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New England Fall Foliage Guide

Fall is the perfect time to visit New England as dense forests explode into reds, oranges, yellows, and purples. Every September and October, leaf peepers arrive to cruise along country lanes, join outdoor adventures, or simply stroll on town greens. We’ve got the basics to PLAN YOUR TRIP, from tips to help predict the peak to New England Fall Foliage Itineraries.


Fantastic Fall Experiences

Road Trip

For local drives perfect for an afternoon, see our 6 Best Fall Foliage Drives in New England. We’ve got a downloadable drive for Western Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Inland Maine.

Hike and Bike

You can sign on for foliage-focused hiking holidays with Country Walkers and Boundless Journeys. Bike Vermont and VBT Bicycling Vacations run cycling-based tours. If you are short on time (or energy), a simple autumnal stroll might be just the ticket: many state parks even offer free short ranger-led rambles.

Soar above the crowds

New Hampshire’s Cannon Mountain is only one of several New England ski resorts that provides gondola or aerial tram rides during foliage season. Area hot-air balloon operators, like the Balloon School of Massachusetts, help you take it in from the top.

Ride the rails or the current

Board the Essex Steam Train for a ride through the Connecticut countryside or float through northern Rhode Island on the Blackstone Valley Explorer riverboat.

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Planning Tips

Predicting the Peak

Pinning down precisely when colors will appear remains an inexact science, although location plays a major role. Typically, the transformation begins in the highest and northernmost parts of New England in mid-September, then moves steadily into lower altitudes and southern sectors throughout October.
For trip planning, think in terms of regions rather than states. In Maine (a huge state that runs north–south) leaf color can peak anytime from the fourth week of September to the third week of October, depending on the locale.
Early September weather is another deciding factor. From the foliage aficionado’s perspective, the ideal scenario is calm, temperate days capped by nights that are cool but still above freezing. If the weather is too warm, it delays the onset of the season. If it’s too dry or windy, they shrivel up or blow off.

Hotel Reservations

Accommodations fill quickly in autumn. Vermont’s top lodgings sell out months in advance for the first two weeks in October. So book early and expect a two-night minimum stay requirement. If you can’t find a quaint inn, try basing yourself at a B&B or off-season ski resort. Also, be prepared for some sticker shock; if you can travel midweek, you’ll often save quite a bit.

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Photo Credit: Craftsbury Commons Village Green by Ron Thomas / iStockPhoto

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