New York

12 Best Spots to See New York’s Fall Foliage

by Holly Riddle
Updated September 29, 2022

fall colors new york state
Letchworth State Park. Photo: Shutterstock

While New England is a little more well known for its fall foliage than New York, the Empire State still offers amazing spots to see the fall colors.

Whether you’re up for some early-season leaf peeping in the Adirondacks or some later-season leaf peeping further south in the state, New York’s fall colors won’t disappoint.

Whether you’d like to take in the fall colors from a mountaintop or flanked by high-rise buildings in Manhattan, New York’s vast landscape offers myriad ways to take in the colors of the season. But where to go to see the best of the best? We have a few ideas.

Here are 12 favorite spots to see New York’s fall foliage.

Related Read: 12 Best Spots to See Pennsylvania’s Fall Foliage

1. Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway

Whiteface Veterans' Memorial Highway
Photo: Wangkun Jia

Why you should go: A quick drive up a mountain with stellar views from above.

  • Nearest Town: Wilmington
  • Peak Foliage: September and Early October

Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway crawls it’s way up Whiteface Mountain, offering amazing scenic views for only a small entry fee. The drive likewise only takes a few moments and, once you’re at the top of the mountain, you can park and walk up to the technical summit.

Whiteface Mountain is also a popular hiking spot and there’s even a gondola that you can take to the top of the mountain. However you make your way up this peak, though, you’ll enjoy looking out over the vast rolling hills and mountains studded with lakes, awash in fall colors.

Related Read: 6 Amazing Waterfalls in The Adirondacks You Don’t Want to Miss

2. Central Park

central park new york autumn
Photo: Francois Roux

Why you should go: It’s just iconic, okay?

  • Nearest Town: New York City
  • Peak Foliage: Late October

Okay. We know. We know. If you’re an outdoorsy person like those of us here at Territory Supply, then likely you’re more interested in hiking to your scenic vista than taking a taxi. However, if you’re only focused on finding the best fall foliage views that New York State has to offer, you can’t overlook Manhattan’s Central Park.

It is iconic, after all. How many movies have you watched, wherein the hero or heroine takes a stroll down a Central Park path surrounded by red, orange and yellow trees, a coffee in hand and stylish scarf around their neck? So, for peak fall vibes, you’ve got to go to Central Park.

Related Read: 9 Excitingly Romantic Getaways in New York City

3. Bear Mountain State Park

Bear Mountain State Park NY Fall
Photo: Andrew F. Kazmierski

Why you should go: Wilderness views within easy reach of the city.

  • Nearest Town: Bear Mountain
  • Peak Foliage: Mid-October

Bear Mountain State Park is situated only a short drive from Manhattan, so it makes an easy day trip if you’re coming to the city and eager to get out into the fresh air. You’ll certainly feel worlds away from all the hubbub of Manhattan here.

Bear Mountain State Park is an awesome spot for hiking and taking in some high-elevation views no matter the season, but it really comes alive in the fall, when you can sit and take in the views of thousands of trees, in their fall finery, from every angle. If it’s a clear day, you may even be able to make out the Manhattan skyline.

Related Read: 9 Incredible Cabins with Hot Tubs in Upstate New York

4. Adirondack Scenic Railroad

Adirondack Scenic Railroad in Fall
Photo: Barbara Friedman

Why you should go: Favorite fall views without any work whatsoever.

  • Nearest Town: Utica
  • Peak Foliage: Early October

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad offers scenic train rides from Utica to Old Forge, and provides gorgeous views — especially in the fall — the entire time. Better yet, this is one scenic experience that you don’t have to do a thing to enjoy. There’s no hiking, no walking, no driving.

All you need to do is get to the train station, purchase your ticket and then sit back and enjoy the ride. You can hop off the train at the end of the line to explore the area, or just head on back, satisfied with your scenery for the day.

Related Read: 11 Beautiful Cabin Rentals in the Adirondacks

5. Mohonk Mountain House

Mohonk Mountain House fall foliage
Photo: Colin D. Young

Why you should go: A room with an autumn view.

  • Nearest Town: New Paltz
  • Peak Foliage: Mid-October

Mohonk Mountain House is a favorite luxury resort in the Hudson Valley. The grounds surround a gorgeous, tranquil lake, which is flanked by tall, jagged cliffs, topped with — you guessed it — trees filled with vibrant foliage. If you want to stay somewhere that’s going to allow for prime fall foliage viewing, this is it.

Of course, the property also comes with lots of extra outdoor activities to enjoy, whether you want to hike, paddle board on the lake or just chill out in your room with a drink enjoying the views from your window.

