16 Amazing Places to See Fall Colors on the East Coast

fall hiking gear

If you’re a nature lover, there’s a big chance you’re in love with the fall season–which also happens to be our favorite one of all! Get ready to embark on an awe-inspiring journey to some of the best places to see fall colors on the East Coast of the U.S.

We like to think of fall as nature’s most magnificent spectacle. The changing colors to vibrant tones of yellow, orange, and red simply warms our souls.

Looking For Places To Stay On Your Fall Road Trip? Check out these favorites!

🪵 Big Meadows Logde, Shenandoah National Park, VA
🪵 The Lehigh Cabin at Poconos, Blakeslee, PA
🪵 Romantic Retreat in Vermont

To add to this, the crisp and cool weather makes this season one of the most magical ones to experience the great outdoors life. Driving through scenic routes during the fall can be exhilarating and breathtaking.

maggie valley north carolina
Fall foliage in Maggie Valley, NC

Hiking during this time can also be one of the most rewarding experiences for an outdoor enthusiast.

In fact, I still remember how mesmerized I was the first time I hiked along the Appalachian Trail in mid-October. The fall foliage along with the enchanting views of the Smokies was truly breathtaking!

I invite you to start filling your bucket list with these gorgeous places to see fall colors on the East Coast. Pack your bags, get your hiking gear, and make sure to have your cameras ready because nature’s spectacle is calling for you!

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Places To See Fall Colors On The East Coast of the U.S.

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/Tennessee

Contributed by Yanitza from Next Stop Adventures

great smoky mountains
Great Smoky Mountains, NC

There are no words that can truly describe what it feels like to experience the fall season in the mountains. And for one of the most epic places to see fall colors on the East Coast, we have the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—America’s most visited National Park.

The view of the smokies filled with red, yellow, and orange leaf tones is a one-of-a-kind magical view that everyone should have the chance to experience.

Apart from the breathtaking landscape, you can take in all the fall vibes by going on a sunrise hike on the Appalachian Trail or by chasing waterfalls.

There are over 100 waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains! From these, you should at least visit the 120-ft Mingo Falls—one of the tallest waterfalls in Southern Appalachia. This is a 0.4-mile hike of moderate difficulty where you walk up 150 stairs to the waterfall viewpoint on a wooden bridge.

For more things to see, stopping by the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on the North Carolina side will give you a chance to walk around the open-air Mountain Farm Museum.

If you arrive in the early morning hours, you can walk along the Oconaluftee River Trail for a chance to see Elk roaming around.

There is no entrance fee to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and it is open 24 hours a day.

2. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Contributed by Victoria of Southern Trippers

fall colors on the east coast

One of the all-time best places to see fall colors on the East Coast of the U.S. is the Blue Ridge Parkway.

After all, this incredible, 469-mile drive will take you through the stunning mountains of both Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Now, if you time your visit for late October, you’ll be able to see some of the most stunning foliage in the country.

So, to access the Parkway, get on I-64 just outside of Waynesboro, Virginia, and take this two-lane highway to Asheville, North Carolina.

Plan to spend at least 4 days doing this trip since there is so much to see along the way. Plus, the speed limit is just 45 mph. Therefore, that can make this trip a little slow.

However, that means you easily be able to stop and enjoy the best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks of them all, like Raven’s Roost Overlook and Thunder Ridge Overlook.

Also, be sure to stop at the Rough Ridge Trail and hike to the associated overlook at milepost 302.8. You can even hike the Tanawha Trail before visiting nearby Grandfather Mountain at milepost 305.1.

Finally, check out the Linn Cove Viaduct since it is an iconic attraction that will offer you incredible views of the surrounding area.

3. Quechee, Vermont

Contributed by Louisa from Eating Around Italy

vermont fall colors

Quechee, VT, specifically Route 4 from Quechee (or directly from Interstate 89) to Woodstock is one of the most idyllic New England routes to enjoy the great fall foliage. With valleys and mountains, it’s full of adventure and fun for the whole family along the way.

From Highway 89 North, take exit 1 for US-4/Woodstock Rd toward Rutland/Quechee (South) and then turn left onto US-4 W/Woodstock Rd. From this point, you will be on the right track to Quechee and Woodstock.

This little road trip is ideal for enjoying New England foliage because not only does the landscape provide both sweeping views and close-up view points but it’s also full of things to do for the whole family, making it easy to spend a whole day on the road.

Everything you could possibly want in a day of leaf peeping is on one, short 20-minute drive. You can hit it all without going off the beaten path and without compromising your fall foliage intake.

You can see it all: glass blowing, the nature sanctuary, the petting farm, the antique mall and toy museum, and beautiful fall foliage all within just miles of each other.

