What do fiery oranges, sultry yellows, and candy-apple reds all have in common? New England in the fall. Anything you have ever heard about New England is right: it is full of quaint tiny cabins, towns that look like Gilmore Girls takes place there, and some pretty unique places to see fall colors! The best way to experience all that and more is with a New England fall road trip itinerary.
So in this post, we’re going to spill all the tea (or pumpkin spice?) on how to pull off the best NE itinerary including information I’ve gathered from three separate New England fall trips I’ve taken over the years.
We’ll cover multiple itineraries: 10 days, 5 days, and 3 days—mainly focused on Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine (maps included). So to make your life easier, below you’ll find a table of contents. Feel free to use it while you’re navigating through this guide!
To start, we need to cover some must-know planning details before you embark on your trip!
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Table of Contents:
- 10-Day Fall Itinerary from Albany, NY
- BONUS Itineraries
- 10-Day Fall Itinerary from Boston, MA
- 5-Day Fall Itinerary
- 3-Day Fall Itinerary
- BONUS Stops
Planning Your New England Fall Road Trip
- 📍Where is New England: New England is a compilation of US states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
- 🍁States with the Best Foliage: New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont—all covered in this post.
- ❓When to Go: Late September, Mid-October—First week of October is usually a good ballpark.
- ⏰Trip Length: 10 days is ideal—5to 7 is great too (all covered in this post)
- ✈️Fly: Start in Boston or Albany, New York. Check KAYAK for flights starting at $53.
- 🚗Rental Car: Also check KAYAK for the best prices in Albany or Boston!
Before you start your New England itinerary, there are some things you MUST know while you’re planning.
When is the Best Time to See Fall Colors in New England in 2023?
The best time to see fall colors in New England is beginning to mid-October.
After three years of experience, I have always had the best luck exploring the first week of October.
The peak time to see colors can change depending on how much water the trees receive leading up to the fall season. A dry season can result in less vibrant leaves! As you plan, keep a daily eye on the New England peak fall foliage map—which leads us to the next must-know.
Fall Colors Are (Semi) Unpredictable
Planning fall trips to New England can be a tricky business. You see, you’re playing with a season, and seasons can be unpredictable.
My advice: be as flexible as possible with your New England fall trips.
Daily, you’ll want to keep an eye on the leaf monitors to ensure you’re getting the most accurate reading of colors. During my trips, I found that sometimes the leaves would change color overnight!
Pro Tip: Don’t get tied up in going to a single spot for New England fall foliage. Instead, have a general list of places you want to see and go from there. This blog will provide you with plenty of options!
Start North, Head South
Leaves tend to change north first and gradually work their way south. When in doubt, hit your northern fall foliage destinations first and move down!
Where to Begin Your Trip
From experience, starting your New England fall road trip itinerary in Albany, NY or Boston, MA (Boston-Logan International) will give you the best flexibility and EPIC itineraries.
My favorite trips have always been a loop, beginning in NY, heading North, and ending in New York’s Adirondacks. I want to make sure you have options, though.
So first, we’ll cover a 10-day itinerary from Albany, NY. Then as a bonus, we’ll cover starting from Boston (in case you want to do that instead).
Let’s start with the Albany itinerary.
10-Day New England Fall Road Trip Itinerary Starting in New York
- Day 1 — Arrive in Albany, NY ; Berkshires
- Day 2 — White Mountains ; Kancamagus Highway
- Day 3 — Franconia Notch State Park
- Day 4 — Crawford Notch State Park
- Day 5 — Acadia National Park
- Day 6 — Acadia National Park
- Day 7 — Dixville Notch State Park
- Day 8 — Stowe, VT ; Smuggler’s Notch
- Day 9 — Lake Placid, NY ; Adirondacks
- Day 10 — Head to Albany, NY
Below is a map that includes all the destinations I listed for the ten-day New England fall road trip and the bonus locations we’ll cover later.
The map has layers for our alternative itineraries, too—we’ll cover these in detail later. And finally, the map includes layers with the recommended things to do and places to eat we’ll cover in this post!
Click here for a live version of the map!
You can thank me later ;).
Let’s dive in! Each day has its own list of things to do, places to eat, and where to stay.
Day 1 — Arrive in NY and Drive to Berkshires, MA
Day 1 in Sum (Total Drive Time: ~2 hours)
- Arrive in New York and pick up car
- Drive to Berkshires, ~2hrs
- Visit Mount Greylock
- Stay in Berkshires, MA—Tourists, The Williams Inn
After flying into New York and picking up your car, your New England foliage adventure will begin in the Berkshires, MA.
