As the hot days of summer give way to the crisp autumn weather, there's no place quite like New England to experience the changing seasons. New England, known for its rich history and picturesque landscapes, takes on a new character in the fall. It's a season that beckons travelers from far and wide to revel in its unique charm and indulge in a myriad of delightful activities.
From the breathtaking spectacle of fall foliage to the aroma of freshly picked apples, from the thrill of haunted adventures to the tranquility of coastal getaways, there's something for everyone in this region. This guide will explore ten must-do activities that will make your fall visit to New England an unforgettable experience.
*This article was written with the assistance of AI*
Nothing says fall in New England quite like apple picking. Apple picking isn't just about picking apples from trees; it's a tradition deeply ingrained in the New England way of life. For many New England families, it is a yearly tradition. It's an opportunity to connect with the region's agriculture and experience family-owned orchards' charm.
Many orchards offer family-friendly activities such as hayrides, corn mazes, and petting zoos, making it an ideal outing for all ages. Don't forget to sample apple cider, apple cider donuts, and apple pies fresh from the orchard's bakery.
- Where to Go: Vermont: The Green Mountain State is famous for its apple orchards. Places like the Shelburne Orchards offer not only a vast variety of apple types but also stunning views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. Massachusetts: The Bay State boasts numerous orchards, including Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, known for their apple mazes and cider donuts. Connecticut: Bishop's Orchards in Guilford is a picturesque location where you can pick apples and enjoy farm-to-table goodies at their farm market.
- Tips for Apple Picking: Check Opening Dates: Orchards have different opening times, so make sure to check in advance to catch the apples at their peak ripeness. Dress Comfortably: Wear comfortable shoes and clothing suitable for walking through orchards and perhaps getting a little dusty. Bring Containers: Most orchards provide bags or baskets for picking, but it's a good idea to bring your own containers to ensure you have enough room for your apples.
Fall is also a time for regional and state food festivals. These events offer a delectable journey through the flavors of fall, from fresh seafood to farm-fresh produce, all in a festive and welcoming atmosphere.
Food festivals are a great time to try new local restaurants and suppport small businesses.
- Recommended Food Festivals: New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival (Laconia, New Hampshire): While known for its pumpkins, this festival also showcases local food vendors, offering everything from pumpkin-flavored treats to savory dishes.
What the Fluff Festival (Somerville, MA): Yes, a festival dedicated to that sugary, white fluff! This year showcases delightful and delectable tastes, sweet sights and sounds, incredible innovations, and community, sweet, community! Vermont Cheese Festival (Various Locations, Vermont): Held at different locations throughout the state, this festival celebrates Vermont's artisanal cheese culture. Sample a wide array of cheeses and enjoy cheese-related workshops and events.
Phan Food Fest (Waltham, MA): Experience some of the best food in the Boston area at one of the Phantom Gourmet's signature event. Tickets includes sampling dozens of Phantom Gourmet's favorite restaurants. Wellfleet OysterFest (Wellfleet, Massachusetts): For seafood enthusiasts, this festival is a must. Enjoy fresh oysters, clams, and other seafood delights while taking in live music, arts, and crafts.
Newport Food and Wine Festival (Newport, RI): Set against the backdrop of Newport's breathtaking mansions, this annual event brings together top chefs, renowned winemakers, and food enthusiasts for a weekend of delicious food and wine.
- Tips for Enjoying New England Food Festivals: Arrive Hungry: Come with an appetite and be prepared to indulge in a variety of dishes. Be open to trying new and exciting dishes that you haven't experienced. Cash is King: While some vendors accept cards, it's a good idea to carry cash for small purchases and food stalls. Plan Your Visit: Check the festival's schedule in advance to catch cooking demonstrations, musical performances, and special events.
Purchase tickets: Some festivals require you to purchase a ticket in advance so be sure to check the website for registration information.
Scenic Train Rides
Embarking on a scenic train journey through New England in the fall is like stepping into a postcard brought to life. As the train glides along the tracks, you'll be treated to breathtaking vistas of colorful foliage, serene rivers, and quaint villages, without having to worry about traffic or driving.
Car traffic has been impacting areas that are known for their leaf peeping, so opting for a scenic train ride can be a great way to travel.
- Recommended Scenic Train Routes: Conway Scenic Railroad (North Conway, New Hampshire): This railroad offers some of the most picturesque views of the White Mountains. The "Notch Train" takes you through Crawford Notch, while the "Valley Train" winds its way through the picturesque Mount Washington Valley. Essex Steam Train and Riverboat (Essex, Connecticut): This combination trip includes a vintage steam train ride through the Connecticut River Valley and a riverboat cruise on the Connecticut River, providing double the fall beauty. Green Mountain Railroad (Chester, Vermont): The Green Mountain Flyer takes passengers on a journey through the heart of Vermont's Green Mountains, offering panoramic views of rolling hills and colorful forests.
