Top 15 Best Places To See Fall Foliage In New England

Last Updated on August 01, 2023 by Nikki Jain

We love when the fall starts to roll in. Not only does it mean that winter is inching ever closer (which means Christmas is just around the corner), but the colors are simply wonderful.

We always catch a smile on our faces when we first peek at those beautiful fall colors.

While you could easily catch the stunning views of the changing season from the comfort of your home or a quick trip around your town, why not make an adventure out of it? Why not head out on a drive and surround yourself with the stunning New England fall foliage?

You certainly won’t be struggling to find the most scenic drives in the region.

On this page, we want to introduce you to fifteen of the best places to see fall foliage in New England.

In fact, these stunning locations will not only offer amazing sites to see those fall colors, but many of them are a hotbed for activity during the fall months, so you may even catch a festival or two.

Most Beautiful Fall Foliage in New England

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1: Kancamagus Highway - New Hampshire

Kancamagus Highway - New Hampshire
Gorgeous view of Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire during Foliage | Dreamstime/Ujjwalstha

The Kancamagus Highway, a section of New Hampshire Route 112, is a short 30-mile route that will take you through the White Mountain National Forest.

When it comes to where to see leaf foliage in New England, the Kancamagus Highway comes highly recommended.

You'll start at Bath and end up in Conway. As you travel the Kancamagus Highway, you'll be twisting and turning through some of the most stunning fall scenery not just in New England but in the United States.

All the while, you'll have spectacular rivers just outside your window. However, the real highlight is the trees.

The Kancamagus Highway is surrounded by red spruce, European hemlock, and red maple. This means your fall colors will range from a pale yellow to a bright, beautiful red. It is incredibly picturesque.

Remember, you'll start and finish your trip in two cute little towns. Both of them take fall seriously. Conway has a fantastic fall festival, often during October.

Make sure you check out the times that the fall festivals are running and take your trip simultaneously. It'll be worth it. What better way to celebrate the most colorful of seasons?

2: Stowe - Vermont

Stowe - Vermont
Stowe is among the best places to see fall colors in New England | Dreamstime/Snehitdesign

Stowe, Vermont, is overlooked by Mount Mansfield, a popular ski destination in New England. Although, we aren't going to have you walking up those slopes for that fall fun. In fact, you don't have to venture too far from Stowe itself.

Here, you can see the best New England foliage without even exiting the town of Stowe. This tiny town, with a population of just 600, is nestled in the heart of a forest.

Those beautiful buildings are just a tiny piece of a vast landscape encompassing thousands and thousands of trees and striking mountains. All of which will turn a bright orange or red color during the fall months.

However, if you're willing to head to Stowe, you're probably ready to head out there into the wild and brave the surrounding area.

Stowe sits on the edge of Smuggler's Notch State Park, so Stowe is the perfect location to venture out on a good hike through the beautiful tree-lined area.

There are plenty of hiking routes, as well as some camp spots (you'll need to book early). Make sure you get here before the middle of October, though. Arrive too late, and you'll miss the best colors.

3: Smugglers Notch State Park - Vermont

Smugglers Notch State Park - Vermont
Beautiful fall colors in Franconia Notch State Park | Dreamstime/Demerzel21

Speaking of Smugglers Notch State Park, next up on our list of best spots to see fall foliage in New England, we have Smugglers Notch State Park.

You already know a little bit about it from before. It is located on the cusp of Stowe in Vermont, so you're really getting two tremendous fall locations for the price of one. But let's tell you a bit more about Smugglers Notch State Park itself.

Smugglers Notch State Park is a small park that juts through the Green Mountains. It is a very narrow trail, but one that is ever so stunning.

As you navigate your way through Smugglers Notch State Park in the fall, you'll be surrounded by the beautiful yellow and orange colors of the trees. Not just nearby but peppering the Green Mountains.

We love visiting Smugglers Notch State Park near the end of September, particularly with a camera in tow. The leaf colors would have only started changing, leaving a hint of green in the mix.

It is really a sight to behold. Plus, the later you travel in the season, the more chance there is of Smugglers Notch State Park closing (it is closed to visitors from the middle of October until Spring).

If you're heading to Smugglers Notch State Park, don't forget to take a trip to Stowe too!

Planning a trip to New England soon? Check out the top attractions & things to do in New England.

4: Franconia Notch State Park - New Hampshire

Franconia Notch State Park - New Hampshire
Dreamstime/Winston Tan

Let's take you away from Vermont for a bit so we can introduce you to the next one on our list of New England fall foliage destinations; Franconia Notch State Park.

