Take a Leaf Peeping Trip in New York State

New York State has some of the most beautiful fall foliage around. Here are WhereTraveler's top spots to check out this season.

It’s the time of year when we all go color crazy. Especially now, when we’re longing to travel and have a change of scenery, this is the time to hit the road and soak up some much-needed fresh air.

Discover NY State's Fall Foliage

With the deeply saturated reds, yellows and oranges of the changing leaves, mixed with greens from various evergreens and deciduous trees, you’ll be in sensory overload as you view the oriental carpet of colors around you. 

Catskills Scenic Byways

So you’ve watched Dirty Dancing and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but you’ve never actually been to the Catskills? Fall is the time to explore this beautiful mountain region, just 90 miles outside of New York City. The Catskills area has more than its fair share of scenic byways so you can plan a full day of driving, stopping and taking selfies against the area’s colorful backdrop. 

The acclaimed Upper Delaware Scenic Byway is a 70-mile stretch of Route 97 offering impossibly beautiful riverside vistas, rolling hills and rock-cut landscapes. The Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway invites you to explore frozen-in-time towns like Bethel (think Woodstock Music Festival), Woodstock and New Paltz. Encircling the Shawangunk Mountains, The Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway is your go-to if you’re a rock climber.

After a day of hiking, climbing or simply exploring, settle in at Audrey’s Farmhouse B and B, dating from 1740, at the foot of the ‘Gunks. If you prefer fly-fishing, check-in at the luxurious Emerson Resort & Spa where the staff will arrange an excursion, or perhaps a massage to soothe any driving- or exercise-related kinks. Plan for a cocktail and dinner at the Woodnotes Grille by the Esopus creek.

Barton Orchards is the place for a selection of crisp apples, cider doughnuts and frosty cider from their onsite Tap Room | WhereTraveler

Pawling

A short drive from New York City, Pawling is horse country with roads and roads of open spaces, winding drives and magnificent colors. It’s relatively unknown to leaf peepers so you may find yourself with the roads to yourself, a benefit during this time of mad road tripping. Follow route 22 to Pawling where you’ll see the quaint train station and downtown area. Nearby Barton Orchards is the place for a selection of crisp apples, cider doughnuts and frosty cider from their onsite Tap Room. Before you leave, pick up some pumpkins, gourds and dried corn to decorate for Halloween and Thanksgiving. You can refresh at McKinney & Doyle for a substantive meal or stop at their Corner Bakery for a sweet treat. 

Dependent on air conditions and current sanitary requirements, hot air ballooning will give you a spectacular overview of the valley and the mountains. If you prefer a water-based vista, head to Candlewood Lake, just 20 minutes away and rent a pontoon or simply sit by the shore and marvel at the gorgeous trees. At the end of the day, tuck into your room at the Station Inn Pawling, an intimate B and B downtown.

You can visit the 230-year old Tuthilltown Distillery (a.k.a. Hudson Whiskey) for a tasting | WhereTraveler

Hudson 

The stunning Hudson Valley is especially appealing during the fall. The Hudson Valley lies on either side of the 300-mile-long Hudson River with Interstate 87 east of the river and Highway 9 to the west. You’ll pass through many small towns, with gorgeous foliage surrounding you and many dining choices and antique shops.

Make a point of stopping in cute-as-a-button Hudson with lots of gallery hopping and antiquing possibilities including The Antiques Warehouse with more than 3000 items on offer. Rest up for the night at the exquisite Tiger House and enjoy a sumptuous breakfast in their formal dining room, or join the more Bohemian types at the minimalist Rivertown Lodge set in a former 1920’s movie theater.

Grab a bite at the pop-up Fuego 69 for some “pescatarian hippie food” and try some of the area’s artisanal whiskey. You can also visit the 230-year old Tuthilltown Distillery (a.k.a. Hudson Whiskey) for a tasting before visiting Art Omi to admire the contemporary sculptures and architecture at the outdoor park. If you love art, plan a second day to tour Frederic Church’s eclectic villa Olana and the gorgeous grounds that inspired many of the painter’s scenes of the Hudson Valley. 

For a stately dinner and stay, the Otesaga Hotel is the grande dame of the town, overlooking the lake with an elegance that befits its Historic Hotels of America affiliation | WhereTraveler

Cooperstown

Affectionately nicknamed “America’s Most Perfect Village,” Cooperstown sits on beautiful Otsego Lake framed by trees transformed into a mosaic of colors. Baseball lovers missing their favorite parks this year will enjoy the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and everyone can wander charming Main Street where ice cream shops and baseball souvenirs abound. 

Take a stroll around the lake before heading to the Fenimore Art Museum, a repository of American folk art. The Farmers’ Museum is a favorite for families with its demonstrations and exhibits of rural life in the 19th century.  Be sure to refresh with a donut or moon pie from Schneiders Bakery, satisfying hungry visitors since 1887. 

For a stately dinner and stay, the Otesaga Hotel is the grande dame of the town, overlooking the lake with an elegance that befits its Historic Hotels of America affiliation. If your visit overlaps with a weekend, ask the concierge to arrange a babysitter so you can visit Cooperstown’s Brewery Ommegang for a brew or hard cider made from local apples.