Experience autumn in all its gorgeous glory with our guide to leaf peeping.
Aroad trip through New England in autumn is an iconic vacation—a chance to see the kaleidoscope of colors Mother Nature unleashes every year as leaves change from green to gold, burnt orange and fiery red. But this year, instead of hopping into the SUV and puttering around the back roads, it’s time to do something different and upgrade the standard leaf-peep trip to an Instagram-worthy adventure. Here are five of our favorite new ways to savor fall foliage at its best.
A new perspective on a familiar scene can make you see things in a whole new way, which is exactly what you get soaring above the trees with Wings Helicopter’s private tours.
Take a 30- or 45-minute ride through New York’s Hudson River Valley in a private, ultra-luxury helicopter. Not only will you get the chance to see a steady stream of blazing color, but you’ll also fly over historic landmarks like Castle-on-Hudson, Lyndhurst Mansion, and the Rockefeller estate.
If photography is your jam, the open-door helicopter flight is the ultimate experience, allowing you to capture some amazing aerial shots. If your skill as a shutterbug is questionable, a professional aerial photographer can join your tour for an additional fee and show you how to get the perfect shot.
TRAINED ON THE LEAVES
Leaf-peeping is all about going slow and drinking in the scenery. The ultimate luxury is to leave the “driving” to someone else, which is exactly what you can do on the Conway Scenic Railroad in Maine. The five-hour journey travels through the steep ravines, bubbling brooks, and sheer bluffs of Crawford Notch on tracks that were originally laid in the 1870s. The dramatic scenery draped with the changing leaves is stunning in the fall. Throughout the journey, you’ll also have a guide bringing the history and folklore of the region to life. For a first-class experience, book seats in the panoramic dome and opt for the three-course lunch.
Adrenaline junkies probably can’t imagine a duller holiday than driving around looking at leaves, but now high-octane lovers can get their fill of fall colors at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont on the zip line or at TreeTop Adventure. Soar high over Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, in an exhilarating zip-line experience where you can reach speeds up to 70 miles per hour. Blink and you might miss the gorgeous canopy beneath! The course includes three of the world’s longest zip spans that go both above and through the trees of the Green Mountain Forest.
The TreeTop Adventure offers six different levels of courses consisting of aerial tree-to-tree connections with 68 various challenge/game elements integrated into the experience.
The luxury Backroads cycle tour through the quintessential Vermont fall landscape is a chance to get back to nature and enjoy iconic Americana. Wind your way through country roads rich with old red barns, meandering rivers, and glorious autumn colors. Cyclists will have the opportunity to explore quaint New England towns including Woodstock, East Middlebury, and the state capital of Montpelier while enjoying local specialties like cheese, craft beer and maple syrup lattes along the route. The tour can be modified to a variety of cycling abilities, offering as little as 12 miles per day to as many as 52. Reward yourself after all that work by checking into luxe accommodations like the Relais & Chateaux Pitcher Inn and the Andrew Harper-recommended Woodstock Inn & Resort at night.
HOT TO TROT
Giddy up and canter through the changing fall colors of Litchfield Hills, Connecticut, with a private horseback trail ride at Winivan Farms. You’ll feel at one with nature as you gallop through hills and valleys. The five-star boutique property is set on more than 100 wooded acres dotted with lakes, and features 19 distinct cottages. For a whimsical time, choose the Treehouse. Your childhood fantasy comes to life with all the bells and whistles you crave as an adult. The two-story cottage sits 35 feet above the forest floor and has creature comforts like a Jacuzzi, steam shower, and full bar.
According to experts, the upcoming fall foliage season in New England is expected to be a vibrant one, so no matter how you choose to peep Mother Nature will reward you with a glorious show.