It's said that good things happen when you travel off the beaten path so why not explore one of these under-the-radar spots in New England and Canada? Hike through Acadia National Park in marvelous Maine or try your hand at rock climbing in mountainous Canmore. No matter your destination, incredible fall getaways are waiting for you. You won't regret adding these beautiful, adventure-packed gems to your bucket list.
Looking for cool things to do in New England? New England and Canada are rife with adventurous activities — especially in these under-the-radar towns and cities. Home to the most vibrant fall scenery in North America, these destinations throughout the Northeast and Canada make for incredible fall getaways.
Bar Harbor is a popular coastal town on Mount Desert Island in Maine. It acts as a gateway to picturesque Acadia National Park. Bar Harbor can get busy during high season, so you should head to the "quiet side" of the island, where you'll find the smaller but still photogenic town of Northeast Harbor — a summer residence for the Rockefeller family, the owners of Rockefeller Center in New York City. Just like Bar Harbor, it's very close to Acadia National Park, which is one of the 10 most-visited national parks in the United States, known for its hiking trails and spectacular fall scenery. Spend a day visiting stunning gardens like Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Garden. And when you get hungry, experience authentic New England with a tasty, fresh lobster roll or bowl of fish chowder from Colonel's Restaurant and Bakery. The area definitely makes for one of the best fall getaways in the Northeast. If you want to do even more exploring outside of Northeast Harbor, there's another hidden gem just across the water — Southwest Harbor.
Tadoussac in Quebec is one of the top places to visit in Canada. The historic maritime village is conveniently located an hour-and-a-half drive from Saguenay. Founded in 1599, Tadoussac is not only one of the oldest villages in North America — it was North America's first permanent French settlement as well. It's also one of the world's best whale-watching destinations. It sits at the meeting place of the freshwater Saguenay River and the saltwater St. Lawrence River, which is a rich feeding ground for marine mammals, including minke and blue whales. Peak whale watching time in Tadoussac is between June and September. Visiting during the fall means fewer visitors but the same amount of breath-taking whale sightings. After a busy day of whale watching off the coast, settle in for some delicious French cuisine at Cafe Boheme.
Woodstock is a quintessential New England town and one of the best fall getaways in the Northeast. Located in Vermont and surrounded by the Green Mountains, the town is filled with locally-owned shops, craft breweries and farm-to-table dining experiences. Don't miss a visit to Woodstock Farmer's Market, which is open Tuesdays and Saturdays. Its stalls are fully stocked with locally-made products such as spreads, rows of cheese (glorious cheese), ice cream and sandwiches, if you're looking for lunch. Just outside of Woodstock, you'll find Jenne Farm, said to be New England's most photographed farm; Billings Farm & Museum, which is a working dairy farm; and the woodland trails of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. You will instantly be charmed by Woodstock's covered bridges, natural beauty and friendly locals. One of the best places to stay in town is the Woodstock Inn and Resort, which is known as Vermont's most beautiful address.
Canmore is an underrated alternative to the very popular Canadian Rocky Mountain town of Banff. A quick 20-minute drive from Banff, Canmore is a mountainside town with a more relaxed and rugged feel compared to its counterpart. It's perfect for an adventurous Canadian vacation without the crowds. Canmore's Nordic Centre hosted events in the 1988 Winter Olympics and today, it's a top mountain biking and cross-country skiing destination (depending on the season), with over 160 kilometers of trails. Other thrilling experiences await you in Canmore, including white water rafting, hiking and rock climbing.
Fall is the picture-perfect time to visit Canmore. You can spot moose when they're most active and go on a hike or bike ride to see the region's stunning fall scenery. Don't miss capturing a photo of The Three Sisters, a photogenic trio of peaks. As if that wasn't enough, the mountain town also has a booming food and drink scene, as it's home to distilleries, breweries and award-winning restaurants. For mountain views and creative fine dining, try Crazyweed Kitchen.
Move aside, Cape Cod, there's a new Massachusetts Cape in town. Located on Cape Ann, Gloucester has all the best bits of Cape Cod without the masses of tourists. What more could you want from a fall getaway in New England?