Franconia Notch State Park is a mountain pass that will have you hiking right through the middle of the White Mountains (don't worry, it is an easy trip!).

You can find it just off Interstate 93 and can even combine a trip along the Kancamagus Highway with a trip to Franconia Notch State Park.

By now, you should already know the types of trees and fall colors you can expect to see when you are navigating your way through the dense forests, and Franconia Notch State Park is no different.

Traverse the hiking trails here, and you'll be surrounded by lush yellow and orange colors. Make sure you travel here at the start of October for the best views.

Every so often, you'll exit the forest and be surrounded by the stunning white mountains, also offering broadly the same colors.

Franconia Notch State Park is not only the best place to see fall colors on the trees but one of our favorite destinations overall.

The scenery is incredibly varied, and you never know what is around the corner. One moment you could have a beautiful forest, and the next, a stunning cliff face.

The hikes through the area are incredibly easy too, so why not bring your family for some fall fun?

5: Acadia National Park - Maine

Acadia National Park - Maine
Majestic fall colors of Acadia National Park | Dreamstime/F11photo

We don't know about you, but when we think of the best New England fall foliage, Maine is often the first state to spring to mind.

We guess we must have seen a movie featuring it at one point. Everything about Maine during the fall months just screams, 'You need to be here'. This rings especially true in Acadia National Park.

It'll be quite a journey to get to Acadia National Park. This is because it isn't located on the mainland. Instead, Acadia National Park is meant to protect a few islands off the coast of Maine.

So, you'll have to hop onto a boat but come on. This is Maine. You probably expected that at least once, right?

You're in for a treat when you get to Acadia National Park. You have looming mountains, fantastic ocean views, and plenty of tree-lined forests.

If you were here during the summer, there'd even be white, sandy beaches to relax on. But, this is the fall. It is time to wrap up warm.

Because Acadia National Park is formed of a series of islands, one of our favorite things to do is stand on the coast of one island (it'll probably be Mount Desert Island) and look outwards towards the other islands.

From here, you'll see a fantastic orange sight jutting out from the blue ocean. Make sure that you have your camera handy!

Also Read: Best National Parks to See Fall Foliage in the US

6: Adirondack Mountains - New York

Adirondack Mountains - New York
Scenic view of the Adirondack mountains | Dreamstime/Wirestock

We don't think there is a wrong time to see the Adirondack Mountains in New York. In the summer months, you have beautiful walks.

In the winter, you'll have to brave snow-dense forests to see picturesque sights, and in the fall, well, you have gorgeous orange and yellow colors dominating the landscape.

Even the tourism board for the Adirondack Mountains claims that this is one of the best places to see fall foliage in New England.

You'll need a camera handy because you'll want to snap some pictures of the beautiful red, yellow, and orange colors that pop up in the middle of September.

You can really get into the fall mood of the Adirondack Mountains as the season goes on too. There are plenty of hikes and harvest festivals.

As you inch closer and closer to the end of October (when some of those colors may start to disappear), you’ll find fright nights, apple-picking activities, and more. You’ll have a tremendous time!

Also Read: Best Things To Do In The Adirondacks

7: Woodstock - Vermont

Woodstock - Vermont
Foliage scene of farmhouses in Woodstock, Vermont | Dreamstime/Wirestock

No. Don’t worry! It’s not that Woodstock. We're talking about a small town in Vermont, a place that has a little over 2,000 residents.

Woodstock in Vermont is known for its beautiful array of historical buildings and museums dedicated to farm life in the region.

Woodstock lies in a flat valley surrounded by a small creek and the Ottauqueechee River. The town's layout is incredibly unique (it had little to no town planning when it was formed), and there have even been studies on it.

So, if you have a love of beautiful towns, then Woodstock is where you should be. Although, we do understand that you're here for the fall colors instead.

Because Woodstock sits in the heart of farmland and a valley, there are orange/red/yellow trees as far as the eye can see. You’ll see them climbing mountains.

Surrounding the historical buildings of Vermont, even a walk down one of the tree-lined residential streets is amazing.

Although we do suggest that you venture out into the 'wilderness' a little bit, just so you can see more of what this stunning area offers.

There are plenty of events happening around Woodstock during fall, including some fun activities on the Sugarbush Maple & Cheese Farm, including pumpkin bowling (a lot of fun!), and there are lots of orchards where you can pick your own apples (for a fee, of course). There is even an outdoor movie night or two!

