Visiting Vermont and New England during the foliage season equates to spending July 4th week at a beach house or New Year in Vail or Aspen. Peak rates and minimum number of nights (usually 2 to 3) at hotels and traditional inns and bed and breakfasts prevail and securing restaurant reservations can seem like winning the lottery. However with a little insight and advance planning, a spectacular fall foliage experience can be yours.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
Tip 1- Book early. The candid visitor will find special deals when choosing an inn or hotel four to six months prior to arrival and may even be able to take advantage of discounts when booking a stay of 4-6 days.
Tip 2 – Seek out midweek rates and plan your trip accordingly. Many hotels and inns offer a 20-30% discount on stays Monday through Thursday and reduce the number of nights required. Best of all restaurants are not as crowded so evenings can be a little less planned!
Tip 3 – Be brave. If you have never experienced a bed and breakfast, take the plunge. They are unique, great for foodies and excellent value. A full home-cooked breakfast at a great b & b will likely keep you going all day and it’s included in your room rate so there are no surprise tax, tip or beverage charges.
Tip 4 – If you are flying, reserve your car early too for better selection and guaranteed availability. Airports serving the more popular fall foliage areas are typically small and vehicle inventories while increased for the foliage period are not unlimited.
Tip 5 – New Englanders celebrate Columbus Day which is typically the second Monday in October. Many inns require three night minimum stays in this period so plan accordingly if your visit coincides.
In the age of the internet which is the perfect resource for researching locations, inns and the general area, remember that most traditional inns and bed and breakfasts are owner-operated. Be old-fashioned and call to make your reservation. You’ll be able to ask the innkeeper questions about the area, gain insight on restaurants as well as places to visit and typical fall color trends. Equally the beauty of Vermont and New England inns and bed and breakfasts is their individuality. Talking to the innkeeper will help you understand room amenities, special features, configurations and ultimately suitability given your needs and desires.
Tip 6 – Innkeepers love sharing their knowledge any time except when preparing and serving breakfast! Thus it is always better to call late morning when the daily rush is over.
Tip 7 – Due to age and the uniqueness of their structures, inns and bed and breakfasts tend to incorporate lots of stairs, and few have elevators. If you have a special need, be sure to fully understand room accessibility before booking to ensure a stress-free stay.
Tip 8 – Innkeepers want you to have a wonderful stay. If you have a dietary restriction, make sure you share this when booking so that they can plan ahead for your needs. Last minute advisories can be difficult to accommodate, particularly in the height of the season.
Best Kept Secrets
If you’ve never experienced the wonder and beauty of the Vermont foliage season, you are in for a treat. Take time to enjoy your getaway, get to know the locals as well as your fellow guests and truly explore the areas you are visiting from the tourist hot spots to the local farms, general stores and recommended scenic drives and vistas.
Tip 9- Plan your trip in two or better still three night increments, stay at the same inn, bed and breakfast or hotel and plan day trips to explore the area. Not only will you be more relaxed and escape the pressure of always packing and moving on, but you will experience more of the Vermont’s natural beauty, see colors actually change from day to day and discover some really wonderful fall foliage color spectacles that are frequently the area’s best kept secrets.
Tip 10 – Talk to Fellow Guests. Like you, they too are taking day trips and are often the source of great tips on the best current drives, vistas and natural phenomena (Last year a visitor came across a moose munching on a pile of apples in a meadow, a rare sighting even in Vermont. For the next three days, other guests at the bed and breakfast where the visitor was staying flocked to this country lane searching out the same moose continuing his apple binge, oblivious to his iconic status as the most photographed moose during fall foliage!)
And Finally a Word on Color
The State of Vermont is 9,615 square miles, ranking 44th out of the 50 contiguous U.S. states. You can drive from the southern most boundary to the Canadian border (approximately 150 miles) in 3.5 hours. During foliage season the color spectrum, often classed as early, mid, peak and late foliage, will be visible on any day anywhere. Your challenge is to find it! Factors to bear in mind:
Vermont’s green mountains typically show signs of change first, due to temperature change and elevations.
Near every mountainous area, there are wonderful rivers and valleys, these are a little slower to change as they are more sheltered.
Northern and Central Vermont areas of higher elevation typically show good early/mid color the last week of September with lower elevation areas following the first two weeks of October. However Mother Nature is fickle and it is all dependent on first frosts and cool nights. In 2008, there was little change visible until the second week of October at the higher elevations and foliage spread out into the latter weeks of October!
Regardless of technical terms, if you don’t live here, it is all wonderful from mid September to mid/late October and within this small state, you will always find perfect pockets of just the colors you are seeking!