- Tips for Enjoying Scenic Train Rides: Book in Advance: These popular train rides can sell out quickly during the fall, so it's wise to book your tickets ahead of time. Arrive Early: Arriving early allows you to secure a good seat and explore the station area.
Bring snacks: You can never have enough snacks.
While exploring New England's fall beauty on foot is undoubtedly enjoyable, pedaling your way through the picturesque landscapes on a bike adds a whole new dimension to your autumn adventure.
New England's network of scenic bike trails offers a unique perspective, allowing you to immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and crisp air while covering more ground.
- Recommended Bike Routes: Cape Cod Rail Trail (Massachusetts): This 25-mile paved trail takes you through charming Cape Cod towns, salt marshes, and cranberry bogs, offering a relaxed ride with plenty of scenic stops.
Norwottuck Rail Trail (Massachusetts): Following the path of an old railway line, this 10.5-mile trail takes riders through the serene Pioneer Valley. Along the way, you'll find rest stops, bridges offering stunning river views, and even the opportunity to explore the vibrant town of Northampton, known for its artsy atmosphere and local eateries.
East Bay Bike Path (Rhode Island): Stretching 14.5 miles along Narragansett Bay, this path offers coastal views, tranquil parks, and connections to historic sites like Colt State Park.
Northern Rail Trail (New Hampshire): This extensive trail system stretches over 58 miles, making it the longest rail trail in New Hampshire. The trail winds through the picturesque Lake Sunapee region, presenting cyclists with breathtaking views of lakes, forests, and charming New England villages.
Stowe Recreation Path (Vermont): Explore the heart of Vermont's fall beauty on this 5.3-mile path, surrounded by the Green Mountains and colorful foliage. The path is suitable for riders of all levels.
- Tips for Enjoying New England Bike Rides: Rent or Bring Your Bike: Depending on your travel plans, you can either rent bikes at local shops or bring your own for convenience. Safety: Wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear. Follow traffic rules and be aware of your surroundings, especially when riding on shared roads. Check Trail Conditions: Before heading out, check for any trail closures or alerts, as weather conditions can impact trail accessibility.
The region's golf courses, surrounded by the fall foliage and cooler temperatures, provide an idyllic setting for a round of golf. There are also lots of charity golf tournaments in the fall that provide friendly competition and an opportunity to help local charities.
- Recommended Golf Courses: Sugarbush Golf Club (Warren, Vermont): Nestled in the Mad River Valley, this course offers spectacular mountain views, challenging fairways, and a particularly stunning display of fall colors. Lake of Isles (North Stonington, Connecticut): Located in the heart of Foxwoods Resort Casino, this course combines lush fairways with water features and dense woodlands, creating a picturesque autumn golfing experience. Mount Washington Resort Golf Club (Bretton Woods, New Hampshire): This historic course, surrounded by the White Mountains, offers dramatic vistas of New Hampshire's fall foliage and a classic golf experience.
- Tips for Golfing in the Fall in New England: Book Tee Times in Advance: Fall is a popular season for golf in New England, so be sure to reserve your tee times well ahead of your visit. Layer Your Clothing: Mornings can be chilly, but temperatures may rise as the day progresses. Dressing in layers ensures comfort throughout your round.
While the breathtaking foliage might steal the show, New England's fall festivals are a close runner-up in the race for the region's most cherished autumn activities. These celebrations bring communities together, offering a mix of art, culture, music, and delicious food, all wrapped up in the aura of fall.
- Notable Fall Festivals: Keene Pumpkin Festival (Keene, New Hampshire): This event is synonymous with the magic of fall. Thousands of carved pumpkins line the streets, creating a mesmerizing display of jack-o'-lanterns. It's a family-friendly celebration complete with live music, food vendors, and activities for all ages. Topsfield Fair (Topsfield, Massachusetts): As the oldest agricultural fair in the United States, the Topsfield Fair offers a true slice of New England culture. It features everything from farm animal exhibitions to thrilling rides, live entertainment, and fair food. The Big E (Eastern States Exposition, West Springfield, Massachusetts): Known as "New England's Great State Fair," The Big E is a colossal celebration of the region's culture, featuring state-specific buildings, culinary delights, live performances, and a wide array of exhibits.
- Tips for Enjoying Fall Festivals: Plan Ahead: Check the festival's schedule in advance to catch the events, performances, and exhibits you're most interested in. Arrive Early: Parking and crowds can be overwhelming, so arriving early allows you to make the most of your day. Dress for the Weather: New England's fall weather can be unpredictable, so layering and bringing an extra jacket is always a good idea.
Haunted attractions offer a unique blend of thrills and storytelling, immersing visitors in a world where the supernatural and the eerie collide. What is great about New England, is that in addition to haunted houses, there are also haunted tours, corn mazes and more.
