New England, synonymous with beautiful fall colours and stunning countryside. The perfect weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of New York city. Indeed, many New Yorkers own cottages and cabins in the six states that make up New England – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. It’s easy to understand why – apart from getting far more for your dollar, the peace and tranquility couldn’t be further removed from the madness of NYC.
For our weekend away, we decided on Alton in New Hampshire, chosen quite randomly based on its location on Lake Winnipesaukee and the fact it wasn’t a massive distance from Manchester which amused us (having moved over from the original Manchester, UK). Winnipesaukee is a vast lake situated over 500 feet above sea level. Forget Windermere in the Lake district (a mere 5.6 square miles in surface area). Winnipesaukee has a surface area covering 72 square miles with a circumference of 182 miles. It’s also a bit of an outdoor sports paradise. Watersports such as sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, and swimming are available in the warmer months (unless you are brave). Snowsports in the winter plus climbing, hiking, cycling, horse riding and even diving… and then there is the stunning colour display in fall.
Getting anywhere in New England can be relatively straightforward from NYC, as long as you like driving. A car is essential, many areas really aren’t covered by public transport. Remember, this isn’t like driving through a few English counties. States are big… really big… so be prepared for long driving days. The upside is that, by and large, the roads will be unbelievable for those used to UK roads. Fabulous highways, light in traffic, wind their way through the trees with sudden and incredible views or meander through small and picturesque towns. New England is also home to many covered bridges which are always worth a detour. We opted to fly to Boston Logan airport and travel on from there, saving us a couple of hours of driving, though this did bring us in contact with some real traffic.
Accommodation is easy to come by. Alongside the many hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, camping and cabins available throughout the region, Air BNB has opened up a whole world of additional properties. We chose a beautiful cabin deep in the forest. While it was totally off the beaten track and surrounded by trees, it was a short drive to shops and restaurants. Perfect! It gave us easy access to the lake and all it’s amenities, other local towns such as Wolfeboro, plus a short drive of an hour to the White Mountain National Forest. While in the area, we also decided to up our American state count by nipping across to Maine (my current tally is 15). The most noticeable thing about the cabin was the absolute silence and the darkness. Not a sound apart from the occasional animal call and no lights in sight, making for wonderful star gazing. Such a change from New York city where sleep is punctuated by sirens and dark is an unknown quantity…
The fall colours can be seen anytime between early October and early November depending on latitude and altitude. Have a look at fall maps on the internet to get the best guess for the area you are planning to visit. We went in early October and were surprised at how varied the colours could be. Some areas were still quite green while others were vibrant shades of orange, gold and red. Altitude definitely helps, and we saw our best colours as we headed North and up into the White Mountains. If the area you are in isn’t quite in prime fall colour, just head North or gain some altitude. It’s hard not to fall in love with New England in the Fall with its beautiful wooden houses, vast forests, and lakes but also its peace and tranquility. Along with its accessibility for NYC residents, it makes for the perfect long weekend escape.