The debate of when fall really starts is as divisive as pumpkin spice. While some rush enthusiastically into the cashmere-clothed arms of autumn before the autumnal equinox, there are others who subscribe to a more “endless summer” approach. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, one thing’s universally true: The changing of the leaves is as poetic and grounding as it was when you first shaded over them with crayons in elementary school.
So what’s a city-bound spectator to do? A weekend of leaf-peeping is just the thing. You will need a fall-friendly spirit, ample apple cider donuts, cozy knits, and a lovely place to call home base. Now’s not the time for sleek amenities. A great leaf-peeping headquarters should have some combination of a hearth, large windows, and proximity to foliage.
New England is the leaf-peeping capital of the US, so count on these spots as your guide to the season of just the right amount of nature this fall. Because at the end of a long day of leaf-peeping, there’s nothing like the great indoors.
Idyllic doesn’t even begin to describe the iconic Mayflower Inn & Spa. Known for its sprawling grounds—58 acres of landscaped gardens and woodlands— and convenient two-hour drive from New York City, this hotel sets the standard for a fall getaway. Located in the charming town of Washington, Connecticut, this setting is certainly for the poshest of leaf peepers. Expect luxury service and wellness amenities including The Well at Mayflower Inn—a 20,000 square-foot spa sanctuary—and an exclusive chef visit from Jose Ramirez-Ruiz, just in time for the fall season.
What’s better than Upstate New York in the autumn? The Barn in Tivoli is the perfect embodiment of what the region’s most coveted season has to offer. Make use of the barn’s hygge feeling by lighting a fire or escaping to the lofted nook. Remote workers, rejoice! Strong Wi-Fi and cell service are included, along with proximity to Tivoli’s darling dining options. Explore the property to find a hidden creek and a picnic table outfit for dining while overlooking the pond. How quaint.
This hotel, nestled in the Catskills region of New York, is located in prime leaf-peeping territory. Stay in at the cozy bar or adventure out for apple picking at a nearby farm. Rooms are sparse, but in a good way—creating a welcome sense of calm not too far from New York City life. Make the most of nature by heading on a hike in Catskills Park before dropping by West Kill Brewing for a break.
Most of Massachusetts boasts excellent fall foliage, but the Berkshires offer an exceptionally seasonal glow. Plus, the area’s bustling new businesses offer the best of weekend browsing—from galleries to fine dining and the occasional vintage store. The wrap-around glass windows of this architectural gem make for a getaway you won’t soon forget. Cozy up to the wood-burning fireplace or star gaze on the deck. The choice is yours.
There’s lots of leaf-peeping to do outside of New England, so why not give Missouri a try? Set against the Ozark Mountains on 4,600 sprawling acres of lush mountains, Big Cedar Lodge is an award-winning wilderness resort. True leaf lovers will marvel at the nearby Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, while thrill seekers will enjoy the bowling alley and go-kart racing the property has to offer. Plus, until October 31, Big Cedar Lodge is bringing one of its most beloved offerings of the season back with Cedar Fest—allowing guests to celebrate fall with festive autumnal activities like a multi-course dinner, pumpkin patches, the Ozarks’ Lost Soul Corn Maze leading up to Halloween, and more.
Fulfill your childhood dreams of staying in a treehouse in Newbury, New Hampshire. Nestled in the woods near Mount Sunapee and Lake Sunapee, this escape is equally fun and festive. Make the most of your time in the trees on the home’s wrap-around porch, immersing yourself in some of the best foliage New Hampshire has to offer.
Sometimes the best way to get into the autumnal spirit is by approximating your favorite fall-themed inspiration. If Gilmore Girls is top of mind, pack the car and head to Hartford, Connecticut. You’ll have the chance to piece together your own version of a Stars Hallow weekend itinerary with lots of coffee, some shopping, and a diner you can pretend comes close to Luke’s.
Near Callicoon, Narrowsburg, and Livingston Manor—this upstate New York getaway is great for a group or just a pair. All the conveniences of modern living play beautifully with a well-designed home with vintage touches. Not the kind of “vintage touches” that feel dusty or forgotten. The kind that makes you wake up early to find an estate sale of your own to shop. Depending on the weather, there’s a pool and outdoor lounge fit for leaf-peeping and general relaxing.
Come fall, all of the Hudson Valley in New York is transformed into a cornucopia of fall foliage. Only two hours from New York City, Wildflower Farms is poised to be your new favorite home away from home. The resort is all about facilitating meaningful connections with nature, making it perfect for leaf-peeping. A three-mile walking trail connects all of the property, which includes fine dining and curated shopping.
The Orchard at Hover Farms allows you the fantasy of country living this leaf-peeping season. Located directly on the Empire State Trail, this spot is great for bikers of all calibers. Views of both the Catskill and Berkshire mountain ranges, aka double the foliage, can be seen atop the rolling pastures. The pastoral 1880 farmhouse feels like instant calm. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the working farm, minus any manual labor or cleanup. And if it’s cold enough, you’re in close proximity to some great ski resorts.
Located on five acres of prime leaf-peeping splendor, this beautifully built home boasts river views and stunning finishes. A large sitting area by the fire pit is not to be overlooked. Located in Fall City, Washington, this stay is out of the North Eastern box, but just as autumnal as the best of the East Coast.