Your drive to the Berkshires from Albany, NY, will be about 1 hour and 20 minutes—it’s a great place to start the fall fun! Try to arrive early to late afternoon, at the latest, so you can get the most out of your first day.
Since today is pretty transit focused, you’ll want time to rest up before getting to the real fun ;).
Start by heading to Mount Greylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts, which stands at 3,489ft.
Don’t worry; I’m not making you hike the very first day you get here. Drive up to the top of Mount Greylock and admire the fall views from above!
For food in the area, Korean Garden is the place for tasty Asian dishes! Another option is Pera Bistro which offers a Mediterranean menu.
Need supplies and snacks? To and from Mount Greylock, you’ll have stores like Walmart available.
Where to Stay Near The Berkshires
Adams and Williamstown are where you’ll find amazing mountain resorts tucked away in the woods—perfect for fall.
Here’s a quick list of places you’d like:
- Tourists ($$$) — Luxury accommodations that will make you think you’ve just entered the mountain escape of your dreams. Pet friendly, great food, great music, even BETTER vibes.
- The Williams Inn ($$$) — Luxury hotel nestled in the mountains that will make you feel like east coast royalty. Great for couples with spacious, clean rooms and super cozy beds—check out the bar and The Log restaurant!
If camping is more your vibe, you’ll be a bit out of the way, but the Savoy Mountain State Forest has options for tent camping, car camping, and log cabins.
You must reserve a spot ahead of time, though before choosing to camp here during your fall road trip in New England.
Tomorrow will be one of the longer driving days because you’ll want to head to the White Mountains from here, so rest up!
Day 2 — White Mountains
Day 2 in Sum (Total Drive Time: ~5 hours)
- Drive the Mohawk Trail Scenic Drive
- Drive to White Mountains, New Hampshire
- Explore Kancamagus Highway
- Stay in Conway, NH—The Stonehurst Manor, Ledge & Lake Chalet, North Conway Grand Hotel
If day one didn’t satisfy your hunger for pumpkin spice and fall vibes, day two will! Your fall trip to New England will continue up to New Hampshire. Today’s commute will be about 4 hours, so plan accordingly!
Drive the Mohawk Trail
Before leaving Massachusetts, you’ll drive the Mohawk Trail—one of the most scenic New England foliage drives! The entire trail stretches about 69 miles.
The drive includes plenty of mountainside vistas that’ll make you fall in love with MA—see what I did there ;).
Explore the Kancamagus Highway
After 4 hours, you’ll arrive in Lincoln, NH—a town in New Hampshire’s White Mountains and a well-known hub for visitors. Once there, grab something to eat at Gypsy Cafe or a coffee at Half Baked & Fully Brewed (The Moon Cafe & Bakery is a great alternative)!
None of that your vibe? Black Mtn Burger Co is another popular place to eat in Lincoln, NH!
You’ll spend three days in the area, so today, you’ll explore some popular attractions along the Kancamagus Highway. Then, you will spend the next two days exploring state parks.
Driving the entire Kancamagus Highway takes about an hour.
The Highway goes 37 miles through the White Mountains, starting in Lincoln, NH, and ending in Conway, NH (where you’ll be staying next). Unfortunately, there are no gas stations or food options along the Highway, so bring snacks!
All vehicles must pay a $5 entrance fee. You can read more online at KancamagusHighway.com
Here are a few notable attractions to consider:
- Flume Gorge—A gorgeous park nestled in the forest. Visit the red Flume Covered Bridge every Instagrammer loves to photograph (including me hehehe). To enter Flume Gorge, you’ll have to pay $18 (if you grab your pass online). In-person passes are $21. Click here for more details!
- Hancock Overlook—Located along the Kancamagus Hairpin Turn, Hancock Overlook will seriously leave you in awe with its view of rolling hills and mountains COVERED in vibrant fall foliage.
- Sabbaday Falls—One of New Hampshire’s most visited waterfalls!
Click here to grab a Kancamagus audio tour!
Fun fact, covered bridges are known as “kissing bridges” because of their privacy. Make your way through the Highway until you reach Conway. Lincoln, NH is pretty small, so you’ll be better off driving the entire Highway and staying in the Conway, NH, area.
Read Next: Best Stops Along the Kancamagus Highway
Popular food spots for when you arrive in Conway include: Chef’s Bistro, Vito Marcello’s Italian Bistro, and Muddy Moose Restaurant & Pub.
Where to Stay in Conway, NH
Conway, NH is a fairly big city and you’ll probably find more things to do in the North Conway area. So when considering accommodations, try to stay there!
