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5 Places to Leaf-Peep in Upstate New York

If you’re like me, you love fall - a slight chill in the air, pumpkin spice everything and the beautiful New York scenery changing before your eyes. Fall is a great time to visit Upstate New York as there is no shortage of great leaf-peeping destinations.

Just a short drive over the border will bring you to some spectacular spots for viewing the bright red, yellow and orange leaves – and let’s be honest, posting them on Instagram.

Letchworth State Park - the Grand Canyon of the East – is located about 40 minutes south of Rochester, NY and is one of the best sites for leaf peeping. Take a scenic drive through the park and stop at some of the overlooks to view the gorge in its autumn prime. Or hike one of the many trails to see the changing colours up close.

Head east to Bristol Mountain, known as the area’s premier ski resort. Hop on a chairlift and leaf peep from above on Bristol’s fall sky ride, running weekends from September 10th through October 30th. If you’re looking for an adventure (and a workout!), complete the aerial adventure park’s challenge courses with zip lines, tight ropes, rope ladders and bridges. If that isn’t enough, go ziplining through 5000 feet (1524 meters) of forest on their zipline canopy tour.

After an adventure like that, you’ll probably want to relax. About 40 minutes north in Fairport, NY sits Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, nestled high atop Monroe County’s hills. As the highest point of elevation in the county, each guest room has a breathtaking view of the fall foliage. Dine at the hotel’s Horizons Restaurant, aptly named for its sight of the horizon and surrounding area, or wind-down with a treatment at their salon or spa.

Northeast of Rochester, in Wayne County, scenic country roads provide a colorful backdrop to your journey. During the month of October, local farms, farm markets and wineries put together an apple tasting tour. Taste your way through the county as you drive from market to market, enjoying the different varieties of apples, baked goods, cider and fresh produce. I’ve done the tour a few times and take it from me, you don’t want to miss it!

Take to the skies for a completely different perspective of the turning trees. Head south to Painted Post, located near Corning in the southern Finger Lakes for a scenic flight with Costa Flying Service. Soar high above Keuka and Seneca Lakes as they lay draped in the colors of fall. Choose your own journey with flights ranging in length from eight minutes to over two hours.

Photography: Larry Tetamore