The best place for fall foliage is the nature sanctuary, the VINS Nature Center (just outside the center of Quechee), or Quechee State Park with camping, picnic area, and an amazing view of the Queechee Gorge from the famous bridge.

Close by is an enormous antique mall with a toy museum and a petting llama farm. This is a great place to stop if you have kids.

In the center of town, just across the beautiful covered bridge of Quechee is another great activity for the whole family which is Simon Pierce’s original store.

Here, you can shop his fine glass, dine at the incredible restaurant, drink at the amazing bar, or simply stop by to learn about glass blowing and watch continuous demonstrations.

Be sure to step out the back door downstairs to overlook the rushing waterfall on the backside of the store.

Andrew Pierce, Simon’s son, also has his wood carving factory store just down the road. This is also a fun shopping experience that pairs well with a trip to the glass-blowing factory.

End your trip to Woodstock, VT for lunch. This small town has just one main road but when you picture New England charm, it doesn’t get closer than this. Get sandwiches at The Village Butcher and stock up on local artisan food products to bring home.

Quechee is about a 2-hour drive from Boston and a 2 ½ hour drive from Portland, ME, making it perfect for even a day trip.

4. Boston, Massachusetts

Contributed by Anastasia, from Travel Realist

boston fall

Boston is a great place to admire fall colors on the East Coast. Fall foliage season starts in late September and is at its peak in October.

The temperatures are still comfortable, from the high 40s to the low 60s. You can enjoy the city’s architecture, historic landmarks, and vibrant fall colors all in one trip.

The Boston Common and Public Garden are the prime spots in the city to admire fall foliage. These free parks are home to a wide variety of trees, from small Japanese maples to oaks.

You should thank this variety for unique combinations of fall colors at the same time – green, yellow, orange, and red.

You could visit the Gibson House Museum on your way to the Charles River Esplanade, another fall foliage spot. This house is a great specimen of the Gilded Age era.

Experience the elegant interiors of this lavish mansion and learn more about the people who worked and lived there.

You will continue to enjoy fall colors after touring the house museum. Take the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge to the Charles River Esplanade.

This riverwalk stretches from the Museum of Science to the Harvard Bridge. Walk to and across the Harvard Bridge to admire the fall foliage, city views, and their reflections in the Charles River.

5. Acadia National Park, Maine

Contributed by Kate from Kate Roams The World

acadia national park summit

You have to add Acadia National Park in Maine to your fall bucket list. Located in Northeastern Maine, you’ll find bright fall foliage, epic coastline, and mountains- all in one stop!

To enter the park, a $35.00 entrance fee is required, and the pass is good for 7 days. If you already have an America the Beautiful National Parks annual pass, you’ll be able to zoom on through.

Mid-October is typically when you’ll see peak fall foliage in the park, though this can change yearly due to precipitation or temperature. This National Park isn’t huge, so 2 days here is the perfect amount of time to spend.

While there, do the 27-mile scenic drive through the park and make plenty of time for photo stops and hikes.

Hike the daring Beehive and Precipice trails that require hoisting yourself up rungs and ladders on the side of a cliff. Small children and those fearful of heights should stay away from this hike! Get to these popular trailheads early in the morning to ensure you can find a parking spot.

Check out the iconic Jordan Pond and try to grab a bite at the Jordan Pond House where they serve tea, popovers, sandwiches, and more.

A few other moderate quick hikes include the trail up to Gorham Mountain and the Bubbles trail. Also, be sure to see the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain.

During the fall months, you will need a vehicle reservation to drive up the road. If you don’t secure a reservation, you can do the 6.7-mile round-trip hike up!

Acadia is near Bar Harbor, Maine where there are other great fall activities to do as well. In this town, you’ll find plenty of shops and restaurants that serve fresh New England seafood.

6. The Finger Lakes, New York

Contributed by Rebecca from Veggies Abroad

the finger lakes new york trails

Year-round this magnificent area of upstate NY is a beautiful and fun place to visit, but it really comes alive during the fall.

The 11 slender lakes that give this area its name are surrounded by lush forests that transform into a fiery kaleidoscope of classic fall colors — it’s picture-perfect.

One of the best ways to enjoy the area’s beauty is on one of the many Finger Lakes hiking trails. One of the best hiking spots is Treman State Park, just 15 minutes outside of Ithaca.

Here you’ll find nine miles of hiking trails that take you through a colorful forest and snakes next to a picturesque gorge carved by Enfield Creek.

The best trail to check out is the Gorge Trail, which leads to the stunning Lucifer Falls, a 115-foot cascading waterfall surrounded by a vibrant display of color.

