Autumn along a small pond close to the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains National Forest. Photo taken on a tranquil morning during the peak fall foliage season. New Hampshire is one of New England's most popular fall foliage destinations bringing out some of the best foliage in the United States

The best time to visit New England to see fall foliage is typically in late September and early October. (Getty Images)

As the weather cools down, travelers often have their hearts set on a New England vacation. But why has New England become so synonymous with an autumn adventure? "We see a lot of people searching for New England getaways, particularly in the fall, in search of an escape from the city or suburbs to experience the mountains. New England is easily accessible … and is filled with charming inns and hotels for an authentic experience," says Sydney Burdick, Trivago's head of global corporate identity and communication.

[Read: 8 Fall Harvest Festivals Across the USA.]

And, of course, there's the changing of the leaves. "The foliage is just world-famous, and there are also a lot of festivals around the foliage and around the harvest," says Wendy Perrin, founder and editor of travel-planning site WendyPerrin.com. To help travelers seeking a quintessential New England fall getaway, U.S. News sought out tips from travel experts, foliage photographers and avid hikers. Read on to learn how to plan the perfect New England vacation for you.

Rent a Car

One of the best ways to see New England and its variety of small towns is by renting a car, according to Perrin. "There are so many great scenic drives you can take. There are lots of little villages all over Vermont and western Massachusetts that as you drive through you can discover," she says. Perrin also recommends comparison shopping among different companies and locations to find the best car rental price. She notes airport pickups tend to be pricier.

Go Off the Beaten Path

According to a Trivago report on destination searches from July and August, the most-searched fall spots in New England include Boston, Bar Harbor and Portland in Maine, Newport, Rhode Island, and Burlington, Vermont. Considering that, avoiding popular destinations and opting for smaller towns and state parks will allow you to experience fall in New England without stifling crowds.

Perrin recommends Lenox and Stockbridge in Massachusetts. Michael Blanchette, a New England-based landscape photographer, suggests Stowe, Woodstock, Seyon Lodge State Park and Groton State Forest in Vermont and Conway, North Conway and Lincoln in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. "Don't be afraid to just go off on the side roads. There's as much pretty foliage as anywhere else and you won't be dealing with a lot of tourists, which is a secondary advantage," Blanchette says.

[Read: The Best Weekend Getaways in New England.]

If you're interested in fall foliage and hiking, heed the advice of New England native and founder of the travel blog TrailsUnblazed.com, Chris Picardi. He also recommends the White Mountains, specifically Franconia Notch and Crawford Notch state parks. Additionally, Picardi suggests checking out Baxter State Park, Camden and the Bold Coast near Cutler, all in Maine. "Those are all areas where there's a ton of hiking. Depending on how far and how strenuous you're trying to hike, the White Mountains has everything from family-friendly strolls through the woods to incredibly difficult hikes," he says.

Time It Right

The best time to visit New England to see fall foliage is typically in late September and early October, though exact dates vary by state, year and weather conditions. Leaves begin to change first in the Northeast, with the South not far behind, says Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo. "Maine peaks first, usually in late September, before colors change dramatically in Vermont and New Hampshire in the first two weeks of October. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut usually peak in the last two weeks of October," Saglie says. "You can't go wrong with anywhere in New England, especially if your timing is right – prime leaf peeping conditions often last a week or two," he adds.

Travel During the Week

Fall weekends are extremely busy in New England as hordes of tourists descend on the region. So Saglie, Perrin and Blanchette agree, planning a midweek trip will help you save money and avoid some of the autumn crowds. If you can't make a midweek trip work, consider arriving on a Thursday to dodge the congested roads around popular destinations leading up to the weekend.

Another way you may be able to save a little coin is by checking different travel dates. "Sometimes shifting your travel date by even one day can have a drastic effect on hotel prices," Burdick says, adding that certain local events can greatly affect pricing.

Perfect Your Photography Skills

Foliage is such a big draw for travelers often because of the spectacular photo ops. For those traveling to the area to capture New England's fall beauty, Blanchette offers guidance on something everyday travelers might not think about: "The best time to take foliage photographs is when it's overcast. It gives you the best saturated colors. So don't be afraid to go out in overcast skies or even light rain."

Meanwhile, those planning to use cellphones or smaller cameras should not necessarily focus on sweeping vistas but get in close, says Jeff "Foliage" Folger, a New England native and professional photographer. Folger also runs the jeff-foliage.com website, dedicated to New England fall foliage photography and forecasts. "A single red leaf can be more engaging than an entire forest. Get up into the mountains and state forests. Just go out and take a walk in nature," he says.

