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Northeast Fall Foliage Trips You Have to Take at Least Once

There’s nothing like the sight of fall foliage in the Northeast. Take a trip out to one of these locations, perfect for spotting the beautiful changing colors of the season.

Northeast fall foliage

With the onset of autumn comes an array of brightly colored leaves all along the East Coast. We’ve put together a list of great spots for taking in the gorgeous Northeast fall foliage in New York, New Jersey and New England, along with lodging suggestions if your visit requires an overnight stay.

Note: Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, please see official websites before visiting to check for restrictions or closures.

Peak Fall Foliage 2020

We’re lucky to live in the best region for fall foliage. People travel from all over the country to see the colors of the leaves changing in the Northeast, but we get to enjoy it right in our own backyards. While each year it varies slightly, peak fall foliage 2020 is generally around mid-October. See when your state is predicted to peak.

New York Fall Foliage Trips

Long Island

Do: Although Long Island is a popular summer spot, its wooded areas, parks and preserves are top spots for viewing stunning arrays of brightly colored leaves during the fall. The North Shore of the island is more wooded, so you’ll likely want to travel along Route 25 heading east for the best views.

Discover: While leaf peeping, spend some time outdoors at Long Island’s parks, such as Belmont Lake State ParkCaumsett State Historic Park Preserve and Heckscher State Park. Keep your eye out for common trees on the island, such as the red maple and black gum.

Stay: Where you choose to lodge for the night will likely depend on which part of Long Island you pick for leaf peeping. Take a look at AAA Diamond hotels, including Hauppauge’s Hyatt Regency Long Island, Residence Inn by Marriott Long Island and Hampton Inn Long Island.

New York City

Do: Obviously, one of the best spots for the fall foliage viewing is Manhattan’s 840-acre Central Park, which provides beautiful views of leaves set against a backdrop of the city’s skyline.

Discover: From romantic art museums and botanical gardens to landmark buildings where you can view the treetops from way up above, you won’t have any difficulty finding things to do in New York City. Find savings on NYC attractions.

Stay: New York City has an abundance of hotels to choose from. AAA recommends Sheraton Times Square, Hampton Inn Times Square and the Fairfield Inn.

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Westchester County

Do: One of the best times to take a trip to Westchester County is during peak fall foliage season, when visitors can spot the lovely colors decorating farms and estates. One option is to take Route 202 to Bear Mountain, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Hudson River surrounded by red and gold leaves.

Discover: For more fun outdoor activity that can be combined with leaf-peeping, stop by one of Westchester’s parks, such as Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway, where you can see the 560-foot Spitzenberg Mountain at Blue Mountain Reservation.

Stay: AAA Diamond hotels in Westchester County include White Plains’ Cambria Hotel and Suites and Tarrytown’s Westchester Marriott.

Dutchess County

Do: During your visit to Dutchess County, you’ll likely spot leaves with a variety of colors from burnt orange and dark purple to yellow and bright red. With 35 miles of meadows, streams and wooded hills, Rhinebeck is an excellent spot for Northeast fall foliage trips.

Discover: The county has a number of farms to pair with your leaf-spotting, including Barton Orchards in Poughquag and Cedar Heights Orchard in Rhinebeck.

Stay: Poughkeepsie’s Days Inn by Wyndham, Best Western Plus The Inn & Suites at the Falls and Courtyard Marriott are all AAA Diamond properties.

Ulster County

Do: A highly recommended spot for fall foliage viewing in Ulster County is the Shawangunk Ridge, where drivers can look over Wallkill Valley and see mountain climbers traverse the sheer granite cliff faces.

Discover: While you’re out looking at leaves, swing by Minnewaska State Park, which provides space for picnicking. Another option is to take a ride on the Rip Van Winkle II for a two-hour sightseeing cruise that travels down the Hudson River, where you can take in lighthouses, historic sites and plenty of foliage.

Stay: In Ulster County: Kingston’s Courtyard by Marriott, Hampton Inn and Best Western Plus Kingston Hotel and Conference Center. In Rochester: Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and Hyatt Regency.

Herkimer County

Do: One of the state’s top draws for leaf-peepers is the Adirondacks, although the northern portion of the county is also a hot spot. The further north you go, the earlier the leaves turn. If you are driving, try to take the Adirondack North Country Scenic Byways, where you’ll see some of the brightest colored leaves in small, quaint communities.