Here are some places to consider:
- The Stonehurst Manor ($$$)—A glorious mansion in North Conway where you’ll enjoy a romantic-style room complete with a fireplace! With your stay you can enjoy free dinner and breakfast.
- Ledge & Lake Chalet ($$)—A cozy chalet nestled in the White Mountains. Enjoy a fall foliage view from your windows before taking a short walk to Echo Lake!
- North Conway Grand Hotel ($$)—A great hotel with everything you could ask for! Enjoy the spa, pool, and proximity to outdoor adventures. You can even cozy up in a king room complete with a personal hot tub (if that’s your style).
Want a cabin getaway? Check out this guide: Cozy Cabin Rentals in North Conway, NH
P.S. You should read: 20+ Things to Do in the White Mountains, NH
Day 3 — Franconia Notch State Park (Amazing New England Fall Road Trip Sunrise)
Day 3 in Sum (Total Drive Time: ~2 hours)
- Spend the morning at Artist Bluff
- Explore Franconia Notch State Park
- Check out more of North Conway
- Stay in Conway, NH— The Stonehurst Manor, Ledge & Lake Chalet, North Conway Grand Hotel
On Day 3 of your New England fall road trip itinerary you’ll get to see the popular Franconia Notch State Park and explore one of my favorite New Hampshire towns: Conway—woohoo!
Hiking Artist Bluff Trail
First stop: Artist Bluff Trail for some leaf peeping in New England this morning!
I’ve gone here for sunrise in the past, but a mid-morning hike is a great choice too!
The drive here from Conway will be about 1 hour, but it’s worth it! The trail is about 1.9miles round trip with very minimal elevation gain.
Artist Bluff is where you will get the famous New England foliage view of Echo Lake—prepare for your jaw to DROP. I mean, just look at the pictures.
Warning: The trail gets SO windy at the top, so don’t wear anything that can fly away.
Franconia Notch State Park
After your hike, take some time to explore the rest of the park! Below are some attractions to consider:
- Echo Lake Beach—You already saw the lake from above. Now go explore the fall-covered shoreline! Click here to book parking reservations—parking is limited.
- Hike More Trails—Lonesome Lake Trail, Mt. Pemigewasset Trail, and the Appalachian Trail are more fall hikes you can enjoy.
- Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway—Enjoy fall views from 4,000 feet in the sky! Taking the sky tram up Cannon Mountain will give you views of New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, AND Canada.
This is a pretty scenic area of New Hampshire—I enjoyed just driving around!
North Conway, NH
After your adventures, drive the Kancamagus Highway to North Conway. Since you already explored the Highway yesterday, you can go straight through!
North Conway, New Hampshire like the New England mountain town of your dreams, complete with a little railroad *choo choo* and boutique shops. It’s a gem nestled in the White Mountains. Surrounded by endless trees that go orange in the fall, North Conway is the perfect place to snack on pumpkin spice everything while you cozy up in oversized knit scarves and sweaters.
So, duhhhhhh, it has to be a stop on your itinerary.
You can shop, eat, or hang out at Schouler Park—a large grassy area perfect for a picnic.
If you didn’t get coffee earlier, The Met is the place to be! Want something sweet to end your day? Check out the White Mountain Cupcakery! Chocolate peanut butter cupcakes— SIGN ME UP.
Also, make time to check out the Conway Scenic Railroad.
If you’re in the mood for another hike, Black Cap Trail is great for fall foliage! Black Cap Trail is about 610ft in elevation gain and a 2.3mi round trip. At the top, you’ll have sweeping mountain views of the Presidential Range.
Black Cap is a pretty easy hike, so if you didn’t feel like doing Artist Bluff Earlier, this is a great alternative.
You’ll stay in Conway again—tomorrow will be your last night here!
Day 4—Crawford Notch State Park (My Fave New England Fall Foliage Stop)
Day 4 in Sum (Total Drive Time: ~1.5 hours)
- Drive to Crawford Notch State Park
- Visit Mount Willard Trail, Frankenstein Cliffs & other major attractions
- Stay in Conway, NH— The Stonehurst Manor, Ledge & Lake Chalet, North Conway Grand Hotel
Ahhhh, another day on our New England fall road trip. Today we’re heading a little bit north and going to Crawford Notch State Park where you’ll be deep in the White Mountains—prime spot for fall colors!
Exploring Crawford Notch State Park
Crawford Notch makes up a large pass that carves straight through the White Mountains. In New Hampshire’s smallest town, Hart’s Location, Crawford Notch State Park, is the hidden mountain gem you didn’t know you needed in your life.
If everything aligns, you could see peak fall colors here, which is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Fall will paint the trees with the most intense red color, leaving any fall lover speechless! Since the park lines a small section of the White Mountain Highway, it’s pretty easy to get around.
