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There’s just something about the fall foliage in Philadelphia and the areas nearby. From the parks of Bucks County to Center City, the entire metro area puts on a beautiful display every year, almost without fail.
Beginning in mid-October and lasting through early November, the trees across the city and the suburbs turn brilliant shades. It ensures that whether you’re visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art downtown or going to an orchard an hour away, you’ll be treated to excellent color in peak season. We spend as much time as we can photographing the show.
From deep red to bright yellow, here’s a look at some of our favorite places to see fall colors.
Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk
The 30-mile Schuylkill River Trail is a favorite of lovers of the outdoors. An extension—the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk—connects the trail from Locust Street to the South Street Bridge. The riverside path gives walkers and cyclists great views of the river and multiple scenic viewpoints from which to see the Philadelphia skyline and its colorful trees.
Historic Rittenhouse Town
Historic Rittenhouse Town is the remains of an early industrial community built in the late 1600s, making it one of the most historic sites in the city. Today, six of the original 45 buildings remain in this spot just off Lincoln Drive.
Visitors today can enjoy tours, demonstrations, and workshops in the historic buildings nestled among the trees. It’s also a popular entry point for cycling and hiking in Wissahickon Valley Park or for just enjoying nature, especially in the fall.
Wissahickon Valley Park
If you head farther north into Wissahickon Valley Park, you’re likely to be rewarded with some of the prettiest leaves in the area. Spanning over 1800 acres, the park is packed with trails and lots of green space along Wissahickon Creek.
There are numerous places to find lovely colors within the park because of the variety of trees. One of our favorites (pictured above) is right in front of Valley Green Inn. Another lovely viewpoint is the area near Thomas Mill Covered Bridge, the only covered bridge in any major US city. Wherever you start, you’re likely to find great colors within just a few minutes’ walk.
At over 2000 acres, Fairmount Park is full of opportunities for leaf peeping. A visit here is one of the highlights of fall in Philadelphia.
One of our favorite spots is across from Eakins Oval between Kelly Drive and Pennsylvania Avenue. That’s where the sugar maple blazes red if you visit at just the right time in the season. You’ll know because it practically matches the abstract steel sculpture next to it—“Iroquois” by sculptor Mark di Suvero.
Washington Square Park
Tree-filled Washington Square is an ideal location for finding fall colors in Philadelphia—particularly yellow and orange. In addition to the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier that occupies a central spot in the park, there is plenty of seating to enjoy people watching during nice weather.
The Woodlands Cemetery and Mansion is a National Historic Landmark District in University City. Its 18th-century Neoclassic mansion is one of the most unique places in the city, and it is surrounded by the graves and monuments of over 32,000 souls.
Across the 54 acres of the Woodlands are over 700 historic trees and plants that date from the earliest days of America, thanks to the original owner, who was a botanist. It’s a beautiful place to visit any time of the year, but the trees are particularly stunning in the fall.
Streets of Old City and Society Hill
Old City and Society Hill are best known for their historic buildings and the significant events that happened there. They also happen to be some of the prettiest areas of Philadelphia.
With tree lined streets, churchyards, and parks, the neighborhoods come alive in a range of fall colors. Taking an afternoon walk or drive along the streets in mid- to late-October is sure to reveal numerous trees that stop passersby in their tracks.
Morris Arboretum & Gardens
One of the most scenic places to go in Philadelphia is Morris Arboretum & Garden. Whether you’re visiting in the spring for cherry blossoms or for stunning leaves in the fall, it’s a beautiful location to walk around.
From the moment you reach the driveway of the arboretum, the yellow and orange leaves welcome you. There are more bright trees near the parking lot, and the colors continue to impress as you walk around. In particular, the Japanese maples around the property and the trees near the pond should not be missed.
John James Audubon Center
The John James Audubon Center is well-known as a prime place for bird watching, but it’s also great for fall foliage thanks to the miles of trails that surround the visitors center. From bright yellow to deep red, you can find it all here. The grounds are free to enjoy, and there is ample parking.
Bowman’s Hill Tower
Bowman’s Hill Tower offers stunning views of the Delaware River and surrounding landscape from 125 feet up. On a clear day, you can see up to 14 miles. The view is particularly impressive in the fall when you can have a bird’s-eye view of all the changing leaves on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey sides of the river.
An elevator takes you most of the way to the top of this 90-year-old tower, but there are 23 final stairs up a spiral staircase to reach the viewing platform. If you can make a visit here near peak color (or even just past peak), it’s likely to deliver some of the best fall foliage near Philadelphia. (The elevator is frequently out of service, so double-check its status if climbing the stairs is a deal-breaker for you.)
