The leaves are already changing all across North America—don’t hesitate to finalize your plans before the symphony of color turns to winter white! For all of you fall foliage travelers, we’ve ranked the top ten best North American leaf-peeping destinations by comparing their autumn beauty with the overall appeal of their vacation accommodations and attractions.
1. Montreal, Canada Take in Montreal’s outstanding fall scenery while rafting the Lachine Rapids or exploring Mount Royal, two outdoor adventure opportunities in close proximity to the city. No large Canadian city can match Montreal’s vibrant culture—so come back downtown and enjoy the nightlife in the evening.
2. Stowe, Vermont Stowe’s fall foliage is spectacular. Convenient to Interstate 98, Stowe’s burst of autumnal color is just peaking—hop in the car or book your flight today to catch the leaves before they fall! Extend your stay to take advantage of this rustic resort town’s exceptional East Coast skiing accommodations.
3. Denver, Colorado Denver, a city of more than half a million people, is often under-appreciated for its fall foliage. Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is an exciting metropolis within close driving distance of the best autumn sightseeing the Western U.S. has to offer. Leaf peep while exploring Colorado’s nearby wine country or by catching a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater, one of the most famous outdoor venues in the United States.
4. Quebec City, Canada The capital of the province of Quebec is an ideal destination for taking in autumn’s awesome palette. Enjoy the panoramas of leaves while visiting nearby pick-your-own strawberry farms or Montmorency Falls, a waterfall almost 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls. Quebec City’s additional attractions include a rich French heritage and its Old Town section, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
5. Bar Harbor, Maine Located on Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor is never prettier than during the changing of the leaves. Bar Harbor, famous for its pastoral setting and peaceful beauty, also includes the largest portion of Acadia National Park, affording dramatic views of Cadillac Mountain.
6. Logan, Ohio This small Ohio town sports exceptional leafy fall fireworks—especially at Hocking Hills State Park, which features multiple dramatic rock-shelter waterfalls. More unusually, Logan is also home to the last washboard manufacturer in the nation, the Columbus Washboard Company, as well as the annual Washboard Music Festival.
7. Lake Placid, New York Lake Placid’s stunning autumnal aesthetics can be richly appreciated by hiking: all 46 High Peaks of the Adirondacks are convenient by car. Lake Placid was also the home of the 1980 Winter Olympics and the famous Miracle on Ice.
8. Sedona, Arizona Sedona features stunning sandstone sunsets and exceptional fall foliage. Enjoy the leaves by making a trip to Tonto National Forest or the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a church dramatically built into a rock face. Visit in October and you can also catch the Sedona Jazz on the Rocks festival!
9. Branson, Missouri This town is one of the best in the Midwest for choice leaf-peeping. Branson features two gorgeous lakes—Table Rock and Bull Shoals—both of which make an exceptional fall-foliage day trip. A visit to Silver Dollar City will please the whole family: it’s a popular theme park known to some as a Midwestern Dollywood or a far more kid-friendly Las Vegas.
10. The Berkshires, Massachusetts No fall foliage best-of would be complete without the Berkshires. Attractive towns in the region include Pittsfield and Williamstown, Massachusetts. Pittsfield is worth a stop for the foliage displays afforded by Pittsfield State Forest alone. This bucolic town also hosts the Berkshires Museum, the cultural epicenter of the Berkshires, and can boast of being the place Moby Dick was written. While in Williamstown, enjoy the fall scenery during a tour of Williams College, the definition of the picturesque elite liberal arts school.
Don’t let autumn escape you. After all, leaf peeping is more popular than you may realize—and for good reason. In fact, fall foliage tourism is an $8 billion industry in New England alone, with visitors flocking from all over the globe.