Mid-fall in New England is upon us. Massachusetts is the largest of the New England states, centrally located and packed with Colonial and early American history, and every type of landscape. Browse below and find a self-guided drive for this beautiful season.
Berkshires and Western Massachusetts
The Mohawk Trail / Route 2 – Greenfield to North Adams — (37 miles) Map
Route 2 is a historic road that travels through the northern Berkshire Mountains. This Route includes a side trip to the summit of magnificent Mount Greylock at Mount Greylock State Reservation. Don’t miss Mount Greylock.
Points of Interest:
In Greenfield, take a walk at Rocky Mountain Park on the Connecticut River. This forested ridge has delightful hiking and biking trails that will wear out kids and dogs in the healthiest possible way. One photogenic place is and the Poet’s Seat Tower.
Shelburne Falls is a pretty town on the Deerfield River and the locations of Bridge of Flowers, a former trolley bridge bursting with flowers, vines, and shrubs (open through October 30). The Salmon Falls Gallery, right in the town, overlooks a hypnotic series of falls.
Continue through Mohawk State Forest and braces yourself on route 2 for crazy, nearly 360-degree hairpin turn.
With advance planning, you can schedule a zip line tour at Zoar Outdoor or Berkshire East, both in Charlemont.
North Adams is a culture vulture’s holiday. If you like modern art, stop into MassMoCA (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art).
At the Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams, nature has created a heavenly and naturally formed marble arch and white marble dam.
Side Trips: Before leaving or after arriving in North Adams, swing southward for a drive to the stunning summit of Mount Greylock.
Summit of Mount Greylock — Lanesborough, MA Map
The trip to the top of Mount Greylock in the Berkshires is a magnificent adventure. October foliage colors are glorious. At the top is Bascom Lodge, offering meals and overnight accommodations. Also at the top is a tower that honors the state’s veterans of foreign wars. Access road closes November 1. The map here gives directions from North Adams , which is north of the mountain) and from Lee, which is south of the mountain.
The Connecticut River starts near the Canada border and swells to a 410-mile north-south waterway, finally emptying in Long Island Sound in Connecticut. The Massachusetts part of the byway extends from Northfield to South Hadley.
Points of Interest:
South Hadley is home to Brunelle’s Marina. You might suspend your road trip for a cruise on the Connecticut River on the Lady Bea, docked at Brunelle’s. Cruises are offered through Columbus Day.
Mount Holyoke College Botanic Garden encompasses the Mount Holyoke College campus, including an arboretum and gardens, and the Talcott Greenhouse. Open daily.
Skinner State Park, between South Hadley and Hadley, offers access points to the New England National Scenic Trail. At the peak of Mount Holyoke, you can explore The Summit House, a 19th-century hotel.
Moving along routes 63 and 47, you are traveling through the bread basket of Massachusetts. Many farms that date back more than 100 years. Grab a treat at the Northfield Creamie in Northfield.
From Northampton to Amherst, where several eating places have opened or expanded in recent years. Falafel at Pita Pockets and gourmet doughnuts at Glazed are now available in both towns. Foreign food choices in Amherst also now include Lebanese cuisine at Malek Shawarma and food of Nepal, India, and Bhutan at Himalayan Friends Corner.
The Mohawk Trail (Route 2) — Harvard to Northfield Map
Route 2 is a beauty, passing through small towns and glorious views. This route includes stops at two fascinating villages.
Points of Interest:
Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, one terminus of this foliage drive, takes its name from an 1843 utopian community. Visitors can explore a historic farmhouse, a Shaker Museum, galleries of Native American art and paintings of the Hudson River School, and lots of walking trails.
Continuing west on Route 2, in Phillipston, stop for treats Red Apple Farm at 455 Highland Avenue: apples and cider, cider donuts and kettle corn, and cheeses.
Northfield Mountain Recreational and Environmental Center in Northfield has 26 miles of trails, canoeing or kayaking at Barton Cove, and a guided riverboat cruises. Also, rock climbing at Rose Ledge for foliage views.
At the western end of this drive, plan to take a swing to the southwest to visit Historic Deerfield in Deerfield. The museum encompasses 12 houses dating to the 18th and 19th centuries and three exhibition galleries at the Flynt Center of Early New England Life. Enjoy a good, filling meal at Champney’s Restaurant & Tavern at the Deerfield Inn.
North of Boston / Cape Ann
Rockport / Gloucester / Essex / Newburyport Map
This drive tour will take you past or through some of the prettiest coastal towns of New England. The drive comprises two sections: one is centered on the town of Newburyport, between Salisbury Beach and Plum Island. Great for walking on beaches and watching marine life.
The other drive begins (or ends) at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate with a breathtaking vista above a large estuary, and then meanders through the towns of Essex, Gloucester, and Rockport. Rockport is noted for its many galleries and gift shopping, and views of the iconic Motif #1 lobster shack.
Points of Interest:
Newburyport is a fun town for dining, shopping, browsing art galleries, and strolling. A brick plaza – in contrast to the traditional New England green – is the heart of the town, and lots of public events happen here. If you visit in the fall, you might easily stumble upon an Oktoberfest or a family fall festival.
Salisbury Beach State Reservation is a long, beautiful beach, anchoring at the north end by a slightly honky-tonk-ish commercial area where you can get ice cream and classic summer foods like fried dough, and let kids bliss out for a little while at the arcade.
Essex Shipbuilding Museum in Essex is a wonderful way to become immersed in the ancient ship-building culture of Massachusetts. Small museum with neat tools, boat parts, sea charts. Kids love it!
Gloucester is a historic fishing port, made famous by the movie “The Perfect Storm.” Take a look at the Gloucester Fishermen’s Memorial on Western Avenue. The Annisquam Lighthouse on Wigwam Point River is a beauty.
Greater Boston Region
Lexington to Lincoln to Concord Map
This drive is only six miles, but it takes you through beautiful scenery and also places from the early years of the American Revolution. History buffs may want to park in Lexington and take a narrated bus tour with Liberty Ride. The tour passes the Lexington Battle Green, North Bridge, Battle Road, Orchard House, Colonial Inn, the Old Manse, Concord Museum, and Emerson House..
From Lexington, drive to the Minute Man National Historical Park at 250 North Great Road (Route 2A) in Lincoln, and explore this fine park. Next, get on Route 2A and then switch to Lexington Road, into Concord. This pretty town will charm you with its Colonial flavor. Stop for a meal at Concord’s Colonial Inn, built in 1716 and Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The inn is surrounded by landmarks of literary and revolutionary history.
A great resource for foliage viewing each fall is The Berkshires Blog.
Stop for apples, cider, or pumpkins at a pick-your-own farm