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Old 09-12-2010, 06:21 PM
 
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We are planning a road trip to see some fall colors and neat towns along the way. Our origination point is Chicago, but we have to drive to Toronto first before heading down. The only town on our must see list is Boston. We've been all over this country, except for the northeast so we have no idea what the must see places are. I've heard great things about Maine, but it would take us too far out of our way. We only have 8 days to get back to Chicago once we leave Toronto and we will be driving with our 5 & 3 year old.

Not sure whether we should go up to Montreal and then down through VT, NH, MA, CT, NY, NJ, MD and then VA and make our way back to Chicago via WV, OH, IN or if we should leave Toronto and cut across NY to MA and then drive down.

I've been reading the some of the best fall colors are as south as Virginia. There is also a chance that DH could pursue a job in the D.C area at some point so it would be nice to see more of VA.

TIA for any suggestions on places to go.
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Old 09-13-2010, 04:31 AM
 
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There are beautiful fall colors in CT. & upstate NY.
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Old 09-13-2010, 08:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaynetarzana View Post
We are planning a road trip to see some fall colors and neat towns along the way. Our origination point is Chicago, but we have to drive to Toronto first before heading down. The only town on our must see list is Boston. We've been all over this country, except for the northeast so we have no idea what the must see places are. I've heard great things about Maine, but it would take us too far out of our way. We only have 8 days to get back to Chicago once we leave Toronto and we will be driving with our 5 & 3 year old.

Not sure whether we should go up to Montreal and then down through VT, NH, MA, CT, NY, NJ, MD and then VA and make our way back to Chicago via WV, OH, IN or if we should leave Toronto and cut across NY to MA and then drive down.

I've been reading the some of the best fall colors are as south as Virginia. There is also a chance that DH could pursue a job in the D.C area at some point so it would be nice to see more of VA.

TIA for any suggestions on places to go.
Actually, probably better fall colors than Virginia are in the Great Smoky Mtns. of Tenn. and N.C., but usually peak somewhat later than any of places you mentioned (anywhere from Mid October usually thru early November). Any of places you mentioned would be wonderful though. Probably the most under-rated of any you mentioned is West Virginia, whose colors in some areas of eastern part of that state would rival either New England or Great Smokies of Tenn. Indiana ain't too shabby in some areas, either, especially in Brown County area northwest of Lousville and southwest of Indianapolis.
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Old 09-13-2010, 01:44 PM
 
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Thanks for the replies. TN and NC are beautiful for sure, but we're taking a northeast trip because we want to explore an area of this country we haven't been to. We'd rather cut across VA, WV to come back to Chicago rather then PA, OH, IN.
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Old 09-13-2010, 02:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaynetarzana View Post
Thanks for the replies. TN and NC are beautiful for sure, but we're taking a northeast trip because we want to explore an area of this country we haven't been to. We'd rather cut across VA, WV to come back to Chicago rather then PA, OH, IN.
Have a wonderful trip! By the way, the Ky. mountains, especially Red River Gorge area, has exquisite fall color, but peak colors might be later than your trip, reason I mentioned Ky. if you're going across Va. and WVA, Ky. is on your way back to Chicago.
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Old 09-13-2010, 02:32 PM
 
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If you're looking at Vermont or New Hampshire (being that Boston is a must-see)- both states have foliage maps available online.

Generally speaking (emphasis on the word generally) the best time is early October. But - and this is a HUGE but - the weather has the final say whether the foliage is early, late, bright, dull, or even still on the trees if a strong storm comes through.

Some famous routes are Rte 100 in Vermont and Rte 2 and the Kancamgus Highway in New Hampshire - but that doesn't mean other routes are left out of scenery. There are many websites where the "locals" share less-known routes.

Fall Foliage is big business so be prepared to share the road with lots of visitors and lodging can be pricey - especially over Columbus Day weekend!
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Old 09-14-2010, 12:27 AM
 
Location: New Hampshire
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Timing is everything when it comes to fall colors.

Every year is completely different and timing can vary dramatically depending on where you are (in mountains, in a valley, near the ocean, what kind of forest cover, etc.). So it's difficult to map the perfect time to see the foliage, but this is one of the slightly better maps I've seen:



Note that in New England, you can drive from one of the earliest-peaking areas (the Great North Woods of NH) to one of the latest-peaking areas (Boston) in about 2 hours. So it's a good idea to be flexible in your itinerary, because you can always travel just a little bit north or a little bit south to catch better colors.

