA: Explore contemporary art amidst the fall colors. Located in North Adams, this museum offers unique exhibitions and installations. It’s a great way to enjoy art and nature simultaneously.
  • Drive the Mohawk Trail: A historic scenic byway that takes you through the heart of the Berkshires. The 63-mile drive offers views of forests, rivers, and historic sites. Don’t miss the Hairpin Turn for a panoramic view.
  • Explore Stockbridge: A charming town known for the Norman Rockwell Museum. Stroll the streets, enjoy local dining, and take in the fall colors. The town’s classic New England architecture adds to the charm.

Tip: Check the local event calendar; the Berkshires often host festivals and concerts during the fall.

Where to Stay: The Berkshires offer a variety of lodging options, from historic inns to modern hotels. Consider staying in a town like Lenox or Great Barrington for a central location.

5. Coastal Maine Scenic Byways

The Coastal Maine Scenic Byways takes you on a journey through Maine’s picturesque coastal towns and landscapes. The drives offer views of harbors, lighthouses, and, of course, vibrant fall foliage. I drove along coastal Maine with friends, and we were captivated by the blend of sea and foliage. The route is well-marked, and the coastal charm of Maine is evident at every turn.

The byway we drove begins in Kittery and ends in Bucksport:

Places we visited:

  • Kennebunkport: A quintessential coastal town with shops, dining, and beautiful ocean views. The fall colors add to the town’s charm, and it’s a great place to stroll and enjoy the scenery.
  • Portland Head Light: One of Maine’s most iconic lighthouses, located in Cape Elizabeth. The surrounding park offers trails and picnic areas with views of the lighthouse and fall colors.
  • Drove Through Camden Hills State Park: A detour through the park offers hiking and stunning views of Camden Harbor. The park’s auto road provides easy access to the top of Mount Battie, where you can see the foliage and the sea.

Tip: Plan to make frequent stops; the coastal towns along the way are worth exploring.

Where to Stay: Coastal towns along the byway offer a range of accommodations, from seaside inns to vacation rentals.

6. Litchfield Hills, Connecticut

Gorgeous viewing spots along Housatonic River, Litchfield

Litchfield Hills, located in northwestern Connecticut, offers a serene and scenic fall foliage experience. The rolling hills, covered in a blanket of colorful leaves, create a tranquil setting perfect for a weekend getaway.

I spent a relaxing weekend here, exploring the small towns and enjoying the countryside. The area is accessible via Route 8 and offers a blend of nature and culture.

Things to Do:

  • Visit Kent Falls State Park: A beautiful waterfall surrounded by colorful trees. The park offers hiking trails and picnic areas. It’s a peaceful spot to enjoy the fall colors and the sound of cascading water.
  • Explore Litchfield Town: A charming town with a historic center. Stroll the streets, visit the shops, and enjoy the fall ambiance. The town’s architecture adds to the New England charm.
  • Drive the Scenic Roads: Litchfield Hills is crisscrossed with scenic country roads. Enjoy a leisurely drive through the countryside, with stops at local farms and vineyards.

Tip: Consider visiting during a local fall festival for added fun and local flavor.

Where to Stay: Litchfield Hills offers a variety of accommodations, from historic inns to modern hotels. Consider staying in a town like Litchfield or Kent for easy access to the area’s attractions.

7. Green Mountain Byway, Vermont

The Green Mountain Byway is a scenic drive that takes you through the heart of Vermont’s fall foliage. The 220-mile route offers views of mountains, valleys, and charming small towns.

I took this drive with my family, and we were all amazed by the breathtaking beauty of Vermont in the fall. The byway is accessible via Route 100, and it’s a journey that showcases the best of Vermont’s natural beauty.

Things to Do:

  • Visit Stowe: A popular mountain town known for its outdoor activities. In the fall, the town’s trails offer beautiful foliage views. Don’t miss the Stowe Recreation Path for a leisurely walk or bike ride.
  • Explore Smugglers’ Notch State Park: A natural wonder with hiking trails, caves, and stunning views. The park’s narrow road is a thrilling drive, and the fall colors add to the beauty.
  • Take a Gondola Ride at Killington Resort: For a unique view of the foliage, take a gondola ride to the top of Killington Peak. The ride offers a panoramic view of the fall colors and the surrounding mountains.

