New England has the motherlode of leaf-peeping routes. The colors here are the reds, scarlets, oranges, and yellows that you’ve seen in iconic photos touting the country’s brilliant foliage.
Discover the Beauty of Fall Foliage in New England
A New England fall invites you to put on your hiking boots, pack a picnic, and load your car for some color-blazing road trips.
The North Shore
Set your sights north of Boston to the state’s toniest coastline area, the North Shore. Lovely route 127 winds north through Beverly, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Gloucester with most of it hugging the shore. You can drive the entire route in about an hour or make a day of it with numerous stops to get your foliage fix.
To capture the colors of the area, plan some time to explore the grounds of Hammond Castle, a 1920s structure located a short jog off the road in Magnolia. Never forgetting that you’re traveling along the coast, you can pick out your own lobster and grab some fried clams at famous Woodman’s of Essex. Before you rest your head in Rockport at the oceanfront Emerson Inn, take a walk along Bearskin Neck with its many shops and art galleries. Don’t miss Motif #1, an oft-painted subject that you might recognize from Finding Nemo and The Proposal.
Lexington and Concord
Route 2, the Mohawk Trail, leads from Boston west through historic Lexington and Concord. Color-filled trees flank both sides of the road, offering a Kodachrome setting as you dive into the many historic sites here. In Lexington, stop at the Old Belfry, where the alarm was sounded on April 19, 1775 to mark the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Spend some time at the Battle Green and Buckman Tavern, the headquarters for the Minutemen, and bike or hike the scenic Minuteman Trail at Minute Man National Historical Park. For a break before you venture to Concord, spend the night at the Victorian-style Inn and Hastings Park, dating from 1888.
You can optimize your history and foliage time with an early start from Lexington, passing Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, the setting of Little Women, and Wayside, Alcott’s childhood home. Your American history education continues in Concord at North Bridge, a replica of the site of the first battle of the American Revolution. The blue water and sky make a glorious contrast to the changing leaves. No visit to Concord is complete without a visit to Walden Pond made famous by Henry David Thoreau. As a grand finale, surround yourself with more history by checking into Concord’s Colonial Inn built in 1716.
The White Mountains
The Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) in Northern New Hampshire is one of New England’s most colorful foliage drives. Plan on slow going along the 34.5-mile designated American Scenic Byway which winds through the heart of the scenic White Mountain National Forest with vista points over falls and gorges.
Overnight in a chalet or tent at Huttopia White Mountains, a glamping resort with a picturesque creek in its backyard near beautiful Iona Lake. Less than ten miles from the campsite, North Conway in Mount Washington Valley is where you’ll find the pet-friendly White Mountain Hotel and Resort and the Instagram-perfect Muddy Moose restaurant for some hearty pub grub.
The ultimate route for leaf peepers, the eight-mile Mt. Washington Auto Road lets you summit the nearly mile-high mountain in the socially distant setting of your car. If you don’t want to deal with traffic, you can hike one of the many mountain trails that offer 360-degree views or take the Conway Scenic Railroad from its 1874 train station for a ride through Crawford Notch and Mount Washington Valley. To refuel, park your boots at Glen View Cafe for New England comfort food and check into the unpretentious Glen House at the base where you can admire your achievement: earning a bumper sticker that says “This car climbed Mt. Washington” even if you didn’t actually drive the route.
You don’t have to drive far into Vermont to catch a look at its renowned autumnal scenery. Route 7A from Arlington to Manchester will give you a heady dose of Taconic and Green Mountains colors over its eight miles. In Arlington, check into the West Mountain Inn, where alpacas and beautiful grounds beckon along with home-cooked breakfasts and cozy rooms.
A short drive leads to either Bromley or Stratton mountain ski resorts, both ablaze with color during the fall. Check to see if the chairlifts are operating and if the weather supports, rent a canoe and enjoy the serene tree-encased Battenkill River.
Shoppers will have a great time at Manchester Center’s myriad outlets but the real prize is route 100, possibly New England’s most scenic foliage route. With mountains galore, picture-perfect villages and trees ablaze with reds, yellows and shades of green at every turn, this is the heartland for leaf peepers. Provision yourself en route with fudge, maple syrup and other goodies from the Weston Village Store.
Take a break in Ludlow for a choice of dining and shopping before you navigate to Mountain Road to look at the leaves from Okemo Mountain. The maple trees provide vibrant colors and it’s worth the walk, hike or chairlift to the historic fire tower for 360-degree views of the surrounding Green Mountains, Taconics and Adirondacks. If you’re eager to see more, Route 100 continues to the Canadian border.