Autumn in New York is the treat that northeast residents wait all year for. And while New England offers gorgeous fall weekend getaways, New York State is not to be overlooked as a foliage destination. From short road trips in Hudson Valley and the Catskills to long weekend escapes to Greater Niagara, the Adirondacks, and the Finger Lakes, leaf-peeping opportunities abound around the state. Here, our favorite weekend trips for travelers in search of the best fall foliage in New York State.
In the heart of the Hudson Valley, stay in Columbia County for the charms of fall just two hours from New York City. The county’s remarkable rural beauty welcomes autumnal hues each fall, turning the whole landscape red, gold, and bronze. Start your weekend on the east side of the county and enjoy rolling hills and mountain views in Chatham, a charming Americana-esque town where you can stop off for lunch at Yannis before exploring the boutiques on the main street or venturing to the Martin Van Buren Historic site. For more delightful main street shopping, take a walk through Hudson, too—they’re known for great antique shops and art galleries. For some festive fall happenings in the Hudson Valley, head to Samascott Farm Orchard or Golden Harvest Farms for pumpkin and apple picking.
The Wick, A Tribute Portfolio
The Wick, A Tribute Portfolio is one of the most historic and welcoming boutique bed and breakfasts in the Hudson Valley. With just 55 guest rooms—including seven beautiful suites—The Wick is in the heart of Hudson and Columbia County and for those traveling from Manhattan, it truly feels like an autumnal hideaway from the big city. Walk from The Wick to event spaces like Basilica Hudson and the Hudson Opera House, or find the best shops in Hudson right outside your hotel.
The Barlow, also in the center of Hudson in their business district, is steps away from some of the most essential restaurants in Hudson Valley. Also a boutique Hudson property, The Barlow is housed in a refurbished Art Deco building and has just 16 well-appointed rooms and suites.
Driving through the winding and scenic byways of the Adirondacks’ six million acres during the peak of leaf-peeping season offers breathtaking mountain views and a surreal display of fall colors. The Adirondacks’ peak foliage season is on the early side—you want to catch the leaves in the last two weeks of September or early October. For a perfect driving tour of the Adirondacks in the fall, take Route 73 through the towns of Keene Valley and then Keene before reaching your destination of Lake Placid. You can also climb through the mountains from the comfort of your vehicle on Whiteface Memorial Highway, or venture to the new Sky Ride at the Olympic Jumping Complex right in Lake Placid. After a day of exploration, amble along Main Street Lake Placid where you’ll find good eats and a cozy mountain village town atmosphere.
The Lake Placid Inn
New in 2020, The Lake Placid Inn is a boutique hotel featuring 40 rooms and suites and incomparable lake and mountain views. The property just opened this summer and boasts an inviting private patio with a fireplace right opposite Mirror Lake, and a stretch of private beach along Lake Placid.
Spanning 9,000 square miles and known for its 11 stunning lakes, each trimmed with vibrant fall foliage, the Finger Lakes region is a perfect autumnal destination. Visit the Finger Lakes during the first two weeks of October to catch the foliage at its peak. To find the best foliage, take an easy hike to Taughannock Falls, visit a few wineries on Seneca Lake (start at Wagner Vineyards, an estate winery and brewery), or take a drive along the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway.
For more tastes of fall, travelers can join the Apple Tasting Tour in Wayne County, visit a 112-year-old family apple farm at The Apple Shed, or get lost in Long Acre Farm’s five-acre corn maze. For an adrenaline rush and leaf-peeping from on high, book a hot air balloon ride at Letchworth State Park, often called the “Grand Canyon of the East.” If you’re less one for the great outdoors and more keen on finding total relaxation, head to Ithaca’s Argos Inn for an exceptionally made cocktail (they even have an absinthe drip) enjoyed in their chic sitting room, or treat yourself to an afternoon of indulgence at August Moon Spa.
Inns of Aurora
Overlooking intensely colorful foliage and set upon the backdrop of the pristine Cayuga Lake is the Inns of Aurora, a boutique luxury lakeside resort offering five impeccably decorated inns. Take in the surrounding foliage through guided hikes, private fishing sessions, or archery lessons along the resort’s newly built five-mile outdoor trail system.
The Lake House on Canandaigua
Newly opened as of August 14, the boutique hotel will help guests book seaplanes from Manhattan’s East River directly to Canandaigua Lake. The long-awaited property was designed by Studio Tack in collaboration with family-owned design house The BrooklynHome Company. They are home to skincare guru Alexandra Soveral’s first international standalone spa, The Lake House Spa by Soveral.
Reveling in some of Niagara Falls USA’s best views isn’t a vacation reserved for spring and summer. In the fall, it makes for a perfect long weekend, allowing travelers to experience the falls, as well as upstate New York’s foliage offerings. Foliage peaks in Niagara a little later on—you’ll want to plan your weekend here in mid- to late-October. For touring the area, start at Niagara Falls State Park, where you’ll orient yourself at the panoramic Prospect Point in view of the three falls that together create Niagara Falls: American, Bridal Veil and Horseshoe Falls. Hit the road and head north to the 504-acre Fort Niagara State Park, where the Niagara River flows into Lake Ontario and you can even catch a quick view of Old Fort Niagara and the Toronto skyline across the lake.
The Giacomo, Ascend Hotel Collection
Stay at The Giacomo, Ascend Hotel Collection, a 44-room luxe boutique hotel that’s just an eight-minute walk to Niagara Falls. It’s also walking distance to Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist, and Niagara Falls State Park—so you’re perfectly situated for leaf-peeping. Book the Excelsior or Regency Suite, both of which offer stunning views of the Niagara River from the 13th or 15th floors, respectively.