Spend your family’s autumn adventure exploring the fall foliage with kids near NYC! From charming Central Park to The Berkshires, Hunter Mountain, and Connecticut, there’s no better season to enjoy the great outdoors. Take an easy hike to appreciate the landscape, hop on a scenic railroad, or soar above mountaintops from a gondola! Whether you’re looking for a local option to appreciate autumn or want to take a more extended escape, you’ll be pleased to discover all the options you have here. Some are more kid-friendly than others, of course, which is why we’ve compiled this list of the best places to see fall foliage with kids near NYC! Using our Facebook member suggestions, we’ve rounded up some of the best family-friendly destinations to plan your upcoming fall itinerary. Read our 11 Best Places To See Fall Foliage Within 3 Hours Of NYC to discover your perfect getaway with kids!
The Berkshires, MA
The Berkshires is surely one of the best places to see fall foliage with kids near NYC! Around three hours away, this Western Massachusetts region is known for its cluster of hilly, family-friendly towns. Experience as much as possible by hopping from town-to-town and covering all the ground you can! Located in Hancock, families love the Bentley Brook area for its access to spectacular scenery. If little ones want to see fall foliage from an aerial view, however, there’s no better place than adventure parks. Visit Jiminy Peak and Catamount Mountain Resort! Further south, drive up to Mount Greylock, a mesmerizing mountainside with views of Vermont’s Green Mountains and the Taconic Range. Afterward, children can finally brag about climbing the highest point in Massachusetts! End your fall foliage vacation in The Berkshires at Lakeview Orchard Farm, overlooking Hoosac Lake and stocking up on organic goodies like plums, apricots, and more!
Bear Mountain State Park, NY
Bear Mountain State Park is a leaf-peeping paradise! This well-known Hudson Highlands peak is less than 2 hours from NYC, making it a perfect destination to visit with kids. Plus, with over 5,000+ lush acres, your biggest challenge will be deciding when to finally leave! Families flock to Hessian Lake every fall eager to take in views of this splendid setting. Kids can even ramble the playground nearby or rent a paddleboat to explore the lake! Hikers will also appreciate how The Appalachian Trail runs for six miles, though it’s steep and better-suited for teens. Younger kids can loop around Hessian Lake or the Brook Ponds Loop Trail near Fort Montgomery. Of course, don’t forget to hike across the famous Bear Mountain Bridge (preferably with binoculars!), framing the Hudson River with fluttering fall foliage. Take a spin on the merry-go-round to end your adventure at Bear Mountain State Park!
The Poconos, PA
The Poconos feature some of Pennsylvania’s most scenic fall destinations! Route 507 around Lake Wallenpaupack is one of the most famous, passed Bushkill and the Delaware Water Gap. On Route 402, drive toward the Delaware State Forest to witness a myriad of whimsical colors unfold. Follow Route 209 to nearby Beltzville State Park to see fall foliage beyond your car! Or, rent a boat on Lake Wallenpaupack to launch from Mauch Chunk and Tobyhanna. Walk around Bingham Park in Hawley or Blakeslee off Route 115 to find the Austin T. Blakeslee Natural Area, featuring easy hikes and picnic tables. Down south, hike Bushkill Falls to reach eight flowing, 100-foot waterfalls! Sop at the Jim Thorpe No. 9 Mine and Museum to learn more about Pennsylvania’s history while trekking into a real-life mine. Lehigh Gorge State Park is especially fantastic to see fall foliage from the vintage Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway!
Greenbelt Nature Center, NYC
Greenbelt Conservancy is Staten Island’s very own autumn attraction! This expansive nature center features over 35 miles of easy-to-moderate trails for families to explore. In fact, there’s even an option to book a guided hike with an expert from the center. That way you’ll learn something along the way, too! No matter which trail you choose, though, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a peaceful oasis separate from the bustle of the city. Kids can also look out for native wildlife as you make your way down the Serpentine Ridge, winding through one of New York City’s last undisturbed forest areas. At the center of Greenbelt Conservatory, you can finally marvel upon its sparkling 16-acre lake, surrounded by a flurry of fabulous fall colors. The Greenbelt Conservatory is also located within the larger High Rock Park, a woodland area also worth exploring afterward if you have time to spare!
