18 Stunning Destinations for Fall Foliage in the Northeast

For a few autumn weeks, fall foliage in the Northeast transforms the region into a rich tapestry of gold and russet oak, birch, and sugar maple trees. Seeing fall colors at peak intensity is magical, but success requires perfect timing and the right location. 

Typically, leaves start turning colors by mid-September in the northernmost regions, gradually working their way toward the southern states by mid-October. But it’s not as simple as knowing the time of year. Elevation, coastal access, and microclimates contribute to incredible variation even within a two-hour driving radius.

Catching the leaf-peeping show is complicated and fleeting. Diana, visiting from California just to see the autumnal display, says, “I’m surprised that in one week we could go from green trees to a full spectrum of red, yellow, and orange.”

Fall foliage at an Adirondack farm.

Yankee Magazine’s Leaf Peepr app pulls up a color-coded map that allows you to drill down or scroll to locate current foliage status all across the United States. Even armed with that information, you still need to know where to find the trees in a photogenic or at least picturesque setting.

Here are our best picks for where to go in Northeast USA to experience the changing of the leaves, and get those award-winning travel photos. But if you’re traveling in the West, do check out the spectacular colors of fall in Colorado.

Looking for more Northeast travel ideas? Check out these surprisingly romantic getaways in New England!

View of Catskill Mountains
View of Catskill Mountains seen from scenic overlook on Taconic State Parkway.

Top Destinations for Fall in the Northeast

Best Spots In Maine for a Fall Weekend Getaway

Bar Harbor is a popular cruise ship stop and jumping-off point for exploring the first fall colors at the beginning of the season in late September or early October, but we like an alternative, Boothbay Harbor.

The stunning natural treasure that is Acadia National Park is an obvious choice for a fall foliage getaway, but we looked to its quieter side for a weekend getaway on the Schoodic Peninsula.

As for picture-perfect, consider the coastal town that inspired Winslow Homer, Portland ME.

Top Fall Foliage Destinations In New Hampshire

See the White Mountains awash in color on a scenic drive along the Kancamagus Highway or climb aboard the Mount Washington Cog Railway, the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the world.

Or, head to New Hampshire’s lake region. Remember the film On Golden Pond? See Squam Lake where it was filmed.  Alternatively, access the Appalachian Trail from Hanover NH, home to Dartmouth College.

Find Fall Colors in Vermont

Base a visit to the ironically named Green Mountains in Bennington VT and discover the place that moved Robert Frost to poetry. The mountain state also offers stunning views in its river valleys; we recommend the hiking trails in Okemo Valley.

Dyken Pond - Fall Reflections

Go on a Fall Foliage Road Trip in New York

A lovely way to see fall foliage in all its colorful stages is on the two-hour road trip between New York’s Columbia and Westchester counties along the Taconic scenic byway; start at Lake Taghkanic State Park and drive south to Sleepy Hollow NY (or visa versa.)

Further north, the Adirondacks cover six million acres, most of it heavily forested and with lots of reflective ponds and lakes. Plus, here are even more great places for New York fall foliage.

Discover a New England Fall in Massachusetts

Home to Norman Rockwell, the Berkshires are dotted with small towns and quintessential New England homes. Stunning in all seasons.

Enjoy Fall Flowers In Connecticut

Stroll through fields of flowers in Litchfield Hills or plan one of these 7 hikes or road trips to experience the best of Connecticut Fall Foliage.

Plan a Perfect Fall Trip in Pennsylvania

Coast over hills and dales and through twelve creaky covered bridges along Bucks County Covered Bridge self-guided driving tour. Travel into the Pennsylvania wilds at the Allegheny National Forest. Or, soak in a sunset in the Poconos.

Explore Coastal Rhode Island in the Offseason

While a beach getaway might not be what comes to mind for a fall foliage getaway, you’d be surprised at just how beautiful Newport RI is when summer visitors depart. A dash of color on trees pairs amazingly well with lighthouses and crashing waves.

More Great Fall Foliage Getaways



  • Sandra Foyt

    Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, road trip junkie, and award-winning travel photographer. A veteran of many cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the Fossil Freeway, the Extraterrestrial Highway, and even “The Loneliest Road in America.” Sandra is based in Upstate New York, with family homes in California and the Caribbean. Her work is influenced by tropical colors and warm relationships. And she believes that the best travel photography connects us across time, place, and culture.

8 thoughts on “18 Stunning Destinations for Fall Foliage in the Northeast”

  1. Great tips! I had forgotten how much I loved seeing the fall foliage until this year when the colors came alive for me in DC. I missed the peak as far as hiking in Virginia – but Shenandoah is a great place for incredible foliage adventures.

  2. Lol you straight up just snubbed jersey when the New York and Pennsylvania foliage spots are half in jersey. All set with you coming here.

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