Fall Foliage in New England
Like a million Monet-painted dominoes tumbling one after another across a football field, the fall season transforms the lush landscape of America with its gentle palette of reds and yellows until each tree becomes a masterpiece. Nowhere is this fall foliage transformation more visually striking than in New England.
The six states that comprise New England enjoy some of the most sensational fall colors, thanks to the dominance of only a few types of trees that all turn at the same time. Add to this seasonal explosion of colors the rolling hills, accessible mountains and reflecting lakes that make up New England's geographical canvas, and you have a fleeting Grand Canyon of fall foliage, creating breathtaking vistas at every glance.
As a good travel agent will tell you, peak fall foliage in New England begins up north and works its way down, visiting each state like a loving aunt. For Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont peak fall foliage is the last week of September through the first week or two of October. While the three-day weekend around Columbus Day works best for peak fall foliage in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
You know Where. You know When. You'll be surprised to discover How! While the traditional method of leaf peeping is to hop in your car and fight traffic, many exciting options exist that showcase New England's fall foliage in ways you never considered. Beyond the traditional lies the unforgettable.
The problem with driving through the New England countryside is, well, the driving. It's difficult to view the scenery with your eyes stuck on the flat-gray surface of the road. So let someone else do the driving for you on your fall foliage tour.
Fall foliage bus tours allow you to relax in comfort and take in the scenery with ease. Motorcoach excursions range from delightful afternoons to week-long expeditions through many New England states. The drivers know their way around, so expect only the most scenic routes through picturesque back roads, covered bridges and lake areas on your fall foliage vacation.
Yet the beauty of bus tours is getting off the bus. You'll have many chances to stretch your legs, as you stroll around small villages or jump on a lobster cruise into the Atlantic. Tour operators plan dozens of activities along the way-with plenty of time to enjoy each one-including gourmet meals, museums capturing America's early years, and even stops at Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory or Robert Frost's gravesite.
Get off the road and into the heart of the wilderness on a scenic railroad foliage tour. Coal-fired locomotives are stocked and ready to tow splendidly restored cars through mile after tree-lined mile. This truly authentic experience comes complete with a bellowed "All aboard!" from the engineer, followed by a hiss of steam to signal the start of a journey you won't soon forget.
Or ride up Mount Washington (New Hampshire) on the world's first mountain-climbing cog railway, where on a clear day from the summit you can see not only four states, but also Canada and the ocean! This unforgettable ride on the second steepest mountain-climbing train in the world rewards its passengers with a stunning view that is limited only by the curvature of the earth.
If you want your ocean views a bit closer, then come aboard a tour of New England's colorful coastline and see the foliage through the eyes of a seal...well, not literally. Sailboats and catamarans are ship-shape and ready to take you away for a thrilling afternoon past lighthouses, islands, seals and wildlife sanctuaries while hugging the coast for the best possible views of the trees.
Stretch a wonderful afternoon into an unforgettable week on a fall foliage cruise. Premier cruise lines-such as Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian and Princess Cruises-offer week-long cruises that effortlessly combine comfort and splendor. Climb aboard and watch the turning leaves glimmer in the waves as you glide up the coast to disembark in such classic sea-towns as Boston, Halifax (Nova Scotia), St. John's (Newfoundland) and Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island), only to end up in mesmerizing Montreal.
As the best and most relaxing foliage tours in New England happen while someone else drives, the same can be said for your travel arrangements. Travel agents specialize in navigating you away from stress and into the vacation of a lifetime.
Travel agents know all the little secrets of New England and the best ways to experience the bursting scenery of fall. Through your travel agent, discover hot-air balloon rides that fly low enough to touch the tree tops, the best bicycle tours in Vermont for your skill level and chairlifts that ascend into the most picturesque villages.
By land, sea or air, you're in for a spectacular show. You won't be alone, however, for fall is New England's busiest tourism season. The good news is that there's plenty of room for everyone, so planning ahead and selecting a tour beyond the traditional can be your ticket to ensuring a fabulous experience for you and your family.
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AREA FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Vermont Quilt Festival — Essex Junction, VT, June
Egg Festival (Pittsfield, ME) — July, parades, entertainment and Egglympics.
Hillsboro Balloon Festival (Hillsboro, NH) — July
Oyster Festival (Norwalk, CT) — July
Potato Blossom Festival (Fort Fairfield, ME) — July
Shakespeare Festival (Bangor, ME) — July
Zucchini Festival (Ludlow, VT) — August
Annual Wild Blueberry Festival (Machias, ME) — August