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lol2g Jul 30th, 2009 01:29 PM

New England color mid to late October. Need a few hubs.
I've always wanted to go see the fall colors in New England but each year, we miss it for various reasons. This year, everyone is on board for a New England trip so I'm really excited to start planning.

We are hoping for a 2 week vacation (either Oct 10-25, or Oct 17-31). I have 2 children, ages 6 and 2. I've never been to any of the New England states so no worries about hitting repeat spots. We live in the San Francisco area so we have easy access to beautiful coastline. Our main interest is to see the fall colors of New England. Husband and I are both more laid back type. Prefers short kid-friendly hikes, staying in a place for a few days and do short day trips over driving from place to place each day.

I've heard that Vermont is beautiful but by Mid Oct, the colors might be pass peak. I think my 6 year old might enjoy Boston, especially the swan boats, since she really liked "the trumpet of the swam" by B.E. White.

I would really appreciate suggestions of a few towns/areas that we can use as hubs to stay a few nights while doing day trips.


joesorce Jul 30th, 2009 01:52 PM

It's tough to "wing it" at that time of year because hotels fill up, car rentals sell-out etc. It's also hard to figure out where the colors are going to be peaking and when. Some places to look at would be Alton Bay/Wolfeboro New Hampshire area which is about 2 hours drive north of Boston....Sebago Lake/Naples area of Maine...Rangeley Lakes area of Maine....and Moosehead Lake/Baxter Park area of Maine.

joesorce Jul 30th, 2009 01:58 PM

Anonymous Jul 30th, 2009 02:14 PM

Alas, the Swan Boats close for the winter around the end of September. But the "Make Way For) Ducklings statues are a permanent fixture nearby.

My kids loved the "Farm by the River" in North Conway, NH. The staff were very family-friendly and full of good suggestions.

It's difficult to predict peak foliage in any location, it varies from year to year and your best bet is to pick a place where it's likely to be at peak and be ready to travel around a bit. IMHO, it's better to be a little too early than too late.

lol2g Jul 31st, 2009 12:44 AM

I'll do some homework and come back with an itinerary for input from folks.

dfrostnh Jul 31st, 2009 02:40 AM

That late in the season you might want to visit the Keene NH pumpkin festival You should carve a pumpkin with the kids to donate to the event. We've only been once but seemed liked a nice, family friendly event. I've been on the RI coast as late as Oct 23 and by then, there was some color left but not a lot. I think Oct 17-31 is too much too late. By the last week in Oct the trees in central NH are usually pretty bare and we seem to get a run of rainy weather. If you wanted to do more pumpkin/fall things, there are a variety of festivals, leaf people events, etc. A friend loves Charmingfare Farm hay rides and events. We haven't taken our young GDs yet (3 and 5). Charmingfare is close to Manchester NH. There are several PYO apple orchards in the Concord NH area (and probably throughout New England). Do not miss fresh apples. Some have little playgrounds for children or hayrides out to the orchard. The Great Vermont Corn Maze in Danville VT is great for family fun. It's in northern VT not far from Rt 93 Littleton NH. There's also a few childrens museums throughout New England that you might want to include for a rainy day activity. Oct 10-12 is the last weekend for NH's Storyland which is in the White Mountains near N Conway. There will be a lot of foliage traffic in that area that weekend so if you want to go there I would suggest staying right near Storyland. You would need to make reservations ASAP. Columbus Day weekend there is also a small agricultural fair in Sandwich NH which is further south but still north of Lake Winnipesaukee.
DS likes the mountains and the typical tourist activities like Polar Caves but there are also a variety of hikes. At one time we had a guide to hiking in the White Mountains with Children which evaluated trails.
If you choose the earlier dates you have a good chance of seeing foliage in the White Mountains. The mountains could be a day trip from Concord/Manchester NH area. Foliage should be great that first week in that area. Spend the second week in southern New England ending in Boston. There can be a big difference in color/leaves between Concord NH and Providence RI although the drive is only about 2 hours.
Vermont is beautiful. There should be plenty of good color for the first week, esp mid to southern VT. Suggest you decide what kind of activities/places would be most fun for the children so you don't spend too much time in the car. Earlier this year I took the GDs to a splendid spring festival that included some wonderful events but I think the big hit was playing on the school playground. And most amazing thing for 4th of July (besides the candy thrown during the parade) was seeing kids climbing trees.

Vttraveler Jul 31st, 2009 03:02 AM

We usually figure peak foliage in northern Vermont is at the very end of Sept/first week in October. You would probably see good color still in southern Vermont into the Berkshires in Western Mass.

