Autumn happens to be this Maven’s favorite time to hit the road. Even if I don’t stop anywhere, the Fall Road Trip itself, featuring leaves in various shades of back-to-school clothes, highlights Mother Nature in her most monumental beauty. For us New Englanders, it’s a timeless pursuit that engenders a Spring Feverish feeling. And it’s even more compelling this year, because we were cheated out of Spring Fever. For real.
Whereas early in the Covid-era (circa March 2020), a weekend road trip anywhere seemed incomprehensible, now, with proper masking, distancing, and deep cleaning, you can minimize the risk of getting sick by traveling in your own car, and staying and eating in towns that have tamped down virus cases dramatically.
To make the most of a tough travel year, the Getaway Mavens hook you up with Departments of Tourism in all 12 Northeast US States from Virginia to Maine. And as a bonus, we add information about a “back to nature” travel search platform, so you can find the mountain cabin, or riverside yurt of your dreams.
The following links to worthy Fall Road Trips come directly from State Tourism websites: some more detailed than others. And, to help quell the hungries on longer road trips, I’ve added my favorite new (and old) snacks and drinks.
I’ve listed all 12 states from the most detailed weekend road trip ideas (including turn by turn directions, attractions, restaurants, and hotels) to the least (which provide rough ideas but leaves the mapping and searching to you). In between are State Tourism websites that involve a bit more work – like clicking through links to get the maps and info you need. No matter where in the Northeast you live, you’ll find a relevant fall road trip to get you out there again.
Just remember to check ahead for Covid openings and closures.
Fall Foliage Road Trips State-By-State Northeast US
Connecticut Fall Road Trips
These seven individual loop drive itineraries provide precise road trips, with turn-by-turn directions. Less work means more pleasure. Connecticut breaks it down by peak foliage time (early October in some regions, later October into November in others) and mileage (70 to 115 miles). These bite-sized loops include the best of the state: from art centers to orchards; luxury B&B’s and best restaurants; vineyards to antiques. And, of course, those beautiful trees. Check out GetawayMavens.com for more information on each CT town.
Maryland Fall Road Trips
I’d say that Maryland’s website, in ease of road trip info, is neck and neck with my state of CT. Here, Maryland Tourism breaks out 18 Scenic Byways, with mileage and maps, and places to stop and stay. Care for seaside? Chesapeake? Civil War Battlefields? City Life? Maryland has it all – laid out for you in delightful fashion. Check out GetawayMavens.com for more information on Maryland destinations.
Virginia Weekend Road Trips
Virginia’s flirty tagline, “Virginia Is For Lovers,” is especially relevant when Mother Nature is at her flashiest: cool weather setting the stage for loving snuggles and caresses. Virginia, with its mountains and beaches and all kinds of terrain, has also provided some of the most detailed Road Trip ideas on its Wanderlove page. From shoreline to mountains, Virginia in the fall is a thing of staggering beauty, the view from every turn, breathtaking. For more information on each Virginia town, check out GetawayMavens.com.
New Jersey Fall Road Trips
If you only know New Jersey from The Soprano’s or Jersey Shore, you might laugh at the state’s tagline – The Garden State. But drive to all of its corners, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. And you’ll understand why this underappreciated state is worthy of your time. The state’s Road Trip NJ page offers 8 road trip ideas from 23 to 122 miles. Take in farms and lighthouses; the Atlantic Ocean and Hudson River; Pine Barrens and Palisades. Get information on New Jersey destinations here.
New Hampshire Fall Road Trips
One of the most popular states for Fall Foliage viewing, New Hampshire offers a selection of detailed road trips on its Scenic Drive page, divided by region. Nature has blessed NH with a seacoast, lakes, mountains, and woods. All provide gripping autumn vistas for the road tripper. More info about NH destinations can be found here.
Massachusetts Fall Road Trips
The State of MA lets you in on its top things to do during Fall Foliage. This includes a collection of drives, from the Atlantic coastline to the Berkshire Mountain range on its western flank. You’ll also find a Peak Foliage map to let you know when to go. I can attest to the sublime views in woodsy Massachusetts. Every year, when I was in college, my friends and I would take weekend fall foliage forays on the North/South Route 7, and the East/West Mohawk Trail (Route 2). We’d pack picnics and meander. Ultimate bliss. Check out GetawayMavens.com for more information on Massachusetts destinations.
Rhode Island Road Trips
For a small State, Rhode Island harbors considerable assets, especially in coastal beauty. Find 7 ideas on this Scenic Drives page that take you past beaches, farms, historic mills, mansions, and bridges. Rhode Island may be tiny, but the vistas are mesmerizing. See more info about Rhode Island destinations here.
Pennsylvania Fall Road Trips
These “Jaw Dropping Scenic Fall Drives in Pennsylvania” are kind of vague, and varied, but steer you in the right direction. Some are region-specific, but two distinct routes – Route 30 and Route 6 – span the whole state east to west. You’ll have to click through several links and more – and then still do some searching on your own. The Pennsylvania countryside embodies the best of Mother Nature. You can’t go wrong on any back road. For more PA info, consult the GetawayMavens.com.
