Fall is one of my favorite times of the year – especially the beginning, during the “sweater weather”, when you can drink hot cider, enjoy pumpkin goodies and, of course, appreciate the Fall Foliage. Lucky me, the East Coast is such a special place to witness the color changing of the leaves – honestly, it’s the kind of thing that I never get tired of. New York City and NY State have amazing places to see the Fall foliage – but New England is world-famous for that and I always wanted to visit. Back in August, Instagram suggested a reels featuring an itinerary to explore the area during Fall and I that was it: we decided to check that out.
On this post, I will share everything we did in 4 days of exploring some beautiful and popular spots in New Hampshire and Vermont during the Fall Foliage. You can definitely spend more days – and I will leave some suggestions of resources to plan that, but you can definitely cover a lot of spots in a couple of days.
When to plan a trip to New England in the Fall?
I read a lot of blog posts and saw a bunch of videos about this kind of trip, and everybody mentioned how important it is to plan in advance because accommodations do book out. With that being said, I booked most of the accommodations and transportation at the beginning of August, and I think it was great timing – I saw a lot of availability on Airbnb. I still needed to book accommodation for our last night, and I did it 3 weeks before the trip, it was kind of tricky to find something, so remember to plan accordingly.
What is the best time to visit New England for Fall Color?
Ok, so here’s the advice: do what I say, not what I did, lol. I read in a lot of blogs that the best time to visit the area is the last week of September or the first week of October. However, we didn’t have availability to go during that time, so our best shot was traveling on the second week of October – between the 10th and the 15th, and that’s what we did.
I was following some Fall foliage prediction maps, and I was positive that we would get there just in time for the peak – but it turned out it was past peak and quite “weird” in some areas. By weird, I mean a lot of trees with remaining green leaves – but I then remembered that I read some articles saying that Fall leaves could be less vibrant in 2023 because the foliage suffered under excessive heat. So that could explain. Either way, we had the best time during our trip. We saw some beautiful places and saw the Fall colors – not as vibrant as peak time, but still beautiful.
I really want to repeat this trip in the future, and I would probably pick days at the end of September and the beginning of October.
Another thing to keep in mind is that peak happens at different times depending on the region. New England is a northeastern region of the United States comprising the states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, and the period previously mentioned is more related to Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. The area around Boston, in Massachusetts, as well as Rhode Island and Connecticut, usually peaks mid-late October.
Before planning, I would definitely check Fall foliage map predictions and even maps from previous years so you have a better idea, according to the places you plan to visit.
At the end of the day, it’s Mother Nature and all we can do is try our best shots – but, as I said, I can guarantee you will have a great time, cause there are so many beautiful spots to check and so many fun things to do!
We live in New York City, so we have a lot of options to travel to New England. We decided to take an Amtrak train from NYC to Boston – on a Tuesday night – and spent the night in Boston. It wasn’t my first time riding Amtrak, and, again, nothing to complain! We picked up a car in Boston the next morning and drove to New Hampshire – of course, we could also have rented a car in NYC or even taken a train during the day to Boston and spent the night in New Hampshire – but this logistics fit our schedule better.
I must say that after having taken the trip, I realized that we could have flown to Boston – at the end of the day, the train trip is about 4h – which was not bad on the first day, but when we got back to NYC, we were really tired, cause we drove almost 2h to Boston and then took the train. That could have been a better choice since we live relatively close to Laguardia airport – and it’s only a 1h20 min flight. And when you plan in advance, the flight tickets are not expensive. So, I would give this suggestion if you live in the area. With that said, it all depends on where you are coming from, how your schedule is, and what your budget is.
- Rent a car for your New England Fall Foliage road trip on Expedia – besides the famous rental car companies, you can also rent from Turo through Expedia.
- Book your train tickets on Amtrak.
- Book your flight to Boston.
Planning your New England Fall Foliage road trip
- Start planning and booking in late July/ early August to have better options on accommodations – and score better prices.
