Leaf-peeping hot spots for 2015

Viewing fall’s best-in-class color

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.

 

Montebello, Quebec

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. 

Gatineau Park, Quebec
Image courtesy of National Capital Commission

 

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.

Scandinave Spa Whistler

Maui, Hawaii 

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. 

Maui Island, Hawaii
Image courtesy of Tourism Media

 

Where do you go to see fall’s best colors?

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Trip Styler

Trish Friesen chose an unlikely profession given her fear of flying and propensity toward car, air, boat, train, and chairlift sickness. Thanks to Gravol, Sea-Bands, and cruise ship stabilizers, the reluctant—yet enthusiastic—jetsetter packs her bag once every two weeks to swim with sharks in the Great Barrier Reef or to sample the latest libation in Portland. Trish unpacks her suitcase in Vancouver, Canada, Eh! where she’s the editor-in-chief of TripStyler.com, a travel lifestyle website for aspiring jetsetters. Find her moonlighting on Expedia, Fodor's, Jetsetter, and as a travel expert on TV while circumventing the globe with her entourage: a MacBook Air, an Olympus camera, and the biggest carry-on she can fit on the plane.