The 12 Prettiest Places to See Fall Foliage Near New York City

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Nothing says fall quite like fire-hued foliage—save maybe cozy knits, pumpkin spice lattes and apple picking. Don’t be fooled by the current wet weather in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, the window to snap pics of red, orange and yellow leaves will be closed before you know it. Eager to catch a glimpse of those brilliant colors but prefer something closer? We totally get it. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to enjoy fall foliage near New York City. From the Poconos Mountains to the Catskills, there are so many epic autumn destinations within driving or train distance of the Big Apple. 


When is the best time to see fall foliage in the New York area?

The best time to glimpse those majestic reds, oranges and yellows differs each year, but in general, peak times for a fall foliage trip around upstate New York occur at the end of September until mid to late October. To guarantee a successful leaf-peeping excursion, check out this handy map before you go.

Tony Sweet/Getty Images

1. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Bushkill, Pennsylvania 

  • Distance from NYC: 1.5 hours from Manhattan by car
  • Trees to See: white oak, red maple and shagbark hickory
  • Best Time to Go: late September/early October
  • Where to Stay: Inn at Jim Thorpe, Historic Hotel Bethlehem

Autumn doesn’t get more glorious than in the Pocono Mountains, where the eclectic mix of trees turns every color on the fall-foliage spectrum. With over 70,000 acres wrapping around the Delaware River, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is especially great for aquatic activities. Canoes, kayaks and rafts are available to rent. You’ll also find 100 miles of hiking trails to traverse. Afterward, treat your tastebuds to some seasonal sips at R.A.W. Urban Winery & Hard Cidery in downtown Stroudsburg.

Logan Myers/EyeEm/Getty Images

2. Greenbelt Nature Center in Staten Island, New York 

  • Distance from NYC: 1.5 hours from Manhattan by MTA bus, subway and ferry
  • Trees to See: oak, hickory, tulip tree, beech and maple
  • Best Time to Go: second week in November
  • Where to Stay: Private Ranch-Style Home, Elegant Entire House

Believe it or not, there are some stunning leaves in...wait for it...Staten Island. That’s right! The southernmost borough boasts Greenbelt Nature Center, a sprawling nature preserve with 35 miles of woodland trails, including one for biking. Before heading out, make a pit stop at one of the area’s famed pizzerias to fuel up for your walk. Our top pick? Joe & Pat Pizzeria serves up wood-fired pies and is located less than 10 minutes away. Plus, most activities at the Nature Center (obviously including looking at the breathtaking foliage) are free.


3. Essex, Connecticut

Connecticut has an unbelievably impressive leaf-scape (yeah, we’re calling it that). While your mind probably goes to the more woodsy Litchfield Hills, that means overlooking shoreline gems like Essex where you can gaze at foliage from both land and sea. The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat makes daily runs into the Connecticut River Valley, traversing 12 miles of prime leaf-peeping territory. Opt for the full tour, which also passes by local historic sights such as Gillette Castle and the Goodspeed Opera House.

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4. Bear Mountain State Park in Tomkins Cove, New York

Bear Mountain State Park is a certified stunner all year round, but it’s even more spectacular as the mountainside bursts into shades of scarlet, rust and gold. Scenic trails meander through the beautiful landscape. We’ll admit that the trek to the peak is a bit strenuous and there’s some rock scrambling involved, so less experienced hikers might want to sit this one out. However, the sense of accomplishment and panoramic views from up top are well worth the workout. Plus, you’re guaranteed to smash your daily quota of 10,000 steps! If you and your family are animal lovers, you’ll definitely want to stop by Trailside Museum & Zoo inside the park, where rehabbed bears, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish are given a second chance at life.

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5. Palisades Interstate Park in Fort Lee, New Jersey

  • Distance from NYC: 30 minutes from Manhattan by car
  • Trees to See: scarlet oak, white oak, shagbark hickory, black walnut, beech, sweetgum and tulip tree
  • Best Time to Go: late October/early November
  • Where to Stay: Spacious Colonial Apartment, One-Bedroom Flat

Just a short trip over the George Washington Bridge lies a scenic stretch called Palisades Interstate Park that’s always a sight for sore eyes but gets exponentially prettier in the fall. For the best view of the Hudson River, in our humble opinion, be sure to hike up the Giant Stairs Trail, which are steep but beyond worth the trek. Drive up the parkway to Rockleigh and back down to Fort Lee for vibrant leaves, 30 miles of trails and a slew of excellent Korean restaurants. A warm bowl of sundubu-jjigae (soft tofu stew) from So Kong Dong is the perfect comforting dish on a chilly evening.

Christopher Ramirez/Flickr

6. Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Poughkeepsie, New York

  • Distance from NYC: 2 hours from Manhattan by Metro-North train
  • Trees to See: Norway maple, white maple, red oak and tulip tree
  • Best Time to Go: late October
  • Where to Stay: Renovated Cottage, Hudson Valley Home

Imagine the High Line, only bigger. Spanning 1.28 miles between Poughkeepsie and Highland, the expansive Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park is the world's longest elevated pedestrian bridge. Yes, really! Record-breaking length aside, it offers sweeping views of the Hudson River and the surrounding color-changing trees. It’s a quick trip, but to make a full day of it you could easily spend a full day exploring the two towns it touches. There are historic districts, waterfront walks and even a Little Italy on the east bank, where sandwiches from Rossi Rosticceria Deli shouldn’t be missed.

