Sandwiched between summer’s glow and winter’s snow is fall’s own forte, foliage. Think of it as nature’s most stylish season—when destinations from New York to Napa put on a show of Pantone proportions.
For a front-row seat to the season’s hottest ticket, we’ve gathered fall’s “it” color coordinates, as well as some unique ways to see them. Leaf-peeping from an outdoor spa, anyone? Read on.
New York City
Thanks to Central Park, you don’t have to escape the city to find fall—it’s right there in living color. Stocked with its own set of verdant skyscrapers like American elms and Norway maples, Central Park becomes a kaleidoscope of color from September through November.
To catch leaves falling from the cathedral-like canopy, stroll along the Mall—the park’s widest pedestrian pathway. For a bird’s-eye view, head up to the Mandarin Oriental New York’s sky lobby, which sports floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the 843-acre ode to Manhattan.
Napa Valley, California
Harvest-hued vines paired with wine tasting? YES. With cooler temperatures and fewer visitors after summer’s peak, you won’t have to fight the crowds for shades (and sips) of chardonnay and pinot noir.
For a toast-worthy trip to Napa Valley, zero in on Dry Creek Valley, one of Sonoma County’s legacy wine-grape regions, where floor, benchland, and hillside vineyards spread over 9,000 acres. While you’re there, upgrade your foray into fall foliage by swirling and sipping old-vine zinfandel—one of the AVA’s hallmark wines—at Michel-Schlumberger wine estates.
Taking in nature’s prismatic prelude to winter from a log cabin in Canada seems only natural, mais oui? Montebello is tucked into Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains, and is only a two-hour drive from Montreal.
As if leaf-peeping from one of the world’s largest log cabins, Fairmont Le Château Montebello, is not enough autumn-ness for you, you can explore the ever-changing foliage by horse-drawn carriage. All that’s missing from this scene is maple-syrup taffy, but we’re sure that can be arranged.
Glacier National Park, Montana
For wilderness enthusiasts who put a premium on leaf-peeping, Glacier National Park is another excellent choice. With the peaks of the Continental Divide as your awe-inspiring backdrop, hiking on trails carved into the evergreen-and-larch landscape is the ideal way to cozy up to fall color.
With 1,583 square miles, there’s a lot to explore in the park, so stay a few days in a tent (no reservations are taken after Labor Day and campsites rarely fill) or at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake, a timber- and stone-built lakeside retreat.
Whistler, British Columbia
Just before North America’s top ski-resort area—featured in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics—gets covered from peak to creek in snowflakes, Whistler’s alpine does its best impression of a rainbow.
Soak in the sight from Scandinave Spa, a 20,000-square-foot outdoor health haven carved into the mountainside and cocooned by deciduous trees. Following the Nordic tradition of hot-cold water therapy, with multiple pools, waterfall features, and hot treatments, Scandinave offers the most spectacular and relaxing vantage point of Canada’s unique umbrage.
Here’s one wild card you probably didn’t expect: Maui. While the Valley Isle boasts vibrant flora 365 days a year, its towering rainbow eucalyptus trees “fall” into autumn’s most sought-after hues—not for their leaves, but for their bark! During summer, trunks shed their outer layers revealing a core so bright, it appears as though it has been tie-dyed just in time for fall.
Find Maui’s rainbow eucalyptus grove at mile marker 6 on the Road to Hana, a Garden of Eden journey known for its one-lane bridges, more than 600 curves, black-sand beaches, and bamboo forests.
Where do you go to see fall’s best colors?