Road Trip: 4 top destinations for leaf-peeping

It’s the height of the leaf-peeping season. And some of the best fall foliage destinations in the country are just a road trip away.

Finger Lakes Region, New York (Map)

The bright red, orange, and yellow autumn leaves make for a great backdrop as you explore Finger Lakes Region’s famed glacier lakes and surrounding cities and towns. There are also plenty of attractions and activities to enjoy as you take in all the spectacular views. Highlights include South Hill Cider, Taughannock Falls, Watkins Glen State Park, and Seneca Lake Wine Trail. You also cannot miss a visit to the Corning Museum of Glass for an opportunity to blow your very own glass pumpkin.

Where to stay: The Hotel Ithaca or Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel

More information: Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council

Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania (Map)

Mother Nature seems to particularly love showing off her colorful artwork in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands. For the third consecutive year, it has earned a USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Award for the Best Destination for Fall Foliage. The brilliant colors of the forest surrounding Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are a must-see. Other area highlights include the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College, Laurel Caverns, and Laurel Highlands Pour Tour (a craft beer, wine, and spirits trail).

Where to stay: Nemacolin or Historic Summit Hill Resort

For more information: GO Laurel Highlands

Garrett County, Maryland (Map)

Located in the scenic mountains of Western Maryland, Garrett County is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with its eight state parks and two state forests that present a beautiful palette of colors each fall and Deep Creek Lake, the largest inland body of water in the state. In 2021, Travel & Leisure listed Oakland, the county seat, as one of the Best Small Towns in the U.S. to See Fall Foliage. Fun activities include riding the mountain coaster or taking the scenic chairlift at Wisp Resort, hiking to Muddy Creek Falls (the state’s highest free-falling waterfall), and snapping pictures at the historic stone Casselman River Bridge.

Where to stay: The Lodge at Wisp or The Lodges at Sunset Village

For more information: Visit Deek Creek

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia (Map)

Framed by the Blue Ridge Mouintains to the east and the Alleghenies to the west, Shenandoah Valley offers outstanding scenery. And one of the best ways to experience it is via one of the area’s many secenic byways—especially along Skyline Drive, which cuts through Shenandoah National Park.  Visitors to the area should also check out the beautiful views below ground at one of the many cavarans and above their heads with some of the best nightly stargazing in the country.

Where to stay: Massanutten Resort or Peaks of Otter Lodge

For more information: Visit Shenandoah Valley

Troy Petenbrink

Troy, also known as The Gay Traveler, is a well known travel and food writer. His has been a regular contributor to a variety of outlets including National Geographic, Travel Channel, DCRefined, CBS Local, and Metro Weekly. He also appears on local Washington news outlets as a travel expert.

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