If a New England road trip during the fall isn’t already on your family’s bucket list, go ahead and add it. The flaming reds, yellows and oranges of the trees are every bit as stunning as the region claims them to be. For peak foliage, schedule your New England road trip for early to mid-October, but be sure to check a leaf tracker if you have flexibility. We loaded up our Buick Enclave Essence, which provided ample space for stretching out, plus Apple Carplay for easy navigation and audio streaming as we logged many miles through the northeast. Across western Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire, we discovered many incredible sites and activities best experienced during the fall. Read on for six can’t-miss spots during a New England road trip.
1. Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour & Tasting
The Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, Vermont, appeals to everyone’s inner kid and no New England road trip is complete without stopping here. A 30-minute tour takes visitors behind the scenes to learn a bit about the company history, get a peek into the manufacturing process, have all your burning questions answered during a Q&A session in the Flavoroom and, of course, to sample of one of the euphoric flavors. Also included in your tour is a free cone to redeem at the on-site scoop shop. Everyone will be screaming for more ice cream! (281 Waterbury-Stowe Road Waterbury, VT; (802) 846-1500)
2. Sugarbush Farm
At the end of a rural, scenic Vermont road lies a cheese lover’s paradise. Sugarbush Farm is a working cheese and maple syrup farm—with complimentary samples of both. Visitors will learn how the family-owned farm taps 8,000 maple trees to produce Pure Vermont Maple Syrup each year. See how the trees are tapped with both buckets and plastic sap lines as you take a guided walk through the maple trees. Meet the friendly farm animals that enjoy greeting guests to Sugarbush. Finally, learn about the varieties of cheese that the family makes (Sugarbush is known for its award-winning smoked, sharp and extra-sharp cheddars) and how the cheese changes during the aging process (591 Sugarbush Farm Rd., Woodstock, VT; sugarbushfarm.com; (800) 281-1757).
3. White Mountain National Forest scenic drive
White Mountain National Forest lies within the White Mountains in the U.S. states of New Hampshire and Maine. Navigate through it along White Mountain Trail and Kancamagus scenic drives. The forest boasts the highest peak in the northeastern U.S., Mt. Washington, which soars to 6,288 feet. Whether you’re driving through, hiking, or picnicking, this forest is one of the very best places to enjoy the flaming colors of fall (200 NH-112, North Woodstock, NH; (603) 745-8720).
4. Art and historic sites in the Berkshires
The Berkshires is a mountainous, rural region in western Massachusetts sprinkled with villages and towns. While it’s known for its fall foliage–viewing and farm-to-table food scene, the thriving arts institutions set the Berkshires apart. Stop by the Norman Rockwell Museum to see the world’s largest collection of the famed illustrator’s works, including the beloved covers for The Saturday Evening Post. Rotating exhibitions explore illustration masters, and everything from children’s picture books, to graphic novels, to animation art (9 Glendale Rd, Stockbridge, MA; (413) 298-4100). Not far from the Norman Rockwell Museum is The Mount, the home built by Pulitzer-prize winning author Edith Wharton in 1902. Tour the house and the stunning gardens while learning about the Gilded Age of American history. Kids 18 and under are free every day, and the historic site offers several scavenger hunts (with prizes!) for visitors of all ages to enjoy (2 Plunkett Street, Lenox, MA; (413) 551-5100).
5. Quechee State Park
Within Quechee State Park is the Quechee Gorge, the deepest gorge in Vermont at 165 feet deep. Known as Vermont’s “Little Grand Canyon,” it was carved during the Ice Age some 13,000 years ago. Enjoy beautiful vistas from the bridge above the Ottaquechee River that cuts through the gorge, enjoy a picnic overlooking the falls, or hike the half-mile down to the water for a different perspective (Quechee Gorge Visitors Center, 5966 Woodstock Road, Quechee, VT; (802) 295-6852).
6. Billings Farm & Museum
Do you have animal lovers in your family? Then this is the perfect end to your New England road trip. At the Billings Farm & Museum, you can get up close with the cows, horses, goats, sheep, chickens and oxen that make up a working dairy farm. You’ll have the chance to experience rural Vermont and explore the only outdoor history museum in the U.S. with a fully operational dairy farm. Don’t miss the interactive programs that demonstrate churning butter, milking cows and making cheese (69 Old River Road, Woodstock, VT; billingsfarm.org).
Where to Stay
With so many sights spread out across the northeast, we chose to spend each night in a different town. We bid goodnight to a day in the Berkshires at The Porches Inn in North Adams, MA. Ideal for families, the boutique property offers two-bedroom lofts, a year-round pool, and a “Peak Pick Package” to celebrate the harvest: Enjoy accommodations, special fall treats and a seasonal guide of local fall favorites.
Near Woodstock, VT, the Woodstock Inn & Resort offers a classic resort experience and easy access to attractions and outdoor activities, such as Billings Farm & Museum and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park.
For a lodging option near Stowe, VT, consider the Trapp Family Lodge. The Austrian-inspired architecture offers stunning mountain views, old-world comforts and impeccable service. You’ll have easy access to all the outdoor activities that Vermont affords.
By Bridgette Langdon