Leaf Peeping Trips to Enjoy

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

If you’ve been looking forward to a leaf peeping trip this fall, you still have options, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Amy Jarvis, president of The Travel Store in Fayetteville, said that some domestic foliage tours still operate in the Northeast, where the foliage and historical points of interest can make a long weekend getaway particularly inviting.

“Some of them go to Block Island, Rhode Island, so you can get some coastal and leafing,” she said. “It depends upon what you’re interested in. Vermont is always beautiful, but it depends if you want to do your own travel.

“The Essex hotel has a beautiful golf course,” Jarvis said. “It’s not that far, maybe 3.5 hours.”

The Essex is in Essex Junction, Vermont.

“Or you can go to Bolton’s Landing, which is lovely, just outside of Lake George,” Jarvis said. “It’s the island the Sagamore is on.”

In Western New York, slow your pace on the Amish Trail, between Cattaraugus and Cherry Creek on Route 353. Look for shops selling handmade goods, quilts and home furnishings to pick up a memento of your trip. The route also boasts many buffets.

If a day trip is more your style, New York has plenty of terrific leaf peeping drives.

Tracy Hogarth, owner of Blue Zaria, a travel business in Syracuse, said that Route 20 through Cazenovia is a very scenic route. “Cazenovia is a great little town and it’s a delightful spot in the fall. You could make it a day.”

If you’re heading east, she recommends a small shop called 20East, which features local artists, baked goods, produce and farmstead products.

“The Toast is a nice place to stop for breakfast and lunch in Cazenovia,” Hogarth said.

A bakery and lunch and breakfast spot, The Toast was previously in Canastota.

To enjoy the day in the region, she also recommends Lorenzo State Historic Park and Stone Quarry Hill Art Park.

Known for its “gorges” scenery, the Ithaca area provides many picturesque spots to view leaves, like Taughannock Falls State Park, Allan H. Treman State Park, Buttermilk Falls State Park, and Robert H. Treman State Park.

“There’s a fantastic Thai restaurant on Ithaca Commons, Taste of Thai,” Hogarth added.

She also recommends driving north on Route 81 going into the Thousand Islands to view foliage.

“The leaves are always gorgeous,” Hogarth said.

Richard ONeil, owner of Travel Choice in Syracuse, recommends the Adirondacks for foliage tours.

“Check in advance to see where the foliage is,” he advised. “Is it 20% or 50% turned? That can vary based on the weather and elevation.”

Drive any part of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway to view beautiful autumn leaves. The 518-mile trail stretches the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the Niagara River, and Lake Erie, with Alexandria Bay at the northernmost portion, all the way to the New York/Pennsylvania border.

As you take your leaf peeping trip, patronize a unique market, restaurant or shop along the way. These little stops make a trip more memorable, along with supporting a family-owned business that’s likely been hit hard by the pandemic.

As you make travel plans check with the venue to ensure you can comply with any COVID-19 restrictions and that the leaves will be at peak when you travel.