Tips for Planning the Perfect New England Fall Getaway

from an article on US News and World Report by Erin Shields

AS THE WEATHER COOLS down, travelers often have their hearts set on a New England vacation. But why has New England become so synonymous with an autumn adventure? “We see a lot of people searching for New England getaways, particularly in the fall, in search of an escape from the city or suburbs to experience the mountains. New England is easily accessible … and is filled with charming inns and hotels for an authentic experience,” says Sydney Burdick, Trivago’s head of global corporate identity and communication.

And, of course, there’s the changing of the leaves. “The foliage is just world-famous, and there are also a lot of festivals around the foliage and around the harvest,” says Wendy Perrin, founder and editor of travel-planning site To help travelers seeking a quintessential New England fall getaway, U.S. News sought out tips from travel experts, foliage photographers and avid hikers. Read on to learn how to plan the perfect New England vacation for you.

Rent a Car

One of the best ways to see New England and its variety of small towns is by renting a car, according to Perrin. “There are so many great scenic drives you can take. There are lots of little villages all over Vermont and western Massachusetts that as you drive through you can discover,” she says. Perrin also recommends comparison shopping among different companies and locations to find the best car rental price. She notes airport pickups tend to be pricier.

Go Off the Beaten Path

According to a Trivago report on destination searches from July and August, the most-searched fall spots in New England include Boston, Bar Harbor and Portland in Maine, Newport, Rhode Island, and Burlington, Vermont. Considering that, avoiding popular destinations and opting for smaller towns and state parks will allow you to experience fall in New England without stifling crowds.

Perrin recommends Lenox and Stockbridge in Massachusetts. Michael Blanchette, a New England-based landscape photographer, suggests Stowe, Woodstock, Seyon Lodge State Park and Groton State Forest in Vermont and Conway, North Conway and Lincoln in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. “Don’t be afraid to just go off on the side roads. There’s as much pretty foliage as anywhere else and you won’t be dealing with a lot of tourists, which is a secondary advantage,” Blanchette says.

If you’re interested in fall foliage and hiking, heed the advice of New England native and founder of the travel blog, Chris Picardi. He also recommends the White Mountains, specifically Franconia Notch and Crawford Notch state parks. Additionally, Picardi suggests checking out Baxter State Park, Camden and the Bold Coast near Cutler, all in Maine. “Those are all areas where there’s a ton of hiking. Depending on how far and how strenuous you’re trying to hike, the White Mountains has everything from family-friendly strolls through the woods to incredibly difficult hikes,” he says.

Time It Right

The best time to visit New England to see fall foliage is typically in late September and early October, though exact dates vary by state, year and weather conditions. Leaves begin to change first in the Northeast, with the South not far behind, says Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo. “Maine peaks first, usually in late September, before colors change dramatically in Vermont and New Hampshire in the first two weeks of October. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut usually peak in the last two weeks of October,” Saglie says. “You can’t go wrong with anywhere in New England, especially if your timing is right – prime leaf peeping conditions often last a week or two,” he adds.

Travel During the Week

Fall weekends are extremely busy in New England as hordes of tourists descend on the region. So Saglie, Perrin and Blanchette agree, planning a midweek trip will help you save money and avoid some of the autumn crowds. If you can’t make a midweek trip work, consider arriving on a Thursday to dodge the congested roads around popular destinations leading up to the weekend.

Another way you may be able to save a little coin is by checking different travel dates. “Sometimes shifting your travel date by even one day can have a drastic effect on hotel prices,” Burdick says, adding that certain local events can greatly affect pricing.

Perfect Your Photography Skills

Foliage is such a big draw for travelers often because of the spectacular photo ops. For those traveling to the area to capture New England’s fall beauty, Blanchette offers guidance on something everyday travelers might not think about: “The best time to take foliage photographs is when it’s overcast. It gives you the best saturated colors. So don’t be afraid to go out in overcast skies or even light rain.”

Meanwhile, those planning to use cellphones or smaller cameras should not necessarily focus on sweeping vistas but get in close, says Jeff “Foliage” Folger, a New England native and professional photographer. Folger also runs the website, dedicated to New England fall foliage photography and forecasts. “A single red leaf can be more engaging than an entire forest. Get up into the mountains and state forests. Just go out and take a walk in nature,” he says.

Soak Up the Local Culture and Cuisine

Once you’ve arrived, find ways to immerse yourself in New England. Perrin recommends stopping in the local tourism office to pick up information on free things in town, local festivals held while you’re visiting and coupon books to save you money. Another tip: Swing by the local bookstore. “New England is full of adorable little book shops. You’ve got more independent bookstores than in most places in this country and a lot of smart people who have great local travel advice,” Perrin says.

