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Fall in New England is something many travelers wish to experience.  From the vibrant foliage to covered bridges and quaint villages, this has always been a travel goal of mine.  How convenient it was when some friends of ours informed us they would be getting married in Connecticut in October – peak season!  We were thrilled to accept their invitation to join them on their special day.  We also wanted to seize this opportunity to spend time in this area in prime leaf-peeping season.  From that moment, we were absolutely determined to cover New England utilizing our October vacation time.
 

After a few years of battling October hurricanes in the Caribbean, we were thrilled to be experiencing something entirely different.  So, with some creativity and careful planning, we were able to visit seven states in eight days.   We set out and visited nearly one state a day. While that sounds daunting to some, it is important to remember that, for the most part, these states are very small.  The scenery on a trip like this is beautiful!
 
 
Here is a list of the places we visited:
 
Connecticut – Hartford, New Haven, Wallingford, Guilford, and Mystic Seaport
Rhode Island – Newport and Providence
Massachusetts – Boston
Maine – Portland and Old Orchard Beach
New Hampshire – Conway, White Mountains, and Franconia
Vermont – Montpelier, Waterbury and Stowe
New York – Saratoga Springs, Albany, and Niagara Falls
Ontario – Niagara Falls
 
 
 
 
 
That’s right, we covered this many places in just over one week.  Like I said, this took some creativity and planning. Not only did we have to determine where all we wanted to go, but how and when we would manage this. This involved looking at a lot of maps (one of my favorite things) and determining a route to best utilize the time we had.  We actually tasked a travel agent with planning this trip for us.  She failed, and we ended up planning it on our own!
 

Here’s exactly how we did it!

Day 1

Fly into Hartford, CT.  Pick a budget hotel with a free shuttle near the airport.  We arrived late at night and went straight to our hotel.
 
A travel dream come true – empty seats next to yours! We had this row to ourselves.
 

Day 2

Take the free shuttle back to the airport, pick up rental car.  Doing it this way saves the cost of paying for a rental to sit in the hotel parking lot over night.  Drive to New Haven and spend the day exploring the city.  This includes a visit to Yale’s campus and the famous Frank Pepe’s Pizza.  We stayed overnight in Wallingford as this was also the day of our friends’ wedding in nearby Guilford.
 
What a beautiful fall day in Connecticut.
 

Day 3

Depart New Haven for Providence, making a quick stop in Mystic to check out the infamous seaport.  We also diverted to Newport to see the famous mansions. Upon arrival in Providence, drop off the rental car, explore downtown and Federal Hill, before boarding a train bound for Portland, Maine for an overnight stay. This will also allow for a brief stop in Boston as well.
 
 
Newport Bridge.
 
Downtown Providence offers gondola rides.
 

Day 4

Pick up another rental car to explore Portland and head out to the Portland Head Light. After late lunch, we decided to branch out, so we headed to Old Orchard Beach for a few hours. We had the freezing northern Atlantic to ourselves, as well as the local arcade, which was one of the only open businesses as everything was closed for the off-season. After spending some time here, we headed to New Hampshire on scenic back country roads for lodging at the base of the spectacular White Mountains.
 
The iconic Portland Head Light was commissioned by George Washington in the 1700’s.
 
Normally a summer hot-spot, not a soul was on Old Orchard Beach besides us.
 

Day 5

Spend the day exploring the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Take the scenic route – the Kancamagus Highway.  This route is gorgeous!  And, our best advice on this road is to be prepared to stop often – drive with caution!  Be sure to catch the amazing waterfalls and my favorite, Franconia Notch State Park where you will see the fantastic Flume Gorge.  Make your way towards your hotel in Stowe, Vermont that evening.  You’ll pass through Montpelier, which is a great spot to visit local maple farms and stroll through the downtown streets. Stowe is a typical ski town, but make sure to check out the von Trapp resort…. Yes, the von Trapps from Sound of Music ended up in Vermont!
 
 
Vibrant foliage goes as far as the eye can see in the White Mountains.
Relaxing by the fire at our hotel.

 

Check out the spread at the von Trapp Family Lodge outside of Stowe!

 

Day 6

Before leaving Stowe in the morning, branch out and prepare for some hiking and excellent waterfall viewing.  Then, stop in Waterbury for a tour at either Green Mountain Coffee or a Ben and Jerry’s, depending on your preference. Once you head south towards Saratoga Springs, New York via Burlington, you’ll get to cross Lake Champlain by auto ferry. Plan your trip to Saratoga Springs right and you might be able to catch a horse race while you are in town. From there, head south toward Albany.
 
There are so many beautiful waterfalls in New England
 
Autoferry across Lake Champlain.
 
 
 

Day 7

Drop off the rental car and enjoy the morning exploring downtown Albany.  Later, head to the train station to depart on the six hour Amtrak journey to Niagara Falls, New York.  This is some great downtime to rest and catch up.  There are more departure options and more affordable prices if you go to the New York side as opposed to the Canadian side!
 
Such a beautiful state capitol.
 
The Egg – Albany’s Performing Arts Center
 

Day 8

Get up early to get a jump on all the excitement of Niagara Falls.  We were able to get soaked on the Maid of the Mist, soar over the water on the MistRider, and get blasted by the Cave of the Winds.  This is a fun place to just spend the day walking around, taking pictures, eating, and adventuring!  Just remember to bring at some quarters so you can pay the fee to cross back to the American side when you’re done for the day!
 