Also Read: Best Places to See Fall Colors in the USA

8: Kent - Connecticut

Kent - Connecticut

We're taking you on yet another journey to a small town in New England. This time, to Kent in Connecticut.

This town, founded in the 1700s, has just 3,000 residents. Each and every one of those residents take pride in the beauty of the local area.

Kent in Connecticut makes the ideal base of operations for exploring two nearby state parks. You have the Macedonia Brook State Park, which will give you stunning views over the fall colors of Appalachian.

Closer, you have Kent Falls State Park, which boasts a massive 15 waterfalls. Honestly, watching the water cascade down while surrounded by fall colors is an experience that everybody needs to see at least once in their life.

If you’re looking for one of the best places for leaf peeping in New England, Kent is definitely that. Not only will you have those beautiful natural sights to look at, but the town lives for the fall.

During the fall months, there are plenty of unique activities, including countless fall sales, pumpkin runs, art galleries, and more.

Of course, if you're not into that, a hiking trip along one of the many different tails is a good replacement.

9: Bristol - Rhode Island

Bristol - Rhode Island
Dreamstime/Liaomiao

You may have heard of Bristol, Rhode Island, before. The town is celebrated for having the longest-running Independence Day celebration in the United States.

So, if you head here during the summer months, then great. Although, we're here to tell you why this is one of the best places for fall foliage in New England.

The best colors in Rhode Island start to appear in the middle of October, and by the end of October, the entire state is awash with bright oranges and reds. So, if you can, plan to spend a couple of weeks in Bristol (or nearby); you won't regret it!

Bristol is a town that has very much stuck to its roots. So, plenty of the buildings in Bristol are set in stunning natural scenery.

This means plenty of trees and several fantastic fall activities as you wander around the town. However, if you want to see the best of what Bristol has to offer, you'll need to leave the town limits a little.

We suggest making a beeline for the Blithewold Estate. The vast grounds will have you navigating through amazing scenery (not just in the fall).

If you're more adventurous, you'll find plenty of cycling and hiking routes nearby. You'll be going through beautiful marshes and coves.

Don’t forget to take a trip to Coggeshall Farm Museum too. Some of the best maple trees in the state can be found here!

10: Newport - Rhode Island

Newport - Rhode Island
Dreamstime/Subbotina

We're not done with Rhode Island yet! Next up, we have the town of Newport. It is roughly the same size as Bristol, and for many, it may be the best place to visit New England in the fall.

You already know of the beautiful fall colors and scenery that New England provides. We’ve told you enough. So, let’s talk about some of the thrilling activities that Newport offers instead.

When we visited Newport, one of our favorite activities was taking a boat out of the harbor (plenty of boat tours, don't worry) and seeing the stunning fall scenery from the boat.

You can get fabulous views over Rhode Island from the ocean, and the captains always know the best way to position the boats for the most relaxing experience.

As October rolls on, you'll have plenty more activities to enjoy, including ghost tours and hayrides.

From mid-September, you can even take a trip to Escobar's Highland Farm Corn Maze, often touted as one of the best corn mazes in New England.

On top of that, most farms will have a pick-your-own pumpkin event or two, perfect for getting into the fall mood.

Also Read: The Most Scenic Drives in the USA

11: Dixville Notch State Park - New Hampshire

Dixville Notch State Park - New Hampshire
Dreamstime/Daniel Logan

At just 127 acres, Dixville Notch State Park is one of the smallest state parks in New Hampshire but, in our opinion, one of the best places to see fall foliage in New England.

A walk through Dixville Notch State Park will have you hiking toward mountains (including Table Mountain). Along the way, you'll be surrounded by beautifully colored trees.

However, the real highlight is the numerous waterfalls, most of which are close to the roadside for those that aren’t fans of walking.

The waterfalls are small, but they are a hotbed of life. It isn’t just the trees that change color during the fall, but also the other plants.

These waterfalls are surrounded by mosses and small plants that look amazing once October rolls in.

While you don’t have to hike up one of the small mountains, we suggest you do.

We read countless reviews of locations when writing this list of the best places to see fall foliage in New England, and people repeatedly stated that the short walk up one of the mountains will give you stunning views of fall foliage, including lakes, rivers, and more. Beautiful!

12: Bar Harbor - Maine

Bar Harbor - Maine
Jordan River foliage colors in Bar Harbor, Maine | Dreamstime/Giovanni Gagliardi

We're coming close to the end of our list of best places to see fall colors in New England. But don’t worry. We still have four more locations for you! Next up, we have Bar Harbor in Maine.

