While the Southern Hemisphere moves into spring and warmer temperatures, the Northern Hemisphere is doing the complete opposite. In particular, the East Coast of the USA wholeheartedly embraces autumn (or, fall as the Americans call it) and all it stands for.
Picture soul-warming drinks like pumpkin spice coffees or apple cider, seasonal fruit harvests, and who could forget the blazing colours of autumnal flora and fauna? People flock from far and wide to witness the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows, especially along the New England coastline. We’ve rounded up the five best places to see the East Coast’s autumn colours for you, all in a bid to inspire you to add one of these places to your bucket list!
Filled to the brim with some of America’s most iconic history, Boston should be at the top of your list. Its popularity comes down to a delicious food scene, grand architecture and a unique vibe. When visiting in autumn, we’d highly recommend the following three places to capture the best of Boston’s autumn colours.
The city is proud to have the oldest public park (Boston Common) and Public Garden in the whole of America. Boston Common is a bit of a late bloomer due to its elevation, proximity to water and how the city cools as the days go by…but that’s not to say it’s any less magnificent once the leaves start to change colour. A variety of shrubs and trees from all over the world call the Public Garden home. There’s always something to see, including the fiery Japanese maple tree grove with leaves that turn a bright red. Not too far away is Beacon Hill, Boston’s oldest and most historic neighbourhood. Its narrow lanes and alleyways are filled with towering trees and hidden gardens.
Come autumn, local cafes and bars throughout Bar Harbor bring out a delicious range of seasonal-inspired drinks. Don’t miss the Leaf-Pepping Ale from the Atlantic Brewing Company – brewed to a shade of red that is reminiscent of autumn.
Bar Harbor also works extremely hard to limit its light pollution, making it one of the best places to stargaze once the summer haze and heat has burnt off. Each September, locals and tourists alike look forward to the Acadia Night Sky Festival which showcases the beauty of the night sky in this region.
During the day, you may be inclined to take to the water and hire a canoe in Frenchman Bay. Viewing the shoreline’s colours from the water is something else! Or if you prefer to stay on land, lace up your walking shoes and take to the carriage roads of Acadia National Park. These are car-free so you can enjoy the scenery without a care in the world.
Newport becomes even more of a foodie-centric hub in the cooler months. From seasonal drops at local vineyards, to pick-your-own harvests of apples, peaches or pumpkin, to tasty food festivals! September sees in the Newport Festa Italiana to celebrate all things Italian, while October welcomes the Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival with local restaurants and fishermen dishing up their best seafood meals.
To walk off all the incredible food and drink, the Newport Cliff Walk is a must-do. This picturesque walk is a sight for sore eyes, complete with vibrant autumn colours, historic Gilded Age mansions, and ocean views.
Philadelphia is renowned for being one of America’s most walkable cities so it’s super easy to get around for all sorts of stunning autumn nature viewings. There’s no doubt that you’ll be getting your step counts up in Philly!
Wander the tree-filled streets of neighbourhoods like Rittenhouse Square, Old City and Washington Square West; pound the pavement alongside the Schuylkill River (with the added bonus of a killer view of the city skyline); or head to Fairmount Park, home to autumnal flora and fauna, the Philadelphia Zoo, sculptures and historic mansions.
Shenandoah National Park
We would highly recommend planning your visit to Shenandoah National Park in October, the best month to view its never-ending landscapes of fiery autumn colours. The park is dominated by red oak and chestnut trees, closely followed by poplar, birch, ash and maple trees. The leaves begin to change colour at the highest peaks first, moving down into the heart of the park as the weeks go by.
Since it’s such a massive area to cover, the best ways to start off your exploration would be to drive, hike or dine. The Skyline Drive is a 169 kilometre journey along the ridge line of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There’s over 70 view points along the way so no doubt you’ll come across some exceptional landscapes. Shenandoah has many different hiking trails, but one of the easiest is the quick 1.6 kilometre Little Stony Man Overlook loop, complete with an epic view point. There’s also the option to dine at Skyland Resort or Big Meadows – two of the park’s best spots to relax windowside and take in the autumn colours, perhaps with a slice of blackberry icecream pie (a Shenandoah special)!