5 Day New England Fall Itinerary With Kids [VT and NH]

Vermont and New Hampshire in the fall – bright, vibrant foliage on display everywhere you turn, charming small towns and quaint farmhouses, country stores selling maple syrup and apple cider, and just the best autumn vibes. New Hampshire and Vermont simply do autumn right!

My family and I were able to spend an amazing week exploring these two New England states and I’ve created a 5-day fall itinerary for you and your family to enjoy, complete with cute towns, delicious treats, and fantastic views. So read on for ways to maximize your next leaf-peeping trip.

An Overview of Your 5 Day New England Itinerary

Day 1

  • Weston
  • Dorset
  • Woodstock

Day 2

  • Quechee Gorge
  • Bragg Farm Sugar House & Gift
  • Ben and Jerry’s
  • Cold Hollow Cider Mill
  • Moss Glen Falls

Day 3

  • Stowe
  • Smuggler’s Notch State Park
  • Nichol’s Ledge
  • Maple Grove Farm Museum

Day 4

  • Lake Willoughby
  • Dixville Notch
  • Crawford Notch State Park

Day 5

  • Kancamagus
  • Flume Gorge

Quick Tip: If you’re planning a New England road trip, I recommend reserving a rental car ASAP for the best prices and availability. I always book my car with this rental car aggregate site to find the best deals.

The Detailed 5 Day Itinerary

Day 1: Dorset, Weston, and Woodstock


Dorset is a charming tiny village, with almost the entirety of the town centered around the village green. The town really embraces fall decorations, with beautiful pumpkin displays on porches and around mailboxes.

Stop by the United Church of Dorset, which almost resembles a castle, for a quick photo-op. The 3 Pears Gallery had the cutest porch decor, and the Dorset Union Store is another fun place to stop. The Dorset Bakery is a popular stop just down the street from the Village Green.


Weston is a small town in southern Vermont with historical buildings to visit and fun shops to peruse. The town is on the National Register of Historic Places and was settled in 1761.

I have a post dedicated to all the fun things to see and do in Weston, but for sure don’t miss these charming spots in this small town:

The Old Mill Museum

This mill powered a gristmill in the 1930’s and today has a collection of old industrial tools. The mill sits right on a dam in the river and has a water wheel.

Village Green

Stop by for a charming gazebo and a plaque dedicated to the men from Weston who died in the Civil War.

Vermont Country Store

Many little country stores dot Vermont and New Hampshire, filled with maple syrup products, candy, gifts, souvenirs, toys, treats, jams, clothing, and lots and lots of ways to spend money.

While we had a great time at all the country stores we visited, the Vermont Country Store was easily the biggest and certainly had a lot of charm. Don’t miss the apple cider and hot cocoa in the back of the store and the maple creemees sold outside the store.

The store also has a really cute truck display outside with hale bales, flowers, and pumpkins where you can take pictures.

Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls is an easy 20-minute drive north of Weston and is an easy trail with 3 scenic falls to visit. You can climb and scramble on the rocks around the falls, and during summer people can swim in the pools created by the falls. Our kids LOVED this waterfall hike and getting to play on the rocks.


Woodstock has long been a tourist destination, and has been called “The Prettiest Small Town in America.”

Woodstock Middle Bridge is a notable covered bridge in town you can walk through.

The best parts of town to walk through are situated around the Village Green. Don’t miss walking by the Library, the Courthouse, and the famed Woodstock Inn. There are also lots of boutiques and restaurants, and it’s a charming place to wander around for an hour or two.

Where to Stay:
Woodstock Inn
Woodstocker B&B
Apple Hill Inn – Very convenient on the way to Day 2 location
Courtyard by Marriot or Hampton Inn in Lebanon (chain options that may be a bit cheaper and familiar, half hour from Woodstock, 20 min past gorge, but not crazy to do)

Day 2: Quechee Gorge, Bragg Farm, Ben & Jerry’s, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Moss Glen Falls

Quechee Gorge State Park

Quechee Gorge is a scenic canyon area in middle Vermont. Park at the Visitor Center and then walk back over the bridge for high up views down into the canyon for a quick, but cool, experience.

I’d definitely recommend you also do the Quechee Gorge Trail, which takes you from the Visitor’s Center and down into the gorge itself, following the river.

