As a kid, I measured my summers in corn. Each year, at the beginning of June, we’d ride our bikes down to our neighborhood farm in my small New England town and watch the tractor methodically place the seedlings into the ground. By July, those seedlings would be hip high, and by late August they’d tower over my friends and me. That’s how we knew it was once again time for school. Though the thought of heading back to geometry class wasn’t exactly exciting, there was still one more natural phenomenon worth looking forward to: the leaves changing color.
By October, the trees looming in my backyard in Rhode Island were a picturesque mix of burnt orange, red, brown, magenta, and yellow. And while the years have gone by, those trees still turn the same rainbow colors each fall. Though, I never knew how lucky I was to have this view until I came to learn about “leaf peepers.”
Each year, millions of people make the pilgrimage to New England to see the fall foliage in action. With a bit of planning and some good luck with the weather, you can experience it all too. Here are all the best places to go check out the region’s famed fall foliage for yourself. Just make sure to have an ear of corn for me on the way.
The optimal time to visit the northernmost state in New England is the second week in October, according to MaineFoliage.com. And one of the best spots to take in all of Mother Nature’s fall glory is the mid-coast town of Camden. There, leaf peepers can head to Camden Hills State Park, home of Mount Battie. Not only will the hike up the mountain be beautiful, but the view from the top will offer an unprecedented view of the colorful treetops. While there, book a stay at the charming Hartstone Inn, a bed and breakfast located in the heart of town.
To book: hartstoneinn.com, from $285/night
The best time to head to Vermont to see the leaves change colors is the first week of October, according to NewEngland.com. And no visit to Vermont would be complete without spending time in the gorgeous mountain town of Stowe. Though the town was made famous by its world-class skiing, it’s still highly worth a visit in the fall to see its gorgeous foliage. Visitors can take a hike, go mountain biking, go horseback riding through the multi-colored forest, and more. While in Stowe, stay at the Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa, which offers special packages for fall visitors.
To book: stowflake.com, from $198/night
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Tucked away along New Hampshire’s shoreline is the town of Portsmouth. The town is so charming it could easily double as a Norman Rockwell painting, making it a prime fall weekend getaway for foliage lovers. Take a stroll down Portsmouth’s Market Square as the tree-lined street changes color in mid-October. That, NewEngland.com said, is the optimal fall foliage time for the region. In town, book a night at The Hotel Portsmouth, a charming bed and breakfast that perfectly mixes New England old-world style with new-world amenities.
To book: thehotelportsmouth.com, from $189/night
Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
Most of Massachusetts makes for excellent fall foliage viewing, but there is perhaps nowhere better than the Mohawk Trail. The 63-mile, east-west highway runs from the New York border to the Connecticut River. Travelers can drive, hike, or mosey their way through the trail and visit its more than 100 attractions along the way. Don’t miss the Bridge of Flowers in the fall, an old trolley bridge in the town of Shelburne Falls, which looks like it lights on fire with the orange, yellow, and red maple leaves framing it. In Shelburne, book a stay at the Ox and Rabbit bed and breakfast for the ultimate New England getaway.
To book: oxandrabbit.com, from $119/night
Newport, Rhode Island
Let’s be honest, there’s no bad time to visit Newport. But, perhaps the best time is those magical few weeks at the end of October when the leaves all change and the Newport Mansions put on their spookiest Halloween shows. While visiting, make sure to take a drive down Ocean Road, a glorious stretch of coastal driving that will leave you in awe. Arrive at dawn or dusk to avoid the crowds. In Newport, plan your stay at Gurney’s, which sits on the end of a peninsula overlooking the Newport Bay.
To book: gurneysresorts.com, from $252/night
Old Lyme, Connecticut
The best time to check out the fall foliage in most of Connecticut is the second and third week of October, though its season can extend into the first week of November. But if you’re planning a visit make sure to book early as accommodations in the state sell out fast. One of the best places to visit is Old Lyme, a small town located along Connecticut's coast. Though it’s a highly popular summer vacation destination, its larger-than-life trees make it a top destination for foliage fans as well. In Old Lyme, stay at the famed Bee and Thistle Inn, which has been a town favorite since 1756.
To book: beeandthistleinn.com, from $259/night