Aside from visiting the State Park, you’ve got to check out a couple of wineries. The area is renowned for its wineries and vineyards, which are particularly beautiful during the fall season.

The grapevines in the vineyards turn vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow, complementing the surrounding fall foliage.

Many wineries offer tastings and events during this time; one of the best to check out is Atwater Vineyards. It’s perched on a hill overlooking Seneca Lake — a gorgeous spot to appreciate the scenery.

7. Charlottesville, Virginia

Contributed by Abby from Trekking Prices

charlottesville virginia fall colors on the east coast

Charlottesville, VA is the perfect place to visit for those looking to enjoy fall colors on the East Coast.

Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the city of Charlottesville is surrounded by beautiful mountains that display vibrant fall foliage as the trees turn from green to shades of red, yellow, and orange.

One of the best activities to do in Charlottesville during the autumn months is to go brewery hopping or visit one of the endless wineries in the area.

This is the perfect fall activity to spend some time outdoors taking in the beautiful fall colors, appreciating the crisp autumn temperatures, and enjoying some delicious beverages.

Charlottesville, Virginia is one of the best destinations to explore on the East Coast for those looking to take in the fall colors and enjoy endless autumnal vibes.

You can walk through the downtown mall area while you take in the foliage strolling by great restaurants and boutique shops or jump in your car and head towards the town of Afton to enjoy the stunning fall colors while cruising the famous Blue Ridge Parkway.

If you can’t decide between which of these wonderful options would be best, combine them by taking some of Charlottesville’s amazing local food and beer or wine for a picnic at one of the many viewpoint pull-offs along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

8. Washington, D.C.

Contributed by Catrina from 24 Hours Layover

washington d.c. sunset

Washington D.C. is a stunning destination to witness the red, orange, and yellow fall colors.

Stroll along the National Mall and you’ll find iconic landmarks such as the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol Building surrounded by a beautiful canvas of autumnal leaves.

The Mall is particularly stunning during autumn, making it one of the best fall foliage photography spots in Washington DC!

The US National Arboretum is also a great spot in Washington DC to see fall foliage. It’s truly an oasis in the city, and fall is without a doubt one of the best times to visit.

Admire the fall leaves contrasting against the Corinthian columns – which once supported the U.S. Capitol portico.

Other stunning fall locations near Washington DC include Rock Creek Park, which is full of beautiful fall foliage in the autumn months.

There are nice walking trails and picnic spots in the park, so you can really make an afternoon of it! In addition, the nearby Great Falls Park has stunning hiking trails that offer spectacular views of the fall colors as well as the Potomac River and its waterfalls.

Washington, D.C., and its surrounding areas offer many attractions to explore during the autumn season besides the fall colors.

Enjoy the sights of the city, including Capitol Hill, Tidal Basin, and picturesque Georgetown, then head over to the charming Old Town Alexandria – just across from the Potomac River.

Alexandria is a lovely historic district with cobblestone streets, boutique shops, and great restaurants.

9. White Mountains Area, New Hampshire

Contributed by Sophie from Delightful Travel Notes

white mountains new hampshire

The White Mountains area in New Hampshire is an absolute must-visit destination for breathtaking fall colors on the East Coast of the U.S.

Famous for its magnificent foliage, this region offers a mesmerizing display of vibrant hues that attract nature lovers and photographers from all over the country.

The most convenient way to travel there is by car. Major cities in the area, such as Boston, provide easy access to the White Mountains via highways.

The best time to see fall colors in the White Mountains is typically from late September to mid-October. During this period, the forests transform into a vivid palette of red, orange, and gold.

The cool, crisp air and the picturesque landscape will give leaf peepers an unforgettable experience.

In addition to the colorful fall foliage, the White Mountains also offer many activities to enjoy. Hiking enthusiasts can explore several trails where they will see stunning vistas and waterfalls.

The Kancamagus Highway is among the best scenic drives that showcase the vibrant fall colors of the region at every turn. Visitors may also opt for a leisurely ride with the historic Conway Scenic Railroad.

When visiting the White Mountains during peak foliage season, it is important to plan ahead as the area can get very crowded. Arriving on weekdays may help avoid congestion.

There are various parking options, including designated parking lots near popular attractions, trailheads, and overlooks.

10. Hudson Valley, New York

Contributed by Lindsey from Queer Adventurers

hudson valley new york fall foliage

New York’s Hudson Valley is of the best places to see fall colors on the East Coast. Located north of New York City and accessible from the city by car or public transit, the Hudson Valley region offers excellent fall foliage hikes, pick-your-own apple orchards, and farm cideries and breweries.

