For hard-core foliage fans looking to escape the crowds of New England each fall Washington County, Main is paradise for a leaf-peeper seeking solitude.
Lobster is a way of life, lighthouses dot the coastline, and the sunrise each morning is the first one seen in the United States.
Washington County is also the world’s largest producer of blueberries. You’ll find them infusing everything from pies to pancakes to ice cream.
The fall colors range from burnt orange to blazing red to golden yellow on the region’s birch, maple, oak, aspen, and ash trees, and are most vibrant from early to mid-October.
Move over Madison County. Pennsylvania rules when it comes to covered bridges.
The state boasts more than any place in the world. If you’re an admirer, you’re in luck.
Covered bridges figure heavily on several different driving itineraries worth doing through the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia countryside.
Pine, hemlock and maple trees dominate, and the colors (think gold and flaming red) reach their peak in early October. When you tire of being on the road, head to Buckingham Valley Vineyards and Winery for tours and free tastings, or to New Hope, which is brimming with B&Bs, restaurants, and charming stores.
Set between Martinique and Guadeloupe, the lush island of Dominica aka “The Nature Island of the Caribbean” is easily our top Caribbean eco pick. The island’s ecotourism efforts kicked off in 1997, when it participated in Green Globe (the first country in the Caribbean to do so), and its recent title of “Whale Watching Capital of the Caribbean” only adds heft to its vaunted eco status. Indeed, the island is often visited by 40-ton whales, who like to socialize, mate, and play off its shores – and visitors are promised a 90% chance of spotting one up close. Major draws such as this, combined with some of the Caribbean’s best diving, and some of its most pristine rainforests – where superb hiking trails lead to a eerie boiling lake, gorgeous waterfalls, and more – are what make the island such an ecotourism haven. It’s especially easy being green here since, at the end of the day, you can ease your tired muscles in the island’s natural hot springs and stay in secluded rainforest lodges, suffused by the sounds of the jungle.
7. Litchfield Hills
Located in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, the Litchfield Hills are a charming New England destination full of country inns, antique shops, and, most importantly come fall, an abundance of trees blazing with color.
There are numerous biking and hiking trails in this part of Connecticut, plus opportunities to view the colorful mosaic from the air, via a hot-air-balloon ride, or from the water, via canoe on the Housatonic River.
Whatever your pleasure, visitors can expect to see maple, oak, aspen, beech, and birch trees, among others at their peak in mid-October.
6. Mont-Tremblant, Canada
One of the most popular skiing destinations in eastern Canada and boasting some of the highest peaks of the Laurentian Mountain chain.
Mont Tremblant, Quebec is a winter wonderland of adventure. Besides downhill skiing, there are 150km of cross-country trails (used annually for the Canadian Ski Marathon).
Combine this with the string of cozy chalets and relaxing spas within close proximity to the mountain, and you can transform your weekend getaway into pure pampering bliss.
How: Fly to Montreal’s Trudeau Airport and drive 2.5 hours to Mont Tremblant. Direct flights are available from Boston (Air Canada, United; about 1.5 hours) or New York (Air Canada, American, United; about 1.5 hours). You can also opt to fly directly into the Mont Tremblant International Airport, just 30 minutes north of Mont Tremblant resort via Voyager Airlines from Newark (about 1.5 hours).
5. Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a breathtaking sight, especially in fall when the mountain foliage turns to radiant shades of crimson, orange, and purple.
Nestled between North Carolina and Tennessee, the most-visited National Park in the United States is home to 100 species of trees with an awesome display of turning leaves.
Peak fall colors are predicted for mid-October through early November; the most memorable foliage coming courtesy of sugar maples, scarlet oaks, sweetgums, red maples, and hickories.
4. Eastern Townships
This section of Quebec stretches as far east as Maine, perhaps explaining why some consider the region to resemble neighboring New England, but with the French influence you’d expect.
The area has been a summer getaway of the rich for ages, but those “in the know” know that autumn is a spectacular time to visit local towns like Knowlton and North Hatley.
It is probably no surprise that the maple leaf is the star of the show here, and visitors can enjoy a fiery display on horseback or on foot, particularly from mid- to late-September when the foliage season reaches its peak.
3. Columbia River Gorge
An autumn day along Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge gives nature lovers endless opportunities to experience the full spectrum of the season’s offerings.
Whether driving along the Columbia River on the state’s I-84, hiking a variety of trails, or white-water rafting or kayaking the gorge is a geological wonder.
The gorge weaves its way through the Cascade Mountains, forming the border between northern Oregon and southern Washington, and is loaded with lush fir forests and twisted pines, big-leaf maple, cottonwood, Oregon ash, and vine maple trees that show their colors from mid-September to mid-October.
The area is also known for its dazzling waterfalls, the remarkable 620-foot Multnomah Falls chief among them.
2. The Catskills
When the fabled Catskills Region, just 100 miles north of New York City, bursts to life with color every autumn.
Its thickly wooded hillsides are covered by a patchwork of fiery red, glimmering golds, and vibrant orange leaves.
Dubbed America’s First Wilderness, this bountiful and beautiful region harbors a variety of trees — maple, oak, birch, and beech among them that come into their prime during the last two weeks of September or early to mid-October.
While it’s the place to see and be seen every winter, autumn brings a sense of serenity to Aspen — and the golden foliage of the town’s namesake tree along with it.
While Colorado’s aspens don’t offer the vibrant fall color spectacle of say, the Northeast, the yellows, golds, and bold oranges that cover the mountainsides here, against a backdrop of intermittent evergreens, are still reason enough for a visit.
Mid- to late-September is the ideal time to catch the show, but with the color change lasting just about a week, timing is everything.