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How to save during fall foliage season in New England

The Deal Detective is now sleuthing out new bargains every week. Look for a new case each Thursday in’s Deal Alert newsletter.

Dear Deal Detective:
Help with a budget-[minded] trip to see fall foliage in [the] Northeast and Canada in the fall. Can you help?

Dear marydallas,

Many of you may wonder why I’ve chosen to respond to a question about the golden and crimson hues of fall when spring is barely starting to push through the dark days of winter. The reason is that if you want to witness the colorful turning of the leaves in New England, now is the perfect time to start planning your autumn escape.

During the peak fall foliage months of late-September and October, small towns all over New England are swarmed with leaf-peepers. Rooms fill up fast, so it’s important to book as early as possible. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to be among the lucky ones who see the natural splendor.

Start by choosing which region you want to visit. Every state experiences peak foliage at different times, so choose an area that meshes well with your schedule. Once you have a home base, then you can begin searching for deals and a place to stay. You can save money and avoid crowds by visiting midweek, and staying in a well-known city instead of a small town can afford you better rates. Bed and breakfasts serve as an affordable alternative to a hotel, plus the breakfast in the morning is the perfect way to start a day of viewing nature. Fall foliage vacation packages are also a great way to save, as many come with car rental, lodging, and meals. Search for the one that fits your needs through websites like the New England Inns & Resorts Association, and the state websites for Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Once you know where you’re going, you need to decide on the most cost-efficient way to get there. Since viewing foliage is typically a driving activity, you can choose to either arrive by vehicle or rent a car. If you choose to fly, Southwest serves smaller airports in nearby Providence, Rhode Island; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Hartford, Connecticut; while JetBlue flies directly to Boston and Portland, Maine.

After you have your reservations set, you can set out on a wonderful sightseeing adventure. Remember, how much you spend depends solely on where you want to stay and when you go, because the splendor of nature is absolutely free.

That’s all the space I have for this week’s featured question. I’d love to hear your suggestions for ways to save during fall foliage season. Submit your best tips using the comment box at the bottom of this page and we’ll publish the most helpful ones here.

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