- Read many blog posts and watch some videos to know what to expect and decide which spots you want to visit and how many days you want to spend in the area.
- Use the My Maps feature on Google Maps to pin your places of interest. I saved not only spots and hiking but also restaurants. Not all the restaurants are that good, lol, so it’s good to have some saved recommendations.
- Consider which kind of traveler you are – if you love hiking, there are plenty of hiking trails and you probably know that some hikes can take plenty of time.
- Don’t overload your days – and that’s why watching videos and reading blog posts is important, so you have an idea on how you can plan each day.
- Pack lightly – we stayed in three different Airbnbs, and we traveled with a carry-on + a backpack. The check-in and check-out processes are so smooth when you don’t carry a lot of stuff. Check the weather forecast – it’s cold, but not that cold. Also, make sure to include comfortable shoes! Even if you are not planning to hike a lot, some of the most beautiful spots will require a short hike/walk, and comfort is key!
- Make sure to include snacks and a water bottle to refill.
- Check restaurants’ times and days of operation – especially if you are coming from a major city and are used to finding everything open daily. It’s not like that in New England.
- Download Google Maps to use it offline. We had not signal during A LOT OF times on this trip, and that saved us.
With all that said, let’s get to our itinerary! I included a map at the end of the post with all the spots mentioned + extra spots!
Our New England Fall Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1 – Boston
We took a train from NYC to Boston, departing at 6:10 pm, that arrived in Boston at 10pm. The journey was smooth – and, at this time, we were able to try the Acela train, and it was such a nice train! After arriving in Boston, we took a ride to our hotel – Holiday Inn Express Hotel – not so far from the train station. The room was comfortable and exactly what we needed for one night. Plus, there was a very decent continental breakfast included.
I would like to highlight that we didn’t include Boston because I was there back in June – but if you want to explore the city, I have a weekend itinerary linked here with a lot of suggestions on things to do!
- Use my code PERUCHI93715 to get $20 in credits on Lyft.
- Book Holiday Inn Express Hotel.
- Book your train tickets on Amtrak.
- Rent a car for your New England Fall Foliage road trip.
We picked up our car at Hertz, booked through Expedia, and started our journey. We decided to drive straight to our first stop: Flume Gorge in New Hampshire. This is a popular spot at Franconia Notch State Park – and beautiful to visit during Fall. This gorge is a narrow, 800-foot-long chasm formed by water and ice’s erosive forces. It features sheer granite walls rising to a height of 70 to 90 feet and is crisscrossed by a series of wooden walkways and bridges. To visit the Gorge, you will take the Flume Trail, which is a 2-mile loop and includes uphill walking and lots of stairs. Besides the gorge, you will see waterfalls, the Flume Covered Bridge, a natural “pool” and so many gorgeous spots. Such a beautiful and unique place!
- You do need to buy a ticket to visit Flume Gorge, which costs $18 online & $21 at the ticket window.
- We bought the tickets online on our way. The tickets are timed every hour so you have some margin to plan accordingly.
After that, we decided to have lunch and since the spot we had saved – Black Mountain Burger Co. – was closed, we ended up eating at Woodstock Inn Brewery, which looks like a charming and lovely place to stay, but we didn’t have the best experience regarding food, so I do not recommend that you eat here. However, if you are a beer fan, you will probably want to try their beers – we ordered a flight and we loved all the beers we tasted.
Before heading to our next stop, we checked in at our Airbnb, in Lincoln, a town close to the Kancamagus Highway. We had a lot of places to cover in the area, so we stayed at this Airbnb for two nights. The location was very convenient – at the Lodge at Lincoln Station Hotel Condos. Our loft had 2 beds, a full kitchen, a bathroom, a balcony and access to a pool and laundry room. The Airbnb listing is linked here – but there are a lot of units available to book on Expedia and you can check here.
