8 New England Fall Getaways That Will Charm the Kids (and Parents, Too)

These New England fall getaways take full advantage of the season's charms.
Kids playing together on a New England fall getaway (Photo: @hannitary via Twenty20)
Photo: @hannitary via Twenty20

Autumn in New England arrives with a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors and a certain crispness to the air, as if the entire region were scented with fresh-picked apples and cider doughnuts on the breeze. New England is so perfect in the fall that you can almost believe it was specifically made for this season—and so were its weekend getaways.

New England Fall Getaways for Families

From foliage hotspots to breezy fall beach towns, here are eight New England fall getaways that take full advantage of the season’s charms.

Woodstock, Vermont

New England fall getaways in Woodstock, Vermont (Photo: Shutterstock)
New England fall getaways in Woodstock, Vermont (Photo: Shutterstock)

A postcard-perfect New England village, the tiny town of Woodstock is pure Americana in all the best ways: charming covered bridges, unique local shops, and a village green surrounded by stately homes. And fall is the perfect time to visit this quintessential New England getaway spot, too, because there’s no better time to wander the grounds of local attractions like Sugarbush Farm (try the free maple syrup and cheese samples) and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (tour an old-fashioned farm and a 19th-century mansion amidst the fall splendor of 400-year-old hemlock trees). 

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Downtown, drop in one of the local art galleries, buy an authentic Vermont flannel from The Vermont Flannel Company, and browse the great selection of paperbacks and hardcovers at the Yankee Bookshop, one of the liveliest indie bookstores in New England. There are lunch and dinner options aplenty at local dining spots, or make a day trip of it with a visit to the King Arthur Baking Company’s Store & Café in Norwich, Vermont, a destination in and of itself for those who love to bake. 

Where to Stay in Woodstock

When the short autumn days turn dark, settle in for the evenings at The Woodstock Inn and Resort, located on the green right downtown and walking distance to all the shops and restaurants. The in-room fireplaces make this one of the coziest fall getaway spots in the Green Mountain State. 

Burlington, Vermont

Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont (Photo: Shutterstock)
Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont (Photo: Shutterstock)

Vermont’s biggest city is a magical mix of cosmopolitan sophistication and small town charm. Situated on the shores of Lake Champlain, Burlington boasts a highly walkable downtown area with one-of-a-kind shops, rolling bike paths, a waterfront park, and so much natural greenery that the city practically bursts with fall colors around every street corner.

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Stroll or cycle the Burlington Greenway bike path, a converted railway line that intersects with sandy beaches and leafy parks. Walk back through time at the pastoral Ethan Allen homestead. Dine outside at the eateries lining Church Street Marketplace, sample the many local breweries, or take a tour and taste-test at Lake Champlain Chocolates. Views of Lake Champlain and the surrounding mountains are everywhere, but they’re especially fine from the water, so take a scenic ferry tour to experience fall foliage in a whole new way. 

Where to Stay in Burlington

With a full-service spa, complimentary bike rentals, an indoor swimming pool, and hands-on cooking classes, The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort and Spa, is a destination hotel in and of itself, and the perfect launching point for a weekend getaway in Burlington. 

Salem, Massachusetts

The House of Seven Gables in Salem (Photo: Massachusetts Office of Tourism)
The House of Seven Gables in spooky Salem, Massachusetts (Photo: Massachusetts Office of Tourism)

There’s a lot more to Salem than its witchy history, but the spotlight is definitely focused on the city’s bewitching past in the fall. Spooky season is tourist season in Salem, and you can experience the Halloween frights all fall long—not just during the month of October. Book your fall getaway for September or November to avoid the biggest crowds, or embrace the party atmosphere with an October weekend getaway featuring events like the Haunted Happenings Grand Parade.

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Whenever you visit, must-do attractions include the Salem Witch Museum, the Witch House, and the Old Burying Point Cemetery. Guided ghost tours (offered nightly) focus on Salem’s infamous 1692 witch trials and other historical hauntings. Visit 1630 Pioneer Village to experience America’s first living history museum, and spend an afternoon exploring the city’s renowned Peabody Essex Museum.

When you’ve had your fill of witchcraft and wizardry, Salem makes a great base for a winding fall drive along the Essex County Scenic Byway or day trips to some of New England’s most charming seaside villages

Where to Stay in Salem

The historic Hawthorne Hotel (built in 1807 and recently renovated) is located adjacent to the Salem Common and an easy walk to all of the Witch City’s most popular restaurants and attractions. 

Northampton, Massachusetts

Late fall in the rural Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts (Photo: Shutterstock)
Late fall in the rural Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts (Photo: Shutterstock)

A hip little college town in Massachusetts’ idyllic Pioneer Valley, Northampton is famed for its vibrant arts scene, liberal values, and queer culture. The beautiful campus of Smith College, an elite all-women’s school, is located right downtown alongside a bevy of theaters, shops, cafes, and restaurants. 

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Autumn is a grand time to wander the grounds of the Smith College botanic garden or cycle the ten-mile Norwottuck Rail Trail, an easy bike path that crosses the Connecticut River to the nearby (and equally scenic) town of Amherst. Generous public transportation options make it easy to travel all around the “happy valley,” but if you own or rent a car, Northampton is a great stop while exploring the state parks, mountain trails, thriving arts and music scene, and colorful fall foliage of the Berkshires. 

Where to Stay in Northampton

Built in 1927, the gorgeous and historic Hotel Northampton has been fully renovated to modern luxury standards. There are two full-service restaurants on site, and the hotel’s central location puts you right in the middle of the action in Northampton’s quirky downtown district.