Settled in 1623, Gloucester is actually the oldest seaport in the United States. Cool things to do in this New England town include swimming at Good Harbor Beach, going whale watching between May and October, visiting Maritime Gloucester and Hammond Castle, checking out the sweeping views from the village of Magnolia, and eating seafood at The Gloucester House. You also shouldn't miss Rocky Neck Art Colony, one of America's oldest continuously operating art colonies where painters, photographers and jewelry designers display their work. For anyone who loves to fish, you're in the right place. In fact, the town is the setting of the National Geographic reality TV show "Wicked Tuna" and the film "The Perfect Storm."
St. John's is a fun and scenic city with a friendly small-town vibe. The area is steeped in history and is home to a creative and young community, brightly colored buildings begging to be photographed, and an innovative dining scene. When you arrive in St John's, take in the panoramic views from Signal Hill and Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site. Spend a day visiting the charming fishing village of Quidi Vidi, and learn more about the area at The Rooms museum. Wrap up the day by checking out the colorful buildings on Jellybean Row, and spend the night eating and drinking along George Street. There's no doubt, St. John's is one of the top places to visit in Canada.
Located on the east coast, Stonington, Connecticut is less than an hour's drive from both Providence and Newport in Rhode Island. Selected as one of New England's prettiest coastal towns by New England Today, Stonington's top attractions include The Old Lighthouse Museum, Saltwater Farm Vineyard, DuBois Beach and Enders Island. You'll be swept up in Stonington's small-town charm when you take a walk down Water Street, which is lined with boutiques, art galleries and eateries. If you're traveling with the family, Mystic is just down the road from Stonington and it's home to the Mystic Seaport Museum and Aquarium. If you're feeling hungry, you can't go wrong with Noah's Restaurant or Dog Watch Cafe, which are two local favorites.
Flowerpot Island is part of Ontario's Fathom Five National Marine Park. A four-hour drive from Toronto, it's only accessible by boat between May and October. Named after two beachfront flowerpot-like rock pillars (or sea stacks) located on the gorgeous eastern shore, this small island has a lot to offer. Discover its ancient caves, visit the historic Flowerpot Lightstation, and enjoy a hike along the coast and through the forest, spotting the island's population of rare plants. If you're feeling adventurous, brave the cold but clear waters of Georgian Bay on a snorkeling adventure or stay above water on a boat cruise.
Portsmouth is a charming coastal town in New Hampshire and is conveniently located on the coast between Boston and Portland, Maine. It was settled in the early 1600s and you can learn more about the town's history at Strawbery Banke Museum, a 10-acre, 32-building outdoor living history museum that preserves the oldest neighborhood in the state. You can also hop aboard a traditional steamboat for a tour around Portsmouth Harbor, the Isles of Shoals and Star Island.
The town is also known for its vibrant arts scene. There are plenty of art galleries to peruse and The Music Hall, the town's performing arts center, puts on events including movie screenings and concerts. If you're visiting Portsmouth with the family, you should make a beeline for Water Country, New England's largest water park. There are thrilling water slides, a wave pool and an Adventure River. You can also go see the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse or head to nearby beaches, including Wallis Sands State Beach in Rye, Maine.
Located on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Sydney is often overlooked by visitors but is one of the top places to visit in Canada. Sydney is home to the world's largest fiddle, which honors the local music scene, and is the closest major city to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The Cabot Trail circles the national park and is known as one of the world's most scenic drives. It looks its best during the fall months, when the surrounding trees explode with color.
Back in Sydney, some of the top things to do in the seaside town include visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, learning more about Nova Scotia's Gaelic culture at the Highland Village Museum, checking out the Big Fiddle Market and enjoying a seafood lunch at Flavor on the Water.
Fall is the ideal time of year to explore these coastal New England towns and Canadian treasures. And these are only some of the extraordinary and under-the-radar destinations you'll find. Add them to your bucket list and head out to experience an incredible fall getaway in the Northeast.