- Notable Haunted Attractions: Salem, Massachusetts: Known for its infamous witch trials, Salem becomes a hub of haunted activity in the fall. Explore haunted houses, eerie tours, and the Salem Witch Museum. The Haunting of Barrett's Haunted Mansion (Abington, Massachusetts): This attraction is not for the faint of heart. It's a full-contact haunted house experience where visitors must navigate terrifying scenes and interact with ghostly actors. My wife would attend this haunted house when she was younger, and I think she is still freaked out by how intense it was. Haunted Hayrides: Various farms and locations across New England offer haunted hayrides through dark forests and spooky landscapes, complete with unexpected scares along the way.
Corn Maze (Cumberland, RI): Adams Farm presents itself as the “largest pumpkin patch” in Rhode Island. In addition to this impressive feat, the establishment also provides a vast five-acre “mega corn maze” and weekend hay rides, as well as a charming hay maze, a petting area for farm animals, and the quaint Hay Mountain.
- Tips for "Surviving" Haunted Attractions: Obey the Rules: Pay attention to the rules and guidelines provided by the attractions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Arrive Early: Lines can get long, so arrive early to make the most of your haunted adventure. If you are planning on going to Salem, be aware that October is very crowded.
Book in Advance: Spooky and haunted attractions in New England are very popular so try to book in advance.
Brewery and Vineyard Tours
The region boasts a ton of breweries and vineyards, each offering a unique taste of fall with their handcrafted beers and fine wines. From sipping IPAs in cozy taprooms to strolling through vineyards adorned with autumn colors, fall is the perfect season to savor the flavors of New England.
- Recommended Breweries and Vineyards: Harpoon Brewery (Windsor, Vermont): Nestled in the heart of Vermont's fall splendor, Harpoon Brewery offers a wide range of craft beers. Their tasting room and beer garden provide a perfect spot to enjoy a brew amid the autumn beauty. Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery (Westport, Massachusetts): This coastal winery is known for its award-winning sparkling wines. Enjoy tastings on their picturesque estate, surrounded by the vibrant colors of autumn. Tree House Brewing Company (Charlton, Massachusetts): Renowned for their exceptional IPAs, Tree House Brewing's rural setting provides a serene backdrop for enjoying their craft beers. It also has a golf course that I'm excited to check out.
Shipyard Brewery (Portland, Maine): Located in the picturesque coastal city of Portland, Shipyard Brewery is a beloved gem in Maine's craft beer scene. Shipyard is renowned for its flagship beer, Shipyard Export Ale, which has a balanced, malty profile perfect for sipping on cool autumn evenings
- Tips for Visiting Breweries and Vineyards in the Fall in New England: Check Operating Hours: Verify the breweries' and vineyards' hours of operation, as they may change seasonally. Designate a Driver: If you plan to visit multiple locations, designate a driver or arrange for transportation to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Reservations: Some popular breweries and wineries require reservations, so make arrangements in advance to secure your spot.
While New England is often associated with its stunning fall foliage, its coastal regions offer a different yet equally enchanting experience during the autumn months. As the summer crowds disperse, the coast takes on a tranquil, romantic charm, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a relaxing escape.
- Recommended Coastal Destinations:
Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Portsmouth is a historic and picturesque coastal city that offers a more intimate and welcoming atmosphere for your fall getaway. Explore Market Square, a hub of charming shops, restaurants, and historic buildings or dine along the waterfront.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Known for its picturesque lighthouses, beautiful beaches, and charming villages, Cape Cod is a quintessential coastal retreat. Take a leisurely bike ride along the Cape Cod Rail Trail, visit the iconic Nauset Lighthouse, and savor fresh seafood at local eateries. Bar Harbor, Maine: Nestled on Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor is a gateway to Acadia National Park. Discover rugged coastline, hike to scenic viewpoints, and savor lobster rolls at waterfront restaurants.
Newport, Rhode Island: Newport is a coastal gem that exudes elegance, history, and maritime charm. Take a leisurely stroll along the iconic Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile trail that hugs the shoreline and provides breathtaking views of the ocean and mansions. It's a destination that blends old-world energy with coastal beauty.
- Tips for Enjoying Coastal Getaways: Check Off-Season Hours: Some coastal businesses and attractions may have reduced hours or closures in the shoulder season, so plan accordingly. Layer Up: Coastal weather can be cool, so pack layers to stay comfortable, especially for evening outings. I know I keep repeating this, but New England weather is so unpredicatable to be prepared.
Lighthouse Tours: New England's coastline is dotted with historic lighthouses. Many offer tours, and the views from the top are especially breathtaking during the fall. Explore Scenic Drives: Consider taking a scenic coastal drive to fully appreciate the beauty of the region. The Coastal Byway in Maine and the Cape Cod National Seashore are excellent options.
And those are 9 different things to do in New England this fall!
Will you be doing any of these activities? What is your favorite fall activity in New England?
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