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Scenes From a 3-Week New England Foliage Road Trip

In the fall of 2015, Rachael Mullins left her home in Australia for a tour of the American northeast, include a three-week New England fall foliage road trip. We were so charmed by the images she shared on Instagram — from cider donuts and covered bridges in Vermont to the Nubble Light in Maine and pumpkins in New Hampshire — that we asked her to share some highlights with the New England Today audience. Take it away, Rachael!

My name’s Rachael, and I’m from Melbourne, Australia. On a regular day you’ll find me working as a technical writer and editor for an IT company. In October-November of 2015, my partner Glen, a winemaker, and I embarked on a three-week foliage road trip of New England.

new-england-tours-road-trip-header

Why New England? It isn’t a popular travel destination for my fellow Aussies. In fact, when telling friends where we were going, we were met with many a blank stare. Although we live five minutes from the beach in bayside Melbourne, something about coastal New England captured our imagination.

It might’ve been all those picturesque harbor towns and immaculate Cape Cod vacation homes we saw in American movies. It could’ve been the steady diet of Stephen King novels I grew up on, ensuring Maine loomed large in my consciousness. Or perhaps it was simply the promise of unlimited fresh seafood. Whatever the cause, our interest was piqued.

Coupled with the attractions inland New England offered (the stunning terrain — and cheese, and beer — of Vermont, or the quaint towns Gilmore Girls assured us abounded in Connecticut), we quickly realised New England ticked all the boxes. And when the question of when to visit arose, it was a no-brainer: New England and fall were synonymous.

For weeks we scoured the web for points of interest, pinning everything to a Google Map. Monuments, restaurants, secret vantage points shared by generous Instagramers, Yankee‘s list of the Top 25 Foliage Towns… we added it all.

Then we just had to “connect the dots”: find a route that hit as many of the pins on the map as possible. The result? A giant loop, beginning and ending in White Plains NY, taking us north through Connecticut and Massachusetts to Vermont, across to Maine, and down the coast back to our starting point, ticking off New Hampshire and Rhode Island along the way.

Armed with my trusty phone camera, I documented our journey and shared the results on Instagram. Here are the highlights from an experience some might call the ultimate New England fall foliage road trip.

Scenes From the Ultimate 3-Week New England Fall Foliage Road Trip

New England Tours Road Trip

Rich Farm Ice Cream Shop, Oxford CT

Rachael Mullins

Rich Farm Ice Cream Shop in Oxford, CT

Not even the brisk fall air of our first day could stop us from indulging in this seasonal, spiced pumpkin ice cream from Rich Farm’s very own dairy. I’m glad, because it might’ve been the best ice cream I’ve ever had.

New England Tours Road Trip

Kent Falls Brewing Company in Kent, CT.

Rachael Mullins

Kent Falls Brewing Company in Kent, CT

I spent some quality time with these guys while Glen sampled the beers at Kent Falls Brewing. (His verdict: tasty.)

New England Tours Road Trip

A beautiful scene from Kent Falls Brewing Company, Kent, CT.

Rachael Mullins

Kent Falls Brewing Company in Kent, CT

How could you not love a brewery located in such a beautiful spot?

New England Tours Road Trip

Sandwiches at J.P. Gifford Market & Catering Company in Kent, CT.

Rachael Mullins

J.P. Gifford Market & Catering Company in Kent, CT

It might not look like much, but apple in a sandwich was a revelation. If there’s one thing the U.S. does well, it’s sandwiches. This one had a chicken cutlet, shaved apple, melted cheddar, baby greens, and honey mustard on brioche.

New England Tours Road Trip

Picture-perfect fall foliage in Pittsfield, MA…

Rachael Mullins

Pittsfield, MA

On the first day we hit Massachusetts, I insisted we pull over for a closer look at this tree in Pittsfield. I don’t think I’d ever seen leaves this color before.

New England Tours Road Trip

…and Ashfield, MA.

Rachael Mullins

Ashfield, MA

We turned into this unassuming little side street, Smith Road, to check directions. The afternoon light transformed it into this stunning scene.