Explore things to do

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7. Catskill Forest Preserve in Mount Tremper, New York

Have time for a full-on weekend excursion? Set your Google Maps destination to Catskill Forest Preserve. This endlessly gorgeous 286,000-acre state park is even more dazzling in autumn when the trees turn from green to fiery red and orange. The meadows, sparkling lakes, waterfalls and rock formations are nothing to scoff at either. For the ultimate relaxing weekend, unplug and get in sync with Mother Nature by renting a rustic cabin or shacking up at a hip and halcyon hotel in nearby Woodstock. While you’re there, make sure to make a visit to the KaleidOscraper, the world’s largest kaleidoscope!

fall foliage near nyc forth tyron park
Courtesy of NYC Parks

8. Fort Tryon Park in NYC, New York

Want to see incredible foliage without leaving Manhattan? We’ve got just the ticket—and yes, it deserves its spot on this list. If you’ve ever taken a boat trip around upper Manhattan, you know exactly what we’re talking about. With three beautifully landscaped acres designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., son of the architect of Central Park, this park sits a few hundred feet above the Hudson River in Washington Heights and is home to over 570 species of animals and plants, including trees not typically found in New York that explode with color in the fall. With eight miles of pathways (perfect for runners), plus the Heather Garden, the city's largest garden with unrestricted public access, Fort Tryon Park is a must-visit this autumn. 

fall foliage near nyc adirondack scenic railroad
Mike Steege/EyeEm/Getty Images

9. Adirondack Scenic Railroad from Utica, NY to Tupper Lake, NY

  • Distance from NYC: 4 hours from Manhattan by car
  • Trees to See: Northern red oak, sugar maple, birch, striped maple and black cherry
  • Best Time to Go: early October
  • Where to Stay: Rustic Chateau, Charming 1920s Home

Streams and bridges and bird-watching, oh my! For something a little different, hop on this train ride upstate to experience all the best foliage New York State has to offer. If you want to really take in all the autumn beauty from the road (ahem, and not have your eyes focused on the road itself), this is a great option that goes places most paths and highways don’t. While the trip is altogether nine hours, the actual train ride is only 2.5 hours each way with a 4.5-hour layover in Old Forge, a cute old-timey village in the Adirondacks with some of the brightest orange and red trees around. Though October is the best time to take the trip, note that there’s only one weekly train at 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays throughout the month.

fall foliage near nyc eric canal
Matt Champlin/Getty Images

10. Erie Canal’s Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway in Saratoga County, New York 

  • Distance from NYC: 3 hours from Manhattan by car
  • Trees to See: beech, sweet birch, red maple and American sycamore
  • Best Time to Go: late September to early October
  • Where to stay: Park Manor Hotel, Crowne Plaza Albany

Erie Canal is a historic canal that stretches through much of upstate New York between Lake Erie and the Hudson River known for its significant contributions to early American transportation and westward expansion. Located just north of Albany, the scenic byway is great for hiking, biking, kayaking, walking or driving along, with fluorescent reds, oranges and yellows bursting from the trees along the water and stretching for miles. For the more adventurous New York athlete, consider joining the Mohawk Towpath Byway Duathlon on October 16 for a stunning, once-in-a-lifetime experience!

fall foliage near nyc hudson highlands
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11. Hudson Highlands State Park in Cold Spring, New York

  • Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 15 minutes from Manhattan by car
  • Trees to See: red oak, black oak, white oak, sugar maple, white ash, American beech, black birch, tulip tree, black cherry, American elm and black tupelo
  • Best Time to Go: first or second week of October
  • Where to Stay: The Thayer Hotel, Cold Spring Hotel

There’s simply no better view of the Hudson River Valley than from atop Hudson Highlands State Park. Hop on the Metro-North or take a quick drive up the Hudson to this magnificent, widely undeveloped state park that boasts over 8,000 acres and 70 miles of vistas and trails for hikers and bikers of all experience levels. Bright, tri-colored leaves flow over cascading rock landscapes with hundreds of species of wildlife—including bald eagles! (Did someone say, perfect photo op?) Plus, even more good news: Dogs on leashes are welcome on the trails and in recreational areas, so your furry friend can experience the autumnal beauty with you.

fall foliage near nyc alley pond park
Courtesy of NYC Parks

12. Alley Pond Park in Oakland Gardens, New York

Just a stone’s throw from the other four boroughs, Alley Pond Park on the border of Queens and Long Island is known for its plethora of trees, playgrounds, hiking trails and handball courts. The vast park is bike-free, so paths and fields remain tranquil and well-kept with saltwater wetlands, tidal flats, meadows and forests that create a perfect environment for birds—and, therefore, birdwatching! Trees line water throughout the park, from weeping willows to hickory-oak forests that slowly (and quite romantically) change from green to yellow to orange, red and even purple. Plus, the Q27 bus goes right by the park’s entrance.