One of the best parts about Crawford is that you can bring your furry friends there! On my last trip to NE, I brought my pup along, and he LOVED this portion of the White Mountain National Forest. If you’re heading to Crawford Notch, you must do at least one hike! That’s the best way to see the colors.
Here are a couple of trails to consider:
- Mount Willard Trail—Hike for a jaw-dropping valley full of fall colors. The trail is approximately 3.2 miles round trip with 950ft of elevation gain.
- Frankenstein Cliffs—A more challenging trail that will take you to Arethusa Falls. Some parts of the trail will take you close to parts of the park’s railroad (Frankenstein Trestle)!
If hiking isn’t your thing, though, there are plenty of other neat fall experiences you can enjoy here:
- Enjoy a Scenic Overlook—You can enjoy tons of overlooks and pullouts as you drive around Crawford. Some have views of fall foliage along the Saco Rover (the river that lines the whole park).
- Ride the Conway Scenic Railroad—From Crawford Station, you can ride the Conway Scenic Railroad’s Mountaineer route, which is a ridiculously scenic fall ride through the mountains.
- Go Back in Time at Willey House—Visit the historical Willey House and look at old park photographs, eat ice cream, or enjoy the surrounding outdoor scenery.
Read Next: Cozy North Conway Cabin Rentals
For the night, you’ll stay in Conway again before we continue on your New England fall road trip itinerary—Maine is up next!
Day 5—Acadia National Park, Maine for Sunset
Day 5 in Sum (Total Drive Time: ~4 hours)
- Drive to Acadia National Park
- See the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse for sunset
- Stay in Bar Harbor—The Primrose, The Inn on Mount Desert, Bar Harbor Grand Hotel
Today’s leg of the road trip will take you all the way up to Maine! Maine has to be one of my favorite states for New England fall foliage because you get a unique mix of autumn colors and ocean views. You’ll love it!
Bar Harbor, Maine
While this is a 4-hour drive, you don’t have to be anywhere until sunset hits. So if you have some time to spare, grab some food in Conway and some snacks for the road before continuing your leaf-peeping New England adventures!
And the drive up to Acadia will be beautiful! You’ll be in the mountains LITTERED with fall colors—ooo la laaa!
You’ll spend two nights in Bar Harbor—the gateway to Acadia National Park.
Bar Harbor is a town on Mount Desert Island, surrounded by gorgeous cliffs and the ocean. Known for its stunning coastal vibes and boating, Bar Harbor is the perfect place to enjoy a lobster roll after a full day of exploring the park.
If that sounds like your vibe, you must check out The Travelin Lobster!
P.S. While you’re here, I recommend you take a tour around Bar Harbor and Acadia NP!
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Tomorrow you’ll have a full day to enjoy the park, so you only need a quick sunset excursion today!
For your first sunset in Acadia National Park, I suggest visiting the classic Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.
Bass Harbor Head was constructed in 1858 and was considered significant for its aid, making transportation possible in Maine. You may not see much New England fall foliage here, but it’s the easiest way to enjoy your first evening in Acadia National Park.
Expect parking to be limited and hectic!
This is a popular photography spot but a must-see for visiting the park—plan to get here almost an hour before sunset. For dinner, I recommend checking out Cafe This Way! They have something for everyone, from fresh lobster to a vegan burger!
Cafe This Way also has a great breakfast menu, just saying.
Where to Stay in Bar Harbor
The hotels in Bar Harbor are just as dreamy as the views—check them out:
- The Primrose ($$)—An elegant hotel where you’ll be just a mile from Acadia! The Victorian-style rooms will leave you in awe, but so will the fluffy pumpkin pancakes!
- The Inn on Mount Desert ($$)—A charming guest home is an adorable Bar Harbor neighborhood. You’ll love staying here for its proximity to downtown and cozy beds that practically hug you to sleep.
- Bar Harbor Grand Hotel ($$)—A gorgeous hotel property modeled after the elegant 19th century Bar Harbor homes that used to line the city. It’s centrally located to the beach, park, and downtown—everything is within walking distance!
You’ll start tomorrow with a sunrise mission, so get plenty of rest!
Day 6—Acadia National Park
Day 6 in Sum (Total Drive Time: ~1 hour)
- Adventure through Acadia National Park
- Cadillac Mountain, Jesup Path, Beehive Trail
- Stay in Bar Harbor— The Primrose, The Inn on Mount Desert, Bar Harbor Grand Hotel
Today will be your time to see as many things to do in Acadia National Park as possible!