Discover: Feel like getting some exercise while viewing the fall colors? Take a walk along the winding 153-mile Central Adirondack Trail, through the south-central portion of the Adirondack Park. And Old Forge, a busy tourist locale year-round, is another great pick for viewing red, yellow and gold leaves while walking along its trails.

Stay: Little Falls’ Travelodge by Windham or Herkimer’s Red Roof Inn & Suites.

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northeast fall foliage

New Jersey Fall Foliage Trips

The Woodlands

Do: A good idea might be to start your trip in Riverside and make stops in Wanaque and Midvale, passing through the Wanaque Reservoir. Some of the best views can be found in Ringwood State Park, where visitors can view leaves on nature trails or by taking a canoe out on the water.

Discover: While you’re in the area, stop by the New Jersey Botanical Gardens at Skylands, which is home to a variety of garden types, including  annual, Italianate, perennial and wildflower gardens.

Stay: You’ll find AAA Diamond hotels in nearby Mahwah, including Courtyard Marriott, Sheraton Mahwah Hotel and DoubleTree.

The Pinelands

Do: A trip to the Pinelands would be recommended for mid-October to early November, when you’ll get a peek at the Northeast’s peak fall foliage for 2020. A good place to start is Red Lion Circle and then travel south to the Atsion Recreation Area, where visitors can boat, camp and fish. Then, travel east to Wharton State Forest, a popular spot for canoeing, boating, fishing, hiking, camping and horseback riding. The forest is the largest in the state and one of the most highly recommended in New Jersey for its Northeast fall foliage.

Discover: While you’re in the area, consider taking a trip to Batsto Village, a historic iron-making town that was once a source for the Continental Army and home of the Batsto Mansion.

Stay: Book a room at the Ramada, Wingate by Wyndham and Holiday Inn Express in nearby Vineland (approximately 30 minutes away).

New Jersey Mountains

Do: Pay a visit to Branchville’s Stokes State Forest, where you’ll find hiking paths, picnic spots and scenic views. Then, drop by the 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, often cited as one of New Jersey’s most scenic locations. Some of the best views of foliage can be seen while boating along the Delaware River.

Discover: If hiking is a priority, stop by High Point State Park in Sussex. It has the highest elevation in the state and offers incredible views as well as hiking and biking paths. On a clear day, you can see up to 80 miles.

Stay: There are a few options for lodging in the area, including Hamburg’s Grand Cascades Lodge and the Quality Inn near Mountain Creek. There’s also the luxurious Crystal Springs Resort in Vernon.

The Farmlands

Do: Head southeast from Buena Vista through Estell Manor and Tuckahoe and then stop by the Belleplain State Forest, where you can view oak, cranberry, red maple and gum trees along Lake Nummy.

Discover: Visit nearby Mauricetown, a historic sea captain’s village that is known for its abundance of antique shops, or Millville, the site of the Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, a great place to learn about the state’s glass making heritage. The Museum of American Glass is the largest of its type in the nation. A last stop on your tour could be Parvin State Park, where the shoreline of Parvin Lake is filled with spectacular Northeast fall foliage views.

Stay: In and around Millville, try AAA Diamond Hampton Inn and Suites and Quality Inn and Suites.

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Vermont Fall Foliage Trips 

Do: The mountains of Vermont have the largest percentage of maple trees in New England, making the Green Mountain State one of the must-see regions for leaf peeping. One of the top routes for checking out the orange and yellow leaves decorating the landscape is taking the Green Mountain Byway VT 100 and passing through such towns as Stowe and Waterbury. Then, pick up Route 125, also known as Middlebury Gap Road, and travel through the Green Mountain Natural Forest.

Discover: There are plenty of fun activities you can pair with your fall foliage viewing, including everything from taking a cruise on Lake Champlain to getting great views via a hot air balloon ride in Stowe.

Stay: AAA Diamond Rated hotels in Vermont include Rutland’s Best Western Inn, Killington’s pet-friendly Mountain Lodge and Courtyard Burlington Taft Corners.

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northeast fall foliage

New Hampshire Fall Foliage Trips  

Do: The foliage peak in New Hampshire can vary from year to year, but it typically begins in late September in the far north, early October in the White Mountains and mid-October in the southern portion of the state. Some of the state’s most gorgeous leaves can be spotted during a drive along the Kancamagus Highway from Lincoln to Conway through the White Mountains.

