Leaf peepers flock to New England this time of year, so avoiding tourist traps can be as challenging as scaling Mount Washington. Despite the daunting task, we somehow managed to uncover some new fall favorites.
Sure, these hidden gems may not have the dazzling foliage peaks of Conway, NH, or the energy of Boston, but they do have plenty of undervalued autumn charm.
So here are 8 New England destinations you might not have thought about visiting this fall.
Tucked into the backwoods of New London County, Griswold is no longer just a pass-through town. A longtime favorite of locals, Buttonwood Farm is now on our radar. The farm has a corn maze, animals, hayrides and fresh ice cream (including pumpkin and peppermint flavors).
There’s not much here for accommodations, but Foxwoods Resort Casino is only about 10 minutes away. Long scenic roads through Pachaug Forest and Geer Tree Farm make for great detours.
This island community tends to be overshadowed by Newport, its trendy neighbor — but no one is complaining. Jamestown’s low-key vibe is why so many visit this 1-mile-wide town. Charming streets, rolling hills and gray-shuttered homes give it that Martha’s Vineyard feel. Beavertail State Park, which overlooks Narragansett Bay, is a perfect spot for watching autumn sunsets.
3. Wequassett Resort and Golf Club
Cape Cod is not just a summertime escape. This classic New England vacation spot welcomes autumn air with open arms. In Chatham, events are happening all season long, including Oktoberfest, art shows, apple pie contests and outdoor concerts. It’s also the best time to tour the area’s cranberry bogs. For fresh seafood, visit Wellfleet Oysterfest.
Tip: Take advantage of discounted rooms at Wequassett Resort before it closes up for winter.
4. The Inn on Peaks Island
Peaks Island is part of Portland — but you wouldn’t know it. The island is 3 miles offshore. A 20-minute ferry ride will get you there. Once ashore, book a golf-cart tour of the island. Stay at the charming Inn on Peaks Island with luxe cottage-style guest rooms and for eats, try Peaks Cafe. Then, wrap up the day with a walk down Island Avenue, where you’ll discover quaint shops and the Umbrella Cover Museum.
A sleepy village in the Green Mountains, Pittsfield lures outdoor adventurers with its network of bike and walking trails. Getting here is also part of the hook: Route 100 is one of America’s most scenic roads. Skiers hit nearby slopes by early November. For overnight trips, try the relaxed, 15-room B&B Amee Farm Lodge, and eat breakfast at the Original General Store.
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On the northern tip of New Hampshire, at the Canadian border, lies Pittsburg. There are more moose than people here and nearly 300 square miles of unspoiled wilderness. No 5-star hotels. Only woodsy efficiency cabins with names such as Bear Tree, Powder Horn, Ramblewood and Buck Rub, some listing honest value, bottled beer and telephone service as amenities. But no one is spending much time indoors with ATV trails to traverse and fresh trout to catch. Just brush up on your French; you may hear it more than English.
7. Carolyn’s Sakonnet Winery
Nudged between the Sakonnet River and the Massachusetts line, Little Compton is isolated enough to keep its timeless charm intact. In fall, bird lovers flock to Goosewing Beach Preserve to get a peek at the wildlife. On weekends, hear live music at Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard.
With only Exit 91 bearing its name, Stonington is an easy miss when trucking along Interstate 95. But stumbling upon this seaside town is as refreshing as the salt air. The quaint downtown looks untouched with its Colonial-style homes. There’s Saltwater Farm Vineyard and the Old Lighthouse Museum, which offers panoramic views of the Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York coasts.
Ten minutes away, find Mystic Seaport and Clyde’s Cider Mill, the oldest steam-powered cider mill in the US. And don’t be surprised to see military officers around town: The Coast Guard Academy, Naval Submarine Base and Submarine Museum are all close by.