Route 32/River Road
One of the prettiest drives in Pennsylvania is Route 32 (River Road) in upper Bucks County. The best portion for seeing foliage runs from charming New Hope to Kintnersville as it snakes along the river.
Along the way, you can see the sites of New Hope, pass near Ringing Rocks County Park, and find lots of scenic spots. Because the road runs alongside the river, it can be challenging to find places to safely pull off the road to admire the surroundings or take photos. So, if you want to linger for a while, take any safe pullout you can find.
One of the places in Bucks County for fall scenery also happens to be one of the oldest. Cuttalossa Mill was built in 1748 to harness the power of the creek on which it sits.
The mill is situated in a valley and surrounded by trees, which makes for a beautiful setting in the autumn. The mill is located on private property, but there is room to pull off the road to admire it.
Solebury Orchard is the place to go for apples in the fall. The 80 acres of this Bucks County farm and orchard teem with fruit trees and berry bushes welcoming visitors to pick their own or buy them straight from the market. It is surrounded by some of the most gorgeous trees in a rainbow of colors at the time of foliage peak. You don’t have to buy anything in order to visit and take in the scenery, but we highly advise not leaving without their famous apple cider donuts.
There are dozens of covered bridges in the greater Philadelphia area, and many are located in parks or wooded areas thanks to their locations over smaller creeks and rivers. They’re popular spots for photographers in the fall thanks to the aesthetics of the charming bridges and the surrounding beautiful colors.
Take a drive to see the covered bridges of Chester County or plan a route through eastern or western portions of Bucks County to lace together several bridges in a day.
Washington Crossing Historic Park
Washington Crossing Historic Park includes 500 acres adjacent to the Delaware River. The peaceful, tree-filled spot is full of historic buildings and memorials and the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers.
Beyond its history, Washington Crossing is known for its trails, gardens, and natural surroundings, which make it a perfect place to search out fall colors. There are regular nature events like guided meadow tours, foliage walks, and river kayaking.
Valley Forge National Historical Park
With hilltop viewpoints and miles of walking and biking paths, Valley Forge National Historical Park is one of the most popular places to get outside in the Philadelphia area. Noted for its important role as a Revolutionary War encampment, the park is filled with monuments to the troops who served and died during the war. The monuments and other historical structures make for interesting settings for the photographers and painters who capture the beauty of Valley Forge every fall.
If you love historic covered bridges, look out for Knox Covered Bridge near the southeast corner of the park. Perched over Valley Creek, it is often surrounded by gorgeous fall foliage.
Evansburg State Park
With over 3000 acres, Evansburg State Park is packed with lots of chances for ideal fall colors. The park has six miles of hiking trails, including the Skippack Creek Loop Trail that has great views along the water.
Ridley Creek State Park
As fall arrives, Ridley Creek State Park’s 2600 acres turn shades of gold, ochre, and red. Residents and visitors come to walk the 13 miles of trails that run through the park near West Chester and to see its unique historic buildings. Biking, hiking, and trout fishing are also popular activities here. Some of the homes in the park decorate for Halloween, which adds festivity to a fall outing to see leaves.
From cherry blossoms to Christmas trees, Longwood Gardens is stunning year-round. In October and November, its vistas and Meadow Garden are the places to see the beauty of fall among its 1000 acres. Visitors can wander the gardens for hours and even enjoy a meal at one of the on-site restaurants.
For more seasonal festivities and family fun, don’t miss the Garden Railway and Pumpkin Playground. Inside the Conservatory, fall brings the Chrysanthemum Festival and amazing flower sculptures.
Lake Nockamixon State Park
The largest lake in southeastern Pennsylvania, Lake Nockamixon is a gem in the cooler months when deep hues of fall foliage line its shores. Filling more than 1450 acres in Bucks County, the lake has four public launching areas and is an excellent boating and angling spot.
Ralph Stover State Park
The 45 acres of Ralph Stover State Park have lots of dramatic viewpoints overlooking Tohickon Creek. One prime spot close to parking and great for seeing colorful leaves can be found at High Rocks Vista.
Delaware Canal State Park
The 60-mile historic towpath of Delaware Canal State Park is ideal for nature lovers and one of the most popular parks near Philadelphia. It offers lots of opportunities for runners, bikers, and horseback riders.
The length of the path is tree-lined and offers some of the best opportunities to see fall color in the area. As a bonus, it’s super scenic, snaking along the Delaware River and connecting historic towns and farms along the way. If you’re looking for more fall activities, stop by the nearby farms and orchards for pumpkin patches, hayrides, and other seasonal fun.