The New England Guide to Leaf Peeping
September 22, 2018
Nothing compares to New England in the Fall. While all four seasons are special, New England really puts on it’s best show late September and October when a slight chill is in the air and the leaves turn crimson and gold. I anticipate this change in season all year long. The first brisk morning and the onset of sweater weather, apple picking with family and friends, carving jack-o-lanterns on the kitchen table, bundling up for a local arts & crafts festival, driving around country roads to peep the fall foliage, and stocking up on cider donuts, kettle corn and apple cider are a few traditions that make this time of year remarkable. It’s in the fall that I feel especially lucky to be a New Englander.
Over the years I have received countless questions about what to see and do in New England in the fall — I’m excited to introduce my guide. I’ve covered some of the noteworthy regions Kiel and I love to stay and explore.
Please note that this guide is a work in progress. As I explore new towns I will add to this list. I sectioned each state off with specific towns or regions.
Kiel’s parents have a house in New Hampshire and we have been coming up here for years. One of our favorite things to do is to hop in the car and explore. We love discovering new towns, gift shops, or beautiful views of the White Mountains. The restaurants here are some of our favorite. We not only love the food but the cozy laid back atmosphere with lots of rustic charm.
The White Mountains: Lincoln, Bretton Woods
Where to Stay: Mount Washington Hotel (Bretton Woods), Mountain View Grand Resort
(Whitfield), Common Man Inn & Spa (Plymouth), Woodstock Inn. I can’t recommend AirBnB enough if you plan to travel with a group.
Where to Eat: The Italian Farmhouse, Woodstock Inn Brewery, Six Burner Bistro, Common Man Lincoln, Foster’s Boiler Room, Harvest Tavern, Red Fox Bar & Grille, Polly’s Pancake Parlor. Whenever we stay in Bretton Woods we always book a room at the Mount Washington Hotel. They have a few different restaurants within the resort and we love the food and atmosphere. Kiel also loves the ghost stories!
What to do: Mount Washington Cog Railway, Mount Washington Auto Road , Vertical Ventures Aviation (fly above the White Mountains in a helicopter for the ultimate foliage views), The Flume Gorge, Robert Frost Home & Museum, Chutter’s — the world’s longest candy counter, Cardigan Mountain Orchard, Harman’s Cheese & Country Store, Lonesome Wolf Antiques, the Basin, Kayaking, hiking, biking.
The Scenic Route: Drive along the Kangamangus Highway and Route 302 for stunning views. You might even see a moose. Begin the route from Lincoln and drive straight through the White Mountain forest to North Conway. I also highly recommend Crawford Notch and Franconia Notch. As I mentioned in the intro, New Hampshire is the the ultimate place to get in your car and just drive. The foliage makes the mountains natural beauty even more spectacular.
The Green Mountain State holds a special place in my heart. Like New Hampshire it’s a place where you can encounter a beautiful scene around every turn. Green pastures and old country homes decorated in Autumn’s best are sights to behold. I also love the unique shops you can find along Main Street.
Where to Stay: Kimpton Taconic Hotel, The Equinox Hotel, The Inn at Ormsby Hill
Where to Eat: The Copper Grouse, The Reluctant Panther, Al Ducci’s Italian Pantry, Thai Basil, The Silver Fork
What to Do: Explore Hildene – the Lincoln family summer home, falconry, Lan
d Rover off-roading experience, drive or hike to the top of Equinox Mountain, Visit Orvis or sign up for an Orvis fly fishing lesson, Northshire Bookstore, Mad Tom Orchard, Comollo Antiques, the Pumpkin Patch at Equinox Valley Nursery,
Shaftsbury Alpacas, Bardwell Farm for cheese, Outlet shopping in town
The Scenic Route: Historic Route 7A or the Shires of Vermont Byway.
Where to Stay: The Woodstock Inn, Vermont Twin Cabins, The Jackson House Inn, 506 on the River Inn
Where to Eat: Worthy Kitchen, Barnard’s Inn & Tavern, Solo Farm & Table, The Mill at Simon Pearce, Woodstock Farmer’s Market — best place to stock up on the essentials for a perfect fall picnic.
What to Do: Farmhouse Pottery, Marsh Billings Rockefeller, FH Gillingham & Sons – Vermont Country Store, Middle Covered Bridge, Simon Pearce, Sugarbush Farm, Billings Farm, canoeing on the Connecticut River (canoe rentals available at Great River Outfitters), Quechee Gorge
The Scenic Route: Route 4 From Woodstock to Quechee, Route 12
Connecticut is quintessentially New England from its’ charming seaside towns to country escapes. There’s much to see and explore whether you are in the mood for antique shopping, visiting a farm, following Connecticut’s wine trail, or viewing the foliage while on a harbor sail. I’ve kept this list down to the two towns we are most familiar with. Kiel and I have been going to Mystic since we were kids and more recently Woodstock. I would love to add Litchfield County to this list next year.
