An explosion of colour, hot apple cider and white steepled churches. That's how I’d best describe Autumn in New England. It's a constantly changing, colour filled wonderland. Where the cool, crisp air turns your cheeks pink and you can eat pumpkin pie for breakfast.
Join me on a trip through Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont in the Fall 🍁
Our 2 year Canadian working visas ended in October of last year. We had made it! Officially 2 years away from the comforts of home and the life we once knew. We always just assumed that we'd return to Australia after our time in Canada was up. But truth is, we didn't want to go home. As much as we missed our family and friends, it just didn't feel right. We still had so much more to see. So, we jumped the border and started a new adventure in America.
After a thorough search of our vehicle, and an intense interrogation at customs, we had arrived in Maine. In a minivan so full, we couldn't see out the windows. I'm sure they thought we were trying to smuggle drugs across the border. Or planning on permanently staying in the US. But we just accidentally accumulated a lot of stuff from our time in Canada. New toys like snowboards and longboards had us packed to the rafters.
Once we got the all clear, we were on our way. The fall foliage was beautiful and we were excited to be exploring a new country.
Our first stop in Maine was at the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory. You can catch an elevator right to the top of the bridge, where you have the most amazing view of the Penobscot River. The autumn colours were just starting to turn in the area so there were little splashes of colour everywhere. We also took some time to check out the historic Fort Knox.
From here we made our way to Acadia National Park. Unfortunately we had terrible weather while we were there. And the weather didn't keep anyone else away either. The place was packed! Like ridiculously packed. The only campground we could find with any availability was hosting a dog show. There was only 1 site left so we took what we could get. We set up camp right in the middle of what felt like a kennel, which in reality, really wasn't a bad thing.
The next day we explored Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. We drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain but the view was all fogged out. We continued around the scenic loop, stopping along the way, wherever there was space to park.
We then headed for Old Orchard Beach where we spent a couple of dreary nights in a hotel trying to escape the rain. It was like a ghost town. Unbeknownst to us, it’s a seasonal town, and the Summer season had just ended. Hmmm...no wonder the hotel was so cheap. We still had fun playing down by the beach though. And it was a delight sleeping on a mattress that we didn't have to pump up.
On our last morning in Maine, I set the alarm for crazy o’clock and drove out to Portland Head Lighthouse for sunrise. As always, we were running late but we arrived just as the sun was peeking over the horizon. This lighthouse is the most photographed lighthouse in America. I don't know why I was surprised to see so many photographers. There must have been a dozen of us all huddled in the same spot. Ahh the joys.
After a delicious coffee in Portland, we were on the road again. Next stop, White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire.
The drive through White Mountain National Forest was unbelievable. I'd almost compare it to seeing the Grand Canyon. I couldn’t quite comprehend the magic of it all. The colours were so intense and so far spread, that it was hard to take it all in.
We spent the day driving the Kancamagus Highway towards Vermont. We must have stopped for photos about a hundred times.
We spent the night in a very charming lake house right on Lake Memphremagog. This lake is so big, it’s in America and Canada!
The next morning, we took the canoe out for a sunrise paddle. We joked about sneaking back into Canada, but decided against it. What would we do without all our stuff?
After breakfast we continued on our way. It was an overcast day but I didn't care. I was excited to see the colours again. We had heard good things about the drive along the Scenic Route 100 Byway so that was the plan for the day. We set our sights on making it to the village of Stowe for lunch. What an incredible drive and what a lovely little village! We had a delicious late lunch at Cafe on Main. It’s here that I tried my very first cup of hot apple cider. I was hooked.
After lunch, we went for a drive up to Sunset Rock. I was on a mission to find an area that overlooked the village and the main street of Stowe. We eventually found it after walking through the woods for about an hour. By that time, we were way behind schedule, so we couldn't stay for long.
The afternoon light started to fade and the cool of the evening set in. That didn't stop us from visiting the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory though. We took a tour through each stage of production and even got to sample a new flavour.
Because we had made so many stops throughout the day, we arrived fairly late at our Airbnb in Wilmington. Our host was very accommodating though. She was a New Yorker with a great sense of humor. And she certainly wasn't afraid to tell you how it is.
As we had driven a lot of Route 100 in the dark, we felt it necessary to backtrack the next morning, just in case we had missed anything. Our drive took us to the Maple Leaf Diner for breakfast, Echo & Rescue Lake for lunch and Coolidge State Forest in the afternoon. Vermont was quickly growing on us so we even had a look around at the local real estate prices.
In the evening, we picked up some wine and cheese from a local supplier and spent another night with our loud and generous New Yorker friend. In the morning, she sent us on our way with mugs full of apple cider, breakfast wraps and a chilli sauce so hot, I can now handle anything.
We crossed the border into upstate New York, and continued our journey through America. But that’s a story for another time.
Hopefully this will inspire you to take your own trip through the technicolor paradise that is New England in the Fall. Peak foliage times vary from state to state, but October is a good month to visit. You can always check out this Live Foliage Tracker to see what areas are currently peaking. It's regularly updated too so you can monitor the foliage as the season progresses.