One hike not to miss is Overlook Mountain in Woodstock, 111 miles north of New York City by car. From the parking lot, the asphalt trail shoots straight uphill.

It’s a 90-minute quad workout to the top. Along the way, you’ll pass through the ruins of the old Overlook Mountain Hotel. At the top, enjoy panoramic views of lakes and mountains set ablaze will autumn leaves. You can also climb the fire tower.

Once used as a lookout to spot forest fires, it’s now a fun addition to the hike. After your Overlook Mountain hike, enjoy one of the many farm-to-table restaurants in Woodstock.

If you’re not interested in a hike, don’t worry. There are still plenty of ways to appreciate the spectacular orange and red fall colors. Fall also happens to be the prime apple-picking season.

Wilklow Orchards in Highland is a family-run orchard with a variety of apples, a cute farm store offering yummy cider donuts, and an onsite cider taproom serving locally brewed Bad Seed Cider.

More Beautiful Places To See Fall Foliage On The East Coast

11. New York City, New York

Contributed by Sam of Find Love and Travel

central park new york city fall

There are plenty of worthwhile locations to visit along the East Coast during Fall but New York City is a fantastic location to see fall foliage and vibrant fall colors come to life!

New York in Fall is truly a must-visit during this season (October to early November), and Central Park is one of the best places to experience everything fall has to offer.

Upon arrival, be greeted with trees in shades of deep oranges, reds, and gold. The air is often crisp and refreshing, too, which makes the environment perfect for relaxing and taking in the views.

New York first-timers often enjoy booking a Central Park guided walking tour. The tour guide will go into depth about the history of the park, the significance it still has in New York, and extra New York facts.

For an elevated fall foliage experience, go to the Summit One Observation Deck. This unique experience allows you to look over NYC from a bird’s eye view, including incredible views of Central Park.

Other lovely parks to enjoy fall foliage include Washington Square Park and Battery Park.

The weather during this time of year is much cooler than in the summer but still comfortable enough to walk around in.

There is parking available, however, driving into Manhattan is not advisable. Instead, take public transportation. The subway and walking are the best ways to navigate.

12. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Suggested by Erin Gifford from Go Hike Virginia

shenandoah national park bearfence mountain

For eye-popping fall colors, there’s nothing more satisfying than motoring the length of the 105-mile Skyline Drive at Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park in October and November.

Just 90 minutes west of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is an easy weekend escape and fall is among the best times for a getaway to Virginia’s majestic Shenandoah Valley.

More than 75 scenic east- and west-facing overlooks, like Signal Knob (milepost 5.5) and Bacon Hollow (milepost 69.0), implore visitors to pause for vibrant bursts of fiery orange and amber leaves.

Some leaf-peepers may find that each overlook is more sensational than the last as dramatic splashes of persimmon and golden yellow drape the mountainous landscape.

Hikers, scramble to the top of Bearfence Mountain for foliage-filled 360-degree views. Another top pick is Hawksbill Summit, the highest point in the park.

For waterfall watchers, revel in vibrantly-colored leaves as you hike to Dark Hollow Falls or Rose River Falls.

Stay the weekend in the park in a modern guest room or rustic chic cabin at Skyland or Big Meadows Lodge. Both thoughtfully-appointed stays have a full-service restaurant, outdoor terraces, and access to hiking trails, including Stony Man and Lewis Falls.

Cap off a well-spent visit to the park with a slice of the park’s signature Mile-High Blackberry Ice Cream Pie and an evening of stargazing at Big Meadows.

Note that there is a $30 entrance fee for Shenandoah National Park, which is valid for seven days. Parking can be limited, especially in fall, so arrive early to the park, if you can.

13. Salem, Massachussetts

Contributed by Sierra from Your Guide to Wandering

salem Massachusetts

If you’re heading north from Boston, be sure to make a stop in Salem. This city offers a unique combination of historical significance and spooky allure and is a perfect place to get into the spooky mood and see some fall colors.

Delve into the chilling history of the 1692 Witch Trials at the Salem Witch Trial Memorial and the Old Burying Point Cemetery, where victims were laid to rest.

Take a guided walking tour or explore the captivating shops dedicated to magic, witches, and monsters along the main street. Salem truly has an obsession with witches!

For more eerie entertainment, check out the locations featured in the movie Hocus Pocus or join a ghost tour. Keep in mind that Salem can get crowded during Halloween, with tourists in costume.

If witches and magic aren’t your cup of tea, visit the Peabody Essex Museum for a day of art, including a reconstructed ancient Chinese house.

