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It’s beginning to look a lot like autumn. The eastern half of the United States is blessed with the opportunity to witness spectacular seasonal changes in nature. There is something special about observing the leaves change from green to yellow, then orange, and finally red. Planning a trip to see fall foliage does take flexibility and research – but is certainly worth it. The top 9 fall foliage in NY plus fall photography tips will help you plan the best basic travel trip! Most of these are within a few hours from our hometown of Buffalo, NY.
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What is Fall Foliage?
Fall Foliage is in my opinion the best time of the year in New York. The leaves change from green to red starting in late September through October. There are many places right in Western NY to check out the fall foliage this weekend or over the next few weeks to make sure you get some of those great autumn photos. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Great Pumpkin Farm as well along your journey to check out some great weekend events.
If you haven’t been down to Ellicottville, you are seriously missing out. This weekend they are predicting 75% change with bright orange and pops of red. I would have to say it is probably the number one spot on my fall bucket list. Even the drive down Route 219 is something not to miss to see all of the leaves changing along your path. Normally they have a great Fall Festival, but this has been cancelled this year.
While that is cancelled, you can still enjoy over 30 restaurants and bars, shopping and activities. Activities range from pumpkin farms, ropes courses, ski lift rides and so much more! This makes it our number one pick for fall foliage in NY. Lets break down a few of the things to do here.
If you enjoy acres of pumpkins, finding your way through corn mazes, delicious cider, hayrides and farm animals, Pumpkinville is for you! Take the family out for a day trip to Pumpkinville, then enjoy dinner in one of the many restaurants in Ellicottville.
Sky High Adventure Park
Located in Holiday Valley at the Tannenbaum Lodge, you can spend time in the Climbing Forest, Gem Mining, Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster, or even views from the Aerial Park. The Climbing Forest is where you can get your 3D rock climbing wall experience in. The aerial park is the largest in New York State, and 3rd largest in the US. Four acres of wooded sections provide 13 different ropes courses with platforms and ‘bridges’ to get across to the next section. Each course has varying levels of difficulty so it is fun for all ages
You can learn more about Holiday Valleys Sky High adventure park here.
2. Letchworth State Park
Letchworth is only about an hour-ish drive from Buffalo, NY, and offers many great views. This is a hikers paradise that many people have called the ‘Grand Canyon of the East.’ Not only will you be able to see some beautiful fall foliage, but you can hike to some gorgeous waterfalls, as well as go fishing, hunting, or even camp out for the weekend. Check out this iconic photo. I mean who wouldn’t want to visit here? You can find more information on this beautiful fall foliage destination in New York at parks.ny.gov/parks/letchworth.
3. Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes are about a 2-hour drive from Buffalo, NY but offer a wide variety of things to do. While according to the fall foliage report, this weekend is where the Finger Lakes region is near peak foliage, at around 75% on average. Besides enjoying the fall foliage, there are plenty of wineries around where you can enjoy a delicious glass.
Hot Air Balloon rides, hiking, Zip Lining, and ropes course challenges are also a part of the many activities in the Finger Lakes. You can be sure to check out the fingerlakestravelny.com to see what other activities you can plan for a last-minute weekend getaway! Ps, I recommend visiting Taughannock Falls for a breathtaking waterfall view and fall colors.
4. Lewiston/Niagara Falls Gorge
Lewiston is one of those great little towns with an awesome street you can walk through and enjoy all of the local businesses. This weekend Lewiston is expecting to see 50% change with bright orange and yellow, with some beautiful red leaves. This means this will be around a little bit longer for some of the best fall foliage in NY. If you haven’t been up to Lewiston in quite some time, it is only a quick 30-45 minute drive up there. You can hike the beautiful Niagara Gorge, enjoy a coffee at The Orange Cat Coffee Co, and stop for drinks or dinner later right on the main street.
5. East Aurora
East Aurora is another Buffalo favorite spot for Fall Foliage. This weekend they are predicting 75% change with bright shades of yellow and orange. Only about a 25 minute drive from Buffalo, East Aurora is another gem to see that foliage change. Knox Farm State Park is one of the most popular places to explore the grounds and take in the breathtaking views.
6. Chestnut Ridge
Looking for all the red leaves you can handle? Then be sure to checkout Chestnut Ridge and hike the Eternal Flame. Chestnut ridge is about 15-20 minutes from East Aurora, so you can always swing by for a quick hike and check out the flame!
Looking to head up to the Adirondacks for some camping? According to newyourupstate.com, your best chance of seeing foliage that hasn’t quite peaked yet you would Plattsburgh( 70%), Lake George (60-65%), Crown Point and Ticonderoga (75-95%), Sarnac Lake (90-95%), or Queensbury (75%). It seems that Lake placid ,Old Forge, and Lake Pleasant are at 100% peak. While Whiteface Mountain, Malone, and Newcomb are past their peak.
I always enjoyed camping in the Adirondacks. Seeing the leaves change colors must be something incredibly beatuiful. Depending on where in the Adirondacks you go, the drive will take you about 6 hours.
8. Thousand Islands
About a 3 hour drive from Buffalo, the Thousand Islands are a magnificant place to enjoy the water and nature. Driving up from watertown you will be at about 65% peak foiliage, which Alexandria Bay in the Thousand Islands are at aroaund 95%. Some fun things to do in Thousand Islands besides be on the water and enjoy the foliage, is to check out Bolt Castle. I have never been in the fall but I can only imagine how beautiful it is with all of the popping fall leaves colors and magnificant castle built on its own island.
9. North Buffalo- Delaware Park
I’ve always loved Delaware Park. Whether you are there for your kids’ soccer game, going for a run around the park, or even golfing, it has some really great relaxing views. It seems that foliage for the greater Buffalo area will be at near-peak, so this will be the best time to take a quick walk through the park and enjoy nature. Don’t forget to take a lap around Hoyt Lake!
4 tips for great fall foliage photography
Now that we gave you the top 9 places for fall foliage this weekend, let’s get into some tips from our photographer friend, David Wozniak. Wozniak has been in the business for over 35 years and runs Wozniak Photography as a family business that includes three of his daughters.
- Keep the sun at your back.
- Overcast days give the best color saturation.
- If possible try to photograph during “the golden hour” the last hour before the sunsets.
- Don’t try to photograph too vast an area. Concentrate on a small cluster of trees or a reflection across a pond or body of water.
There are SO many wonderful places in the great state of New York to see some turly magnificent fall foliage. I would love to hear any other places you think should have made the list for this weekend! There were definitely a lot to choose from and I feel you really can’t go wrong either way.
Now excuse me while I figure out which destination I am going to dash to next!
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