RLFox184 Jul 31st, 2009 11:16 AM

I second the Keene Pumpkinfest and Southwest NH usually peaks in mid-October. Some places that might be great to stay at with two small children are

The Inn at East Hill Farm and
The Inn at Valley Farm

Both would also give you a nice base from which to visit Vermont, NH, and Massachusetts.

Besides the Pumpkinfest, you can hike Mt Monadnock, the most climbed mountain in the Western hemisphere with its bald top and 360 degree views, drive a covered bridges tour that takes you through five bridges, or explore come great and scenic NE towns like Peterborough, Walpole, and Harrisville. There is also a fabulous Open Studio Art Tour (over 50 studios) that allows you to explore the region

That late in October you will have easy access to Massachusetts and the Berkshires as well or drive across Route 9 in VT to Bennington which is a beautiful drive!

Love2RV Jul 31st, 2009 11:20 AM

Just an FYI: The last two years have been peak in S. Maine/Portsmouth,NH during the second week in October.

simpsonc510 Jul 31st, 2009 11:29 AM

If I may add another suggestion, if possible you might consider flying in and out of Manchester NH rather than into Boston Logan. It's a much easier airport/drive to navigate, IMO. I do this once a year, usually over the Columbus Day holiday (but make it a week long visit). I've already got hotels and rental car booked for this October.

I like N Conway NH area. There is one particularly nice drive (as in very scenic) from Conway over to Lincoln NH. It is called the Kankamaugus (sp) Highway. It's such a lovely road.. maybe 25 miles?... but sooo worth it to stop every so often (like every couple of miles or less... to take photos and walk along the babbling brook that runs along side the road. There is also a moose pond. I have yet to see a moose there, but I keep trying!!

Have a good time.


cindyj Jul 31st, 2009 03:51 PM

Foliage along the coast of Maine peaks later than inland. So after visiting some of the suggested NH and VT spots, try mid-coast Maine - Camden/Rockland area. Nice family friendly hikes, etc. Then you could head south through Portland to your outbound flight from Boston or Manchester. In Portland you might like the Children's Museum, as well as lighthouses, etc. I know you said you are accessible to the coast in SF, but I still think you would enjoy our coast. Personally, I would stick to NH and VT for inland, and not drive as far as Moosehead Lake or Baxter. But that's just my opinion. There's not much there and foliage will be past-peak. In NH there is also Storyland for the kids, just north of North Conway, in Glen, NH I think.

Vttraveler Aug 1st, 2009 03:45 AM

If it fits in with your travel route, I think your kids would enjoy Sturbridge Village. Lots of space for the two year old to run around and the older child would probably like seeing the schoolhouse and learning how kids lived in the past.

The Billings Farm Museum near Woodstock, Vt is another good place for kids. It has the advantage of lots of animals for the younger one.

lol2g Aug 4th, 2009 12:12 PM

Thanks everyone.
I think we'll pick the earlier 2 weeks as our travel dates and join the crowd.
RLFox184 and anonymous, your suggested inns are great. I'll definitely look into them. dfrostnh and Vttraveler, pumpkinfest and Sturbridge village sounds like they would be fun for my kids. Thanks for the suggestion.
I'm going to look into airline tickets now. Once that's settled, we'll start looking at places to stay and will come back for more suggestions.

RLFox184 Aug 5th, 2009 03:20 AM

lol2g, there was one other kid friendly think I forgot that is pretty unique and they only do it in September and October. It's called Yankee's a trebuchet (like a catapult) in Greenfield, NH. On Saturdays and Sundays they launch 8-10 pound pumpkins that travel anywhere from 1200' to 2000'.

They hold the world record and actually compete in competitions with other trebuchets (I know this sounds a little odd but the kids love it).

Here's their link

lol2g Aug 9th, 2009 07:39 PM

Thanks RLFox184.Yankee Seige sounds hilarious.

We got our tickets to Boston. simpsonc510, thanks for the suggestion to fly to Manchester NH. We're using miles so we're flying into Boston.

So the dates are Oct 10-24.
We thought we'd spend the first 3 days in Boston and surrounding area (Sturbridge, Plymouth) before driving farther out.

I'm thinking maybe 3 days at Inn at Valley Farms in Walpole and use it as a base to see the surrounding areas?

We definitely want to do the Kancamagus Highway, and do some short hikes in Mt. Washington. I think the kids will like the Cog train. I would also like to stop in Stowe, VT. Will it make sense to spend 2-3 nights in Stowe and drive from there to Mt. Washington? or will it be better to base in N Conway and drive to VT?

