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Imagine! It's quiet -- a perfect New England vacation on a perfect autumn day. The brilliantly colored leaves are back dropped by a brilliant blue, cloudless sky. Mountains loom invitingly, beckoning, challenging you to reach their pinnacles. You've never seen anything so beautiful or felt so free and alive. And not only is it quiet, the air is fresh, not even the inference of pollution. You're on a New England fall foliage getaway and you've discovered within you an awe that knows no bounds.

But, the grandeur is a bit hazy, muted, thoughts with pieces missing; the quintessential New England fall foliage vacation, magnificent and romantic, in your mind only.

You envision yourself in a rocking chair on the porch at a rustic, country inn looking at the spectacle all around you.

There's just one problem: You've been kidnapped by your mind's eye, and it's demanding time off from the same day-in-and-day-out routine; it has a passionate desire to see the autumnal manifestation it's brought to your imagination. You haven't even planned a New England Fall Foliage getaway yet, and time is thinning.

That's it! You decide you just have to make reality match your imagination. But, New England is massive and there's no way to tell when the foliage peak will arrive where. So, planning your New England fall foliage getaway is like tossing darts at a map with your eyes closed, right? Nope.

Helping you make informed decisions about where to go, when, what to see and do, where to stay, even how to preserve a leaf and Mother Nature, the hour glass in her left hand as the final grains of summer pas through and she flips it for a season all new. The coo of the dove fades and flocks of duck and geese fly overhead in their V wing shape. You are now in the season that gave rise to our New England Fall Foliage Section. It is our own avid desire to provide you with all of the resources necessary to plan and enjoy a wonderful New England getaway or New England vacation that you'll remember for a lifetime.

We checked a great many resources to try to pin down exactly when the peak will occur and where. We can't say with 100% certainty when the leaves will begin to change color (although here in northern Vermont, impatient, maverick trees are giving us hints of colors to come).

STATE FALL FOLIAGE HOTLINES FOR ESTIMATED PEAK DATES
StateFoliage Number Predicted Peak Dates
Connecticut888.288.4748 October 5 to 17
Maine800.777.0317October 8 to October 20
Massachusetts800.227.6277 October 1 North to October 6 31 South
New Hampshire800.258.3600September 27/October 4 North to October 17 South
Rhode Island
(Department of Tourism)
800.556.2484 October 5 to October 17
Vermont800.837.6668 September 25 North to October 24 South

We do, however, have a pretty good idea about when the peak window will open and when it will close, so we can guide you on short- and medium-range New England getaway planning or a journey that has you surfing the peak's crest to the South from northern Maine to the sandy, Connecticut beaches on Long Island Sound. We've tucked the projected dates into this page for you and hope that Mother Nature won't pitch us a screwball or become capriciously tardy in flipping that hour glass. She's done it before. There's that little incident about that July snowfall in Vermont a bunch of years back.

In any case, the peak porthole usually (emphasis on usually) opens during the last two weeks of September in the North and closes in mid- to late October in southern New England (See table below for approximate dates).

So how is planning a New England fall foliage getaway or vacation best done? There are essentially two things to keep in mind: geography and timing.

1. If there's a New England state you'd like to visit, find out when the peak is likeliest to occur by calling the State Fall Foliage Hot Lines and Estimated Peak Dates below, choosing the state you want to visit. Also, our Foliage Tracker will keep you posted about what and where the colors are. And our Porch-Cam Daily Photo will allow you to take a peek every morning to see what the trees here in northern Vermont are up to.

2. If your choice of a state for a New England vacation can't be timed to coincide with the arrival of the peak, then make a reservation to catch up with its arrival in a state further South. While many argue that the colors are better the further north you go, don't dismiss the peak seasons in Rhode Island and Connecticut. While there are fewer mountains and forests there, the fall colors can be just as striking.

This special New England Fall Foliage section offers a great deal of information to help you carefully scope out a great leaf-peeking safari.

ruleINSIDER TIPS OF PLANNING YOUR VISITrule

Planning Your Stay

If you can get away during the week that's the best time to head to New England fall foliage territory. Most leaf peekers tend to make a long weekend out of their visits, others go for the full New England vacation so if you're here during the week, you avoid the madding crowds.