And when it comes to truly getting to know a region, the best way is often through your stomach. “The best of New England’s culinary scene is driven by the seasons,” Saglie says. “So fall visits mean savoring the bounty that the fall harvest has to offer, as imagined by a growing number of talented, imaginative chefs. Seek out the farmers markets and attend any of the many food festivals. Pies, any pie, are a must.”

5 Best Places to See Fall Foliage

From an article on Travel Experta by Marina Kuperman Villatoro

New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee Loop

The largest lake in the state of New Hampshire is Lake Winnipesaukee, and it is the perfect backdrop to view the fall foliage. The loop around the lake offers you a road trip where you will be able to see some of the most impressive and colorful foliage in the region.

However, you will not want to rush the nearly 100-mile road trip. Along the way, you can stop an enjoy a fall picnic in any of the towns that are along your route. There will even be an opportunity to participant in outdoor activities such as:

  • Hiking
  • Boating
  • Fishing

If you prefer to stay overnight, there are two inns along the lake loop that are highly recommended. They are The Wolfboro Inn and Center Harbor Inn.

New Heights on the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire

If you want to blend in with the locals, you can call it ‘Kanc’. It is a 35-mile highway that begins in Lincoln and goes through the White Mountain National Forest. The best time to travel this stretch of road to see the fall foliage is between the end of September and the first part of October.

Be sure to take a moment and stop by the C.L. Graham Overlook that sits just below the Kancamagus Pass. For a bite to eat, picnic in Conway at Sabbaday Falls. Just a half-mile walk from the beginning of the trail will lead you to the waterfall.

After you finish your lunch, you can continue north 302 to Bretton Woods. It is here that you will be surprised with a treat. You will see the incredible views of the highest peak in the Northeast on Mount Washington.

Route 100 for Classic Vermont Sightseeing

The stretch of road is completely billboard free so tourists can enjoy looking at the vibrant colors along the countryside.

This route winds its way through some of the most quaint and picturesque villages in all of Vermont. Stop along the way and enjoy fresh cider, donuts while shopping for trinkets and souvenirs in the country stores.

For those who are looking for peak views, hike up Mount Killington before continuing on.

However, the ultimate destination when taking this route is the 11 mile Green Mountain Byway. The byway runs through Stowe and Waterbury. Spend the rest of your getaway in Stowe, or visit Mad River Valley for craft beers and delicious farm to table dining.

If you want to get your adrenaline pumping, you can zipline with Stowe’s ZipTour. This will give you the unique opportunity to fly beside the foliage.

Two choices for lodging along this route are:

  • The Inn at Round Barn
  • Field Guide

The Ultimate New England Fall Foliage Tours

While you’re in the Burlington and Stowe area, here’s an option to seriously consider.  Every leaf-peeper has the same options of driving, walking, or hiking.  The visionary few take their trip to the next level by participating in an aerial tour. Soar high above the changing of the leaves with aerial tour companies such as a hot air balloon company.

Visit Montgomery, VT For the Best Fall Colors

This is a small town that is situated in the northern area of Vermont, and it is also considered to be the home of some of the best spots to view the foliage in New England.

Also referred to as ‘Vermont’s Covered Bridge Capital’, this tiny town is not only famous for gorgeous views, but also scenic bridges. In fact, there are six covered bridges within the town limits. While you are there, also check out the 15 miles of hiking trails that have been preserved by Hazen’s Association.

Leaves and Lighthouses on Coastal Route 1 (Maine)

Another option for gorgeous fall foliage and stunning coastal views is to begin your journey in Portland, Maine and travel north on the old Route 1. This will lead you to one of the region’s most scenic coastal drives. You can stop in Bath, Brunswick or Rockport to enjoy seaside mansions, late-season lobster rolls, and lighthouses.

At the end of the route, you will find yourself in the small and quaint town of Camden. The town has several impressive leaves watching vehicles such as Merryspring.

While traveling to New England to see the fall foliage should be on everyone’s travel bucket list, be sure to include other activities in your fall getaway itinerary. This region is full of history, culture and natural beauty that is just as unique as Mother Nature’s seasonal show.

Carroll NH’s Rich History

From an article on by  Barbara Radcliffe Rogers

Carroll doesn’t have a defined village center, but rather four somewhat amorphous ones: Bretton Woods, Twin Mountain, Fabyan and Carroll. None looks like a traditional New England town — no white church and town hall around a common. In fact, the historic Omni Mount Washington Hotel and its ski resort and golf course are the defining elements of Bretton Woods. Fabyan is just beyond, its railway station now a restaurant, and the large Fabyan House it served (built by Sylvester Marsh of the Cog Railway fame) is long gone.

