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Great Foliage planning questions

Again, you are all asking great questions and this one is common. Read my response after the question.

A Vermont farm amid the fall foliage in New England

Vermont farm in foliage

We had decided to limit our trip to Vermont and New Hampshire. I would like to include Maine since we will be already so nearby. My husband wonders if we should save it for another trip in which we explore just the coastal areas of New England and perhaps in the summer season.  The photos of Bar Harbor and Camden in the fall, though, are captivating.  We are not ones that like to just stay in the car and do like to explore and photograph and enjoy what is uniquely and authentically New England. We do appreciate historical sites but are not particularly interested in spending our time in museums.  I like your ideas of seeing the coast by boat and exploring on bicycles.  Oh, how I wish New England were closer to Tennessee!


hi, this is one of the more common questions that I receive.  It comes under the heading: trying to do too much,  during your vacation. By its definition, a vacation is a time to relax and enjoy your surroundings no matter where they are. not getting worn out by trying to do everything around you.  (Tough to do nowadays, isn’t it)

First thing, traveling across three New England states in 7 days,  is very easy.   BUT as you say above, “we’re not ones that like to just stay in the car“, so this is why I recommend not trying to do so much and cut back on the driving a bit.

a couple bike through Massachusetts fall color on trails

biking through autumn’s colors

It sounds like you want to get out of the car and explore the areas that you are seeing.  So you have to factor in all the things that will go on during the day.  First, you have meal times and while you can grab a sandwich jump back in the car and hit the road.  Why not take the time to grab that sandwich and get a drink, then go sit on the bank of a river or at a picnic table and just enjoy your surroundings.

So since this is a vacation, you have to decide if you are going to get up very early to catch the early morning Sunrise (one of the best times of the day to shoot). this will get your day started nice and early about 530 to 6 AM.  I’m assuming that you’ll be done photographing about 9 AM and this leaves the next 4 to 5 hours for exploration, before you look to shoot during the late afternoon sun (the 2nd best time of the day to shoot).

If you like to explore general stores or antique shops or whatever, then you will need to take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour at these locations.  (depends on what you like)

How about lunches? In the car or will you want to try the eclectic luncheonettes that you will find in any and every little town? That’s at least 30 minutes or an hour… (Hell what about morning coffee and bagels or hot sandwiches or donuts? to me eating is a part of the overall vacation experience)

Now! do you just get out of your car and look at the fall colors or do you like to photograph and compose your shots? (check for more details on this). so you need to plan for taking your time at a location to compose shots that are more than just snapshots (what I did on my vacation snaps).

A year or two back I drove from St Albans VT down route 7 to the Sturbridge village area of Massachusetts. ( this is only 267 miles.  If you travel on routes I 89 and I 91 and can be done in four hours and 23 min. all on the highway).   Now before you say, well that means we can cover similar distances in a day!  I didn’t say you can’t do the distances like that, I just said you want to think about it first and decide if that’s the best use of your time.

I’m not saying you can’t do those places in seven days.  I’m saying that to do them thoroughly and really enjoy them will take much longer than seven days. besides if you drive straight through you’ll miss one of the few places along the route seven that I have stayed at.

Silas Griffith Inn in Danby VTThe one Inn that I can recommend is the Silas Griffith Inn, in Danby Vermont.  I don’t get the option to stay overnight in many places.  So when I find one that I like, I will tell you about it. this is an old Victorian with comfortable rooms and they have a restaurant right next door to catch breakfast through dinner.  The room we had was upstairs and faced across route seven at the green mountains.  For once I picked a good room because it had Wi-Fi and a small balcony.  My wife and I came in from our travels over in the green mountains on the other side of route seven tired but exhilarated with the foliage views that we had found and we went out on the balcony and watched the sunset on our side of the green mountains.  The last vestiges of the Sun illuminated the Hills, which were just a tapestry of fall colors.  The room was small but with a little artificial fireplace and a big comfortable bed and a bathroom connected to the room we were very happy with my choice.

Let me put this into perspective we left at 7:30 in the morning and made maybe three short stops for photo ops then I stopped at a farm near Danby VT. I had talked to a local businessman, and arranged to photograph his farm. I was most interested in his barn and the surrounding area (here is a link to a shot of the barn).

After this final stop we drove like the wind and picked up a fast food dinner in Bennington. Then we drove into the night arriving at out B&B where we spent the next two of days. this whole day comprised of three very short photo ops and one long photo op of one hour.  It ended up being around a  14 hour day for our travel time. it’s up to you how long you spend on the road each day vs. outside the car, exploring and enjoying the scenery.

Foliage covered hills around Hildene VT

Hildene home of Todd Lincoln amid fall foliage

So Route 7 took us one day and we didn’t even cover the more scenic stops along route seven.  We could have stopped in Manchester Vermont and seen Hildene, the home of Todd Lincoln. There is also the Fort at four and probably 1000 other stops that we could have made had there been time.  To do route seven with an eye to being thorough and enjoying our time in and out of the car we would’ve needed at least 2 to 3 days.

so to close out this question for today.  It all depends on you and how far you’re willing to drive in a given day.  Balancing travel with exploration (and stretching your legs) will determine what you do on any given day.

If you don’t mind getting home from your vacation and then realizing that you need a vacation from your vacation then you probably did too much.  Try to get out of the car more and enjoy what you find, instead of maximizing your miles to ensure coverage of all iconic New England scenes.

that’s it for today.

read my last answer to a fall foliage questions here.

Jeff Foliage
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Jeff Foliage

My name is Jeff Folger,
but people call me Jeff Foliage.
I have several pages that I write blogs for such as:
My most popular blog is for Leaf peepers: Jeff
I live in Salem, Massachusetts and work as a blogger and Travel Photographer. I'm also the founder of the New England Photography Guild.
Feel free to visit me on my blogs and see what life in New England is like.

I started with Yankee Magazine as their first blogger on everything fall foliage. Now I blog on my own blog on my favorite subject, telling leaf peepers where the fall foliage is showing up in New England and helping them (to some extent) plan their fall foliage vacations.
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