The beauty of fall foliage is that it's widespread. Look for spots that don't attract the crowds. Staying off the beaten track will allow you the luxury of communing with the elegance of the season one-to-one. To find special places, don't hesitate to ask local residents or business owners where the less crowded vistas are. They may not give away their favorite secret spot, but they will give you some ideas about where to go and have it all to yourself.

If you're planning on staying up in an inn, hotel or other accommodation, try to make your reservations as early as possible so you can get the inn, hotel, etc. of your choice.

While rooms go quickly, often a year in advance, there are always rooms available in each state, but if you have a preference for one accommodation over another, make your reservations now.

While there are always rooms available somewhere, don't make the mistake of coming to the region without making reservations. You may have to look around quite a while before you find a vacancy sign.

If you're planning on staying at a B&B inn, innkeepers usually insist on a two-night stay during the season, and you will very likely have to put down a deposit (by credit card). Make absolutely certain that you understand the inn's cancellation policy. Some require cancellation a month before the stay date. Any sooner and you could lose your deposit.

Try to find a "centralized" place to stay from which you can make different day trips on each day of your stay.

What to Pack

As the leaves change color, the temperature begins to slide down the tube, sometimes into quite chilly weather. Remember that chilly here isn't anything like chilly in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. We're accustomed to the dry cold up here, so it's not as biting, but do not forget to bring more than just a sweater or two. You'd be well advised to bring a wind breaker and even a parka, a hat and gloves in case the days start getting as cold as the night. If you take a chairlift or gondola ride to a mountaintop, it's much colder at the summit.

Also, bring comfortable walking shoes of hiking boots. There are lots of opportunities to hike, but if you're planning a long hike, bring a backpack with a good water bottle, some good energy bars, a first aid kit and a space blanket just in case. And it wouldn't hurt to bring a poncho just in case Mother Nature decides to let it rain on you.

Peak Colors Are Constant

Keep in mind that although the leaves do change over time, once changed, they don't get any more colorful. Peak is constant and can last a month, so you have some leeway.

Day Trips

If you live in or close to New England, make day trips to the different states to see how the leaves look in different areas. Except for northern Maine, one can make it to most of New England in a day's drive.

We have a number of driving tours you can in each state, and we'll be adding more all season long. Check the menu at left for state tours page in which you're interested. There are also commercial tours your can take if you want to sit back and let someone else do the driving.

Come for More than Just Colorful Leaves

Leaf peeking is always best on a clear sunny day. If it's rainy or foggy, you may not see the colors at all, especially in the mountains, or they'll appear muted. Cold and sunny are the ideals. It's then that the air is crisp and clear and the colors pop. There's also the chance that the peak gets cut short by nature itself, or by a storm. It's rare, but hurricanes have been known to pass through New England on their way to the northern-most part of the Atlantic. Last year we endured some of the lingering effects of a spent hurricane that, had we been at peak, the vast majority of leaves would have been ripped from the veins that hold them to the tree (see How Leaves Change Color for more information about how tenuous the connection between leaf and branch is. For these reasons, it makes sense to go to an area that has points of interest, museums, for instance, where, if you somehow miss the leaves, you'll also miss disappointment. You can find plenty of things to do and see in the Attractions Pages for each state. We have a lot of categories from which to choose on each Attractions page. Use the menu at left to go to the Attractions page in the state in which you're interested.

Bring Your Camera

To forget your camera is heresy, especially if your New England fall foliage vacation is spectacular. You can get some tips about how to film this magnificent season at New England fall foliage Gallery page.

Preserve Some Leaves

Don't hesitate to pick up leaves you like to preserve. Learn how on our How to Preserve Leaves page.

Most of All

Enjoy your New England fall foliage vacation, and if you have a really good time, make your reservations now for this year. Competition for the best room in the best accommodations if fierce. We're looking forward to seeing you. If you have any questions or comments, please send me an email at: jhyde@newenglandtimes.com. I'll do my best to get back to you promptly.


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QuickStart Guide

Four Simple Steps to Planning the Perfect New England Getaway or Vacation.

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