People come from all over the world to enjoy our dazzling autumn landscape (and to take picture of the squirrels on Boston Common, for some reason). Why should tourists have all the fun? If it’s been a while since you’ve headed out of town to leaf peep, take a bike ride to a cider mill, or spent a day hiking a color-drenched trail in the Greens or Whites, consider doing it this fall.
We’ve put together a hit list of primo New England fall foliage destinations, plus some delightful places to stay on both spectrums of the budget. Regarding room rates, note that most properties require a two-night minimum stay on weekends during foliage season. We looked at rates between now and the end of October.
A perennial on best lists, coastal Camden is one of the state’s prettiest locales. Climb or drive to the summit of Mount Battie at Camden Hills State Park to revel in the views of Penobscot Bay and the islands, stop for a winetasting session at a local vineyard, take a sightseeing cruise from the harbor, and dig into blackened fish tacos at the dockside Rhumb Line. www.camdenrockland.com.
Splurge: At the lushly romantic Camden Harbour Inn, www.camdenharbourinn.com; 800-236-4266), named one of the top hotels in the world by the readers of Travel & Leisure magazine last year. Enjoy harbor views and the inn’s acclaimed fine-dining restaurant, Natalie’s. Room rates from $295-$1,490 per night.
Save: Enjoy all the glories of Camden at the Inns at Blackberry Common (www.innsatblackberrycommon.com; 207-236-6060), with 18 guest rooms in a c.1849 main building, attached carriage house, and tinker’s cottage. Rooms are nicely turned out, and a multicourse breakfast is included. From $149 per night.
The spun-gold hillsides along the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) will amp you up for autumn adventure as you head west to the Berkshires. Activity options include biking the lakeside Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, hiking Lenox Mountain to admire the Catskills, Mount Greylock and the Taconic Range in all their fall splendor, and then driving to the southern Berkshires to do the short trek up Monument Mountain. Later, replenish those carbs with a super-gooey pizza at Baba Louie’s. There are great places to stay throughout the Berkshires. We like Lenox for its central location. www.berkshires.org.
Splurge: Blantyre, a replicated Scottish feudal castle, offers a stay you won’t soon forget. Rooms are set in the manor house and carriage house; there are also four guest cottages. The old potting shed is home to a sleek spa. Fall rates range from $475-$1,057. www.blantyre.com; 844-881-0104.
Save: You can walk to town from the historic (c.1882) Brook Farm Inn. New owners Angela Lomanto and John Nelson are gracious hosts at this 15-guest-room inn, where the porch is welcoming and the breakfast wins raves. From $185; www.brookfarm.com; 413-637-3013.
From its lovely and doable five-mile recreation path (fantastic for a family bike ride) to hiking trails up Mount Mansfield and alongside waterfalls like Bingham and Moss Glen, or paddling the Waterbury Reservoir, Stowe is Outdoor Fun Central in autumn. Stop at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill for a true taste of fall. Ready to party, Stowe-style? Come during Oktoberfest or the Stowe Foliage Arts Festival, both in October. www.gostowe.com.
Splurge: Our idea of a “Barbie Dream House” is a national park lodge, so we’re besotted with the soaring beams and stone accents at Stowe Mountain Lodge (www.stowemountainlodge.com; 802-253-3560). Amenities include an open kitchen and a spa; 300 guest rooms and suites range from $259-$3,699 per night.
Save: There are plenty of places to stay in Stowe at all price points, but for a true value option, you can’t beat camping. Smugglers’ Notch State Park (www.vtstateparks.com; open for camping through Oct. 16) offers access to Bingham Falls. Opt for a site with a log lean-to, originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. $27-$29, nonresidents.
Mt. Washington Valley, N.H.
Whether you come to refresh your wardrobe at Settlers Green in North Conway or are lured by the eye-popping vistas from the summit of Cathedral Ledge, you’ll appreciate the natural beauty that graces this bustling tourist mecca. The Kancamagus Highway, a National Scenic Byway, is a favorite route for fall color as it weaves through sections of the White Mountain National Forest. www.mtwashingtonvalley.org.
Splurge: The Omni Mount Washington Resort (www.omnihotels.com/mountwashington; 603-278-1000) is a grande dame with a slew of modern amenities. Become one with the foliage as you soar through treetop zip lines. Take a scenic lift ride to ogle at the landscape, and as evening falls, have a seasonal nightcap, their exclusive signature bourbon with notes of brown sugar, maple, and vanilla. Fall rates from $339-$1,039.
Save: Mother Nature’s autumn artistry is on view from nearly every window at the 1785 Inn in Intervale, atop a spot called the Intervale Scenic Vista. Bonus: A hearty, home-cooked breakfast that’ll fuel you for a day of fun. www. the1785inn.com; 603-356-9025. From $99.
With its Insta-ready views of white-steepled churches and Green Mountain peaks, Manchester is vintage Vermont. Plus, you can fly fish and bargain hunt in the same day, at the famed Battenkill River (there’s an in-town Orvis for supplies and advice), and the 50-store Manchester Designer Outlets. Of course, there are a bazillion hiking trails. For panoramic views, head three miles (mostly uphill) to the crest of Prospect Rock, or along the sun-filtered trails at Lye Brook Falls. For dinner, grab a table at The Perfect Wife. www.visitmanchestervt.com.
Splurge: Set smack on Main Street, the handsome Inn at Manchester (www.innatmanchester.com; 802-362-1793) is on the National Register of Historic Places. Count on niceties like a guest pantry stocked with beverages and baked goods, luxury linens, flat screen TVs, a pool, and a fire pit. The inn has 21 guest rooms and suites; fall rates range from $175 to $315.
Save: The Palmer House motel has been in business for 60-plus years, so they’re doing something right. The family-owned property has its own trout pond, indoor pool, and tennis courts, and is adjacent to the beloved Ye Olde Tavern, a c.1790s landmark. www.palmerhouse.com; 802-362-3600. From $160.
Covered bridge? Check. Waterfalls? Check. Hiking trails? You know it; in fact, the Appalachian Trail winds through this pretty town in northwest Connecticut. As for the foliage, Yankee Magazine once named Kent the best for leaf peeping in New England from a field of 25 colorful contenders. By car, Route 7 offers pretty views of nature’s autumn handiwork; on foot, hike the trail up Cobble Mountain in Macedonia Brook State Park to see a palette of color that seems to go on forever. www.discovernwct.com.
Splurge: Head north on Route 7 to indulge in the comforts of the stately White Hart Inn (www.whitehartinn.com; 860-435-0030) in Salisbury. Serious artwork (Jasper Johns, Frank Stella) graces the common areas of this 16-room inn, where the major attraction is The Dining Room, an acclaimed eatery (named one of last year’s best new restaurants by Bon Appetit) helmed by chef Annie Wayte. Fall rates range from $245-$600.
Save: Guest rooms at the Cornwall Inn (www.cornwallinn.com; 860-672-6884) are set in the c.1821 main inn and the adjacent country lodge. On-site innkeepers greet guests with a glass of wine; the complimentary breakfast features house-made granola. From $159.Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at email@example.com.