17 Road Trip Destinations for the Best Fall Foliage in the USA

17 Road Trip Destinations for the Best Fall Foliage in the USA

The fall season is upon us and we couldn’t be more excited. Forget the PSLs! Part of the reason we moved to NYC this year, is to have easy access to some of the countries most beautiful fall foliage.

Besides the obvious like New England or Blue Ridge Parkway, we came up with a list of other lesser known fall destinations that also deserve a visit this season. No matter where you are this year, we hope that you can get out to explore one of these beautiful spots. If you do, be sure to tag your photos with #LocalAdventurer so we can check them out too.

17 Places to Visit in November in USA for Fall Foliage // Local Adventurer #fall #fallfoliage #usa #travel #autumn #trees #leaves #orange

A big thank you to Zipcar for sponsoring this post. All opinions are always our own. This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

Last Updated: Sept 1, 2018

17 Breathtaking Road Trip Destinations to See the Best Fall Foliage in the USA

Even if you don’t have access to a car, or your car isn’t the best for a good road trip, that should never stop you from going on an adventure. We sold our car before moving to NYC but signed up for Zipcar to help us explore the Northeast. It helps us go on impromptu trips and run local errands. The sign up process is really simple, and now, when we need a car, we can log on to the app, select the vehicle and we’re on our way. Sign up with this link to get $25 driving credit.

17 Road Trip Destinations for the Best Fall Foliage in the USA
17 Road Trip Destinations for the Best Fall Foliage in the USA
17 Road Trip Destinations for the Best Fall Foliage in the USA
17 Road Trip Destinations for the Best Fall Foliage in the USA

Portland’s beautifully lush landscape is easily rivaled by the colors of autumn. Not only do you get to enjoy the colors, but a lot of the city’s top restaurants feature the fall harvest and the breweries get newly harvested hops to work with. You can take a short drive out to the Columbia River Gorge to admire waterfalls amongst the fiery colors.

More: 101 Things to Do in Portland Oregon

Portland Oregon Fall Colors + 17 Places to See the Best Fall Foliage in USA // Local Adventurer #fallfoliage #fall #autumn #leaves #trees #usa #travel #pdx #portland #oregon
Portland Oregon Fall Foliage + 17 Places to See the Best Fall Foliage in USA // Local Adventurer #pdx #portland #oregon #or #fallfoliage #fall #autumn #trees #usa #travel #localadventurer

 One of the best spots for fall colors is the Boardman Tree Farm. It’s about 2.5 hours away from Portland, but there is plenty to see in the Columbia River Gorge along the way too. Check out our guide here.

More: Last Chance to See the Autumn Colors of the Boardman Tree Farm

Boardman Tree Farm + 17 Best Places to Visit in Autumn in the US // Local Adventurer #fallfoliage #fall #autumn #leaves #trees #usa #travel #boardman #oregon #or
3. Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth is a Bavarian-style town just over 2 hours from Seattle. It’s a great place to visit in the fall for two reasons. First off, it’s one of the best places in the state to see fall foliage. Head to Lake Wenatchee to see the bright yellow trees reflected in the water. Secondly, one of the most extravagant Oktoberfests celebrations in the US happens here. So head here to grab a beer and enjoy the colors of the Cascade Mountains.

Leavenworth is also a great place to boulder. We’ve climbed here once and definitely want to go back.

More: 15 Best Weekend Trips from Portland Oregon

Leavenworth Fall Colors + 17 Places for the Best Fall Foliage in USA // Local Adventurer #usa #travel #fall #foliage #autumn #leaves #trees #washington #wastate #leavenworth
4. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

The most popular viewing spot here is the Skyline Drive, which gives you 105 miles of scenic byways to see the brilliant colors in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They also hold an annual Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival where you pick from 11 different rides to enjoy the views.

