View of Lake Placid, New York and surrounding fall landscape from the mountain.

Best Places To Visit In Upstate New York In The Fall

Travelers come from around the world to experience the lively energy and beautiful scenery that Upstate New York offers, but autumn delights like no other time of year. Upstate New York offers a magical fall experience, overflowing with outdoor areas chock full of golden yellow and vibrant red leaves. State parks, national parks, and charming small towns abound with opportunities for outdoor recreation, as well as classic fall events and festivals, ideal for indulging in the beauty and scrumptious flavors of the harvest season. Visitors may traverse the scenic roads, delve into the various hiking trails throughout the area, or visit a small town for a wine or beer tasting – whatever it may be, fall adventure awaits in Upstate New York. 

Catskill Mountains

Gorgeous fall landscape in the Catskill Mountains.
Gorgeous fall landscape in the Catskill Mountains.

The Catskill Mountains are a dissected part of the Allegheny Plateau, which connects to the Appalachian Mountains. The mountain vistas blaze with hues of gold, red, and orange, adding vibrance around the area's waterfalls, such as Vernooy Kill Falls, Russell Brook Falls, and Tompkins Falls. Travelers may hike, cycle, or enjoy a scenic ride around each of the falls. Rock climbing, paddling, and fishing are other popular activities in the area, alongside a fall camping trip! The Catskill Mountain Railroad is a popular destination where visitors may enjoy a scenic and historic train ride, while the Hudson River School Art Trail is a popular hiking destination, tracing some of Thomas Cole's 19th-century paintings. The best time to view foliage in the Catskills is around early- to mid-October.


Taughannock Falls, Ithaca.
Taughannock Falls, Ithaca, enveloped in fall foliage.

While Ithaca is one of New York's coolest small towns for a summer vacation, it wows in the fall months as well. Apart from being home to several breathtaking waterfalls, including Taughannock Falls, Lick Brook Falls, and Triphammer Falls, several events celebrate the season, such as the Apple Harvest Festival. For those searching for adventure and fall foliage, Sapsucker Woods is a popular 3-mile loop, and Cayuga Waterfront Trail is a wonderful spot to view the colorful hillsides. Part of the Finger Lakes Region, Ithaca is well known for its wine selection, with over 25 unique wineries on Cayuga Lake. Of course, cider is a classic fall drink, and there are ten craft cideries within 30 minutes of the town.

Sleepy Hollow

Scary Jack O'Lantern from Sleepy Hollow, New York during Halloween.
Jack O'Lantern decor in Sleepy Hollow during Halloween.

Sleepy Hollow is one of New York's most beautiful small towns and also the birthplace of the tale of the Headless Horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. The town sits along the eastern shore of the Hudson River, where travelers enjoy picnicking, kayaking, and hiking. It is home to the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, where visitors may explore and enjoy tours of the 1883 Lighthouse at Sleepy Hollow and Philipsburg Manor historic site. The town also hosts several fall and Halloween events, such as haunted house tours, the costumed Halloween 10K run, and the Halloween parade. An evening lantern tour through the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is essential, with visitation of grave sites of the town's most famous residents, such as William Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and John Dustin Archbold.

Hudson Valley

Vibrant fall foliage by the Hudson River, New York.

The Hudson Valley comprises the valley of the Hudson River, running 241 miles from Manhattan to Albany. A hiking trip through the area offers incredible views of the rushing waterway, vibrant with color in the fall months. The Walkway over the Hudson, the Hudson River Skywalk, and the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge are some of the best vantage points for amazing views of autumn foliage. A climb of Breakneck Ridge in Hudson Highlands State Park offers more spectacular panoramic views, while a canoe ride with Hudson River Expeditions offers a chance to get up close and personal with the beautiful area. A trip to Albany offers visitors a chance to enjoy local events, such as the All-Hallow E'en Festival and the Great Cider Cycle, while Warwick hosts the Warwick Applefest and Grape Stomping event.

Lake Placid

View of Lake Placid and surrounding fall landscape from the mountain.
View of Lake Placid and the surrounding fall landscape from the mountain.

Fall is the perfect time to explore the beauty of Lake Placid, walking below a canopy of warm tones and falling foliage. Horseback riding is another great way to enjoy the fall colors, as is a 15-minute ride on the Whiteface Gondola, which offers a panoramic view of the area, reaching the Whiteface Lodge at the top. Fall festivities in the area include the Lake Placid Brewfest, where visitors and locals alike may taste local brews, as well as the Whiteface Mountain Oktoberfest and the Flaming Leaves Festival. A boat ride on the water is a great way to enjoy a more serene day, as well as the stunning foliage as it reflects off the water.

Adirondack Park

Spectacular fall foliage in the Adirondack Park.
Spectacular fall foliage in the Adirondack Park.

Adirondack Park is well known for its forested mountainscape, boasting colorful changing foliage through the fall months. The park, covering 6 million acres (2.6 million acres in New York), is a wilderness area and National Historic Landmark, as well as a state park in Upstate New York. Alongside astounding fall foliage, visitors may view a range of wildlife, including mooseblack bearsbeaversflying squirrels, and more. Travelers may stay overnight in nearby villages, such as Saranac Lake, which also boasts access to the historic Adirondack Scenic Railroad. For those in search of a rustic stay, camping is an option on public lands throughout the Adirondacks. Nearby Lake George also offers steamboat cruises, perfect for a relaxing fall getaway.

Alexandria Bay

Waterfront homes surrounded by striking fall foliage along the St. Lawrence River.
Waterfront homes surrounded by striking fall foliage along the St. Lawrence River.

Alexandria Bay is an adorable town in Upstate New York, part of the Thousand Islands Region, located on the southern banks of the Saint Lawrence River, near the US-Canada International Border. A helicopter or hot air balloon ride offers remarkable views of the town and its fall foliage, while boat tours offer the opportunity to explore the islands and their sites. The hiking trails of Wellesley Island State Park are a great way to view the changing leaves, as is the viewpoint from Scenic View Park. Annual fall events include the Blues Fall Craft Fair, Oktoberfest, and the Halloween Festival. Visitors may extend their stay at one of the town's inns or hotels, as well as a campsite at Wellesley Island State Park.

Fall In Love With Upstate New York

Fall is a fabulous time to enjoy wine-tasting, pumpkin picking, and spooky Halloween activities in Upstate New York, but the area brims with beautiful outdoor locations that are also worth a visit. Whether the breathtaking fall foliage of the Catskill Mountains appeals to you, the reflective waters of Lake Placid draw you in, or the charming village of Sleepy Hollow piques your interest, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Upstate New York during autumn. 


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