At the very end of the trail, you can go down into the rocky banks of the river, where there are a lot of rocks to walk across. Here, you get the best views back up the gorge and to the bridge.

Bragg Farm Sugar House & Gift

The Bragg Farm Sugar House had a small “museum” with an old sugar pan on display and a video with some interesting information about how syrup is made. This movie was made in the 80’s so it’s super old school, but we still enjoyed watching it.

There are also some good shakes and creemees for sale at the snack bar here, and while this is a smaller country store, it had some of the best syrup prices we saw in Vermont.

Ben and Jerry’s Factory

The Ben and Jerry’s Factory is a popular destination in Vermont, particularly with children. Here, you can take a tour of the factory or just buy a cone. If you want to do a factory tour, you’ll need to make a reservation well ahead of time – this is a popular attraction and time slots do sell out.

You can also stop by the Ben and Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard, where each tombstone is a flavor that is no longer in production.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a larger country store that sells a wide variety of food and gifts. The focus is particularly on all things apple, and you can get hot apple cider, free cold cider samples, and freshly made apple cider donuts. To be honest, the donuts weren’t our favorites, but it’s still a fun novelty.

Moss Glen Falls

Moss Glen Falls is located northeast of downtown Stowe, and is an easy (about 1/2 mile round trip) and enjoyable hike to a pretty waterfall. A good chunk of the path is on a boardwalk through a swampy area (keep an eye out for beavers!)

The main trail takes you to the best viewpoint at the top of the falls, but you can also follow a short side trail down to the river bank. You can’t really see the waterfall from the river, but it’s fun to play along the water.

Where to Stay:
Brass Lantern Inn
Stowe Village Inn
Little River Inn
Various resorts

Day 3: Stowe and Surrounding Area


The beautiful viewpoint of Stowe Community Church

Stowe is easily the most well-known and popular fall town in New England, and while it is certainly pretty, it is also insanely busy. Traffic going through town is like rush hour traffic in a big city no matter when you go through, and the pedestrian crowds can also be very heavy.

To be frank, we didn’t really feel like spending a lot of time in Stowe due to these factors.

However, there are a few fun spots in Stowe, including the viewpoint of the Stowe Community Church that is just outside of town (you can find the spot here), or the Welcome to Stowe mural that’s on the side of the Lake Champlain Chocolates store.

However, there are a few great spots close to Stowe that I’m recommending you visit next on the itinerary:

Smuggler’s Notch State Park

Smuggler’s Notch State Park is just outside of Stowe and is a nice, scenic drive with a few pullout points to admire the trees and colors, and access trailheads. There are also tons and tons of huge boulders! Our kids loved scrambling and playing on the rocks (not all boulders could be climbed on, but a surprising number of them could be).

Another major feature is Smuggler’s Cave, a winding set of passages in the cliffside with several small chambers. It’s just a short walk up from the parking lot.

From the pass summit parking area, there are several trails you can do, such as Elephant Head. Keep an eye out for peregrine falcons which nest in the park.

Nichol’s Ledge

This is a fabulous hike to do with kids that is not too far from Stowe. The trailhead is about an hour outside of town, and is an overall easy trail with a few steep sections. The effort is well worth it, though, as the summit is on a ridge overlooking Nichol’s Pond and surrounded by beautiful, colorful trees.

The drop-offs here are pretty steep, so exercise caution at the top, but the views are insane. This was one of our kids’ favorite stops in Vermont.

The trail is closed from March 1 to August 1 to protect the nesting peregrine falcons.

Maple Grove Farm Museum

While the Maple Grove Farm Museum was easily the smallest of all the country stores we visited, it had a lot going for it! They had a good selection of syrup, and the best prices on syrup overall that we saw in Vermont.

Their other goods and foodstuffs looked really good, the creemees were fantastic, and the farm museum was a quick but interesting spot to visit.

The farm museum was in a separate log cabin right next to the store, and inside was an old syrup mill, complete with an old evaporator on display with some signage to show how it was used. Other tools used for tapping the trees were also on display here.

Where to Stay:
Comfort Inn and Suites (St. Johnsbury)
Cherry House bed and breakfast (St. J)
The Notch House (Lake Willoughby)

Day 4: Lake Willoughby, Table Rock, Mount Washington

Lake Willoughby

Lake Willoughby is located in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (an incredibly scenic, less visited area of Vermont), and is a pristine lake surrounded by mountains and trees.