While exploring Acadia National Park in the fall, you may as well see the first sunrise in the USA! During October, the sun rises over Cadillac Mountain before anywhere else in the country, so it’s a popular park attraction!
To ensure you get parking, head there about an hour before sunrise.
Staying in Bar Harbor will put you about 15 minutes away.
After sunrise, I suggest driving 15 minutes back into Bar Harbor for some breakfast! Try Jordan’s Restaurant!
Hiking Jesup Path and Hemlock Path Loop
In the afternoon, head to Jesup Path and Hemlock Path Loop! It’s an AMAZING trail for seeing New England fall foliage.
The trail is only 1.5 miles round trip and pretty much flat the entire time. The loop takes about 30-60 minutes to complete, and you’ll walk along tall trees covered in color the entire time.
If you’re not up for going on Jesup, try one of these awesome things to do:
- 3-Hour Private Tour—Take a private tour that’ll bring you through the best of what the park has to offer including Park Loop Road, Cadillac Mountain, and Sand Beach!
- Foodie Tour—Spend the afternoon exploring Bar Harbor and eat your heart out! This highly rated foodie tour will have you eating lobster rolls, crab cakes and more.
- Bike Around—See all of Acadia’s best views by biking around! Rent an e-bike and you’ll get to explore the entire park on your own time all while enjoying a breezy ride through fall colors.
You can also just explore more of Bar Harbor!
Beehive Trail for Sunset
And now it’s time for sunset—hit that Beehive Trail! Beehive Trail is relatively short, sitting at about 1.5 miles round trip, and will take you up a cliffside where you’ll see coastal views and an ocean of fall colors.
You can make a loop out of the hike or turn around at the top of the main cliff. When I hiked Beehive Trail, rather than making a loop out of it, I went to the top of the cliff and then back down the same way.
It was easier to navigate back to the car since the trail was pretty dark after the sun went down.
So pro tip, bring a headlamp for your sunset excursion!
I should also note that this hike includes ladders, which adds to the adventure, hehehehe, but if that scares you, then skip this trail.
An alternative would be to head to Jordan Pond and hike a 3.3-mile moderate loop around it.
You can get there by parking at the Jordan Pond parking lot on Park Loop Road. Parking can get busy, so you’ll still have to get there early. You’ll get views of The Bubbles, two identical mountain formations that (you guessed it) look like bubbles—they’ll be covered in fall foliage!
Tomorrow you won’t have to be anywhere until sunset for your leaf peeping New England adventure, BUT this will be a long driving day since you’ll be heading back to New Hampshire.
Day 7—Dixville Notch State Park (Best New England Fall Foliage Sunset Hike)
Day 7 in Sum (Total Drive Time: ~4 hours)
- Drive to Dixville Notch State Park
- Visit Dixville Notch, hike Table Rock
- Stay in Colebrook, NH—Northwoods House, Home with a View, Private Cabin
Welcome back to the White Mountains! Dixville Notch is pretty out of the way, but trust me when I say the trail you’ll be exploring is a once-in-a-lifetime hike.
Tonight, you’ll be staying in Colebrook, NH. There isn’t a whole lot going on in this part of New Hampshire, but Colebrook will have everything you need to fuel up for the next leg of the trip.
Since you don’t have to be anywhere until sunset, you could take your time getting here. However, you also could drive to Colebrook early (about 15min from Dixville Notch), check into your stay, get something to eat, then make your way towards your sunset hike: Table Rock.
Colebrook is a small town. Some shops and restaurants close early, so this may be a good time to stop at a grocery store for snacks or food you can eat in your hotel room!
Hiking Table Rock New Hampshire
It’s one of the best hikes for New Hampshire fall foliage, and it’s easy to see why—look at the pics!
The view sits above Lake Gloriette and is a short 1.5-mile trail.
The only downside to this hike is that it is relatively steep in a very short distance (about 750ft in elevation gain). If you’re weak on the knees, bring trekking poles.
The parking lot for Table Rock is SMALL—plan to be there about 1 to 1.5 hours before sunset.
Getting to the trailhead early will give you more time to relax at the top! I imagine Table Rock would look equally great for sunrise, so if that works out better for your New England fall road trip itinerary, you could go that route. Not in the mood for a hike?
You can also make a pit stop at Lake Gloriette to have a shoreline view of the colors.
When you finish your hike, I suggest going to Colebrook and grabbing some dinner. House of Pizza is a popular food option.
Where to Stay in Colebrook
For accommodations, Vrbo could be your best bet. Check out these rentals:
- Northwoods House ($$)—Stay in this cozy, updated home nestled in the woods! After you explore for the day, you can come back to this home away from home and watch Netflix while you snuggle up on your extra comfy king bed. Pet-friendly.
