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Vermont/New Hampshire destinations

We're thinking about a fall trip to Vermont or New Hampshire, before or after the leaf season. What are a couple of good destinations to consider? We'd be looking for rural scenery and that stereotypical B&B experience. I'm thinking ski resort areas like Stowe (before ski season) or something similar. Any suggestions appreciated.

Posted by
381 posts

What I suggest is getting a Vermont/New Hampshire paper map from AAA, or looking at the Rand McNally Road Atlas, looking for the roads marked as scenic roads and building your trip around that. That way, you're bound to run into covered bridges, village greens, mountain scenery and even a gorge or two.

Also, if possible go during the week rather than on the weekend.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
3789 posts

I often have done ski locations off season in New England as timeshare exchanges.
Marcia's idea of scenic routes on a map is a good idea.

I was going to suggest Smuggler's Notch, but that is close to Stowe. Burlington offers the Lake, Shelburne Village, mountains, Ben and Gerry's factory, and the glorious dome of the state house in Montpelier. It's Farmer's Market may still be running as well. It's fun with local musicians playing, a little dell for hanging out and a bit of a hippy vibe.
Killington also offers a base to head west or east for cute towns and historical places. I think you'll put on more mileage here, but it is an alternative. I'm pretty sure the #4 through Woodstock to Lebanon NH is a 'scenic route' and there was a covered bridge near by.
Oh, wait, the state tourism sites have 'scenic routes' Here's Vermont

Posted by
1767 posts

In Barre, Vermont visit the Rock of Ages granite quarry and the nearby cemetery. Also close is Bragg’s Farm maple sugar ( their extra dark is oh so tasty ! )

In New Hampshire visit the home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, America’s best sculptor, in Cornish. There is a long, covered bridge nearby.

Posted by
291 posts

If you are looking to do hiking on the trip, consider base in North Conway and hikes in the Presidential range of the White Mountains. The"AMC White Mountain Guide" will give you good trail info for the area.

Posted by
36 posts

Ditto the recommendation for the greater Burlington/Stowe area - but I'd also second the Rt 4 suggestion down thru Woodstock particularly - lots of farms along the road, antiques, covered bridges - toward to/thru Quechee Gorge. I'd also suggest maybe backtracking down Rt 12 as an alternative to cutting straight thru to NH. The Hartland/Windsor area is sort of off the beaten road but a pretty drive as well. Harpoon Brewery in Windsor has a unique area where you can shop in a few different stores and hang out side with brick oven pizza and lawn games.

In NH, I'd second the North Conway suggestion. The Kangamangus is a fun ride thru the area. As another alternative -head a bit south to the Lake Winnipesaukee area where it will be off-season but Meredith and some of the other surrounding towns would be exceptionally pretty around the lake with the foliage and still have places to eat and visit

Posted by
3111 posts

We did a 2 week trip to NH last year during the first part of October and watched the color roll out in our area. We based ourselves near Lake Winnipeasaukee. Meredith is a town full of B&Bs. Central NH is such an easy place to get around in and perfectly situated for day trips over into Vermont and costal Maine too. We positioned ourselves over 2 weekends to take advantage of the fall festivals that seem to be weekend based. We did the long drives through the White Mountains during the week and it wasn’t crowded at all.

Posted by
2652 posts

We based in Littleton, NH and stayed at the historic (1843) Thayers Inn, in the center of town. The famous Chutters candy store is just down the street. We enjoyed seeing the fall colors from the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, departing from the town of Meredith.

Posted by
3933 posts

We've stayed in North Conway, NH a few times - love it there - the scenery and the shopping!

Posted by
6642 posts

Thanks everyone for your great suggestions. This helps shortcut our planning.

Posted by
16 posts


Check out America's Stonehenge in southern New Hampshire. They have an informative movie about the stones, a gift shop, alpacas onsite, and very helpful staff. The physical address is 105 Haverhill Road, Salem, New Hampshire. Their website has a few photos. There are stones set in a large perimeter that mark the solstice and equinox dates. The stone complex in the center is interesting with a couple of "rooms." I found it fascinating.

Christmas Farm Inn located in Jackson, New Hampshire is charming. There is a cog railway nearby, Mount Washington Cog Railway.

There are a few scenic train trips that came up when I searched for the name of the cog railway. It might be relaxing to sit back and enjoy the ride.

There is a quarry that does tours, if you like rocks. I recall one that let us dig up gems, but I can't recall the name of it.

Have fun! elisa

Posted by
1649 posts

Hi Stan,

First, some tips -

Interstate 93 North (and South) is one of "the" major highways. It also connects to Interstate 495 North and South as well as a lot of other byways and highways - connecting Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

New Hampshire is a tax-free state for goods bought.

