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10 Charming Places to Experience Fall in New Hampshire

Train rides through fall foliage. Fresh apple cider. Fabulously haunted hotels. Imagine sipping on a hot cup of cider and munching on homemade apple cider donuts from the country’s oldest orchard while riding a train up a mountain to view vibrant fall colors. This cozy feeling is a glimpse of what New Hampshire in the fall feels like! To help plan the best fall in New Hampshire adventure (with lots of leaf-peeping guaranteed), our writer rounded up the must-see towns and cities filled with scenic drives, state parks, apple orchards, historic bridges, and more. Throw on your coziest sweater and let's go!

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Train rides through fall foliage. Fresh apple cider. Haunted fabulous hotels. Imagine you’re sipping on a hot cup of cider and munching on homemade apple cider donuts from the country’s oldest orchard. You’re crunching on leaves and breathing in crisp air, and you’re about to go hop on a train to take you up a mountain and catch a glimpse of trees bursting into vibrant yellow, orange, and red – colors as far as the eye can see. This cozy feeling is a glimpse of what fall in New Hampshire feels like!

New Hampshire in the fall is a one of the best places in the country to visit for leaf-peeping, and without a doubt, it lives up to the hype. There are so many ways to experience the changing of leaves in New Hampshire, like hiking, scenic drives, lake cruises, train and gondola rides, paddling, or just taking it all in over a locally brewed craft beer.

While the larger cities in New Hampshire are scenic in their own right, it’s the charming, quaint villages and towns where you’ll get the best fix of fall! To help plan the best fall in New Hampshire adventure (with lots of leaf-peeping guaranteed), our contributing writer rounded up the must-see towns and cities filled with scenic drives, state parks, apple orchards, historic bridges, and all the fall magic that makes New Hampshire an idyllic fall destination!

Psst: Planning more trips to the East Coast? Take a look at some of our other posts:

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A bridge and trail over a stream with fall foliage surrounding it in the White Mountains in New Hampshire
If New Hampshire fall foliage doesn’t do it for you, you’re basically the Grinch of fall. (Photo Credit)

Fall in New Hampshire: FAQ’s

Growing up, I frequently visited my uncle who lives in Henniker, a small town in Merrimack County that’s in the southern part of New Hampshire (more on that later).

I always visited him in the fall, and I have fond memories of quad biking through the woods, binging on pancakes doused in maple syrup, and witnessing a constant stream of autumn foliage — which is, of course, the main reason people flock near and wide to New Hampshire in the fall!

But before you put on your favorite leaf-crunching boots and wrap a cozy scarf around your neck, here are some frequently asked questions to help you plan your trip!

How to get to New Hampshire?

If you’re coming from out of state, I recommend flying into New Hampshire or Boston, renting a car, and hitting the road. You can also take a longer, but incredibly scenic, drive from New York City!

  • The two major airports in New Hampshire are Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and Portsmouth International Airport, both of which will fly you into the southern part of the state. 
  • From Boston, it’s only a 45-minute drive (plan for a bit of traffic, depending on when you leave) to get to the town of Bedford, New Hampshire. But even if you’re planning to go to the most northern part of New Hampshire, like the city of Berlin or the quaint town of Milan, it’s only a 3-hour drive from Boston, and I would highly recommend taking a car for the scenic drive and leaf-peeping alone. 
  • From New York City, you’ll have to drive at least four hours (traffic dependent) to cross over the state line — but you’ll be driving through Connecticut and Massachusetts to get there, both of which have picturesque fall foliage. However, you can still get your fix of leaf-peeping via train by taking Amtrak from Penn Station in NYC to Boston South Station (6-8 hours), then take the Boston Express Bus to the city of Manchester in New Hampshire (about 1.5 hours). If you can, once you arrive, I still recommend renting a car.

No matter what form of transportation you end up taking to get there, I will say this until I’m blue in the face: tour by car to truly experience fall in New Hampshire. 

