Finding Cheap Flights to New England, Eastern Cities for Fall Foliage

You can see leaves change color almost anywhere in the U.S., but there’s nothing quite like the fall foliage of New England. Just know that peak viewing times change from year to year so check online for the latest New England foliage reports.

Listen as airfare analyst Rick Seaney talks about best bets for ‘leaf peeping':

Where to Go – Cities, Airports

These four airports will get you to all the leaves you can handle – compare prices to see which is the cheapest but expect the best deals for Boston as it is far and away the biggest airport in the bunch.

Boston Logan International (BOS): This airport is served by discount carriers including AirTran, JetBlue, Southwest and Spirit plus all the large domestic legacy airlines, and several international carriers including Air Canada, British Airways, Lufthansa and more.

  • Tip: Get out of the airport via taxi, shuttle, rental car or public transportation (MBTA, known as the “T”). If you’d rather not hassle with Boston’s notorious traffic, some foliage tours pick you up at the airport or hotel.

Burlington International (BVT): This sleek little Vermont airport is served by low-cost carrier JetBlue plus Delta, United and US Airways.

  • Tip: No long waits for a rental car shuttle – vehicles are located just steps from the terminal under the skywalk.

Hartford/Springfield Bradley International (BDL): This Connecticut airport (just a few miles south of the Massachusetts state line) offers flights from low-cost airlines JetBlue and Southwest (both of which offer free checked-bags), and service from all the legacy carriers and Air Canada. The airport offers taxis, rental cars and public transportation.

  • Tip: The Bradley Flyer bus offers shuttle service between the airport and downtown Hartford 7 days a week.

Portland International Jetport (PWM): This bustling Maine airport is served by discounters AirTran and JetBlue as well as Delta, United, US Airways and Air Canada. There are taxis, rental cars and public bus transportation.

  • Tip: Call ahead to reserve a private car or limo.

How to Find Cheap Flights

Finding cheap flights and deals is relatively easy in the fall, as long as you avoid Thanksgiving (which is too late for the leaves anyway). Fall is a low period for the airlines and deals are common. Recent example from JetBlue: New York to Burlington, from $55 one-way.

There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of finding the best deals:

Suggested Driving Routes

These drives are touted as prime viewing spots for leaf-peepers.

From Boston: Massachusetts tourism officials call this the Minuteman Trail: Head to Lexington then Concord and over to Sudbury Center. Look for Walden Pond and the iconic Minuteman statue.

From Burlington: Take Interstate 89 to Waterbury, then head up Routes 100 and 108 through Smugglers’ Notch. Or take the 10-minute drive to beautiful Lake Champlain.

From Hartford: Head west from the airport toward Winsted and Torrington then get on Rte. 44 which leads to the quintessential New England town of Litchfield.

From Portland: Head north to Sebago Lake State Park then travel Route 302 between Naples and Bridgton for the views from Mt. Pleasant.

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Published: September 24, 2012