Camden, Maine

New England vacations in Camden, Maine (Photo: VisitMaine)
Camden Harbor (Photo: VisitMaine)

The town of Camden is Midcoast Maine at its most scenic. Take in the fall colors and brisk autumn breezes with a short-but-scenic hike in Camden Hills State Park, where you can summit 780-foot Mt. Battie for thrilling views of Penobscot Bay. Wander through the High Street Historic District and pay a visit to the Curtis Island Lighthouse. And when you need an infusion of urban attractions, the lively coastal city of Portland is just 90 minutes away, perfect for a trip-within-a-trip on your New England fall getaway. 

Where to Stay in Camden

Stay at the boutique Elms of Camden, a preserved and restored colonial home just a short walk to the harbor, shops, and restaurants downtown. While the inn was built in 1806, all guest rooms come with a private bath, flatscreen televisions, and gas fireplaces.

Narragansett and Block Island, Rhode Island

Mansion Beach on Block Island (Photo: Rhode Island Commerce Corporation)
Mansion Beach on Block Island (Photo: Rhode Island Commerce Corporation)

The Massachusetts islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard get most of the tourist attention, but tiny Block Island (13 miles off the coast of Narragansett in Rhode Island) is a real hidden gem among the southern New England islands. From the mainland, a year-round ferry departs daily from Point Judith to “the Block,” slowly revealing the island’s beachy bluffs, windswept dunes, and saltbox cottages on the approach.

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Nearly 40 percent of Block Island is designated as a nature preserve, and in the fall months, hundreds of migratory songbirds dot the landscape and its 25 miles of easy hiking trails. Cycling is a pleasant way to enjoy the briny breezes and fall weather of this Atlantic island; bike rentals are available near the ferry terminal, and much of the island’s shoreline is flat. With only 1,000 year-round residents and an even smaller contingent of tourists in the autumn, you’ll feel like you have Block Island’s rocky beaches and peaceful paths all to yourself.

Where to Stay in Narragansett

In Narragansett, The Break Hotel goes all in with a beachy surfer-chic vibe. Its heated saltwater pool and stylish rooftop lounge with ocean views will welcome you back after a day of exploration, and every room comes with its own fireplace.

Gorham and the White Mountains, New Hampshire

Hikers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (Photo: Shutterstock)
Hikers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (Photo: Shutterstock)

A small-town vibe and abundance of natural splendor make Gorham a prime destination for New England fall getaways. Uniquely situated for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and leaf-peeping, Gorham doesn’t just feel like an outdoorsy playground—it actually has one at the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center, which offers guided outdoor adventures on foot, mountain bike, and kayak.

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Gorham is a perfect base for driving the Mt. Washington Auto Road (you can also ascend the highest peak in the region by cog rail), or you can enjoy the scenery on your own two feet at Moose Brook State Park or the 18-mile Presidential Rail Trail. And the town’s Androscoggin Valley location makes it an easy (and scenic) drive to other New Hampshire fall hotspots like Lincoln, North Conway, and the many day hikes situated along the twisty-turny Kancamagus Highway.

Where to Stay in the White Mountains

Stay at pet-friendly Mt. Madison Inn and Suites, which boasts a heated pool, hot tub, and fire pit, plus poolside gas grills and picnic tables, perfect for fall evenings after a day of outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Litchfield Hills, Connecticut

White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, Connecticut (Photo: Connecticut Tourism)
White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, Connecticut (Photo: Connecticut Tourism)

Tucked away in the northwest corner of Connecticut, the photogenic and well-heeled Litchfield Hills area is all stately homes, fresh country air, and leafy forests rich with fall color. Whatever kind of New England fall getaway you have in mind, you can be as happy here hiking and leaf peeping as you are dining and browsing the many one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants.

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Litchfield Hills is comprised of many different towns, so bring or rent a car to enjoy quiet Sharon and Lakeville, where you’ll find  to some of the state’s best walking and biking trails; secluded Norfolk, home to three state parks and a charming village green right out of Gilmore Girls; Litchfield, considered by many the finest unrestored colonial town in the U.S.; and Washington, Woodbury, and New Preston, where you could easily spend a whole weekend gaping at fall colors or antiquing (even if it’s not usually your thing).

Where to Stay in the Litchfield Hills Area

When you’re ready to settle in for the night, make your fall getaway home at the Litchfield Inn, a cute boutique property in the town of Litchfield with 20 standard guest rooms and a dozen uniquely themed rooms, including a Wine Cellar Suite and a Whirlpool Room.

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Josh Roberts
Josh Roberts is a parent, a traveler, a journalist, a novelist, and the former Senior Executive Editor of Tripadvisor's SmarterTravel, Airfarewatchdog, and FamilyVacationCritic websites. Recognized with multiple awards for excellence in travel journalism from the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) and the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), Josh has more than two decades of experience helping travelers discover where to go and what to do when they get there. His writing has appeared in The Boston Sunday Globe, USA Today, Business Insider, and the Huffington Post. His travel photography can be seen in Britain and Ireland's Best Wild Places (Penguin UK, January 2008). When Josh isn't traveling or wrangling his two children, he's busy writing novels like The Witches of Willow Cove (Owl Hollow Press, May 2020) and its forthcoming sequel. He co-founded FamilyVacationist in April 2020 with Christine Sarkis. Email him at josh [at] familyvacationist [dot] com.

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