Related Read: Take A Dip In Upstate New York’s Best Swimming Holes

6. Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park

Walkway Over the Hudson fall colors
Photo: Felix Lipov

Why you should go: Enjoy the scenic views from the water.

  • Nearest Town: Poughkeepsie
  • Peak Foliage: Late October

What better way to glimpse all of the possible fall foliage at once, than by taking to the water? You won’t need a boat or other watercraft for this viewing experience, though. Just take the pedestrian walkway at Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park.

The pedestrian bridge connects Poughkeepsie with Highland, New York, and allows you to see not only the views of the foliage on both sides of the river, but spectacular views of the Hudson as well. The pedestrian bridge is just over a mile and a quarter, too, so totally easy to traverse for most travelers.

Related Read: The 14 Best Places to Visit in October in the U.S.

7. Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park  New York
Photo: Jon Bilous

Why you should go: Waterfalls, cliffside, and fall foliage — oh my!

  • Nearest Town: Castile
  • Peak Foliage: Late October

Letchworth State Park is a popular pick for scenic drives and hikes, as it features three waterfalls on the Genesee River. Make sure that you stop by Portage Canyon if you do visit the park; the huge canyon has been called the Grand Canyon of the East for good reason.

Take the state park’s official scenic drive for 17 miles of beautiful views, both surrounding the canyon and waterfalls, and beyond.

Related Read: Fall Foliage 101: Why Do Leaves Change Colors in the Fall?

8. The Great Lakes Seaway Trail

thousand islands new york
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: An unforgettable multi-day experience.

  • Nearest town: Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara Falls
  • Peak Foliage: Mid-October

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is admittedly very long. However, if you have a few days to spend on your New York State leaf peeping, it’s worth your consideration.

The trail is more than 500 miles and it technically starts in Pennsylvania, but it passes by so much of New York’s scenic land and major landmarks, from Niagara Falls to the Thousand Islands region. It definitely is a good road trip for anyone wanting to see some of New York State’s best sights.

Related Read: 10 Best & Most Unique Pennsylvania Airbnbs

9. Green-Wood Cemetery

Green-Wood Cemetery in fall
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: A fall-appropriate spooky scenic spot.

  • Nearest Town: Brooklyn
  • Peak Foliage: Late October

If fall and spooky season go hand in hand for you, then you can’t miss a trip to Green-Wood Cemetery to view the foliage among the gravestones, as you take in the Manhattan skyline in the far distance. It’s just a quick trip from Manhattan, too, but feels a little further removed than Central Park.

Not only will this setting give you fall foliage and a bit of nature, you’ll also enjoy some history and culture, as this cemetery is known as a historic prime burial ground for New York City’s elite.

Related Read: The Top 10 Best Hikes in Upstate New York

10. Tarrytown

tarrytown new york autumn
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: A historic spot on the Hudson with the perfect blend of nature, spooks and culture.

  • Nearest town: Tarrytown
  • Peak Foliage: Mid-October

Tarrytown, New York, is a lovely little historic village on the Hudson River that’s also known as the setting for Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow.

The town goes all out during the fall, embracing its heritage and getting all “Headless Horseman.” However, despite this, it’s an excellent spot to see the fall foliage in general, thanks to its location on the river and the fact that it’s a relatively small village surrounded by a lot of woodland.

Related Read: 10 Best Hikes in the Finger Lakes for Adventure in the Gorges

11. Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park fall colors
Photo: Jay Gao

Why you should go: Waterfall hikes with gorgeous fall views.

  • Nearest Town: Watkins Glen
  • Peak Foliage: October

The Finger Lakes region of New York is known for its beautiful waterfall hikes and that’s definitely the case at Watkins Glen State Park. This state park is beloved by both New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians alike (as they’re located just a short drive to the south) and attracts hikers all year round with its waterfall-adjacent trails.

However, most of these trails are on the easy side, so you can enjoy the views — fall foliage included — without much work.

12. Lake Placid

lake placid fall colors
Photo: Felix Lipov

Why you should go: A charming village with autumn views galore.

  • Nearest Town: Lake Placid
  • Peak Foliage: September and Early October

In the Adirondacks, Lake Placid is a charming village with a big Olympic history. However, because it’s so small (you can easily walk up and down the village’s main thoroughfare in about an hour, even at a leisurely pace) and situated right on Mirror Lake, with mountains all around, you get to enjoy spectacular views while doing your shopping and dining and otherwise enjoying the area’s tourist attractions.

For the best views of the entire village, with the lake and mountains in the background, head a little higher than the main street, and go up Olympic Drive, which takes you to a short overlook.

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