- Home with a View ($$$)—Breakfast and panoramic views of fall colors? Sign me up! Enjoy incredible views of NH from above while you make breakfast, sit on the patio, or look out your window—pictures don’t do it justice.
- Private Cabin ($$)—Escape to the woods in this private cabin. A great property to stay for the night while you fall asleep to the sounds of the running stream.
Tomorrow you’ll be heading into Stowe, Vermont, which will be about a 2hr drive. So you won’t have to be up super early to continue your leaf peeping New England adventure!
Day 8—Stowe, VT and Smugglers Notch
Day 8 in Sum (Total Drive Time: ~3 hours)
- Drive to Stowe
- Explore Stowe, Smugglers Notch
- Stay in Stowe, VT—The Stowehof Hotel, Timberholm Inn, Green Mountain Inn
Today you’ll be exploring one of the most praised New England towns: Stowe, VT. I know I’ve talked about pumpkin spice, Gilmore Girls, and fall vibes a lot, but this place feels like it is meant to celebrate fall and ONLY FALL. You’ll see.
Things to do in Stowe, Vermont for Fall
There are plenty of things to do in Stowe, VT in the fall! So let’s talk about ’em:
- Eat—If you’re a veggie lover like me, then give Green Goddess Cafe a try! Not feelin’ in? Head to Piecasso pizza! They even have vegan cheese you can sub with.
- Get Lost in a Maze—The Percy Farm Corn Maze is the place to be if you want some spooooooooky fall vibes—ooooooo, enter if you daaaaAAAre.
- Grab a Coffee—Black Cap Coffee and Beer is hipster AF, and we love it, but PK Coffee is where you’ll find a bomb @$$ apple crumble that tastes like an explosion of fall in your mouth—I will NEVER FORGET IT.
- Sip on Some Cider—Did I mention you can drive to an APPLE CIDER MILL WHERE YOU CAN HAVE APPLE CIDER? Scott and I love Cold Hollow Cider Mill and would recommend it to anyone as a stop on their New England fall road trip itinerary.
- Hop on a Zipline—get up close and personal with the fall foliage by hopping on one of the longest ziplines in the country!
- Take a Brewery Tour—Enjoy some hard cider and locally brewed beers on a 5 hour, small group tour!
Want to see it all? Book an epic day tour that will take you to Smuggler’s Notch, the Cider Mill, Ben & Jerry’s, downtown Stowe, and the Outdoor Center at the Trapp Family Lodge for some epic views of the Green Mountains!
Read Next: 20+ Best Things to Do in Stowe, Vermont in the Fall
Click here to book your Stowe day tour!
Smugglers’ Notch State Park
Most folks come here to explore Smuggler’s Notch Pass. Smuggler’s Notch Pass goes through Vermont and has some fantastic New England views!
It’s well-known for its extremely windy road that bobs and weaves through endless fall colors in Vermont’s Green Mountains—don’t skip the drive! If you want to hike around, check out Hellbrook Trail, Sterling Pond Trail, or Long Trail.
Additionally, you can spend a chill day in nature enjoying one of the Smuggler’s picnic areas. To learn more about the park, visit VTStateParks.com.
Read Next: Complete Guide to Stowe, Vermont in the Fall
When you finish exploring, spend the night in Stowe.
Where to Stay in Stowe, VT
Stowe is the place to book a BOUJIE hotel. This is a bucket list type town, and there are some beautiful resorts!
Check them out:
- Timberholm Inn ($$)—The Timberholm Inn is tucked away in the Stowe mountains. This is the perfect place to get your cabin fix in a cozy environment that’ll put you in the middle of prime fall foliage!
- The Stowehof Hotel ($$)—Staying at The Stowehof will make you feel like you’re in a European country. The views here are spectacular, but the interior is extra special. The beautiful fireplaces and library you can enjoy will be the perfect places to rest up after a long day of exploring! Fab location too.
- Green Mountain Inn ($$)—Located in Stowe’s Historic Center is this magical inn with an ornate lobby, romantic rooms, and a heated pool you’ll love! Being in the center of town will put you in the middle of all the action.
Tomorrow you’ll be heading to New York!
Day 9—Lake Placid and the Adirondacks
Day 9 in Sum (Total Drive Time: ~3 hours)
- Drive to Lake Placid
- Explore Heart Lake or Indian Head (Adirondacks)
- Stay in Lake Placid, NY—Crowne Plaza Lake Placid, Mirror Lake Inn, High Peaks Resort
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that the Adirondacks are a MUST on your New England fall road trip. Yes, I know, New York is not part of New England, but the Adirondack Mountains fall foliage is a must-see on the east coast. The drive from Stowe, VT to the Lake Placid, NY area will be about 2 hours.