A 9% tax is assessed upon guests of hotels and restaurants; on rooms and meals - in restaurants, take out food, hot food bought in retailers.

A 9% tax is also assessed on motor vehicle rentals.

No tax on wine sales.

Gasoline fluctuates. It has come down a lot in the last couple of weeks with most vendors. Irving Gas Stations have been the least expensive all around. Most, if not all, gas stations will have a price increase during the holiday weekend.

Maybe you know this since it made World News - New Hampshire had its "Old Man in the Mountain" collapse many years ago. It was really something to see in its hey day.

Many locals and frequent visitors alike were devastated of course when the natural formation crumbled.

Weather and Foliage peeping can vary in New England. It usually starts around the third week in September running through mid October (for the best scenery.)

Depending on the year, trees will have either a bright red, a vibrant orange or more yellow in their leaves. The best colors are when there is a warm, rainy Spring, a Summer that is not brutally hot and an Autumn season with sunny days and crisp, cool nights.

"Columbus Day Weekend" - Monday, October 14, 2019, will be jam packed with locals, Massachusetts peeps, and other travelers from around the World. If you are going on or near that weekend, best to "reserve a hotel now" - things will sell out quickly.

If you end up driving up 93 North, exit 23 to Route 104 will bring you into Meredith, NH - Weirs Beach area (Mills Falls)

Heading in the opposite direction of exit 23 will bring you to Danbury, NH and all the little towns and villages. Driving is nice - farms, maybe even some active farm stands. (** added info)

Driving up Interstate 93 North, at exit 26, is Plymouth State.

Exit 32 will bring you into Lincoln, New Hampshire and eventually to the Kanc. - North Conway.

State Police are around the area off the highway. Locals and frequent drivers know the hot spots. They are also well seen on holiday weekends with the radar.

(** added info)

(continuing below)

Posted by
1649 posts

Driving on the "Kanc." The Kancamagus Highway (pronounced Kank - ah - mau - gus)
(Further north are the Franconia Notch and Crawford Notch state parks, where vistas are magnificent.)

The eastern portion of NH 112 is known as the "Kancamagus Highway." It is 32 miles up to the White Mountains from Lincoln to Conway. Make sure your gas tank is filled - there are no gas stations on that road for the length of 32 miles.

Cell phone service can be spotty on the Kanc. Rangers do frequent ride throughs.

The highway is a beautiful drive. You can put together a picnic lunch, some drinks, a blanket or whatever, and stop at one of the many picturesque pavilion stops. They have benches, but, not many - so hence the suggestion of a blanket.

The views are absolutely stunning and picture-worthy. Just be a bit careful rounding up to the mountains - there are some sharp turns.

In Lincoln, New Hampshire, there are many hotels to stay at. One popular one is Loon Mountain:

Very, pleasant, pretty with some local activities. They may have weekend packages and special weekend rates. Otherwise, you could or will be charged a "resort fee" - so keep that in mind.

Also, up in Lincoln, NH, there is the yearly "crafters' fair." If you like that sort of thing, it's can be fun to walk around. There are artists who are very talented and take "professional" photos of stunning NH views - mat them - and sell them. You have your usual crafters selling jewelry, etc, and the home-made food products.

There is the Mount Washington Hotel - - It is gorgeous. Stunning area and views.

There is also The Hobo Railroad (There are two locations - one in Lincoln and the other in Meredith)

There is Clark's Trading Post
110 (Daniel Webster Hwy - DWH) US Rte 3 - Lincoln, NH

Very popular, cute bear act, amazing acrobatic performers, etc.

A snack bar with popular, fresh cooked chicken tenders basket.

After October 14, 2019, they close for the season.

(continuing below)

Posted by
1649 posts

North Conway is big. Because it boasts a huge, outdoor mall of "outlet" stores, it draws many. The designer stores are popular of course because of the "no tax."

There are also a ton of stores up and down "White Mountain Highway" - some other retailers like the sports stores are on that road too. (There are also supermarkets there too.) Some great restaurants as well as the "usuals."

We went to these below, and they were very good during my visits:

Main Street
North Conway Village, NH 03860
Tel 603-356-6006

Merlino’s Steak House
1717 White Mtn. Hwy.
North Conway, NH 03860
Tel 603-356-6006

Muddy Moose Restaurant & Pub
2344 White Mountain Hwy.
North Conway, NH 03860
Tel 603-356-7696

If you are interested in (American) Chinese food in North Conway, this is a popular spot for locals and visitors - It's not too bad, mostly pretty good the times I've been there.