Remember Acadia National Park from earlier? Well, you can think of Bar Harbor as your gateway to Acadia National Park.

Many hikers are daytrippers who start their journey at Bar Harbor. In fact, many don’t even leave Bar Harbor. You don’t have to be an adventurous hiker to see the beautiful sights of the area!

Looming over Bar Harbor, you have the tremendous Cadillac Mountain and plenty of other smaller mountains. Most of these are tree-lined, and seeing them change colors as the fall months wears on is truly awe-inspiring.

As you can imagine, there are plenty of activities happening around Bar Harbor during the fall months. One of our favorites takes place at the nearby Asticou Azalea Garden.

This place looks fantastic any time of the year, but even better during the fall. There is a stunning lake that sits at the heart of the gardens, and it reflects the beautiful fall colors perfectly.

13: Litchfield Hills - Connecticut

Litchfield Hills - Connecticut
Dreamstime/Alpegor

Litchfield Hills covers almost all of Litchfield County. While there are plenty of places to head in Litchfield Hills for the fall, we suggest you make a beeline for Torrington. It has 35,000 residents and is the largest town in Litchfield County.

Torrington makes an ideal base of operations for exploring Litchfield Hills. In this area, you can see the only two remaining covered bridges in Connecticut.

Of course, both are surrounded by beautiful fall foliage. Your journey to these bridges will take you through narrow, twisting country roads where you’ll be constantly surrounded by trees. Every so often, you’ll head over a fast-flowing river that reflects the trees perfectly.

One of the things that we love about Litchfield Hills is that the area seems almost 'undiscovered'. Look online. You'll find very few sites referencing the place. Even the Wikipedia page is bare.

There are people that have lived in Litchfield Hills all their lives that are still finding new places to explore.

So, if you are an experienced hiker and fearless of heading off the beaten track, head to Litchfield Hills.

Also Read: Most Scenic Train Rides in the USA

14: The Mohawk Trail - Massachusetts

The Mohawk Trail - Massachusetts
Dreamstime/Haveseen

The Mohawk Trail is an old Native American trading route. Although, the area is now paved with roads. There are plenty of monuments that pay tribute to the history of The Mohawk Trail, though.

Some of the earliest residents of New York wouldn't have survived without the Native American traders willing to brave this route.

Most of The Mohawk Trail isn't that interesting for fall lovers. There is the odd tree, but nothing too crazy. This is one of those places where it is about the destination rather than the journey.

Near the end of The Mohawk Trail, you'll discover one of the best places for fall foliage in New England; the Western Summit.

Here, you'll have amazing views over the Taconic Range (a mountain range). Make sure that you come up here in mid-October for the best views.

15: White Mountains - New Hampshire

White Mountains - New Hampshire
Colorful White Mountains in autumn | Dreamstime/Kan1234

The White Mountains in New Hampshire have already had a couple of references on this page. We couldn't really skip them, really.

They take up a whopping ¼ of the state of New Hampshire. This is one of the best places to hike in New Hampshire.

Some of the mountains can be tricky to traverse, but there are plenty of walks down the base of the mountains.

The colors of the White Mountains are superb. Even during October, the area is getting snowfall, so you are often left with contrasting views of the white snow and the orange/red foliage. You can head to plenty of places in the White Mountains for views like this.

Family in tow? While the hiking is fun, you'll find plenty of amusement parks in the area too, most of which have fall activities.

FAQs about New England Fall Foliage

What is the best time to see New England fall foliage?

It depends on the year, but fall foliage usually is in full swing from mid-October to the end of October.

How many days to see New England fall foliage?

You can normally start to see fall foliage appear from September through to November. However, the best New England foliage views happen in the middle of October, so you really only have 15-20 days to catch New England’s foliage at its peak. 

Where is the best fall foliage in New England?

Anywhere in New England is good, but we are fans of Kancamagus Highway. This will take you through amazing tree-lined roads, and you can drive the whole way (it is a very short drive).

So, what's your favorite fall foliage destination in New England?

The fall foliage across New England is always stunning. It doesn't matter where you go in the region; you'll always have something to look at.

However, if you're only in New England for a short while (or you need the quintessential fall foliage), then any of the best places to see fall foliage in New England featured on this page is a great place to start. They also provide a great base of operations to explore the rest of the area!

So, what are you waiting for? (other than fall, we guess). Pick up that camera, wrap up warm, and go explore New England.

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