What better time to hit the road than during fall foliage season? From an urban escape in Boston to under-the-radar Vermont getaways, we've rounded up the best routes, destinations and hotels for the ultimate New England leaf peeping road trip.
Take Route 95 to Blackstone Valley, Rhode Island. Though small in size, the state of Rhode Island packs a powerful punch when it comes to leaf peeping, making it the ideal place to start your "Rhode" trip. Take in the gorgeous fall colors AND get a history lesson in Blackstone Valley, the birthplace of America's Industrial Revolution. The Blackstone Valley Explorer riverboat offers scenic cruises into mid-October, or you can take the annual Blackstone Valley fall foliage train tour that takes you from Woonsocket to Putnam, CT, for the ultimate day of fall festivities, including a farmer's market and pumpkin festival.
Don't miss: Slater Mill, the first successful cotton-spinning factory in the U.S.; Roger Williams Park and Zoo, with more than 435 acres of land, is ideal for an autumnal stroll.
Where to Stay: For a truly unique experience, book the Samuel Slater canal boat on the Blackstone Canal (via Airbnb). The authentic British canal boat can host up to four people and is the only one of its kind in nearby American waters. If you prefer the luxuries of a hotel, NYLO Warwick, situated along the Pawtuxet River, is another great option, with affordable rates starting at $119/night.
Take Route 126 to Boston. Just because it’s in the city doesn’t mean it’s any less beautiful than the burbs! Take a walk along picturesque tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue, where the golden fall foliage forms a canopy along the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Spend the afternoon exploring the iconic Public Garden and Boston Common, which put on a spectacular display during the fall months, or opt for a scenic bike ride or picnic along the Charles River Esplanade. Mark your calendar for October 20-21, when the Head of the Charles regatta takes over the city and the foliage begins to peak along the Charles River.
Don’t Miss: Arnold Arboretum, designed by the creator of NYC’s Central Park, with trees that smell like cotton candy when they turn; hop across the bridge to Harvard Square and take a fall walking tour of Mount Auburn Cemetery.
Where to Stay: The urban luxe Hotel Commonwealth, situated right on Commonwealth Ave., is just a quick stroll to the Public Garden, Boston Common and Cambridge. Book the Reading Suite and curl up in the window reading nook with a book, while taking in the scenic views. Rates from $339/night.
Take Route 30 to Manchester, Vermont. Manchester is the star of quaint, postcard-perfect towns and an ideal spot to bask in and enjoy the glowing red, green and gold fall foliage. Nestled at the foot of Mount Equinox in the Battenkill River Valley, Manchester has a little something for everyone, including shopping at the Manchester Designer Outlets, dining at artisanal restaurants, and a wealth of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, fly fishing, off-road driving, kayaking and more.
Don’t Miss: Take a tour of Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home; drive past the ski resorts of Bromley and Stratton, whose slopes are blanketed in ambers and golds during the fall. In nearby Stowe, kids will love the Stowe Zip Tour Adventure, which has all the high-speed thrills they crave.
Where to Stay: Kimpton Taconic, a cozy New England hotel, boasts expansive views of the Taconic and Green Mountain ranges and offers surprising touches like locally made in-room walking sticks (for both kids and adults), hiking survival kits and on-site complimentary bikes. Rates from $269/night.
Take Route 7 to Burlington, Vermont. Located at the heart of the Green Mountain State, the quaint city of Burlington sits on the edge of picturesque Lake Champlain and embraces all things fall. Take in the season’s foliage on a Bike & Brew Tour, trying everything from IPA’s to sours at some of the top breweries and cider houses in the country. Or head to Shelbourne Farm, a sustainable 1,400 acre working farm, and indulge in cheddar cheeses from their herd of purebred Brown Swiss cows while watching the cheesemaking process firsthand.
Don’t Miss: Head to Brot Bakery for a breadmaking class with German-born now-Vermonter Heike Meyer. She’s transported her hillside cottage into an old-world style bucolic bakery and invites all levels in for classes like Sourdough 101 and Plant Based Kitchen – Vegan and Gluten Free Breads and Desserts.
Where to Stay: Book a stay at the locally-inspired and independently owned Hotel Vermont and be captivated by the lobby's wood burning fireplace and weekend cider/spirits samplings as soon as you walk through the door. The rustic, yet modern accommodations, local artwork and numerous Vermont partnerships add even more charm to every visit. Pro tip: book a top floor king with whirlpool tub and in-room fireplace, it will be worth every penny! After a day of adventure, snuggle up in Vermont Flannel robes with in-room hot toddies from the hotel's exclusive Bedtime Menu.
In the crisp, cool days of fall, the Kennebunkport area offers the best of New England’s charms. Enjoy salt-tinged sea breezes along with colorful foliage in this historic village straddling the Kennebunk River. From antiquing to kayaking to eating lobster rolls and sipping hand-crafted cocktails, there is plenty to see and do.
Don’t Miss: Sail along the coast on the Schooner Eleanor, a 55-foot traditional gaff-rigged schooner that cruises the rugged foliage-lined coastline from Cape Arundel to Cape Porpoise, showcasing the gorgeous leaves changing colors in contrast to the brilliant blue ocean. Too chilly of a day for the water? Explore Kennebunkport by bike through beautiful tree-lined streets and foliage-covered pathways like the Eastern Trail that leads along a gravel path.
Where to Stay: Kennebunkport Resort Collection’s year-round hotels offer diverse, luxury accommodations for travelers. Road-tripping adults that left the kids behind can stay at the more upscale Cape Arundel Inn & Resort with shimmering ocean views and the perfect marriage of contemporary comfort and historic charm. Families hoping to stay in the heart of downtown Kennebunkport should look no further than the Kennebunkport Inn, with timeless appeal and just a hop skip and a jump away from shops, restaurants and galleries. Travelers looking to cross the bridge and stay in Lower Village Kennebunk should book The Grand Hotel, the perfect spot to enjoy a coastal Maine vacation. Waterbugs looking to stay directly on the Kennebunk River can stay at The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel with panoramic windows, private balconies and an expansive outdoor deck to enjoy the outdoors before the cold moves in.