Twenty great places across the U.S. to breathe in the fresh colors of fall.
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From apple picking, to hiking among brilliant shades of reds, oranges, and yellows, the fall season is the season to be outside. "Leaf peeping" amazing fall foliage isn't just a New England advantage either: the Midwest, Southern, and Western states also have bounties of landscapes for prime autumn scenery that range from mountains to lakeside retreats.

Ready to road trip? Head to one of these locations across the U.S. to see the best fall foliage of the season. Plus, discover more family activities to do in each fall hot spot after you've taken in the changing leaves.

new england fall foliage
Credit: Huttopia White Mountains

New England

Barnard, Vermont

Planted in central Vermont, Barnard is the perfect place to watch the reflection of fall foliage along the canoe and paddleboard-centric Silver Lake. Tucked away amongst 300 acres of plush meadows lies the famed Twin Farms, which is situated on the Green Mountains and offers a variety of seasonal activities like fly fishing, hiking, and Japanese Furo: a Japanese-style hot water bath.

Newark, New Jersey

Perhaps best known for having the most cherry blossom trees of any park in the U.S. (even more than Washington, DC!), Branch Brook Park in Newark not only comes alive in the spring, the northern park also becomes an explosion of reds, oranges, and purples in the fall months. The 4-mile-long park is perfect for biking, running, or walking the impressively landscaped greenspace.

Cooperstown, New York

Offering one of the earliest and most spectacular seasonal displays in the country, the village of Cooperstown is nicknamed "America's Most Perfect Village." Enjoy a round of golf at the par-72 Otesaga Resort Hotel, or bar hop along the various craft breweries. For a family outing, take kids to discover American sports history at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum.

Chatham, Massachusetts

Known for its lighthouses that dot the beach along the southern tip of Cape Cod, Chatham offers an ideal backdrop for New England leaf peeping. Check in to Chatham Bars Inn for a myriad of festive activities, harvesting trips for fresh produce, and pumpkin patch pickin' at the resort's own 8-acre farm.

White Mountains, New Hampshire

The White Mountains are a classic New England setting where you can view the oranges, reds, and purples of the stunning upper Adirondack treescape. Huttopia offers a French woodland "glamping" retreat tucked away on the banks of Iona Lake in New Hampshire. This White Mountains destination in North Conway is situated in an untouched forest at the crossroads of two streams for a quiet, nature filled fall retreat.

Westerly, Rhode Island

The relaxing coastal summer season in Westerly, Rhode Island is a huge draw, but many may not know that the destination also offers visitors the ultimate juxtaposition of seaside backdrops and changing leaves in the fall season. With nearly empty beaches surrounded by nature and long scenic vistas, this is the ultimate fall road trip. Check in to the Weekapaug Inn, then spend the afternoon outdoors with the on-staff naturalist Teddy Beahm for guided hikes, tide pool walks, and prime New England leaf peeping adventures.

Sharon, Connecticut

A sleepy town next to the Housatonic River, Sharon is home to just a couple thousand people. However, visitors flock to the town for apple and pumpkin picking, along with activities for the whole family, from hayrides and corn mazes to tastings and live music. Be sure to set up a few camping chairs at the Ellsworth Hill Orchard & Berry Farm, which features a 3.5-acre corn maze and vintage train display.

Kennebunkport, Maine

Known for its ship building history dating back to the 1600s, Kennebunkport is the place to go sailing in the fall and take in the leaves changing over the Kennebunk River. Charter a boat for deep sea fishing, and for an overnight visit, consider Cape Arundel Inn & Resort, which offers scenic ocean views, where you can bring your family and buy out several accommodations that range from three to seven rooms.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

For hiking enthusiasts, adventure out to the Hawk Rock off the Appalachian Trail or take the family out to Riverfront Park in Harrisburg to see stunning fall foliage. For overnight visits, the Red Lion Hotel in Harrisburg allows guests to experience the rich history, culture and chocolate of central Pennsylvania, only a short trip away from the family-filled Hershey Park.

