Autumn (or Fall in the US!) is one of my favourite times of year, after Spring. The days grow shorter, it’s a time for harvesting the fruits of the summer and going for long walks in the last of the sunshine. I love seeing the leaves change colour, and one of my USA bucket list items to see the fall foliage in New England. However, I know that isn’t the only place to see the beautiful autumn colours, so I asked my fellow bloggers to share some of the best places to see fall foliage in the USA.
Vermont is a state that has gained international recognition for its fall foliage. The whole region of New England is gorgeous in the fall, but Vermont is especially spectacular. This is likely because it is dotted with picturesque villages and classic farms, and home to the verdant Green Mountains.
If you only can go one place in Vermont in the fall, however, where should you go? I recommend Woodstock, VT.
Woodstock has often been heralded as one of America’s prettiest towns. It has all the trappings of a traditional New England village: covered bridges, an old general store, a charming downtown, historic homes, cows, maple syrup etc. Combine that with the splendor of the fall foliage and you have the recipe for a perfect destination.
By Amy, New England With Love
Where to Stay in Woodstock
There are some fabulous Airbnbs in Woodstock to choose from, like this gorgeous barn conversion or this cozy farmhouse which would be great for families. For a romantic couple’s weekend, try this lovely log home apartment in the village of Woodstock or a private room in Cynthia’s bed and breakfast, both of which get great reviews.
Napa Valley, California
Looking for fall color in the western United States? Head to Napa Valley in Northern California. With trees, shrubs, and vines all dressed in brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds, Napa Valley is a spectacular leaf-peeping destination in late fall.
As at other times of the year, there are lots of awesome things to do in Napa Valley in the fall. Drive through the valley, admiring the fall foliage, or, for a fabulous aerial view of the colors, you may want to consider a hot air balloon ride over the valley.
The weather in Napa Valley in late fall is amazing, so consider a bike ride, or ride the Napa Valley Wine Train. Or go hiking in Bothe-Napa Valley State Park for an up-close look at the colors!
Enjoy the flavors of fall in area restaurants. Savor butternut squash soup, or treat yourself to a slice of pumpkin pie at Bouchon Bakery or pumpkin ice cream at the Oxbow Public Market in Napa.
Whatever you choose to do on your fall visit to Napa Valley, you are guaranteed to have a fabulous time!
By Dhara, Roadtripping California
Where to Stay in Napa Valley
If you’re looking for a rural retreat in Napa Valley, try this cabin in the mountains between Sonoma and Napa Valley which has beautiful mountain views. Alternatively, this gorgeous house in Kenwood is close to the wineries so you can taste some wine in the valley before relaxing for the evening in your own private hot tub.
There are lots of options for Airbnbs in Napa Valley, you can take a look at all of them here.
Albany, New York
Having left the eastern United States over a decade ago, I sometimes forget how beautiful the autumn leaves can be. Last October, I flew into Albany, New York for a wedding. There were several evenings left free to explore the area, and the most beautiful spot I saw was the Saratoga National Historical Park – a park chronicling the Battles of Saratoga in the 1700’s.
While I learned a lot about the battles inside of the museum, I also took away a huge appreciation for how beautiful the eastern United States is, and in particular, how beautiful this small stretch of New York State really is.
The park was breathtaking, because the fall foliage was in full swing. Vast forest featuring bright red, yellow and orange hues were colorful and never-ending. There are paved paths that are walkable all throughout the park, featuring different plant life as well as different battlefield information as you go. It is truly a gorgeous little corner of New York State to stop and visit the fall colors.
By Monica, This Rare Earth
Where to Stay Near Saratoga National Historical Park
This private room in a luxury log home is a stone’s throw from the National Historical Park and has lovely views of Equinox Mountain and fall colors, perfect for a couple’s getaway. If you are into swimming and kayaking, this cute lake house is right on the water of Saratoga Lake, close to the town of Saratoga Springs and the National Park.
This spacious loft in the centre of Mechanicville could be a great option for families or friends, or how about this apartment in Saratoga Springs with access to a swimming pool? There are lots of other options to choose from, you can find your perfect place here.
Although it may come as a surprise, Birmingham, Alabama is a beautiful destination for viewing fall foliage. Located in the central part of the state, Birmingham is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Due to this, there are many rolling hills and fantastic overlooks from which to see fall colors galore.
