Travel

Top fall foliage destinations

We all have signals that let us know the fall season is upon us.

You feel a nip in the air. You update your closet with new pieces for cooling weather. Or like many others, you order that beloved pumpkin spice latte. But the ultimate sign that fall has arrived is the changing of the leaves.

The best way to discover some fall foliage this year is with a AAA TripTik®. Whether you create a digital one online or have a travel advisor assist you with a printed copy in a branch, your custom TripTik will always be more successful if you have a sense of what you want to explore while traveling. Looking for ideas? Here are some of our favorite destinations for fall foliage, other things to experience while you visit, and the best time of the year to make your trek. 

AAA Travel Alert: Several countries, states, and cities have implemented travel and business restrictions due to COVID-19. Prior to making any travel reservations, please ensure that hotels, attractions, and restaurants are open. The local tourism board is another good resource for updated information about your destination.

White chapel seen in the middle of fall trees in Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is nicknamed “Fall’s Color Capital.” The maple, birch, and beech trees offer numerous shades of yellow, orange, red, and brown.  They’re the perfect backdrop to a mountain drive or a quaint, downtown stroll.

What to do

Stowe has plenty of fun bike tours to explore the town, the trees, or both. To add even more scenery to your trip, drive the Green Mountain Byway and end by checking out Waterbury, the home of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.   

When to go

The peak of fall in Stowe is from mid-September to early October.  

Mist over Pocono Mountain Lake in front of autumn trees

The Poconos, Pennsylvania

The Pocono Mountains are the perfect setting for a fall trip that looks like it’s straight out of a movie. Drive gently winding roads along the edges of colorful mountains, home to 127 varieties of trees and plants. For the most color in 1 spot, we recommend a drive along the Delaware River.  

What to do

To complete your movie-worthy trip, soak in Pennsylvania’s rich history.  Check out the Asa Packer Mansion, the Steamtown National Historic Site, or the Phelps Mansion. 

When to go

We can safely recommend a large window, starting from mid-September through most of October.  

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Book your fall travel needs through AAA

Ready to start planning your fall getaway? Find the perfect place to get cozy during the crisp fall wather, and the perfect ride to explore the foliage. Reserve your hotel and rental car through AAA for member savings. 

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Columbia River Gorge waterfall as seen through fall leaves

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

The West Coast has a handful of  fantastic leaf peeping spots. Perhaps the most noteworthy is the Columbia River Gorge. Cottonwood, Oregon ash, and twisted pine offer a sea of gold and bronze hues. 

What to do

If the hiking, biking, and photo ops aren't enough, you’re close to Mount Hood and a short drive from downtown Portland, with beautiful highway in between.  

When to go

Mid-September to mid-October

TripTik pro tip

This area can be subject to wildfires. If you received your TripTik at a branch, it will include potential weather hazards and tips on how to be prepared.   

Trees in the desert at Taos, New Mexico

Taos, New Mexico

People traditionally think of the northeast for autumn majesty, but Southwest deserts offer their own seasonal colors. See a regional twist on fall foliage with aspen, cottonwood, and the flair of purple cinquefoil. 

What to do

To get the most out of this destination, we recommend the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway. This 83-mile loop covers Wheeler Peak, the state’s highest viewpoint. 

When to go

The window for Southwest leaves is a bit narrower. We advise exploring between late September and early October.  

Check out the perks of fall travel

It turns out checking out the fall foliage is only the reasoning for 26% of travelers during the autumn months. See the other reasons more and more people love to explore during this time of year. 

See the report

Autumn foliage at Ozark National Forest

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

The Ozark mountains boast a variety of wildlife including bald eagles, black bears, and bobcats; lead and zinc mineral sources; and peaks up to 2,000 feet. What the Ozark Mountains are known for, however, are stunning viewpoints. 

What to do

This national forest has plenty of mountains, springs, and rivers to serve as backdrops for beautiful fall hues from white oak, shortleaf pine, sycamore, and maple trees.

When to go

This is a great destination if you missed the September timeframes when most leaves started changing color. Peak time for leaf peeping in the Ozarks is late October through mid-November.   

Autumn foliage at Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine

Get a unique fall experience by checking out the autumn colors while breathing in salty sea air. Red and white spruce trees dominate the region, but with plenty of balsam fir, red maple, oak, hemlock, and aspen trees sprinkled in.

What to do

Don’t go to this area without checking out Acadia National Park, which is a great destination for kayaking and bird and whale watching.  

When to go

The fall foliage peaks around mid-October, but the whole month is sure to be beautiful.  

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Ready to start planning your trip?

Have an idea of what your perfect fall foliage trip looks like now? Start planning it by building a TripTik now or finding a AAA branch to get a printed TripTik, complete with directions, weather forecasts, driving tips, an expense log, and more.  

Build a TripTik 

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