Tips for Leaf Peepers

  • Check tourism and park websites for your destinations for leaf forecasts. Many of these sites publish maps and updated reports about where to find the best color.
  • Be a conscientious visitor. Pull over to let locals pass; they've got jobs to go to or families at home, so give them the right of way.
  • Respect private property. That blaze of red in the distance is tempting, but don't go tramping into fields and climbing fences without asking for permission from the owners first.
  • The best light for photographers is early in the morning and late in the afternoon. If you're itching for the perfect fall pics, check sunrise and sunset times.

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  • Be brave about getting lost. Take a map or your handy GPS unit, of course, but turn right instead of left and see where the little winding roads take you. Being adventurous is a good way to leave leaf-peeping traffic jams behind.
  • Have a plan B should the weather go foul—even if that plan B means going back to bed to read for a while. And be prepared for bad weather, brisk temperatures, rain or maybe even early snow.
  • Consider ditching the car and seeing the leaves from another point of view—a bicycle, or a canoe or a kayak, or, if you're up for a splurge, you might book a flight-seeing tour. Walking is one of the best ways to see the leaves. You did bring good walking shoes, right?  
  • Remember, there's more going on than the leaves! While the foliage is a big draw, don't be disappointed if Mother Nature's schedule doesn't align with yours. Leaf peeping towns are nice getaways for local history, shopping, discovering little roadside restaurants that bake their own pies…. So make a plan to enjoy everything that's on offer and you won't be disappointed.

Where to Peep

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Niagara Falls, New York

New York

Niagara Falls isn't just for honeymooners.  Make your home base at the Red Coach Inn—it's 500 feet from the falls—and head over to De Veaux Woods State Park or Whirlpool State Park. The two parks are connected by a path that links up with the extensive Niagara Gorge Trail System, where you’ll find another 15 miles of hiking trails. There are dazzling views over the gorge, and there is excellent birdwatching, too. Red Coach Inn has rooms with views of the Niagara River rapids, and the innkeepers are experts on what to do in the area—ask them to help you plan your stay. 

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Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill, Mills River, North Carolina

North Carolina

Make your base in Asheville and peep the fall leaves from the amazing Blue Ridge Parkway. (The 469-mile national parkway runs from Virginia through North Carolina.) You can see some spectacular foliage from high elevations along the route. Stop at overlook areas along the scenic drive, hike the many trail routes in the region or plan a picnic at the parkway. You'll drive past plenty of picnic areas and marked trails when you take the Blue Ridge Parkway south from Asheville and head toward Mount Pisgah. Find foliage reports and more information about autumn events and activities on the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce website.

Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill is an ideal base for your Asheville autumn adventure. The property is a 10-minute drive from Asheville Regional Airport, and it's a short car ride from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Plus, since Tiffany Hill sits on the edge of the lush Pisgah National Forest, you can leaf peep right on site via the B&B's surrounding gardens and forests.

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Camden Maine Stay Inn, Camden, Maine

Maine

You don't even need to leave the grounds to enjoy the color show if you stay at the Camden Maine Stay Inn. This Camden, Maine, property is on a seaside bluff and is surrounded by meticulously manicured gardens that maintain their appeal well into the fall. If you want to track where (and when) the best Maine color is, use Maine Foliage, a website updated with color reports for each leafy region in the state. Camden Hills State Park has 30 miles of hiking trails and spectacular views of the islands in West Penobscot Bay.  

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The Cedars of Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia

Virginia

The Cedars of Williamsburg is just a ten-minute walk from the heart of historical Williamsburg, Virginia. And the inn is right across the street from the William and Mary campus—it's the perfect spot if you'd like to stroll some leafy campus grounds.

The State of Virginia is serious about its foliage tracking and produces a weekly report for the Department of Forestry website. Visitors don't need to leave town to appreciate fall colors, as Williamsburg is resplendent with changing trees. But if you’d like to take a drive, we recommend cruising the scenic tree-lined Colonial National Parkway. To to see the foliage from the water, rent a canoe or kayak and paddle the quiet waterways at York River State Park.  

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Brass Key Guesthouse, Provincetown, Massachusetts

Massachusetts

The Brass Key Guesthouse is just off Provincetown's Commercial Street, a quick stroll to restaurants and shops. Cycling is a great way to see the Cape, and there are a number of bike rental places in P Town.  A lively artists' community and a popular destination with LGBT visitors, Provincetown fills with tourists in the summer. But as the seasons change, the town quiets down considerably and becomes a retreat for those who aren't bothered by rainy fall weather and want to feel like they're away from it all.

Route 6A, Old King's Highway, is a scenic tree-lined drive along Cape Cod Bay. There are lots of cute historical towns here, and it's a lovely route for meandering, stopping for snacks and deciding if the trouble of getting that antique side table back home is worth it. The route continues out to the Cape Cod National Seashore and Provincetown. Take a peek at the Massachusetts Foliage Map to see what the conditions look like right now.

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The Garden Gables Inn, Lenox, Massachusetts

Berkshire County in Western Massachusetts has long been a favorite destination for leaf lovers. The region repeatedly makes those “must visit for leaf peeping” lists published in major travel guides. The Garden Gables Inn is located in Lenox, Massachusetts, a town surrounded by lush state forests. The Inn is set on five acres of gardens and tree-dotted lawns (plus it has a large heated pool), so it offers a country setting just a short drive from town. 

The Berkshire Leaf Chief keeps the tourism department's blog up to date with seasonal reports about which trees are showing color and where. And the tourism department publishes road trip maps. (Road tripping is the best way to take in the color in this part of the country.)

—Written by Pam Mandel