In addition to the many parks, overlooks and even neighborhoods in the city that boast gorgeous views of fall foliage, the surrounding areas particularly heading north also reveal vibrant colors. If you wish to see the foliage up close, take advantage of several hiking trails within Birmingham. Local favorites include Oak Mountain State Park and Moss Rock Preserve.
Not too far from the Birmingham area, you can hike mountains or waterfalls and tour caverns and canyons all of which offer gorgeous views of colorful fall foliage!
By Heather, Alabama Bucket List
Where to Stay in Birmingham Alabama
There is no shortage of great places to stay in Birmingham,, likethis great flat in a gothic mansion, perfect for a couple’s getaway. If you’re travelling with a dog, this apartment of Christina’s is pet-friendly, or this house could work well for families.
Two of the best places for fall foliage is Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest located in Midland, Michigan. Dow Gardens is well known in Michigan for their fabulous botanical gardens, iconic red bridges, butterfly gardens and spectacular waterfall.
The numerous gardens at Dow Gardens continue to bloom well into the fall, offering a breathtaking stroll along the paved walkways. Dow Gardens is extra special to visit in the fall as dozens of trees around the ponds have burst into glorious hues of red, orange and yellow. The colorful reflections in the water is a photographer’s paradise.
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Continue your adventure into Whiting Forest by walking over the expansive connecting bridge offering exquisite views of apple trees, winding river and beautiful landscaping.
Whiting Forest is home to the Nation’s longest canopy walk that stretches 1,400 feet long and soars 40 feet above the lush forest floor. The views of the jewel-toned forest during the fall is just breathtaking from this high vantage point.
By Sherry, Travel-Mi.com
Where to Stay in Midland Michigan
Whatever you are looking for, Midland has the place to stay to suit you. This 2 bedroom house sleeps five people, and is a great option for families who want to be in a rural location just outside town. Alternatively, this duplex bungalow is great for couples and gets excellent reviews.
If you prefer a private room instead of a whole place to yourself, this cute private room in Cynthia’s home would be perfect for solo travellers, whereas this private room is actually a basement suite so you get lots of space.
Check out all of the fabulous accommodation options in Midland.
Hudson Valley, New York
There are many areas within the Hudson Valley, NY where you can see brilliant fall foliage, but my top picks include Mohonk Preserve and the adjoining Minnewaska State Park. For the middle two weekends in October, the forests there turn brilliant reds, oranges and yellows.
There are several hikes in the Hudson Valley that take you to viewpoints overlooking the woods, spread out like a sea of autumnal color, below and before you. My personal favorites are Minnewsaka Lake (take the short side trail on the right about ¾ of the way around the lake for a breathtaking vista of woods and the Hudson valley in the distance beyond) and the High Peter’s Kill trail, where there are several lookouts with equally stunning views of the Mohonk valley.
If hiking isn’t your thing, there are also many scenic drives around the forests of the river valley and up into the adjacent Catskill Mountains.
By James, Travel Collecting
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee is arguably one of the best (and most popular) places to see fall foliage in the USA. The park is sprawling over Eastern Tennessee and even part of Western North Carolina. It’s perfect for admiring the Appalachian Mountains, seeing black bears, hiking, and, of course, admiring the changing leaves.
The peak time to see color will vary from year to year based on elevation, temperature, and other conditions, but mid-October will give you a pretty good chance to see peak colors. Of course, it can’t be guaranteed but you’ll at least see some pre- or post-peak at that time.
The best time to visit will be weekdays as weekends are crazy busy. Make sure you get up as early as you can to beat the crowds, especially if you’re driving up to Clingmans Dome or through Cades Cove, which are both very busy and popular areas of the park. If you want to escape the crowds a bit, check out one of the many “Quiet Walkways” throughout the park instead of the official hiking trails.
By Megan, Red Around the World
Nestled into the Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon, just over the border from California, Ashland is the best kind of small American town. It’s also home to the famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival in summer and Southern Oregon University all year long.
With its cute coffee shops, indy bookstore, lively foodie scene and quaint boutique hotels, it makes the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. In fall, Ashland is on fire with colorful fall foliage. Just walk down Main Street to enjoy the show. Then head to leafy Lithia Park—Ashland’s biggest park— for the grand finale.
With 93 acres of forest nestled around Ashland Creek, you can head out on any number of easy walking trails to breathe in beautiful Autumn here. See the Japanese garden. Watch the reflected colors on the duck pond. There’s a reason that beautiful Lithia Park is on the National Register of Historic Places.
by Chris, Explore Now or Never
The Eastern Sierra, California
The Eastern Sierra in California is one of the best places to experience fall colors in the state. The mountains and surrounding hillsides turn shades of yellow and oranges from mid-October through the end of the month.
