The Best Places to See Fall Colors in New England

Autumn leaves in Vermont
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With all of New England at your fingertips, you can enjoy the fall season near a lake, on the ocean, up in the mountains, or find yourself a nice cabin in a secluded forest. In between scenic hikes or memorable drives, fill your days with visits to historical sites, museums, lighthouses, and harvest festivals, which are happening in almost every town across the region throughout September and October.

If you hope to see peak colors when you visit, you'll want to go further north earlier in the season—around late September—or stay south if you'd rather go later in mid-October. New England is full of leaf-peeping hotspots with travelers flocking from all over to see the colors change in these picture-perfect New England landscapes.

01 of 09

Acadia National Park, Maine

Fall Foliage Acadia National Park Maine
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Acadia National Park is one of New England’s most popular national parks and a rare coastal destination where dense forests set atop seaside cliffs turn brilliant colors in the fall. The contrast of leaves against a backdrop of sea and sky makes for stunning visuals, and a horse-drawn carriage ride through the park will allow you to admire the scenery at an ideal pace. Even though Maine is one of the northern states, the coastal region of Acadia National Park is the last part to reach fall colors, usually around the second week of October.

Entrance to the national park costs $30 per vehicle, which allows for up to seven days in the park. You can pre-purchase and print the pass online in order to skip the tickets booths and head straight to your destination. While you’re on the Maine coast, try the lobster at Thurston’s Lobster Pound for this area’s ultimate lobster-eating experience.

02 of 09

Bethel, Maine

Androscoggin River in Bethel, Maine

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During fall foliage season, this ski town in western Maine makes an excellent home base for travelers seeking to experience all of the wonders of autumn in northern New England. With a line-up of fun fall festivals and activities and easy proximity to scenic drives, hikes, and other attractions in Maine's Western Lakes and Mountains region and New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Bethel can be your launchpad for many autumn adventures.

Don't miss the drive north from Bethel to Rangeley, Maine, past the Height of Land Overlook, which is an incredible photo opportunity for a stunning fall vista. The fall colors in western Maine usually reach their peak a week or two earlier than the coastal region, around the end of September or very beginning of October. The state's Department of Agriculture updates a weekly report so you can time your trip just right.

03 of 09

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

TripSavvvy / Lauren Breedlove

Stowe is world-famous for four-season outdoor recreation, and fall’s vibrant colors are an added thrill in this forest-clad mountain town. Here you can hike, kayak, rock climb, go horseback riding, or soar above the foliage on a gondola ride. The scenic route known as Smuggler's Notch—named for the people who used the route to smuggle alcohol during Prohibition days—begins in Stowe and continues along VT-108 to the town of Jefferson. This is one of the earliest places to experience fall foliage in New England, and the leaves have usually already fallen by the second week of October.

Spend the evenings enjoying the village’s diverse dining options and toasting your exploits with a Vermont craft brew. While you’re in northern Vermont, be sure to tour the Ben & Jerry’s factory just nine miles from Stowe and visit Cold Hollow Cider for fresh-pressed apple cider and hot cider doughnuts made by a doughnut robot.

04 of 09

Jackson, New Hampshire

Covered Bridge in Jackson, New Hampshire

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The White Mountains can’t be beaten for dramatic fall scenery, and the quintessential New England village of Jackson is convenient to everything including the famously scenic Kancamagus Highway, yet it’s tucked enough away to feel like a romantic retreat. Once you cross Honeymoon Bridge—the red-painted covered bridge at the entrance to the village—you’ll feel like you're in a world all your own. Jackson is at its most charming in October when it is invaded each year by Pumpkin People, decorative scarecrow-like characters with pumpkins heads. To enjoy the fall festivities along with peak fall foliage, aim to be in Jackson during the first two weeks of October and use the state's foliage tracker for the most up-to-date reports.

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05 of 09

Woodstock, Vermont

Woodstock, Vermont in the fall
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With cute shops, working farms, and historic sites like Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Woodstock is your place to explore Vermont’s agricultural traditions in a surprisingly sophisticated setting. Embark on day trips in all directions, or be perfectly content snuggling in front of a fire as chilly nights bring on the fall color parade. The scenic Quechee Gorge and New England’s most photographed farm are both nearby and at their most photogenic in the fall.

Weekly updated foliage reports can help you pick the right moment to see the most vibrant fall colors, which usually happens around the first or second week of October.

06 of 09

Bennington, Vermont

Robert Frost Grave in Vermont with leaves
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Tucked away in the Green Mountain State's southwest corner, Bennington is a perfect destination as New England begins to don autumn hues thanks to its central location in the region. And because it's in the southern part of the state, it's one of the last places in Vermont to lose its leaves—perfect for late-season travelers and reaching peak fall colors around mid-October

It's the final resting place of New England’s best-known poet, Robert Frost, and is home to some of the state's most idyllic covered bridges. While in town you can also take a moment to learn about history at the Bennington Battle Monument, which marks a battle site from the Revolutionary War, or visit the Bennington Museum, which houses the largest collection of Grandma Moses paintings in the world.

07 of 09

Concord, Massachusetts

Autumn dawn at historic Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, USA

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If you’re flying into Boston, consider Concord for the first stop on your New England autumn itinerary. Here, you can step back in time to the formative chapters of American history while experiencing all of the charm of this colonial town. It's here where the first battle of the American Revolution was fought and classic writers like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson found inspiration for much of the work. It's also remarkably bike-friendly, which is a fantastic way to spend a crisp autumn day peeping the changing leaves.

The route from Concord to Lincoln to Lexington is only 6 miles long, but it's one of the best scenic drives you can take in Massachusetts—and most convenient since it's so close to Boston. The trees around the Greater Boston area typically reach their peak foliage in mid-October.

08 of 09

Lenox, Massachusetts

Lenox, Massachusetts in the fall

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In western Massachusetts, the Berkshires are a beloved destination for scenery-seekers, outdoorsy types, history buffs, and art-lovers, and the town of Lenox just so happens to be in the center of this storied mountain region. With so many fabulous estates nearby like Chesterwood, The Mount, and Naumkeag, you can spend every day of your fall getaway strolling dreamy pathways and immersing yourself in beauty. If you're feeling up for an adventure, don’t miss the chance to drive The Mohawk Trail, America's first scenic byway, and take a hike to Bash Bish Falls, a scene that has inspired artists since the 19th century.

Because the trees in the Berkshires are at a higher elevation, they are the first ones to start changing colors in Massachusetts. If you plan to explore this part of the state in autumn, plan to be there the first week of October to see the best of fall foliage.

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09 of 09

Litchfield, Connecticut

Fall Foliage in Connecticut

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Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills—just a two-hour drive from New York City—make an ideal home base for travelers who want to see autumn's glory in western New England. Mt. Tom State Park is right in town and a short one-mile hike brings visitors to a lookout tower with unbeatable views of the fiery landscape below. Connecticut's trees are typically the last ones in New England to reach peak colors, so it's an ideal location for people who are planning to visit in the second half of October.

In Litchfield, you can visit wineries and breweries, shop for antiques, and dine on farm-fresh fare. You’re within easy driving distance of the Berkshires and New York’s Hudson Valley, too, so book several nights and enjoy all there is to do in this scenic town and the surrounding area.