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Colorful New York: A fall foliage road trip

Colorful New York: A fall foliage road trip

Last Updated on August 21, 2023

I am not sure when I started to dislike fall, but I think it must have been during my years in England. Fall, or autumn as the Brits say, always seemed to define itself through rain and foggy days, and while those misty London mornings could be romanticized initially, the novelty wore off quickly, replaced by the melancholy over yet another rainy day.fall leaf bear mountainAfter I’d packed up my London apartment and started traveling the world indefinitely, I started chasing the sun and I skipped spring, winter and autumn completely. Until I happened to find myself in the U.S. in October one year, amazed by how colorful and sunny this season was in the Midwest. It was my first time experiencing pumpkin patches, corn mazes and pumpkin spiced treats. Suddenly, autumn felt wonderful, and not dreary at all. Instead of rainy days and grey skies, I was enchanted by blue skies and autumn leaves in vibrant colors.Dani with leaves 2015When I was told that those colors weren’t even the most colorful ones in the U.S., but that the trees on the East Coast, New England in particular, had even more vivid fall colors in October, I put a New England fall colors road trip on my travel wish list right away.bear mountain fall leavesI was hoping to finally fulfill this dream last year, but  when I came back to New York for a few weeks in October, I ran out of time and ended up going only on a day trip to the scenic Seven Lakes region in Upstate New York.New York Fall Foliage Road Trip

A New York fall foliage road trip

So this year I was determined to finally head up to Vermont. Spoiler alert: I still didn’t make it there! However, I managed to go on an epic New York fall foliage road trip for several days, instead of just a rushed one day out-of-town getaway. And yes, I could’ve made it all the way up to New Hampshire and Vermont, but I wanted to set some time aside to enjoy the scenery, go on hikes and unleash my inner child in the leaves (which I did), picking up farm-fresh apples and stopping in random little towns along the way, instead of spending all too much time in the car.tannersville new york pumpkinsSpeaking of the car: I gave the Audi on Demand app a try, which is quite different from your usual car rental experience. I’ve rented cars in Manhattan before, and it’s usually neither cheap nor pleasant, especially if you plan to go away over a weekend. Tiny rental offices in Manhattan, long lines, and often mediocre customer service, given the amount of customers car rental clerks have to deal with here on a daily basis.dani silvercarWhat makes Audi on Demand different from other car rental companies? First of all, the entire fleet is made up of stylish Audi cars. Secondly, as I mentioned above, it’s an entirely app-based experience, which makes sense in today’s world where I do pretty much everything on my smartphone – be it renting apartments via the AirBnb app or hotels through the app, deciding which restaurant to eat it with the help of Tripadvisor and Yelp, or navigating directions with GoogleMaps.bear mountain daniOnce you’ve made your booking, you’ll receive a text message confirming your reservation. On the day of your reservation you’ll get a text message from Audi On Demand asking you to send a text when you’re about ten minutes away from the rental location, giving the valet a heads-up to get the car out of the garage for you. I opened the car by scanning a QR code on the windshield, and after a short introduction to the functionalities and perks of the car, including how to connect to the in-car wifi and Bluetooth and how to use the navigation system (all of which are included in the price), we were ready to go. The whole process didn’t take longer than five minutes and not having to wait in line at a rental office felt york fall foliage road tripIf you’d like to give Audi on Demand a try – they currently have 32 rental locations in the U.S., three of them in New York: Their Manhattan location is in Columbus Circle, making it easy to get out of the city. Their Brooklyn location is in Downtown Brooklyn, easy to get to from where I live! Day rates prices fluctuate from $79-99 for a weekday and $129 for a weekend rental, which is in line with every other car rental companies in Manhattan. But none of the others can guarantee you an Audi A4 and the premium valet experience at that price! So instead of getting an average car for this rate, why not try Audi On Demand and get a fabulous car and an exquisite experience instead?fall road tripShortly after crossing the George Washington Bridge and leaving Manhattan, we found ourselves surrounded by vibrant fall colors along the Palisades Parkway, which would bring us to our first destination: Bear Mountain State Park, about 50 miles north of New York City. We wanted to attempt climbing up to the peak of the mountain, from where I knew we’d have fantastic views over the Hudson River and when the weather was good you could see four states from the top of Perkins Memorial Tower atop of the mountain: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.bear mountain viewThe hike, which took about three hours in total, was steep at times, but the panoramic vistas were definitely worth the climb.Bear Mountain leavesMy plan was to stay in cozy cottages or B&Bs throughout the trip, which is why I spent hours researching places on AirBnB. Accommodation can make or break your New York fall road trip – I am recommending some of my favorite finds at the end of this post.bear mountain views daniWe crossed the river and continued on east of the Hudson River because we wanted to stop in Poughkeepsie the next day, where we wanted to cross the Hudson once again – but this time, on foot. The Walkway Over The Hudson, which is at 1.28 miles the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, seemed like the perfect place to take in the fall foliage from. At 212 feet above the river’s surface, it isn’t for the faint at heart but I kept my fear of heights under control by staying away from the rails.New York Fall road TripI loved how beautiful the yellow leaves on the trees on the path leading up to the bridge looked, forming a natural ‘tree tunnel’. The walk over the bridge and back takes about an hour, depending how often you stop to take pictures.poughkeepsie autumn colors hudson river walkwayAfter that, we headed further north into the Catskill Mountains west of the Hudson River. For the drive I chose route 32, which passed through the towns of New Paltz, Kingston and Woodstock – and it ended up being unbelievably scenic at this time of year. We couldn’t help but stop in several of the towns to check out some antiques shops and galleries along the main roads. new york fall foliage road tripSeeing these charming towns all dressed up for autumn, with pumpkins decorating entrances of houses and window sills, stacks of hay, fall flowers and restaurant menus denouncing seasonal specials, filled me with so much joy.

