When the temperature starts to drop, the leaves begin to change, and the scent of pumpkin spice begins to take over, we all know that autumn has begun. There’s no better place to be than New England in the fall. From Maine to Connecticut, the entire region comes alive in celebration of the fall season.
The best way to experience it all is to pack the car and set off for an epic New England fall road trip. But where to go?
Here, we’ve mapped out 4 epic fall road trips in New England. You’ll find itineraries that take you along the coast and others deep into Mother Nature. No matter which you choose, you’ll be in for a wonderful autumn in New England.
New England Fall Road Trip Maps
Fall Road Trips in New England: Berkshires to Burlington (US-7N)
- Distance: 219 miles
- Time needed: 5 hours to 3 days
If you’re looking to experience the majesty of the mountains as they change colours with the cooler temps, there’s no better New England fall road trip than the Berkshires to Burlington.
Beginning in the West Massachusetts town of Sheffield, hop on route US-7 North for one of the most scenic drives in New England. You’ll travel through the beautiful region of the Berkshires, where outdoor adventure awaits, like hiking, biking, and even camping. Local farms along the way provided family fall fun with pumpkin patches and apple cider.
Heading north into Vermont, Route 7 meanders through quaint New England towns like Bennington and Middlebury. Throughout the trip, you’ll love exploring historic towns, taking in the beautiful landscape, and seeing the covered bridges in the region. Bennington alone has 5, including Paper Mill Village and Silk Road Covered Bridges.
At the northern end of Route 7 is Burlington, Vermont. As the largest city in the state, there’s tons to do, especially on a fall road trip. Situated along the shore of Lake Champlain, walking or biking the Greenway is a definite must.
Church Street is where you’ll find everything from great restaurants and shops to live music and nightlife. There are even fun events throughout the fall, like the Howl’ween Dog Costume Contest and Family Art Saturday.
The best of fall foliage on this road trip in New England normally begins in Northern Vermont in mid-September. To the south, October is peak foliage time for the Berkshires.
If you’re looking for even more fall fun, extending this New England road trip to Stowe is easy and rewarding. It’s only 40 mins from Burlington and is one of the best scenic drives in Vermont. Simply take I-89S to VT-100 N in the historic village of Waterbury.
You’ll pass right by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory, where you can take a tour and sample the delicious dessert. At Stowe Mountain Resort, you can climb Mt. Mansfield by hiking, on the Gondola SkyRide, or driving the Auto Toll Road.
Pro Tip: On this New England fall road trip, Burlington is where you’ll find a range of places to stay, including large hotel chains and bed & breakfasts.instructions:
Fall Road Trips in New England: Coast of Long Island Sound – Conn. to Cape Cod (I-95 N, US-1N, I-195E, US-6E)
- Distance: 269 miles
- Time needed: 5 hours to 3 days
One of the absolute best scenic drives in New England is along the shore of Long Island Sound through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and up to Cape Cod. It’s a fabulous trip just about any time of year, but there’s something special about doing it in autumn. It’s when you’ll experience both the magical fall foliage and the tranquil sailboats on the water.
Beginning in Greenwich, Connecticut, you’ll travel I-95 N along the coast. Make sure to get off and visit the many quaint coastal towns. The fall foliage in this area normally peaks in mid-October through November.
Definite must-dos along the Connecticut coastline are visiting the Mystic Seaport Museum (a family favorite), strolling along the Saugatuck River in Westport, and exploring Main Street in Old Saybrook. This section of the trip is one of the best scenic drives in Connecticut.
After crossing the border into Rhode Island, set the course for Newport. This historic seaside town is tons of fun for the entire family. There’s lots to explore right on the water’s edge in Newport, making it one of the best scenic drives in Rhode Island.
Watch the boats in the harbor before learning all about it at the Sailing Museum. Get into the fall season in Newport by picking pumpkins and getting lost in a corn maze at local farms. You can even take a Ghost Tour in town. Newport is a great place to spend the night. You’ll find a range of accommodations that meet just about every budget and need.
The final destination on this coastal New England fall road trip is Cape Cod. The whole family will love exploring the sandy beaches and historic towns. The Cape comes alive in the fall, with the peak fall foliage happening between late September and mid-October. It’s also when events like the Yarmouth Seaside Festival take place.
Pro Tip: Although you’ll miss the massive summer crowds, Cape Cod is still a super popular destination in the fall. So try to avoid the peak traffic times of Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.
