(Before It's News)
New England Fall Leaves Foliage (10/1-12/2016)
Note: currently updating this travel post with more amazing beautiful photo…
Seeing the Fall foliage in New England is amazing!Everywhere you go the colors are brilliant – bright yellows, oranges, bronzes, purples, and the vibrant reds blew us away. It is truly a wonder of the world happening this good only in New England and a part of Japan.
There are also charming New England towns to visit with covered bridges, quaint country B&B’s, good restaurants, country fairs, and for Pat, some of the best shopping she has found. Tourists are called “Leaf Peepers” and treated very friendly.
We choose to do a wonderful New England Fall Leaves tour starting in Boston, then heading up the coast of Maine, crossing over New Hampshire to Vermont, and back through New Hampshire and Massachusetts to Boston.
Below is a review of our trip that we highly recommend…
Boston & Cape Cod, Massachusetts
With the great availability of flights and lots of fun interesting things to do, historic Boston and Cape Cod is a good place to start a New England Fall leaves foliage tour. We spent 2 days – 1 in Boston and 1 on Cape Cod.
In Boston, we jumped on the hop on/hop off Super Tours trolley bus. They have three interconnected loops you can take stopping all over Boston. It was great to see and learn about Boston and its incredible history getting off at places we wanted to explore. Your ticket also includes a narrated boat ride on either the Charles River or Boston Inner Harbor.
We very much enjoyed the Boston Harbor cruiseand having lunch of lobster roll & Boston clam chowder from Boston Chowda in the Quincy Market near the harbor. Lots of fun performers are entertaining around Quincy Market.
The New England Aquarium is also located at the Boston Harbor and it is a 10-15 walk over to the beautiful must-see Boston Commons (see photo). Around this area is the self-guided Freedom Trailwhere you can walk to many famous historic sites of America’s oldest city that played an integral role in the American Revolution.
We also thoroughly enjoyed our day trip to Cape Cod. From Long Wharf on Boston Harbor, we took the 1 ½-hour Cape Cod Fast Ferry to Provincetown offered by Boston Harbor Cruises leaving at 9am and returning at 3pm. When we arrived in Provincetown, we jumped on the sightseeing Mayflower Trolley for an interesting 45-minute narrated tour around Cape Cod.
We then continued our Cape Cod visit strolling Provincetown’s main street (Commercial Street) exploring the cute shops and art galleries having lobster at the Lobster Potrestaurant just to the right of MacMillan Wharf where you arrive.
Cape Cod Travel Tip… turn left on Commercial Street from the wharf for the most of the shops, etc.
Kennebunkport is an incredibly beautiful and quaint small town on the southern coast of Maine – one of our favorites of our trip. Kennebunkport’s town center in and around Dock Square is located along the Kennebunk River. Kennebunkport was shipbuilding and fishing village for well over a century and is a popular summer seaside town and tourist destination.
The Dock Square area of Kennebunkport has B&B’s, quaint shops, art galleries, and good seafood restaurants. Some of the nice restaurants include David’soverlooking the river, Alisson’s, and the Crab Shack on Main Street.
Kennebunkport is where the Bush’s have their family home where they live and are often seen during the summer.
Lobster Tip: 90% of the lobster consumed in America (40 million pounds) comes from Maine and it is wonderful! Enjoy it for lunch because the dinner prices are often much higher. Also, lobster rolls can have more lobster in them than the smaller 1-pound lobsters and are can be better priced and already to eat – yum!
Camden is a well-known summer colony in the mid-Coast region of Maine. The downtown is quaint and filled with unique shops and good restaurants. For a treat, grab a gourmet sandwich or lobster roll from the Camden Deli and sit outside overlooking the picturesque schooner-filled harbor listening to the waterfall – a wonderful experience. If you like boat trips, you can take a 2-hour schooner trip of the area.
Just a couple of miles north of Camden is Mount Batti where the State Rangers claim has “Maine’s most beautiful view.” We haven’t toured all of Maine but do agree that the views of Camden and surroundings are fantastic and should not be missed (see photo). They are also several very nice hikes you can access from the road.
We stayed at the Victorian Inns at Blackberry Common. It is the type of place you imagine when you think “Romantic and Charming New England B&B”. We had a room with a fireplace – very nice! Camden’s historic downtown is about a 10-minute walk away. Owner and Chef Jim makes a wonderful breakfast in the morning – one of the nicest we have had.
When driving north on Maine’s coast to Camden, we stopped at Portland’s Old Dock area. There were crowds from the cruise ship and tourist buses so we continued on seeking quaint towns like Kennebunkport and Camden.
Some fun facts about Maine… almost 90% of America’s lobster and 97% of blueberries come from Maine. If you come to Maine for the Fall leaves, it is normally best mid-October.
The Kancamagus Highway
Even if you have to go out of your way, be sure not to miss New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway (pronounced “Kank-ah-mah-gus.” It is truly one of the most scenic highways in America and one of the best Fall foliage viewing areas in the country.
Running about 35 miles along Route 112 between Conway and Lincoln through the White Mountain National Forest, the Kancamagus Highway offers spectacular views of the White Mountains, Swift River, falls, and during the Fall, brilliant Fall foliage colors. Completing the experience, you can enjoy the smells of pines, river, and changing leaves.
We started on the east end of the Kancamagus Highway at Conway. Starting at either end is great (just reverse this advice). Right at the start from Conway, you may want to stop in the Saco Ranger Stationfor a current map, suggestions for what you want to do, and have any questions answered. The rangers are very helpful.