When you arrive, head into the High Peaks Wilderness and hike Indian Pass and Heart Lake Loop Trail.
Heart Lake Loop is a little over a mile and is a GORGEOUS fall foliage hike!
You can read about parking for the trailhead on the Lake Placid website. Alternatively, you can go to Mirror Lake and walk the shoreline—another popular destination in the area.
Another hike I highly recommend you do is Indian Head and Rainbow Falls. It’s an easy 11mi hike that will lead to a stunning fjord-type formation surrounded by fall colors!
After your hike, grab a caffeine fix at Old Mountain Coffee Company in Keene, NY.
P.S. They sell chocolate bars there, and I have never had better chocolate—grab one!
Read Next: 15+ Things to Do in the Adirondack Mountains for Fall
Lake Placid, New York, is known for its access to the outdoors and, more notably, the winter Olympics—and it’s where you’ll stay for the night!
Mirror Lake sits in the town center.
When you get here, I recommend taking a walk in the downtown area. It is quaint, cute, and ADORABLE in the fall and has lake views everywhere.
You can shop along Main Street, grab a pastry, or rent a canoe and coast along Mirror Lake. OR, if you want an authentic New England fall foliage adventure, you can get a view of the foliage from above by booking a scenic flight with Payne’s Air Service.
For food, I suggest capping off your last official day in your fall road trip in New England with a drink and some food at Lisa G’s!
Woodstock, Vermont Alternative
If seeing the Adirondacks doesn’t feel like your vibe, I recommend staying in Stowe, VT, another night and taking a day trip to Woodstock, Vermont. The drive will be about an hour. You can enjoy more of Vermont’s fall foliage when you’re there and explore the quaint Woodstock area.
Woodstock is also home to the Sleepy Hollow Farm—a must-see for spooky fall vibes!
We’ll talk more about Woodstock, VT in our “BONUS” stops section—keep reading!
Where to Stay in Lake Placid, NY
Like Stowe, Lake Placid has some amazing places to stay. Here are my recommendations based on previous trips I took here:
- Crowne Plaza Lake Placid ($$)—This amazing hotel includes all the amenities you need for an extra comfortable stay and has a GORGEOUS view overlooking Mirror Lake.
- Mirror Lake Inn ($$$)—A fantastic property overlooking Mirror Lake that has the perfect spa to end your trip with. The entire time you’re there, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the Adirondacks!
- High Peaks Resort ($$)—Located right in the middle of all the action, this gorgeous resort has private beach access you can use to enjoy Mirror Lake and the surrounding foliage. Pet-friendly too!
Tomorrow will be a travel day back to Albany, New York!
Day 10—Drive to Albany, NY
Day 10 in Sum (Total Drive Time: ~2 hours)
- Drive to Albany, NY
- Stay in Albany, NY, or depart
Now it’s time to wrap up our New England fall road trip! Gahhhhh, I can’t believe it.
This day is short and sweet. You’ll be driving the 2-hour drive back to Albany, New York, where you might be departing, or you will stay the night and leave the next day.
Either way, plan your travel accordingly!
If you have time to grab coffee before leaving Lake Placid, I suggest trying The Coffee Bar!
The lake views here are *chef’s kiss* and will be a great way to cap off your leaf-peeping New England adventure.
Otherwise, that’s a wrap! Let’s quickly discuss what this trip would look like if you started in Boston, MA.
Below we have all our bonus itineraries!
BONUS New England Fall Road Trip Itineraries
Let’s quickly go over the other ways you call pull this trip off. After this, we’ll talk about bonus stops!
10-Day Fall Road Trip in New England Starting in Boston
Alternatively, you can arrive at the Boston-Logan International Airport and drive 2 hours to Conway, NH. This would mean your first night would be in Conway, NH.
You would then proceed with days: 2 through 8 from the Albany itinerary. Then, on day 9, head towards Boston and stop in Woodstock, VT. Woodstock, VT is where you can see the Sleepy Hollow Farm. Finally, on day 10, you can explore Boston, MA, and prepare to depart!
The map below illustrates what your route would look like.
Click here for a live version of the map!
5 Day New England Fall Road Trip Itinerary
Only have five days? I recommend flying into Manchester, NH, and focusing your time and efforts on seeing New Hampshire and Vermont. In that case, fly into Manchester, NH, and drive about 2 hours to Conway, NH.
