Looking for the best destinations to see fall foliage? Hard to find a better place to enjoy colorful autumn than the Northeast. One of the most famous regions for its outstanding fall scenery is New England. Every year, people flock to Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont to enjoy the area’s dramatic landscape highlighted with shades of red, orange, and yellow. Another famous state for leaf-peeping is New York, especially the regions of Adirondacks and Catskills. This post will take a closer look at some of the best places in the Northeast to visit during the fall season.
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The Northeast of the USA is heaven for fall foliage lovers. Almost everywhere you turn, chances are you will find outstanding scenery. For that reason, picking the best places to visit created a challenge for me.
Eventually, to narrow it down, I looked for additional features like charming architecture and spectacular landscapes that add another dimension to the autumn’s natural beauty.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN THE NORTHEAST DURING THE FALL SEASON
Fall Foliage in Boston, Massachusetts – the top city in the USA to enjoy the fall
Let’s start with the only city that I put on the list. Fall is the best time to visit Boston. As the leaves turn, the city’s parks put on an unforgettable show, complementing the historic architecture. It feels like the city is taking a rest after the summer crowds and displays its more intimate beauty.
Weekend mornings are delightful when traffic is down, and you have the old streets and parks to yourself. With solitude and beauty around you, it feels like you step into the past. Also, a walk along the city’s Freedom Trail now doubles as a foliage tour.
One of my favorite areas of Boston during the fall is Boston Common, a central public park located in downtown. Dating from 1634, it is the oldest city park in the United States. Purchased as land set aside for the common use of townspeople, it still serves this purpose. It is one of the most popular Boston Attractions for relaxing and enjoying nature.
- Recommended Hotel in Boston: Revere Hotel Boston Common
Acadia National Park – Maine’s Top Foliage Destination
Acadia National Park is famous for its dramatic coastline, soaring trees, oceanside mountains, islands, and the charming town of Bar Harbor. And all that beauty gets even more breathtaking when the colors of autumn arrive.
Mid-September is an excellent time to visit when summer visitors are already gone, and the fall is already painting the trees with shades of orange, red, and yellow. Crowds pick back up again mid-October when fall foliage reaches its seasonal pinnacle, so be prepared for company.
Vehicle Reservation System: Know Before You Go
Vehicle reservations are required for Cadillac Summit Road and Sand Beach entrance, allowing access to Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and trailheads for Ocean Path, The Beehive, Great Head, and Gorham Mountain along a 2-mile section of the Park Loop Road. Reservations must be purchased in advance online at Recreation.gov.
- Recommended Hotel for Acadia National Park: Holiday Inn Bar Harbor Regency
The White Mountains – New Hampshire’s Foliage at its best
There are few places in the entire world where fall is as spectacular as in New Hampshire. Each autumn, the state draws millions of visitors who arrive to admire outstanding scenery and vivid colors. The White Mountains’ fame comes from magnificent vistas framed with various trees that undergo a breathtaking transformation.
Take one of the area’s scenic drives, including the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112), between North Conway and Lincoln. A bit further north, explore the Franconia Notch and Crawford Notch state parks, where vistas are equally magnificent.
Make sure to devote some time to visit famous Mount Washington, the most dangerous mountain in the USA. You can hike it, drive it, or take the famous Mount Washington Cog Train. Either way, the views are spectacular.
- Recommended hotel in the White Mountains: Riverwalk Resort at Loon Mountain
This hotel offers stunning views of the colorful foliage and easy access to beautiful Kancamagus Highway (Route 112). It provides modern accommodations, a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and a bar.
Stowe, Vermont – Classic New England Fall foliage charm
Vermont is another classic New England autumn destination. Every turn delivers beautiful scenery, but the most spectacular views can be found around Stowe. The mountains are high, the roads are twisting and narrows, and little white churches add nostalgic charm to the scenery.
A classic New England village at the base of Vermont’s highest peak, Stowe is the perfect place for a fall getaway. From early September through late October, you can experience Stowe’s legendary foliage while enjoying your favorite outdoor activities.
Take one of the amazing scenic drives around Stowe. My favorite is a scenic drive through Smugglers’ Notch. Be careful there, the road is very narrow in places. Take your time to enjoy this scenic beauty. The views are fantastic!
- Recommended Hotel in Stowe, Vermont: Grey Fox Inn
When you stay at Grey Fox Inn in Stowe, you’ll be on the riverwalk, within a 15-minute drive of Stowe Mountain Resort and Ben and Jerry’s Factory. Don’t miss out on the many recreational opportunities, including an indoor pool, a 24-hour fitness center, and a seasonal outdoor pool.
New York – Another Outstanding Fall Foliage Destination
The Adirondack Mountains
Adirondack’s fall foliage is one of the most brilliant and breathtaking natural displays in the USA. Vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges transform the mountains into a stunning carpet of color. The region boasts one of the longest fall foliage seasons in the country, providing an incredible autumn escape.
