New England Fall Foliage Lake Reflection
New England Fall Foliage Lake Reflection


If experiencing the Northeast in the fall isn't on your bucket list, here are 11 reasons why it should be.

Latest Update - March 12, 2020 at 02:53 pm

The first step to experiencing the Northeast like a local is visiting during the off-season. While the Northeast has its share of summer sun, beaches and seafood, the fall is when the real magic happens for family vacations and romantic fall getaways alike. From Boston to Bar Harbor to Nantucket to Salem, there are countless happenings during September and October that make these already beautiful places even more special.


Bar Harbor is the perfect romantic fall getaway nestled on the coast of Maine. There's something for everyone whether you are a foodie, a hiker, want to go sightseeing or are just looking to shop 'til you drop. Whether you're visiting with children or as a couple, Bar Harbor is the spot for fall activities for families and couples.

Since Bar Harbor is a small city, it's easy to walk or bike around. The waterfront, Village Green, Main Street and the Ocean Path are all must-sees. In town, there are endless restaurants to choose from. Try the macaroni and cheese at Side Street Café, grab an on-the-go bite from Everyday Joe's or enjoy a slice of blueberry pie at The Stadium. If you're visiting around Halloween, don't forget to add a Bar Harbor Ghost Tour to your itinerary.

Just outside of Bar Harbor is Acadia National Park, which is a stunning place to visit, especially in the fall when the air is temperate and the leaves have changed colors. You can take a bus from Bar Harbor, or go on a guided tour, but the best way to enjoy the surroundings is to rent a car. That way you can hike and leaf peep on your own schedule. Some of the highlights are Jordan Pond, the viewpoint at Cadillac Mountain, Sand Beach and Thunder Hole.


Whether you're a fan of spooky happenings or not, Salem is the perfect romantic fall getaway for couples. There are quaint inns, delicious restaurants, cobblestone streets and, of course, the rich history of the area. When visiting in October, Salem is best explored on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Due to all the haunted Halloween happenings, fall is considered the high season.

Salem is best known for its witchcraft history. The Salem Witch Museum highlights the 1692 witch trials in an educational and thought-provoking way with a few spooky touches in true Salem style. The House of the Seven Gables, a colonial mansion, is another popular spot to visit on your romantic fall getaway. It was made famous by the novel of the same name and there are theatrical performances based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's works and life during October, which also happens to be prime foliage season.

Take in the stunning fall views at Gallows Hill. If you bring the whole family along during October, you can take a Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour or a Bewitched After Dark Walking Tour. The town's Haunted Happenings calendar is a great resource when planning your couples getaway or family vacation to Salem.


New Hampshire is a great destination for fall activities for families and couples. Since it's just a couple of hours from Boston, it's easily accessible. Plus, the drive to the mountains of New Hampshire is arguably one of the most beautiful in the country. A trip to the White Mountains isn't complete without a ride up the tallest mountain in the Northeast, Mount Washington. You can drive it or hike up, but taking the Cog Railway to the summit is a truly special experience.

This guided train tour up Mount Washington is the perfect adventure for families. When you reach the top, you have an hour to explore the summit, from which you can see up to five states, Canada and the Atlantic Ocean, depending on the day. The view, taken together with the foliage, is unparalleled.


Maple, birch and beech trees cover nearly 75% of the Green Mountain State, making it one of the most beautiful fall foliage destinations. Vermont's foliage is at its best viewing times during the first two weeks of October, which is perfect timing for the Stowe Foliage Arts Festival. If you can't make it for the festival, don't fret — there is so much to do in and around Stowe.

During the warmer months, you can take the ski gondola up the mountain to get a bird's-eye view of the beautiful foliage and mountains. Stroll through the streets of Stowe and head to the Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory, which is an obligatory stop when you're in the area. Or you can head to Burlington, where you can visit the farmers market and go apple and pumpkin picking. In Burlington, you can enjoy a hayride at the nearby Adams Apple Orchard, hit the Colchester Sunset Drive-in at sunset to snuggle up and watch a movie, or take your taste buds on a craft brew journey.


One of the most popular spots in the Adirondacks is Lake Placid, made famous by the 1980 Winter Olympics. It's said that this region has one of the longest fall seasons in the Northeast, so leaf peepers get even more time to take in the beauty of one of the most beautiful fall foliage destinations. What makes fall here so unique? The region is home to only a couple of tree species, which means the leaves tend to all change at the same time. Another plus is the more than 2,000 miles of hiking trails spread across the Adirondacks.

In addition to visiting all of the Olympic sites such as the Winter Olympics Museum, Olympic Jumping Complex and the Olympic Sports Complex, there are plenty of fall activities for families and couples around Lake Placid. Cobble Hill and Mt. Van Hoevenberg are two great hikes for families.

The Whiteface Veteran's Memorial Highway is a great option for families for a scenic drive. It leads you up to New York's fifth-highest peak. Once you're on the top, you can do the short hike up to the summit or take the elevator to the top. You'll be greeted with 360-degree views of the Adirondack region. A walk through High Falls Gorge is another way to see the beautiful foliage. Some family-friendly restaurants in Lake Placid include The Breakfast Club, Big Mountain Deli and Creperie, The Cottage and Lisa G's.

If you have extra time, a day trip to Saratoga Springs is another great way to see the foliage in upstate New York. No visit to Saratoga Springs is complete without getting a bird's-eye view of the foliage from a hot air balloon with Adirondack Balloon Flights.


