Last Updated on August 22, 2023
Summer is almost over, which means I can finally get started on my autumn travel plans! You might remember that last year, after returning to New York, I tried to finally make it up to New England to see the spectacular autumn colors up there, a trip I had on my travel wish list for many years. However, I never made it beyond Upstate New York last fall, which turned out to be a beautiful, colorful trip nonetheless, but left me still longing for the New England fall colors, which are said to be the most vibrant in the world. I put together a list of the five best places to see the fall foliage in New England – must-visit destinations for any passionate leaf peeper in search of stunning colors:Especially worth seeing is the foliage in Vermont, where you can find many maple trees whose leaves turn a striking scarlet color every fall—this state is a must for anyone who loves the feeling of fall.
The small states in the northeast US (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island), named after the 17th century English settlements, don’t only offer breathtaking fall foliage, but also some of the quaintest coastal towns in the US, and thanks to their compact size can these can also easily be visited on the same fall foliage road trip.
This part of the US is not only popular with Americans in season—people flock here from all over the world in the fall to admire the beautiful foliage.
The Best Places to See Fall Colors in New England
1. The Green Mountain Byway (Vermont Route 100), Vermont
Vermont is every leaf peeper’s dream come true: 80% of the state is covered in forest, making for an explosion of colors in the fall that begs to be photographed. The Green Mountain Byway is a scenic byway that is best visited during the second week of October, when the maple leaves reach their brightest scarlet. The road goes past mountains and farms, through Green Mountain National Forest, and connects the picturesque small towns of Stowe and Waterbury, which are both worth a stop.
Where to stay along the Green Mountains Byway
- Budget: The Nutmeg B&B in Wilmington – double room including breakfast from $110
- Budget: Casablanca Motel, Manchester: guests stay in little cabins, each one has its own porch. Rates start at $129 per cabin per night.
- Mid-range: 1824 House Inn + Barn in Waitsfield is a beautiful B&B with a lovely garden and lounge area. Double rooms including breakfast from $140 per night.
- Splurge: Four Chimneys Inn in Bennington. B&B in a grand mansion on an 11-acre estate with extensive gardens. Double rooms including breakfast from $220
2. The White Mountains, New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, the White Mountains make for an unforgettable fall foliage road trip with views of the Presidential Range and Mount Washington, which is New England’s highest peak at 6,288 ft. There are stunningly beautiful vistas at every turn of the winding road, and along the way you can eat in small, family-run restaurants and sleep in charming, old-fashioned inns.
The most famous roads here are Route 302, which passes through Crawford Notch, a beautiful valley where yellow-leafed birches and scarlet-colored maple leaves are perched along the hillsides, and the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112), a scenic byway that crosses the White Mountains from East to West.
Where to stay in the White Mountains
- Budget: The Notch Hostel in North Woodstock – cozy hostel with shared and private rooms. Double rooms start at $82.
- Mid-range: Holidae House Bed & Breakfast – a quaint B&B in a Victorian home in Bethel, Maine. Double room including breakfast from $123.
- Splurge: The Inn at Thorn Hill in Jackson has a garden and a terrace, rooms have a fireplace and a bathtub. Double room start at $237 including breakfast.
3. The Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
The winding roads of the Mohawk Trail in western Massachusetts offer some of the best vistas for leaf peepers—the road gets quite busy during the weekends in October, but that’s for a good reason! The Mohawk Trail goes through the Berkshires and offers an array of trees that will leave you in awe for sure: birch, maples, beech, ash, dogwood, oak, sassafras and tulip trees all contribute to create a colorful leaf canopy beside the road—all the foliage ablaze in a riot of colors.
In addition to the fall colors, artsy small towns contribute to the charming atmosphere of this region, make sure to stop in North Adams, which even has a Fall Foliage Festival each year in early October. Stop in historic Greenfield where the three-story lookout at the Poet’s Seat Tower provides magnificent vistas, and take a short detour in Charlemont to the impressive Bissell Covered Bridge.
Where to stay along the Mohawk Trail
- Budget: Cozy Corner Motel in Williamstown: Comfortable, clean rooms, only $69 per night including breakfast.
- Mid-range: Maple Terrace Motel in the Berkshires – a 3 acre property featuring mountain views and a heated pool. Double rooms including breakfast from $129
- Splurge: The Williams Inn – brand new hotel in Williamstown (built in 2019), featuring a restaurant, fitness center, a bar and shared lounge. Rooms from $289
4. Route 7, Connecticut
Route 7 is the main north-south artery through western New England, and 78 miles of the 313 mile long route goes through Connecticut. The most scenic part of this fall foliage drive starts in New Milford, heading north. The town of Kent has been voted the Number One spot to see the fall colors in all of New England, and not far from there, Kent Falls State Park in Litchfield County offers a short, but lovely hike to a 250 foot tall waterfall, which is even more striking when it is surrounded by brilliant autumnal colors. Make sure to stop at the West Cornwall Covered Bridge further north, and in Litchfield, a delightful little town with art galleries, restaurants and coffee shops that is worth a visit.
Where to stay along Route 7 in Connecticut
- Budget: A Meadow House – Cozy holiday home near Lakeville, right across the street from Lime Rock Park. Double room including breakfast from $113
- Mid-range: Turning Point Farm in Warren. Beautiful rustic farmhouse with lovely lake views. Double rooms from $128
- Splurge: The White Hart Inn – Charming Inn in Salisbury features two restaurants, an on-site bar, fireplaces and outdoor seating. Double rooms from $250, including breakfast.
5. Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. No matter where you find yourself in the park, you’ll be wowed by unforgettable vistas of the rocky coastline, the mountains, little lakes and lush forests. Mount Desert Island is famous for its historic carriage paths—make sure to plan in time for a stroll along these trails as well as a visit to Seal Cove, Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor, and Bar Harbor, all located on the island. If you continue your trip westwards along the coast of Maine you’ll get to the nearby Schoodic Peninsula, which also makes for a scenic drive filled with the fall foliage alight in a riot of colors you have to see to believe.
Where to stay near Acadia National Park
- Budget: Bar Harbor Motel, delightful motel just one mile from Arcadia National Park. Double rooms including breakfast from $129. Great value family room $159
- Mid-range: The Inn on Mount Desert – Lovely Inn with spacious rooms in a great location in Acadia. Rooms from $169 including breakfast.
- Splurge: Bar Harbor Grand Hotel – Small hotel with fitness center, a heated outdoor pool and a relaxing hot tub. Deluxe rooms including breakfast from $249
My top tips for your New England Fall Colors Road Trip
Use a gas station app to find cheap gas near year
When you visit the best places to see the fall colors in New England, you’ll quickly notice that you usually find yourself on small country roads, away from big Interstates with regular gas stations. That’s why I recommend using a gas station app to locate the closest gas stations near you—and the cheapest ones. Gas Buddy and Gas Guru are both great apps to use.
Book your accommodation well in advance
Prices for accommodation in this region skyrocket during fall foliage season. You might want to consider staying in Airbnbs along the way instead of hotels—there are some super cute cottages and cozy places listed on Airbnb— TimeOut put together a list of the best Airbnbs in New England. And then there are these New England AirBnBs are straight out of a fairy tale, put together by Boston.com.