The 11 BEST Things About Fall in New England
Fall in New England is arguably the best season of all. Being a bit of a beach bum and realllllly loving a lightly-packed suitcase, I am always sad to see the weather change in September. ::Le sigh:: But whether we like it or not, the leaves turn and seasons change.
After Labor Day, New Englanders reluctantly make our peace with the end of summer and the dawn of our next season. And it is a pretty great season.
Last week on the blog, I detailed the Top 10 Things We’ll Miss About Summer in New England. I went over all the best parts of the summer in this special place, and hopefully inspired some of you to book a New England getaway next year. This week it only felt right to show some love to our upcoming season, to detail the best this place has to offer, and to help you in planning that New England fall getaway I hope you’re working on. Without further ado, here they are:
The 11 Best Things about Fall in New England
1. Foliage (Duh)
We can talk weather, food, and pumpkin spice all we want—and we’ll definitely get to that. But the real stars of the show in a New England Fall are hanging from the trees and falling to the ground. That’s right, peeps: Leaves.
Foliage is the most important part of fall in New England. Vibrant red, yellow, and orange hues creep across our landscapes, setting our trees ablaze against blue skies. Fall in New England is a Thomas Kinkade painting, a Robert Frost poem. I dare you to not be enchanted.
Other places have fall foliage, sure, but none compare to the drama of the changing leaves in New England. I don’t make the rules, I’m just a traveling writer stating the facts.
2. Saying goodbye to humidity
We’re no Florida, but the humidity in New England in the summer is still something to dread. Flat, greasy hair or an untamable mass, depending on your hair texture. A shiny sheen on your forehead and the sweetest of sweat-staches above your upper lip. And of course, my personal favorite, the pit stain.
Fall in New England brings about sweet relief for those of us who do not delight in the thick humidity of summer months. The air is described as “crisp”, and there’s really no better way to put it. So, take a few moments to enjoy the perfect fall temperatures—that non-sweaty, light-jacket life—before winter takes hold and makes you wish you were dead. (Oh, we’re not all winter haters? Just me?)
3. Getting to Wear all your cute sweaters & boots
Fall fashion, folx. We are sad to see the sunshine go, but thrilled to pop on our suede booties, leather jackets and wool sweaters. (Don’t worry PETA, I mean faux!) Flannels, leggings, thick, wooly socks, cable knit slouchy sweaters, vests for heaven’s sake! Looking cute by adding layers instead of stripping them away is a change of pace we welcome after a summer of sucking in our fupas at the beach. Hasta la vista, bikinis!
Get in, Loser. We're going sweater shopping.
4. Apple Cider Donuts
Apple cider donuts are a round little slice of New England heaven. Supposedly, they are cooked with apple cider, but they taste nothing like the sweet drink, nor, thankfully, like apple cider vinegar. They are simply sweet and delicious. Apple cider donuts come plain, cinnamon sugar coated, or sometimes pumpkin flavored. You can pick them up at any apple orchard and many farms throughout New England.
5. Hikes (with a view)
In last week’s post on the Top 10 Things about Summer in New England, we talked about the great hikes New England has to offer. The Green Mountains, the White Mountains, the Berkshires, Acadia National Park, The Taconic Mountains. Hiking in New England only gets better in the fall. We’ve got cooler weather, pleasant for those uphill climbs. And going back to #1 on this list, we’ve got that good, good foliage. The stuff Autumn getaway dreams are made of. Getting a bird’s eye view from the top of a mountain, seeing the swaths of color stretch across a patchwork New England landscape will make you feel a kind of homey contentment like no other.
Or consult AllTrails to find hikes in your area.
The views might be vast, but New England in the fall always feels like comfort food to the soul.
And speaking of that…
6. The Food
The food is one of the best parts of visiting New England, no matter what time of year. But where Summer encourages the lighter side of things, you can feel free to get into some heavy comfort foods in the Fall. And there is no shortage of them! New Englanders keep their seafood game strong year-round. Instead of a lobstah roll, opt for baked haddock, mussels swimming in garlic and roasted tomatoes, stuffed lobster, or of a cup of our famous clam chowder.
