Last Updated on February 5, 2021
Autumn brings with it leaf season, and a great excuse to get out and explore new destinations near and far. The northeast is well known for its abundance of leaf destinations, drives, and photography spots, all within a short drive of some of the biggest cities in the United States. If you are looking for a quick weekend fall leaf destination to visit this year, pack up the car and head out to any of these great spots.
Fall Leaf Destinations Near Boston
Boston is well placed for nearby fall destinations that range from quaint towns with festivals to long drives through some of the most popular fall leaf vistas.
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The Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
The Mohawk Trail is one of Massachusetts favorite fall trails, with small towns and villages all along the trail that are worth stopping in for the weekend. Shelbourne Falls is one of the most popular towns on the trail, but the Berskshires are where everyone is headed, so make sure you make a reservation well in advance. Take this trail into western Massachusetts if long drives, small towns, and a forested destination are what you are after this fall.
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Concord is best known for its history and the famous Walden Pond, where Henry Thoreau lived and wrote one of his most famous works. It really is a place where you can go and get lost in time, as there are dozens and dozens of historical sites and point of interest that are fun to explore during the fall months. Take advantage of the long drives into and out of the area, and then the ability to take hikes in the forested areas around Walden Pond to just soak in the beauty found in the fall foliage.
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Sturbridge, Massachusetts is home to one of the oldest living villages in the country, Old Sturbridge Village. The living village recreates life in early 19th century New England complete with characters, farms, a self sustaining village, and fall entertainment. The entire area is filled with everything you think of when you imagine a fall destination, from covered bridges to pumpkin farms, fall festivals, and quiet trails where you can take some of the best fall foliage photography around.
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White Mountains, New Hampshire
The White Mountains of New Hampshire are a great fall destination from Boston that you will need to pack the car up for. Mt. Washington is the main site here, with trails leading up, down and around its base. The drives around the park are filled with some of the best valley views filled with fall foliage, with Crawford Notch being one of the most popular spots. A drive here has plenty of options available to you as far as overnight destinations go, and the surrounding towns play host to the crowds that flock in with festivals, live entertainment, and plenty of shopping.
Fall Leaf Destinations Near New York City
If you are in the NYC area and looking for a quick and easy destination, there is plenty nearby to keep you entertained. To see the bursts of colour that is now filling valleys, hills and every corner of the state, head out and get your fill of fall.
The following are great fall leaf destinations near NYC that offer it all when it comes to travel.
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Long Island, New York
Long Island is often overlooked as a travel destination because it is so close to the city, but that’s part of the beauty of this locale. You can easily use the Long Island Rail to get to every destination on Long Island and back home again. Fall colour season is extended along the island because of the micro-climates are created along this stretch of land, so you have plenty of time to fit it in and even get in some late fall colour. The small towns of Long Island all celebrate fall with festivals, and there are tons of fall shopping and dining options to explore.
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Thousand Islands, New York
Just a short drive from the city is the Thousand Islands region, where you can have a different experience from day to day. From state parks to private islands and homes turned B&B, there is plenty of fall color to enjoy and outdoor recreation to enjoy. The islands are spread out over Lake Ontario all the way north to the Canadian border, with the mountains in the background. Here you have your choice of lakeshore fall leaf viewing or the chance to boat from island to island in order to put yourself in the middle of all the fall leaf action.
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Hudson Valley Region, New York
The Hudson Valley region is filled with miles and miles of road tripping inspiration and dozens of quaint village stops along the way. All eyes are on the river and the colourful leaf filled valleys behind them- and this is something that you can appreciate from both sides of the river. Rent a car and leave behind the city for the weekend, and don’t just experience the leaves from behind the wheel, but pick a few spots to get out and hike through the glory of fall.
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Adirondack Mountains, New York
There are several mountain ranges to choose from in New York, but the Adirondack Mountains offer some of the best fall leaf drives and hikes all season long. The air is so cool and crisp up here most folks that have been in the city so long will have trouble trying to identify what it is they are experiencing. Hikes of all experience levels take you in and out of the mountains and give you breathtaking views the look like they never end.
Fall Leaf Destinations Near Washington D.C.
Exploring the greater Washington D.C. area in fall is almost like visiting an entirely new destination, there is so much colour and life. Washington D.C. is in a great location for fall leaf colour because you can easily get to several fall leaf destinations and the changing of the leaves in this area is spread out over all of autumn. Day trip options and easy drives abound each year but where you go really depends on what you like to do when you travel.
These are some of the most popular and best fall leaf destinations near Washington D.C.
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Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Along the C & O Canal, which starts in Georgetown, you will find incredible fall leaf views, miles of hiking or biking, and plenty of stopping points along the way to dine. If you are looking for a great overnight trip, this is ideal because the canal leads you to northern Virginia where there are plenty of B7Bs and hotels to choose from before heading back to the city. The national park is easy enough to hike and bike through, relatively flat and covered in fall foliage that is visible from both sides of the canal.
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Mount Vernon, Virginia
The presidential estate is just a short drive from the D.C. area and makes a great day trip option for fall colour. Every weekend has something new happening at the estate and while the house and gardens are usually the draw here, fall is a great time to explore the entire 500 acre estate. The best views are found along the Potomac River, but any of the trails around the house or through the woods here are fantastic for fall colour.
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The Potomac region in Maryland is a great weekend destination where you can begin and end your fall leaf weekend in Great Falls National Park, which goes into Maryland and Great Falls, Virginia. There are several great drives, towns to stop and shop in, and farms to pick up and down the entire Potomac region so you can get an entire fall fix with just one trip. Try to plan out your trip so that you get at least one high view in, where you can see the entire valley filled with colour.
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Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia
Not only is Harper’s Ferry worth a visit, but Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park is a great place to visit for some great fall colour fun. The Appalachian Trail goes through town, the only town on the entire trail, so it is easy to pick up the trail from town and then head back for a nice lunch or dinner. The Rivers Potomac and Shenandoah and then the three state views are a rare treat that give you plenty of areas to explore.