New England Tours Road Trip

Old-school supper at the Shady Glen Diner in Turners Falls, MA.

Rachael Mullins

Shady Glen Diner in Turners Falls, MA

Shout-out to Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” TV show for introducing us to this place. Verdict: delicious old-school Americana. I followed this hot open turkey sandwich with a slice of chocolate cream pie, homemade crust and all.

New England Tours Road Trip

Covered bridge in Greenfield, MA.

Rachael Mullins

Pumping Station & Covered Bridge in Greenfield, MA

This may have been the most striking of all the covered bridges we encountered. Against the overcast sky, the reds, browns, and greens of the bridge and surrounding forest were even more pronounced.

Ivy-covered church walls in Brattleboro, VT.

Ivy-covered church walls in Brattleboro, VT.

Rachael Mullins

Brattleboro, VT

Couldn’t resist these ivy-covered church walls as we passed through Brattleboro.

Pumpkins outside the Walpole Grocery in Walpole, NH.

Pumpkins outside the Walpole Grocery in Walpole, NH.

Rachael Mullins

Walpole, NH

Pumpkins outside the Walpole Grocery, a charming general store in a charming town.

Pumpkin pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup in Mendon, VT.

Pumpkin pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup in Mendon, VT.

Rachael Mullins

Maple Sugar & Vermont Spice, Mendon, VT

Pumpkin pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup, which we stocked up on to take home with us. Oh, and a hot chocolate that came with a mug full of cream and chocolate topping. Alpine kitsch never tasted so good.

Branbury State Park in Salisbury, VT.

Branbury State Park in Salisbury, VT.

Rachael Mullins

Branbury State Park, Salisbury, VT

Just couldn’t resist these fall colors surrounding the impressive Lake Dunmore.

Branbury State Park in Salisbury, VT.

Branbury State Park in Salisbury, VT.

Rachael Mullins

Branbury State Park in Salisbury, VT

Indulged my inner child by collecting fallen leaves for the dashboard.

A memorable drive along Route 100.

A memorable drive along Route 100.

Rachael Mullins

Route 100 in Rochester, VT

Fading fall colours, fragrant pines and golden afternoon sunlight made the drive from Hartland to Montpelier unforgettable. This might’ve been the prettiest stretch of road we drove. (Never mind that Route 100 also gave us our first whiff of dead skunk).

Signs of the changing seasons in Warren, Vermont.

Signs of the changing seasons in Warren, VT.

Rachael Mullins

Warren Falls in Warren, VT

Some of our favorite stops were unplanned. We simply saw the road sign for Warren Falls and followed it. We were rewarded with the sight of thousands of leaves suspended just below the glasslike surface of the water.

Whoopie pies, and local beer in Warren, Vermont.

Whoopie pies, and local beer in Warren, VT.

Rachael Mullins

Warren Store in Warren, VT

Pumpkin maple whoopie pies: peak New England? The endearing Warren Store also provided Glen with a rare opportunity to purchase one of Vermont’s finest beers, Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine IPA.

An inspired drive through the Warren Covered Bridge.

An inspired drive through the Warren Covered Bridge.

Rachael Mullins

Warren Covered Bridge in Warren, VT

Trying to fit as many New England clichés into one photo as I could: Yankee Magazine on the dashboard while driving under a covered bridge with the remnants of fall colors on the other side. (Ed. Note: We think you hit Maximum New England!)

A visit to Lost Nation Brewing in Morrisville, VT for beer and cheese.

A visit to Lost Nation Brewing in Morrisville, VT, for beer and cheese.

Rachael Mullins

Lost Nation Brewing in Morrisville, VT

Having already ticked Hill Farmstead off the list on a brisk 37°F day of beer sampling, our next stop was Lost Nation, for a tasting paddle and a Vermont cheese platter (the best kind of cheese platter).

Keeping warm in Montpelier, VT.

Keeping warm in Montpelier, VT.

