The 6 Best Fall Port Cities

As the weather starts turning, Mother Nature puts on one of her most colorful displays.  Experience the vibrant colors, autumnal activities and cool, crisp fall air in these Canada & New England port cities. See the array of yellow, orange, red and gold against city skylines and dramatic shorelines on your next cruise vacation. Use this handy foliage prediction map to time peak colors. Read on for suggestions and destinations. 

WHERE TO GO

Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States and one of the most beautiful places to visit in the fall. While you’re in town, stroll through the Boston Common & the Public Garden. Explore the oldest public park in America and the country’s first botanical garden, side by side, to experience the city’s fall colors. Visit the Sam Adams Brewery, take the free hour-long tour and sample some of their famous brews, including their fall-favorite, Octoberfest. Boston also revels in Halloween, with celebrations and events going on throughout October. Be sure to take one of the city’s many Ghosts and Gravestones tours.

When to go: Peak colors are predicted for Mid-September to Mid-October

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Boston Skyline

New York: Sweater weather is the best time to wander the streets of bustling New York and take in some of the city’s famous sights. Visit the Big Apple’s largest natural retreat, Central Park, to take in the vibrant fall colors. With 843 acres of paths, lakes, ponds and open meadows, see if you can spot the city’s skyscrapers through the thousands of changing leaves. Next, head to Midtown and take the East River Ferry along the island of Manhattan, to Governor’s Island (only through September 30).  The view of the Manhattan skyline from the ferry and Governor’s Island on a crisp fall day is unrivaled. Savor the harvest of the season with a visit to the Jericho Cider Mill on Long Island. The mill, dating back to 1920, makes freshly pressed cider using a variety of apples grown in upstate New York and Long Island.

When to go: Peak colors are predicted for Mid-September to Mid-October.

Bonus: If you still have time, check out some of the apple orchards and vineyards located on the North Fork or Hamptons area of Long Island.

new-york-central-park-fall
Central Park in New York

Newport: Located just south of Boston, on the southernmost tip of Aquidneck Island, this coastal New England port is far from typical.  Though it retains much of its Colonial history, architecture and landmarks, this city flourished as a popular resort destination for America’s wealthiest families during the late 19th century. Some of their extravagant ‘summer cottages’ still remain and are open for tours. Or see many of these mansions along the shore line on Newport’s Cliff Walk. Take in dramatic ocean views and fall foliage along the way. Next, visit the historic Bowen’s Wharf for the annual seafood festival, offering local favorites like lobster dinners, clam chowder, and freshly-shucked oysters.

When to go: Peak colors are predicted for Late-September to Mid-October.

newport-lighthouse-fall
Newport Lighthouse

Quebec City: Fall is the best time to visit this city, often called a bit of Old Europe on North American soil. Stroll through Old Quebec, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to experience a remarkable mix of architecture, heritage, art and culture.  Then travel to the Plains of Abraham, or Battlefields Park, Canada’s first national historic park comprised of 242 acres, trails and breathtaking autumn views of Old Quebec. For an authentic and delicious Quebec City experience, try one of the famed St. Roch neighborhood food tours with six stops that include an artisan cheese shop, the most popular poutine spot in the city, a chocolatier and a microbrewery [Cost: $50 USD + tax. Reservations required.] Head 5 minutes just outside of the city to Montmorency Falls, standing at 272 feet high and one-and-a-half times higher than Niagara Falls. Take the suspension bridge across the falls or the cable car to the top ($9 USD) for unequivocal views of the falls, surrounding foliage and the Saint Lawrence River.

When to go: Peak colors are predicted for Mid to Late September.

Language: French may be the official language but it’s not required! English is spoken widely.

Montmorency Falls
Montmorency Falls

Halifax: The rugged coastline and vibrant fall colors are just the first sight worth seeing in Nova Scotia’s capital city. Start at the Halifax Boardwalk, which extends across the entire Downtown Halifax waterfront, and make your way south to the Seaport Farmers’ Market. Open seven days a week, the year-round market is world famous and home to over 250 vendors selling local fish, fall produce and handmade crafts. Head upstairs to the rooftop patio for some of the best views of Halifax Harbor and Georges Island this time of year. Next, spend time exploring the Halifax Citadel, a national historic site and strategic hilltop location designed as a fort in 1749. Public ghost tours are offered at the Citadel every Friday and Saturday evening through October 29. A tour guide will lead you by candlelight through tunnels and restricted areas of Canada’s most haunted historic site. [Tours start at $12 USD. Reservations required.]

When to go: Peak colors are predicted for Late September to Early October.

Language: French may be the official language but it’s not required! English is spoken widely.

Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Saint John: Fall is the ideal time to witness the leaves change color around the Bay of Fundy in Saint John.  Get the best introduction to Saint John and the surrounding region, with a visit to the New Brunswick Museum. The museum includes mounted displays of whale skeletons, an 80,000 year old mastodon skeleton, antique timbering and ship-making tools and contemporary and local craft work. [Admission starts at $8 USD] Visit the Market Square in downtown Saint John, Canada’s oldest farmers’ market, featuring aisles of stalls with house butchers, bakers, sausage makers, fishmongers, and cheese vendors. Before feasting, make sure to feast your eyes on the ceiling of the building – it resembles the upturned hull of a ship, a tribute to the city’s ship-building past. No visit to Saint John’s is complete without a visit to the Reversing Falls, where, depending on the tide level in the Bay of Fundy, water rushes into or out of the Saint John River. See the vibrant fall colors and observe this natural phenomenon at Fallsview Park or the rooftop viewing platform.

When to go: Peak colors are predicted for Late September to Early October.

St. John in Fall
St. John in Fall

HOW TO GET THERE

Celebrity Cruises: Feel the French ambiance of Quebec, the British heritage of the Maritimes, and the Early American tradition of New England, aboard the Celebrity Summit. New amenities include Tuscan Grille, a Rooftop Terrace, for cinema under the stars and amazing views. Experience stylish staterooms with private verandas, 148 exciting shore excursions, and 9 distinctive restaurants. Sailings from 10 nights to ports such as Boston, Newport, Bar Harbor, Portland, Saint John and Halifax. Search them all here »

Princess Cruises: The pages of history and stunning natural beauty blend seamlessly as you cruise the color-drenched shores of Canada & New England with Princess. Visit the iconic lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove in Halifax, return to the Gilded Age in Newport and stroll down Boston’s historic Freedom Trail. Or ascend Cadillac Mountain in picturesque Acadia National Park for one of the “Best National Park Experiences,” according to Lonely Planet. Aboard the Regal, Crown or Caribbean Princess, you’ll dine like a New Englander on succulent crab cakes and lobster as the allure of the northern seaboard embraces you — and leaves you changed forever. Sailings from 5 nights to ports such as New York City, Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor, Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island), Saint John, Halifax and Quebec City. Search them all here »

Royal Caribbean: Old meets new world charm aboard a Canada or New England Royal Caribbean cruise. New England boasts some of the most exquisite colors in the fall. But it’s also home to the “Cradle of Liberty” we know and love as Boston, not to mention the best lobster this side of the Atlantic in Maine. Journey to the oldest cities on the Atlantic Coast with a New England cruise. From the bustling excitement of Halifax to the quaint, quiet pace of Saint John’s, North America’s oldest city, eastern Canada is a large and varied region. Echoes of Europe are visible in its charming streets and architecture. Nature is also an essential part of everyday life, with hiking and kayaking among the favored ways to explore. Sailings from 5 nights to ports such as Boston, Bar Harbor, Portland, Saint John, Halifax and Quebec City. Search them all here »

Holland America: Visit the majestic sites and scenes found only along the fabulously rocky and history-drenched coastlines of Canada and New England. Step aboard one of Holland America Cruises’ elegant mid-sized ships and discover more room for you to relax and enjoy award-winning service at sea — and in North America’s most attractive ports. Holland America Line’s Canadian shore excursions and insightful programs bring you chic Montreal and Québec City (the highest-rated port of call), its quaint cobblestone streets and its bastion of French culture. Witness nature’s wild and rugged side while cruising past storybook lighthouses or searching for beluga whales near Halifax, Nova Scotia, all the while dining on exceptional cuisine. Discover the thrill of a lobster catch in Bar Harbor, or walk the Freedom Trail in Boston to trace the path of America’s independence. Sailings from 7 nights to ports such as Boston, Bar Harbor, Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island), Saint John, Halifax, Montreal and Quebec City. Search them all here »

Oceania Cruises: Set sail on an unforgettable journey to the perfect places at the ideal time of year. Hike through Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor and explore the vibrant fall colors and rocky coastline. Discover the stately mansions once home to the Astors and Vanderbilts in Newport and stroll along among the chic boutiques along Petit Champlain Street in Quebec City. Savor lobster pulled fresh from the sea in Halifax, and admire the colorful gingerbread cottages and picturesque lighthouses while in Martha’s Vineyard. All while experience the uncompromising quality of Oceania Cruises at an incredible value. Lavish complimentary amenities abound, cruise to coastal harbors, landmarks and lighthouses aboard Oceania Regatta, Sirena or Insignia. Value packages ensure that sipping a glass of vintage wine, surfing the Internet or enjoying a shore excursion is both convenient and affordable. Search them all here »