Where to Stay: Spicer Mansion , Steamboat Inn, The Inn at Stonington, The Ocean House (It’s a 20 minute drive)
Where to Eat: S&P Oyster Company, Engine Room, Sift Bake Shop, Mystic Pizza (Inspired the 1988 movie starring Julia Roberts. You can’t leave Mystic without a slice), Grass and Bone
What to Do: Clyde’s Cider Mill , Mystic Ghost Tour, Holmberg Orchards, Horse Listeners Orchard, Shopping in Historic Downtown Mystic or Olde Mistick Village, Mystic Aquarium, Mystic Seaport, Bluff Point, Mystic River Cruises, Jonathan Edwards Winery
The Scenic Route: The Mystic Stonington Loop, Route 27. The coast looks so beautiful this time of year. I love seeing the boats on the water with colorful trees as the backdrop.
Where to stay: The Inn at Woodstock Hill
Where to Eat: The Mansion at Bald Hill, Jessica Tuesday’s, The Vanilla Bean Cafe , Java Jive Cafe, Mrs Bridges Pantry for afternoon tea
What to Do: Visit Roseland Cottage, Woodstock Orchards, Devon Point Farm
The Scenic Route: Route 169 — This route is the main attraction to this area. The drive through the country is filled with stone walls, farms, and idyllic New England country homes.
This list wouldn’t be complete without my home state. Right now we are getting hints of fall but the leaves are still very green. The best time of year to see the foliage is the second or third week of October. If you plan on coming to visit look up the local festivals as there is something going on just about every weekend from harvest and seafood festivals to halloween parties. One of the best things about Rhode Island is that it is always a short drive to get from one part of the state to another.
By the end of September most of the tourists have gone and the town is much quieter.
Where to Stay: The Chandler, Castle Hill, Francis Malbone House, Cliffside Inn, and Grace Vanderbilt.
Where to Eat: Clarke’s Cooke House (order the Snowball in Hell for dessert), Perro Saludo, The Mooring, Salvation Cafe, Castle Hill , Diego’s , Stoneacre Brasserie
What to do: Sweet Berry Farm, Newport Vineyards, Fall Harbor Sail, Newport Ghost Tour, Southern New England Giant Pumpkins Grower’s Annual Weigh Off on October 7th (In 2015 Ron Wallace from Green, RI set a record by growing the 2nd largest pumpkin in the world at 2,230lb), Bowen’s Wharf Annual Seafood Festival October 13-14th, Trinity Church Annual Pumpkin Patch (throughout October), Cliff Walk, Visit the mansions
The Scenic Route: Ocean Drive. I might be biased but this is the most beautiful coastal drive. Start the route just before Fort Adams and continue on past the mansions.
Where to Stay: The Dean Hotel, The Old Court Bed & Breakfast
Where to Eat: The Dorrance, The Duck & Bunny, Al Forno, Persimmon, Pastiche , The Salted Slate (brunch), Tallulahs Taqueria, Gracie’s
What to Do: Waterfire, Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular, Providence Ghost Tour , Dame Farm & Orchard , Scituate Art Festival October 7-9th, Barden Family Orchard, Blackstone Valley River and Bike Path, RISD Art Museum
Can’t Miss Scenery: Explore Benefit Street and the historic East Side of Providence, home to Brown University and RISD. Prospect Park overlooks the city and the state capital for a gorgeous view. Hop in the car and drive around the Scituate Reservoir for beautiful foliage scenes. (Route 116) You will also encounter a good number of apple orchards along the way.
Happy Leaf Peeping!!
Post a Comment
Ah this looks so lovely! I would love to go there. X
I am so excited for the leaves to start changing! Thanks for sharing these places- a New England raod trip is my dream vacation!
This guide is really so throughout. Thank you for the time energy you’ve put into it — it’s definitely going into my bookmarks bar!
I love your photography! You should share some of these pictures as iPhone wallpapers.
Another awesome breakfast place in Providence is called The Kitchen. It is SUPER small- only like 5-6 tables, but it is truly one of my favorite places when we visit. The place only takes cash and come early or expect to wait. The bacon is amazing!!
These autumnal photos are so dreamy! I’d love to visit New England in the fall.
New England in the fall looks so amazing!
I’d love to visit those places you mentioned one day
Thank you so much for sharing your guide. I just recently cane upon your Instagram account and I was wondering where you were taking all your amazing pictures. I love fall and wait for it every year. I live in Utah and our fall colors are a little muted due to the dry test we had, so I am so happy to have found your account to still see all the beautiful fall colors. Everything about fall is amazing! Thank you.
already so much autumn spirit
Thanks for all the dreamy photos! Love from Stockholm, Sweden
Heading from Iowa to Vermont, NH, Maine, MA next week! We will use your guide to explore these areas! Thank you!
