There's nothing quite like walking down one of New York City's tree-lined streets and feeling the crunch of crisp leaves under your feet. And while you shouldn't skip taking a stroll through Central Park in the peak of autumn, we'd like to suggest taking a road trip beyond New York City's limits to get a taste of the country during one of the most gorgeous times of the year. Like cherry blossom season, the northeast's leaves' transition is fleeting, so make sure you don't miss it this year.
There's something about driving along a winding road flanked by surreal colors that makes us excited for the colder weather, so we've tracked down the best places to see fall leaves within driving distance of New York City. Whether you're looking to hop in the car for a quick day trip or to escape the city for a weekend getaway, these are the most scenic spots that'll fit every agenda.
Peep the five fall foliage road trips we think every New Yorker should add to their autumn bucket list. Make sure your phone is fully charged because these spots are prime photo ops.
Poughkeepsie, New York
Poughkeepsie is chock-full of charming cottages and classic red barns dotting the landscape, about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Manhattan. This quaint town offers urbanites a relaxing escape from city life—especially in mid-September or early October, which is when you'll witness the most spectacular displays of nature. One of Poughkeepsie's selling points is the Mid-Hudson Bridge, which connects Poughkeepsie and Highland via the Hudson River.
If there aren't a ton of cars behind you, drive slowly because the sights from the bridge are unlike anything you'll see all year.
Lake George, New York
Expect to spend about three to four hours in the car if you're driving from New York City to Lake George upstate. In autumn, colorful trees cover the low, rolling hills surrounding Lake George, making for picturesque photo ops across the lake. Try to head out there during the last two weeks of October, which are ideal for sitting lakeside and taking in the view.
Lake George is highly romantic, so we suggest hitting this spot with a significant other for a noteworthy fall date.
Stop into The Sagamore, a historic waterfront resort boasting Victorian architecture. Whether you book a room for the weekend or just pop by for a candle-lit dinner, you'll be glad you took a little detour here.
The Catskills, New York
Depending on traffic, driving to the Catskills from New York City can take about three hours, but we promise the time will fly because there's so much nature to take in on the trip up north.
Once you arrive, stop at Kaaterskill Falls, one of the tallest cascades in New York. If you enjoy hiking, you'll love this short (but steep) hike to the top of the falls where you'll take in scenic views of the Hudson Valley in all its colorful autumn glory. Typically, you can expect to see a range of yellow, orange, and red leaves within the first two weeks of October.
Warwick, New York
About an hour and a half outside Manhattan, Warwick is as picturesque as it gets. Though it may not be on the coast or near the Hudson, it has a beautiful, albeit small, body of water running through it: Wawayanda Creek. If you're looking to kill a few hours outside, go apple-picking at Masker Orchard. You pay by the pound and have about 10,000 apple trees to choose from. To see the full spectrum of fall colors, make the trip sometime between late September and early October.
Beacon, New York
Also situated on the Hudson River, Beacon is one of the most charming cities in the northeast, and getting there is super easy. Without traffic, you may be able to get there in under 90 minutes. The small town is exceptionally breathtaking during autumn because it's surrounded by an array of colorful trees.
If you're looking to do a little shopping on your trip, check out the Beacon Flea Market. All of the wares must be either vintage or handmade, making each piece truly unique.