You live for fall – the kaleidoscope of gorgeous colors, the crisp mornings, the hayrides and bonfires, the dips and swirls of leaves as they play with the wind. When you picture the perfect day, it involves a cozy sweater, hot cocoa, and a quiet walking trail beneath a canopy of trees in brilliant shades of red and gold. If you’d like to visit (or live in) a location that puts on an amazing autumn show, here are 10 great destinations for fall foliage:
Burlington, Vermont: Between the mountains and historic Lake Champlain, Burlington is a gorgeous destination any time of year. But during fall, Burlington bursts with stunning color. In addition to breathtaking fall foliage, Vermont’s largest city features great restaurants, county fairs, art galleries, museums, theaters, and more. As for the rest of the year, you’ll enjoy skiing in the winter, fresh maple syrup in spring, and a summer filled with boating, swimming, fishing, hikes, and one of the country’s “Great Public Spaces” – the Church Street Marketplace.
North Conway, New Hampshire: Snug along the Maine border and on the outskirts of White Mountain National Forest, North Conway may not be the most recognized name on the list, but it is probably one of the most scenic. The tallest peak in the East, Mt. Washington, provides a sculpted backdrop to this idyllic location. Fall leaf-peeping here is some of the best in the country, and the landscape is dotted with quaint inns and charming bed and breakfasts. Be sure to hike the Lincoln Woods Trail, the gateway to the Pemigewasset Wilderness – the largest in the northeast.
Petersham, Massachusetts: In central Massachusetts roughly 28 miles northwest of Worcester and 74 miles northwest of Boston, you’ll find the small town of Petersham. Settled in 1733, this historic, picturesque town wraps around a common that is part of the Petersham Common Historic District. The town features a large amount of conservations and forests, including Harvard University’s School of Forestry, making it an ideal location for fall foliage. With a town that feels like a step back in time and a population of only about 1,260, Petersham is perfect for all types of outdoor activities, including canoeing, bicycling, hiking, bird-watching, and fishing.
Alexandria Bay, New York: Along the St. Lawrence River in Upstate New York near the Canadian border, Alexandria Bay is a picture-perfect village that experiences a population boom of sorts, especially during summer and fall. Summer visitors come for the boating and fishing; fall visitors for the foliage. Be sure to take a break from all of that glorious fall color to visit other local sites, such as the wineries, shops, and Singer Castle located on Dark Island. The castle, built in 1902, includes four floors, a clock tower, and even secret passageways. The island is only accessible by boat.
Clayton, GA: While the New England states typically win the “Most Beautiful Fall Foliage” title for good reason, don’t overlook the South – take Clayton, Georgia for example. Tucked away in the Smoky Mountains near the North Carolina border, Clayton is nearly surrounded by state parks – Black Rock Mountain State Park to the north, Oconee State Park to the east, and Tallulah Gorge State Park to the south. The town itself is a quaint mountain village with an elegant, pedestrian-friendly downtown filled with antique stores, art galleries, restaurants, and even an old-fashioned drug store soda fountain.
Roanoke, Virginia: A beautiful location wedged between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Allegheny Mountains, Roanoke is one of the state’s larger cities and a premier wine-making region. The Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most scenic drives any time of year but especially beautiful during autumn, passes through Roanoke. While in Roanoke, be sure to visit historic Grandin Village, a national landmark with an amazing collection of shops and restaurants. Roanoke is a fun, artsy city with a vibrant arts scene and several local galleries and museums.
Scranton, Pennsylvania: Surrounded by the Pocono and Endless Mountains, Scranton is a natural choice for amazing fall foliage. In addition to great places to hike and camp, the Pocono Mountains feature popular fall festivals, horseback riding, bicycling, river rafting, and more. Discover hidden waterfalls, go kayaking, or spend the afternoon fishing. Be sure to take your camera along – the gorgeous fall colors are sure to inspire you.
Cheboygan, Michigan: Sure, Cheboygan may not immediately come to mind when you think of fall foliage, but this charming city is located on Lake Huron and along the Cheboygan River. The city features fall color tours, elk viewing, craft shows and concerts, museums, and lighthouses. If all of that isn’t enough, Cheboygan is just a short boat trip away from Mackinac Island – one of the top 10 islands in the world. If you travel to Mackinac Island, be sure to visit one of the famous fudge shops, marvel at the Grand Hotel, and be delighted by the Mackinac Island Butterfly House.
Madison, Wisconsin: In addition to great fall foliage, Madison is also famous for another fall favorite – college football. The Wisconsin Badgers have been part of the Big Ten Conference since it formed in 1896, and every fall fans crowd Camp Randall Stadium. Madison is filled with sidewalk cafes and farmer’s markets, festivals, and beautiful views. Madison is situated on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, and boating, swimming, and fishing are popular activities.
Salem, Oregon: Travel about an hour south of Portland and you’ll discover the capital city of Oregon, Salem. Salem is located along the Willamette River and about 24 miles from Silver Falls State Park. What can make fall foliage even prettier? A waterfall centerpiece – and this beautiful park has 10 waterfalls to choose from. Salem also features the Oregon State Fair, the Salem Saturday Market, and the year-round Saturday Public Market. Salem is a “Tree City USA” and many of those trees are cherry trees (this is “Cherry City” after all). Other attractions include museums, a charming downtown lined with shops and restaurants, several wineries and vineyards, and the historic Reed Opera House.