Quick Links

When the air turns crisp and September’s warmer, longer days give way to October, there’s nothing better than taking a trek to view some of autumn’s vivid hues at their most breathtaking beauty. However, embarking on a leaf-peeping tour often means contending with the inevitable crowds that often flock to some of the most well-known spots for catching fall’s best foliage.

And even though the following sites are on the radar of the most lovely leaf lists, they are definitely one-of-a-kind destinations for colorful leaf viewing that aren’t necessarily famous for their foliage—and, as a result, are often a little less crowded during peak season.


RELATED: Fall Festivals & Foliage: Why Charleston Is The Perfect Autumn City

A Hudson Valley (Hidden) Gem

Everyone knows that New York’s Hudson Valley is one of the most epic locales to peep the best autumn leaves; practically every town and city throughout the region is a fall-friendly destination just waiting for visitors to scope out the most vivid hues around. However, what sets the village of New Paltz apart from its HV counterparts is that it’s often overlooked as a haven for leaf-peeping, despite its proximity to the sprawling and scenic Mohonk Preserve in nearby Gardiner and a variety of local hikes. And don’t forget the stunning backdrop of fall colors that accompany its historic and Bohemian Main Street—the perfect fall photo op.

  • When To Go: In the Hudson Valley, it's hard to predict when fall foliage will be at its best, but visitors can stay up to the minute by checking the Fall Foliage Report starting September 14
  • Where To Stay: Minnewaska Lodge (Gardiner); Moondance Ridge B&B; Audrey’s Farmhouse (Walkill); Mohonk Mountain House
  • Where To Eat & Drink: A Tavola Trattoria; Garvan’s Gastropub; Robibero Family Vineyards; Schatzi’s Pub and Bier Garden; Huckleberry
  • Things To Do: Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary; River To Ridge Trail; Mohonk Preserve Testimonial Gateway; Water Street Market; Walkill View Farm Market; Walkill Valley Rail Trail

A Marvelous Minnesota State Park

A river, a bridge, a lake—and some of the most stunning fall colors on display in the Midwest await visitors to the rugged landscape of Jay Cooke State Park. A bastion for both summer and winter activities, this MN gem is undoubtedly one of the best places to spy fall’s bounty of riotous color—and from one of the most exciting perspectives around. Visitors that travel the swinging suspension bridge that dramatically spans the area will be treated to one of the season’s most dramatic scenes: a stunning, rocky shoreline and a crystalline river that perfectly reflects autumn’s most vivid hues.

  • When To Go: Find out when to visit Jay Cooke State Park at peak fall season here.
  • Where To Stay: Oldenburg House; Black Bear Casino Resort; Cloquet/Duluth KOA Journey; Fond du Lac Campground
  • Where To Eat & Drink: Streetcar Kitchen & Pub; Third Base Sports Bar; Carmen’s Bar & Restaurant (Cloquet); Pedro’s Grill & Cantina (Cloquet); Red Dog Drive-Thru
  • Things To Do: Hike and bike the trails; Oldenberg Point Overlook; Moose Lake State Park; Willard Munger State Trail; Ru-Ridge Corn Maze

RELATED: A 3-Day Itinerary For Vermont's Fall Foliage

In The Foothills Of Greenville County

There’s no doubt that the Blue Ridge Mountains and the surrounding landscape are home to some of the most breathtaking fall scenery in the entire southeast. However, those that want to beat the crowds while still scoping some of the season’s best colors will find their ultimate fall haven in Greenville, South Carolina. Situated in the foothills of the majestic mountains, this SC gem is home to a quaint (yet bustling) downtown—that also happens to have autumn’s best colors as its bucolic backdrop.

  • When To Go: Generally, the colors reach their peak around mid-to-late October, depending on the elevation
  • Where To Stay: Grand Bohemian Lodge; Modal; Swamp Rabbit Inn and Properties; Hilton Greenville
  • Where To Eat & Drink: Sassafras Southern Bistro; Tupelo Honey; Jianna; Passerelle Bistro; Larkin’s
  • Things To Do: Fall For Greenville Festival (October 14-16); Table Rock State Park; Paris Mountain State Park; Swamp Rabbit Trail; Falls Park on the Reedy

PA’s Pretty Pine Creek Gorge

Pennsylvania is known for its breathtakingly beautiful fall foliage; from the Pocono Mountains region to its mainstay tourist hotspots like Presque Isle State Park and the Allegheny State Forest—let’s face it, the Keystone State has no shortage of fulsome fall bounties. But there’s something especially dramatic about peeping the season’s best foliage from a somewhat dramatic perspective: and that’s where Pine Creek Gorge comes in. Also referred to as “The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania,” this impressive spot cuts through steep forested hills that are bursting with bright, bold colors throughout autumn. Full of incredibly scenic and breathtaking views year-round, this spectacular park really shines when fall touches the multi-hued leaves.

  • When To Go: Generally peaks in early-to-mid October.
  • Where To Stay: Penn Wells Hotel & Lodge; The Old Wellsboro Inn; Canyon Motel; Sherwood Motel
  • Where To Eat & Drink: The Roost Restaurant/Pub; Duncan Tavern; Timeless Destination; Harland’s Family Style Restaurant
  • Things To Do: Tioga State Forest; Leonard Harrison State Park; Colton Point State Park; Pine Creek Rail Trail; PA Grand Canyon Wagon Ride

RELATED: 10 National Parks With Stunning Fall Foliage

Fantastic fall foliage is one of the best parts of autumn—watching the leaves reach their vibrantly vivid peaks during the best vibes of the sweater weather season. But scoping out the season’s most scintillating colors doesn’t necessarily mean battling the crowds. Some of the best spots to have a leafy look often fall under-the-radar when it comes to the perennial peeping lists—and these are definitely some of the absolute best of the season’s (somewhat secret) stunners.