Best Place to View Fall Foliage? From the Top

best fall foliage views - monument at high point

When it comes to prime leaf peeping spots, the Northeast boasts destinations above the rest. Literally. From state parks to historic sites, climb one of these towers for a different perspective of the changing autumn colors. And as a bonus, learn some area history on the climb!

If you’re in search of the best places to view fall foliage, these are some of the “top” destinations.

For more foliage fun, scroll down to play our fall-themed Wordrow.

Castle Craig Tower at Hubbard Park

Peak Drive, Meriden, Conn.

Those driving along Connecticut’s Interstate 691 have probably wondered about the round stone tower standing tall above Meriden. Next time, plan a detour to visit Castle Craig, located more than a thousand feet above sea level on the city’s East Peak. Castle Craig opened to the public in 1900 and is located in the 1,800-acre Hubbard Park.

An interior stairway leads to an observation platform atop the tower that affords sweeping views of the Sleeping Giant Mountain range, the buildings of New Haven, and on a clear day, even a glimpse of the Long Island Sound.

Good to know: You can hike to the tower or drive on a road open from May 1-Oct. 31, weather permitting.

best fall foliage views - heublein tower
The exterior of the Heublein Tower. (Courtesy Friends of the Heublein Tower)

Heublein Tower

1 Summit Drive, Simsbury, Conn.

Built in 1914 as a summer home for the family behind A.1. Sauce, the 165-foot-tall tower offers panoramic views of Connecticut, Massachusetts and beyond.

“I say, why go to Vermont when you can just come to the tower?” said Jay T. Willerup, the president of the board of directors of the Friends of Heublein Tower.

Now part of Talcott Mountain State Park, there’s a 1 1/4-mile hike to the structure. Take the stairs to the top floor observatory, and on the way, get a glimpse of a dining, living and bedroom floor, which appear much as the Heublein family might have used them.

The paneled and windowed observatory, once used as a ballroom, offers 360-degree views.

You can see Mount Tom and Springfield, in Massachusetts, and Connecticut’s Bradley Airport, according to Willerup.

Good to know: The third week in October is typically peak leaf peeping time at the towerOpen seasonally.

5 Iconic American Road Trips

Hit the road on one of these amazing routes to get a real feel for all America has to offer.

Download Now!

Monument at High Point State Park

1480 State Route 23, Sussex, N.J.

To really appreciate the Garden State in autumn, you need to climb to the highest elevation possible, which can be found at High Point, the summit of the Kittatinny Ridge, rising 1,803 feet above sea level.

Once you’re there, check out the Monument at High Point, completed in 1930 to honor New Jersey’s war veterans. Climb the tower’s 291 stairs to the top for a view of the Pocono and Catskill Mountains, the Wallkill River Valley and more.

You can walk, hike or drive to the monument, part of the larger 16,171-acre High Point State Park which offers seasonal outdoor activities including hiking and walking trails, camping, fishing and boating.

Good to know: The monument is open weekends in September and October.

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory

711 Fort Knox Road, Prospect, Maine

When it comes to the best place to view fall foliage, the Penobscot Narrows Bridge has a height advantage. Here, visitors can ogle the landscape from the highest public bridge observatory in the world. Take a 42-story elevator ride to the glass-enclosed, three level observatory which offers views that span 40 miles (on a clear day) in every direction, including the Penobscot River and Bay and the distant western mountains.

Although considered a modern marvel – it opened in 2007 – there’s a rich sense of local history delivered through interpretive panels. Back on terra firma, explore the adjacent Fort Knox, a preserved military fortification which was established in 1844.

Good to know: The Observatory and Fort Knox are open through Oct. 31. Admission is required. All visitors must enter through the Fort Knox State Historic Site.

best fall foliage views - perkins memorial tower
The view from Perkins Memorial Tower. (Karen Croke)

Perkins Memorial Tower

Perkins Memorial Drive, Stony Point, N.Y.

