Experience the vibrant colors of the fall season with a trip through New England. Walk along the Freedom Trail in Boston and drive a Duck in the Charles River. Learn about the witch hunt in Salem and tour the beautiful campus of Cambridge colleges. Find some of the best places to visit in New England in this Fall Travel Guide.
Autumn is an absolutely magical time to visit New England. The fall foliage scenery simply dazzles with its beauty. In 2019, our family spent four wonderful days in the New England area exploring and learning its fascinating history. Our itineraries were:
- Day 1 – Fall foliage drive on Mohawk Trail from Boston to western Massachusetts
- Day 2 – Freedom Trail and historic Boston tour
- Day 3 – Salem Witch Museum and new Boston
- Day 4 – Duck Tour, Harvard, and MIT
We won’t be including the history and background story behind each place in this post, but you’ll find the appropriate links for your own discovery!
Fall Foliage Drive in New England – Mohawk Trail
Our original plan for fall foliage was to drive north from Boston into New Hampshire and Maine. The foliage had just peaked and it was the best time to visit. Unfortunately, a storm formed right off the coast which would impact our trip. We headed west on the Mohawk Trail instead and it took us almost across the entire state of Massachusettes.
There are many websites dedicated to providing the latest foliage conditions and recommended routes in New England so check them out and plan ahead before your trip. Here are the highlights from our drive on the Mohawk Trail and the various stops we made along the way. We left Boston around 10 AM in the morning.
Our picturesque drive west ended at Williamstown, home of Williams College. It is about 135 miles from Boston and we arrived around 3 pm.
The campus was graceful and the atmosphere was very different from the college campuses on the west coast. We took some time to view the art collections at Williams College Museum of Art before heading back to Boston. The art collection was quite impressive and we highly recommend stopping by.
Freedom Trail and Historic Boston
We spent most of our second day touring landmarks along the Freedom Trail and historic Boston.
Our children had finished US History in school not too long ago so they were fascinated by all the landmarks that they’ve read in the textbooks.
Salem Witch Museum
On our third day, we visited Salem about 25 miles from Boston (40 min drive). What better time to visit the Salem Witch Museum than right before Halloween!
Our recommendation is to get to Salem early because parking is difficult to find. The line for the Salem Witch Museum does get really long. Once you get to the front of the line, you’re giving a time slot to come back at a later time to actually enter the museum.
While waiting for our turn to enter the museum, it was fun walking around Essex Street Pedestrian Mall and browsing through shops and stalls.
The Salem Witch Museum experience was fun and educational. In case you’re wondering, it isn’t scary at all as many young children in the audience seemed to enjoy the show.
Peabody Essex Museum
Our next stop was the modern and elegant Peabody Essex Museum. It is the oldest operating museum in the US and we highly recommend visiting!
The museum houses a large collection of American and Asian arts including an entire 19th-century Chinese house. We spent a couple of hours in the museum but could have easily spent the entire day there.
After visiting Salem in the morning, we headed back to Boston to admire the view from Skywalk on top of Prudential Center Boston.
Boston is a walking-friendly city without too many steep slopes. We continued our walking tour from the Prudential Center towards Boston Common. The first stop, Boston Central Library McKim Building.
The McKim Building looks grand on the outside but the interior is even more gorgeous. Marble tiles, giant murals, and grand study halls. It resembles more of a museum than a city library.
Right across from the library is the historic Trinity Church. It is the only church in the United States recognized as one of the “Ten Most Significant Buildings in the United States” (by the American Institute of Architects).
Walk along Newbury Street towards Boston Common and check out the latest fashions and trends in the stores.
We ended our third day by relaxing at Boston Public Garden and strolling around Boston Common.
Boston Duck Tour
On our last day, we started with the fun and loud Boston Duck Tour. These amphibious vehicles take visitors through the streets of Boston and also swim through the Charles River. The funny tour guide on the cars tells the story for each landmark throughout the tour. Get ready to be entertained!
We recommend taking the Boston Duck Tour early in the morning to avoid traffic while on the tour. Boston is quite congested and many parts of the tour go through touristy areas.
The best part of the tour is when the tour guide asks who would like to drive the duck while in the Charles River. Almost anyone is allowed to drive even little children.
The duck drives by many landmarks in Boston and it’s a great way to give your legs a rest while seeing the city.
After the Duck Tour, head on over to Cambridge and stop by Harvard University. Visitors are allowed on campus to walk around or alternatively join a guided tour. We joined the very funny Hahvahd Tours which are lead by actual Harvard Students.
It’s worth taking the 1.5-hour guided tour to learn about the rich history of the school!
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
After visiting Harvard, head southeast on Massachusetts Ave, and you’ll quickly arrive at MIT.
We didn’t join a tour at MIT but took time to wander around the campus.
Our last stop before returning home was the MIT Museum. Our son loves science and was intrigued by the many exhibits on display.
Fantastic Food in New England
During our visit to New England, besides taking in the scenery and visiting landmarks, we also had fantastic food throughout the trip. We tried way too many New England lobster rolls and our favorite one was Luke’s Lobster (you can order Luke’s Lobster online and enjoy their delicious lobster rolls at home).
Our daughter loved Joanne Chang’s sweets so much we ended up buying several of her cookbooks so she can make them at home.
Go Card Boston
Thank you for traveling throughout New England with us. We hope you find the information hopeful if you are planning to visit New England in the fall. Here is our last travel tip for visiting Boston:
When our family plan travels to a new city, we always look for a city pass and evaluate whether it would make sense depending on the savings and the included attractions. We’ve bought city passes in London, Los Angeles, Seattle, and also Boston during our family’s travel.
The Boston City Pass is a particularly good value for the many attractions included. The Go Card, in general, is a great bargain. However, you can find additional savings through Costco.com when they have the Go Cards in stock.
Now that’s a wicked deal!