We then headed to Artist’s Bluff Lookout, another very popular spot during Fall – and only 15 min away from Lincoln, which was very convenient for us. This Lookout is located in Franconia Notch State Park, situated on a rocky outcrop overlooking Echo Lake, and it provides a panoramic view of Franconia Notch, including Cannon Mountain and the surrounding White Mountains. The views are breathtaking and so worth it. To get there, there is a short but tricky climbing, so, be prepared. It will take you 10-15 minutes to get to the top. When we got there, it was cloudy, but that didn’t prevent us from witness all the beauty from the view. It was really unforgetable! And although the place was busy, we could easily take our photos.
You can park at Cannon Mountain Rv Park (see the map) and make sure to check Echo Lake before leaving, you can get to the lake “beach” from the parking lot. It is also stunning!
For dinner, we ended going to Pemi Public House – because it was probably the only spot open, lol, but it was such a great surprise! This pub has a very cozy outdoor area with fireplaces and also the indoor place with a huge slection of draft beers and American food. Thiago had a burger and I had a dish with shripm and a creamy corn. It was delicious! We were so happy with this meal!
- What I wish we also had done this day: a cute town named Sandwich was on our radar and we were supposed to stop there on our way to Flume Gorge – but since we left Boston later than we expected, we couldn’t visit. But I decided to mention here and included on the map, in case you have the time. It looks very cute! Also, Littleton is another town near Lincoln that looks very cute!
We hit the road earlier – around 8am – to drive through Kancamagus Highway. If you’ve never heard about it, this is a 34.5 mile (55km) scenic drive along NH’s Rt. 112 in Northern New Hampshire and it’s well known as one of the best Fall Foliage viewing areas in the country. Spanning through the White Mountain National Forest, this road connects the towns of Lincoln and Conway. There are a lot of scenic overlooks, hiking trails, dense forests, waterfalls and photo-worthy spots. We took around 90 minutes to cross the entire road – we didn’t take any hiking trails, but we did stop for pictures and to appreciate the views. I dedicated an entire layer on my map at the end of the post with some spots along Kancamagus Highway, so plan accordingly.
If you start from Lincoln, you will get to Conway, and there are some spots to visit, like Diana Baths or even taking a train ride with Conway Scenic Railroad Excursions – they have different excursions and it looks lovely. Although we decided not to book, it’s a higly recommended activity – especially with kids. We got a coffee at a local coffee shop and we drove to Hart’s Location to check Fourth Iron bridge – this is spot is on Conway Scenic RR path and it’s such a beautiful spot for pictures!
Next, we headed to Omni Mount Washington Resort, a historic and luxurious resort located in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, surrounded by the White Mountains. Its stunning hotel structure was built in 1902 and the resort offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. And the best news is that you don’t need to be a guest to visit – the resort features a variety of dining options – and some of them are open to the public. Plus, you can also just walk and explore the surroundings.
After talking to the staff, we decided to have lunch at Fabyan’s Station, which is part of the resort – and they offered us a free shuttle. This restaurant is located inside the original railroad station and the menu is casual and family-friendly, with typical pub items like burgers, soups, salads and other entrées. We ended up sharing a BBQ plate – it was huge and more than enough for two people.
We decided to get back to our Airbnb earlier, but on our way back the sun was out and we decided to check Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway – in fact, this is an excellent activity to do when you go to Artists Bluff, cause it’s very close – we didn’t do it the day before because, as I mentioned, it was cloudy. And this is another thing I have to highlight regarding this trip – Fall weather can be tricky: we got light rain, cloudy days, grey days, and sunny days. That frustrated me at the beginning of the trip, but after a while, I just embraced the fact that maybe our trip would not be 100% sunny days.
Back to the Tramway, this is New Hampshire’s only Aerial Tramway and North America’s first – and also New Hampshire’s highest lift-accessed point. This cable car is open from late May to mid-October and brings visitors to the 4,080-foot summit of Cannon Mountain in under ten minutes. On a clear day, you can see the mountains of four states and Canada. It was stunning! When you get to the top, you can also take a scenic walking path to a a 360 degree observation deck. We loved it!
