It’s nearly fact, not opinion: The best time of year to visit New England is in the fall. The oppressive summer humidity is lifted; the cold freeze hasn’t yet swooped in; and most importantly, nature provides its most impressive (and free!) yearly attraction in the form of brilliant fall foliage.
Forget museums, independence trails, or clam chowder for a moment, and come for the colour show. It’s hard to believe that nature doles out such a seasonal splendour year after year – one that never ceases to amaze both visitors and locals alike. Once the colours draw you in, the rest of New England’s charm will make you stay – from colonial towns and seaside harbours to state parks that showcase the best of the season’s offering.
The season’s highlights:
One of the best ways to see a panoramic view of the colourful foliage is from above. Head to Bucksport, perched along the Penobscot river. There, the Penobscot Narrows Bridge houses an observatory tower that reaches 420 feet into the air. This was the first bridge observatory tower in the United States, and the tallest public bridge observatory in the world – so fantastic views are all but guaranteed.
Further reading: Check out the top 10 things to do in the wild and sparkling crown of Maine.
If you’re looking to get active on your visit to New England (perhaps after one too many bowls of chowder), Dixville Notch State Park provides bucolic scenery and great hiking trails. Fall is the ideal time to visit, as the air is crisp and the trees haven’t yet shed their leaves. Those looking to take in the scenery without too much exertion could enjoy a picnic under one of the several waterfalls (only a few minutes walk from the parking lot); for those who wish to break a sweat, set out on one of the many trails that winds through the park’s 127 acres.
If you’re looking for a more unique birds eye view of the fall foliage – beyond airplanes or observation towers – consider a hot air balloon ride. Above Reality hosts special tours in October that highlight the golden hues, and what’s more, they time the rides to catch either sunrise or sunset. The canopy below is a slew of red, orange, and yellow dots; the quintessential image of the New England region. In addition to pastoral views, you may glimpse wildlife roaming in the hills below. The experience concludes with a special treat of Vermont cheese, fudge, and champagne to toast a surely flawless landing.
Who said California had a monopoly on U.S. wine production? New England harvests some great grapes and bottles them into a wide selection of reds and whites, and Rhode Island is right at the forefront. Oenophiles won’t be disappointed by Greenvale Vineyards in the town of Portsmouth. A small, family-run vineyard since 1863, Greenvale hosts tastings, as well as weekly live jazz concerts through November. And the best part? Rhode Island’s wine scene has a small-town feel, not yet overrun by tourists. Now there’s something you can toast to.
While Boston, Cape Cod and the Freedom trail are major draws in this state, take time to explore the western half. The Pioneer River Valley is home to a consortium of five sister colleges, and perhaps the liveliest of the towns is Amherst. With such a large student population, there’s no shortage of arts and cultural events, bars, and restaurants. It has a diverse and inclusive feel for a town of just under 40,000 people. Past residents include Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson; get in touch with your creative side at the town’s Emily Dickinson museum, considered a National Historic Landmark. Also, make sure to stroll the grounds of the beautiful Amherst College, which is at its most idyllic in fall. The bursting foliage is a perfect complement to the campus’ red brick buildings.
More information and to book: Highlights of our 9-day premium Spectacular Fall Foliage tour include the city of Boston, a journey through the breath-taking scenery of Stowe and along the Ocean Drive to Portsmouth.