Hard to believe it’s autumn and time to think about a fall foliage tour in this rather unique part of the United States. New England offers so much history of our early days as a nation and the scenery in autumn is famous the world over. Travelers are stunned with the bright colors of red, yellow and browns mixed in with deep greens.
Many travelers book escorted tours to ease their way through the region and let the tour company make all arrangements — booking hotels, planning the itinerary and suggest where to dine. Others want to be independent and rent an automobile to pursue their own travel. Whether you visit the area via tour or on your own you will probably begin your journey in Boston.
When to visit? Most tourists visit New England during fall foliage time in late September, but a quick Internet search will help find the prime viewing time for when the colors are most vivid.
We’ll outline an itinerary that begins in Boston. This great city is, in itself, worth some time to investigate. You could begin in Harvard Yard and proceed to the gardens of Boston Common and continue on to Beacon Hill and then visit the neighborhoods of the South End. Then, move on to the waterfront area. On another day visit the Harvard Museum of Natural History and be sure to see the Glass Flowers Exhibit.
Boston is called by many, “America’s Walking City,” every street reveals fascinating discovery. You’ll want to take some time to stroll the streets and drop into the many shops.
Not far from Boston is the town of Salem, known to many for its witchcraft trials. The town is also famous for its rich seafaring legacy that predates the founding of Boston. If you are on an escorted tour, your tour manager will tell you about the art and artifacts that Salem’s sea captains and merchants brought back from their voyages around the world. You will want to visit the Peabody Essex Museum, which is now in its third century.
Later, continue on to Maine. More antiques wait in the classic town of Freeport. Here are charming village retail shops housed in old Victorian and Federal style homes and stores. Spending time here is a must. The Harraseeket Inn is recommended for a stay of one or two nights.
Picturesque waterfront hamlets dot the Maine coastline with summer cottages, cliffs and scenic ocean views. Be sure to visit Boothbay where a private schooner cruise of Boothbay Harbor combines with a guided tour led by local docents to the 128-acre Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens to give you authentic glimpses of daily life in this former fishing port.
From here, head inland to the White Mountains of New Hampshire with hillside forests, picturesque valleys, rivers, rocky ridges and high peaks. Consider having lunch in North Conway, highlighted by a RAVEN interpretive series presentation on area wildlife. This will serve as a great introduction to your afternoon drive along the meandering Kancamagus Highway with autumn leaves turning to the reds, yellows and browns in the fall season.
Continue on to the Mount Washington Hotel for an overnight. In 1902 as many as 50 trains stopped here each day from Boston, New York and Philadelphia where wealthy visitors enjoyed the casual accommodations in Spanish Renaissance architecture. It is listed in the Register of Historic Places.
Drive to the Mount Washington Observatory located on the mountain’s 6,288-foot summit, where meteorologists have been keeping watch on the atmospheric phenomena of one of the planet’s most extreme places since 1932. Some tourists are able to meet resident scientists during a lecture question-and-answer session.
You can find out how maple syrup is made at a Vermont maple farm as they are dotted throughout the region and perhaps purchase a couple bottles for yourself and as gifts.
All during this time you will be photographing the hills and mountains with deep autumn colors mixed with cows grazing and streams working their way through the territory. You will be driving through many small villages and towns and most have interesting shops filled with antiques and gift ideas.
Take time to visit of the 400-acre Shelburne Farms, created in 1886 as a model agricultural estate. This grass-based agricultural estate is a model for other farmers and supports a herd of 125 purebred, registered Brown Swiss cows whose milk is transformed into award-winning farmhouse cheddar cheese on the property. You can explore the farm to find horses and other surprises.
The Shelburne Museum is a 45-acre showplace of “Americana” at this lakeside restoration with unusual exhibits of impressionist paintings, folk art, quilts, textiles and more housed in 18th and 19th century buildings from New England.
Then, ferry across Lake Champlain to neighboring New York State. Here are the beautiful Adirondack Mountains where you will want to include a visit to Lake Placid for a couple nights at the Mirror Lake Inn, Resort and Spa.
All scenery here is stunning. Take some time to just walk around and drink in the beauty of the area. The alpine village of Lake Placid hosted the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. A boat cruise on the lake is a must and be sure to visit the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex. And, a visit to the John Brown Farm and Gravesite is interesting and whose life and legacy against slavery endures today.
After some time enjoying the Mirror Lake Inn, visit Saratoga Springs on your way to Ludlow, Vt. where you can visit the National Museum of Racing. You can study thoroughbred horse racing here. Nearby, the mineral springs of this small town attracted Victorian society each summer to enjoy its therapeutic waters and watch their favorite horses race at the track.
Continue on then for a return to Boston, perhaps staying a night before returning your rented automobile at the airport and your return flight home.
Consult your travel professional for a suggestion of tour companies with which you may book a tour and study the brochures they offer.
When you sit down and view your photographs of this most scenic trip you will agree that autumn in New England is a special treat to be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime.