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Falling for the Granite State

southern New Hampshire

Fall in New England pretty much lives up to every awesome autumn stereotype: small, idyllic American towns with stately churches, roadside fruit stands jam-packed with apples, pumpkins and maple syrup and endless trees covered in rich hues of red, yellow and gold. Southern New Hampshire is one of my top picks for a quintessential New England autumn drive. You can pretty much meander without a set itinerary and get your fall fix in a reasonable amount of time. This essay features Peterborough, Antrim, Hillsboro, South Stoddard, Nelson, Harrisville, Dublin, Marlborough and Keene as I wound my way up, down and across the south. With stops, it took several wonderful hours even though I traveled a mere 64 miles. Charming Peterborough and historic Harrisville were probably my favorite towns. But then Marlborough and Keene were quaint, too. Oh, and the tree-lined lakes around Nelson were picture-perfect. Heck, the entire drive is pretty stunning!

Best Time to Visit

Aim for mid-October but start checking New Hampshire's foliage tracker in the summer to get the most accurate color forecasts.

Keep in Mind

Rooms throughout New England book up fast and can be fairly expensive during fall foliage season, especially on weekends.

Route & Map      

Peterborough to Hillsboro on US 202, then NH 9 through South Stoddard, then Nelson Road and Dublin Road through Harrisville to NH 101, ending in Keene


64 miles


Driving without stops, this route takes about 1½ hours, but plan on at least half a day for leaf peeping, craft shopping and apple tasting.

Major Towns

Keene and Peterborough are the two largest towns on this itinerary with good services. But since nothing is ever too far away in southern New Hampshire, Manchester, Nashua and Brattleboro, Vermont are fairly close-by, easy drives.


The Visit NH Foliage Tracker is a must. For lodging, restaurants and other advice, check out the Visit NH, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and Visit Downtown Keene official sites.

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