After traveling about 6 miles, turn into the road to see the Albany Covered Bridge and take a walk around this beautiful area. The next stop should be Lower Falls. There is a lot to see after that but do not miss the Sugar Hill Overlook, Lily Pond, and the Hancock Overlook. Just before the Sugar Hill Overlook, the less than 1-mile round trip easy hike to Sabbaday Falls is nice when there is water running.
Some background on Fall Leaves: There are only two places in the world where the Fall leaves have the most brilliant foliage – in America’s New England and part of Japan. These changing colors of autumn signal the trees are getting ready for winter. The food making process is over in the leave cells containing chlorophyll that give them their green color.
In Fall, the leaves stop making food partly due to shorter periods of daylight and cooler temperatures. The green disappears and the yellow and orange colors appear. The vibrant reds, purples, and bronzes appear due to other process like the sugars trapped in the Maple leaves by the cool nights turning them red or if on the shady side, they can become yellow.
Stowe is a wonderful town to visit and this area has beautiful Fall foliage. If you have some ‘spurge’ in your travel budget and up for some elegance in the mountains, we recommend staying at the Von Trapp Family Lodge.
When we left Stowe, we traveled south on Vermont’s beautiful Byway Hwy 100 to Woodstock enjoying wonderful foliage and stopping to enjoy country stores. Fans of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream can stop for a fun factory tour. Don’t miss the ‘graveyard’ where they have retired the favors that did not work – the descriptions are funny.
We loved driving south on Hwy stopping at country stores and fair and seeing covered bridges (good on in Waitsfield). If you want to see a pretty waterfall, stop at Moss Glen Falls. It is only about a 2-minute hike right off Hwy 100.
Woodstock is a pretty town to explore where you can explore quaint shops, art galleries, and restaurants. If you arrive during lunchtime, be sure to try the gourmet Zesto sandwich at Mon Vert Café.
We also enjoyed visiting the town of Quechee located near Woodstock. Along U.S. Route 4, the Quechee Gorge (known as Vermont’s little Grand Canyon) is beautiful. Also, a visit to the Simone Pearce glass blowing store perched over the falls of the Ottauquechee River is a very nice experience. Go downstairs for a great view of the falls and the Quechee Covered Bridge.
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
Wolfeboro is a cute town on Lake Winnipesaukee and is America’s oldest summer resort. You can take a 2-hour drive around Lake Winnipesaukee stopping at interesting places. We liked Alton Bay – the only place in the U.S where planes land on the frozen lake during winter. Don’t miss taking a boat cruise on the Mount Washington.
An interesting place to visit is Castle in the Cloudsto visit the Luchnow Mansion off Hwy 171 (Old Mountain Road) near Meridith located northeast of Lake Winnipesaukee. The beautiful 2-mile drive up to it and the wonderful view of Lake Winnipesaukee is view the price of admission. Also, the turkey sandwich at Carriage House restaurant was wonderful. We also enjoyed the short walk up to the Falls of Song waterfall.
Great idea for a wonderful Fall Foliage week… We spent 12 days on our trip. If you have less time, here is a great itinerary for a 5-7 day trip: 1) Don’t miss the Kancamagus Highway across New Hampshire starting near Conway; 2) go up to Stove, Vermont; 3) take the beautiful Vermont Byway Hwy 100 and 4 south to Woodstock, Vermont; and then go to 4) Lake Winnipesaukee New Hampshire.
Sturbridge makes for a great stop. We loved our visit to the Old Sturbridge Village where you can have fun discovering what life was like in New England in the 1930’s. On 200 scenic acres, they have 59 original antique buildings including homes, school, meetinghouses, country store, bank, water-powered mill, shops, and a working farm. Be sure not to miss the short boat ride on Quinebaug River that boards near the Vermont Covered Bridge.
It’s fun to interact with authentically dressed staff to better understand 19th-century life. There are a number of demonstrations put on during the day and lunch at the Bullard Tavern was nice. In addition to having fun and an interesting experience at the Old Sturbridge Village, you come away with a greater appreciation of what we have today.
On our way back to Boston, we stopped at Concord located 19 miles away and were so glad we did. Concord is a pretty town rich in U.S. history. This is where “the shot heard round the world” was fired that started the U.S. Revolutionary War at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. We suggest you park near the historic Colonial Inn in downtown Concord. It is a nice place to stay; lunch there is good, and they have maps of the area and will answer questions.
From the Colonia Inn it is a nice walk or short drive to the historic sites of the battle at the Minute Man National Historic Park. The free 30-minute film at the Minute Man Visitor Center offers a nice overview of what happened here in 1775.
In the mid-19thcentury, Concord developed into a literary center featuring Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. You can walk around Walden Pond here and literary fans can visit the graves of these legends at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Save some time to walk around the town of Concord visiting some of the shops and have some lunch at one of the nice restaurants.
Travel tip… What is the best time of year to enjoy the Fall leaves?
It changes every year – this year because of the dryness, it was a little late but still wonderful. Normally, beginning October is best in northern New England and mid-Oct further south. You can Google “peak fall foliage” to get the best predictions.
Travel tip… What are some good money saving tips for visiting New England during the Fall foliage time?
Plan early! Because tourism in this area is somewhat limited and Fall is by far the busiest season, accommodations book out early. We planned 6 months ahead and were already finding places booked or the last few rooms. And prices go up as the season nears. So, starting in January is not too soon.
Also, stay in the quaint B&B’s – not only will it greatly enhance your experience, they can save you some money over the big hotels.