You can find up-to-date foliage reports here every 3 days or so. Browsing through the archived reports will give you an idea of the kind of variation you can expect in the timing of peak color. For example, compare 2005 - when the foliage came rather late in the Northeast - to 2006 - when the foliage came very early. The past three years have been closer to "normal," but you never really know what's going to happen.

As long as your timing allows you to reach Vermont and New Hampshire by October 10th or thereabouts, I would NOT skip them for the world. They have unquestionably some of the best autumn scenery. Pretty much every road in Vermont is a scenic byway but a Google search will reveal some of the more popular ones - Route 100 comes to mind for mountain scenery, although the dairy farming areas are just as beautiful. There are so many charming small towns... Woodstock and Grafton are my two favorites.

The White Mountains in NH are stunning. The Kancamagus Highway and Bear Notch Road are very popular for leaf-peeping. Franconia Notch State Park, Cathedral Ledge - Echo Lake State Park, and the Mt. Washington Auto Road (if the sky is clear) are all definitely worth the time at peak foliage. Further south, consider the Lakes Region - Sandwich, Castle in the Clouds, Wolfeboro. There are a number of great drives in the southwestern (Monadnock) region of the state; Route 123 is a personal favorite. Portsmouth is a fantastic city in NH but it seems like you should probably save the New England coast for another trip.

If you focus on western Massachusetts for leaf-peeping, check out beautiful Deerfield, the Mohawk Trail (Route 2), the Mt. Greylock scenic byway, Hancock Shaker Village, and Route 41. It's tough to fit a fantastic city like Boston into a trip that relies so heavily on quick timing, but since it's on your must-see list you might want to check out Lexington and Concord on the way out.

In Connecticut, Route 7 in the northwestern part of the state is quite nice. As with anywhere in New England, it's even nicer to get lost on the real backroads. Routes 169 / 14 / 49 in the eastern part of the state are also very beautiful in the fall. If you decide to bypass western MA then it would probably make more sense to go from Boston to Route 169.

It seems like you are organizing this trip last minute, so I'm not sure what you're expecting to do for lodging. Some people book their accommodations for leaf-peeping trips a year in advance, so it's not always easy to find a place to stay, even in what are otherwise pretty off-the-beaten-path areas. I wish you luck!
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:24 AM
 
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Wow, thanks for the detailed replies. You are right, Verseau, we are planning this trip last minute. We had a different trip planned, but DH suddenly needs to go to Toronto for work so we figured we'd go explore the northeast since we have been meaning to do so for a long time. We won't be leaving Toronto until Oct 15th so I sure hope we don't miss the best colors. We're traveling with kids and we like to find hotels as we go so that we have the flexibility to spend more or less time in places depending on our level of interest when we get there. Do you really think we will have trouble finding lodging?
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Old 09-14-2010, 12:02 PM
 
Location: New Hampshire
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Unfortunately, if you won't be leaving Toronto until the 15th then it may be wiser to skip Vermont and New Hampshire. The mountain areas will be past peak foliage by then. There will almost certainly still be good color in the Champlain Valley of VT and much of southern NH, but these areas aren't quite as "must-see" for scenery.

I would recommend going straight across NY and then taking some of the backroads I recommended in western MA before arriving in Boston. You could pop up into the Grafton, VT area and over to Harrisville and Hancock in NH; it would be a shame if you completely missed what is (IMO) the best part of the Northeast.

Since southern New England has more hotel/motel options and is not *quite* as heavily visited as northern New England for leaf-peeping, you may not have as much trouble finding a place to stay.
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Old 09-14-2010, 12:07 PM
 
Location: Bangor Maine
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Having grown up 18 miles west of Boston I would never recommend it as a "folliage" destination but perhaps you want to visit for other reasons. In Massachusetts the best folliage is out the Mohawk Trail in the western part of the state. In NH I would recommend the Kangamangas Highway but all this depends on "when" you visit. It peaks different weeks depending how far north you are. Where I am in Central Maine the best week is usually the first or second of October.. Durham NH where the University of NH is is gorgeous in early to Mid Oct. If you plan to stay in Vermont during peak be sure to have advance reservations. It seems to be the most popular of the New England states in Oct.

Having just re read your post about the fact you won't be leaving for the Northeast until mid Oct. I recommend skipping Maine, NH and Vermont entirely. MA and CT should still be very pretty.

Last edited by Newdaawn; 09-14-2010 at 12:11 PM.. Reason: addition
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