The lake has a sandy beach with shallow waters and is great for wading, paddleboarding, or kayaking. You can swim in the lake (and we did see several people swimming), but the water is very cold, so we didn’t actually dive all the way in. Instead, we had a great time just wading and playing on the shore.

If you’re up for a hike, the mountains around the lake have several great trails on them. In particular, Mount Pisgah is a great trail with views down over the water, but it is a difficult trail – 4 miles round trip, with 1600 feet of elevation gain.

Table Rock Trail

The Table Rock Trail is near Dixville Notch State Park in New Hampshire and overlooks Lake Gloriette. This trail is short but fairly steep and is a moderately challenging trail. The summit is insanely gorgeous though, and felt like such a classic “New England in the fall” viewpoint.

Note that the summit is actually on a small rocky outcropping that is skinny and sheer. While there’s plenty of room for people to walk past each other and enjoy the view, you do absolutely need to be careful here, especially if visiting with young children who don’t know better.

Our kids (12, 10, 8, 6) did fine with the safety procedures and loved the spot, so I think it’s a great place to visit with kids in elementary school or higher.

Additionally, there are a few pulloff spots as you are driving on Route 26 right along the lake that offer amazing viewpoints and photo spots at ground level.

Mount Washington

The visit to Mount Washington ended up being a surprising favorite for our family! Mount Washington is the highest peak in New Hampshire, and also in the entire New England area.

There are a few ways that you can get to the top: The Cog Train Railway, driving yourself up in your car, and hiking (which is obviously a big trek, and not one I’d recommend with kids).

If you’re coming with kids, either the train or the drive-up yourself will be a great option. We decided to drive up in our van, and our kids ended up really loving the experience. The road is 8 miles to the top, full of switchbacks, sharp edges, and incredible vistas over the mountains and valleys below.

There are many pull-off spots to admire the views and give your car a rest. I’d recommend driving all the way up without stopping at the viewpoints, and then making your stops as you come down – your car’s brake system will need the break anyway.

When you reach the top, you’ll find a signpost marking the Mount Washington summit. There is also a gift shop and café, as well as bathrooms. Be prepared for extremely windy conditions at the summit, in fact, the highest wind speed ever observed by humans was recorded here (231 mph)!

I’d plan for 2-3 hours to do the round-trip drive and spend time at the top.

  • Hours: Roughly mid morning to sunset
  • Fees: Car and Driver: 45, each additional adult: 20, Children 5-12: 10

Crawford Notch State Park

Silver Cascade

End your day by driving through Crawford Notch State Park, which offers a scenic drive through mountain ranges. Stop at Flume Cascade and Silver Cascade, which are located right off of Highway 302, which goes right through the middle of the park.

If you want to do more hiking, Arethusa Falls and Davis Falls are nearby.

Where to Stay: Conway
Adventure Suites
Residence Inn (Marriot)
North Conway Grand Hotel

Day 5: Kancamagus Highway, Flume Gorge


Conway is the start of the Kancamagus Highway, and there are two stops you need to make in town. First, fuel up with some delicious homemade donuts at Leavitt’s Country Bakery.

Then, stop at the Kancamagus Visitor Center to buy a $5 car pass for the highway. You can also just buy a pass at any parking lot, or if you have the National Parks Pass, that is valid here too. But, if you have kids, I also highly recommend getting the Junior Ranger booklets so that your kids can get a Junior Ranger badge. Our kids have really loved doing these activities.

The Kancamagus is gorgeous, especially during the fall, but it’s very popular and gets extremely busy. We were up and out early (we started driving the highway by 8am) and were able to hit a few spots before the crowds really got bad, which was absolutely the right decision here. I’d recommend you prioritize an early start as well.

Kancamagus Highway

The Kancamagus is a famous scenic highway in New Hampshire, which has many picturesque stops along the way. The highway is part of New Hampshire Route 112 and is 56 miles long, running east-west between the towns of Conway and Lincoln and goes through the White Mountain National Forest.

If you’re driving east to west (so from Conway to Lincoln), you’ll be driving higher into the White Mountains and the fall foliage will be more advanced as you progress. Plan for at least half a day to really enjoy all that the Kancamagus has to offer.

