The Best Fall Foliage Road Trips Across the U.S. - Family Traveller (USA)

East Coast

The most iconic fall foliage can be see in the Northeast. Start your journey in Portland, Maine and stay at The Press Hotel Autograph Collection, or the Courtyard Portland Downtown/Waterfront for a more affordable option. From there, drive along Highway 195 and 95 to New Hampshire. The Maine Turnpike is lined with colorful trees, and travelers can stop at scenic destinations along the way. The drive offers a unique experience of viewing the foliage along the coast, with intense shades of yellow, orange, red and purple against the ocean backdrop. Stay at Wentworth by the Sea, A Marriott Hotel & Spa in New Castle conveniently located near Wentworth by the Sea Golf Club and Fort Constitution Historical Site. The following day, head to Vermont, the most sought-after fall foliage destination. The destination will not disappoint with plenty of idyllic drives, biking and hiking trails featuring colorful trees and landscapes. Stay at the Courtyard Burlington Harbor or splurge at The Equinox, a Luxury Collection Golf Resort & Spa, Vermont after enjoying the stunning, colorful views of the city.


Fall foliage is everywhere, including the middle of our country. Start in Chicago at the Residence Inn Chicago Downtown Loop and explore the Windy City and its colorful leaves. Head over to Madison, WI, where AC Hotel Madison mixes midwest charm mixed with European soul and head up to Greenbay to stay at Delta Hotels Green Bay, and maybe see a Packers game if the NFL team is playing at home. Head up to Mackinaw City, MI and take the ferry to Mackinac Island where Mission Point offers the Fall Foliage, Food & Wine package, which includes one night's accommodations, two glasses of wine per person and one appetizer per room in Round Island Bar & Grill as well as Shelper's ferry tickets, luggage handling fees, and breakfast. Thanks to the insulating effects of the Great Lakes, the color show near Mackinac Island often starts in late September and stretches into late October, plus more than 80 percent of the small island’s land is protected in a state park, making Mackinac Island and Mission Point the perfect place to feast your eyes on the fall foliage. With a ban on motor vehicles and a plethora of hiking and biking trails, jump on horseback to trot or gallop around the island while admiring the changing leaves.

Alternatively, South Dakota offers spectacular fall scenery. Located in the heart of the American frontier, the Black Hills region is home to majestic mountain carvings, rolling prairies, sky-piercing granite needles and glittering lakes. With stunning fall foliage peppered throughout, enjoy one of several scenic drives. Iron Mountain Road, also known as 16A, this 17-mile stretch of road through the Black Hills has a 35 mile per hour speed limit that allows travelers to enjoy the beauty of their surroundings. The road features 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, three pigtails and three tunnels, one of which frames Mount Rushmore for an unforgettable and unexpected view of the memorial. Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway, which leads visitors over pigtail bridges, through six rock tunnels and alongside magnificent granite pinnacles. Badlands Loop Scenic Byway, stretching through the middle of 244,000 acres of impressive parkland and the largest protected mixed-grass prairie in the United States. Wildlife Loop Scenic Byway, through Custer State Park where visitors can view the world’s largest publicly owned buffalo herds among other wildlife from their vehicle. Spearfish Canyon State & National Forest Service Scenic Byway, which travels along incredible limestone cliffs and the breathtaking Spearfish Canyon. Start or end your trip with a stay at the historic Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City where you can take in a Black Hill's sunset from the roof.

West Coast

For the ultimate fall foliage road trip along the West Coast, start up north in Seattle, Washington and enjoy the colors of the Pacific Northwest. From vibrant reds and oranges to brilliant golds and yellows, Seattle is home to Discovery park and Union Bay Natural Area. Fall is also the most ideal time to visit Mount Rainier and enjoy the alpine landscape and fall foliage. Stay at the Moxy Seattle Downtown to enjoy the city after taking in the nature. Head down to Portland, Oregon to enjoy the red alder and vine maple trees in Silver Fall State Park or drive the Mt. Hoop Scenic Loop for fall colors along the Columbia River Gorge. After the drive, stay at the Hi-Lo Hotel, Autograph Collection for a luxury experience in the heart of downtown. Next, head down the coast to California. Stop in Lake Tahoe for stunning foliage along the lake and stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Following, head to San Francisco for some unexpected leaf peeping at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. The St. Regis San Francisco is the perfect place to end the road trip and enjoy the bustling city.