3-4 days road trip to see fall foliage

May 8th, 2019, 06:52 PM
  #1  
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3-4 days road trip to see fall foliage

Hi all. I'm planning a trip with my parents to the East Coast and this will be our first time vacationing there. It's still at the infant stage of planning but we're planning to spend some time in DC, NY and New England to see the fall foliage (with NY being our main trip). The rough idea is this:

13/10/19 - 15/10/19: DC
16/10/19 - 21/10/19 : NY
22/10/19 - 26/10/19 : Thinking of doing the road trip here
27/10/19 : Flight home from NY in the morning

My concerns are:

1) Taking into consideration the dates of fall foliage, would this be okay or would it be better to start off with New England and finish off with DC?

2) Considering that we only have 4-5 days for the road trip, which places/routes would be recommended to go to? I have tried googling but there seems to be soo many places to go to that I'm really having trouble trying to start a plan! Our main interest is to just experience a scenic road trip in the US, seeing the fall foliage and maybe doing short, simple hikes.

Thank you!
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May 8th, 2019, 10:18 PM
  #2  
J62
 
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10/22 to 10/26 is too late to see fall foliage North of NYC. Trees will be bare.
You may have better luck in the NC/VA area for the dates around the start of your trip.
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May 9th, 2019, 02:50 AM
  #3  
 
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Agree with J62. Best to start off your trip 13/10/19 in New England but don't go too far north (ie White Mountains). You can do a Fodors search for other posts about fall foliage. Yankee Magazine is published in New England and has lots of information about travel in New England. Also look at the website for Jeff Foliage. It should give you some ideas of what to see. Just riding around will get boring. It's really a good idea to have some destinations in mind. In the Concord NH area you can visit Gould Hill Orchard to try some of their hard cider and enjoy a view of the distant mountains then continue thru Hopkinton and Contoocook villages then Warner where you can do a drive up Kearsarge Mountain Road if you want to do a little hiking to the top of a small mountain. Contoocook is renovating it's covered railroad bridge which is the oldest in the world and right in the middle of town. Warner's covered bridges are short and will take some detours. You can have lunch in a former school house or the popular Foothills restaurant. At the far end of town you can get on I89 for a trip to Vermont.

New England is full of places like this but you might be limited in where you go if you don't make lodging reservations ASAP.
dfrostnh is offline  
May 9th, 2019, 06:37 AM
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Your dates are too late for what you want. You would have to flip your dates around and do New England first. You can google/search and see when the peak times were last year in various areas to give you a general idea.
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May 9th, 2019, 06:53 AM
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Columbus Day Weekend has always been good for fall leaf viewing in central Vermont. There are websites
that yrack the lead color locations.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
May 9th, 2019, 08:43 AM
  #6  
 
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Oct. 22nd is too late for vibrant New England color as others have noted.

The Columbus Day holiday falls on October 14th this year. Traditionally, this is a very busy weekend in NE. I would flip your trip around and start in New England. If you do flip your trip around, please book your New England lodging soon as it is a popular time.
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May 10th, 2019, 08:21 AM
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I agree with others you should definitely do the road trip first to maximize chances of seeing foliage. Even the earlier dates are late for northern New England but you could still see good color in southern VT/NH or in MA.
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May 12th, 2019, 07:32 PM
  #8  
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Thanks for all the replies!

After further thinking, we've decided to skip DC altogether to maximise our time in NE and NYC. So we'll spend our first week touring NE and the 2nd week in NYC.

We'll be flying in NY and rent a car from there. Would it be advisable to do Maine in this 1 week? I know it'll be too late for the foliage in that area but I heard that Acadia is amazing. It's quite a long drive from NY so thinking about whether it's doable or are we better off exploring other places.
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May 12th, 2019, 07:43 PM
  #9  
 
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Acadia is phenomenal and the foliage there is gorgeous, but the best foliage places are in New Hampshire and Vermont. Expect the crowds there.

Having said that and living in the suburbs of Boston, my husband and I still prefer Acadia to all other gorgeous spots in New England, but it is just us: we are Acadia “junkies”. After our very first visit back in 2001, we drive to Acadia every year twice a year. For us, there is no place more beautiful... in the whole world.
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May 14th, 2019, 03:40 AM
  #10  
 
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Acadia IS beautiful and it IS very far from NYC but with a week I think it's quite doable to do a loop up to Acadia and back. Especially is you don't need/want any time in Boston.

While Maine is further away than Vermont and NH - and part of it further north - the coast foliage turns later than the mountains of VT and NH so there should still be good color, especially in the southern coastal sections. So while it's totally reasonable to go as far as Acadia, the stretch from the NH border as far as Camden is also great.