October is also a great month for hiking and backpacking since the weather is cooler and there are fewer crowds. The days are mild and the nights will be chilly, so if you’re camping, bring a sleeping bag and sleeping bag that will be warm enough. During the day you can also stand up paddleboard and kayak on the variety of lakes around the area.
There are so many hikes where you can see fall colors or if you’re looking for a more leisurely trip where you can drive and see fall colors, you have that option too. June Lake Loop, Lake Sabrina, Convict Lake, and Lundy Canyon are some of the best places to see fall colors.
By Jenny, Limitless Hiker
New York City, New York
Fall is our favorite time of the year for all the vibrant colors it adds to any place. The best place for fall foliage in the U.S. for us hands down has to be NYC. Life in New York City is more than just skyscrapers and the city grind, and this holds true more so during fall.
It is an unmissable sight to watch this concrete jungle get surrounded by shades of orange, red, and yellow. The blend of manmade marvel and nature’s wonder is what truly makes this place perfect to experience fall foliage.
One of our favorites has to be strolling within Central Park during this season. There is nothing more soothing than walking in this urban park with the crisp autumn air blowing on you, sounds of leaves crunching beneath your feet, and watching the colorless soaring towers surrounded by bursts of nature’s colors.
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An experience you must attach with this one is stopping at the Wafels & Dinges carts and treating yourself to some hot Belgian Cocoa and some heavenly waffles. This little activity is all the more rewarding post a windy stroll in Central Park.
The carts are located mostly in and around Central park at these locations: Southeast entrance at 5th & 60th, center drive near the Wollman Rink, and near the W 81st street gate across from the Museum of Natural History.
By Harshi & Aman, Trot.World
Lake Placid, New York
Lake Placid is a wonderful place to visit during fall foliage. Mirror Lake in the town of Lake Placid is surrounded by trees that really highlight fall colors. Lake Placid has many wonderful resorts including the Mirror Lake Inn and Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort that offer beautiful views right from the resort or even your room.
Head to the Black Bear Restaurant and request a lakeview table, while you enjoy a meal at one of Lake Placid’s Best Restaurants. There is a nice, paved walkway around the lake which is perfect for an afternoon stroll while you take in the foliage.
Stop by the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery and try a seasonal brew. Lake Placid is also centrally located in the Adirondacks with access to many hiking trails. A short drive away is the CloudSplitter Gondola at Whiteface Mountain, for a bird’s eye view of the fall foliage.
By Nicole, Affordable Family Travel
The Berkshires, Massachusetts
The east coast has many beautiful regions for viewing fall foliage. The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts is a stunning getaway for many Bostonians as it is only a two-hour drive away from the city. Perched on a hilly region surrounded by mountains, and also home to a part of the Appalachian trail, the Berkshires make for a welcome break amidst nature for a weekend getaway.
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North Adams, Williamstown, Great Barrington, Lenox, and Pittsfield are some of the popular small towns in this area. To see some of the best foliage, drive up or hike to the top of the 3,941-foot high Mt. Greylock or bike through the 11-mile long Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Lanesborough.
Visit Bartlett Orchards for apple cider donuts. Get your museum fix at Mass Moca, Clark Museum, or the Norman Rockwell Museum. The best way to discover the most colorful foliage is by driving around, so hit the road!
By Supriya, Fun Travelog
Independence Pass, Colorado
One of the best places to visit in the United States for fall foliage is Independence Pass, Colorado.
Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Independence Pass transforms into an incredible palette of colors and its iconic aspen trees complete the picture with their golden color.
The scenic route between the towns of Leadville and Aspen, Independence Pass, is the highest pass in continental North America that sits above 12,000 feet.
If you want to stop and explore the beauty of this place, I recommend a couple of hikes in the area. Some of the most popular ones are Lost Man Trail and Independence Pass Overlook.
I drove on Independence Pass during several seasons (except for winter when it’s closed for safety reasons) numerous times, and I never get tired of it. I look forward to coming back to this place every year, and the place has been seeing a steady increase in tourists from all over the country.
By Daria, The Discovery Nut
Yosemite National Park
Situated along the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is known for its breathtaking mountain peaks, numerous hiking trails weaving through the park, and its tall Sequoias.