I have an entire post dedicated to the best stops along the Kancamagus Highway and what to expect as you drive, but here are our top 3 highlights:

Albany Covered Bridge

This stop has a charming covered bridge, as the name implies, and you can walk down to the river for great views of the water looking back at the bridge.

Lower Falls

I think this was my kids’ favorite spot on the whole highway. This is an extremely rocky section of the river, with multiple small cascades. There are a ton of rocks and boulders that stick above the water, and you can explore and hop between rocks all up and down the riverbank and in the middle of the water.

Sabbaday Falls

A pleasant, 0.6 mile round trip walk through the forest brings you to this pretty, multi-tiered waterfall that follows a fault line. It is especially unique as the falls make a sharp, 90-degree turn in the middle of the cascade due to the fault.

There is a wooden boardwalk right along the falls so you can admire them from various vantage points.

Flume Gorge

Flume Gorge in New Hampshire is a natural marvel. Imagine walking through a narrow, towering chasm, with walls that stretch up to 90 feet high in places with rushing streams coursing by. Moss coats the walls and water drips all around. It’s like stepping into a different world.

The wooden boardwalk snaking through the gorge allows you to get up close and personal with this geological wonder without disturbing its natural beauty. As you stroll, the sound of the Pemigewasset River rushing below adds to the serene yet awe-inspiring atmosphere.

One of the highlights of Flume Gorge is the diverse range of sights you encounter. Each turn on the trail brings something new – from small, cascading waterfalls to tranquil pools, and vibrant foliage that seems to cling to every surface.

Tips for Visiting New England in the Fall with Kids

Download Offline Maps

No matter where you visit in New England, you’ll be driving through some areas that have very spotty cell reception and zero data. You ABSOLUTELY need to download offline maps so that you can navigate even when you are in a dead zone. It’s super easy to do and only takes a couple of minutes – here are my directions for how to download offline maps.

Make a Google Map of All Your Pinned Spots (or Save Mine!)

Before any trip, I always make a custom Google Map of all the spots we have on our itinerary – it makes planning beforehand and navigating when you’re there much easier. I’d highly recommend either making your own, or you can save the map I’ve created with all the locations in this guide (below).

Plan for a Variety of Weather Conditions

New England in the fall sees constantly changing weather conditions. Foggy or rainy weather is going to obscure any viewpoint, and you may need anywhere from a heavy coat, to a light jacket, to just a t-shirt. I’d recommend bringing layers so that you can easily adapt to the changing forecast.

Make Hotel Reservations Well in Advance

New England in the fall is a popular destination (and for good reason!) – the views, the hikes, the ambiance, is just perfection. But, of course, with that comes crowds, and hotels can fill up well ahead of travel dates.

I’d for sure recommend making your hotel reservations well in advance to get the best deals and availability. You can browse available hotels on Booking.com – my preferred hotel aggregate site!

Best Time to Visit

Generally speaking, the first and second weeks of October are usually the best for catching peak fall foliage. However, that comes with a big disclaimer! The exact dates for peak colors vary year to year depending on the weather throughout the year.

And it’s going to be near impossible to experience peak colors at all the spots you’ll visit in New England – northern areas are faster to turn colors than southern areas, and higher elevations are also faster to come to peak than lower elevations.

We happened to visit on a year when peak ended up being fairly delayed, and heavy rains in summer had muted some of the fall colors. Still, even though we (mostly) were just a little too early for true peak foliage, the views were still gorgeous.

Our Overall Favorites (Can’t Miss These Ones)

We loved all the stops that we highlighted on this itinerary, but if we had to choose, the following would be our top must-do’s:

  • Dorset and Weston
  • Buttermilk Falls
  • Lake Willoughby
  • Nichol’s Ledge
  • Table Rock
  • Smuggler’s Notch
  • Kancamagus (esp river stops)
  • Mount Washington

Map of Your New England Itinerary

[Coming Soon]

5 Days in New England in the Fall (With Kids) – The Wrap Up

This fall foliage trip in Vermont and New Hampshire was one of our kids’ favorite trips to date. It’s a fun mix of cool hikes, charming small towns, fun country stores, and pretty waterfalls and gorges.

Plus, the beautiful colors of the fall leaves in New England are sure to wow everyone in your group, from small children to seasoned adults!

Pin for Later!

Similar Posts