Cities Outdoors

7 Best Cities for Seeing Fall Foliage

You can catch at least some fall foliage just about anywhere—often by just going out your front door. But many travelers want to head for someplace where the foliage viewing is especially good, and that desire generates a lot of “best fall foliage” lists. One such list from should really be called the “Seven Best Unexpected Cities for Fall Foliage,” because these mainly urban centers don’t usually top anyone’s foliage tour considerations. They won’t outdo such traditional leaf-peeping areas as Vermont or Great Smoky Mountain National Park, but as advertised, they’re in the mix.

Best Cities for Seeing Fall Foliage

Charlottesville, Virginia, provides access to some spectacular foliage spreads in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the town is also an attractive regional destination in itself. Greenville, South Carolina, shows that fall foliage doesn’t require mountains: The city’s center, with its river walk and adjacent parks, provides numerous opportunities.

Then there’s Boston. Yes, it’s a big city, but boasts two great public preserves with trees in the city center: The Public Garden and Boston Common, and the Esplanade along the Charles River.

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Aspen, Colorado’s namesake trees put on quite a different show than trees in the Northeast and Midwest, but their annual yellow-gold show is spectacular. Oakland, Maryland, sits among a mix of oak, aspen, hickory, and pine trees in the state’s western Appalachian region. It’s an easy trip from Washington or Baltimore.


Saint Helens, Oregon, is something of an outlier on this list: Local foliage isn’t a lot different from other Oregon towns along the Columbia River. It made this list because of its annual Halloween festival.

Escanaba, Houghton, and Marquette, Michigan, are in the sparsely populated North Woods area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Although not one of the nation’s top summer or winter destinations, the Mount Bohemia chairlift it does provide fall-color excursions prior to the ski season.

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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuse every day at SmarterTravel.

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By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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