We stopped on the side of the road to pick up some farm-fresh apples, but we could’ve easily filled the car with just about everything the farmers were offering: homemade jams, pumpkins in all shapes and sizes, apple cider and fresh honey.New York Fall Foliage Road TripThe next morning, I woke up just in time to witness a spectacular fiery red autumn sunrise, the air wonderfully crisp, the kind of day that is perfect for a hike through the woods and is waiting to be finished with a mug of hot apple cider by the fireplace. new york fall foliage road trip sunriseWe had made our way all the way into the Catskills Mountains, but the further north we went, the barer the trees had become – here, the leaves had already fallen from the branches, leaving the ground covered in brown and red leaves.New York Fall Foliage Road TripThat wasn’t a bad thing though – on our hike to the Kaaterskill Waterfalls the leaves felt like a soft carpet on the ground, causing a crackling sound in the otherwise silent forest as our feet touched them. I could have spent many more days hiking in the Catskills – a list of trails I had found online made me wish I had time for some of the longer hikes in these mountains.New York Kaaterskill FallsBut luckily the Catskills are en route to Vermont’s scenic Green Mountain Byway, which I hope I’ll finally make it to next year. new york fall foliage road trip barn

Practical information

  • The State Of New York publishes a fall foliage report for all regions, which helps you to find out the perfect time to go.
  • Towns along the way worth stopping in: Rhinebeck, Catskill, Tannersville, Woodstock and New Paltz.
  • Book your accommodation early, especially if you’re planning a fall colors weekend getaway: the cutest Airbnb’s book up months in advance.

New York Fall Foliage Road Trip

Places to stay near Bear Mountain:  

Check out this cozy place in Warwick (about half an hour from Bear Mountain), this 3-bedroom cottage in Cold Spring (about 15 minutes away) and this affordable studio apartment in Beacon (about 30 minutes away).

Places to stay in Woodstock:  

If you’re a larger group, check out the quirky Woodstock Barn House, which has a sauna, gym and jacuzzi, and sleeps 10 people.

Places to stay in Catskill:

There are plenty of rentals here because Catskill is lovely – check out this cabin 10 minutes walking from the center of Catskill, this stunning villa that was featured in House Beautiful Magazine and sleeps 8 people, and this this small downtown studio apartment.


Other places to stay in the Catskills area:

Resort & Spa

  • YO1 Health Resort near Kiamesha Lake (resort with a state-of-the-art wellness center, indoor & outdoor pool, yoga, Ayurveda, etc…)

Bed & Breakfasts

Budget Hotels

New York Fall Foliage Road Trip

Have you done a New York fall foliage road trip? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!


Wednesday 10th of January 2018

It looks very beautiful, it is full of uneven.

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Tuesday 29th of August 2017

[…] many years. However, I never made it beyond Upstate New York last fall, which turned out to be a beautiful, colorful trip nonetheless, but left me still longing for the New England fall colors, which are said to be the […]


Monday 23rd of November 2015

Fall is my favourite season in North America and I have been lucky enough to experience a couple of them in Canada and the US including a 16 day New England Road trip in 2012. I miss the apple cider donuts


Monday 23rd of November 2015

Katie - Apple Cider Donuts?! How have I not found any yet?! I had my first hot apple cider last week thought - loved it! And a 15-day New England fall road trip?? I am so jealous!! Did you write about it on your blog? I gotta go check and see if there are photos :)


Monday 23rd of November 2015

Wow.. this is absolutely beautiful!


Monday 23rd of November 2015

Thank you, Claudia :)

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Saturday 21st of November 2015

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