Leaf Peeping Trips to Enjoy

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

If you’ve been looking forward to a leaf peeping trip this fall, you still have options, despite COVID-19.

“Vermont and Maine are good locations,” said Lori Angelone Chaba, owner of Lori’s Travel in Rochester.

Although she did caution that virus-related restrictions may limit travel to New England.

“We don’t know what the government will say about quarantining,” Chaba said.

Not all kinds of fall trips are available, however.

Patty Bean, travel agent and owner of Bean Cruises and Travel in Rochester, said that while leaf peeping cruises likely won’t happen this year, road trips to prime leaf peeping destinations may be great options.

“I’m suggesting Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts,” Bean said.

The foliage is fantastic throughout New York and New England, and the many historical points of interest and places of lodging can make a long weekend getaway particularly inviting.

As an example Bean suggested the Chatham area near Cape Cod. It boasts numerous attractions, such as Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Atwood Museum, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Chatham’s Godfrey Windmill, several tour companies and several seafood restaurants.

“It’s got that Cape Cod experience,” Bean said. “It’s a nice little town you can walk around and it’s really, really nice.”

Chatham Bars Inn (www.chathambarsinn.com) includes its own private beach, spa, restaurant and farm.

In Vermont, consider The Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville (www.wildflowerinn.com), which boasts 300 acres of rural charm with a pool, tennis, trails, petting barn, lawn games, hay rides, a spa, and a sauna, all with mountain views.

Also in Vermont, Phineas Swan Inn and Spa (www.phineasswann.com) can meet your travel needs, whether it’s a romantic getaway, trip with the grandkids or purely for leaf peeping. It’s near facilities offering mountain climbing, hay rides, fishing, canoeing and kayaking.

If you want to pamper yourself, the inn provides spa services and is located near Vermont Salt Cave and Spa Bolton. The area also offers numerous farm markets, antiquing opportunities and unique shops.

If a daytrip is more your style, New York has plenty of terrific leaf peeping drives.

Jim Havalack, owner of Quality Transportation Services in Victor and Geneva, books local wine trail tours.

“You see a lot of colors as you go to the wineries,” he said.

Whether you’re going for the wine, scenery or both, the local wine trails offer a laid-back outing that won’t require an overnight stay.

Considered the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park (https://parks.ny.gov/parks/79/details.aspx) offers 600-foot walls of sedimentary rock framed by spectacular fall color. At Inspiration Point you can see two waterfalls at once. Get up-close to the foliage on any of the 66 miles of hiking trails the park offers.

Drive any part of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway to view gorgeous autumn leaves. The 518-mile trail stretches includes the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the Niagara River, and Lake Erie, with Alexandria Bay at the northernmost portion, all the way to the New York/Pennsylvania border.

In Western New York, slow your pace on the Amish Trail, between Cattaraugus and Cherry Creek on Route 353. Look for shops selling handmade goods, quilts and home furnishings to pick up a memento of your trip. The route also boasts many buffets. Call ahead to check on possible closings due to the pandemic.

Photo: Taughannock Falls in Tompkins County. The falls carve a 400-foot deep gorge through layers of sandstone, shale and limestone that were once the bed of an ancient sea.