Niagara Falls in October is beautiful and less crowded.
 

Day 9

Catch a ride to the Buffalo Airport for departing flight.  We made it home in time for dinner!
 
 
 
While we know that this trip doesn’t do justice to all New England has to offer, we where pleased with our experience here. We were able to see spectacular foliage, rushing waterfalls, and rugged coastlines. We enjoyed peaceful mountain serenity and the hustle and bustle of big cities. This mix of planes, trains, and automobiles allowed us to cover hundreds and hundreds of miles within these beautiful states. Our days were busy and intense – generally going for 12 hours or more and were filled with sites, food and fun! We are so glad we got to have this experience road tripping through New England!!
 
Quaint New England charm.
 
 

Start planning your fall foliage adventure now!

If you’re curious where to stay, you can see the hotels we stayed at in each city by visiting our Hotel Recommendations page.  It is important to remember that this is peak-season and prices can be high.  We selected budget-friendly options in each city.  Please consider booking your stay through our Booking.com link.  It’s at no additional cost to you, but may help us offset the cost of running this blog.

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37 Comments

  1. Fall in New England looks wonderful, especially the Kancamagus Highway (I assume the photo of you two and those vibrant autumn colors & mountains was made there)! You´ve really done a lot in one week! #FeetDoTravel

  2. I don’t even know where to begin with this post! What an epic road trip, so many amazing things you did! The Falls in October – wow! It looks like they are amazing any time of year really, and the Autumn/Fall colours are stunning. But hello! Von Trapp Resort?? They settled in Vermont – I did not know that! I need to add this to my bucket list and take my Finnish friend who I worked with on Gili Air, we used to sing Sound of Music songs haha. Pinned. What a great trip #feetdotravel

    1. Such a wonderful region to explore. I’ve given you yet one more reason to head to the States, right!?!?

  3. I’ve read so many articles about New England in Autumn, there’s always loads of articles in the newspapers here in the UK advertising trips, however I’d much rather do what you did and create your own road trip, looks like a great adventure too! The colours of the trees in that picture of you guys looks fabulous. Oh and how brilliant getting an empty row of seats! love it. It’s only happened to me once where I scored the middle row of seats on a flight from London to LA 🙂 Thanks for the itinerary, have pinned for ref. Garth.

    1. It was so fun to go road tripping on our own as opposed to a tour (although it was more complicated)! We highly recommend it – let us know if you ever have planning questions.

  4. I would so love to take this exact trip! I’ve been to New England in the fall but not as far north as Maine and New Hampshire. We would for sure want to plan our own trip (not go on a tour), so I’m pinning your post for future travel!

  5. Wow! That is an impressively ambitious road trip. I’d really like to do this trip to see all if the beautiful waterfalls. I remember seeing a few when we did a New England road trip when I was kid. Thanks for sharing your post and laying out a great fall foliage itinerary #WeekendWanderlust

  6. Oh you guys have our number with this one! We have fallen head over heels for New England, and have covered many of the same areas over the past few years. Kancamagus Highway the White Mountains are awesome! Stowe and the Trapp Family Lodge are amazing! We have yet to get to western New York or Maine, though. Soon…but not soon enough! Awesome trip guys – sounds like you love the area as much as we do! (And could I use the exclamation mark any more??? 😉

  7. I love road trips and this just makes me want to jump on a plane straight away! The Autumnal colours are just stunning, I’d love to see New England in person, so thank you so much for the inspiration!

  8. This looks like the perfect New England road trip! And I would absolutely love to stay at the von Trapp Lodge in Stowe. You covered a lot of ground in 7 days, but it looks like you had a wonderful time.

  9. What a lovely road trip!! Sometimes its better doing the itinerary yourself somehow, more reliable :). New England at fall sounds so dreamy and that state capital building looks amazing! Always wanted co see niagara too! Bookmarking this for future trips! How was Frank pepe pizza? 😍😍

  10. Enjoyed reading your post. Brought back memories of our road trip in New England some ten years ago. But the Von Trapp resort and the family lodge are a pleasant surprise! I would love to visit that place with Sound of Music track playing! I think it’s time for me to make another visit of the beautiful New England in USA! 🙂

  11. You visited a good cross-section of places to give a broad spectrum of communities and environments. When I first visited the States I delivered cars across the country, and there’s nothing better than a road trip to explore expansive countries. When you fly, you miss so much.

  12. My main interest is to go to the White Mountains and then Stowe to see the leaves in the fall. You saw a lot more, too! I’m hoping to make this trip to New England in the next few years!

  13. I’ve heard so much about the glorious beauty of fall in New England and you’ve captured that so well in this post. Those vibrant colors along Kancamagus Highway are captivating. I really appreciate how you listed the day by day plan for this road trip – that will certainly come in handy for trip planning. Hopefully we will be able to plan one such memorable road trip through NE soon.

  14. I have heard about so much of Fall in New England that I really want to go for this road trip. Good to know that downtown Providence offers gondola rides which will give us feel like Venice. And all those beautiful waterfalls make me tempt to visit this place.

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