Farther west, beyond a long stretch of White Mountain National Forest, Twin Mountain is a crossroads marked by the stone St. Patrick Church, the cluster of attractive Boulder Motor Court Cottages and a grassy hillside with a Cog Railway engine and the Twin Mountain tourist info gazebo. This is the site of the former Twin Mountain House, one of the string of grand hotels that stretched the length of Route 302 from Crawford Notch to Bethlehem and brought tourists to Carroll each summer. Most are gone: Crawford House, Mt. Pleasant, Fabyan, Twin Mountain House and the large hotels of Bethlehem. Today, only the “newest” of them, the Mount Washington Hotel — now the Omni Mount Washington — remains.

The Mount Washington Hotel was a latecomer, opened in 1902 by New Hampshire native Joseph Stickney. It’s no accident that at night the hotel appears like a great ocean liner sailing across the darkened valley; architect Charles Alling Gifford designed its wide wraparound porches to give the impression of the decks of a ship, where guests could promenade.

Stickney died suddenly the year after the hotel opened, and his stricken wife Carolyn — quite a character herself — commissioned the lovely granite Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration as a memorial. With a carved oak pulpit and seats and beautiful Tiffany windows, the chapel is still an active summer church. Active is a good description of the entire Bretton Woods complex — the hotel with its spa and restaurants, the golf course, riding stables and the multiple outdoor activities that transform the ski area into Bretton Woods Adventure Center.

There was plenty for guests to do in the heyday of the hotels too. The more ambitious hiked and climbed mountains, ladies went for carriage rides amid the mountain scenery, everyone rode the Cog Railway at least once to the summit of Mt. Washington. The Crawford House had a resident artist, Frank Shapleigh, who painted portraits and gave art lessons. The famed Henry Ward Beecher spent summers with his sister and author Harriet Beecher Stowe as guests of Twin Mountain House, in exchange for his preaching there every Sunday. So many people came to hear Beecher the hotel’s ballroom couldn’t hold the crowds, and a huge tent was constructed on the lawns.

Beecher also preached in a round tabernacle at Fabyan (later turned into a garage before falling down in the 1950s). Coincidentally, Fabyan was also the site of the first Christian Science Church in New Hampshire, The White Mountain Church, dedicated in 1898 and active until 1913, when it was torn down.

Fabyan House accommodated 500 guests in grandeur that by 1886 included heating and en suite bathrooms. It stood opposite Fabyan Station, which was to become the main rail hub for that entire side of Mt. Washington. In 1876, a spur line connected the station to the base of the Cog Railway, allowing seamless rail service to the summit

Ironically, at the same time as the grand hotels were being built so visitors could revel in the beauty of the tree-clad landscape, great swaths of those forests were being cut to the ground with abandon, the slash left to form tinder for forest fires. J. E. Henry was the biggest operator; he and others laid waste to tens of thousands of acres, cutting off the entire valley of the Zealand River and surrounding land.

Where Zealand Campground is today was once Zealand Village, Henry’s company town, which was begun in about 1880 and included a sawmill, Zealand Junction depot, post office, several charcoal kilns, a boarding house, store, engine repair shop and several houses. A railroad line was built miles up into the valley to bring out the logs. By 1890, the timber was exhausted and two forest fires had swept through the valley, so Henry moved on to the area around Lincoln.

As a child I camped at Zealand every summer, where my brother and I were free to roam, following old logging roads and discovering decaying buildings and equipment in the forest. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that those remains were all that was left of the town of Zealand. Some of the stone ruins we found in the underbrush were Henry’s charcoal kilns that burned timber his sawmill couldn’t make into boards.

The massive Zealand forest fire of 1897 brought new attention to the plight of the mountains and their forests. John Wingate Weeks, who served in Congress from 1904 until 1913, conceived of the idea of a National Forest to protect the mountains and the headwaters of the important rivers that begin there. The result of his work was the 1911 Weeks Act, and soon after the creation of the White Mountain National Forest. The former town of Zealand and half of the town of Carroll are included in its 807,000 acres.

Carroll had perhaps an even more momentous role in White Mountain history, when in 1771 hunter Timothy Nash was tracking a moose over Cherry Mountain and saw a gap in the mountains to the south. The gap was Crawford Notch, the hitherto undiscovered passageway that opened up northern New Hampshire to roads and railways.

A long narrow arm of Carroll barely wider than Route 302, which it follows, reaches down into the head of Crawford Notch, encompassing the Conway Scenic Railroad’s Victorian railway station, Saco Lakeand the ledges of Elephant Head, stopping just short of Flume Cascade. Facing the head of the notch is the AMC’s Highland Center, in the spot where the imposing Crawford House once stood. The 1880 stick-style house that was once the studio of Frank Shapleigh has been restored and is now a hikers’ bunkhouse, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We ski at Bretton Woods every winter, savoring one of the finest views in the White Mountains from the top of its lifts: the view of the rime-covered summit of Mt. Washington and below it the red rooftops of the Mount Washington Hotel. But for me, that valley and mountain landscape is always lush with the green foliage of childhood summers.