Location and When to Go:
The historic town of Bethel, Maine, founded in 1774, is located in western Maine at the intersection of Routes 26 and 2. It is about a 3-1/2-hour drive from Boston, 7 hours from New York City and 5 hours from Albany, New York, or Hartford, Connecticut. The closest airport is the Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine. Fall colors can usually be observed starting in late September, with peak likely to occur the first week of October.
Bethel is best known as a ski town, but the same peaks that appeal to skiers when covered in wintry white are even more spectacular when dressed in vivid autumn hues. Leaves reflect in shining mountain lakes, adding to this region's fall beauty. Its proximity to the New Hamsphire border makes Bethel a prime destination for those who want to see foliage in the White Mountains, too. A fall visit to Bethel puts leaf peepers in the heart of a region noted for scenic driving, hiking, biking and more.
Places to Stay:
The Bethel Inn Resort is located on the village common; it's your choice for fine lodging and resort activities, including golf, tennis and swimming (the outdoor pool is heated year-round). The cozy Sudbury Inn is central and offers 17 rooms and suites, plus a three-bedroom apartment. Nearby, Sunday River ski area condos are readily available in the fall. For one-stop reservations assistance, call the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce toll free, 800-442-5826, or use kayak.com to compare rates at Bethel, Maine, hotels.
Nearby Scenic Drives:
During fall foliage season, you'd be hard pressed to find a better home base for scenic driving than Bethel. Wind your way through Grafton Notch State Park along Route 26, and don't miss the drive north to Rangeley, Maine, along Route 17: The Height of Land overlook is spectacular. The start of New Hampshire's Kancamagus Highway, one of New England's most superb fall drives, is just over an hour away.
While you're in Bethel, learn about local history at the Bethel Historical Society's O'Neil Robinson House. Visit The Artist's Bridge, a picturesque covered bridge in Newry. Soar above the leaves on a scenic chairlift ride at Sunday River. Visit the Shaker Village a short drive away in Sabbathday Lake. And don't miss the annual Harvestfest and "Chowdah" Cook-off held in September.
Within Three Hours:
If you'd like to take day trips from Bethel, there are many wonderful places to visit in the fall including the L.L. Bean Flagship Store and shopping outlets in Freeport, Maine; Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, New Hampshire; and The Farnsworth Art Museum and Wyeth Center in Rockland, Maine. Enjoy a scenic fall train ride aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway, New Hampshire. Or drive a bit further, and go on a moose safari in Maine's Baxter State Park.
In the Bethel area, popular dining choices include The Suds Pub and the more formal dining room at The Sudbury Inn; Legends Restaurant at Sunday River's Grand Summit Resort Hotel; and Moose's Tale Food & Ale at the Sunday River Brewing Co. The Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce provides additional dining listings.
More Fall Fun:
There's more fall fun near Bethel: pick your own apples at Lyon Orchard in Bethel; head to Sunday River for the North American Wife Carrying Championships in October; or depart from the Telemark Inn in Bethel on a White Mountains llama trek.