Litchfield flaunts fantastic fall foliage for kids to see near NYC! Less than 3 hours away, this Connecticut town attracts families with its lush pastures, rolling hills, and scenic Housatonic River. Every minute here with kids will be unforgettable during mid-October when Litchfield showcases some of the state’s most picturesque pigments! Drive to nearby White Flower Farm to begin your autumn adventure, meandering its manicured fields. (Or purchasing delicious delicacies for the road!) The Little Pond Boardwalk Trail is also one of the best trails in town due to its flat, relatively short path. At the White Memorial Conservation Center, wander through lovely gardens while touring a museum to learn more about Litchfield! Topsmead State Forest has a strategic position in the Litchfield Hills, where you can hike, bike, and tour a historic mansion. Book a hot air balloon ride from Aer Blarney Balloons for an aerial view of Litchfield!
Central Park, NYC
New York City families have fall foliage right in their backyard! Central Park is truly a sight to behold during October when its leaves turn crisp and the air fills with the familiar fragrances of autumn. Of course, while you can witness this phenomenon yourself anywhere in the park, there are a few particularly family-friendly spots kids will love. First, don’t miss the iconic Pond at Central Park South between the Fifth and Sixth Avenue entrance. Not only is it the perfect photo backdrop thanks to the famous Gapstow Bridge, but children can also spot ducks and geese in the distance behind the multicolored trees. Proceeding up to 66th Street, you’ll also find The Mall, a strip of benches located under a canopy of vibrant fall colors.
For a picture-perfect moment straight from a postcard, also continue toward 74th Street to spot the Bow Bridge. This is known as the most photographed place in Central Park; and it’s easy to see why, as brilliant fall leaves frame its classic architecture exquisitely. Adventurous kids who want to explore a bit more may discover tons to do at the Belvedere Castle, an observation point located at mid-Central Park on 79th Street. There, you’ll overlook the landscape from a spectacular vantage point on Turtle Pond. Kids can even roam the sprawling Great Lawn nearby once you’re done! Further up, don’t miss the blooming flowers at the Conservatory Garden starting at 104th Street on the East Side!
Catskills Mountain Railroad, NY
An adventure aboard The Catskills Mountain Railroad will impress the entire family. This panoramic train travels from Kingston Plaza’s Westbrook Station through the Hurley Flats and back, but with a kid-friendly, Halloween-themed twist! Luckily for little ones, the railroad has recently rolled out a Fall Adventure Train during weekends until mid-October, designed to appeal to all ages. Parents will love how it’s educational too since the journey illustrates the origins of the Jack-O-Lantern alongside myths surrounding local lantern styles in the Catskills. If you have a pumpkin lover in the family, remember sure to book the Pumpkin Express Edition for a bonus! What child wouldn’t love their own Halloween friend to decorate? With three trips at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm, a ride runs for eight-miles and about an hour and fifteen minutes, offering closed or open-air vintage cars. Arrive early to snag a coveted window seat!
The Hudson Valley, NY
The Hudson Valley awaits your family’s fall foliage adventure! This stretch of New York towns is a great day trip to experience its three regions: Upper, Middle, and Lower Hudson Valley. Visit Castle Rock Park in the Lower Hudson Valley, for example, and take the Castle Rock Trail along a picturesque path overlooking Blue Mountain. Want to see the fall foliage from the water? Various local tour companies along the mid-Hudson Valley also offer a variety of river cruises, most of which include dinner. Near Lake George, also book a stay at Gore Mountain to take advantage of its scenic gondola ride. Nearby Prospect Mountain is another worthwhile option for its easy Prospect Mountain Hiking Trail, overlooking Lake George Village and the Adirondack Mountains. Or, head West toward The Finger Lakes, where you’ll find Watkins Glen State Park. Watch rocky cliffs descend into flowing waterfalls from its loop trail!