Because The Northeast is quite literally where this America thing all began, it has remained a melting pot of cultures. Embrace your inner “Ey, Tony!” and dive into some high-quality Italian. We’ve got seriously good Little Italys in Boston, Providence, and New Haven. Or opt for Irish & English-inspired fare—shephard’s pie, fish & chips, beef stew, if you’re into that meat life. We’ve also got Portuguese, Greek, and Caribbean influences, depending on where you find yourself in New England.
Soup is life in New England in the fall. Squash, tomato, chicken noodle, baked potato, split pea, chili. The possibilities are endless. Grab yourself a spoon and dive in.
Butternut squash and pumpkin can be found in various forms in menus all over New England this time of year. A quintessential fall flavor, you can try them in ravioli, atop a pizza, in salads, or as a side to your main course. And instead of ice cream for dessert, opt for apple pie, blueberry pie, pumpkin pie, strudel, cobbler, bread pudding, or Boston Cream Pie. (Or say f*ck it, bundle up and get that ice cream fix! Creameries abound in New England.)
As with most places in the world, you’ll find great variety, a mix of cultural fare, and something for everyone in the major cities. Boston, Providence, New Haven, Portland. Burlington VT has a burgeoning culinary scene. I would argue that New Hampshire has the least to offer when it comes to cuisine, but Portsmouth is a welcome exception. As you move further from these hubs, you’ll meet less culinary variety, but there is still plenty of down-home New England comfort food to be had. And fall is the perfect time to wear your elastic waistbands and oversized sweaters to try it all.
7. Spooky Time
Fall in New England encompasses Halloween, and there is no better place to celebrate it than in our creepy little towns and historic cities. Every year millions of visitors flock to Salem, MA to take part in the Haunted Happenings and learn about the Salem Witch Trials. If you’ve only experienced Salem through Hocus Pocus, prepare to be disappointed, the city does not look much like the fictional movie setting. But come with an open mind, ready to learn and indulge in the supernatural, and you just might have a ghoulishly good time. (I’m sorry, I had to.)
Salem is not the only creepy New England destination, so fret not you horrific Halloween lovers. Being as old as New England is, there is plenty of dark in our history to fill your chill-o-meter and then some. Check out this Boston.com post for more spooky New England destination ideas: 10 Spooky New England Towns to Visit if You Dare
New Englanders love their sports teams. And all four major sports can be viewed in the fall, making it a special time in New England. Red Sox season is coming to a close, but New Englanders have football and the Patriots to cheer them up. Preseason hockey begins in September, a welcome reunion for Bruins-loving New Englanders. And we’ll welcome the Celtics back when basketball starts up mid-October. If you are visiting New England in the fall, a trip to one of our sporting events is kind of a must-do. I say this as a very not fanatic, only-here-by-default kind of sports fan. If you want to get into the culture of New England, this is something you just have to do.
Find a game:
Is there anything cuter than a kid in a pumpkin patch?
9. Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice
Alright, we have arrived. We all knew we’d get here eventually. Pumpkin spice is an essential part of fall in New England. Those of you who will scoff at this being so “basic” are likely the same ones stealing sips of your girlfriend’s pumpkin spice latte or swigs of your best friend’s pumpkin beer when no one is looking. I understand, I was a closeted boy band fan in 6th grade, lamenting how terrible they were but secretly singing along in the shower. Well, I’m out now, and I’m not afraid to admit that pumpkin spice is friggin’ delicious. If the sweetness is where your issue lies, try asking for your coffee drink with just one or two pumps of flavoring. Or make pumpkin coffee with flavored grounds, instead of using a sweetened, flavored syrup.
And let’s be real, pumpkin is not the only fall flavor worth gushing over. Gingerbread anybody!? Cinnamon?! Maple!?
Notably, some of you psychos are not coffee people. But you’ve still got options. Apple cider, hello! And the beer?! Fall beer is the BEST! Oatmeal stouts and frothy porters. Amber ales and opaque fall-flavored browns. Oktoberfest brews to make you feel that Bavarian glow. IPAs to get you hoppin’. Visit a local New England brewery and sample the flavors of fall.