(To access the restaurant, take the sign off of White Mountain Highway - at the lights - there is Route 112, take that turn, restaurant is a smidge or two down the road.) (added food recommendation)

In case you forget or need anything, good ole Walmart is further down, lol. I don't care for that one though - but a quick item pick up or two, it's okay.

(continuing below)

Posted by
1649 posts

Meredith, New Hampshire -,_New_Hampshire

It is at the junction of US Route 3 and New Hampshire Route 25 (leading up to Route 16 North Conway)

There is Mills Falls to browse (a waterfall is in the middle of the boutiques galleria) Shops and restaurants are high end. and

The official website has not updated through the Foliage season yet; they're still working on Summer.

If you go out walking around the local neighborhood area, there are some little cafes and eateries up and around the Mills Falls. If on a more budget-conscious trip, there are B&B's in and around Meredith and hotels along Interstate 93-North

Across the street from Mills Falls is Lake Winnipesaukee. Really beautiful. You can walk along the boardwalk, view all the boats. See peeps feed the ducks. Sit in the Pavilion. Grab an ice cream, stroll along until you come to the sculptures on a tiny island in the middle.

Also, there is Church Landing across the street from Mills Falls

This is a beautiful and lovely inn/resort. Quaint rooms, lovely views from all around. Brunch on the weekends - Sunday starts later in the AM and runs later too, has a meat station or two also, and a jazz solo or trio.

If you stay in Meredith, accessing Route 25 to 16 North to the Kanc or North Conway "is right there." If you want to pack a picnic, Hannaford Supermarket is a few minutes away from Mills Falls (on the left of Route 25.)

Grab some sandwich items, drinks, etc. They have everything for a picnic. They are not a huge store compared to other Hannaford's, but serve the Meredith community and its visitors well.

Maybe you'd like to take a ride on the Mount Washington Cruise Boat - around the lake. You can catch the boat right there in Meredith.

Note: this is not near the "Mount Washington Hotel." - for some ideas.

The Mount Washington Cruise Co. has Fall cruises that cruise to Wolfeboro - a resort town. It stops and allows a visit. Watch the time though, missing the last boat will result in a stay on Wolfeboro.,_New_Hampshire

For kids' activities, there is Fun Spot Largest World Arcade.

Up the road from Meredith Center is the home of Annalee Doll Company. Whimsical dolls, animals and the like. Christmas ones are very, very popular.

It is a "factory outlet", all first quality. Brand new items start out as little at $5 in the "Clearance section." They can customize a doll for your souvenir if you like. Extra costs of course. They did an exclusive Patriot's football doll (had the rights to it) which sold out in minutes on line!

Some items are still "Made In America." When the original Annalee passed on, her family sold the business to manufacture the dolls in another part of the World. They do have design and creative rights still.

The original store and factory and design center buildings are still in Meredith but sold to another company.

If you are interested in a local wine tour, this is a nice one

Hermit Woods Winery & Deli - Local Hand Crafted Wines -

There is a lot to do and to choose from in New Hampshire. I hope I was able to give you some ideas to plan your Foliage holiday trip if you settle on New Hampshire.

Enjoy New England.

Posted by
6642 posts

Wow, thanks again for the wealth of information. I can see we're going to have to make some tough choices.

Posted by
1649 posts

You are welcome!! Enjoy :)

Oh, I forgot - there are many hiking trails or viewing trails you can stop at on the Kanc.

Waterfalls -

This may help too -

I would like to add - if you are coming down the mountain area at dusk or later, be very careful of the side sloping / shoulders on the right - there are areas with no guard rails. It is a busy road, especially on long weekends - cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc.

It is suggested that visitors new to the area leave the mountain area while still in "daylight" hours.

A helpful tip for your allocating daylight hours in September or October: (added thought)

Posted by
426 posts

I also suggest a visit to the Woodstock area in Vermont mainly because I really enjoy the Billings Farm & Museum and the surrounding area. Maybe it's just because I spent my summers with the grandparents on their dairy farm but these Jersey cows are incredible. I think adults will learn as much as children at the Billings Farm. The baby animals in spring are irresistible.

I enjoyed the time I spent at the Franconia Notch in New Hampshire. I could see why Bette Davis loved it and lived there several years.

Posted by
1649 posts

More restaurant recommendations if interested:

Sister restaurants -

They are on the higher end for dinners. Most of the time, meals are very good.

In Meredith*, near the boat, is "The Town Docks." - Good seafood, on the higher end for prices.

As I mentioned above in a post, "The Lakehouse" which sits inside the Church Landing Inn (Meredith), is very good for buffet brunches. On Sunday, they give a complimentary mimosa.

