6 romantic autumn spots in New England

6 romantic autumn spots in New England

Crisp leaves, intense, fiery colours and striking sunsets: America’s New England is the autumn capital of the world

The arrival of autumn in New England's six states - Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont - is impossibly romantic. The pyrotechnic show of startling colours lights up each state, sweeping through valleys and blazing across forests, making a great backdrop for a road trip. So pack up the car, grab a blanket to snuggle under and explore our top six romantic spots.

1. East Burke, Vermont

Nestled in the Northeast Kingdom, at the foot of Burke Mountain the village of East Burke feels like another world. Unspoilt and relaxed with an intense beauty, the town makes the perfect base to explore the 3,000-foot mountain that towers above. From hiking trails to mountain biking, the area is an activity-loving couple's dream, with miles upon miles of riotously coloured routes to traverse.

More into culture? Coincide your visit with the Burke Fall Foliage Festival - held on the last Saturday in September the festival hosts a craft show, BBQ, beer and wine tent, parade and live music (last year the festival celebrated its 25th anniversary).

Stay: Inn at Mountain View Farm. This 440-acre historic farm boasts a spectacular hilltop view. From $175 per night.

2. Mount Washington, New Hampshire

You're guaranteed to hear the words 'tallest', 'coldest' and 'windiest' thrown about when talking about Mount Washington, but unbelievable is probably the most fitting. This 6,288-foot mountain is New England's highest peak and the best way to enjoy the view is to drive along the most spectacular eight miles in New Hampshire - the Mount Washington Auto Road. For $34 (one car and two adults) you can undertake the rapidly varied drive and enjoy unbridled views of the scorchingly bright foliage. Included in the price is an audio tour on CD that shares information about the roads history and legend, as well as a 'This Car Climbed MT. Washington' bumper sticker. The perfect romantic road trip.

If you'd rather give driving a miss hop on the Mount Washington Cog - the world's first mountain climbing train. The cog has been running for 150 years and carries passengers to the summit where you can take in the mountains and valleys of New Hampshire, Maine,Vermont and even Canada.

Stay: Omni Mount Washington Hotel. Try out their 'Romance Remembered' package (from $289 per night), which includes a bottle of champagne and breakfast in bed.

3. Kennebunkport, Maine

Breathtaking beaches and historic architecture are set against a backdrop of abundant woods in Kennebunkport. This elegant New England town has a distinctly old New England feel and in the autumn the leaves blaze brightly against the blue sea.

Dock Square is the main hub of the town and is located along the North Atlantic Ocean and Kennebunk River. The area is known for its seafood and the square is filled with intimate restaurants as well as boutique shops and art galleries. The square is bursting with charm and some of the shops are so close to the river that they literally hang over the edge.

Kennebunkport has three historic districts which are definitely worth a visit - make sure you stop off at the Seashore Trolley Museum - and a romantic sunset drive to nearby Walker's Point is a must. Located on a sharp tip along the ocean coast, the point, which plays host to former President George W Bush in the summer months, is a great place to stop the car and sit on the rocks that look out onto the ocean.

Stay: Kennebunkport Inn. With a traditional New England Inn style and a spacious porch and sun deck, the inn has views over the Kennebunk River. Rooms from $199 per night.

4. Boylston, Massachusetts

A small, rural community in central Massachusetts, Boylston is a great off-the-beaten-path place to drink in the autumn foliage as the leaves undergo their fiery turn. The peak of colour tends to clash with the astronomically busy Columbus Day weekend (late September-early October) meaning Boylston is the ideal place to escape the crowds for a romantic stop off.

The town is best known for having New England's first and only comprehensive Botanic Garden at Tower Hill. With a panoramic view of Mount Wachusett and the Wachusett Reservoir, the gardens display hundreds of trees and shrubs all in their autumnal glory. Pay a visit during Columbus Day weekend (12-14 October) and enjoy the annual Harvestival celebration, featuring a farmer's market and taste-testing tours of the famous antique apple orchard.

Stay: Classic Suites and Inn. Located just outside Boylston near Wachusett Reservoir, this inn offers basic accommodation at an affordable price. From $89 per night based on two sharing.

5. Lake Waramaug, Connecticut

Tucked into the north-west corner of Connecticut, this tranquil area of natural beauty was named after a Native American Chief. The eight-mile drive around the perimeter of the lake is especially idyllic in autumn when the golds and reds of the leaves reflect off the water. Stop off for a secluded picnic, hire a canoe or kayak or pitch a tent at the Lake Waramaug State Park and enjoy a romantic night's sleep overlooking the rippling water.

Wine lovers will appreciate a quick tipple at Hopkins Vineyard. Set in the rolling hills of Litchfield County, the farm has been owned and run by the Hopkins family for over 225 years and has been producing wines since 1979. The vineyard produces award-winning whites, reds and sparkling wines, and offers both wine tasting and guided tours. Grab a glass in the wine bar and share a sunset moment with your loved one.

Stay: The Hopkins Inn. A 19th century country inn overlooking the lake, The Hopkins offers cottage style rooms with antique furniture and floral décor. Rooms from $120 per room.

6. Newport, Rhode Island

A change from the small, secluded towns in New England, Newport on the southern tip of Aquidneck Island is a thriving cosmopolitan city. That said there are still plenty of opportunities to steal a private, romantic moment. Rhode Island State itself boasts 400 miles of coastline and the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk that wraps along the eastern coastline of Newport makes a picturesque stroll. Combining the natural beauty of the shoreline with the architectural history of the city, most of the walk is easy, but parts of the southern half are more rugged so pack some good walking boots and maybe a picnic.

20% of the US's landmarks sit in Rhode Island and Newport itself is home to the country's largest collection of colonial houses, which form an architectural gallery in the Old Quarter. Explore the vibrant streets and thriving heritage, taking in traditional buildings like the Redwood Library and the Armory. Snuggle up over a clam chowder in the White Horse Tavern - this 17th century pub has been serving the inhabitants of Newport since 1673.

For more seafood offerings, visit 19-20 October and stuff your bellies at the Bowen's Wharf Seafood Festival. With a live music tent and more oysters and lobsters than you can imagine, the festival is a great excuse to put on your dancing shoes!

Stay: Forty 1° North. This high-end hotel is both eco-friendly and high-tech with chic rooms and amazing harbour views. Doubles from $349 per night.


Image: Maine Office of Tourism

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