Rachael Mullins

Montpelier, VT

We stayed in some charming Airbnbs during our trip, but this was the cosiest. Especially after a frosty overnight temperature of 24°F.

Vermont cheddar mac n cheese from the Burlington Farmers’ Market in Burlington, VT.

Vermont cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese from the Burlington Farmers’ Market in Burlington, VT.

Rachael Mullins

Burlington Farmers’ Market in Burlington, VT

The #1 way to make mac n cheese even better: add Vermont cheddar to it. Loved everything about this market.

Cider donuts at the Burlington Farmers' Market.

Cider donuts at the Burlington Farmers’ Market.

Rachael Mullins

Burlington Farmer’s Market in Burlington, VT

Apple cider donuts basking in the sun. Fun to try once, but the classic American yeast donut still has my heart. (Luckily they had plenty of those there, too!)

Araucana chickens in Hinesburg, VT.

Araucana chickens in Hinesburg, VT.

Rachael Mullins

Hinesburg, VT

Araucana chickens in the yard of our stunning Airbnb barn loft. Apparently they lay blue eggs!

Enjoying the scenery in Bartlett, NH.

Enjoying the scenery in Bartlett, NH.

Rachael Mullins

Bartlett, NH

We clocked 6+ hours in the car on our biggest driving day: Hinesburg, VT to Camden, ME.

Got to drive through New Hampshire though, which was beautiful. Still some fall color around, though it had started to fade.

Comfort food for lunch at the Stow Corner Store in Stow, ME.

Comfort food for lunch at the Stow Corner Store in Stow, ME.

Rachael Mullins

Stow Corner Store in Stow, ME

Stopped to eat at the corner store in this tiny town in western Maine. Wasn’t expecting much, but the owners were super friendly, the food was delicious (mmm, turkey stuffing) and the cook belted out soul classics along with the radio the entire time. It was our first taste of Maine, and I’d go out of my way to go back there.

New England Tours Road Trip

Perusing the community board at the Stow Corner Store.

Rachael Mullins

Stow Corner Store in Stow, ME

Chainsaw with muscles, anyone? The store also sold live trout worms, which, naturally, were right next to the string cheese in the fridge.

Lobster rolls from Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast, ME.

Lobster rolls from Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast, ME.

Rachael Mullins

Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast, ME

Followed a trail of internet comments to this lobster joint. The live lobsters hang out in tanks and everything’s made to order. Fresh Maine lobster, a hot buttered bun, and a steaming cup of lobster stew on the side: it doesn’t get any better.

Enjoying the off-season quiet at Young's Lobster Pound.

Enjoying the off-season quiet at Young’s Lobster Pound.

Rachael Mullins

Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast, ME

We had the outside seating area practically to ourselves, but I can imagine how busy it gets during summer. A beautiful waterside spot to sit and savor your lobster.

A visit to Acadia National Park.

A visit to Acadia National Park.

Rachael Mullins

Acadia National Park in Mount Desert, ME

The famous Jordan Pond, with the Bubble Mountains in the background. We really needed more than an afternoon to do this incredible national park justice. Next time I’d stay closer and spend longer there.

The beauty of Acadia at sunset.

The beauty of Acadia at sunset…

Rachael Mullins

Acadia National Park in Mount Desert, ME

Sunset in Acadia. I’m pretty sure those people in the distance were digging for clams.

Followed by the wonder of Toll House Pie at Anglers Restaurant in Searsport, ME.

…followed by the wonder of Toll House Pie at Anglers Restaurant in Searsport, ME.

Rachael Mullins

Anglers Restaurant in Searsport, ME

This is where I discovered that Toll House Pie is a thing that exists. Basically a big, warm chocolate chip Mrs. Fields cookie inside a pie crust. Toll House Pie, where have you been all my life?

Camden Harbor from the top of Mount Battie.

Camden Harbor from the top of Mount Battie.

Rachael Mullins

Camden Hills State Park in Camden, ME

Just before leaving Camden for Portland, we decided to check out the view of Camden Harbor from the top of Mount Battie. The pops of fall color made it that much more breathtaking.