One of the best times to visit this popular outdoor destination is the fall season, avoiding the heat and the summer crowds. Yosemite in the fall brings fresh brightly colored trees, and a couple of waterfalls trickling remnants from springtime water.
Though the park is famous for its evergreen trees, there are several spots to bask the vibrant foliage fall brings. One of my favorite places to witness the brightly hued leaves is near the valley, on the hike from Happy Isles to Mirror Lake. Here you can witness deciduous trees, dogwood trees, and giant black oak trees with leaves manifesting lively shades of yellow and orange. This area is a jackpot for fall foliage among off the beaten path hiking trails in Yosemite.
By Ciara, Wellness Travel Diaries
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the capital city of New Mexico, and it’s quite different than the rest of the state. It’s an extremely creative city filled with museums and art galleries, and more. It’s also picturesque as it’s nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Santa Fe is lovely to visit any time of year but the fall season is something quite special. To check out the beauty of the fall foliage you’ll want to take a 50-minute drive to the Santa Fe National Forest.
The National Forest is perfect for hiking, camping, stargazing, and more. The forest is covered with Aspen Trees and is a delight to see in person. Taking a drive down New Mexico State Highway 475 will give you amazing views of the foliage, you’ll see a sea of golden trees.
But if you want to get up close hike the Aspen Vista Trail to see the Aspens on foot. There are plenty of things to do in Santa Fe during fall and visiting the Santa Fe Forest is one not to be missed.
By Jeanine, Le Wild Explorer
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
One of the best places in the US for Fall Foliage is Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. This hidden gem, about an hour away from Washington, D.C., boasts some of the most gorgeous fall colors and a stunning overlook in which to view them.
Harpers Ferry, located at the junction of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and at the point where Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland meet, is best known for its history and outdoor activities.
While a visit to Harpers Ferry is great all year long, the autumn months are especially wonderful due to the changing leaves. To get the best view of the Fall foliage, it’s worth it to hike the moderately challenging Maryland Heights Loop trail, which is located across the Potomac River. This hike has an amazing overlook in which to take in the town, the rivers, and all the surrounding foliage.
Even the hike itself is great for leaf-peeping since hikers will be surrounded by vibrant yellows and oranges the whole way up to the overlook. Although off the beaten path, Harpers Ferry is definitely worth a visit during the Fall.
By Jordan, The Solo Life
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Located in northeast Ohio is the stunning Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Comprising over 55,000 acres, this gem is illuminated in brilliant fall colors in October and is one of the best places for fall foliage in the US.
Ohio’s bright sunny warm days and chilly frost-free nights influence the timing of the coloring of the trees in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. And different trees peak at different times, so it is quite possible to see brilliant fall foliage in Ohio for the entire month of October within the park borders.
Hiking to the park’s trio of popular waterfalls, Brandywine, Blue Hen, and Buttermilk Falls provides unbelievable vistas of Ohio’s fall foliage. For even closer views, hike the Brandywine Gorge Trail.
Both youngsters and the young-at-heart will surely love riding through the park on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The historic train cars have the best views of all of the beautiful yellows, oranges, and reds throughout the park.
Sit back and relax as you spend two hours aboard the train to see wild animals, the Cuyahoga River rushing along, and the historical sites all with autumn’s colorful backdrop.
However, you do not even have to get out of your vehicle if you do not want to as the Pine Hollow parking lot offers panoramic views of the area.
By Linda, Linda on the Run
Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina
Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina is one of the best places to see fall foliage in the United States! If you are from the south, then you will know that fall in North Carolina is something special!
Grandfather Mountain is home to some of the most vibrant foliage in the south. It is the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountain Range which makes it higher elevation prone for lovely foliage.
It is also home to some of the most challenging and interesting hiking trails in the south which make for enjoyable fall foliage viewing. You don’t have to hike though, you can drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and still enjoy fantastic views from around the Grandfather Mountain area!
By Victoria, Follow Me Away
Have you found your favourite Fall destination in the US? I have added all of these to my USA road trip bucket list, but it is hard to choose my favourite! If you have any other recommendations for the best places to visit for Fall foliage in the USA please do let me know in the comments below.
If you’re looking for travel insurance for your trip to the USA, get a quote now from World Nomads.
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Just to let you know, this post may contain paid or affiliate links, which help to maintain Tales of a Backpacker and give me the chance to keep travelling, and to keep creating awesome content for you! I only recommend goods and services I believe are useful and reliable.Last updated: January 26, 2021