Fall colors. Leaf peeping. Corn mazes. Crisp, chilly air. Delicious crunchy apples. Fall is definitely a great time to travel on the east coast – whether it be to staycation destinations in your local area or a longer trip.
We love traveling in the fall. While it can sometimes be challenging because of the start of the school year, there are a few long weekends in the fall that can be great times to travel on a fall foliage road trip. Here are some of the best fall vacations on the East Coast.
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Best Fall Vacations on the East Coast
While we love New Hampshire for a summer vacation, fall can be a great time to visit the area. The White Mountains are absolutely gorgeous when covered with fall colors, and there are so many places to get outdoors and explore.
There’s also Loon Mountain, which is most popular for being a ski resort in the winter. In the summer, it offers an Aerial Forest Adventure Park, and activities such as ziplining, a scenic gondola, mountain biking, and disc golf. These activities are generally open through the middle of October, so you can still get outdoors in the fall.
During your trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I also recommend that you travel across the scenic Kancamagus Highway. This scenic road will take you into beautiful North Conway, NH.
See hotels in Lincoln, NH here.
North Conway, NH
North Conway, like Lincoln, is another place that I love visiting in the summer. But the fall is absolutely beautiful there, and there’s still plenty to do.
Story Land, the popular storybook-themed theme park, is also open for part of the fall. It’s located a short distance from North Conway and is lots of fun for younger kids.
While you are in North Conway, be sure to check out the North Conway outlets. Settlers Green Outlet Village is an outdoor outlet mall filled with the most popular outlet stores. It’s a great place to shop, and there are plenty of deals to be had there.
Kids who love trains will enjoy a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad, which will take you on a ride where you can view foliage. There are also numerous places to hike in the North Conway area.
See hotels in North Conway here.
Acadia National Park
One of the most popular parks in the area is Acadia National Park. It’s beautiful, and definitely of the best fall vacations for nature lovers. This 47,000-acre park is located near Bar Harbor Maine and offers several visitor centers, Cadillac Mountain, and more.
There are so many outdoor activities at Acadia National Park. These include hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and more. Learn more about the park here. If you have National Parks on your vacation itinerary, check out the National Parks Pass.
See lodging near Acadia National Park here.
Kittery Maine is a great stop on your Maine road trip. Located right over the New Hampshire and Massachusetts border, Kittery is most famous as the home to numerous outlet stores.
While you are in Kittery, you’ll also have the option of eating at their delicious restaurants, including Robert’s Maine Grill and Bob’s Clam Shack.
Don’t miss a stop at Yummies, a candy store filled with all types of candy. You’ll find things that you won’t see anywhere else, so be sure to give the kids a budget before heading in.
See hotels in Kittery here.
Freeport is another one of my favorite places in Maine, especially during this time of year. Most famous as the home of LL Bean, Freeport also has other shopping, including many outlet malls.
When we visited Freeport, Maine, with our kids several years ago, we enjoyed a visit to Wolfe’s Neck Farm. Our visit coincided with their annual Fall Festival, and we were able to pick pumpkins, make apple cider, see animals, and go on a hayride.
Even if your visit isn’t during the festival, you can go on a hayride at the farm and see Casco Bay and the fall foliage.
Freeport is also home to Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. This park along the bay is a great place to explore nature in Maine.
See hotels in Freeport here.
We loved our visit to Ogunquit this summer, and I’d really love to explore the area in the fall. While most people think of Ogunquit as a summer destination, it can also be a fun place to visit in the fall.
Many of the popular shops and restaurants in the area are open at least seasonal hours through the fall. In addition, the crowds thin out so you’ll be able to enjoy more of the area without lines.
The hotel we stayed at during our visit, the Meadowmere Resort, is open year-round. There’s an indoor pool, so your kids can still splash around even if the weather is chilly outside.
Portland Maine is one of my favorite New England destinations to visit, regardless of the season. It offers a beautiful location on Casco Bay, delicious restaurants, quaint shops, and great museums. It’s located on the Amtrak Downeaster route, if you don’t want to drive.
Because we live in Massachusetts, I visit the quaint New England small towns and cities in the area frequently. There’s so much to see, and the added color of the fall leaves adds to the coziness of the area.
While there are many fun activities throughout the month, it does get very busy. So, expect to deal with traffic and parking hassles during your trip. It’s worth it though because there’s no experience like it.
While Salem is fun year-round, it truly comes alive in October. This fun city is filled with spooky attractions to celebrate Halloween.
See hotels in Salem here.
Boston is a popular destination year-round, but I especially enjoy fall. In the fall, you’ll have cooler temperatures with less humidity.
Be sure to spend some time walking through the Boston Public Garden and Boston Common. These adjacent parks are absolutely lovely in the fall and are right in the center of the city.
See hotels in Boston here.
Autumn is a wonderful time to visit Plimoth Patuxet Museums. Located South of Boston in Plymouth, MA, Plimoth Patuxet is definitely a must-visit for any American history lover.
This family-friendly living history museum features a Wampanoag home site, a traditional 1627 English Village, and a craft center. You can easily spend a whole day there.
See hotels in Plymouth here.
One of the best-kept secrets in Massachusetts is the beauty of Cape Cod in the fall. This quintessential summer vacation destination quiets down considerably in the off-season.
While the fall weather can be a bit more unpredictable, you may luck out and get a perfect beach day. We visited the Cape in September and October and had some great days on the beach. September is called the locals’ summer on the Cape – it’s when the crowds thin out and the locals can really enjoy the season.
See hotels in Cape Cod here.
New York City and Upstate New York can be great fall destinations for a family vacation. While New York City offers its typical glitz and glam, update New York offers hayrides, apple picking, and pumpkin carving. One great New York destination is Niagara Falls, which has a US and a Canadian side.
Several years ago, during the TMS Family Travel Conference, I had the opportunity to explore Niagara Falls New York in the fall.
There’s so much to do in the area, in addition to the falls. One of the places we visited is Becker Farms, located on the Niagara Wine Trail. At Becker Farm, you can pick apples, taste wine, and attend the various fall events they host.
See hotels in Niagara Falls here.
One fun family destination in Upstate New York is Cooperstown. The home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame is a must-visit for baseball-loving families.
See hotels in Cooperstown here.
Asheville, North Carolina
I visited Asheville during the early fall before the leaves changed. However, I was so impressed with the area, and I know that it must be absolutely beautiful in the fall.
The highlight of my trip was a visit to the largest privately owned estate in the United States – the Biltmore Estate. While the home is beautiful, the land outside is equally impressive. I can only imagine that it must be gorgeous when the leaves change.
If you’d like to explore the outdoors, consider hiking to Catawba Falls, in the Pisgah National Forest. It’s a beautiful, moderate hike. There’s also the Great Smoky Mountain National Park – America’s most-visited National Park.
While most associate fall vacations with foliage, there are other places to visit where the leaves don’t change. For instance, you could head to the south, where the fall weather is cooler and a nice change of pace from the heat and humidity.
What is your favorite of these fall travel destinations?
Frequently Asked Questions
This can vary based on the location and the year. In general, mid-October is the best time to see fall foliage.
While the summer is busy, the fall is also a very popular time to visit.