Going on The Lakehouse buffet, they have a great guy at the (made to order) Omelette and Waffle/Pancake stations. He has been there for a very long, long time. A buffet of "everything" you can possibly want - healthy to the carb-lover, lol. The fresh, peel and eat shrimp is very popular - unless you are allergic to shell fish of course.

You can go to any one of their sitting rooms on the first floor of the Inn and relax. They have a library, lol, for anyone to curl up on a big comfy couch or chair, sip wine and read.

Or, you can grab a seat by the fireplace. Very nice ambiance; especially come Autumn (and Christmas time.) In the seating areas, behind the room with the books, they have complimentary fresh fruit - usually an orange or apple. They have a self-serve coffee/tea/cocoa/cider station - cider is a packet though to be made with water.

You don't need to be a guest of the Inn to enjoy the reading and sitting rooms. The walk-around and views are lovely.

Over the years, I've been many times to The Lakehouse buffet and have not been disappointed. Though, if anything is amiss, they work quickly to correct.

If you're on Route 104 while traveling to and from Meredith, NH, there is - a 50's style diner. A hot spot for locals and travelers.

Posted by
3336 posts

We have spent a lot of time in Middlebury - my husband has done academic work there. It's a beautiful college town with a river, Otter Creek, running through it, a gorgeous town green, and several perfect B&Bs around the main part of town. If you drive to east Middlebury and follow the main highway east, you can drive through the Green Mountains along that beautiful route. We love to drive to Charlotte and take the car ferry across Lake Champlain to Essex for lunch on the dock right next to the ferry dock. All around that area you can pick strawberries, swim in "swimming holes" of all kinds - there are lists online you can find, and visit the Vermont Maple Syrup Museum.

Posted by
1649 posts

Stan, I remembered something as I was on I-93 last night...

I will presume you are picking up a rental car at Logan Airport and then driving up I-93 North? (if you settle on visiting NH). I-89 takes you around New Hampshire and Vermont also.

Back to I-93 Northbound.

At Hooksett, Exit 11, there will be a toll booth. One dollar$ for a regular 4 wheel axle, and then that is it for the tolls heading up North to your points of interest. You won't have a transponder, so you'll need cash.

You will see this on your right (Gas prices are ridiculous at the "Common Man/NH Liquor Store outlets) Try to fill up way before that.

As you approach the toll lanes, stay to the far right (for the visible toll booths) the lanes will have Green lights showing "EZ-Pass" or "Cash" accepted. Attendants have change for larger bills within reason. And, they will give you a time-stamped receipt if you ask for one.

This is important - the toll lanes are clearly marked for those who have "transponders" and fly right through - No attendants.

If you happen to not be able to cut over due to traffic, of course keep going - your license plate and car will have a picture snapped. You'll get a notice stating you "owe" the toll. It won't go on your driving record.

The notice gives you a chance to explain why you missed paying. Usually, for most, it is because it was unsafe to cross over to the far right due to heavy traffic. It happened to me years ago, I paid the "then 75 cents" explained I could not move over safely. Never heard from them again.

In case you happen to venture out, there are other major toll highways in New Hampshire -

Blue Star Turnpike aka New Hampshire Tpke - - (Seacoast)
Spaulding Turnpike - (Eastern)
Everett Turnpike - (Northern)

Posted by
901 posts

Consider - we stay at their sister resort every summer (Tyler Place) and adore it. If you have kids age 15 or under check out the TP—it’s amazing. Personally I think VT is prettier than NH. Burlington has a great foodie scene and Lake Champlain is great for boating, fishing, etc.

Posted by
798 posts

The Franconia Inn comes to mind for a quintessentially New England accommodation in the lovely area of Franconia Notch. Read the history. It has quite the story.

Posted by
2914 posts

If any ski resort area will do, then it doesn't matter. But they are not really NH and VT, but rather contrived areas. The only ski resorts that have any real character left, of course IMO, are Cannon Mt in Franconia, NH and the best would be Mad River Glenn in Waitsfield, VT. If you plan your trip correctly, you can see the Allen Cark Memorial Hill Climb by cyclists as they race up Appalachian Gap (App Gap)...children, women, men and unicycle categories. It's an unusual New England race of a lot of local cyclist enthusiasts plus other New Englanders at about leaf peeping season. Go to the Mad River Glen ski area for food and drink afterwards with the locals and racers. The lift is open to ride up (and down) should you care to do so that day. It's very scenic there, but not manufactured in the least. Keep in mind, sometimes they don't publicize this race until late August or September as they are low key.

