As a child, I measured my summers in corn. Every year in early June, my friends and I would cycle to the neighborhood farm in my small New England town and watch the tractor methodically plant seedlings in the ground. In July, these seedlings would be hip-high, and by late August, they would tower over us. That’s how we knew it was time for school again. Even though the idea of going back to geometry class wasn’t exactly exciting, there was one natural phenomenon that was worth waiting for: the leaves changing color.
In October, the trees looming in my garden in Rhode Island were a picturesque mix of burnt orange, red, brown, magenta and yellow. And even though the years have passed, these trees still take on the same rainbow hues every fall. I never knew how lucky I was to have this view until I discovered the peepers.
Related: 14 Fall Road Trips to See the Best Fall Foliage
Every year, millions of people flock to New England to see the fall foliage. With a little planning and a bit of luck with the weather, you can experience this too. Here are the best New England fall foliage destinations to visit. Just make sure you get a corncob for me on the way.
The best time to visit New England’s northernmost state is the second week of October, according to MaineFoliage.com. And one of the best places to enjoy it is the town of Camden. Here leaf voyeurs can head to Camden Hills State Park, house of Mount Battie. Not only is the hike beautiful, but the summit offers unparalleled views of the colorful treetops. While you’re there, book a stay at the charming Hartstone Inna bed and breakfast located in the heart of the city.
The best time to visit Vermont to see the leaves change color is the first week of October, according to NewEngland.com. And no trip would be complete without spending time in the beautiful mountain town of Stowe. Although the town was made famous for its world-class skiing, it’s still worth visiting in the fall to see the beautiful foliage. Visitors can hike, mountain bike or horse-bike through the multicolored forest. While in Stowe, stay at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spawhich offers special fall packages and is home to an expansive spa that is sure to warm you up on a chilly fall day.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Nestled along the New Hampshire coastline is Portsmouth, a town so charming it could easily serve as a Norman Rockwell painting. Stroll through Portsmouth Market Square as the tree-lined street changes color in mid-October. This, NewEngland.com notes, is the optimum fall foliage period in the region. In town, book a night at The Portsmouth Hotela charming bed-and-breakfast that perfectly blends old New England style with modern amenities.
Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
Most of Massachusetts offers excellent views of the fall foliage, but there might not be anything better than the Mohawk Trail. The 60+ mile route stretches from the New York border to the Connecticut River. Travelers can drive, hike, or navigate the route and visit over 100 attractions along the way. In the fall, don’t miss the Bridge of Flowers, an ancient traveling bridge in the town of Shelburne Falls, which comes alive with vibrant orange, yellow and red maple leaves. In Shelburne, book a stay at Cavalier Cottagea pet-friendly bed-and-breakfast, for the ultimate New England getaway.
Newport, Rhode Island
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 change color and Newport Mansions put on their spookiest Halloween shows. During your visit, drive down Ocean Road, a stunning stretch of coastline that will leave you in awe. Arrive at dawn or dusk to avoid the crowds. In Newport, plan your stay at by Gurneywhich sits at the end of a peninsula overlooking Newport Bay.
Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire
Get behind the wheel and head to the Kancamagus Highway for a leaf-viewing experience behind the wheel. The reader, which hugs the cities of Lincoln and Conway, winds through the White Mountain National Forest, stretching more than 34 miles. Whether or not you stop along the way, you’ll feel like you’re in a kaleidoscope of fall foliage. Must-see stops include the Sabbaday Falls in Conway, with stunning forest views and a snapshot of Mount Washington. A journey like this requires equally idyllic accommodations, which you will find at Kancamagus Swift River Innwith its own hiking trails so you can take in the views at your leisure.
Old Lyme, Connecticut
The best time to experience fall foliage in most of Connecticut is second and third week of October, although its season can extend until the first week of November. If you’re planning a visit, book early as accommodations statewide sell out quickly. One of the best places to visit is Old Lyme, a small town along the Connecticut coast. Although it’s a trendy summer vacation destination, its larger-than-life trees make it a favorite spot for foliage enthusiasts. In old Lyme, stay next door Copper Beech Innfeatures a delicious restaurant serving New England classics.
Montgomery offers two reasons to visit in the fall: the foliage and the covered bridges. Head to the small town for an unforgettable fall getaway. Its geography necessitated several covered bridges, which once served to more than a dozen. Now there are six covered bridges left, making great photo stops in the fall, each surrounded by a rainbow hue of leaves floating on the ground. In Montgomery, choose to stay at the inna boutique hotel with the look of a typical Vermont mountain chalet.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park is another great Maine destination with gorgeous foliage views. Here, the colors of autumn usually peak between October 13 and 22, but Mother Nature can be fickle, so be sure to be flexible. Come to the park for a long hike or camp overnight and see how the leaves change from day to day. For a little more luxury, book a stay at the nearby Claremont, a hotel with a sparkling pool for warmer days and a spa for those who want to soothe their muscles after hiking in the national park.
Not all fall foliage escapes require getting out into the wild—leaf voyeurs can also head to Boston for a city break. The city experiences its peak foliage throughout October, with its best colors appearing around Halloween, according to boston.gov. Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to watching the changing seasons, including Boston Common, Back Bay Fens, and tree-lined neighborhoods like North End and Beacon Hill. There are also many hotels in the city, although the Four Seasons is a top pick that often offers fall foliage packages to help guests get the most out of their stay.