Soak Up the Local Culture and Cuisine

Once you've arrived, find ways to immerse yourself in New England. Perrin recommends stopping in the local tourism office to pick up information on free things in town, local festivals held while you're visiting and coupon books to save you money. Another tip: Swing by the local bookstore. "New England is full of adorable little book shops. You've got more independent bookstores than in most places in this country and a lot of smart people who have great local travel advice," Perrin says.

And when it comes to truly getting to know a region, the best way is often through your stomach. "The best of New England's culinary scene is driven by the seasons," Saglie says. "So fall visits mean savoring the bounty that the fall harvest has to offer, as imagined by a growing number of talented, imaginative chefs. Seek out the farmers markets and attend any of the many food festivals. Pies, any pie, are a must."

[See: 50 Small Towns Across America With Gorgeous Fall Foliage.]

No matter where you decide to go, you'll enjoy New England in the autumn, Folger says. "It's the most colorful, pleasing-to-the-senses time of year. You get the brisk temperatures, the fall colors, the fall festivals, the farm stands … it's just an extraordinary time of the year to be here."


10 Family-Friendly Resorts for Fall Foliage Trips Across America


Photo Gallery
Father and son throwing autumn leaves.
Sunset on Heart Lake in the Adirondacks.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.
Ranch Rudolf.
Lakewoods Resort.
Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate.
Dollywood's DreamMore Resort.
A sagebrush chamisa plant in a desert meadow beneath the ridges and peaks with dramatic sky filled with clouds at sunset near the sandia mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Sundance Resort.
Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina.
Double Eagle Resort & Spa.
|

Experience vibrant autumn colors in charming retreats across the country.
The shorter days of fall afford an ideal time to plan a quick weekend escape to reconnect with loved ones ahead of the whirlwind holiday season. Plus, the brilliant fall foliage more than makes up for the limited daylight hours. So grab your fleece, a pumpkin spice latte and your hiking boots to shuffle through the falling leaves at these 10 kid-friendly resorts across the county that are perfect for a spectacular foliage trip.
(Getty Images)

Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa
Lake Placid, New York

Think luxury and family travel don't go together? Think again. Lake Placid's Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa has married a high-end atmosphere and kid-approved perks since the 1930s. Anchoring one end of Lake Placid's historic Olympic Village, the inn sits (as its name implies) on the shore and hill overlooking Mirror Lake. During the peak fall foliage season, sugar maples on the surrounding Adirondack Mountains blaze brilliant orange hues.
(Getty Images)

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
Farmington, Pennsylvania

Nestled in the Laurel Highlands region of the Allegheny Mountains, about an hour south of Pittsburgh, sits Nemacolin Woodlands Resort – a sprawling complex with five different lodging options from family townhouses to an ultra-luxury French chateau. Gaze out your window to admire the changing colors of the leaves layering the mountain's trees, or get an even closer look with a guided horseback trail ride or exhilarating glide on dueling zip lines.
(Courtesy of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort)

Ranch Rudolf
Traverse City, Michigan

Immerse yourself and your travel companions in brilliant fall colors while getting back to nature with this hidden gem in the Boardman River Valley south of Traverse City. At nearly 200 acres, the guest ranch is guarded by the colorful canopy of the Pere Marquette State Forest. The family-friendly resort offers horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking and miles of hiking trails, including a section of the National Park Service's North Country National Scenic Trail that winds all the way from New York to North Dakota.
(Courtesy of Ranch Rudolf)

Lakewoods Resort
Cable, Wisconsin

Wisconsin's north woods contains the venerable Lakewoods Resort. Its location in the heart of the 850,000-acre Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest makes it impossible to miss autumn's vibrant colors, as well as the fragrant fall scents and sounds of the forest. Activities include fishing, boating, biking, golf and more.
(Courtesy of Lakewoods Resort)

Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate
Asheville, North Carolina

With many easily accessible entrances to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville serves as an ideal home base for experiencing fall colors. The Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate opened in December 2015, and is a great option for families thanks to its relaxed setting, easy access to the Biltmore House, dubbed America's largest home, and plentiful outdoor pursuits on the Biltmore's 8,000-acre backyard. Plus, the property is surrounded by striking fall foliage.
(Courtesy of Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate)

Dollywood's DreamMore Resort
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Taking full advantage of its Great Smoky Mountains setting, Dollywood's DreamMore Resort welcomes guests with airy, three-story windows to take in sweeping views of the surrounding fall foliage displays. DreamMore's grounds contain plenty of open spaces to enjoy the Smoky Mountain fresh air, as well as storytelling spots, rocking chair-lined porches and even stargazing areas that are also suitable for leaf peeping. Plus, DreamMore guests receive exclusive benefits at Dollywood's theme park and the National Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration, which showcases crafts from local artisans and free concerts and runs through the end of October.
(Courtesy of Dollywood's DreamMore Resort)

Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm
Albuquerque, New Mexico

The southwestern high desert may not immediately come to mind when thinking of fall foliage, but Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm is full of surprises. With its long arboreal entryway and the abundance of trees throughout the property grounds, Los Poblanos is a sight to behold in the fall. Offering ballooning, paddling and biking packages, there's plenty of activities for the family to enjoy. Best of all, booking the "Little Farmers Package" entitles kids to milk and cookie deliveries to your room and gift bags filled with goodies such as stickers and crayons.
(Getty Images)

Sundance Resort
Sundance, Utah

Robert Redford's 5,000-acre Sundance Resort at the base of Mount Timpanogos is dedicated to blending recreation, art and nature. The scenic retreat offers children's art classes in beading, pottery and printmaking, as well as a kid-specific spa menu. What's more, Halloween lift rides allow families to travel high above the foliage, along with holiday-inspired scenes and costume-clad lift operators and actors.
(Courtesy of Sundance Resort)

Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina
Lake Tahoe, California

Located on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina offers cabins and hotel rooms along azure shores and is conveniently located nearby top hiking and biking trails, allowing families to immerse themselves in striking fall colors. The resort's Mountain Sports Center can outfit you and your crew with bikes and direct you to the area's alpine lakes and waterfalls. Or, you and the kiddos can enjoy strolls along the beach or boating in Emerald Bay.
(Courtesy of Camp Richardson)

Double Eagle Resort & Spa
June Lake, California

Dubbed "the Switzerland of California," Double Eagle Resort & Spa sits just 12 miles from Yosemite National Park's eastern entrance at the base of Carson Peak. The property grounds contain plenty of space for family hikes and horseback rides, plus there are idyllic areas for fishing. While the kids explore the outdoors, grown-ups can relax with indulgent massages or body treatments at the Creekside Spa.
(Courtesy of Double Eagle)

Father and son throwing autumn leaves.
Sunset on Heart Lake in the Adirondacks.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.
Ranch Rudolf.
Lakewoods Resort.
Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate.
Dollywood's DreamMore Resort.
A sagebrush chamisa plant in a desert meadow beneath the ridges and peaks with dramatic sky filled with clouds at sunset near the sandia mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Sundance Resort.
Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina.
Double Eagle Resort & Spa.

Experience vibrant autumn colors in charming retreats across the country.
The shorter days of fall afford an ideal time to plan a quick weekend escape to reconnect with loved ones ahead of the whirlwind holiday season. Plus, the brilliant fall foliage more than makes up for the limited daylight hours. So grab your fleece, a pumpkin spice latte and your hiking boots to shuffle through the falling leaves at these 10 kid-friendly resorts across the county that are perfect for a spectacular foliage trip.
(Getty Images)

Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa
Lake Placid, New York

Think luxury and family travel don't go together? Think again. Lake Placid's Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa has married a high-end atmosphere and kid-approved perks since the 1930s. Anchoring one end of Lake Placid's historic Olympic Village, the inn sits (as its name implies) on the shore and hill overlooking Mirror Lake. During the peak fall foliage season, sugar maples on the surrounding Adirondack Mountains blaze brilliant orange hues.
(Getty Images)

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
Farmington, Pennsylvania

Nestled in the Laurel Highlands region of the Allegheny Mountains, about an hour south of Pittsburgh, sits Nemacolin Woodlands Resort – a sprawling complex with five different lodging options from family townhouses to an ultra-luxury French chateau. Gaze out your window to admire the changing colors of the leaves layering the mountain's trees, or get an even closer look with a guided horseback trail ride or exhilarating glide on dueling zip lines.
(Courtesy of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort)

Ranch Rudolf
Traverse City, Michigan

Immerse yourself and your travel companions in brilliant fall colors while getting back to nature with this hidden gem in the Boardman River Valley south of Traverse City. At nearly 200 acres, the guest ranch is guarded by the colorful canopy of the Pere Marquette State Forest. The family-friendly resort offers horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking and miles of hiking trails, including a section of the National Park Service's North Country National Scenic Trail that winds all the way from New York to North Dakota.
(Courtesy of Ranch Rudolf)

Lakewoods Resort
Cable, Wisconsin

Wisconsin's north woods contains the venerable Lakewoods Resort. Its location in the heart of the 850,000-acre Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest makes it impossible to miss autumn's vibrant colors, as well as the fragrant fall scents and sounds of the forest. Activities include fishing, boating, biking, golf and more.
(Courtesy of Lakewoods Resort)

Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate
Asheville, North Carolina

With many easily accessible entrances to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville serves as an ideal home base for experiencing fall colors. The Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate opened in December 2015, and is a great option for families thanks to its relaxed setting, easy access to the Biltmore House, dubbed America's largest home, and plentiful outdoor pursuits on the Biltmore's 8,000-acre backyard. Plus, the property is surrounded by striking fall foliage.
(Courtesy of Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate)

