There are a lot of places that claim to have the best fall foliage in the U.S., but let’s face it—New England tops them all. Maybe the golden aspens of Vail are more intense at their peak than any of the birches and sugar maples in New England (it’s debatable), but there’s way more variety of color in the upper northeast, and the climate suits the cycles needed to provide a reliably dazzling autumn display.
Here are 12 places you shouldn’t miss if you’re on a leaf-peeping tour of New England this fall.
1. Acadia National Park, Maine
The crown jewel of Acadia is its coastline, where the Atlantic Ocean pounds granite cliffs. However, the interior of the park has miles of roads and hiking trails that meander through beautiful woods that reveal a kaleidoscope of color in the fall. Head to the top of Cadillac Mountain for panoramic views of it all.
2. Baxter State Park, Maine
Baxter Peak, the high point of Mount Katahdin and all of Maine, is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. While the mountain dominates the park, the rest is classic Maine backcountry filled with deep woods and sparkling lakes.
3. Smugglers Notch, Vermont
Smugglers Notch is a mountain pass separating Spruce Peak from Mount Mansfield, the highest point in the Green Mountains and in Vermont. The summit of Mount Mansfield rises above the timberline and is characterized by rocky soil and delicate alpine tundra like that found in the Arctic and the alpine ranges of the West.
4. Stowe, Vermont
Stowe is a charming little town at the base of Mount Mansfield. It bills itself as the “color capital” of the state and is a year-round base for outdoor recreation. Less than an hour’s drive south via scenic state routes 118 and 100 is Montgomery, “Vermont’s Covered Bridge Capital.”
5. Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire
This spectacular area is in the western part of the state’s famous White Mountains. The road passing through is alone enough to provide a great sample of the New England Fall. For more adventure, though, try the rugged loop trail that connects three peaks of the Presidential Range that break out above timberline, allowing for sweeping views of the colorful mountainsides and valleys.
6. Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire
This road, that’s often found on lists of America’s most scenic byways, is a way to connect the Franconia Notch and Mount Washington areas of the White Mountains. Along the way are many pullouts with excellent views and trails to overlooks, waterfalls, and more.
7. Boston, Massachusetts
We think of rural settings when it comes to the New England Fall, but cities like Boston are beautiful in their own right. In addition to the usual cultural and historical attractions, you have dazzling colors along tree-lined streets, neighborhoods, and parks.
8. Mohawk Trail Region, Massachusetts
Maybe the most colorful area in the state in fall, this area is enjoyable via the scenic byway running through it or the Mohican-Mohawk Trail. Besides the colors, you can enjoy covered bridges, museums, zip lines, and other attractions.
9. Connecticut Route 7
The Litchfield Hills region in the northwestern part of the state has rolling hills, village greens, and views of the Housatonic River. Scenic Connecticut Route 7 allows you to see and connect many of the best attractions in the area.
10. Old Lyme, Connecticut
This coastal town is a top tourist destination in both summer and fall. One outstanding way to enjoy the fall colors is to rent a kayak or canoe and paddle some of the area’s waters, which are lined with stunningly colored trees.
11. Swamp Meadow Covered Bridge, Rhode Island
There seem to be countless covered bridges in New England. If you’re visiting the Ocean State, one of the best covered bridges to see is the Swamp Meadow Covered Bridge spanning Hemlock Brook in the town of Foster. The fall colors make a spectacular backdrop when photographing it.
12. Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is beautiful in every season, but like so many other New England towns, it’s best in the fall. Stunning Ocean Drive is something best experienced by bike, and don’t miss the famous Newport Mansions, all draped in color.
Vermont in the Fall: How to Plan the Perfect Getaway
If seeing the changing color of leaves in New England has been on your bucket list, you should plan a visit to Vermont in the fall. You’ll think you’ve walked right onto the set of a Hallmark movie!
While there, you’ll enjoy picturesque views of fall foliage, charming small towns, and relaxing scenic drives. Not only that, you’ll find farm-to-table cuisine and an endless array of exciting outdoor activities. You’ll feel the spirit of New England and what makes Vermont such a special place to be in the fall!
Best Small Towns in America to See Fall Foliage
The feeling of change that permeates the air during the fall affects everyone in different ways. It can inspire a desire to spend more time outside, admiring the nature that we often take for granted – and what better time than in autumn?
Using an aggregate of visitor reviews and expert analysis from U.S News & World Report, Travel + Leisure, and Country Living, Stacker found the top small towns and villages you should visit to take in prime leaf-peeping this fall. For each town, we include the top foliage hotspots and local histories worth exploring.
Stunning Fall Drives in Every State
America’s interstate system makes it relatively quick to dash from coast to coast—at least compared to the Lewis and Clark days. By some estimates, a cross-country road trip can be done in less than a week—if you’re willing to drive around 10 hours a day. But this time of year, you’d be making a big mistake if you didn’t slow down and soak up the scenery. The reds, yellows, and oranges of the foliage blanket parts of the country for just a few short weeks. Plus, there are pumpkin patches, apple orchards, and all kinds of fall fun to make the journey even more memorable.
Ready to hit the road for an autumnal adventure? Here are stunning fall drives in every state.
This article was produced by Our Woven Journey.
Robert Sihler is an educator, freelance writer, and rock climbing guide and instructor living with his family in Driftwood, Texas. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction, streaming films, completing crossword puzzles, and rock climbing. When he goes on vacation, he likes to visit the mountains of the West and climb remote, obscure peaks that have seen few or no prior ascents.