Delaware Weekend Road Trips
Delaware provides ideas for “The Outdoor Lover,” “The Laid Back Visitor,” and “The History Lover,” with suggestions on What To See, Where to Dine, and Where to Stay in each category. Readers should expect to research each attraction and to map out a personal itinerary for themselves. One thing I do know: Delaware represents the Gold Standard in managing its State Parks. Each has a range of programming to enhance the experience. My favorites? Trap Pond SP, with the northernmost Baldcypress trees emerging from the water; and Cape Henlopen SP with WWII history and an extensive list of activities. GetawayMavens.com has more information on Delaware destinations here.
New York Fall Road Trips
Nothing like driving on back roads in autumn to remind you that life can be good, and doesn’t need to cost a fortune. I Love NY provides just a tease of delights to be had on its Scenic Byways page – bookended by the Atlantic Oceanside Hamptons on the East and the magnificent Niagara Falls out West. Many visitors are flabbergasted by the expanse of New York State. But us locals know that it’s so much more than NYC. The GetawayMavens.com fill you in on individual New York destinations.
Vermont Fall Foliage Road Trips
Though not specific to Fall excursions, Vermont offers itineraries galore around its ten Scenic Byways. Vermont has well earned its clout in the realm of New England Fall Foliage sightseeing. Trees, in shades of fiery red, orange, and yellow, blanket mountainsides. White steepled village churches seem to exist expressly for photo ops. In October, it really doesn’t matter where you go in Vermont. The driving experience alone allows you to luxuriate in the season. More about Vermont destinations on GetawayMavens.com.
Maine Fall Road Trips
Maine showcases the best of their natural resources on its Trip Idea page. Not exactly designed as turnkey road-trips, you’ll nevertheless find something special in several categories. Choose from Lobsters, Lighthouses, Gardens, and Wildlife for your own personal Maine. In the fall, head inland to the border with New Hampshire. The richly pigmented foliage seems totally photo-shopped. More about Maine destinations can be found on GetawayMavens.com.
Favorite New England Fall Foliage Road Trips, c/o Yankee Magazine
The Getaway Mavens know a lot about New England (as one of us – yours truly – was born and raised in Connecticut). But we defer to the ultimate experts at Yankee Magazine who have had their ear to the ground on all things New England for 85 years. As an added bonus, and for your fall foliage pleasure – here’s Yankee’s 14 Favorite Fall Drives in New England.
YONDER – A Unique Travel Search Platform for Back-To-Nature Lovers
Yonder features experiences from stewards who are the owners and operators of the properties listed on Yonder and whose livelihood depends on the protection and sustainability of their land and heritage. With Yonder you can book a variety of overnight stays and activities at farms, ranches, vineyards, and other nature immersive properties.
But First, Stock Up
Sweet Stuff for Weekend Road Trips
If water bores you, chemically-enhanced drinks scare you, and electrolyte concoctions have too many calories, Pricklee – dreamed up by pharmacists and made with real prickly pear juice – should be your road-trippin’ drink. “Caffeine and bubble-free,” these 12 oz cans of slightly sweet beverages are only 35 calories, and help you moisturize your body from the inside out. It’s my new favorite drink post-workout and mid-drive. $32.50 for a 12-pack.
It’s granola for Paleos! And it comes in delish flavors like Maple Pancake, Apple Pie, Chocolate Fix, and Cinnamon Blueberry. For those who hunger for fruits, seeds, and nuts, this granola – without an ounce of grains, dairy, oats, preservatives, or soy – was made for you. While, of course, it’s a breakfast food, my family has been known to break into certain pouches of Paleonola on our long road trips – particularly the “Chocolate Fix,” which has proven irresistible. $8.99 per 10 oz pouch.
As toffees go, Amelia Toffee is a masterpiece of confection. In flavors of Sea Salt, Coffee, Bourbon, Orange, and more, each tiny crunchy melt-in-your-mouth triangle is robed in chocolate and bits of roasted almonds. Two are enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. Each serving size (about 4 pieces) is just 150 calories. It’s my guilty pleasure on long cold-weather drives. $7 for 3oz bag.
Salty Stuff for Weekend Road Trips
The only savory snacks worth their salt, in my humble opinion, are Potato Chips. (That’s just me being subjective). The following are my faves – all made in Northeast US.
Dark Russet Cape Cod Potato Chips (MA)
Dark Russet Cape Cod chips, the deeply flavored delight of a well-done potato (also how I like my fries), are my go-to road trip snack food whenever I can find it.
Route 11 Potato Chips (VA)
My second favorite chip happens to be made, yep, on one of the prettiest byways in Virginia. I like almost all the flavors except Old Bay. Could never wrap my mind around it.
Charles Chips (PA)
This blast from my Boomer past (delivered monthly to our home) is now back! And just as I remember them.