Falling Hard: 15 Photo Spots to See the Best Foliage in the U.S.
From coast to coast, start planning your autumn explorations!
Although we'll miss the long nights, balmy temperatures and sunny skies of summer, we couldn't be more excited about the approaching arrival of fall. Autumn is a season that welcomes you in with a warm, cozy feeling. Fall signals long weekends in nature, time spent cuddled up next to a fire and comfort food, like a Thanksgiving meal surrounded by family and friends. There's a crispness in the air and as the weather begins to change, so does the landscape. The leaves on the trees transition from vibrant greens to burnt oranges, yellow and reds—and for travelers and photographers, autumn can be one of the most beautiful times of the year.
You can find photo locations all around the world on the Explorest app, but this week, we'll virtually transport you to 15 of the best places to see foliage in the U.S. No matter where you are in the country, our guide will help you find photo spots near you that'll have you falling hard for autumn.
Don't let the reputation of the West Coast fool you—it's not all palm trees, surf and sand. When you venture into the more northern parts of the region, the terrain becomes forest-like, rather than beach-like and the dense vegetation covers the landscape. The trees are massive and the bodies of water are visually stunning as they produce reflections of auburn shades of fall foliage in lakes, ponds and waterfalls.
If you're a visitor to the West Coast area of the U.S., we recommend beginning your autumnal journey in either Washington or Oregon to get the most out of the fall season. The PNW has exceptional hiking trails (particularly in the fall) and regardless of your level of physical endurance, you'll be able to find a trail that suits your needs. And if hiking to Sprite Lake or Lower Multnomah Falls isn't what you're looking for, you can find some of the best photo spots to see fall foliage on the West Coast in places like Cedar Creek Grist Mill, South Falls from Silver Falls State Park or Kubota Gardens Pond & Red Tree where you only have to walk a few hundred feet to enjoy the view.
credit: @ross_schram — discover Lower Multnomah Falls Lookout view of Benson Bridge on the Explorest app
From Detroit to Chicago and everywhere in between, one could argue that the Midwest is best when it comes to experiencing the full essence of fall. The middle of the U.S. can reach freezing temperatures in the winter and the humidity in the summertime can be enough for anyone to feel exhausted! Fall presents the opportunity to explore this area of the country without being too cold or too hot.
You could spend hours in nature, marveling at fallen leaves crunching beneath your feet along trails like Park Bridge Pathway. Being out in the open will leave you feeling energized as if you can have a fresh start and (quite literally) turn over a new leaf with the new season. Alternatively, you could spend a day in the Windy City walking through Millennium Park to see the bursts of autumnal colors amongst the surrounding monochrome skyscrapers. Whatever your choice of adventure, the Midwest has some of the best photo spots to see fall foliage.
credit: @mattbweitz — discover Nichols Bridgeway view of Millennium Park & Crain Communications Building on the Explorest app
credit: @mattbweitz — discover Jay Pritzker Pavilion view of Millennium Park & Willis Tower discover on the Explorest app
It's common to associate autumn foliage with New England, but the East Coast offers a plethora of other places to capture the hues of fall. New York is one such place, and you can find changing colors of flora, from Manhattan to upstate. Fall is also a picturesque time of year to see the juxtaposition of nature and manmade structures that can only be found in a concrete jungle, such as New York City. You can splurge and spend a night at the swanky Gramercy Park Hotel to wake up to a view of the treetops in Gramercy Park or stroll through Prospect Park in Brooklyn to appreciate the tree-lined pathway of bright red leaves.
In addition to fall in the city, the East Coast is a region where you can spend hours driving through upstate forests, capturing the varying colors of the scenery kissed by the autumn sun. For those looking to use fall as a time to practice their drone skills, we highly recommend checking out Bunny Road at Storm King Art Center. The symmetry of the street splitting either side of the landscape creates an image that's pleasing to the eye and intriguing to those who don't get out of the city as often as they'd like.
credit: @joethommas — discover Brick House at corner of Barrow Street & Commerce Street on the Explorest app
credit: @gmp3 — discover Bow Bridge & The Lake Framed by Nature in Central Park on the Explorest app
The first official day of autumn, September 22, is coming up quickly! It's our hope that you can use this guide to explore the best photo spots to see fall foliage in 2021. While you're on your journey, don't forget to tag us @Explorest for a chance to be featured on our page. We can't wait to see what you snap!
If you're looking to discover new photo spots, download the Explorest app today. We provide insider recommendations to help you capture your travels, near and far.