Looking for Maine's best fall foliage home base? The western Maine town of Bethel is perfectly situated for leaf peeping getaways. Here's why:
Location and When to Go to Bethel, Maine
The historic town of Bethel, Maine, founded in 1774, is located in western Maine at the intersection of Routes 26 and 2. It is about a 3-1/2-hour drive from Boston, 7 hours from New York City and 5 hours from Albany, New York, or Hartford, Connecticut.
The closest airport is the Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine. Fall colors can usually be observed starting in late September, with peak likely to occur the first week of October.
Bethel's Fall Appeal
Bethel is best known as a ski town, but the same peaks that appeal to skiers when covered in wintry white are even more spectacular when dressed in vivid autumn hues. Leaves reflect in shining mountain lakes, adding to this region's fall beauty. Its proximity to the New Hamsphire border makes Bethel a prime destination for those who want to see foliage in the White Mountains, too. A fall visit to Bethel puts leaf peepers in the heart of a region noted for scenic driving, hiking, biking and more.
Best Places to Stay in Bethel, Maine
The Bethel Inn Resort is located on the village common; it's your choice for fine lodging and resort activities, including golf, tennis and swimming (the outdoor pool is heated year-round).
The cozy Sudbury Inn is central and offers 17 rooms and suites, plus a three-bedroom apartment. Nearby, Sunday River ski area condos are readily available in the fall. For one-stop reservations assistance, call the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce toll free, 800-442-5826, or use TripAdvisor to compare rates and reviews for Bethel, Maine, hotels.
Nearby Scenic Drives
During fall foliage season, you'd be hard pressed to find a better home base for scenic driving than Bethel. Wind your way through Grafton Notch State Park along Route 26, and don't miss the drive north to Rangeley, Maine, along Route 17: The Height of Land overlook is spectacular. The start of New Hampshire's Kancamagus Highway, one of New England's most superb fall drives, is just over an hour away.
Bethel's Best Local Attractions
While you're in Bethel, learn about local history at the Bethel Historical Society's O'Neil Robinson House. Visit The Artist's Bridge, a picturesque covered bridge in Newry. Soar above the leaves on a scenic chairlift ride at Sunday River. Visit the Shaker Village a short drive away in Sabbathday Lake. And don't miss the annual Harvestfest and "Chowdah" Cook-off held in September.
Within Three Hours of Bethel
If you'd like to take day trips from Bethel, there are many wonderful places to visit in the fall including the L.L. Bean Flagship Store and shopping outlets in Freeport, Maine; Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, New Hampshire; and The Farnsworth Art Museum and Wyeth Center in Rockland, Maine. Enjoy a scenic fall train ride aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway, New Hampshire.
Dining Delights in Bethel
In the Bethel area, popular dining choices include The Suds Pub and the more formal dining room at The Sudbury Inn; the casual Rooster's Roadhouse; and the brew pub at Sunday River Brewing Co. The Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce provides additional dining listings.
More Fall Fun in Western Maine
There's more fall fun near Bethel: pick your own apples at Lyon Orchard in Bethel; head to Sunday River for the North American Wife Carrying Championships in October; or depart from the Telemark Wilderness Lodge in Bethel on a White Mountains llama trek or horseback riding or carriage driving adventure.