There is one of the previously mentioned scenic rides in this area of Waitsfield and Warren, VT. Also, you could then take the route east from Warren VT to Warren NH (I'm blank on the local route number so line these up on the map.) Scenic...depends what you think scenic is. Real? Yes. Very much in the back woods/hills? Yes. Stop and see a guided missile on the green in Warren, NH should you choose to do so, LOL. Continue east for a more backroads experience of these two states (you will go off the grid for a bit, so have a map). You can then be in central NH for more touring. Stowe, Conway are just massive creations at this point. They are not real...although the skiing might be good, but not in the fall... If you do want a present day resort type place, go to Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, because you will see dramatic scenery along the way and they have the old Washington Inn there as well. Just some of my thoughts as a person from a long, long line of New Englanders.

Posted by
7722 posts

Route 100 in Vermont is very scenic. Drive it from Woodstock north.

Posted by
5488 posts

We have visited NH, staying a few nights on the coast at Portsmouth, you could walk across the bridge to Maine and eat lobster.

On another trip, we visited Mt. Washington. Amazing, in August there was sleet at the top of the mountain.

Posted by
515 posts

I very much agree with Wray that the ski resorts don’t represent the quintessential New England experience.

I’m very partial to the Southwest corner of NH which is called the Monadnock Region. I lived here for 20 years and you can not get more quintessential than that area which includes Keene, NH - featured in the original Jumanji with Robin Williams and home to the first Pumpkin Festival which as I just discovered is making a return this October after a 5 year hiatus. There are many small roads throughout the area along with covered bridges. The region is also dotted with lakes and general stores. Dublin, NH is home to Yankee Magazine .....Farther down the road is Peterborough, NH....home of ‘Our Town’ which was where the playwright Thornton Wilder lived in 1937 while staying at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough NH. It’s also home to Peterborough Players Professional Theatre established in 1933.

There are many artisans throughout the entire region. You can see some of their work at the Sharon Arts Center Fine Crafts Store in Peterborough.

Into hiking? Try out Mt Monadnock where on a good day you can see Boston from the summit.

There are many lovely B & B’s on the backroads.

Posted by
6642 posts

Hey thanks for the continued feedback! I I wasn't focused on ski areas, but that's about all I knew of the area. We're looking for the Bob Newhart B&B experience but had no RS guide to work with. No plans yet but working on it. I want to get there before the politicians get there.

Posted by
381 posts

I want to get there before the politicians get there.

You're already too late for that.

Posted by
515 posts


I also forgot to mention the Southeast corner of Vermont from Brattleboro to Putney/Bellows Falls ......also lovely, filled with B&B’s, apple orchards, the Green Mountain Railroad which is family’s cars go back to 1930’s....I could go on and on. Also, west of Brattleboro you can travel route 9 to Bromley/ Manchester VT and then to Bennington.

As far as leaf all depends on wet or windy it’s been and warm days with cool doesn’t last long and having lived there I have to say I have never felt an onslaught of I wouldn’t worry about trying to avoid leaf season. Mid-September to late October is some of the most beautiful weather in the area.

Contact me if you have more specific questions.

Posted by
443 posts

I'm originally from Newport, VT (next to last exit before Canada), and up there you will get away from the super touristy stuff - like Burlington, Stowe, etc.
Basically, fall foliage will start earlier in the northern parts of the state, be done no later than mid October, if not sooner.

If you want hiking - Mt Pisgah or Hor off Lake Willoughby (which is a true glacier lake, long from N to S), are some of the best hikes around. There's a wonderful Fairbanks Museum in St Johnsbury, and the center of the US Ice Wine industry in Newport, they have a tasting center on Main St (Eden Ice Cider). Newport also has its own lake, Memphremagog, 26 miles long, 3 miles in the US, the balance in Canada.

To REALLY see an authentic Vermont, you want to go where someone says, "you can't get there from heah". So even past Newport is Island Pond (a snowmobiler's paradise in the winter), which is even further in the middle of nowhere. There will be spotty cell phone service in all of these areas of the Northeast Kingdom (the counties of Orleans, Caledonia, and Essex).

For drives, as mentioned above, Route 100 is great, which you can pick up in Newport. You can actually take it all the way down through Stowe, Killington, etc., to the bottom of the State. You'll actually drive past the Ben & Jerry's plant in Waterbury off Rt 100, and if I'm at my brother's, you can wave to me.

Posted by
6642 posts

Sounds like Newport would be a real "backdoor" to Vermont. Great information everyone - I would have been clueless without your input. It occurs to me that there should be some good guidebooks to the US in the style of RS. Anybody know of one?

Posted by
7722 posts

The Bob Newhart experience setting is the Waybury Inn in East Middlebury, VT.