You don't have to travel far to take in the phenomenon of fall foliage. All across the US, from New England to the Pacific Northwest, deciduous trees put on their dazzling display of color. In fact, leaf viewing is one of the easiest (and least expensive) ways to experience America's awe-inspiring natural beauty. Check out our picks for the ten best destinations for fall foliage, or get out there and discover your own.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mike Norton/Shutterstock
Why We Like It: When a world famous town is named after a tree, you know it's an extraordinary specimen. Aspen leaves turn a rich yellow hue in the fall, and literally shimmer in the breeze when the sun hits them. The gold tones of aspens in autumn make for a picture-perfect contrast with the evergreens and craggy mountain peaks. And while the ritzy ski resort town of Aspen is the place to see and be seen in the winter, it mellows out into a softer, gentler version in the fall.
When to Go: Aspen season is short. It kicks in during mid-September and peaks at the end of the month. The first week of October offers some decent viewing, but beyond that, there will be more leaves on the ground than on the trees.
Where to Stay: The Limelight Hotel is an ultra-modern mountain lodge that fronts Wagner Park in downtown Aspen. Don't let the sexy sophistication fool you, the hotel is moderately priced and welcomes both kids and pets.
Plan Your Trip: Visit the Fodor's Aspen Guide
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Colin D. Young/Shutterstock
The Catskills, New York
Why We Like It: The 6,000 square miles in southeastern New York known as the Catskills are home to six major river systems, 35 mountain peaks over 3,500 feet, and the famed Woodstock festival. A year-round destination, the Catskills are at their most vibrant in the fall when yellows, oranges, and reds electrify the thickly wooded hillsides. Locals and visitors alike savor the fall harvest, when many of the region's historic villages host festivals and craft fairs alongside the bountiful farmers' markets and pick-your-own orchards.
When to Go: The last two weeks in September through mid- to late-October are prime time for fall foliage in the Catskills.
Where to Stay: The Catskills are fabled for their charming B&B's. For more of a retreat experience, head to the Inn at Lake Joseph, a 16-room country resort located on a 250-acre private lake.
Plan Your Trip: Visit the Fodor's Catskills Guide
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Hoffman/Dreamstime.com
The Berkshires, Massachusetts
Why We Like It: The essential escape for urbanites in New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia, the Berkshires provide world-class foliage viewing alongside notable art and culture. Narrow winding roads connect mountain hamlets set against a forested backdrop of crimson and yellow, and every hue in between, making for the most beautiful gallery hopping or antiquing trip of your life. Or spend the weekend at one of the region's storied spas, soaking in the sweeping autumn views.
When to Go: Fall foliage season in the Berkshires begins in late September and typically peaks during Columbus Day weekend in mid-October. There's still color to behold in late October, but don't wait until November.
Plan Your Trip: Visit the Fodor's Berkshires Guide