With the onset of autumn comes an array of beautiful, 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 as well as some tips on where to lodge if your visit requires an overnight stay and pointers on where to eat.
New York fall foliage trips
Do: The island’s foliage peak is typically the last week in October through the first week of November. 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 Park, Caumsett State Historic Park Reserve and Heckscher State Park. Keep your eye out for common wetland 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’s Diamond Rated hotels, which include Hauppauge’s Hyatt Regency Long Island, Residence Inn by Marriott Long Island, Hampton Inn Long Island and Three Village Inn.
New York City
Do: Obviously, one of the best spots for the fall foliage viewing is Manhattan’s 843-acre Central Park, which provides beautiful views of leaves set against a backdrop of the city’s skyline. Some of the trees you might spot include tulip, flowering dogwood and yellow birch.
Discover: From romantic art museums and botanical gardens to landmark buildings where you can view the tree tops from way up above, you won’t have any difficulty finding things to do in New York City. Find savings on NYC attractions.
Stay: There are numerous options for lodging in the five boroughs and some of AAA’s Diamond Rated hotels include The Westin New York Grand Central, Sheraton Times Square, W Times Square and The Franklin Hotel.
Do: The best time for viewing leaves in Westchester County is during its peak between mid-October and mid-November, when visitors can spot the lovely colors decorating farms and estates. One option is to take Route 202 to Bear Mountain, where you can take in a panoramic view of the 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, which includes the 560-foot Spitzenberg Mountain at Blue Mountain Reservation.
Stay: AAA’s Diamond Rated hotels for Westchester County include White Plains’ Cambria Hotel and Suites, Tarrytown’s Westchester Marriott, West Harrison’s Renaissance Westchester Hotel and Tarrytown’s Castle Hotel and Spa.
Do: The northeast fall foliage peak for Dutchess County is early to mid-October. During your visit, you’ll likely spot leaves with a variety of colors from burnt orange and dark purple to yellow and bright red. A great spot for northeast fall foliage trips is in Rhinebeck, which has 35 miles of meadows, streams and wooded hills.
Discover: There are numerous festivals in Dutchess during the fall, such as the Beacon Pumpkin Festival. The county also has a number of farms to pair with your leaf-spotting, including Barton Orchards in Poughquag and Cedar Heights Orchard.
Stay: The hotels that have been Diamond Rated by AAA include Poughkeepsie’s Days Inn, Best Western Plus and Courtyard Marriott.
Do: The best time to view leaves in Ulster County is between early to mid-October. A highly recommended spot is the Shawangunk Ridge, where drivers can look over Walkill Valley and see mountain climbers traverse the shear 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, a 300-passenger boat that travels down the Hudson River, where you can take in lighthouses, historic sites and plenty of foliage.
Stay: AAA Diamond Rated hotels in Ulster County include Kingston’s Courtyard by Marriott, Hampton Inn and Best Western Plus Hotel and Conference Center as well as Rochester’s Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, 428 Mt. Vernon and Hyatt Regency.
Do: Early October is the best time for viewing northeast fall foliage in Herkimer County. 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 quicker the leaves turn. If you are driving, be sure 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 beautiful fall colors? Take a walk along the 153-mile Central Adirondack Trail, which winds 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: There are fewer AAA Diamond Rated hotels in Herkimer County than in other regions, but some options include Little Falls’ Travelodge Inn and Suites and Herkimer’s Red Roof Inn and Suites.
New Jersey fall foliage trips
Do: The best time of the autumn to view foliage in this region is in early to mid-October. A good idea might be to start your trip in Riverside and make stops in Wanaque and Midvale, passing through the Wanaque Reservoir. One of the best views can be found in Ringwood State Park, which includes the Norvin Green Forest and Shepherd Lake. 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 Ringwood Manor, a 51-room mansion with period furniture from the 1700s, and the New Jersey Botanical Gardens at Skylands, which features 90 acres of gardens.
Stay: Mahwah is the closest town for which AAA has provided Diamond Rated Hotels. Some choices include Courtyard by Marriott, Sheraton Mahwah Hotel and Double Tree.
Do: A trip to the Pinelands would be recommended for late October to early November, when northeast fall foliage is at its peak. 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, which is the largest in the state and is a popular spot for canoeing, boating, fishing, hiking, nature walks, camping and horseback riding. The forest is 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. Also, the Chatsworth Cranberry Festival is held nearby every October.
Stay: There are hardly any AAA Diamond Rated hotels nearby but Vineland, which is approximately 30 minutes away, has a Ramada, Wingate by Wyndham and Holiday Inn Express.
New Jersey Mountains
Do: Pay a visit to Branchville’s Stokes State Forest, which offers numerous hiking paths, picnic spots and scenic views. Then, drop by the 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which is often cited as one of New Jersey’s most scenic locations. Some of the best views of northeast fall foliage can be seen while boating along the Delaware River.
Discover: If hiking is a priority, stop by High Point State Park in Sussex, which 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 unique options for lodging in the area, including Wantage’s High Point Country Inn, which is located on seven scenic acres, as well as Hamburg’s Grand Cascades Lodge, both of which are AAA Diamond rated. There’s also the luxurious Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg.
Do: Late October or early November would be the best time of year for a northeast fall foliage trip to New Jersey’s Farmlands region. 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, which is 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: Millville’s AAA Diamond Rated hotels include the Country Inn and Suites by Carlson and Quality Inn.
