Some say the best way to see fall foliage is on a scenic train ride and that is true in New York. Amtrak will whisk you effortlessly to New York's lively cities and charming towns, with great autumn scenery out the window. If you're looking for a slower paced adventure, take a leisurely ride on one of our historic railroads.
Our tourist railways, steam locomotives, diesel engines, and even trolleys will bring you to scenic vistas and historic sites. Restored vintage trains like the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, running between Utica and Old Forge, starts its journey at a refurbished depot and stops in the mountain villages of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. In Western New York, climb aboard the Arcade & Attica Railroad for a journey back in time or step into a Haunted House theme.
Some lines allow you to participate in reenactments of train robberies or military history, wine tasting, holiday celebrations, and magical trips to see Santa Claus at the North Pole.
Experience the recently reopened Saratoga & North Creek Railway as it connects passengers from Saratoga Springs to North Creek in the heart of the Adirondacks, with special events like the Iron Horse Cooks, Ales or Rails or hooking up with the Scenic Gondola packages that are available.
Whether it's taking part in one of the Finger Lakes Scenic Railways themed adventures like the "Halloween Pumpkin Express", or boarding the Catskill Mountain Railroad's Esopus Scenic Train at Mount Tremper to enjoy scenic views of the Catskills that you just can't get from your car, you can relax, sit back and let the scenery unfold while you discover a side of New York that you may have been missing.
New York State has about 70,000 miles of rivers and streams; nearly 7,000 lakes and ponds; over 400 miles of Great Lakes coastline; almost 2000 islands dotting the St. Lawrence Seaway; and 120 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline. There's also the 524-mile New York State Canal System linking the Great Lakes with the Hudson River and the inland waterways of the Northeast. With all that water, it's no wonder that more and more people are hopping aboard a boat to get a whole new perspective on New York's fantastic fall foliage.
There are plenty of marinas and other facilities across the state that rent boats and plenty of public and private boat-launching sites to provide you easy access to our many waterways. Skipper your own motorboat or spend a week in the luxury of a houseboat. Enjoy the peace and tranquility of canoeing and kayaking or rent a charter and leave the "driving" to someone else. Explore our canal system in an authentic canal boat or take a lunch or dinner cruise aboard a larger vessel, many of which include a tour guide who will provide insights into the history of the region you're exploring.
Fall foliage viewing day trips north from New York City through the lower Hudson Valley region are available from lines such as New York Water Taxi.In the Finger Lakes, minutes from downtown Rochester, in Pittsford, Corn Hill Navigation offers fall foliage cruises aboard the Sam Patch, a circa-1800 packet boat replica, along the NYS Canal System. See the amazing colors of autumn from Lake George aboard one of the Lake George Steamboat Company's three large cruise ships, The Minne-Ha-Ha, an authentic Paddlewheeler; The Mohican; and the lake's largest cruise ship, The Lac du Saint Sacrement.
Enjoy a birds-eye view of New York's annual autumn display of color by taking flight in a helicopter, airplane or sailplane. Take a seaplane over the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park, which is aglow each fall in some of the most spectacular colors in the Northeast. Payne's Air Service, in Inlet, offers scenic tours, as well as fly-in wilderness fishing, hunting and camping trips. See beautiful foliage along with great views of stately mansions and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as you follow the historic Hudson River. Firms such as Liberty Helicopters charter tours of the lower Hudson Valley.
Catch the air currents near Elmira as you go soaring at Harris Hill without the aid of an engine above the Southern Tier's rolling hillsides, all awash in color. Or, view the Thousand Islands and Finger Lakes from above and see for yourself how they got their names. There are plenty of places in New York State that can provide the means to get you airborne, and Mother Nature won't let you down when it comes to supplying the colors.
Another way to get that "high-in-the-sky" view of New York State's colorful fall foliage is hot air ballooning. There is virtually no sense of movement as you float peacefully over lakes, mountains and farmland - at times reaching heights of 2,000 feet. Fall is the perfect time to experience the thrill of hot air ballooning. You'll find the only thing more colorful than the leaves are the balloons themselves.
For a colorful foliage excursion by balloon, you might wish to consider the spectacular view of the "Grand Canyon of the East," Letchworth State Park from a Balloons Over Letchworth hot air balloon gliding over the Genesee Gorge. In the Adirondacks, Adirondack Balloon Flights offers excursions from the Lake George/Queensbury area down to Saratoga Springs.