With Conway as your hub, you can have a BLAST exploring the White Mountains (days 2 through 4) AND make a stop in Stowe, VT (day 8). If you end in Stowe, you’ll have a 2.5-hour drive back to the Manchester area.
Click here for a live version of the map!
3 Day Fall Foliage Trip
If you only have three days to work with, I suggest exploring New Hampshire fall foliage. You can spend three days going around the White Mountains and have a fantastic time!
A road trip like this would look similar to days 2 through 4 on our extensive itinerary. You’d fly into Manchester, NH, and stay in Conway, NH. If you’re up for it, take a day trip to Stowe from Conway (about a 2.5-hour drive).
Click here for a live version of the map!
New England Fall Foliage Bonus Stops
Regardless of where you start your trip, you should know that there are plenty of unique places we didn’t cover! Want to switch things up or add additional destinations to your fall road trips in New England?This section is for you.
Sleepy Hollow Farm in Woodstock, VT
Spend an extra night in Stowe and take a day trip to Woodstock’s Sleepy Hollow Farm. It’s possibly one of the most photogenic farms in Vermont. The best part?
The farm is less than an hour from Stowe, so you don’t have to drive too far!
If you can, I recommend exploring Woodstock during the day.
You’ll enjoy some hella New England vibes and great coffee (like at Soulfully Good Cafe).
If you’re looking to switch it up, add Connecticut to your list! During your East Coast fall road trip, you can opt to take Route 9 through the Connecticut River Valley.
And if you want a unique way to see fall colors, ride on the historic Essex Steam Train!
The Essex will take you on a scenic journey through some of Connecticut’s most beautiful fall views.
For an authentic leaf-peeping New England experience, try a fall foliage cruise (available in other New England states too).
There is so much to do in Portland, Maine! You can go apple picking or even take a tour of a Sugar House where a farmer will let you try some of their fresh maple syrup.
For example, Merrifield Farm and Sugar Shack have maple cotton candy and fresh vanilla ice cream with maple syrup visitors can buy. Of course, you can get pancakes here too!
AND…AND, if you want to have a real Portland, Maine experience, you can book a fall foliage private sightseeing cruise.
Honestly, I don’t think it gets any more New England than that.
Make sure you grab a lobster roll and head to Portland Head Light too!
Catskills, New York
This region ended up being one of my favorite spots during my fall road trips in New England! The Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway is a great place to end your fall foliage adventure.
Minnewaska State Park will make all your leaf-peeping dreams come true! For some of the better foliage views, hike to Kaaterskill Falls.
If you’re into cabin vibes, I suggest booking a stay in a luxe country home like this for the night. It is spacious and has a hot tub, one of my favorite ways to end a long trip.
The Lake Minnewaska area is about 2 hours from Albany airport.
Finger Lakes Area
In New York, I suggest visiting Taughannock Falls State Park or Watkins Glen at some point on your New England fall road trip itinerary. Both of these stops are in the Finger Lakes National Forest area. It’s a bit out of the way, but it could be worth the visit if you want to explore more of New York.
You can also opt to visit the Seneca Lake area and do a whole Seneca Lake Wine Tasting Tour.
Wine + fall foliage? COUNT ME IN.
I have PACKED this New England fall road trip itinerary with some of my best fall color recommendations.
Whether you’re a fellow PSL lover or just a fan of autumn, I genuinely hope you enjoy your East Coast fall road trip! If you want to see more epic fall adventures, I recommend checking out my New England blogs!
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When is a great time to go in the fall?
Very helpful. Thanks a lot for posting this!
Amazing recommendations! Thank you so much for doing this!
Amazing post…Thanks for sharing…
Help ,,, need your clarification please, is table rock – Dixville notch state park, is it located in New Hampshire or Vermont ? By any chance if you could remember what state highway or Interstate freeway you took, your help will be greatly appreciated and thank you in advance
Your itinerary is a great help, we’ll follow your suggestion.
Thanks for sharing and greatly appreciated !
Hi Dani, this is the best new england trip suggestion I’ve read. Thank you so much for sharing and appreciate every detail you put in!
I have used your New England itinerary for our upcoming fall color tour. However I am having a hard time printing it out. We are arriving inAlbany, New York via Amtrak and continuing on for your 10 day trip starting at the Berkshires and ending in
Lake Placid. If you can would you be so kind as to email it to me so I can print it off. I want to follow most of your recommended places to visit and would like a printed copy( seniors, lol) to take along with us. We are leaving on 10-1 21 from Chicago. Any additional tips would be appreciated. Thanks so much.
Sent from my iPad
I watched about 10 traveling videos this week trying decide where to go. And this post the best one by far best. Shows pics and personal videos, didn’t spend to much time on each place
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