Guide to a Splendid Fall Foliage Getaway in Washington

Country Roads Provide Plentiful Autumn Color - Photo by Vi Owens
Lake Waramaug

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  L.M. Montgomery said it best in Anne of Green Gables, and how glad are we to live in a world where there are Octobers in Washington!

Arguably the most stunning time of year is nearly upon us… and what better way to enjoy the crisp air, rustle of flame-colored leaves, and the start of the long shadows than with a day trip (or two!) to Washington to soak it up? We’re giving you the best places to leaf-peep, take a scenic drive or a brisk hike, refuel and unwind, and of course, enjoy the town’s very own Harvest Festival. And even if you live in Washington, autumn is the perfect time to take a break from your routine and savor the splendor of the season in our town.

Grab a Bite (and a Drink)
No day trip is complete without grabbing breakfast or lunch on the road, and Washington has no shortage of perfect spots to eat in and take out. If a simple but gourmet meal is what you’re after, stop by Hidden Valley Eatery or The Pantry in the Depot for a variety of artisanal dishes including sandwiches, salads, and freshly baked breads. (And don’t forget the picnic hamper!) If you prefer to take your lunch along on a scenic drive or a picnic on the lake, head to New Preston and go to 9 Main Bakery & Deli for one of the best sandwiches in town and a mean cup of joe. (It’s so quaint, however, you might find you’ll want to hang out for awhile!) Across the street, The Smithy has a fabulous selection of hand-crafted and locally-sourced prepared foods perfectly suited for a picnic made simple.

For those craving the fermented fruits of the laborious harvest season, Hopkins Vineyard on the north side of Lake Waramaug is just the ticket. The vineyard offers tastings, a wine bar, outdoor seating, and live music on the weekends. Relax, unwind, and enjoy the views of the vineyard and lake. Also in New Preston, Spring Hill Vineyards, a picturesque historic 18th-century farm along the banks of the Shepaug, offers weekend tastings.

The Smithy Store
Hopkins Vineyard

Leaf-Peepers Paradise
Leaf-peeping is one of autumn’s simplest yet most enjoyable pleasures, and whether it’s done coincidentally and unintentionally, or independently and purposefully, you’ll want to head to as many vantage points as possible. The roads encircling Lake Waramaug provide some of the area’s loveliest vistas, and with the foliage soon becoming nature’s fireworks, the lake is the perfect place to take in the vibrant views. Have an impromptu picnic along the shore or lunch on the terrace of the Hopkins Inn. Bring your kayaks or canoes and paddle out to enjoy a little peace, solitude, and experience views like no other place in town. Although rentals at the state park are over for the season, there are places nearby to rent them — and if you’re coming from the north there is a place right in Bantam. There’s still time this fall to have a great day on the water!

Cruising along the open road on a cool fall day is refreshing and invigorating and with so many scenic roads in Washington, you’ll want to keep this list to best scenic roads handy. Choose a couple near to one another and create your own loop, or grab a coffee and hit them all. (Take Rabbit Hill northwest over to Tanner Hill south for an especially lovely route to the top of Lake Waramaug!)

Getting right in the thick of the action often proves the most exhilarating experience, and taking a hike or walk is ideal for kaleidoscopic views of the foliage. Trek under the canopies at Mount Tom State Park and take in the view from the atop the tower. Listen to the leaves crunch underfoot at Hidden Valley Preserve, and be sure to snap a photo on the Henry David Thoreau Footbridge (Don’t forget to tag #explorewashingtonct). And gaze in awe at the breathtaking view from 776 feet at Steep Rock Preserve.

Extra detour: Want to pick your own? Check out our many local farms and farm stands.  For some indoor eye candy, don’t miss the exquisite finds at the unique shops and boutiques in New Preston and Washington Depot.

Hidden Valley Thoreau Bridge - Vi Owens
Averill Farm Stand Photo by Vi Owens

Harvest Festival
Washington’s Harvest Festival is back for its third year on Sunday, October 13th from 12-5. Whether you have children or are a kid at heart, there is iconic autumn fun to be had by all. A hay maze, face painting, pumpkin carving, and a scarecrow contest are just a few of the activities that will keep the kids smiling all afternoon; adults can enjoy beer, bourbon, and wine tasting, as well as live music.

Make a great day of it and do a little of everything — fall in Washington is so good, we’re certain you’ll wish to enjoy more than just one!

More to Explore
Download our Fall Foliage Viewing Map

Explore the Fabulous Family Farms of Washington this Fall.
Check out our Fall Itinerary
Best Fall Foliage Vistas in Washington

Autumn Events to Enjoy in Washington:
3rd Annual Washington Harvest Festival (October 13th)

Flirtation Farms 1st Annual Art Walk (October 13th)
Hopkins Vineyard Wine and Cheese Market (October 19th)
12th Annual Washington Green Cemetery Tour (October 25th)

Check our Events Calendar for details!