Dollywood's DreamMore Resort
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Taking full advantage of its Great Smoky Mountains setting, Dollywood's DreamMore Resort welcomes guests with airy, three-story windows to take in sweeping views of the surrounding fall foliage displays. DreamMore's grounds contain plenty of open spaces to enjoy the Smoky Mountain fresh air, as well as storytelling spots, rocking chair-lined porches and even stargazing areas that are also suitable for leaf peeping. Plus, DreamMore guests receive exclusive benefits at Dollywood's theme park and the National Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration, which showcases crafts from local artisans and free concerts and runs through the end of October.
(Courtesy of Dollywood's DreamMore Resort)

Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm
Albuquerque, New Mexico

The southwestern high desert may not immediately come to mind when thinking of fall foliage, but Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm is full of surprises. With its long arboreal entryway and the abundance of trees throughout the property grounds, Los Poblanos is a sight to behold in the fall. Offering ballooning, paddling and biking packages, there's plenty of activities for the family to enjoy. Best of all, booking the "Little Farmers Package" entitles kids to milk and cookie deliveries to your room and gift bags filled with goodies such as stickers and crayons.
(Getty Images)

Sundance Resort
Sundance, Utah

Robert Redford's 5,000-acre Sundance Resort at the base of Mount Timpanogos is dedicated to blending recreation, art and nature. The scenic retreat offers children's art classes in beading, pottery and printmaking, as well as a kid-specific spa menu. What's more, Halloween lift rides allow families to travel high above the foliage, along with holiday-inspired scenes and costume-clad lift operators and actors.
(Courtesy of Sundance Resort)

Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina
Lake Tahoe, California

Located on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina offers cabins and hotel rooms along azure shores and is conveniently located nearby top hiking and biking trails, allowing families to immerse themselves in striking fall colors. The resort's Mountain Sports Center can outfit you and your crew with bikes and direct you to the area's alpine lakes and waterfalls. Or, you and the kiddos can enjoy strolls along the beach or boating in Emerald Bay.
(Courtesy of Camp Richardson)

Double Eagle Resort & Spa
June Lake, California

Dubbed "the Switzerland of California," Double Eagle Resort & Spa sits just 12 miles from Yosemite National Park's eastern entrance at the base of Carson Peak. The property grounds contain plenty of space for family hikes and horseback rides, plus there are idyllic areas for fishing. While the kids explore the outdoors, grown-ups can relax with indulgent massages or body treatments at the Creekside Spa.
(Courtesy of Double Eagle)

×

Tags: travel, vacations, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire


Erin Shields is the Assistant Managing Editor of Travel at U.S. News, where she oversees a team of editors and freelancers. With more than eight years of journalism experience, Erin manages the editorial content and strategy for features, slideshows and travel guides, and the Best Hotels, Best Vacations, Best Travel Rewards Programs and Best Cruise Lines ranking products. Previously, she was the Travel section's senior editor. Prior to joining U.S. News in 2013, Erin worked as a copy editor, page designer and social media manager for the Centre Daily Times newspaper in State College, Pennsylvania. A Baltimore native, Erin graduated from Penn State with degrees in journalism and international studies. You can follow Erin on Twitter or email her at eshields@usnews.com.

Recommended Articles

How to Find Cheap Flights

Holly Johnson | Dec. 13, 2018

These tips can help you see the world at prices you can afford.

5 Ways to Save Money on Honeymoon Travel

Nicola Wood | Dec. 11, 2018

Create priceless honeymoon memories without breaking the bank.

9 Small Towns That Go All Out for Christmas

Dec. 4, 2018

You don't have to travel to a big city to experience nonstop Christmas fun.

17 Family Ski Vacations to Take This Winter

Nov. 26, 2018

These family-friendly mountain resorts offer exceptional snow sports and activities for all ages.

The 50 Most Scenic Mountain Resorts

Nov. 19, 2018

Get away to enjoy the views and activities at these properties around the world.

10 New Cruise Ships and Amenities to Check Out

Nov. 13, 2018

See how cruise lines are raising the bar with tech-savvy touches and improved luxury experiences.

The 5 Top Health and Wellness Trends in Cruising

Nicola Wood | Nov. 13, 2018

Find out how taking a cruise can support your health, fitness and nutrition goals.

The 2019 Best Cruise Lines for the Money

Nov. 13, 2018

Find out which lines will help you save big on your next cruise vacation.

10 Travel Photography Tips for Getting Better Photos

Nov. 8, 2018

These tips can help you snap stunning and creative images without a fancy camera – or any experience.

What Is a Boutique Hotel?

Lyn Mettler | Oct. 22, 2018

Learn more about these accommodations and why they are so popular.