Pro tip: Book your family’s stay at Mohonk Mountain House for a Hudson Valley vacation! As one of the best fall destinations to visit with kids near NYC, this New Paltz resort welcomes families all-year-round. Enjoy its Mohonk Mountain Gardens, loop around the Mohonk Lake Trail, go horseback riding, rock climb, and more exciting activities!
Hunter Mountain, NY
Hunter Mountain offers endless opportunities for families to see the fall foliage! This historic mountain resort showcases the Catskills best scenery through a variety of kid-friendly seasonal programming, alongside regular resort amenities. As usual, a hike is a great way to experience the Catskills from the ground, whether it’s on the Artists, Sunset, or Boulder Rock Trails. These are the three easiest trails for younger kids, though older kids with a bit more ambition may even want to tackle the famous Spruceton Trail. Leading up to the Hunter Mountain summit, the second tallest peak in the Catskills, you’ll finish your adventure at the Fire Tower, one of the few remaining lookout points nearby. Prefer to sit back while a view reveals itself to you? Finally, soar through leafy landscapes on the exciting Hunter Mountain Zipline!
What could be better than a family vacation in Kent? Mixing historic tradition with contemporary flair, this quaint Connecticut town showcases autumn beauty like no other. First, stroll along its enchanting Main Street to browse independent bookstores, local restaurants, and other mom-and-pop shops accommodating to children. Of course, save time to venture to the eponymous Kent Falls State Park, Kent’s famous waterfall structure cascading at over 250-feet-tall! Hike the Red and Yellow Loop (less than a mile long!) to cross the special covered bridge and find the most strategic view of this beautiful structure. Enclosing 2,300+ acres of wilderness, Macedonia Brook State Park is another popular destination to spot fall foliage with teens. (The Macedonia Brook Loop is rated one of the most strenuous in town.) Little kids are nevertheless welcome to wander this remarkable area to learn more about Kent or even visit the Kent Historical Society!
Lower Connecticut River Valley
The Lower Connecticut River Valley concludes our fall foliage destinations for kids near NYC! Home to the state’s abundant farmland, it’s also great for leaf-peeping during your family’s autumn adventure. Kids will love the Medieval-style architecture at Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, for example, where you can overlook fall colors while exploring a giant stone mansion. Or, meander the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme to mix history, American impressionist art, and a lovely garden setting! Experienced trekkers can also hike the Great Osage Trails in Essex, once home to Connecticut’s Native Americans. Animal lovers shouldn’t hesitate to visit Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge too, where you can roam 950-acres of preserved nature while spotting resident birds, plants, and other wildlife! Want to tour Connecticut’s autumn landscape on an original steam locomotive? Hop aboard the Essex Steam Train and prepare for the round-trip of your life!
Thank You to Our Community!
We hope you’ve enjoyed these 11 Best Places To See Fall Foliage Within 3 Hours Of NYC! Regardless of where you plan your next family vacation, though, nothing compares to spending quality time with your kids. As always, this article on the 11 Best Places To See Fall Foliage Within 3 Hours Of NYC would not have been as helpful, informed, or family-friendly without the contributions and input from the amazing members on our Facebook group, Families Who Love To Travel! For more travel recommendations on vacationing with children, join us on Facebook at Families Who Love To Travel. It’s a community of dynamic families who love to adventure and explore through travel. Plus, follow us on Instagram (@families.love.travel) to connect with other families who love the unique experiences travel has to offer (and to get sneak peeks of upcoming articles!).
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the accommodations, restaurants, or activities on this list may also be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision.
Want to see more fall foliage with kids near NYC? Check out our list of 13 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in New England with Kids.
Looking for a little adventure? Try one of the Top Northeast Fall Foliage Treks by Train, Boat, or Car!