Discover:  You can find great fall foliage viewing at Bear Notch Road in Bartlett and at the Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch State Park.

Stay: Check out the EconoLodge Inn & Suites, Woodwards Resort and Holiday Inn Express & Suites, all located in Lincoln.

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The Berkshires/Massachusetts Fall Foliage Trips 

Do: Your best bet for a Northeast fall foliage road trip is along Route 2, known as the Mohawk Trail. The road, which travels through the Berkshire Mountains, has several great spots for leaf-peeping. Rocky Mountain Park stretches 2 miles along the Connecticut River and features hiking trails and the popular Poet’s Seat Tower, as well as Shelburne Falls, home to the famous Bridge of Flowers trolley bridge, and Zoar Outdoor and Berkshire East zip line tours.

Discover: Pair your fall foliage viewings with a trip to the Mohawk Trail State Forest or North Adams, a liberal arts college town that offers shopping and cultural activities, including MASS MoCA and other galleries. One of the area’s most stunning views is atop the summit of Mount Greylock in Lanesborough.

Stay: AAA recommends Greenfield’s Hampton Inn & Suites and Holiday Inn Berkshires in North Adams.

Central Massachusetts Fall Foliage Trips

Do: You’ll find quaint small towns and spectacular views along Route 2, such as Harvard, home of the Fruitlands Museum and Shaker Village Historic District, as well as Phillipston and the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center, featuring a 7-mile stretch along the Connecticut River where visitors can take in stunning sights on the site’s 26 miles of trails.

Discover: If you visit the Northfield Mountain center, take a canoe or kayak out at Barton Cove or take part in a guided riverboat cruise. The more adventurous can spot fall foliage while rock climbing at Rose Ledge.

Stay: Leominster’s Double Tree by Hilton, Worcester’s Beechwood Hotel and Hampton Inn.

Boston Region Fall Foliage Trips

Do: Begin your tour in Lexington, where there is not only lovely scenery, but also key spots from the American Revolution. Also, drop by the Minute Man National Historical Park.

Discover: Boston’s Public Garden, the tree-lined Esplanade along the Charles River, the Rose Kennedy Greenway and various neighborhoods, such as Beacon Hill, Back Bay and Bay Village are among the top spots for seeing fall foliage in the city. Of course, the Arnold Arboretum has a variety of trees with stunning yellow, red and orange leaves in the autumn.

Stay: There are many AAA Diamond Rated hotels in the Boston area. For a luxurious overnight stay, there’s the Intercontinental Boston or the Fairmont Copley Plaza. Other options: Boston Harbor Hotel, Residence Inn by Marriott, Hyatt Regency and DoubleTree by Hilton.

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Route 15 /Connecticut Fall Foliage Trips 

Do: The Merritt Parkway, also known as Route 15, offers beautiful views. Start your trip in Greenwich and head to the Audubon Center, a 295-acre sanctuary with seven miles of trails. You can also find an assortment of colorful leaves at the Stamford Historical SocietyStamford Museum and Bartlett Arboretum.

Discover: Make a stop at the Silvermine Guild Arts Center for galleries, exhibitions and music, and then pick your own apples, peaches, pumpkins or flowers at Silverman’s Farm.

Stay: AAA recommends the Homestead Inn, Stanton House Inn, Sheraton Stamford Hotel, Stamford Marriott Hotel and Hotel Zero Degrees.

Route 7 /Connecticut Fall Foliage Trips

Do: The Litchfield Hills have been named by National Geographic as one of the most scenic driving destinations in the U.S., and Kent, one of the towns on Route 7, was named the best Northeast fall foliage town in New England by Yankee Magazine. Don’t miss Bull’s Bridge, a covered bridge that is open to auto traffic, and Kent Falls State Park, which has the state’s highest waterfall and a path that leads to the summit, where visitors will find scenic views. You don’t want to miss the classic red covered bridge on Route 128 in West Cornwall.

Discover: During your drive, there will be many opportunities to pull over and visit historic sites and cultural institutions, such as the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art and the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association Museum, which has the largest display of steam and gas tractors in the state.

