As the air turns fresh and crisp, so begins the spectacular seasonal changes, as a kaleidoscope of colour transforms the New England landscape into a vibrant mix of red and gold hues, signifying the arrival of fall.
For millions, it’s the perfect time to explore the mesmerising scenery, charming autumnal countryside and vibrant cities of New England - the northeast corner of the USA made up of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. To help you plan the perfect getaway, here is our round-up of the most beautiful New England locations to visit this fall.
Our top pick is Boston, the capital of Massachusetts and the largest city in the New England region. It is renowned for its rich historical heritage, lively and diverse culture, storied universities, lobster rolls, and steaming bowls of clam chowder.
Among the popular spots to enjoy the most vibrant fall colours is Boston Common, considered the oldest city park in America. However, taking a leisurely stroll through Back Bay Fens, marvelling at the sights on the tree-lined walks through the Beacon Hill neighbourhood and visiting the esteemed Harvard University campus will also be sure to amaze, especially during October when the colours are at their best, and Halloween and fall-themed activities are in fullswing throughout the city.
Other must-dos include visiting one of the city’s excellent pumpkin picking locations, catching a game and cheering on the Bruins (NHL), Celtics (NBA) or Patriots (NFL), and enjoying the impressive food scene before unwinding at one of the city’s high-end hotels. With its exceptional views, Four Seasons Hotel in Back Bay is our favourite.
CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS
Cape Cod is a large peninsular south of Boston. A popular summer vacation destination, it becomes far calmer during September and October, a time known as the ‘second summer’ by the locals. The autumnal foliage is spectacular around the Cape Cod Rail Trail, particularly along the shoreline, where the blue ocean accentuates the vibrant golden colours even more.
The fall is an ideal time to venture out into the bay on sailing trips, where you may be lucky enough to spot whales or be joined by inquisitive dolphins, before strolling along the sandy beaches or watching the sunset from one of the local clam shacks.
From high-end boutique hotels to luxurious resorts complete with prestigious golf courses and spas, plenty of impressive 5-star options dot this stunning strip of coastline.
Nestling at the base of Mount Mansfield, Stowe’s compact and picturesque town is regarded as one of the world’s finest ski resorts. However, during the fall, visitors are drawn by the outstanding natural beauty, particularly the vast swathes of forest that adorn the Stowe Valley exploding into shades of gold and red.
Whether you hike, bike or horseback ride the miles of trail pathways that traverse the mountains, or kayak along the Lamoille or Winooski rivers, you’ll find breathtaking views around each turn. And, for a truly epic vista, take the Gondola SkyRide to the summit of Mount Mansfield – it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT
New Haven is another of New England’s coastal gems. Home to the prestigious Yale University, the city boasts enchanting tree-lined streets, historic architecture and a vibrant art and culinary scene. Around a fifth of the city is dedicated to green space, so the fall colours aren’t hard to find. Yale’s storied campus is a fascinating destination all year round, but in October, when bright leaves cover the trees and sidewalks, it’s especially captivating.
Many believe the city’s best spot to admire nature’s display is East Rock Park, which offers walking, hiking and bike trails for all skill levels. If you feel up to it, climb the rock steps to the summit and enjoy 360-degree views of New Haven, and beyond, in all its fall splendour.
The coastal city of Portland is a destination sure to charm all its visitors. From late September to early November, the city and its surroundings are transformed by an absolute riot of colour. Some of the best ‘leaf peeping’ can be found around Baxter Woods, Cathedral Park, and Forest Park, with its 80 miles of trails to explore. Do find time to visit the bustling Old Port with its cobbled streets, stylish boutique shops, local breweries and delightful restaurants cooking up the freshest seafood.
About 160 miles north of Portland is the vast, dramatic landscape of the Acadia National Park, offering over 47,000 acres of forests with extraordinary vantage points to explore. The quaint seaside town of Bar Harbor, is a naturally beautiful base from which to explore Acadia.
PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Portsmouth has an irresistible historic allure and teems with gourmet restaurants, delightful bookstores, and upmarket boutiques. From mid-October, the city’s attractive waterfront and charming downtown are awash with colour. Stroll through quaint cobblestone streets lined with centuries-old architecture, explore the shops in Market Square, take in the colours of fall at waterside Prescott Park, and enjoy the Portsmouth Harbour Trail, admiring the historic buildings and fine homes framed by foliage.
However, our top tip for luxurious leaf-peeping is to take a private foliage cruise along the Piscataqua River, or embark on a scenic helicopter tour for some hard-to-beat panoramic views.
PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
Providence’s historic streets and neighbourhoods display brilliant hues of autumnal colours throughout fall. The beautifully landscaped Roger Williams Park, with its fine specimen trees and Japanese garden, is particularly resplendent. The short hop to the historic small town of Bristol and the spectacular Colt State Park, with its sweeping, panoramic views across Narragansett Bay, is a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike.
The Halloween experience in Providence is something rather special too. For the young and the young at heart, the intricately carved pumpkins of the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular are astonishing, and listening to haunted tales on the Providence Ghost Tour is a spine-tingling experience.