A week, or even just a couple of days, in Franconia Notch will have you feeling refreshed and recharged, making this one of the best romantic fall getaways. Let's start with logistics. Franconia Notch is located just 20 minutes from Lincoln, New Hampshire, so Lincoln is perfect to use as a home base before embarking on all your White Mountain adventures. Lincoln feels like a true mountain town and it's along the Kancamagus Highway, the direct route to Franconia Notch.

Once in Franconia Notch, head to Flume Gorge. Follow the boardwalk that takes you along streams and waterfalls and through towering walls. The 1.5-mile Artist's Bluff hike takes you to the top of Bald Mountain. Pemigewasset Overlook is perhaps one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the White Mountains. Sentinel Pine Bridge is another quintessential fall photo opp in Franconia Notch. If you have a little extra time, make the drive to Laconia, New Hampshire for the annual Pumpkin Festival that happens in mid-October.


In western Massachusetts, the Berkshire Mountains are one of the best locations for your romantic fall getaways. Not only will you find some of the most beautiful foliage, but the area is also known for its arts and culture scene. Activities range from antiquing to theaters to the Norman Rockwell Museum, and the region includes the town of Stockbridge, which was made famous in a Rockwell painting. In addition, the area hosts the Berkshire Fall Festival, which takes place at the beginning of every October. A drive along Route 8 and the opportunity to hike part of the Appalachian Trail are highlights of this foliage destination.

The Berkshires were first settled in the 1600s, and the area is influenced by the rich history and architecture of the Gilded Age, with massive estates and beautiful iron gates. Romantic fall getaways in the Berkshires are sure to be unforgettable.

The Berkshires range over a wide area, but The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge is a great and central place to stay. Each room in the guesthouse is individually decorated with an assortment of antiques.


Portland is one of the most popular coastal cities in Maine and is known for its foodie scene. The restaurants take full advantage of the autumnal flavors in the fall, with The Holy Donut serving seasonal flavors of their famous potato donuts, Bard Coffee creating delicious maple lattes, and Duckfat dishing out poutine and blueberry buttermilk milkshakes. Of course, fall is still a great time to visit the Portland staple Portland Lobster Co. for a lobster roll.

Walking around the Old Port area of Portland is a must. There are many parks for peak foliage viewing, including the Western Promenade, which is best at sunset. There are also cobblestone streets, quaint shops to buy souvenirs and port views galore.

There are also plenty of fall activities for families and couples. The Portland Head Lighthouse, the lighthouse known as Bug Light and the 1.4-mile loop on Mackworth Island (which you can drive to) are all perfect spots to feel the sea breeze while also leaf-peeping. If you're visiting in mid-October, make the 30-minute trip to Freeport to see the annual Camp Sunshine Pumpkin Festival, where thousands of jack-o'-lanterns are lit.


It's no secret that summer on Nantucket is magical, but in the fall, the island really seems to come alive despite the smaller crowds, making it one of the best places for romantic fall getaways. Between September and October, Nantucket tends to have warmer days and cooler nights, making it the perfect place to end the day with a cozy campfire.

Take in the island at your own pace on a bicycle. With less traffic than during the summer months, it's easier to do so. Chat with the locals, visit a cranberry bog and, if the timing is right, experience the Annual Cranberry Festival. Visit 'Sconset Bluff and the lighthouses and enjoy having them practically all to yourself or check out the architecture of the more than 800 pre-Civil War-era houses. Enjoy delicious restaurants like Cru, Black-Eyed Susan's and the Boarding House.

You can easily reach the island by plane or ferry from Boston.


Niagara Falls is a fun destination for families in the fall, full of fall activities for families and couples alike. While it is still considered high season, the crowds are much smaller in October. Be sure to pick up your Niagara Falls park pass.

The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center and the Aquarium of Niagara are perfect spots to let your little ones explore. At the aquarium, there are activities like penguin feeding, a sea lion show and a seal encounter.

And of course, you can't visit Niagara Falls without getting on the water. Take a boat tour on Maid of the Mist or Cave of the Winds to get up close and personal with the falls. Be sure to pack a poncho, as you'll definitely feel the mist from the powerful falls.

Pro tip: If you are coming from the United States side of the falls, be sure to bring your passport so you can head to the Canadian side over Rainbow Bridge.


Boston in the fall is perfect for history buffs but also great for all travelers simply because there is so much to do in this historic seaside city. The best place to spot the foliage in the city, which is one of the most beautiful fall foliage destinations, is in the Back Bay neighborhood or in one of the many parks spread across the city, particularly Boston Public Garden. The gaslight lamps and cobblestone sidewalks will make you feel like you've stepped back in time. Once you've had your foliage fix, you can walk the historic Freedom Trail or if the kids need a rest, take a duck boat tour through the city and along the harbor.

There are various fall celebrations in Boston to check out as well. There's the Christopher Columbus Park Fall Festival with face painting, music, games and food. There's also the Pumpkin Float at Frog Pond in mid-October, where Halloween costumes are encouraged and attendees bring a pumpkin to carve and float on Frog Pond, which then light up the area in the early evening.

If you and your significant other are baseball fans, head to the famous Fenway Park, crack open a beer and enjoy a late-season game. Walking down Newbury Street with your loved one and a warm beverage from Tatte Bakery is another great way to spend an afternoon. Some other spots to check out include the Cisco Brewers beer garden, Harpoon Brewery, the Top of the Hub restaurant (this comes with even more foliage views), Union Square Donuts and the Boston Public Library in Copley Square.

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