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With its scenic roadways, mountains, and lighthouses, New England heaves with beauty year-round, but the region’s hallmark is fall. As the weather gets cooler, flame-hued leaves provide a kaleidoscope of color for locals and visitors alike.

Between all of its epic landscapes, quaint coastal towns, and seafood-driven cuisine, New England is full of picturesque destinations for weekend getaways. Whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend away, a family leaf-peeping excursion, or a weekend filled with action-packed outdoor activities, there is no lack of things to do in New England. Here are three idyllic New England destinations perfect for an autumn weekend getaway.

3 New England Weekend Getaways

Providence, Rhode Island

Providence is the largest city in the country’s smallest state. Located at the nexus of three rivers, Providence is a waterside retreat with a burgeoning art scene, making it a huge draw for art lovers, history buffs, and foodies.

Visitors can travel to Providence by commuter train or bus, or fly directly into T.F. Green International Airport (PVD). At about 20 square miles, it’s possible to explore the city on foot. However, rideshare and taxis are available throughout the city. If you opt to drive to Providence, it’s approximately an hour from Boston and three and half hours from New York City.

Between September and December, the city’s three rivers are set ablaze for the annual WaterFire art exhibit. The public art installation features more than 80 floating bonfires. Savor the art by bringing a picnic to enjoy on the lawn in Waterplace Park or book a gondola ride on the river to get close to the burning fires.

WaterFire Providence, a New England weekend getaway idea

September through December, the rivers in Providence are set ablaze by the WaterFire exhibit. Image: Facebook

In addition to its art scene, Providence is also a hip college town. Several prestigious institutions like Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) call this city home. Take a stroll through the College Hill neighborhood to tour the Brown or RISD campuses, get a glimpse of the country’s first baptist church, or view historic homes that line the streets of this neighborhood.

Check in to The Beatrice. This new boutique hotel is in the heart of downtown Providence.

Houses in College Hill neighborhood, a New England weekend getaway idea

The College Hill neighborhood offers plenty of eye candy in the form of historic homes. Image: Filetime via Wikimedia Commons

Lobby of The Beatrice in Providence, RI

The Beatrice is a boutique hotel located right in the heart of Providence. Image: Facebook

RELATED: How to Spend a Weekend in Rhode Island

Portland, Maine

Portland is a quintessential New England destination and Maine’s most populous city. Located on a peninsula that stretches into Casco Bay, Portland is a beautiful place for a weekend jaunt. If you’re eager to meander down bucolic roadways and few stopovers, it’s best to drive. Portland is about a two-hour drive from Boston.

To get a sense of the place, the historic seaport district of Old Port is a great place to start. This waterfront area is known for its picturesque cobblestone streets, working fishing wharves, and Maine-style seafood. The area is lined with restaurants, bars, and shops. Stroll over to the Victoria Mansion for a look at its 19th-century architecture — the house is both a historic landmark and museum. Next, head to the Portland Museum of Art to marvel at the collections in one of the oldest public art institutes in the country.

Working waterfront in Portland, Maine, a New England weekend getaway idea

Old Port, Portland’s historic seaside district, is bustling with working fishermen, restaurants, and shops. Image: Serena Folding

Lobster crates on Portland, Maine, dock

Does it get more ‘New England’ than lobster crates stacked on a Portland dock? Image: Kirsten Alana

In addition to its historical significance, Portland is also an epicurean haven. Foodies looking to slurp up fresh oysters or chow down on lobster, this city is for you. Each year, Portland has an oyster festival featuring locally sourced bivalves and beer.

You can’t visit Maine without seeing a lighthouse. Head over to Fort Williams Park, which is about a 15-minute drive from the city’s center, to see the Portland Head Lighthouse.  This iconic lighthouse is perched on a rocky bluff above the sea. Built during George Washington’s presidency in 1791, it is the oldest lighthouse still in use in the United States. It’s also among the most photographed lighthouses in the country. There is a museum inside the lighthouse with interactive displays. After the lighthouse tour, take a stroll through the Old Port area.

lobster rolls

Lobster rolls are an absolute must when you’re visiting this region. Image: Kirsten Alana

Portland Head Lighthouse

The Portland Head Lighthouse is an iconic, must-see spot in Portland. Image: Kirsten Alana

If you’d rather try out your sea legs, hop on a boat for a whale-watching cruise or take a ferry to explore the nearby stunning Cliff Island and Peaks Island in Casco Bay.

From there, it’s a short drive to the Portland Harbor Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel located in the heart of the Old Port District.  The hotel lobby is filled with restaurants and bars!

RELATED: 5 Southern Weekend Getaway Ideas

The Berkshires, Massachusetts

Located in the southwest corner of Massachusetts, the Berkshires are a collection of roughly 30 New England towns known for deep historical roots, ample culture, and lush forests. Most of this area is undeveloped and rural, which lends itself to leaf-peeping, charming bed and breakfasts, and thrilling outdoor activities.

The Berkshires is just a three-hour drive from Boston and New York City. The best way to get to the Berkshires is by car. If you prefer to fly, the closest airport is the Albany Airport (ALB), about an hour’s drive away, and next is the Bradley International Airport (BDL), which is about an hour and a half drive from the Berkshires.

The Berkshires extend from the Vermont border to the Connecticut state line. If you love to hike, this area boasts plenty of hiking trails. Monument Mountain in Great Barrington is a popular hike. With a summit of more than 1,600 feet, it offers panoramic views of the Housatonic River Valley. Mount Greylock State Reservation has the highest peak in the state of Massachusetts. Visitors can hike or drive to the top and soak in the views. On a clear day, five states can be seen from its summit.

The Berkshires in Massachusetts, a New England weekend getaway idea

The Berkshires region offers ample opportunities for hiking. Get a load of that view! Image: 1Berkshire

The Berkshires is also home to a few famous Americans, including writers Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, artist Norman Rockwell and author and civil rights leader W.E.B. DuBois. The Norman Rockwell Museum is in Stockbridge and features nearly 1,000 of Rockwell’s original paintings and drawings. Visitors can also take a self-guided walking tour of DuBois’s childhood home and other historic sites in Great Barrington. The Herman Melville Arrowhead Museum, located in Pittsfield, shares the life story of the famed Moby Dick author.

Catch a show at Tanglewood, an open-air music pavilion, and the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Then, check in to the nearby Hampton Terrace Inn, a beautiful bed and breakfast located in Lenox, just five minutes from the music center.

Here’s to new adventures!


For more great travel destinations, tips, and more, visit our archives.

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