13 Fall Foliage Weekend Getaways in the US

· ·

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I'll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please see my legal page for more details.

The leaves are starting to shed their green hues for fiery crimson and orange and the air is getting crisp! It must mean that fall is on the way and with that comes exciting roadtrips across the country. You won’t want to miss these scenic views, nature trails, and cozy weekend ideas. Wether you want a romantic break or a wilderness escape, these fall foliage weekend getaways in the United States have got you covered. See gorgeous fall foliage, pick pumpkins and indulge in warm apple cider donuts, the best of fall is right here. You’re going to love these fall getaway ideas and if you are looking for even more inspiration, check out these 6 weekend getaway ideas in Canada to see fall foliage!

1. The White Mountains, New Hampshire

The Colors of Autumn in the White Mountains are spectacular! Every September and October, people come from all over the world to see the leaves changing. From the road, it looks like the mountains are hand painted in shades of yellows, reds and oranges. The Kancamagus Highway is one of the most famous foliage drives in the United States, with sweeping views of the White Mountains. My favorite spot is Crawford Notch State Park – if you drive Crawford Notch Road you will find a gorgeous spot along Saco River with foliage reflecting in the lake right by the side of the road.

There are lots of romantic inns and bed and breakfasts to stay at in the White Mountains but make sure to book early as it can get very busy this time of the year.

2 The Berkshires, Massachusetts

Heading to Western Massachusetts during the fall foliage season is a perfect way to experience everything the area has to offer while being submerged in intense color. Surrounded by picturesque mountain scenery, forests and valleys, there are an abundance of walks and drives you can take here. One of the most famous drives, particularly for enjoying fall foliage, is The Mohawk Trail (route 2), a historic route that goes right through the northern Berkshire mountains.

You can also hike (or drive) to the summit of Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts offering sweeping views just made for leaf-peeping. Whatever you do, don’t miss a vibrant hike through Mohawk Trail State Forest which covers 6000 acres of wood and mountain ridge. It’s one of the most scenic areas in Massachusetts at any time of year, but in Fall you’re in for something special.

Make sure you visit one of the many local orchards for cider and apple picking.

3. Upper Peninsula, Michigan

Often described as the number one destination for a fall foliage weekend getaway in the United States, the Upper Peninsula is breathtaking. A wild place brimming with wildlife, the Upper Peninsula really does have it all, getting lost in over seven million acres of hardwood forest during this fiery season is well worth the journey over.

You’ll also be treated to the sight of the three great lakes: Huron, Superior, and Michigan so the epic photo opportunities are endless. There are numerous trails you can follow in the area but if you’re ready for a spectacular Fall hike then the 4.5 miles up to Tahquamenon Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the area, is breathtaking. Or you can go for the famous Chapel Loop hike that will take you along the cliffs above Lake Superior where you can enjoy views of the foliage as well as the unique geological formations of the coastline.

If water sports are more your thing and you’d rather weave your way through the foliage then you absolutely shouldn’t miss the 35-mile canoe trail found in Hiawatha National Forest or the 100-mile paddling trail which starts in McLain State Park and takes you around Lake Superior. Getting lost in nature is what fall foliage weekends are all about and whether you’re looking for some accessible trails or more challenging hikes you’ll find it here.

 

4. Aspen, Colorado

If you’re wondering where the best place to see fall foliage in Colorado is then make sure you check out Aspen. Before the mountains and slopes fill up with snow ready for the ski season, the signature Aspen trees burst into their shimmering gold and red hues. Scenic drives over mountain roads and hikes are the main event here and whichever you choose you’ll be surrounded by forest, lakes and splendid vistas. 

Most people travel there to see one of the most photographed spots in the area, the Maroon Bells and lake. Although it’s a striking sight at any time of year, during fall when the 14,000-foot summits are surrounded by golden trees reflected in the lake between them, there’s nothing like it. Buses run there daily during the foliage season so it’s an easily accessible spot for some intense leaf-peeping.

5. Portland, Oregon

Although people generally head to Oregon for the summer, there are so many reasons to enjoy the fall season in this lovely part of the world. Apart from some fun events to indulge in like the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta on Tualatin Lake and Beer Week in October you can also get lost in the scenic forests surrounding the city. Make sure you catch the Hamilton Mountain Trail treating you with bright yellow maples right the way up or try the Maple-Wildwood Loop Hike for something a bit closer to town.

Of course, heading to Portland in the Fall is a perfect time to get lost in the Japanese Garden, one of the most authentic outside of Japan itself. The many ponds and water features reflect the menagerie of colors and attention to detail is everywhere in the design of this garden. It’s a perfect and unique fall foliage weekend getaway in the United States that will leave you stunned.

There’s plenty to do inside when you’re done wandering, there’s a cultural village where you’ll find a cafe, workshops, a gift shop, and a beautiful bonsai terrace. Keep an eye out for the hummingbirds!

6. Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

A famous spot for leaf-peeping, offering more than one hundred species of tree to admire, the Smoky Mountains are stunning in the fall and easily accessible from both north Tennessee and south North Carolina. Although, most people enter the park through Gatlinburg, an hour’s drive southeast of Knoxville. Gatlinburg is where you’ll find the most shops, cafes and lodging options within the park making it a perfect spot for a weekend getaway!

Hikers or drivers are rewarded with sweeping views once you reach the higher elevations within the park. You can even catch some (71-miles) of the famous Appalachian Trail which bisects the Smoky Mountains. Make sure you head to Fontana Lake, an ideal spot for boating, canoeing and paddling surrounded by the fall foliage.

For a touch of luxury, rent one of the cozy cabins or lodges set within the foliage, many come with hot tubs and large balconies to enjoy the views in style

7. Litchfield Hills Connecticut

Perfect for anyone looking for a great fall foliage getaway from NYC, Litchfield Hills provides the ideal escape for city dwellers looking for some fresh air, good food, and great views. Not to mention a ridiculous amount of antique shops to peruse if that’s your thing.

The whole area is surrounded by beautiful countryside and scenic drives and whether you prefer less intense strolls or forest paths to wander you’ll find them here. A great option is the 35-meter Cathedral Pines Trail in the White Memorial Conservation Centre. It’s perfect for fall foliage seekers with trails that take you through 4000 acres of colorful woodland. Otherwise, you can enjoy canoeing or kayaking at Lake Waramaug for a more adventurous weekend.  For an alternative hiking trail which starts at one of the historic bridges in the area head over to Bulls Bridge, if only for a great fall photo opportunity.

A perfect spot to end the day in (or stopover at) in Litchfield Hills is the Interlaken Inn where you can enjoy the fall views with a glass of wine from the comfort of your porch.

8. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Looking for beautiful fall colors? You need to head over to Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park! Shenandoah is the East Coast’s playground. It is only 50 miles from Washington D.C., and an easy weekend trip from New York and Philadelphia. With over 200,000 acres of protected wilderness, it’s the perfect escape for families, couples and solo travelers.

While Shenandoah is beautiful year-round, it’s most famous for the bright hues of orange, red, and yellow during peak leaf-changing season in the Fall. In October and November, the mountain slopes are transformed from their normal green to every shade of autumn foliage. The air is crisp and the normal Virginia humidity levels are low.

Hikers can enjoy the fall colors from any of the park’s 500+ miles of trails, ranging in difficulty from flat, beginner-level trails to strenuous multi-day treks. Others can cruise along the famous Skyline Drive, which travels along the ridgeline of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and take in the park’s beauty from the comfort of their car.

For foodies, the park hosts its annual Apple Butter festival every September. Either way, Shenandoah is the perfect place to enjoy the leaf-changing season. Enjoy apple crafts, wine tastings, live music, and the namesake apple butter stirred in giant copper kettles throughout the festival.

If you’re looking for a Fall vacation, be sure to check out Shenandoah National Park.

 Visit Maggie McKneely on Instagram for more travel tips and sights to see.

Shenandoah National Park

 

9. Chattanooga, Pittsburgh

Chattanooga is one of the best destinations for a fall foliage weekend. Not only because of its ideal location at the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains but because the leaves change right around Halloween. It’s like two celebrations in one. While you’re watching leaf-peeping, you can enjoy Dread Hollow at Ruby Falls Cave or visit the abandoned hospital in South Pittsburg for a real scare. Even if you just enjoy a Clumpies ice cream cone on the Walnut Street Bridge, you’ll have a weekend to remember.

Make sure your plans include heading up Lookout Mountain. It’s home to Ruby Falls, the Incline Railroad, and Rock City. On you’re way up, you’ll enjoy a scenic ride. From the top, you’ll not only see all off the Chattanooga Valley but maybe even the leaves turning in seven states!

The seven-state view might only be an urban legend, but you’ll enjoy your fall weekend in Chattanooga just the same. With spectacular fall color, creative food options, fun attractions, and accessible nature, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy.

Follow Jen and Ed Coleman on their amazing travels, showing you the beauty of the world.  Visit their Instagram page for more.

Weekend Getaway Spots

 

10. Stowe, Vermont

Nestled between two state forests in northern Vermont, Stowe is the perfect stop on any fall foliage itinerary. Due to its northern location, fall starts early in Stowe, so for best leaf viewing opportunities, plan to visit any time from mid-September until the first few weeks of October. This is when color-changing is at its peak and you’ll see the most beautiful and vibrant fall colors.
 