A perfect coastal Maine scene in Rockland.

A perfect coastal Maine scene in Rockland.

Rachael Mullins

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse in Rockland, ME

When I dreamt of coastal New England, this is what I dreamt of. Lighthouses, choppy water, wild and woolly winds. We made it about halfway to the lighthouse before almost being swept off the rocks. That was our cue to turn back.

Banana Cream Pie at Moody's Diner in Waldoboro, ME.

Banana Cream Pie at Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, ME.

Rachael Mullins

Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, ME

Our pie quest continued at Moody’s, which we found out later is one of New England’s most-loved diners (our visit was a happy accident). One bite of the banana cream pie and I could see why these lard-laden pie crusts are so adored. We heard they also did a mean whoopie pie, so grabbed one to go.

Taking in the sights in Portland.

Enjoying the sights in Portland, ME.

Rachael Mullins

Portland Harbor in Portland, ME

We spent a sunny afternoon wandering the harbor of this vibrant city, watching fishermen unload lobster traps from their boats, and dodging the ubiquitous seagulls. The next day, a short ferry ride to Peaks Island and back offered us a new perspective of the harbor.

The famous poutine at Duckfat in Portland.

The famous poutine at Duckfat in Portland.

Rachael Mullins

Duckfat in Portland, ME

Every ‘Best of Portland’ list seemed to namecheck the poutine at Duckfat, and boy were they right. Admittedly we don’t get much poutine in Australia, but by any measure this was exceptional: fries fried in duck fat, duck gravy, local cheese curds. The thick-as-mud chocolate milkshake didn’t hurt either. (Also exceptional was our meal at Eventide Oyster Co.)

Studying the lobster-eating essentials at J’s Oyster.

Studying the lobster-eating essentials at J’s Oyster.

Rachael Mullins

J’s Oyster in Portland, ME

If you want to feel like a Portland local for a night, eat at J’s Oyster. Fishermen mingled with out-of-towners, the drinks poured freely, and the jolly atmosphere made it feel like a special occasion. As a bonus, the placemats were so informative I carried one with me for the rest of the trip in case the need for detailed lobster-eating instructions arose.

Creamy fish chowder at Jake's Seafood in Ogunquit, ME.

Creamy fish chowder at Jake’s Seafood in Ogunquit, ME.

Rachael Mullins

Jake’s Seafood in Ogunquit, ME

Creamy fish chowder with oyster crackers and a haddock sandwich at this no-frills seafood shack. The end of week two of our trip and nope, still not sick of New England food.

Strolling Ogunquit Beach.

Strolling Ogunquit Beach.

Rachael Mullins

Ogunquit, ME

Fading light at the deserted Ogunquit Beach.

Keeping an eye on the seagulls in York, ME.

Keeping an eye on the seagulls in York, ME.

Rachael Mullins

York, ME

The seagulls seemed to run this scenic town.

A stop at the iconic Nubble Light.

A stop at the iconic Nubble Light.

Rachael Mullins

Nubble Lighthouse in Cape Neddick, ME

A flying ‘v’ of gulls pass by at sunset. Nubble Lighthouse has the honor of being one of the images (along with those of the Taj Mahal and Great Wall of China) sent into space on the Voyager spacecraft. Impressive, huh?

Spending Halloween in Portsmouth, NH.

Spending Halloween in Portsmouth, NH.

Rachael Mullins

Portsmouth Halloween Parade in Portsmouth, NH

We’d planned for our night in Portsmouth to coincide with their infamous Halloween parade, and it didn’t disappoint. The boisterous march through the city streets, exceptional costumes and party mood were unlike anything we’d experienced in Australia.

Fried clams at the Clam Box in Ipswitch, MA.

Fried clams at the Clam Box in Ipswich, MA.

Rachael Mullins

Clam Box of Ipswich in Ipswich, MA

Continuing to make the most of the ridiculous number of seaside seafood shacks while we could, we tried some of the legendary fried clams at the Clam Box.