Tip: Vermont’s weather can be unpredictable; pack layers and be prepared for sudden changes.

Where to Stay: Towns along the byway offer a range of accommodations, from cozy bed and breakfasts to larger hotels. Consider staying in a town like Stowe or Killington for a central location.

8. Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts

Fall foliage along the Mohawk Trail

The Mohawk Trail is a historic route that winds through the northern part of Massachusetts.

It’s a drive that I’ve taken several times, and each time, the beauty of the landscape strikes me. The trail offers a mix of forests, rivers, and small towns, all adorned with the colors of fall. The route is accessible via Route 2, and it’s a drive that captures the essence of New England.

Things to Do:

  • Visit Shelburne Falls, A picturesque village known for the Bridge of Flowers. Walk across the bridge and enjoy the combination of flowers and fall foliage. It’s a unique and charming experience.
  • Explore North Adams: A vibrant town with art galleries, museums, and outdoor activities. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) is a must-visit.
  • Hike Mount Greylock: The highest peak in Massachusetts offers hiking trails with breathtaking views. The summit provides a panoramic view of the surrounding foliage.

Where to Stay: Nearby towns like Greenfield and North Adams offer a variety of accommodations, from motels to charming inns.

9. Mystic, Connecticut

  • Fall Foliage Rating: Lovely
  • Best Time: Late October
  • Google Maps Location: Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic, Connecticut, is a coastal town that offers a different perspective on fall foliage. The blend of sea and colorful leaves creates a unique and enchanting atmosphere.

I visited Mystic on a weekend getaway, and the maritime charm mixed with the fall colors was truly captivating. The town is accessible via I-95 and offers a blend of history, nature, and culture.

Things to Do:

  • Visit Mystic Seaport Museum: Explore maritime history amidst the fall colors. The museum offers historic ships, exhibits, and beautiful views of the Mystic River.
  • Explore Olde Mistick Village: A shopping village designed to resemble a 1720s New England village. Stroll the streets, enjoy local dining, and take in the fall ambiance.
  • Take a River Cruise: Enjoy the fall colors from the water. Several companies offer river cruises that provide a unique view of the foliage.

Tip: Don’t miss the Mystic Aquarium, especially if traveling with kids. It’s a fun addition to the fall foliage experience.

Where to Stay: Mystic offers a range of accommodations, from waterfront hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts.

10. Quechee Gorge, Vermont

  • Fall Foliage Rating: Breathtaking
  • Best Time: Early to Mid-October
  • Google Maps Location: Quechee Gorge, Vermont

Quechee Gorge, known as Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon, is a natural wonder that becomes even more spectacular during the fall. The 165-foot deep gorge offers stunning views of the Ottauquechee River surrounded by vibrant foliage.

I hiked the gorge trail last fall, and the view from the bridge was unforgettable. The gorge is located near the town of Quechee, accessible via US Route 4.

Things to Do:

  • Hike the Gorge Trail: A moderate hike that takes you to the bottom of the gorge. The trail offers different perspectives of the gorge and the surrounding foliage.
  • Visit Quechee State Park: A beautiful park with camping, hiking, and picnicking facilities. The park’s overlook provides a panoramic view of the gorge.
  • Explore Nearby Woodstock: A charming town known for its covered bridges and historic sites. Enjoy a leisurely stroll and experience New England charm.

Tip: The Quechee Gorge Bridge is a popular spot for photography. Arrive early to capture the best light.

Where to Stay: Nearby Woodstock offers a variety of lodging options, from historic inns to vacation rentals.


New England’s fall foliage is a feast for the eyes, and these 10 destinations offer some of the best views and experiences. From scenic drives to coastal charm, each place provides a unique way to enjoy the colors of autumn.

Remember: Always check local forecasts and foliage reports for the most accurate information, as fall color conditions can vary from year to year. Enjoy your trip responsibly and respect the natural beauty of these incredible destinations.

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