Most people prefer the month of summer and are never ready to see it end. It signals the coming of winter with cold and damp weather, shorter days, and the need to bundle up before going outside. Fortunately, before we get to that stage, there’s a time of year that many people adore — autumn. The fall months bring a landscape of vivid color in red, orange, and yellow as the leaves turn before they fall. It brings roadside farm stands full of freshly harvested pumpkins, apples, and gourds; crisp cool air that doesn’t yet require a winter coat, just a cuddly sweater or hoodie; and hot beverages like cider or pumpkin-spice lattes and treats.
It’s a great time of year for an adventure such as an invigorating hike or even a relaxing stroll. It’s also the perfect time for a scenic drive or perhaps even a weekend road trip. But where should you go for the nicest scenery as well as the best Instagram photos and picture-perfect memories? In alphabetical order, here are our picks for the Top 10 Best Fall Foliage Destinations in the U.S.
Arkansas — Ozark National Forest
Normally, in Arkansas, the peak of color occurs two or three weeks after color changes begin. Depending on the weather, this usually means late October for the Ozark region, where the Ozark National Forest boasts more than 1.2 million acres of dramatic scenery.
To help you plan your fall foliage tour, the Arkansas Tourism Board, Discover Arkansas, has a network of color spotters in every region of the state each fall who volunteer weekly updates. To see when they suggest the best time to go, click HERE.
Colorado — Aspen
Many people associate Aspen, Colorado with ski season. However, in the fall, the region is transformed into a natural arena of shimmering colors, with the state’s signature gold Aspen trees serving as the main act.
Colorado’s Tourism Board has supplied its readers with 10 trip ideas that will point you in the direction of shimmering yellows, oranges, and reds this September and October. To see what routes they suggest, click HERE.
Massachusetts — Cape Cod
Cape Cod, Massachusetts certainly is a popular destination for many summer vacations, but it’s also a great place for discovering autumn’s charms. As the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce points out, the region is often overlooked for more obvious areas of the state. But it would be a shame not to experience the change in season along the Cape’s quaint back roads, nature trails, and pristine coastline.
To see the Chamber’s suggestions for the best leaf-peeping in the area, click HERE.
New Jersey — Cape May
Throughout the fall months, this seaside resort town becomes an oasis of fall color, with the area’s historic lighthouses offering tourists aerial views of the vibrant landscape mixed with the cool blue hues of the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay, and Cape May.
New Jersey’s Tourism Board, Visit NJ, has compiled a list of the best times and places to view the state’s beautiful fall foliage. For more information, click HERE.
New York — Massapequa Preserve
One of the best places to see a splash of fall color in New York is the Massapequa Preserve on Long Island, with the best time to enjoy the scenic views happening mid-October to early November. Travelers will find a great foliage drive along the Northern State Parkway, as well as along Route 25A on Long Island’s north shore.
New York’s Tourism Board, I Love NY, features a Fall Foliage Report for all of New York State, to let everyone know when and where the best viewing can be located. To follow along with their suggestions, click HERE.
Oregon — Columbia River Gorge
Fall color peaks throughout much of the state in mid to late October. Colors pop in Central Oregon and the Willamette Valley in mid-October, followed by Southern Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge area in late October. Foliage in the northeastern corner of the state changes last, so you can usually leaf peep for two full months which gives you plenty of time to plan a road trip.
For updates on the changing colors, Oregon’s Travel Bureau, Travel Oregon, posts a blog that can be found HERE.
Pennsylvania — The Poconos
The Pocono Mountains are stretched around gently winding roads that are perfect for fall foliage chasers. Route 507 around Lake Wallenpaupack makes a wonderful road trip for anyone looking for a relaxing, autumnal view. Leaves begin to turn in mid-September and peak in October.
The Pocono Mountains Visitor’s Bureau suggests 5 areas that are best to catch the color. To find out what they are, click HERE.
Tennessee — Franklin
If you are looking for a weekend getaway, Franklin, Tennessee is an interesting destination any time of year. But October is when the area hits its stride with a colorful backdrop and plenty of fall fun. The visitor’s bureau of Visit Franklin even goes so far as to say there’s so much to do in fall that it might be too much to experience all in one weekend. To discover everything the bureau suggests to see and do, click HERE.
And when it comes to a scenic autumn drive, there are few highways that can match the beauty of Franklin’s Natchez Trace Parkway.
Vermont — Stowe
Stowe, Vermont has routinely been called Fall’s Color Capital. This is a classic New England town where tourists can experience the region’s legendary foliage from early September to late October. The landscape is ablaze with vibrant color, which is why such outlets as Travel + Leisure and USA Today have recognized the area as one of the top destinations to view foliage.
Stowe’s Tourism Board website, Go Stowe, hosts a ‘Foliage Finder’ to keep tourists updated on when and where foliage is turning up along popular scenic drive routes in the area. For more information, click HERE.
Wisconsin — Wisconsin Dells
The Wisconsin Dells is a gorge formed by a glacier that runs along the Wisconsin River, and during the fall the area is particularly beautiful and ideal for leaf peepers. Plus, the area hosts boat tours for a different view of the colorful landscape. Devil’s Lake State Park is also a popular site for those seeking the perfect of the changing foliage.
For a complete list of things to do in the area during the fall months, visit Travel Wisconsin Dells. Click HERE.