Umstead Park fall foliage
Credit: VisitRaleigh.com

Southeast

Raleigh, North Carolina

For outdoor lovers, get in some running and cycling at the William B. Umstead State Park—a 5,000-acre green space with 22 miles of dedicated hiking trails and 13 miles of multi-use trails that turns alluring shades of reds and oranges in the fall. Be sure to pay a visit to the new Heights House Hotel, a nine-room boutique property restored from a historic 1858 Italianate mansion in the heart of downtown Raleigh.

Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

Spanning more than 17,000 acres in the Monongahela National Forest, the Dolly Sods Wilderness gives way to pretty fall foliage: a mixture of dense woods and grassy slopes. History buffs may find interesting that Dolly Sods was heavily utilized during World War II as practice artillery and mortar range.

Allegany County, Maryland

The 150-mile-long Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) features spectacular views year-round, but the brightest bursts of color in mid-October is arguably the best time to pick up a pair of bikes and ride. If you're more of the locomotive sort, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad takes passengers through the colorful mountains of changing leaves on a three-and-a-half-hour round trip that includes a historic depot in downtown Cumberland and a stop at the mountain town of Frostburg.

Winchester, Virginia

Situated in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Winchester is conveniently located along The Tuscarora Trail, which offers fall foliage views of the valley, including those from the Eagle Rock  and Pinnacle Rock overlooks. The harvest season is also strong in this area, so be sure to check out the apple harvest season by visiting a pick-your-own orchard.

Snead, Florida

Located a short drive from Tallahassee, the Three Rivers State Park in the city of Snead kisses up against the southwest corner of Georgia. For a bit of Florida fall foliage, check out the plethora of hardwood and pines changing to red and oranges with optimum weather.

North Georgia Mountains, Georgia

Feel like some jaw-dropping waterfall views? Head to Amicalola Falls State Park, which is known for having the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi at an astounding 729 feet. In the fall, the colors are brilliant, and for a great view of the canopy, its an easy walk from the parking lot to the Top of the Falls Overlook to see the impressive stream tumbling over the edge.

A bicyclist rides on Castle Creek Road in Aspen, Colorado.
Credit: Eliza Voss

Southwest

Aspen, Colorado

If you're looking for a fall destination out west that's warm and summery by day, but may surprise you with some snow flurries overnight, then consider a visit to the mountains of Aspen. The mercurial climate in the fall brings forth impressive showings of color among the aspen trees, willows, and tundra plants. Although Aspen may seem like the quintessential winter destination, the fall has so much to offer: mountain bike the ranges; hiking the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness; and stay at a full-service hotel, The Little Nell, which offers off-roading tours of the fall colors.

Austin, Texas

For a southern escape, head to the Austin Hill Country, which has a variety of scenic woods for full autumn leaf viewing, including maple, oak, cypress, and staggering mesquite trees in the area. Nestled within the rolling hills and evergreen trees of Austin Hill Country, Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa spans over 4,000 sprawling acres and the property provides vast views overlooking the Hill Country.

fall foliage in arkansas
Credit: Arkansas Tourism

Midwest

Ozark Mountains, Arkansas

Such a water baby? Look no further than the Ozarks. In addition to fishing, boating, and swimming, explore the Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail during the fall season. The 258-mile hiking and backpacking trails compete with the 200 miles of mountain biking trails offerings of the Oz Trails.

West Coast fall foliage
Credit: Joe Fletcher

West Coast

Healdsburg, California

There's nothing quite like a fall wine tasting trip to Northern California. Healdsburg comes alive in oranges, reds, and yellows from October to December with a stunning mix of trees, like Japanese and Armstrong maple, liquidambar, and smoke bush. During your visit, stop at the Aperture Estate, a state-of-the-art winery and luxury hospitality center in Healdsburg that provides private lounge tasting by appointment.

Hatcher Pass, Alaska

Just a short drive north of Anchorage, Hatcher Pass offers a wide range of trails and areas to explore in the mountains. Don't forget to make a stop at the April Bowl Trailhead, where you can hike the 2.2-mile back trail near Palmer, and take in views of the northern lights from the seat of your car.