It doesn’t seem possible that somehow summer is already winding down. With all that’s going on, it’s not surprising if you didn’t get away. If you feel comfortable, make an escape and see Mother Nature at her finest with the fabulous fall foliage in the Northeast. Timing is everything. Be sure to check with your destination of choice to catch the colors at their best. Here are a few ideas for premiere leaf peeping that are about three hours or less from New York City.
Lake George, New York
There’s a reason some traditions never die. Since the early 1800s, Lake George in upstate New York has been a fall hotspot. Hike to Shelving Rock Falls, a 50-foot waterfall. No worries, the route is doable even for rookie hikers, on a wide, unmarked trail that leads to the top of the falls and offers many opportunities for leaf peeping along the way. The area is home to biking, fishing, swimming and more. If you’re into RVing, check out Lake George Escape, a 178-acre RV resort full of lush woods, meadows and direct access to the Schroon River that is surrounded by the six-million-acre Adirondack Park. There’s an activities center, a new nine-hole disc golf course, wagon rides and more.
Litchfield Hills, Connecticut
Word is Litchfield Hills is the place in Connecticut for the most brilliant foliage. The town of Litchfield is home to the state’s largest nature center and wildlife sanctuary, the White Memorial Foundation. There you’ll enjoy more than 30 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. In Litchfield’s downtown, browse shops and eateries. The historic town green is a great spot for a walk or picnic. Indulge your inner cowgirl or cowboy with a horseback ride along 100 rolling acres and trails at Lee’s Riding Stables. As for where to stay, consider one of the themed rooms at The Litchfield Inn.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
What better way to admire the fall foliage and untamed nature than to stand in the middle of it? The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is less than two hours from New York City. You’ll get your fill of water fun. Take a canoe, kayak, or raft on the Delaware River. The splashes of color will wow you as you hike, bike, paddle, or if you decide to just chill with a picnic with the family. Keep in mind that parking gets full fast on weekends; avoid the potential headache and venture there during the week.
Sussex County, New Jersey
For those looking to explore trails, look no further than High Point State Park in Sussex. It boasts the highest elevation in New Jersey (1,803 feet), offers dramatic views, as well as hiking and biking paths. When the weather is ideal, you can see 80 miles of spectacular fall colors with a great panorama of rich farmland and forest, soft hills and lush valleys in three states. The blue line of the Delaware River divides the verdant ridges of New Jersey from those of Pennsylvania. If you want a room with a view check into the Crystal Springs Resort, with its Grand Cascades Lodge and recreation-rich Minerals Hotel. When you’re through admiring the leaves, there’s plenty more, like six championship-caliber golf courses, two full-service spas, a Wine Spectator’s Grand Award-winning 45,000 bottle wine cellar and myriad activities that should suit the young to the young at heart. During the fall, guests who stay Thursday and Friday receive 25% off each night and special experiences, like nightly s’mores at the properties’ outdoor fire pits.
Autumn is a beautiful time to make a trek to Lenox. It’s in the heart of the beautiful Berkshires, and less than three hours away from New York City. Just driving up the Taconic State Parkway is worth traveling for. You have a choice of ideal accommodations, be it Miraval Berkshires or 33 Main. In that neck of the woods there’s plenty going on, like drive-in movies at Shakespeare & Co., outdoor programming including guided walks, and dance performances at Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount. Drive the Mohawk Trail and U.S. Route 7 for some of the best scenery.
Rhinebeck, New York
Rhinebeck is 85 miles from midtown Manhattan, but it’s a different world. You’ll see once you get to the bucolic historic district. Expect views of the Hudson River, the Catskills, and the southern Berkshire Mountains. Hiking a very easy route to Ferncliff Firetower and climbing to the lookout is said to be one of the most gorgeous views of the Hudson River Valley. Another favored hike is the climb to the top of Drayton Grant Burger Hill. Once you’re at the top take a seat on the stone benches. You’ve earned it. Between the big red barns, cows, horses, apple orchards, vineyards, colorful trees, and the occasional “you pick a pumpkin” farm, Rhinebeck is a low fuss locale. There are more than 75 independent shops and restaurants. Take your pick of accommodations from the Beekman Arms Inn (the oldest inn in America), to Mirbeau Inn & Spa, and B&Bs.