There are few things more beautiful than the Fall in New England. The air starts to feel crisp, leaves transform landscapes into vibrant, fiery forests, and you get to start bundling up in cozy sweaters again. If you’re looking to take a trip this Fall, here are some of the best places to spend your time hiking, exploring, and enjoying scenic picnics. All you need is a car, a camera, and a few of your best friends.
1. White Mountains, New Hampshire
Drive down Maine’s famous Kancamagus Highway through the White Mountain forest to catch some breathtaking views of the forest drenched in an endless and lively orange hue. Despite its namesake, the White Mountains are actually wonderfully colorful in the Fall. Hike the mountains, take pictures, and collect leaves with friends to celebrate the season. You can also ride Loon Mountain Gondola, New Hampshire’s longest gondola, soaking in the views from more than 2,000 feet above the ground.
2. Acadia National Park, Maine
If you want to break up the Fall semester with a wilderness trip, consider heading out to Maine’s Acadia National Park. While almost all of New England can boast scenic displays of autumnal leaves, the hiking here is truly stunning. Views include horizons of red and orange foliage, oceanside cliffs, and the sea crashing against the rocks. The atmosphere is somehow both powerful and relaxing. Plus, if you get tired of camping and hiking, you can visit Bar Harbor. The small, seaside town has plenty of cozy cafes and restaurants to escape to which all boast excellent local seafood dishes.
3. Stowe, Vermont
Stowe is famous for its ski trails and winter activities — but that doesn’t mean the Fall is any less spectacular. On the ground, visit Moss Glenn falls and appreciate the stunning waterfalls before they freeze over or take the gondola up Mount Mansfield to appreciate the area from the skies. Plus, if hiking and sharing sentimental moments in beautiful forests and mountains aren’t your thing, adrenaline junkies can also get their fix at this Vermont location. Stowe’s ZipTour Adventures offer tourists the opportunity to zip line down from some of the state’s highest summits. The best part? Most of the routes have two lines side by side, so you can experience the whole trip down with a friend.
4. Sheffield, Massachusetts
While Sheffield’s outdoors are undoubtedly beautiful in the Fall, this destination is better suited for those more interested in small-town culture and urban exploring. The town has an abundance of antique stores and farmers markets, making it ideal for a group of friends looking to spend a weekend shopping, laughing, and finding special treasures. If you get too antsy in the small town, Beartown State Forest is just a short car ride away and has great fishing and canoeing spots. Nonetheless, the town is old enough to have a fascinating history while still having all the modern comforts you would want for a girls weekend.
5. Damariscotta, Maine
If you’re looking for a quirkier Fall destination, consider venturing out to Damariscotta, Maine. Every Fall, the town hosts a Pumpkin fest including Pumpkin polo, more elaborately decorated pumpkins than you can count, and the always highly anticipated Pumpkinboat Regatta. The town has plenty of restaurants and bars with great food, but you’ll want to spend the majority of your time admiring the grown men proudly racing through the seas in literal pumpkin boats. It doesn’t get more fall festive than that.