Boat tours offer amazing views any time of year, but they are especially noteworthy in the fall. Imagine navigating your way down a river or lake surrounded by beautiful fall foliage from above as well as reflecting in the water below.
Aboard a fall foliage cruise, you can learn about the history, flora and fauna of different locations, marvel at natural beauty and take stunning pictures. Some cruises also offer special events, themed trips, tastings and other complimentary treats.
Note: Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, please check official websites before visiting to check for restrictions or closures.
River Quest | Haddam
River Quest offers different fall foliage cruises along the Connecticut River on weekends and weekdays.
One-and-a-half-hour fall foliage cruises occur on most weekdays. On these cruises, you’ll head south from Eagle Landing State Park in Haddam, catching views of the East Haddam Swing Bridge, Goodspeed Airport, Goodspeed Opera House and a local eagle’s nest. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glance of a bald eagle.
Fall foliage tours occur on weekends. These hour-long voyages will take you north and south along the lower Connecticut River, where you can view the foliage of a wide array or trees and look for wildlife, especially native birds.
River Quest also allows visitors to bring their own picnic baskets and/or snacks. So be sure to take advantage and make your trip extra enjoyable.
Damariscotta River Cruises | Damariscotta
This October try deciding between a wine- or wildlife-filled excursion with Damariscotta River Cruises. You can learn how oyster farmers harvest their renowned Damariscotta River oysters while keeping a lookout for native birds and harbor seals. Picture-taking is encouraged.
During the Oyster and Wine or Beer Tasting Tours, foodies and shellfish fans alike will enjoy sampling different wine,beer and oyster pairings aboard the River Tripper. An expert local wine docent and raconteur will also be present.
Acadian Boat Tours | Bar Harbor
Acadian Boat Tours also offers two distinct cruises, one of which gives you VIP access.
Sightseeing and nature cruises are fully narrated and can be two or one-and-a-half-hours long, depending on which trip you pick. You’ll pass Egg Rock Lighthouse as you search for eagles, porpoises, seals etc. Not only will you see a plethora of wild animals on this cruise, it’s also pet-friendly.
VIP Somes Sound Fjord and Harbors Tours last for roughly three hours, allowing cruisers to really take in the wonders of the Acadia National Park shoreline, Valley Cove’s walls of granite as well as a journey through Somes Sound to visit the only fjord on the East Coast.
Classic Harbor Line | Boston
Whether you prefer brunch or lunch, cruising on Boston’s waters during the fall is a treat.
The Fall Foliage Brunch Cruise aboard the Northern Lights is a weekends-only, two-and-a-half-hour excursion. You’ll surely be able to relax by sipping on a special beverage and enjoying a gourmet brunch buffet while taking in the the views of Boston in autumn.
The Boston Harbor Fall Foliage Luncheon Cruises offer lots of family fun. Over the course of two hours, you’ll hear stories about pirates and ghosts as well as histories of the various Boston Harbor Islands you’ll pass, all while enjoying a picnic lunch.
By taking either of these fall foliage cruises in the Boston Harbor, there are some notable sites you could spot, namely iconic lighthouses: Boston Light, which claims to be America’s oldest lighthouse and Long Island Head Light, one of the first cast iron light houses.
Essex Cruises | Essex
Essex Cruises hosts narrated, sight-seeing cruises, including Sunday Morning Coffee and Muffin Cruises. But these specialty fall cruises emphasize the beverage of the season, apple cider.
Get up close to Hog/Choate Island on the Fall Foliage Cider & Donut Cruise. Marvel at the dark spruce forest while savoring complimentary hot cider and donuts from Russell Orchard of Ipswich.
With Hy-Line Cruises, you can take a Nantucket Ferry well into November and learn the area’s history before stopping at boutique shops, sampling island fare and exploring art galleries and museums. There’s also Fall Day Trips to Nantucket. Or for a totally different island vibe, you can hop onboard a Martha’s Vineyard Ferry.
AAA members save 10% on Hy-Line Cruises.
Portsmouth Harbor Cruises | Portsmouth
Until the last weekend in October, you can enjoy both the industrial and natural on an Inland Rivers or Fall Foliage cruise for about two and a half hours.
You’ll pass New Hampshire’s industrial waterfront, featuring tankers, freighters and cable ships as well as the remnants of old shipyards. Moving inland, you’ll travel through either the Great Bay or the Cocheco River into Dover (depending on the tide) to reach this largely untouched, tidal estuary.
New Jersey and New York
SeaStreak | Hudson River
SeaStreak’s cruises depart from both New Jersey and New York City, taking the Hudson River to Cold Spring.
On weekends, passengers will travel by the Hudson to sight-see on a non-stop cruise or stop to explore the town of Cold Spring. Either way, your journey will take you under the George Washington Bridge, past the Cloisters and by breathtaking views of the Palisades.
Classic Harbor Line | Hudson River
This line offers a wide variety of NYC fall foliage cruises, lasting anywhere from two to nearly four hours.
Enjoy brunch or lunch as you travel north aboard the Manhattan or Manhattan II, respectably. From these 1920s-style yachts, you can leaf peep from a heated, enclosed observatory. Or you could climb aboard Yacht Kingston for a north-bound, fall foliage cruise where packing a picnic basket is encouraged. There’s also the Yacht Full Moon, which leaves from Chelsea Piers to bring you to the beautiful foliage of Palisades Park. Finally, you could set sail on an actual sailboat, the Schooner Adirondack, to discover what foliage flourishes north of Fort Lee, N.J.
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises | Hudson and East Rivers
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises offers 90-minute Landmark Cruises well into November, where you can view the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and other iconic spots from a new and unique angle.
Providence Riverboat Company | Providence
A trip on one of these ships is truly intimate – the boats hold fewer than 20 passengers.
Take a relaxing and historical Daytime Tour or Sunset Cruise. Cruises are narrated and last about 50 minutes. You’ll explore the Providence Harbor and River, Riverwalk, Waterplace Park and Fox Point Hurricane Barrier.
For something a little more spooky, take a Haunted Boat Tour. You’ll witness the century-old parks of downtown and may even be visited by a specter.
Gansett Cruises | Newport
Why not take a ride aboard a restored, 50-ft. lobster boat?
You’ll cruise along the Narragansett Bay and Newport Harbor, exploring the nature of Newport and Jamestown. You’ll also receive different perks depending on which trip you pick. The Morning Narrated Mimosa Cruise includes complimentary mimosas as well as freshly brewed coffee, tea and juices. The Afternoon Narrated Harbor Cruise supplies complimentary local favorites, including Del’s lemonade and coffee “cabinet” shake. Finally, the Evening Narrated Harbor Cruise offers complimentary Quahog “stuffie” and a Champagne toast.
Whichever fall foliage cruise you choose to take, the leaves are sure to impress.
Looking to view fall foliage in other ways? Check out these awesome autumn destinations.
Where would you like to take a fall foliage cruise? Tell us in the comments!