Then, from N Conway to Portland, Maine and back to Boston and check out whatever we didn't see during the first 3 days.

Boston to Walpole,
Walpole to N Conway or Stowe,
N Conway to Portland,
Portland back to Boston.

Are we more likely to catch good color if we head out to NH, VT, ME, first and leave Boston and the neighboring area for the end of the trip?

Thanks again everyone.

dfrostnh Aug 10th, 2009 04:34 AM

Color in the north will be going down hill by Oct 10th. By OCt 24 you might see some late, decent color in the RI/Plymouth area. It can really depend but by Oct 24 there might not be any leaves left in the northern areas of VT and NH. Don't bother with Mt Washington unless you have clear weather and remember, it could be very cold at the top. A friend was at the top a couple of weeks ago. At the bottom things looked great but fog rolled, windy and 45 degrees. You will not have much time at the top if you take the cog. It's not something we would do again. Ages 2 and 6 might prefer a regular train ride. There's more to see and do in the Conway area and do VT as a day trip.

capxxx Aug 10th, 2009 05:11 AM

I agree Vermont and Maine, and northwest New England will likely be past peak by that time. Think about lower New Hampshire, Western Mass, and CT/RI for the bright colors. Ok to enjoy the fun fall activities in the north/west in the first part of your trip, but I would be sure to include some of the lower NE just in case. Why Wapole?

The good news is, with 2 weeks you have a lot of time to work with. How about something like this (lots of places have 3 night minimums anyway):

Fly to Manchester NH. See NH Lake District, Conway, and White Mountains, etc. 3 nights.

Then to Stowe, or Burlington, or even Hanover. 3 nights, day trips and hikes to see scenery.

Then to the Berkshires, Lenox, maybe, or Stockbridge. 3 nights.

Then down to CT/RI. Visit Mystic Seaport, Sturbridge Village, King Richard's Faire (weekends only) near Plymouth, the cliff walk of Newoport, etc. 3 nights.

End up in Boston, 4 nights, fly out of Boston.

EmilyC Aug 10th, 2009 07:48 AM

You could consider starting your trip by flying into either PVD or Boston and going to Newport, RI for a few days (or more). Peak foliage in Rhode Island is generally around October 17 - give or take a few days. The timing of the "peak" foliage is dependent upon temperature and rainfall, but I can assure you that it's usually very pretty here between Oct 10 - October 30.

Newport has a lot to offer, some short hikes for the kids, terrific ocean views, sailing, harbor cruises, and the folks at Fort Adams are putting on a Halloween celebration this year. From Newport, you can easily drive to Mystic (about 40 minutes) and there is an interesting native American museum near Foxwoods in Connnecticut.(check out "

You can also easily visit Boston after your stay in Newport and enjoy all of the "treats" that city has to offer. Your kids will love the aquarium in Boston.

lol2g Aug 10th, 2009 09:05 AM

Thanks dfrostnh,capxxx,and EmilyC,
Great suggestions. I was thinking Walpole because I liked the idea of staying at a cottage with kitchen and The Inn at Valley Farm looked like a cute place.

Is there something similar near Conway?

isabel Aug 10th, 2009 09:37 AM

Here's a nifty site with a foliage predictor map. Of course every year is different but in general, by the dates of your trip northern Vermont/NH will already be past peak. I would head there right away. Unfortunately you do need to get hotel reservations ahead of time and can't just wing it. If possible I'd made reservations somewhere that can be canceled right up till the date of your stay and then check the foliage maps the week before your trip. If the northern areas are past then you might want to skip them (assuming you can still get reservations somewhere further south).

I live in western Mass and peak here is usually right around the 15th. I usually do a coast weekend the weekend after Columbus day (crowds drop dramatically) which this year is the 11th. At that time the coast usually has a lot of color but inland is past.

I'd plan 4-5 days at most in central to norther VT/NH and the rest along the coast and/or in Mass/RI. Actually I think your best bet would be to book at least a week in Boston and then do day trips. From Boston you can easily do Sturbridge, Cape Ann (north of Boston) and even the cape (Cape Cod). That way you could split up time doing Boston one day, driving trip the next. Also, then if it rains you can do more "inside" things in Boston and do the day trips on sunny days (assuming the sun ever comes out again in New England).

Besides Sturbridge there is Plimouth Plantation south of Boston, also a living history museum, but set earlier than Sturbridge (Sturbridge around 1830, Plimouth in the late 1600s). Salem, north of Boston is really hopping during the second half of October. You can get there by train if you are tired of driving. A drive out to Gloucester and Rockport is also good. In Gloucester is Hammond Castle which your kids might like. All these places have websites for more info.

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