Although you don’t need to leave Stowe in order to see amazing fall foliage, if you’re itching to take a short road trip, hop on Highway 108 and head into Mt. Mansfield State Forest where you’ll be surrounded by beautiful landscapes at every turn.
 
Stowe is a quintessential New England town that, regardless of what your interests are, offers a little bit of everything. During your trip, spend a day enjoying Stowe’s brewery scene. The Alchemist offers brewery tours and you can purchase beer to take home. If breweries aren’t your thing, spend an afternoon walking along the Stowe Recreation Path and, if you want to take in some amazing aerial views of Stowe, opt for a ride on the Gondola SkyRide located at Stowe Mountain Resort.
 
When you’re weekend getaway comes to an end, don’t forget top at nearby Cold Hollow Cider Mill for a bag of cider donuts and a cup of fresh apple cider before you leave town!
Love all things travel? Visit Michele’s great wanderlust traveling blog for more great places to see this Fall.

11. Helen, Georgia

Riverside mountain village Helen, Georgia lies at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the United States and is one of my favorite places in the world to see fall foliage, as well as being one of the most charming towns to visit in the US. Although it houses just 430 residents, it’s the third most visited city in the state of Georgia, and it looks more like a place from a fairytale than a real-life town. During the fall, the village transforms into a bustling hub of festivities. The longest-running Oktoberfest in the United States takes place in Helen, and people come from out-of-state just to experience it. The main plaza is always full of shops selling candies and other unique gifts. You can watch local artisans perfecting their crafts through live glass-blowing and pottery demonstrations. You can even shop for handmade wooden toys while watching them being crafted right before your eyes. The buildings in Helen remind me of the Hansel and Gretel storybooks that I used to read when I was a small child, and they look especially pretty when they’re surrounded by the colors of fall. Helen is home to multiple waterfalls, nature trails, and glorious mountain hikes that provide almost endless opportunities to see fall foliage. A walk along the riverfront is one of the easiest and most popular ways to admire the changing leaves. You also have to visit Anna Ruby Falls while you’re in town! It’s one of my favorite things to do in Helen, Georgia during fall! If you are traveling with kids, there are lots of things to do in Helen with children as well.
 
Visit  Jillian Michelle of Adventure Dragon for some more Fall inspired fun!

Fall Foliage Weekend Getaways

 

12. Gettysburg National Military Park, PA

A great place to visit in the Fall is the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. This park is part of the National Parks Service and covers the entire battlefield from the Battle of Gettysburg. If you want to mix culture, American history, and nature, there’s no better place in America to do so (in my opinion).

 
The battlefield is so large that most people will visit by doing a self-guided driving tour of Gettysburg. You can pick up an audio tour in the visitor’s center gift shop, which will guide you through the park and let you know which events from the battle happened where. There are dozens of monuments to see along the way, and the foliage is spectacular. The combination of beautiful nature and monument artistry juxtaposed against the tragic events of the war makes for a somber experience that will stay with you long after your trip is over.
 
The town of Gettysburg itself offers some great additional opportunities to explore history as well and enjoy the scenery of the town in fall. While you can see the battlefield in a day, if you spend a few days in the area you can explore far beyond it!
Stephanie Craig is a Travel Writer & Podcaster, you can follow her here for travel inspiration.
 
Fall Foliage Weekend Getaways
 

13. Ogunquit, Maine

The tiny seaside town of Ogunquit, Maine is located less than an hour south of Portland. Fall is the perfect time of year to visit. The summer crowds have dissipated, the crisp autumn air has arrived, and the foliage glows vibrantly throughout this charming coastal town. The expansive beaches are mostly empty save a few walkers, beachcombers, and bold surfers willing to brave to cold Atlantic!

Time your visit right to attend Ogunquitfest, the town’s annual fall celebration! The festival features Halloween themed events and activities, including a costume parade, ghostly tours, and pumpkin decorating. The event also showcases a massive craft show and classic car show, in addition to a hilariously entertaining high heal dash!

Ogunquit really gets into the Halloween spirit with autumn-themed and spooky décor found all throughout the downtown area. Pop into any of the local candy shops or bakeries for fall-flavored goodies, like pumpkin spice whoopie pies and candied apples. We highly recommend a visit to the Harbor Candy Shop and Bread & Roses Bakery, located next door to one another on Main Street!

To see the best collection of foliage in the area you’ll want to head just outside of town. In nearby Wells just a 10 minute drive away, you’ll find Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and Wells Reserve at Laudholm, both offering spectacular easy hiking opportunities through colorful fall foliage.

Fall Foliage Weekend Getaways
 

Check out my ultimate USA outdoor bucket list for lots of ideas of other amazing outdoor places to visit and with us heading towards the long, cold and dark nights, why Zion National Park is such a great place to visit in winter.

If a cozy and relaxing weekend is more your style, consider a weekend getaway to Charleston or Napa Valley instead.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.