Shenandoah National Park Fall Foliage + 17 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the US // Local Adventurer #usa #travel #fall #foliage #autumn #leaves #trees #shenandoah #va #virginia
5. Mackinac Island, Michigan

If you’re looking for a quiet getaway, this island in Lake Huron is the perfect spot for you. It’s filled with Victorian architecture and because no cars are allowed on the island, you are literally forced to slow down. The resort on the island is also a National Historic Landmark.

Local Tip: If you can’t make it to the island, you should try to check out Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. If you visit late September/early October, you’re sure to find beautifully vibrant reds, oranges, and gold. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a great place to explore and there are a ton of waterfalls here too.

Mackinac Island Fall Colors + 17 Best Places to Visit in Autumn in the US // Local Adventurer #usa #travel #fall #foliage #autumn #leaves #trees #mackinac #colors #michigan #midwest
6. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

The Great Smoky Mountains has one of the longest fall foliage seasons. They can appear as early as mid-September and can run all the way to mid-November, although October is the best time visit. You get the whole range of colors in the park since there are over 100 species of trees, and the Blue Ridge Parkway puts them on the map for one of the most scenic drives in the country.

Local Tip: Climgman’s Dome is the highest point in the state and a great place to see an endless ocean of fall colors.

Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage + 17 Best National Parks to Visit in the Fall and US Cities with Beautiful Fall Colors // Local Adventurer #usa #travel #fall #foliage #autumn #leaves #trees #smokymountains #nationalpark #findyourpark
7. Denver, Colorado

You have a bunch of different options to see fall foliage in the Denver area. The resort towns outside of the city will start to see the color first before heading into the city. This is also a great destination for beer lovers, with the Denver Oktoberfest, the Denver Beer Fest, and the Great American Beer Festival all happening in the fall.

Local Tip: For a truly magnificent showing, head to Rocky Mountain National Park where you can see the golden canopies of the quaking aspens.

Colorado Fall Colors + 17 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the US // Local Adventurer #usa #travel #fall #foliage #autumn #leaves #trees #colorado #co #hiking
8. Acadia National Park, Maine

We’re headed up here in October and couldn’t be more excited! The beautiful hues of autumn can be found in Acadia National Park contrasted by the deep blue sea. Head up to Cadillac Mountain for the area’s best overview or hike along one of the many trails to explore. 

Local Tip: If you have extra time, you can make the 3 hour drive over the Portland, Maine as well. Bradbury Mountain is a popular spot for foliage, and you can get your fill of lobster and lighthouses.

Acadia National Park Fall Foliage + 17 US Cities and Best National Parks to Visit in the Fall // Local Adventurer #usa #travel #fall #foliage #autumn #leaves #trees #maine #acadia #nationalpark
9. New York City, New York

NYC may come as an odd choice for fall foliage, but Central Park completely transforms. Whether you want to head up to the Top of the Rock for an aerial view, hunt down Central Park secrets, or enjoy a nice dinner at one of the restaurants nearby, you should absolutely make time for it if you find yourself in the city. This will be our first autumn season here and we can’t wait to go out to shoot photos.

Local Tip: Don’t limit yourself to the southern side of the park. It’s the busiest and more touristy area. Head north to explore deeper spots in the park and find a quiet spot for yourself.

More: Best Things to Do in Central Park NYC + Secrets of Central Park

Fall Foliage New York + 17 Destinations for the Best Fall Foliage in USA // Local Adventurer #usa #travel #fall #foliage #autumn #leaves #trees #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity
Central Park Autumn + 17 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the US // Local Adventurer #autumn #fall #foliage #trees #leaves #colors #centralpark #usa #travel #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity
10. Salt Lake City, Utah

Fall is actually a slower time for visitors in Salt Lake City, which means you’ll find lower prices and fewer people in the area. Head to the Big or Little Cottonwood Canyons to see the fall foliage or enjoy the fall festivals, like the Utah State Fair and Oktoberfest.

