When fleece jackets get pulled out of storage; chefs start doling out root vegetable recipes; and pumpkin spice-flavoured items start popping up in coffee shops and grocery stores everywhere, you know that we’re well in the throes of autumn.
One of the best parts of the season is getting to savour the stunning spectacle of leaves turning colour before they drift off their branches in the lead-up to winter. And when it comes to witnessing the vibrant riot of yellow, orange and red hues for yourself, there are few places better than New England in the United States.
Whether you prefer to admire the fall foliage while on a road trip, biking along the coast or exploring a historic town, we’ve picked some of the best places in the region where you can bask in the splendour of the season. Not in the US right now? Bookmark these places for your future travels – trust us, it’s worth the wait.
1. Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
For a drive that’ll take you through some of the most gorgeous autumn scenery the region has to offer, consider the Mohawk Trail. This stretch of roadway originated as a Native American trade route, before gradually being shaped into what it is today. If you can’t cover the entire 69-mile-long stretch (or 111km), you can begin in the city of North Adams in picturesque Berkshire County and take a 37-mile-long drive to Greenfield in the east. The route will take you up and over mountainous terrain and through crisp forests, offering plenty of lookout points to take in the majestic Deerfield River below. Before beginning your journey, make some time to stop by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, the largest contemporary art museum in the country.
2. Acadia National Park, Maine
While it may be a bit of a trek to get there, Acadia National Park in the state of Maine is a must-visit for keen hikers. Spanning 19,000 hectares, the park’s craggy terrain includes mountains, woodlands, lakes, ponds and a long stretch of ocean coastline. It’s one of the most visited national parks in the United States, and you can spot wildlife such as moose, bears and whales. Experienced hikers can choose to take on the Precipice Trail, a thrilling journey where you’ll have to scramble over boulder formations at a dizzying height, while those who prefer a coastal stroll can meander along the picturesque Ocean Path. Meanwhile the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail is perfect if you’re looking for panoramic views of the foliage. It gets windy and chilly at this time of year, so be sure to layer up.
3. Ocean Drive, Rhode Island
While you can opt to explore it by car, Rhode Island’s Ocean Drive – located in the city of Newport – is best experienced on two wheels. Rent a bike from one of the rental companies in the area and set out along the roughly 10-mile (16km) waterfront loop. Along the way, you’ll pass plenty of grand and stately mansions, weave your way through small beaches and cliffsides that overlook the Atlantic Ocean, and be treated to a stunning display of fall colours. Newport itself has plenty of options when it comes to fuelling up before or after your ride. Belle’s Café is a waterfront spot that’s perfect for brunch, while The White Horse Tavern – the oldest tavern in the country – is also worth a visit for a more formal dining experience.
4. Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire
Another quintessential New England fall road trip, the Kancamagus Highway stretches from the town of Lincoln in the White Mountains to Conway in the east. Spanning just under 35 miles (56km), the route has been designated as an American Scenic Byway for its history, culture and breath-taking natural beauty. The easily navigable route will take you through the rugged and majestic White Mountain National Forest, all the way up to a height of nearly 3,000 feet above sea level at the peak of Mount Kancamagus. There are plenty of opportunities for stops along the way, including taking a short hike to the waterfalls at Sabbaday Falls and visiting the Russell-Colbath House, a restored 19th century farmhouse that now functions as a museum.
5. Montgomery, Vermont
If you want to observe the fall colours come alive while exploring some of the country’s most charming towns and quaint villages, the state of Vermont should be at the top of your list. The small town of Montgomery is famous for its six covered bridges (the most of any town in the country), which make for prime photo-taking opportunities, especially during this season. We recommend staying overnight at one of Montgomery’s inns or bed and breakfasts and spending some time hiking along its many scenic trails. Another destination worth visiting is Woodstock – a two-and-a-half-hour drive away – where you can explore the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and sample some delicious Vermont cheese at the Billings Farm & Museum.
6. Kent, Connecticut
Located in Litchfield County, Kent offers a classic small-town New England vibe and plenty of spots from which to take in the fall colours in all their vibrant splendour. A short drive from the town itself is Kent Falls State Park, which is home to a series of beautiful little waterfalls that empty into the Housatonic River. The falls are surrounded by plenty of trees that light up in shades of crimson at the peak of fall, and there’s also an easy (though steep) hike you can take up the falls. Kent is also home to Bull’s Bridge, a historic one-lane covered bridge that dates back to the 19th century. If you want to tack on a road trip, Route 7 – which passes through the Lower Connecticut River Valley – and Route 9 are two routes to consider.