During my recent visit to the Adirondacks, I was so overwhelmed with the beauty around me that I kept taking pictures at every turn. For the more organized approach to photograph the area, check Carl Heilman II’s Guide to Leaf Peeping: Stunning Photos & Where to Find Those Views.
Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway
An eight-mile trip from the crossroads in Wilmington, the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, will give you access to the summit of the fifth highest mountain in the Adirondacks. The last five miles are the most spectacular as the road winds upward through a changing forest and an alpine summit environment.
- Recommended Hotel: Crowne Plaza Lake Placid, NY
This hotel is a destination on its own. The views are incredible! For the fall season, make sure to reserve well in advance. Ask for the lake view!
Overlooking Mirror Lake and providing stunning mountain, this hotel features an on-site restaurant. Many recreational facilities are available on-site at the Hotel Lake Placid-Golf Club, including tennis courts, a putting green, and an indoor pool.
, Whiteface Mountain, and the Adirondack are only moments from the hotel. The Olympic Training Center, as well as shopping centers and local restaurants, are also nearby.
Letchworth State Park, NY
Letchworth State Park is beautiful at any time of the year, but it turns into a colorful masterpiece when autumn arrives. Its unique landscape, decorated with spectacular foliage, will take your breath away. It is considered one of the top fall foliage destinations in the Northeast.
Letchworth State Park is called the Grand Canyon of the East due to its stunning landscape. The park is famous for its Genesee River Gorge and three magnificent waterfalls – the Upper Falls, Middle Falls, and Lower Falls. The hight canyon’s cliffs are surrounded by the lush forest that turns into a breathtakingly colorful carpet in autumn.
Autumn is the high season in the park, so early reservation is highly recommended. You can choose between campsites, cabins, and the charming Glen Iris Inn.
Recommended Hotel Near Letchworth State Park: Letchworth Farm
Located in Nunda, Letchworth Farm features a garden, private beach area, water sports facilities, and free WiFi. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a grill.
Green Lakes State Park
The name of the park says it all. The first thing that catches your eye is the green water, even more vibrant in the fall when contrasting with a colorful carpet of leaves. The trees on their own will capture your attention with their twisted dramatic shapes.
Located a short drive from Rochester, the park is home to two lakes that date back to the Ice Age. It offers fishing, kayaking, hiking, and other recreational activities for the whole family. Any nature enthusiast will fall in love with the park.
Camping at Green Lakes State Park
The park’s campgrounds offer new modern bathhouses with individual rooms enclosing an infant changing table, a toilet, and a shower. Most areas are wooded except for a new section in the Pinewoods loop with pull-through full hookup sites. A few camping cabins are also available. Reserve early!
Hotels Near Green Lakes State Park
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Minnewaska State Park Preserve is another outstanding destination in the Northeast famous for fall foliage. The park features three crystalline sky lakes, dense hardwood forests, and sheer cliffs and ledges opening to beautiful views.
Its 35 beautiful miles of carriage roads and 50 miles of footpaths are waiting to be explored. Hiking at the park is the main activity offering fabulous overlooks of the Catskill Mountains. The park also provides picnicking, swimming, and mountain biking.
Hotels near Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Worlds Ends State Park – beautiful fall foliage in Pennsylvania
Worlds End State Park
The name describes it all! Located in the Endless Mountains Region of Pennsylvania, the park delivers its promise of being away from it all. Far from cities and major tourism routes, it sits there quietly, waiting for you to discover its beauty. During autumn, it delivers a spectacular combination of colors and vistas.
Loyalsock Canyon Vista delivers a breathtaking view of the gorge below. It especially impressed during the fall with its display of vibrant colors. Just upslope from Loyalsock Canyon Vista, you will find a maze of lichen-encrusted boulders. Called the Rock Garden, the boulders create an enchanted scene.
Camping is your best option to stay overnight at the park. Nineteen rustic cabins are situated in the woods and offer a lot of privacy. They sleep 4 to 8 people. The log construction and specious porches give them a feel of the pioneers’ cabins. Make your reservations here.
Mount Tammany, Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey
Mount Tammany is 1,526 feet (465 m) tall and forms the Delaware Water Gap’s east side. Fall is my favorite time to visit when the forest turns into a colorful mosaic. I recommend climbing up the red dot trail and going down on the blue dot trail.
If you take the red dot route up, you will be entertained with a variety of features – small rocks, big rocks, boulders, slabs of flat rocks, and tree roots of all shapes and sizes, and of course, stunning vistas of fall foliage.
During the peak of the foliage season, you will not be hiking alone. Avoid weekends, especially Columbus Day weekend. Weekdays are usually slow. Still, parking could be an issue when the weather is nice.
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