Given your dates I would first go up through western Mass to Vermont, then cut over through NH to Maine and down the coast. Depending on your time then either cut diagonally through MA and CT back to NY (from Portsmouth NH to NYC that route is an easy one day trip) or else loop around Boston to Newport RI and then take I95 back to NY. That's assuming you want to see Newport , otherwise 95 is worse (more traffic, boring) than the route of I495 to 90 to 84 to 91 to the Merritt Parkway.

Last edited by isabel; May 14th, 2019 at 03:42 AM.
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May 14th, 2019, 05:48 AM
  #11  
 
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Please don't rent a car in NYC! Take the Northeast Regional train to Boston and go from there if you can't just fly to Boston to start. You can either rent in Boston or take the Downeaster train from Boston North station to a destination in Maine (Portland?) and rent the car from there. You may see the fall foliage from the windows of the train as well.
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May 14th, 2019, 08:22 AM
  #12  
J62
 
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I don't follow your recommendation tf.

If they leave NYC by train on Oct 22, how will they see fall foliage???
There are local offices of each of the major car rental co's all over Manhattan, and driving out of the city outside of rush hour is straightforward. So if they are in NYC before getting a car, it's not a problem that needs your solution.
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May 14th, 2019, 12:16 PM
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I agree. Rent the car in NY. If you rent and return in the same place there will be no drop off fee. And as J6 2 says, driving out of NY is not complicated at all, and only the first hour or so is boring, after that you start to get foliage. Connecticut, RI and MA have some great foliage - and that late in the season that's actually where you are most likely to see it, more so than in VT and NH where it will be way past peak. That's also why I suggested coastal Maine as they have good color for a week or more past when NH and VT are past. Plus train schedules are not great in New England, not at all like Europe where traveling by train is great, really a car is the way to go in New England. And definitely go as early as possible, I think you said the start of the trip could be as early as Oct 13, much more likely to see good color then than later.
isabel is online now  
May 14th, 2019, 07:51 PM
  #14  
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Hi all, thanks for the helpful suggestions!

Yes - I think taking a car as soon as we arrive in JFK and driving out would be best and most convenient for us. Then I can just drop it off at the airport again before we explore NYC.

My parents don't seem keen on changing accommodations everyday/every 2 days as we explored NE. Is it advisable to stay in, say Vermont for 2/3 nights and just do some drivings from there? And then move to a different place for the second half of the week - if we decide to go to Acadia then we'll stay in Maine or any other places that we decide on. Is that advisable?
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May 15th, 2019, 02:18 AM
  #15  
J62
 
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You don't need to go back to the airport to drop off the car. Look into returning it in Manhattan. Look for a location close to your hotel. If the price is close then it's a better option. Getting to JFK, especially if there is traffic can be a pain.
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May 15th, 2019, 03:46 AM
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If I follow your dates correctly you will be starting the trip on Oc 13? Each year is different but on average that would be peak foliage in southern New England (Mass, CT and RI) but usually past peak in Vermont. Maybe you could drive up through western Mass (The Berkshires or Pioneer Valley (Conn River)) to southern Vermont and base around Brattleboro. There are some nice drives from there (Newfane, Rt 100, etc.). Most people go further north for leaf peeping but by the second half of Oct you could be looking at bare trees and VT is not all that pretty without leaves. Then you could move on the coast of southern Maine, that can be very nice that week.
isabel is online now  
May 15th, 2019, 04:48 AM
  #17  
 
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Here is a map that shows when foliage is likely to peak in different areas. As indicated in the last post, much of VT will probably be past peak by October 13.
https://newengland.com/seasons/fall/...l-foliage-map/
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May 15th, 2019, 08:45 AM
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Have you booked your flights? If not, I would do an open jaw....arrive in Boston and depart from JFK.
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May 15th, 2019, 12:51 PM
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I would stick to Vermont and New Hampshire. Maine is of course beautiful too. But stretches your time and adds an awful lot more driving.
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May 15th, 2019, 08:28 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by isabel View Post
If I follow your dates correctly you will be starting the trip on Oc 13? Each year is different but on average that would be peak foliage in southern New England (Mass, CT and RI) but usually past peak in Vermont. Maybe you could drive up through western Mass (The Berkshires or Pioneer Valley (Conn River)) to southern Vermont and base around Brattleboro. There are some nice drives from there (Newfane, Rt 100, etc.). Most people go further north for leaf peeping but by the second half of Oct you could be looking at bare trees and VT is not all that pretty without leaves. Then you could move on the coast of southern Maine, that can be very nice that week.
Hi isabel, Brattleboro seems like a good location to be based at for a couple of days. If we decide that Maine is too far of a drive then I was thinking that we could spend the 2nd half of the week in either Boston, RI or CT or our way back to NYC? What do you think? And if we're based in Brattleboro for a couple of days where do you reckon we can explore? I see it's near Green Mountains and that was originally in my plan. Maybe drive up to White Mountains? Other than that do you have any recommendations of small towns or sightseeings?
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