You Left out the best of all – Maine!!
I will def be adding Maine at some point!
Please do! Coastal Maine is gorgeous in the fall!
No love for Maine?
I love Maine! In my opinion the most beautiful state. I plan on adding to this list as I visit new places. I have never been in the Fall…
I took an Amtrak trip to MA.,this summer and got the chance to see this beautiful part of the country . I live in Georgia and the leaves are just staring to turn different colors. Beautiful pictures.
My husband and I just planned our trip to New Hampshire for Fall foliage and you posted this just in time! We went to Mount Washington last year and this year we’re going to Lincoln and Woodstock! Thank you for such a informative post!
We love Lincoln and Woodstock. We spend the most time there. Have a great trip!
Thank you! Heading to Manchester Vermont on 10/5 for 10 days. Will definitely take your recommendations.
Being a transplant from the midwest, I can’t wait to explore NE and I appreciate all of your awesome suggestions.
So surprised you’ve never been to Litchfield County! I’m partial to my hometown of Washington Depot (also the inspiration behind Gilmore Girls) but Litchfield, Kent, and New Preston are super cute and quaint as well!
Do you have any Washington Depot/Litchfield County recs? My boyfriend and I will be down there this weekend from Massachusetts!
I do not. I’m hoping to visit that area this fall or next.
Hey! Some ideas…
Marty’s coffee shop in the depot is great for morning time and people watching. Then check our Hickory Stick Book shop and all the cute stores around it!
Between Washington and Litchfield is Bantam- see if you can get a reservation at Arethusa al Tavalo! They also have an award winning ice cream shop and bakery across the street.
Antique shops in New Preston are fun to browse (a little hamlet of Washington)
There’s lots of vineyards in the area! I grew up around the corner from Hopkins Inn/vineyard. Beautiful views of Lake Waramaug from there and probably some foliage starting!
If you like hiking, access the pinnacle hike from Christian St in New Preston for lake views or check out Steep Rock in the depot.
Litchfield is bigger with more quaint shops and restaurants. Stroll up and down route 63 for a few blocks of some amazing houses.
You are amazing! Thank you so much for these recommendations. I’m going to look into them!
Hey! Some ideas..
In Washington Depot, check out Marty’s Coffee shop for breakfast and people watching. Head around the corner to Hickory Stick Book Shop and the other little stores. New Preston (a hamlet of Washington) has some fun antique shops to browse.
See if you can get a reservation at Arethusa al Tavalo in Bantam (between Washington and Litchfield). They also have an award winning ice cream shop and a bakery across the street!
Litchfield is larger with more cute shops and restaurants. @thecorner is a more casual bar scene. Stroll up and down Rt. 63 a few blocks for some beautiful large homes.
There are many vineyards in the area! I grew up around the corner from Hopkins Inn/Vineyard which has beautiful views of Lake Waramaug (should be some foliage starting now!). An option for lunch, dinner or wine tasting!
If you like hiking, check out the Pinnacle hike off of Christian St. in Washington for gorgeous lake views or Steep Rock in Washington Depot has tons of trails of various difficulties.
Kent is also a super quaint town with shops and restaurants, just a little bit of a drive from Litchfield or Washington (depending on where you’re staying).
Newport is my favorite – I’ve been trying to get my boyfriend to go in the fall!
This is a great post, but I don’t know why White Mountains is written across the top of NH and into Maine? I’m guessing not enough room in NH to write it?
Exactly! We had such a hard time with this.
I love this post . When I was a young student at design school, a wise professor told me that “choose your color palettes from nature and you’ll never go wrong “ .
Dress The Part
Oh how gorgeous!!! All these photos are amazing!
These photos are so beautiful, it makes me want to see the colors in person!! I love this guide to fall in New England, I might need to take a road trip soon!!
Love the new look and ideas you are incorporating. As a fellow New Englander, I love (and have visited) all of these places. There is a definite special feeling in the air this time of year. Everything you recommended is spot on for Autumn in NE. I especially love the ghost tour in Newport!
Wow Very beautiful Place I love this place I love fall and wait for it every year.
Thanks for this great list of tips & tricks.
We’re planning our 2019 holiday and we will go for a tour across New England.
We only have some difficulties with finding the right dates to book the flight tickets, we’re living in The Netherlands and offcourse we don’t want to be too early or too late to see the beautifull shades of the fall season in New England.
Will the last 2 week of september and first week of october to early to travel around white mountains for example?
Thanks in advance for your help and all the best from Amsterdam!
If we would like to visit all of these places mentioned above, where would be a central location for us to stay? Thanks in advance!
Your photographs are gorgeous. A place I love to visit in the fall is purgatory chasm in MA, I lived near by for a few years before returning to Florida. Is a lovely place year round.
I have driven by it so many times and have never visited. I will have to check it out!