Taking in a Boston Celtics game at the Garden.

Taking in a Boston Celtics game at the Garden.

Rachael Mullins

TD Garden in Boston, MA

Taking in a little Celtics basketball on our first day in Boston.

A fall scene in Boston Common.

A fall scene in Boston Common.

Rachael Mullins

Boston Common in Boston, MA

Following the Freedom Trail for the afternoon gave us an impressive introduction to the city. More than any other city I’ve been to in the US, this one reminds me of Melbourne.

Fresh seafood at Row 34 in Boston.

Fresh seafood at Row 34 in Boston.

Rachael Mullins

Row 34 in Boston, MA

An exceptional meal at the raw bar of the popular Row 34. I’m still dreaming of that salmon rillette…

A stroll through historic (and colorful) Cambridge.

A stroll through historic (and colorful) Cambridge.

Rachael Mullins

Cambridge, MA
Pretty colors in Cambridge, our Boston base, before we took a wander through Harvard University in the hopes that some of the smart would rub off on us.

Making the most of those beautiful Cape Cod sunsets!

Making the most of those beautiful Cape Cod sunsets!

Rachael Mullins

Pamet Harbor in Truro, MA

After a few wrong turns, we pulled in to Pamet Harbor just as the sun was setting. Our first (and only) Cape Cod sunset and it was unforgettable. Those sunset colors…

Going, going, gone.

Going, going, gone.

Rachael Mullins

Pamet Harbor in Truro, MA

Pontoon sunset. Next trip, maybe we could just stay in Cape Cod for three weeks?

Touring the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory in Hyannis, MA.

Touring the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory in Hyannis, MA.

Rachael Mullins

Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory in Hyannis, MA

Why yes, we will take a self-guided tour of your potato chip factory. The air smelled like chips and it was heaven.

Johnnycakes from Jigger’s Hill and Harbor Diner in East Greenwich, RI.

Johnnycakes from Jigger’s Hill and Harbor Diner in East Greenwich, RI.

Rachael Mullins

Jigger’s Hill and Harbor Diner in East Greenwich, RI

Finally got to try some johnnycakes, a New England specialty. Basically pancakes made with cornmeal. Tasty, especially with a side of DIY cheese grits. And all housed inside one of the fast-disappearing 1950s Worcester lunch cars.

Finding beauty at every turn in Newport, RI.

Finding beauty at every turn in Newport, RI.

Rachael Mullins

Newport, RI

We never quite determined what this stuff is, but it sure is pretty. Kinda like being in a Terrence Malick movie.

Newport, RI.

Gooseberry Beach in Newport, RI.

Rachael Mullins

Gooseberry Beach in Newport, RI

Another pristine deserted beach, this time in Rhode Island. I guess if I lived in one of the exquisite Newport mansions we drove past, I’d never venture outdoors either.

Channeling the movies at Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT.

Channeling the movies at Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT.

Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT

Did the typical tourist thing while in Mystic and stopped in at Mystic Pizza (yes, of the actually-pretty-good 80s movie fame). Tacky, of course, but I still bought the bumper sticker.

Lobster buoys in Mystic, CT.

Lobster buoys in Mystic, CT.

Rachael Mullins

Mystic, CT

Those ubiquitous lobster buoys.

Best New England Road Trip

A foggy Mystic morning to say goodbye to New England…for now.

Rachael Mullins

Mystic, CT

A foggy Mystic morning to start our last day of New England roadtrippin’ before returning the hire car and heading to NYC for a week of big-city wanderings. We had a blast, New England, and we’re already planning our next trip to your diverse, delicious, and beguiling corner of the U.S.

Thanks for letting us come along for the ride, Rachael! We wish all New England tours could be as scenic and delicious as yours!

Learn more about some of the stops on Rachael’s road trip:

Which New England tours or road trip stops would make your list?

This post was fist published in 2015 and has been updated.

The post Scenes From a 3-Week New England Foliage Road Trip appeared first on New England Today.



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