Salt Lake City Fall Colors + 17 Best Places for Fall Foliage in the US // Local Adventurer #fall #colors #foliage #autumn #usa #slc #saltlakecity #leaves #utah #visitutah
11. CLAYTON, GEORGIA

Clayton is a small town in the foothills of Black Rock Mountain. Not only can you enjoy the autumn colors of the Appalachian Mountains, but you can also white-water down the Chattanooga River for a unique vantage point.

12. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

Head to the twin cities for double the action in Fall. Locals are out and about soaking in the last of the great weather before winter hits and there are a ton of ways to enjoy the outdoors while taking in the fall colors. Two of the most popular races happen in the fall: the Minneapolis Bike Tour, which offers multiple routes, and the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, which is one of the prettiest urban marathons.

Minnesota Fall Foliage + Your Guide to the Best Fall Foliage in USA // Local Adventurer #usa #travel #minnesota #fall #foliage #colors #autumn #trees

photo: Jim Brekke

13. LENOX, MASSACHUSETTS

Picture lakes, farms, meadows, and mountains as the backdrop to the brilliant colors of fall. The Berkshires attracts leaf peepers from all over each year. Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway is one of the more popular stretches of road to drive.

14. BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

Visit a city steeped in history and education. The local campuses are filled with students, and Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum is one of the best spots in the city to enjoy the foliage.

More: 15 Incredible Weekend Trips from NYC

Boston Fall Foliage + 17 Best Fall Vacation Spots in the US // Local Adventurer #fall #foliage #usa #travel #autumn #colors #leaves #boston #massachusetts #vacation

photo: clry2

15. Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage is one of the few Alaska towns that doesn’t close up shop at the end of summer. Early fall means the prices have lowered, the cruise-ship layover tourists have disappeared, but there is still plenty of beauty to enjoy. Take the Alaska Railroad to Talkeetna for the best fall foliage, and maybe even spot a moose through the thinning trees. At night, you may even get lucky enough to spot the northern lights.

More: How to See the Northern Lights

Anchorage - Fall in Alaska + 17 Best Fall Vacations in the US // Local Adventurer #fall #foliage #autumn #colors #leaves #anchorage #alaska #usa #travel
16. Taos, New Mexico

Taos is a popular spot for artists, which you’ll see through the many galleries in town. As you stroll through the artwork, you’ll notice that the fall season is one of the most popular subjects. The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway loop takes you through some of the most spectacular fall foliage you’ll find in the southwest. Aspens are the main attraction here, but keep an eye out for eagles, elk, and black bears too.

17. Glacier National Park, Montana

This park has a wide variety of deciduous trees, which makes it a great spot to visit between mid September to mid October. Among all the trees, the park is famous for its deciduous pine, which turns bright yellow before all the needles fall. Drive along the scenic roads or hop onto one of the trails near Lake McDonald.

Local Tip: Know before you go. If you plan on doing some hiking, be prepared. There are a lot of wild animals and you should know what to expect.

More: 9 Incredible Things to Do in Glacier National Park Montana

Glacier National Park Fall + 17 Best US Cities and Best National Parks to Visit in the Fall // Local Adventurer #fall #foliage #autumn #colors #leaves #usa #travel #glacier #montana #montanamoment

Seen them all? Here are more fall destinations IN THE US

  • Arkansas – Jasper
  • Connecticut – Kent, Litchfield Hills
  • Maryland – Oakland
  • Minnesota – Duluth
  • New Hampshire – Jefferson
  • New Jersey – Cape Jay
  • New York – Adirondacks, Cooperstown
  • North Carolina – Brevard, Weaverville
  • Pennsylvania – Lancaster, Milford, Wellsboro
  • Rhode Island – Charlestown
  • Vermont – Manchester, Stowe
  • Wisconsin – Door County

Are you a leaf peeper? How many of these have you been to?

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17 Road Trip Destinations for the Best Fall Foliage in the USA

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in NYC.

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