You’ve seen New England fall foliage from the ground. What about trying a foliage viewing trip from above the treetops? You can do it on gondola or chair lift rides at many New England ski areas or on a thrilling flight in a hot air balloon. Below are few examples. Learn about more places to see foliage from up, up in the air.
Massachusetts -- Misty River Ballooning in Florence
Misty River Ballooning lifts off from several locations in the Pioneer Valley and the surrounding hill towns. Your views from aloft will be of the Connecticut River winding south below you. On a clear day you can see the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts and the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire. The Balloons accommodate up to two passengers, but with sufficient notice Misty River can fly a group of any size in several balloons. Talk about celebration! Map.
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Florence is in the Connecticut River Valley region and an easy drive to Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, which has a fine arboretum and many gardens. Also, Brunelle's Marina on the Connecticut River hosts river cruises on the Lady Bea.
North Hadley Sugar Shack at 228 River Drive in Hadley is a fun place to browse and stock up on maple products, honey, and jams. For kid travelers, the Farm Tale is a farm animal play park.
Vermont -- Stratton Mountain in Stratton
The Stratton Mountain gondola will whisk you up to the top of southern Vermont's highest peak, with glorious views of White Mountains, Adirondacks, Berkshires and the Green Mountain range. From the summit, you can easily walk to the fire tower to take pictures or sit for a picnic lunch. Dates: October 1-9. Map.
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Stratton has a darling village with plenty of interesting shops and places to enjoy lunch or dinner. Only 28 miles from Stratton, near the charming town of Manchester, is Equinox Mountain and Equinox Preserve. The Preserve, on the slopes of Mount Equinox, is laced with walking trails. Parking to enter the Preserve is behind the Equinox Hotel, where you definitely want to stop for a meal after you come off the mountain.
Prefer driving to hiking? Take a drive to the 3,848-foot summit of Equinox Mountain via Skyline Drive. Get onto the Drive at the Toll House on Route 7A in Sunderland. If you plan your timing right, you can see sunset over the Adirondack Mountains to the west. This private road is open from the end of May to October.
Mountain gondola rides and drives and walks seem to demand picnic-style food to go with you. Find all you need at Zoey’s on Depot Street in Manchester: excellent sandwiches, chip, big cookies. For a sit-down meal, we will always sing the praises of The Perfect Wife, also in Manchester.
Maine – Sunday River ski area in Newry
This mountain is truly dog-friendly: at Sunday River ski area, you are welcome to bring your dog on the closed Chondola or the open chair lift that travels up to North Peak, offering foliage views of the Sunday River Valley and Mahoosuc Mountain Range. Plenty of hiking trails give you the choice of riding up and walking back down, or vice-versa. Hours: September 8 to October 8, open Fridays to Sundays. Map.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in all seasons at Camp, in the lobby of the Grand Summit Hotel at the Sunday river resort. Off the Mountain, from Newry to nearby Bethel, you can enjoy hefty burgers, prime rib, and a selection of beers at Funky Red Barn in Bethel. Also in Bethel is Smokin’ Good BBQ, also good for lunch, and Dicocoa’s a coffee bar with vegetarian choices.
Rhode Island -- Bird’s Eye View Helicopters in Middletown
You’ve seen plenty of helicopters on TV and the movies – usually in moments or high drama and often with James Bond pummeling a villain as both of them hang from the pontoons. Think about a helicopter flight with Bird's Eye View Helicopters to enjoy the beauty of nature of Narragansett Bay, coastal Newport and Rhode Island. Memorable! Map.
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Middletown is just down the road from the Colonial-era with very lively city of Newport. Visit the famous mansions, like Marble House, The Breakers, Rough Point, and the Elms, and others. Bannister’s Wharf and Bowen’s Wharf in the center of town have with lots of shopping and dining. And a drive on Ocean Drive, past Brenton Point State Park, is simply glorious.
Middletown is also where you find the very hospitable Newport Vineyards. On the property is Blix Restaurant, with excellent food and a fireplace for chilly fall evenings. The vineyard hosts lots and lots of weekend activities, including tastings and live music.