There's nothing like autumn in New York. The changing leaves create a scenic background more beautiful than can be imagined. If you're into road trips, here are some ideas to maximize your fall foliage viewing opportunities, with plenty of suggestions of what to do along the way. Remember to social distance and wear a mask as required by state guidelines. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions are open and available. 

Updated 08/31/21

The Catskills

Upper Delaware Scenic Byway

Plan your fall drive through the Catskill Mountains via the picturesque Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (pictured). Just 90 minutes from Manhattan, by traveling scenic Route 97, you’ll find county eateries, museums, historical sites, and antique shops, all surrounded by rolling hills and rock-cut landscapes. The Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, which largely parallels the highway, offers numerous access points for fishing and boating.

Stop for the night at Audrey’s Farmhouse, a bed and breakfast not only perfect for the human members of your family but also for your pets.

Hudson Valley

Photo Credit: Matthew Williams
Credit: Matthew Williams

The stunning Hudson Valley offers an ideal respite for city dwellers and out-of-towners alike. The Hudson Valley lies on either side of the 300-mile-long Hudson River, and stretches north to south through eight counties, from Albany in the north to Yonkers in the south. The region is easily navigable—take Interstate 87 east of the river and Highway 9 to the west, both heading north and south.

Hudson Valley attractions include incredible vistas, charming villages with an abundance of antique shops, and incredible dining options. Fall is the perfect season to discover the more than a dozen vineyards along the Shawangunk Hudson Valley Wine Trail in Ulster County.

Rest up for the night at Rivertown Lodge (pictured), a 1920's converted movie theater in Hudson with wood plank floors, a library, and a mix of vintage and refined custom-built furniture pieces.

The Adirondacks

View of Cascade Mountain from Route 73 (High Peaks Byway)

You'll see leaves in abundance on these spectacular scenic driving tours through the Adirondack Mountains. The High Peaks Scenic Byway (pictured) takes you through the Adirondacks' highest peaks and along some of its most pristine waters, including Chapel Pond, Johns Brook, Roaring Brook Falls, and the Cascade Lakes.

High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid makes an ideal home base. Adirondak Loj & Wilderness Campground offers private rooms, cabins, and camping grounds plus education programs and hiking information with 10 miles of snowshoeing and cross-country trails.

Thousand Islands-Seaway

Boldt Castle

The Thousand Islands-Seaway region, with nearly 2,000 islands along 50 miles of the St. Lawrence River, certainly lives up to its name. The region is full of historic battlefields, museums, lighthouses, and castles.

Thousand Island Wine Trail runs through 78 miles of the North Country, winding visitors through the fertile farmland and quaint villages of the St. Lawrence River watershed. An ever-growing list of wineries and vineyards are open daily all year long, with seasonal hours. Visit Coyote Moon Vineyards, the Cape Winery, and Thousand Islands Winery to taste the large variety of wines the region has to offer.

All that wine tasting may leave you exhausted, so rest up at the 1000 Island Harbor Hotel or the Bonnie Castle Resorts and Marina. The delightful Captain Visger House is a hidden gem and offers a unique stay in a renovated Victorian home among the beautiful Thousand Islands.

Finger Lakes

Canandaigua Lake

Take a drive from Watkins Glen to Branchport to see all the wonderful sights the Finger Lakes has to offer. The Finger Lakes region is a patchwork of rich farmland and small towns, with a mix of 19th-century homes and quaint red-brick downtowns. The winding roads follow the lake shores—glide along the water's edges and through rolling green farmland.

A traveler cannot live on leaves alone! Add wine and cheese to your day of autumn explorations by planning a driving route that includes wineries and creameries. Check out the area's wine and cheese trails and work your way through the culinary delights.

Rest for the night at the pretty Blackberry Inn Bed & Breakfast or the historical awe-inspiring Belhurst Castle, nestled on the shores of deep-blue glacier-carved Seneca Lake.

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