Since the sun was out, and we were so close to Artists Bluff, we decided to go there again to enjoy the views and take more photos, cause I wouldn’t like to miss the opportunity to see the place again with sun. And I don’t regret it, it was even more beautiful!
For dinner, we ate at Jimmy Seas Pan Pasta, at Lincoln. Apparently, this is a very popular spot in Martha’s Vineyard that has been around for over 20 years and they also opened this location in New Hampshire. Their specialty are the pan pastas – and all entrees come with fresh salad and bread and are cooked to order. We had a Scallops Aglio & Olio, with scallops sautéed in extra-virgin olive oil and roasted garlic, served over linguini. This plate costs $49 – but it’s enough for 2 people – although you have to pay $16 to share a dish. Highly recommend trying their Roasted Garlic with bread, it’s really good! The scallops were perfect, delicious – past was also good, although it had a lot of oil.
- What I wish we also had done this day: The Mount Willard hiking trail. I mean.. check this picture and tell me if the views aren’t absolutely gorgeous? Unfortunately, I didn’t know about this place, and it was on the way to Omni Mount Washington Resort. What comforts me is the fact that the day was really cloudy and we would’nt probaly have visibility.
Day 4 – Vermont
We checked out from our Airbnb and hit the road towards Vermont – note that I had a lot of places pinned on my Google Maps and every night we sit down to decide which places we were going to explore the next day. We drove over an hour to Lake Willoughby, our first official stop in Vermont. This lake is often referred to as the “Lucerne of America,” and it’s nestled between Mount Pisgah to the west and Mount Hor to the east, creating a picturesque frame for the lake. Also, there are hiking trails that lead to stunning viewpoints – one of the most popular hikes is the Mount Pisgah Trail, with panoramic vistas of the lake and the surrounding landscape. We stopped by the South Beach and the North Beach and both spots provide breathtaking views.
After that, we had lunch at The Parker Pie Company – the reviews were great so we decided to take our chances and what a pleasant surprise! Such a hidden gem. Nestled behind a local general store, this spot offers pizzas, sandwiches, and a diverse selection of beers. A simple place with a nice staff and delicious food! We had a special pizza with apple and maple syrup and OMG, so so so good! Please make sure to stop here, you will not regret it!
Then we drove to the next stop: Nichols Ledge, which offers an majestic view of Nichols Lake at 1,707 feet in elevation. To get there, you will hike for about 10-15 min – and it’s not that hard – althogh the road you take until the parking lot is a little bumpy, so, be careful. I was kinda skeptical about this place – thinking it would be similar to Artistis Bluff, but I was so wrong. The views you have from there are extraordinary. It is worth it!
We then headed to our next stop: Bragg Farm Sugar House & Gift. As Vermont is the the top Maple Syrup producing state in the US, you can imagine that Maple Syrup products are very popular everywhere, right? Not only you should definitely buy some Maple Syrups, but you should also take advantage of the delicacies. We stopped by this farm to try a very popular treat: maple creemee. I had seen pictures and honestly I didn’t know exactly what it was but it turns out it’s what they called soft serve in Vermont, made, of course, of maple. We loved it! Also, this place has a lot of local products like cookies, jams, spices… you can even watch a video about how maple syrup is produced.
It was late afternoon, so we drove to our Airbnb – which was located near Cambridge and Jeffersonville. Such a cozy cabin/loft, by the lake in a very quiet and peaceful area. There are kayaks and a grill, so it’s a great spot for summer. But be aware that the owners decorated the place with real animal heads – I’m not a fan of that and I didn’t pay attention when I booked, don’t know if it would have prevented me from booking, but I think it is something you should know, lol.
For dinner, we stopped by The Family Table – make sure to call before, cause that day they were not accepting walk-ins. Honestly, if we had groceries, I would have cooked, it wouldn’t be bad, since the cabin was cozy and we were tired. But at least the food at this restaurant was really delicious!
