Autumn is the prettiest time to visit New England. It is the time of pumpkin patches, corn mazes, apple picking, campfires, and beautiful fall foliage. There are also so many quaint towns to explore that are perfect for fall weekend getaways in New England. Since autumn is about three months long, I picked out 12 of my favorite New England weekend getaways so you could take one every weekend if you wanted!
Of course, with sports and back to school, getting away too often can be tricky. If you want to go apple picking, September is your month. And if you are looking for the peak color on the fall foliage, then most of northern New England hits its prime in October, right around Indigenous Peoples’ Day / Columbus Day weekend.
Just keep in mind that the further north you go, the earlier the leaves turn. Once you move into November, it will start to get colder and grayer, so that is the time to visit Southern New England and pick destinations that also have indoor activities.
If you need more ideas, check out these suggestions
- 7 New England fall road trips
- 15 Fall day trips from Boston
- Boston weekend getaways for every season
- Favorite things to do in Rhode Island in the fall
12 Fall Family Vacations in New England
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1. Manchester, Vermont
Manchester, located in Southern Vermont, is only a four-hour drive from NYC and three hours from Boston. This quaint village offers a mix of cute shops and restaurants, combined with quality outlet shopping.
Nearby, you can visit the Robert Todd Lincoln home of Hildene, climb Mt. Equinox (via foot or car), hike to a waterfall, or head over to Bromley Ski Mountain for some outdoor adventure (closes in mid-October). Enjoy a stay at the Equinox Golf Resort & Spa or the new Kimpton In the village. See my full list of things to do in Manchester, Vermont.
2. North Conway, New Hampshire
Located six hours from NYC and 2.5 hours from Boston, North Conway is a perfect destination for exploring the White Mountains of New Hampshire. You can hike, rock climb, take the harrowing drive up to the top of Mt. Washington (or enjoy the Cog Train instead), take a dinner train, or visit one of the nearby ski resorts.
You can even take an evening moose viewing tour! If you visit in the fall, you can miss a drive along the scenic Kancamagus Highway and hikes in Flume Gorge or Lost River Gorge. One of the best scenic views in the White Mountains is from the hike up to Artist’s Bluff in Franconia Notch State Park.
For upscale luxury, stay at the Omni Mt. Washington Resort. For budget travelers, we enjoyed the Residence Inn with its free breakfast buffet. If you enjoy glamping, check out Huttopia White Mountains, Alpine Garden Glamping or the Lumen Nature Retreat.
3. Portland, Maine
For foodies, Portland is my weekend getaway destination of choice. In addition to sampling lobster, oysters, and duck-fat fries (see my suggestions on where to eat in Portland), it is fun to wander the cobblestoned streets of the Old Port. You can duck into shops, see what exhibit is on at the Science Center, or spend an afternoon enjoying the Portland Museum of Art.
Nearby you can shop for outdoor gear at the L.L. Bean Factory Store and other outlets in Freeport. Beer lovers will also enjoy hopping on the Brew Bus for a beer tour or a tasting at Maine Beer Company in Freeport or Allagash in Portland.
My favorite place to stay is the aptly themed Press Hotel, but we have also had lovely stays at the new Hilton Garden Inn in the Old Port and the Courtyard Marriott. For something a little different, escape car-free to Great Diamond Island and the Inn at Diamond Cove.
4. Berkshires, Massachusetts
The Berkshires is a region in Western Massachusetts that includes the towns of Great Barrington, Lenox, and Lee. This artsy area is the summer home to the Boston Pops at Tanglewood and offers first-class art museums like MASS MoCA.
5. Salem, Massachusetts
This charming waterfront town just north of Boston offers more than just the Witch Trial history that it is famous for. The town will be filled with all sorts of spooky celebrations during October, but in the fall the town really shines.
From the beautiful ginkgo leaves that scatter the sidewalks to the colorful trees that line the harbor, Salem shows off in the fall. If witches aren’t your thing, you can also enjoy the Salem Maritime National Historic Site at the Friendship of Salem, the small but wonderfully curated Peabody Essex Museum, or a visit to the House of the Seven Gables.