Vermont fall foliage trips
Do: The mountains of Vermont have the largest percentage of maple trees in New England, so the Green Mountain State is one of the must-see regions for leaf peeping. The best time for viewing fall foliage in Vermont is typically the second week of October. 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 numerous fun activities you can pair with your fall foliage viewing, including everything from taking a cruise on Lake Champlain to visiting the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury or getting great views via a hot air balloon ride in Stowe.
Stay: AAA has a number of Diamond Rated hotels in Vermont, including Rutland’s Best Western Inn, North Hero’s Shore Acres Inn and Alburg’s Ransom Bay Inn.
New Hampshire fall foliage trips
Do: The northeast fall 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 Route 112 from Lincoln to Conway through the White Mountains.
Discover: For a more fast-paced leaf peeping experience, ride the Bretton Woods Canopy Tour’s zip-line or, for a great view at a slower pace, hop on the 15-minute Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway at Franconia Notch. Some other great spots for fall foliage include Bear Notch Road in Bartlett and the Flume Gorge, which has waterfalls and covered bridges, in Franconia Notch State Park.
Stay: Diamond Rated hotels you might consider checking out include the Econo Lodge Inn, The Mountain Club on Loon, Woodward’s Resort and Rivergreen Resort Hotel, all of which are located in Lincoln.
The Berkshires/Massachusetts fall foliage trips
Do: Your best bet for a northeast fall foliage road trip is along Route 2, which is known as the Mohawk Trail. The road, which travels through the Berkshire Mountains, includes several great spots for leaf peeping, such as Rocky Mountain Park, which stretches two miles along the Connecticut River and features hiking trails and the popular Poet’s Seat Tower, as well as Shelburne Falls, which features 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, as well as a fall foliage festival in October. One of the area’s most stunning views is atop the summit of Mount Greylock in Lanesborough.
Stay: A few AAA Diamond Rated hotel options during your Berkshires visit include Greenfield’s Hampton Inn and Suites and The Brandt House B&B.
Central Massachusetts fall foliage trips
Do: You’ll find quaint small towns and spectacular views along Route 2, which includes Harvard, home of the Fruitlands Museum and Shaker Village Historic District, as well as Phillipston and the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center, which features a seven-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 on the Quinnetukut II. The more adventurous can spot fall foliage while rock climbing at Rose Ledge.
Stay: There are numerous AAA Diamond Rated hotel options in central Massachusetts, such as Leominster’s Double Tree by Hilton, Westminster’s Wachusett Village Inn and Worcester’s Beechwood Hotel.
Boston region fall foliage trips
Do: Begin your tour in Lexington, which not only offers lovely scenery, but also key spots from the American Revolution. Liberty Ride’s bus tour of the area drops by the Lexington Battle Green, Orchard House, Colonial Inn and Concord Museum. Also, drop by the Minute Man National Historical Park, which commemorates the opening battle of the Revolutionary War.
Discover: Top spots for seeing beautiful northeast fall foliage in the city include 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. And, of course, the Arnold Arboretum has numerous trees with stunning yellow, red and orange leaves in the autumn.
Stay: AAA has many Diamond Rated hotels in the Boston area. For a luxurious overnight stay, there’s the Intercontinental Boston or the Fairmont Copley Plaza. Other options include Boston Harbor Hotel, Sheraton Boston, Residence Inn by Marriott, Hyatt Regency and DoubleTree Suites in Cambridge.
Route 15 /Connecticut fall foliage trips
Do: The Merritt Parkway, also known as Route 15, offers beautiful northeast fall foliage 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 Society, Stamford Museum and Bartlett Arboretum, which has 91 acres of trails as well as gardens and greenhouses.
Stay: AAA’s Diamond Rated hotels in the region include 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 United States and Kent, one of the towns on Route 7, was named the best northeast fall foliage town in New England by Yankee Magazine. Must-see spots along your route include 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. Also, don’t 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, the colonial-themed Keeler Tavern, Danbury Museum and Historical Society 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 Ridgefield’s West Lane Inn and Danbury’s Maron Hotel and Suites, Quality Inn and La Quinta Inn.
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 includes Scotts’ Connecticut Valley Orchards in Deep River and the Essex Steam Train, on which riders will get fantastic views from inside a restored railcar. 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 the Goodspeed Opera House and RiverQuest, a narrated cruise on the lower Connecticut River, while 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.
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 (includes everything from sailing lessons on the water to underground catacombs). In the Providence region, northeast fall foliage enthusiasts will want to pay a visit to Goddard Park, which is surrounded by miles of stone walls and includes horse trails, a beach, golf course and open fields with an abundance of trees.
Discover: If your trip to Rhode Island takes you to Conanicut Island, be sure to check out the Rose Island Lighthouse, which can be 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. If you’re in Newport, visit the Newport Exploration Center, which includes a maritime museum for children. And 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, John Brown House and Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Stay: You’ll find numerous AAA Diamond Rated hotels in Newport and Providence, including The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina, Hyatt Regency Newport Hotel and Spa, Newport’s Almondy Inn, Hotel Providence and Providence Marriott Downtown.
Maine fall foliage trips
Do: Northern Maine’s northeast fall foliage peak typically occurs between late September and early October, while the western and mid-coast regions of the state peak in early to mid-October and the southern portion of the state is best to view from mid- to late October. The state’s mountain and lakes region enables visitors to view beautiful foliage from its numerous 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. And if your trip coincides with Halloween, take a haunted inn or lighthouse tour in Kennebunkport or Rockland.
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, Bath’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!
To learn more about AAA Diamond Ratings, click here.