- If you are into that, you can also explore orchards – there are some in the area and I included one in the map.
Day 5 – Vermont
We checked out from the Airbnb – not a fan of spending one night at a place, but it is what it is – and we hit the road again to check Smuggler’s Notch, which is a famous mountain pass located in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Another beautiful spot you shouldn’t miss! Smuggler’s Notch is renowned for its stunning natural scenery. The pass is flanked by towering cliffs and rugged rock formations, creating a dramatic and picturesque landscape – plus, the road that winds through it provides a thrilling and challenging driving experience. Also, there are a lot of hiking trails.
It was beautiful – honestly, I don’t know if it was the weather or the foliage status, but I do think the road to and through Smuggler’s Notch was more beautiful than Kancamagus Highway. After driving for about 45 minutes – with some stops for pictures – we stopped by Stowe Mountain Resort to take a ride on the Gondola Skyride. You will get to the top of Mt. Mansfield – Vermont’s highest mountain. The views are stunning. The difference between this one and the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway we took in Vermont is that while the Tramway is a single shared ride, the gondolas are “individual” – it’s only you and your party. When you get to the top, you can access Cliff House restaurant (make a reservation) but please don’t leave without getting a waffle from The Waffle, with maple syrup on top, of course. So good! This resort impressed me. It’s huge and it looks like a great place to ski (it’s on my bucket list to learn that, hopefully, I can get back one day during wintertime!).
After the ride, we then drove to Stowe – and this was probably my favorite town from all the towns we saw during this trip. Charming, cute, with a lot of restaurants and shops. Be patient, especially if you are there on the weekend – the traffic can be slow. Our bodies were craving something healthy, so we stopped by Green Goddess Café and this was such a great choice. They have sandwiches, wraps, soups and HUGE salad bowls. It was exactly what I wanted to eat.
Before heading to our next stop, we stopped by a local store in Stowe, named Stowe Mercantile. I love to buy candles and I came to the right place. This store is gigantic, with a lot of treats, gifts and decor items; I could honestly spend hours there. We also stopped by Stowe Community Church View point really quick, just to take a photo of the famous Stowe views, where you see the cute Stowe Community Church. It’s was literally a minute, cause we had tickets for the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour, which is a quick drive from the town. Make sure to buy in advance – I purchased the tickets the same day, in the morning, and they didn’t have a lot of spots left. It costs $6 per person and it takes 30 minutes. It’s a simple tour and you learn more about the brand’s history, the ice cream making process and, of course, you will try some ice cream. Plus, there’s an ice cream shop there open to the public, so if you can get tickets to the tour, you can still stop by – and also check the Flavor Graveyard, with the flavors that are not available anymore (so funny). Again, be prepared, especially on the weekends: the line to buy an ice cream was huge.
We couldn’t leave without getting an Apple Cider Donut – a very popular Fall treat – and we stopped by Cold Hollow Cider Mill – which was very busy, by the way. They have a gift shop and a bakery as well, and you can grab coffee and hot cider. Just make sure to ask for fresh warm donuts – cause they are not that good after getting cold.
It was then time to hit the road – we slept in Bradford, New Hampshire, on a lovely Airbnb. It was really lovely and quiet, and we felt home. Our host recommended a pub – Salt Hill Pub Shanty – and we decided to have dinner there. I had a salmon with rice and veggies and Thiago had nachos and jalapeños balls. The food was delicious! We loved it!
And that’s a wrap for this New England Fall Road Trip, with 4 days in New Hampshire & Vermont! And here are some resources I used to plan our trip:
- Helene in Between – she has tons of content about fall in New England and it was her reels that inspired me to take this trip!
- Renee Roaming – used this blog post to save some tips
- Through my lens Youtube Channel – he has some great videos about the subject.
Below you will find my map with all the spots mentioned on this post + some other suggestions! I hope you like this post and please let me know if you follow any of my recs – sometimes it’s very quiet here on the other side of blogging.
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!