Stay: There are a few hotels along Route 7 that are AAA Diamond Rated, such as Quality Inn, La Quinta Inn and Danbury’s Maron Hotel and Suites,

Routes 9 and 169 /Connecticut Fall Foliage Trips

Do: Although combining these two routes will involve a fair amount of driving, it’ll be worth the extra gas. Route 9 has Scotts’ Connecticut Valley Orchards in Deep River. Route 169 winds through colonial homesteads and historic New England towns. Visitors to the Vanilla Bean Cafe will be able to listen to live music in a 19th century barn and the Inn at Woodstock Hill, which is dated back to 1816, overlooks Mystic’s Quiet Corner and offers terrific views of the foliage.

Discover: There are many attractions along Route 9, including RiverQuest, a narrated cruise on the lower Connecticut River. Route 169’s top spots are Scranton’s Shops in South Woodstock, where more than 65 artisans sell crafts and antiques, and the Sharpe Hill Vineyard and Winery.

Stay: The Inn at Middletown, Saybrook Point Resort and Marina and Old Lyme’s Bee & Thistle Inn are all AAA-approved options.

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northeast fall foliage trips

Rhode Island Fall Foliage Trips 

Do: There are several options for leaf-peeping in the Ocean State. In the Newport region, one of your best bets is to wind your way down Ocean Drive, which offers great views of the Atlantic Ocean and Fort Adams State Park. Points of interest include Cliff Walk (great views of Narragansett Bay and Jamestown Island on this mansion-lined walk) and Fort Adams State Park (with everything from sailing lessons on the water to underground catacombs). In the Providence region, foliage enthusiasts will want to pay a visit to Goddard Park, which is surrounded by miles of stone walls and features horse trails, a beach, golf course and open fields with an abundance of trees.

Discover: If your trip to Rhode Island takes you to Jamestown, be sure to check out the Rose Island Lighthouse, reached via ferry from Newport, as well as Beavertail State Park and the Watson Farm, which has walking tours and classes, such as painting or harvesting plants. Providence has numerous fall festivals, such as the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at the Roger Williams Park Zoo, and places to see, including the Providence Athenaeum and John Brown House (reservation only).

Stay: You’ll find a number of AAA Diamond Rated hotels in Newport and Providence, including The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina, Newport’s Ivy Lodge, Hotel Providence and Providence Marriott Downtown.

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Maine Fall Foliage Trips 

Do: In Maine, visitors can view the foliage from its many hiking trails or lakes, such as Highland Lake or Sebago Lake. The Maine Highlands Moosehead Lakes region is home to the state’s largest lake Moosehead Lake and offers ample opportunities for leaf peeping along the Bangor waterfront. You’ll also find great views at the scenic Spencer Pond and peaceful, quiet Wilson Pond.

Discover: Take the kids to the New England Outdoor Center, which offers lodging, restaurants and a number of activities, such as water rafting, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife tours and hiking.

Stay: AAA has Diamond Rated Hotels all across Maine, depending on which part of the state you are visiting. The list includes Bangor’s Four Points by Sheraton and Best Western White House Inn, Portland’s Regency Hotel and Spa and Hilton Garden Inn, Boothbay Harbor’s Flagship Inn and Suites and Kennebunk’s Waldo Emerson Inn.

Do you know of any other good places to see Northeast fall foliage? Tell us what we missed in the comments!

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For more Northeast fall foliage adventures, check out the Your AAA Fall Fest

This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated. 

Comments
  • Jeanne N.

    I am surprised that this article recommended Bear Mountain in Westchester County, NY, but failed to mention the Bear Mountain Inn as a place to stay — 3020 Seven Lakes Drive, Bear Mountain, NY 10911 — (845) 233-2152. The Inn is right in the midst of all the glorious autumn foliage. I have not stayed at the Inn because I live in the area, but I have gone to their spa and the whole place is lovely. The hotels listed in the article are probably fine, but they are a bit of a drive from Bear Mountain. And White Plains is a nightmare in which to drive – IMHO! Tarrytown and West Harrison are lovely historic towns and a bit better for driving. Tarrytown abuts Sleepy Hollow, famous for Washington Irving’s famous “Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and has many historic sites to see.

    • Generally the Northeast refers to the six New England states so was surprised to see New York and New Jersey as the first two states listed. For some of us those states are quite a long drive, not one that could be accomplished in a day, for certain. In these times of Co-Vid risings, its not very logical to plan overnights.

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