Best Places To See Fall Foliage In America: Top 5 Colorful Communities, According To Experts

For many Americans, fall is the best season. Everything about the autumn months, from homecoming games and Halloween to Thanksgiving, is a great celebration of American tradition. Throughout the United States, beautiful national forests change colors from summertime greens to a vast array of red, orange, yellow, and auburn. As the canopy shifts to these wonderful sunset colors, many Americans venture out to take in the gorgeous natural beauty. Our list of the top five best places to see fall foliage in America can help adventurers find a favorite spot for an autumnal voyage.

Fall is here, and Americans are trading in their beach towels for pumpkin spice-flavored everything. While seasonal treats may be a popular perk of autumn, a survey finds they’re not the biggest reason America loves this time of year. A poll of 2,000 people in the U.S. finds more than half can’t wait for the changing of the leaves. It’s the most obvious choice, isn’t it? The OnePoll survey reveals that 51 percent say fall foliage is the season’s biggest draw.

The weather overall finished just behind the turning of the leaves, with 45 percent saying they love the chill in the fall air. As for when that chill is just right, Americans think the perfect fall temperature is 53 degrees Fahrenheit. Respondents think the best time to enjoy “peak fall” is the first two weeks of October. This is when the leaves are turning but haven’t all fallen yet, and the weather is chilly but doesn’t call for a heavy jacket.

Wherever they are, many Americans find a way to get out to nature and enjoy autumn’s splendor with family and friends. Our sources helped us find the top five best places to see fall foliage in America, and they are all an absolute joy to behold. Let us know your favorite fall cities in the comments below!

flat lay photography of purple and red leaves
Fall leaves (Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash)

The List: Best places to see fall foliage in America, Per Experts

1. The Adirondacks, New York

More than a single city, the Adirondacks are a famed region of New York State with 102 towns and villages that boast an amazing variety of American trees. The forested region is nestled in the shadow of the Adirondack Mountain range. Martha Stewart writes about the best times to visit the area: “Set your sights on the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York if you want to take in stunning fall foliage. You can find over 5,000 square miles of red, yellow, and orange leaves across the mountainous region. Visitors to this area can see the best foliage in the Lake Placid Region, Saranac Lake Region, Tupper Lake Region, and Whiteface Region during the last week of September and the first week of October; the Lake George Region, Adirondack Hub, and the Malone Region in the first and second weeks of October; and the Lake Champlain Region, Adirondack Seaway, Adirondack Coast, and Adirondack Tug Hill in the third and final weeks of October.”

The Adirondack Mountains during fall
The Adirondack Mountains during fall (Photo by Hazal Ozturk on Unsplash)

Country Living adds: “The region is already known for its beautiful fall colors, but the scenic villages in the Adirondacks also offer miles of lakes, mountains, and hiking trails to enhance your leaf-peeping experience.”

U.S. News and World Report claims, “The Adirondacks offers leaf-peepers 10 distinct regional destinations covering more than 6 million acres in the northeast corner of New York State. Adventurers can head to the Lake Placid region in late September and early October to hike the Adirondack High Peaks, which offer the best mountain vistas during peak fall foliage. While you’re in the region, be sure to visit the Olympic Jumping Complex. Visitors can take an elevator to the top of the ski jumps for a bird’s-eye view of the Adirondacks before heading back down on a zip line.”

2. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

New England is renowned for beautiful fall foliage. Cape Cod stands out with our sources as the best of the best. Time Out offers details, “When to go: mid-to-late October. What you’ll see: Whether you’re near the shore or further inland, Cape Cod is a classic destination for leaf-peepers hoping to catch the changing seasons. Feast your eyes on black oak, white oak, and red cedar trees as they burst with fall’s gorgeous colors.”

A lake on Cape Cod surrounded by trees with autumn leaves
A lake on Cape Cod surrounded by trees with autumn leaves (Photo by NayaDadara on Shutterstock)

Travel + Leisure writes, “Cape Cod, Massachusetts, may be a popular summer destination, but leaf-peeping tourists are also well aware of its autumnal charms. Visitors can check out a cranberry bog or go pumpkin picking, as well as see the beautiful changing colors of the Northeast.”

“Massachusetts is a great place to kick off a New England foliage tour road trip… With cute towns, villages, mountains, and hiking trails, Massachusetts has plenty of options to take in the colors. If you want to explore some more, Massachusetts shares a border with New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, so if you’re early in the season, just drive north,” adds Upgraded Points.

3. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for many fall explorers. This Tennessee region is close to North Carolina and offers scenic beauty that is not seen in many other parts of America. Thrillist writes of this forested area, “America’s most visited national park relies on more than just the Old West photos in Gatlinburg. Summer hiking and winter skiing aren’t even the best reasons to go; the best time to visit here is the fall—especially mid-October through early November—when the Great Smoky Mountains explode into a sea of orange, yellow, and red. One of the best ways to scope that splendor is to hike to Looking Glass Falls.”

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash)

“With more than 100 species of trees, most of them deciduous, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has an impressive variety of fall colors—and one of the longest fall foliage seasons as well. Yellow birches, beeches, and hobblebushes show flashes of color as early as mid-September in higher elevations—like those along the Sugarland Mountain and Appalachian Trails—and autumn wildflowers like coreopsis, goldenrods, asters, and black-eyed Susans add layers of other colors,” according to AFAR.

Choice Hotels writes: “From the autumn décor adorning adorable downtown shops to the Smoky Mountain overlooks, Gatlinburg is an idyllic autumn destination. The Smoky Mountains start smoldering with fall colors beginning as soon as late September, and leaves peak in mid-October or early November. Find yellow birch, red and russet oaks, and purple-red dogwood on spectacular display with a drive up Clingsman Dome Road, admire the leaves from the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle, or take the scenic loop up to Cades Cove.”

4. Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth is famous for their annual Oktoberfest, but their fall colors are on full display all autumn long. This Washington state city shows off some of the most beautiful trees in the American Pacific. Local Adventurer writes: “Leavenworth is a Bavarian-style town just over 2 hours from Seattle. It’s a great place to visit in the fall for two reasons. First off, it’s one of the best places in the state to see fall foliage. Head to Lake Wenatchee to see the bright yellow trees reflected in the water. Secondly, one of the most extravagant Oktoberfest celebrations in the U.S. happens here. So head here to grab a beer and enjoy the colors of the Cascade Mountains.”

Lake Wenatchee in Leavenworth, Washington during fall
Lake Wenatchee in Leavenworth, Washington during fall (Photo by kwan tse on Shutterstock)

“When the air turns crisp, the Evergreen State starts to glow with gorgeous reds and golds. Fall colors appear in the quaint German-themed mountain town of Leavenworth from late September through early October. Start your leaf hunt in downtown at Waterfront Park’s Blackbird Island, where you’ll spot brilliant red maples along the trails by the Wenatchee River banks. Then drive up to Lake Wenatchee to explore nearly 500 acres dotted with a rainbow of fall colors,” according to Choice Hotels.

Upgraded Points states, “Washington may be known as the Evergreen State, but don’t let the nickname fool you. When autumn rolls around, the state glows with the colors of changing leaves. All those evergreen trees make for a spectacular backdrop (as do the snowcapped mountains) to the reds and oranges that visitors come for. One popular spot not to be missed is Leavenworth, a charming Bavarian-style town located in the Cascade Mountains that hosts an annual Autumn Leaf Festival that provides fun for the whole family.”

5. Aspen, Colorado

Aspen sits among the Rocky Mountains in the American Northwest. This region is replete with natural beauty that shines in the autumn months. Time Out states, “If Aspen is already on your bucket list, you won’t regret visiting in the fall. The mountain town’s most vibrant season is extremely short (it only lasts from mid-September to the end of the month), but is nonetheless extraordinary as thousands of aspen trees burst with rich yellow hues.”

Independence Pass in Aspen during the fall
Independence Pass in Aspen during the fall (Photo by John Price on Unsplash)

“Aspen, Colorado, is named for its gorgeous aspen trees that turn the perfect yellow-gold in the fall. Before the ski season sets in, visitors can enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities to enjoy the gorgeous views, especially stopping over at Maroon Bells to take in the scenery,” posits Travel + Leisure.

“It’s a given that fall foliage will be spectacular here, considering the city’s namesake shimmery golden trees, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be at all prepared when you actually see it. It’s worth a trip to this resort town, 160 gorgeous miles southwest of Denver, just to spot bright yellows and oranges contrasted against regal, snow-capped mountains. Visit the nearby Maroon Bells, an iconic vista and the most photographed mountain range in North America, then enjoy a gold-flecked bike ride up the Rio Grande Trail,” details thrillist.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.


  1. This article beautifully captures the essence of why fall is such a beloved season in America. It highlights the shift from summer to autumn, with its vibrant foliage and cool weather, as a major attraction. The information about the ideal temperature and timing for enjoying fall’s beauty adds a practical touch.

  2. So wrong about Cape Cod. The cape is covered with scrub pines, not with deciduous trees that change leaves in the fall. Better to go to western Massachusetts where oaks, maples, and ash trees abound.

  3. The entire State of Vermont will rival any place in North America. Clearly, the author didn’t go much beyond “upstate” as they call it in NY city.

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