  • Travel Tip: Booked your flight and rental car yet? We recommend using Kayak to price-compare deals and dates to save money… so you can spend more on food during your trip (#letsbehonest).

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How to get around New Hampshire?

You’ll definitely want to explore New Hampshire from the comfort of your car. It’ll allow you to get up close and personal to color-changing leaves and truly experience fall in New Hampshire, since roughly one-ninth of the state is designated to fall foliage drives and cultural byways. That’s a lot of leaf-peeping possibilities.

Not to mention the state is only about 190 miles long and roughly 70 miles wide, which makes for a driving experience that allows you to see the entire state from the window of your vehicle!

What’s the history of New Hampshire?

It’s hard to sum up the history of New Hampshire because there’s so much of it. But more than anything, it’s important to honor the roots of Native American tribes that existed long before New Hampshire was declared New Hampshire in 1788. 

As you read through this guide, you’ll notice names of mountains, rivers, and trails that pay homage to the Indigenous people who occupied the land and were collectively known as the Abenaki. They set up many of their villages along the rivers and lakes, where fish, wildlife, and farming could thrive, but the combination of disease, as well as European settlers stealing land, led to the decreased population in the 1600s.

Today, less than 1,000 Abenaki still live in New Hampshire, and it’s important we continue to honor and celebrate the Native American tribes who loved the land deeply through preservation efforts and uplifting their names. 

Across the state, historic covered bridges and railroad tracks shed a light on the state’s booming logging industry that began in the 1600s, which peaked in the 1800s and declined in the early 1900s due to the Great Depression. But these sites continue to be preserved as an important piece to the state’s history, which you’ll hopefully get to experience during your time exploring New Hampshire in the fall. 

Last but not least, New Hampshire has historically been known for its epic fall season! New Hampshire fall foliage, apple cider donuts, cider mills, and maple syrup are legendary. So let’s get into the best things to do in New Hampshire in the fall, and where to go to experience the best of New Hampshire in the fall!

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A red wooden covered bridge over Pemigewasset River surrounded by fall foliage in Lincoln, New Hampshire
Historic covered bridge in Lincoln, New Hampshire in the fall! Photo Credit

When is fall in New Hampshire?

Autumn in New Hampshire begins in mid-late September and runs through the end of October. By November, the foliage is pretty much gone.

Historically, the first signs of fall begin in the Great North Woods region in mid-September, and the colors make their way throughout the state in the days that follow. By the end of September, the temperature can drop as low as the high 40s, although a day in the 70s can happen here and there.

October is when the state is in full fall mode, with temps at the beginning of the month ranging from low 40s to mid-60s and dropping by the end to the high 30s and as warm as the mid-50s.

While seeing any foliage during the season is a treat, you can check the official fall foliage tracker of New Hampshire to see what’s going on. Yes, New Hampshire is that leaf obsessed that they have a foliage tracker.

By the way, it’s not common, but snowfall can happen in September and October in highly elevated areas like White Mountain National Forest, and it’s actually a real treat for those who get to experience it. “Snowliage,” as the New Hampshirites call it, is the gorgeous contrast of snow-capped mountains at the top of a summit with the fall foliage down below.

A train on a wooden bridge going through the fall foliage in New Hampshire
Choo choo, the fall express is here!

The Best Places to Experience Fall in New Hampshire

Before jumping into the must-see towns and cities across the state, it’s worth mentioning a noteworthy attraction that is less about the destination and more about the journey: the 100-mile-long White Mountains Trail.

The White Mountains Trail is a scenic highway that takes you through parts of the White Mountain National Forest and past the popular attractions across the White Mountains region, starting in North Woodstock and ending in Lincoln (more on both of those places below).

You can fill your drive with recommended pit stops, or stay on the highway the entire time for the leaf-peeping views alone.

Whether you drive the White Mountains Trail or criss-cross the state in search of the best fall fun, here are all the places to visit to experience fall in New Hampshire!



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