Constructed in 1934 as the crowning touch to Bear Mountain State Park, this 40-foot-tall tower located 2 miles up the mountain’s summit, served as a weather station and fire lookout until the 1950s. On a clear day, you can see north to the Catskills and all the way south to the top of Manhattan’s skyscrapers. The view spans four states – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

There is no elevator, so be prepared to climb, but the ascent on wide steps is not difficult. Each landing offers interpretive displays and photos which describe the view and bit of the history of Bear Mountain State Park.

Good to know: You can hike or drive to the tower via Perkins Memorial Drive, a steep, winding road, which may close due to weather. Call 845-786-2701 before you go. The drive and tower are open April 1-Nov. 3. The state park was damaged in a summer storm and some parts of it may remain closed to visitors. Check the website (linked above) or call ahead.

fall foliage views in the northeast - tower of victory
The Tower of Victory at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site. (Courtesy of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation)

Tower of Victory

84 Liberty St., Newburgh, N.Y.

Located high on the west shore of Hudson River, the tower opened in 1887 on the site used by Gen. George Washington as his headquarters during the American Revolution.

It was commissioned by U.S. Secretary of War Robert T. Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, to honor Washington and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the disbanding of the Continental Army.

Today, visitors can climb a spiral staircase inside the 53-foot-tall limestone structure to take in views of the Hudson River, Mount Beacon, the Hudson Highlands and West Point in the distance. Just imagine when the site was an important defensive position for Washington’s army.

The tower is part of Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site, the nation’s first publicly owned historic site, which opened in 1850. Take a tour of the onsite museum and adjacent Hasbrouck House where Washington and his wife, Martha, were in residence from 1782 to 1783.

Good to know: Tours of the tower are by appointment only, so call ahead to book: 845-562-1195. Open through Oct. 29.

Pulpit Rock Tower

Neptune Drive, Rye, N.H.

This eight-story concrete tower is a relic of WWII, built by the U.S. military as a coastal observatory, one of 14 on the New Hampshire coast. Pulpit Rock is the only surviving tower. Soldiers once patrolled its observation deck, nearly 100 feet above the shoreline, looking for enemy ships in Portsmouth Harbor and its naval yard. Today, take in the peaceful views of the harbor and sea coast.

Good to know: Tours are only given a few times each year by the Friends of Pulpit Rock, although private tours can be arranged by appointment by emailing friendsofpulpitrocktower@gmail.com. For info on scheduled tours, follow on Facebook.

Play Our Fall Foliage Wordrow!

What do you think is the best place to view fall foliage? Have you been to any of these towers? Tell us in the comments.

Plan you next foliage adventure with AAA Travel.

Featured image: Monument at High Point. (Courtesy of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection)

SUBSCRIBE TO YOUR AAA NEWSLETTER

Sign up and receive updates for all of the latest articles on automotive, travel, money, lifestyle and so much more!

7 Thoughts on “Best Place to View Fall Foliage? From the Top

  1. Poets Seat Tower in Greenfield, MA and Mount Greylock in the Berkshires! Take a drive out Route 2 from Boston to see these two places. If you want to take a hike there is also the Fire Tower In Shelburne Falls. Trailhead is right off Route 2.

  2. You should be mentioning the Adirondacks for fall foliage. Places like Keene and Keene Valley, NY. There is such beautiful foliage and the views are amazing! The people are so friendly. Good restaurants too! All the surrounding areas are also breathtaking. Stopped at Old Mountain Coffee Co. and had great coffee and very good food! Really enjoyable. This will be a repeated visit for many years.

  3. Mt. Battie Tower at Camden Hills State Park. Beautiful panoramic views of the coast and fall foliage in the quaint New England town of Camden

  4. How cañan article about viewing fall foliage not include Mount Greylock? This highest peak in Massachusetts and it’s attendant Ward Memorial Tower has a 360° view of four surrounding states – it’s spectacular!

Leave A Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and may or may not be published at the editor’s discretion. Only comments that are relevant to the article and add value to the Your AAA community will be considered. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED. REQUIRED FIELDS ARE MARKED *