Apart from its bewitching history, Salem is a historic seaport close to renowned whale-watching opportunities. Salem, along with nearby Gloucester, is an ideal location for whale watching, as it is one of the top 10 whale-watching sites in the world.

Whether from the shore or a boat, you can enjoy exceptional views of humpback whales, minke whales, northern right whales, pilot whales, or sperm whales.

14. Portland, Maine

Contributed by Kelsea from Out of Office Mindset

portland maine fall colors on the east coast

If you’re seeking an exceptional autumn escape, look no further than Portland, Maine. This East Coast city truly comes alive during the fall season with a breathtaking display of vibrant colors. Prepare to immerse yourself in the charm of this place, whether for a weekend or a week!

For the ultimate fall experience, plan your visit to Portland in October. The weather is perfect for exploring, with an average high temperature of 56°F (13.5°C) and an average low of 47.5°F (8.6°C). Witness the peak of foliage beauty between the 10th and 15th of the month.

Kick off your fall getaway by strolling through the Old Port area, where you can enjoy a warm cup of coffee and a delicious donut at Holy Donut.

Then, venture to the iconic Portland Head Light, the renowned lighthouse. The land around the lighthouse is a picture-perfect place to see the fall colors.

Once you’ve marveled at the lighthouse, wander the charming cobblestone streets of Portland’s Old Port. There is no shortage of boutique shops and mouthwatering restaurants.

Be on the lookout for exciting events, particularly during the last week of October. Portland hosts Halloween events every night during this period. Among the festivities, don’t miss “Harvest on the Harbor,” a must-see event showcasing the culinary magic of Portland’s top chefs.

15. Northeast Kingdom, Vermont

Contributed by Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler

northeast kingdom vermont fall foliage

Anyone looking for spectacular fall foliage in New England should visit the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The NEK, as it’s known locally, is a sparsely populated, heavily forested area of rushing streams and majestic mountains in the extreme northeast corner of Vermont.

The area is bordered by Canada to the north, the Green Mountains to the west, and the Connecticut River to the east.

Lake Willoughby is the perfect place to view the riotous colors of the trees in the fall. A hike up Mt. Pisgah will give you a panoramic view of the gold, red, and orange-covered mountains surrounding the lake.

Burke Mountain is another place to enjoy the foliage in the Northeast Kingdom. Drive the old toll road to the top to look out over the colorful hills and valleys of Canada.

In addition, the Kingdom trails near East Burke offer over 100 miles of world-class mountain biking to see the fall colors up close.

Dog lovers will want to visit the Dog Chapel, a heartwarming tribute to beloved pets. The beautiful stained glass chapel in St. Johnsbury was built to honor dogs with hundreds of photos lining the walls. The chapel is perched on a mountain with scenic foliage views in the fall.

All in all, explore the trails, lakes, and charming villages of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont to see incredible fall foliage in September and early October.

16. Highway 11, South Carolina

Contributed by Natalie from Camping Kiddos

cherokee foothills scenic highway south carolina

For an unforgettable fall drive, head to Upstate South Carolina and wander down Highway 11. Also known as the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, Highway 11 carries travelers from the SC-GA line around Greenville before ending about 110 miles away near Spartanburg.

However, there are multiple places that visitors can get on the scenic highway that are convenient from both Greenville and Spartanburg, the 2 largest cities in the area.

The highway follows the lower foothills of the Appalachian Mountains near the South Carolina-North Carolina border. The 2-lane road has many areas to pull over for quick photos of the rolling hills, farms, and dense forests.

This drive is beautiful any time of the year thanks to the mountain overlooks, quaint towns, and welcoming state parks along the way. However, it is especially spectacular during the fall months when the colorful foliage adds another layer to this area’s beauty.

Due to South Carolina’s mild fall season, peak color typically occurs in the first 2 weeks of November.

There is no entrance fee to access Highway 11, which makes this a budget-friendly way to experience fall foliage in South Carolina. Highlights along the way include visiting Keowee-Toxaway State Park, exploring the best things to do in Walhalla, SC, and hiking to the top of Table Rock.

Hiking is abundant in this area, both in and out of the state parks along the highway. The Glassy Mountain Trail near Pickens provides views of the area’s iconic mountains, Table Rock, and Caesar’s Head. The beautiful Station Cove Falls near Walhalla is another must-visit!

Which one of these places would you love to visit during the fall season? Let us know in the comments!

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Yanitza Ninett
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Yanitza is an avid adventurer with 15+ years of hiking experience and outdoor travel. As a PADI-certified scuba diver, she's also passionate about ocean conservation. When she's not exploring the great outdoors, Yanitza obsesses over The Vampire Diaries and dreams of traveling to Mallorca, Spain.

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