10. The Gram-worthiness
We have already talked about how the foliage makes fall in New England beautiful beyond belief. But that is not the only gram-worthy thing/detail here. Fall in New England has some of the most gram-worthy moments because there are photo-worthy seasonal events galore. There is apple picking. Rows of Trees full of red, green, and yellow apples, perfectly ripe for the picking, line the orchards. Families, couples, and groups of friends embark on their picking adventure. There is the piggybacking to pick the highest apple pic, the Everyone hold their apple out, à la Real Housewives. There is baby’s 1st apple. In short, Apple picking is made for the gram. And pumpkin picking?! We barely even eat these things. We might carve them into a jack-o-lantern, we might roast the seeds, but most of the time New Englanders pick these pumpkins to place around their homes and on their porches. The real reason for pumpkin picking is obvious. The PICTURES of pumpkin picking. Bales of hay and bright orange pumpkins are the perfect backdrop & props for adorable photos of your kiddos or a very New England engagement shoot. And lest we forget Halloween. Ensure everyone remembers your horrifying costume by making a spot for it in your insta feed. Don’t gram it and it didn’t happen. Gram or it didn’t happen. I don’t make the rules. Halloween is unarguably the best place to celebvrate Halloween. Again, I don’t make the rules.
11. Weekend Getaways
There is just something about Fall getaways in New England. And since all our states are so close to one another, weekending in a new place is an easy way to make the most of the season.
Camping, glamping, and cabin life are what Fall Getaways in New England are all about. The cooler air keeps mosquitos away, making camping a hell of a lot more fun. Sitting by the fire on a crisp autumn night, wrapped up in a blanket? Count me in! Comfortable temperatures for the outdoorsy stuff you’re getting into during the day. And if you’re not going it alone, sharing a sleeping bag is wayyyy nicer in the Fall than in hot sticky summer.
There is an abundance of adorable cabins dotted all over new England, like this one in random Newark, Vermont, where I stayed two years ago. Board games, apple cider (with spiced rum if you’re not me), hot coffee in a rocking chair on the porch, the chill in the air nipping at your fingertips, your eyes ablaze with the reflection of the orange and yellow and red in the trees. Fall getaways in New England are HEAVEN.
Am I selling you yet?
During the Fall in New England, you can still go out on a boat. Cruise on the lake. Take a whale watch. Hop a Ferry to the Boston Harbor Islands or Block Island (RI) or Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket (MA) or Peaks Island or Diamond Cove (ME). Beach towns in New England are colder and quieter but no less beautiful in the fall. And something about the lack of crowds adds to the quaint feel of coastal New England. Or head to the mountains for that hiking stuff I keep talking about.
And this is just the outdoorsy getaways. Being the OLDEST PART OF THE COUNTRY, New England is a history buff’s dream. Tour some important places in our nation’s founding. The Freedom trail, the Salem Witch Museum. Learn about whaling, a New England pastime, and all things maritime. Learn about battles for equality in New England. Former slave turned abolitionist, activist, writer and public figure, Frederick Douglass, called New Bedford, MA home. And you can trace the roots of great American activist, sociologist, and writer, W.E.B. Du Bois.
Like literature? Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and SO many other great American writers were New England bred. You can visit the Mark Twain house, the Eric Carle Museum, or the Dr. Suess museum. Consider booking THIS TOUR with Literary Traveler—a company dedicated to the intersection of travel and literature—and trace the steps of Thoreau, Emerson, and Alcott through Concord Massachusetts this Fall.
There is SO MUCH to do in New England in the fall. You may have to extend your getaway.
And that’s it, folx. The 11 BEST things about Fall in New England—a season so magical I couldn’t stop at just ten things. I hope you find this list useful if you’re planning a trip to New England. And if you weren’t already, I hope I’ve convinced you you should. Fall is one of the best times to visit New England and we would love to have ya! New Englanders—what are YOUR favorite fall things? Let me know in the comments.
Happy Fall, y’all. Have a nice weekend and keep it (pumpkin) spicy.
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I’m Toni and I run the show here at A Wheel in the Sky. I hope you liked reading this post about fall in New England and that it will inspire you to plan your next New England getaway. Interested in more New England content? Check out some of the posts below for more travel tips and fun things to do here.
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