Off the beaten path fall tips: This autumn, experience the colors of New Hampshire by boat, train, on foot and even downtown!
Information Provided by Visit New Hampshire
The air is starting to feel cool and the leaves in some parts of New Hampshire are already hinting that fall is on its way. The approaching fall foliage season provides a reason to get outside and experience New Hampshire’s amazing show of colors. And judging by the long dry summer, this fall promises a vibrant show.
The Granite State offers many ways to experience the season off the beaten path whether through a hike, a drive, or a weekend stay. A foliage leaf peeping excursion can also be combined with a visit to one of the state’s many attractions. New Hampshire in the fall bursts forth with the colors of nature and adventurous activities to keep the entire family happy.
New Hampshire’s foliage season runs roughly from late-September to mid-October, but this varies widely depending on weather, topography and geography. Just before the season begins, a sneak preview of fall can be found as swamp maples surrounding some ponds and lakes may turn a fiery red, and the deciduous trees of northern New Hampshire may have already begun their transformation. Indigenous Peoples' Day Weekend is often the focal point of fall foliage excursions, but the White Mountains can present earlier colors.
There are plenty of activities to keep visitors busy for a day or weekend. Here are a few tips to beat the crowds, dump the traffic and get the best out of the show.
Concord: A Capital of Color
Concord is an emerging destination worth a look. Set in the middle of the state, with great hikes, apple picking, parks, and all within an easy drive. It makes for the perfect fall foliage base.
And, recently open on Main Street The Hotel Concord, a AAA 4 Diamond property, is the first independent boutique hotel in the area and its location in the heart of downtown makes it the perfect place to stay during your foliage trip.
Fall kicks off with the Capital Arts Fest, a weekend of exhibitions, performances and art on the street combined with great food and local beer. Between September 27-29 the League of NH Craftsmen brings together artists and craftsmen from all over the state to Main Street in Concord to celebrate creativity.
Every Saturday you can visit the Farmers Market, and the Arts Market at Bicentennial Square, which goes on until September. And there are lots of new places to shop, delicious eateries and impressive 19th century brick architecture all along the newly renovated Main Street.
Almost 100% of the stores and restaurants along Main Street are locally owned. They range from high fashion, to antiques, to a range of authentic cuisines. It is a small city with big city offerings, reminiscent of Newbury Street in Boston, with a variety of art-inspired store.
Concord is the state capital – that means you can also visit the State House on Main Street –open 5 days week and this year celebrated its 200th anniversary. But there is a lot more. See the grave and the home of Franklin Piece, the only US President from NH. Learn about the NH First in the Nation Primary or venture outside the city to see Canterbury Shaker Village, the Franklin Pierce Homestead, stone arch bridges, or the Mary Baker Eddy Historic House.
Take a Cruise for a Colorful View
One special place to enjoy the foliage show is Lake Winnipesaukee. It's hard to see foliage while you're driving, so why not take a cruise on the M/S Mount Washington and let the captains do the driving. The big lake offers an amazing show of color and the juxtaposition of the water and sky can be breathtaking. Sundays in September and October they offer Fall Sunset and Foliage Dinner Cruises departing from Weirs Beach.
Take the Train Through the Trees or a Lift Over the Mountains
Climb aboard one of the region's three sightseeing trains for unique views of foliage: Hobo Scenic Railroad in Lincoln; the Conway Scenic Railroad in Conway, and the world-famous Cog Railway that chugs up Mount Washington from its base in Bretton Woods.
For a different aerial view, take the sky ride to get a bird's eye view of fall foliage. Ski mountains in the area offer trips on their chair lifts and gondolas to the tops of their mountains, where the views can be simply spectacular. Consider the Loon Mountain Gondola in Lincoln; the Wildcat Mountain Gondola in Jackson, and the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway in Franconia.
Surrounded by Forest at Waterville Valley Resort
Waterville Valley says it has the best foliage in the world, and we don't doubt it, as it just happens to be surrounded by some of the most spectacular landscapes in northern New England. The adjacent White Mountain National Forest features America’s oldest network of hiking trails leading to spectacular views in all directions.
After working up a big appetite with the fall hikes, Waterville Valley offers their 20th Annual Chili Challenge & Brews event on Saturday September 28. For this annual favorite, area restaurants compete in Town Square for the title of best chili. Attendees can sample all of the contestants’ chili, as well as taste hot sauces from New Hampshire-based Jehu Hot Sauce.
To complement the brilliant fall foliage, Waterville Valley’s Town Square is hosting a Fall Foliage Celebration October 12. The weekend will feature a variety of family activities including free outdoor concerts, children’s games, a swap market, themed races and pumpkin painting.