Fall Road Trips in New England: Bar Harbor to Boston (I-95S)
- Distance: 281 miles
- Time needed: 4.5 hours to 3 days
One of the best places to experience fall in New England is the great Acadia National Park in Maine. Driving the park’s Loop Road through Desert Mountain Island and Bar Harbor is one of the best scenic drives in Maine. So, it makes sense to start a fall foliage road trip from here.
After the summer crowds calm, a new crop of visitors make their way to Acadia in the early fall. This is because the best time to see fall foliage is mid-September until mid-October.
One of the best ways to see the beautiful landscape is from the top of Cadillac Mountain. When considering where to stay, there’s everything from camping in the park to more traditional accommodations in Bar Harbor. Keep in mind that in mid-October, most of these options close for the season.
Pro-Tip: Purchase your entrance pass to Acadia National Park ahead of time at Recreation.gov.
After Bar Harbor and Acadia, it’s on to explore more of beautiful New England in the fall. Head south on I-95 towards Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a definite stop on one of the best fall road trips in New England.
This seaside town has tons to discover, including historic sites and unique boutiques in Market Square. Everyone in the family will love exploring the past at Strawbery Banke Museum.
Leaving Portsmouth, follow the New Hampshire Coastal Byway (NH Routes 1A and 1B) south rather than taking I-95. It’s one of the most scenic drives in New Hampshire, taking you to Seabrook along the shore and through both North Hampton and Hampton Beach State Parks.
Pro Tip: New Hampshire State Parks have free entry but require metered parking.
The final leg of the drive is along the northern coast of Massachusetts on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, one of the best scenic drives in the state. There’s a ton to explore and appreciate along this beautiful trip, including small seaside towns like Salisbury and Newbury.
Along the Shore of Cape Ann, the whole family will appreciate making stops in Gloucester to spot whales off the shore and Essex to visit the Shipbuilding Museum.
No fall trip to New England would be complete without a visit to Salem, Massachusetts. Lucky for us, it’s a stop on this epic road trip. Celebrating Halloween the entire month of October, the town hosts Haunted Happenings with family fun events like Witch Trial reenactments, ghost tours, and magic shows.
There’s no better way to complete one of the best fall road trips in New England than in Boston. This historic city is fun all year long, but it is especially beautiful when covered in fall colors.
You’ll love enjoying the city, like strolling Boston Common and Quincy Market in the crisp fall air. Peak fall foliage normally happens around the 3rd week of October, so make sure to plan your New England road trip in time to see it.
- You can easily complete this itinerary in reverse from Boston to Bar Harbor – we share all our favorite coastal stops if you’d like to focus more on Maine
Fall Road Trips in New England: Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire (Route 112)
- Distance: 58.3 miles
- Time needed: 1.5 hours to 2 days
The Kancamagus Highway (aka “The Kanc”) is one of the absolute best scenic drives in New Hampshire. Even more so, it’s one of the most incredible fall road trips in New England.
Stretching from Bath across the White Mountains to Conway in the east, The Kancamagus Highway is one of the best places to experience autumn in New England.
A definite must-visit along the Kancamagus Highway is the Franconia Notch State Park. This awesome park has so much to do for the entire family. Here, you can hike the Appalachian Trail, ride the aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain, and even visit the New England Ski Museum. The Flume Gorge is a must on any trip to the park.
When it comes to where to stay along The Kanc, camping is a great option with 6 different campgrounds plus options at Franconia Notch State Park. Most campsites are open until mid-October. If that’s not really your thing, you’ll find more accommodations near Bath, Lincoln, and Conway.
Pro Tip: The beauty of the Kancamagus Highway is the immersion into nature. But that also means that amenities like gas stations and cell service are few and far between. Just make sure to download maps and fill up before you head out on this scenic New England road trip.
More Fall Road Tripping Tips and Inspiration
If you’re looking for even more fall road tripping inspiration, keep reading!
- Peak fall foliage in New England typically happens around Columbus Day, a very popular time. So, make sure to book accommodations in advance.
- Look out for individual state yearly foliage maps like New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.
- Want the planning work done for you? We have set up this 5 day New England Fall Road Trip Itinerary to help you get the most out of a continuous road trip around the US Northeast
- Beyond just New England, these destinations on the East Coast make fabulous fall trips with the family
- Take your journey even further, nature lovers you’ll want to seek out these incredible US National parks perfect in Fall, not just famous for their colors but fewer crowds and cooler conditions
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