Great Tips for Checking Out the New England Foliage on a Shoestring Budget

RelayRides blogger Nicholas Pell shares some of his insights into the best way to go leaf peeping on the cheap this fall

These days, I rest my head in Hollywood, but I grew up in a suburb of Providence, RI. While having sunshine year round isn’t bad, the thing I miss most about New England is the fall. There is nothing more perfect than Boston in October. The crisp air, the colorful sunsets and, of course, the leaves. People travel from far and wide to get a glimpse of New England leaves in the fall. But you don’t have to break the bank to have a top-notch time in this historic region of the United States.

Getting There

Buying flights as far in advance of your travels is always a good idea, but driving in has a lot more character. You can rent a car just about anywhere in New England, and the entire US for that matter, on the cheap through the peer-to-peer carsharing service RelayRides, and the money will go to help another person much like yourself rather than a big rental company. Plus, rates are between 40 to 50% lower than traditional rental car companies. If you rent a car for less, you can see way more in the way of the New England countryside using back roads and state highways. This provides a travel experience that flying into Logan International Airport never will.

Getting Around

If you’re in Boston you won’t need a car, but only taking the MBTA means you won’t see much in the way of leaves and the other scenery that makes New England beautiful in the fall. Again, renting a car from like Katrina’s Volkswagon, Gracie, for $50 a day from RelayRides is a great option that will not break the bank. You’ll also have the freedom to get out of the bigger cities and into the areas of New England that are a bit more off the beaten path. Smaller towns, villages and hamlets have a lot more to offer in terms of the natural wonders of fall than the big urban hubs of Providence, Boston and Worcester (pronounced “Wistah” by natives).

Where to Stay

The archetypal New England lodging experience is the bed and breakfast. There’s no shortage of bed and breakfasts for you to stay at in New England and you’ll get to interact with real New Englanders when you stay at a place like this. You’ll also get a chance to sample local New England cuisine. Boston baked beans are a must and the region is known for its fresher than fresh seafood, with many local eateries heading down to the docks to procure the freshest of the fresh on a daily basis. A good place to start your search for the perfect B&B would be this nifty top-10 list from Frommer’s.

Local Cuisine

I covered it a bit above, but there’s more to New England food than baked beans and lobster. Check out quahogs, hard clams that gave their name to the town Family Guy takes place in. If you go early enough in the fall, you can grab a Del’s Lemonade, a frosty staple of hot summer New England days. Speaking of drinks, no trip to New England is complete without a glass of the official state drink of Rhode Island, coffee milk. Vermont and Maine are known for top-notch cheeses, such as the great cheeses produced at the Cellars at Jasper Hill, so wine aficionados will have something truly special to pair their vino with. Apples will be in season and you’ve never had a Granny Smith until you’ve had it fresh in rural New England on a fall morning.


New England is one of the most historic regions of the United States. You can see lots of Revolutionary War and pre-Columbian locations. Plymouth Rock in Plymouth is a stone’s throw from Plymouth Plantation, which reenacts the colonial days of the region. Bunker Hill in Boston is an important Revolutionary War site. Providence is home to the First Baptist Church in America, the oldest Baptist Church in the New World. St. Croix Island is the first French settlement in the region and is in Maine. Portsmouth, NH is the third-oldest city in the United States and filled with historic buildings and monuments.


A good rule of thumb is that if there’s a covered bridge, you’re in for some good leafing. Some prime leafing locations include:

Route 100 in Vermont

Dartmouth College in New Hampshire

Kancamagus Scenic Highway in New Hampshire

Acadia National Park Loop Road in Maine

Route 1 in Maine

Blackstone River Valley in Rhode Island

Route 169 in Connecticut

Old King’s Highway in Massachusetts

Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts

Don’t forget to bring your camera!

Photo Credit: Nicholas_T