6. Plymouth, Massachusetts
The famous Plymouth Rock may be the most unimpressive part of this seaside town about an hour south of Boston. Many are disappointed by this small and unassuming piece of history but don’t let that deter you from enjoying the town.
In addition to the shops and restaurants, you can tour the recreated Mayflower II when it is in port, or head out of town to see how the Colonists and Native Americans lived at Plimouth Patuxet Museums.
7. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod is thought of as a summer beach destination, but I’ve written a whole post about things to do on Cape Cod in the off-season. I love visiting some of my favorite Cape Cod spots without the crowds!
You can still enjoy the beaches, take a dunes tour, explore Provincetown, and do some shopping or seal-watching in Chatham. My favorite place to stay is the Wequassett Resort, but the newly updated Cape Codder Inn is perfect for families with its huge indoor waterpark (read my review.) I also loved staying in an Airstream trailer at AutoCamp Cape Cod for something very different.
8. Providence, Rhode Island
When visiting Providence in the fall, try to time it with either a Waterfire lighting along the river or one of the many fall festivals like the Scituate Art Festival in mid-October. Autumn is the perfect time to take a gondola ride along the river during Waterfire with the music playing and the smoky aroma filling the air.
In the daytime, you can also take a Providence Riverboat cruise, or get out of town with Explore Rhode Island. Make sure you leave time to check out the street art and eat some great food (check out my post on my favorite Rhode Island restaurants and things to do in Providence.) Budget-minded families will appreciate the fresh new space of the Hilton Garden Inn. See my favorite things to do in Rhode Island in the fall.
9. Newport, Rhode Island
Fall in Newport is the perfect time to visit. The summer crowds have gone and the weather is still beautiful enough to get out on the water for a sail, enjoy the mansions, and maybe even still hit the beach.
There are even great family-friendly events like the annual Harvest Fair at the Norman Bird Sanctuary, with pony rides, games, food trucks, live music, and more. The Newport Marriott makes a great home base for exploring the area.
10. Mystic, Connecticut
The historic coastal town of Mystic is well located between New York and Boston and offers a little something for everyone. There are the Mystic Aquarium and Mystick Village shops. Then the historic Historic Mystic Seaport with its ships, living history museum, and Colonial town offers a full day of entertainment.
Downtown Mystic offers up more shopping, great restaurants, and the famous Mystic Pizza. But if you are visiting in the fall, you can miss a side trip to B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill for their amazing apple cider donuts (just be prepared for a wait!) We stayed in a luxury cabin at the nearby KOA Campground and budget travelers may also like the Inn at Mystic.
11. Old Saybrook, Connecticut
A lesser-known town along the Connecticut coast, Old Saybrook offers beautiful water views and paths for exploring. You are also not far from the Essex Steam Train, which is such a pretty ride in the fall. Or, you can drive to nearby New London to catch a lighthouse cruise.
We have twice stayed at the lovely Saybrook Point Inn & Spa (including once in the lighthouse suite.)
12. Stowe, Vermont
For beautiful fall color in the mountains, head up to the ski town of Stowe, Vermont. Nearby, you can visit the Ben & Jerry’s Factory for samples and a visit to the flavor “graveyard.”
Cold Hollow Cider Mill serves up the best apple cider donuts, hot and fresh, and they now have a hard cider tasting room next door. Down the road, you may want to stop to sample the cheeses at the Cabot Factory first. For another taste of Vermont, visit the Morse Farm Sugarworks near Montpelier for a maple syrup tasting and some of the best maple creemee.
Stay nearby at one of the many mountain resorts in Stowe like Topnotch Resort, Trapp Family Lodge, or the Stoweflake Resort. You can hike, visit local breweries, and even take a llama trek. See my other recommendations for a Vermont road trip.
These are some of my favorite New England weekend getaways for fall, do you have any to add? Leave a comment below!
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Tamara Gruber is the Founder and Publisher of We3Travel. A former marketing executive and travel advisor, Tamara is an award-winning travel writer and recognized expert in family travel. She is also the publisher of YourTimetoFly and the co-host of the Vacation Mavens travel podcast.