Fall Foliage: Leaf Peeping in Philly
Philly is at its best in the Fall. From parks within the City limits to scenic destinations in adjacent counties, trees are ablaze with color, along with hiking, biking, and dining options. Peak foliage runs from mid-October through early November, but if you want to hit the sweet spot, we recommend hitting the foliage trail on the third week in October.
Where to See Fall Colors in Philadelphia
Make it a point to have lunch in Rittenhouse Square when the Maple, Elm, and Oak trees will be in their full glory turning hues of red and orange before they start fluttering down. Pick up a picnic lunch at Di Bruno’s or dine at one of the Square’s sidewalk restaurants while admiring the fall colors. In nearby Washington Square, the leaves on Poplar, Black Locust, Maple, Redwood, and Birch trees are just starting to change color. For a nice stroll in the area, we recommend grabbing a tasty wrap or salad at Talula’s Daily and visiting the breathtaking Maxfield Parrish class mosaic “Dream Garden” in the Curtis Building at 6th and Walnut.
Bikers and hikers can take to the Schuylkill River Trail, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and go down Kelly Drive for a veritable kaleidoscope of Fall color. Pack a lunch and make a day of it to enjoy the scenery and cool weather.
Another great place for leaf-peeping in the city is South Philly, where you can visit FDR Park‘s 40 acres of kayaking, fishing, and canoeing. Take a leisurely hike in the South Philly Meadow Trails and bring a camera to capture the landscape.
Bartram’s Garden, part of the Schuylkill River Trail in southwest Philly is yet another local foliage paradise within the City limits. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is hosting free biking days through November!
Also, in southwest Philly, you’ll find The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum with 10 miles of trails and binoculars and fishing rods available for loan, free of charge. The refuge supports a diversity of habitats, including freshwater tidal marsh, open waters, mudflats, and woodlands that hundreds of species call home.
On Saturday, October 21st Laurel Hill Cemetery East is hosting a Fall Fun Day from 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm. This family-friendly day of outdoor autumn festivities includes crafts, live children’s music performances, games, prizes, story times, mini cemetery tours, and more. Pre-Halloween costumes are encouraged. RSVP to attend this free event. Or take a ticketed Fall Foliage Tour of the cemetery led by its arboretum manager on Sunday, October 22, 10 am-12 pm.
If you want to experience New England foliage without leaving town, head to the 1,800 wooded acres of Wissahickon Trail in the Northwest section of Fairmount Park. There, you will find 40,000 miles of trails for all levels of biking, hiking, dog walking (on leash only) or simply strolling along a pathway under a lush canopy of trees. Popular with artists and photographers, you can stroll through covered bridges, fish in Wissahickon Creek, and enjoy brunch, lunch, or dinner at Valley Green Inn or the more casual Cedars House. Nearby attractions include Morris Arboretum and Woodmere Museum.
Hit the Road: Buck’s County, Kennett Square, Media, and More
A short drive from Philadelphia is New Hope in Bucks County, a charming town on the Delaware River filled with shops, art galleries, and cafes. Experience an autumn journey by hopping on a historic train at the New Hope Railroad or walk across the river to Lambertville, an equally alluring little town lined with antique shops. On the way home, drive along Route 32 from New Hope to Washington Crossing for magnificent fall foliage. Or make it a weekend and stay in one of the area’s historic BnBs such as the Inn at Bowman’s Hill. For a scenic view of the county’s fall colors, climb to the top of Bowman’s Hill Tower.
Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square is one of the best places in the region to view fall foliage with over 1,000 acres of woodlands, meadows, and formal gardens. Nearby is the Brandywine River Museum containing works by local artist Andrew Wyeth. Birdwatchers will want to head to the John James Audubon Center in Audubon, PA for nature walks and a visit to their museum.
Just 16 miles from Center City, Ridley Creek State Park in Media offers over 2,000 acres of lawn and forest including several formal gardens, horse stables, and trails, plus the historic 1789 Hunting Hill Mansion. Tyler State Park, located 33 miles from Center City in Newtown, PA offers nature fans hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. Just a forty-minute drive from Philly, Valley Forge State Park provides 3,500 acres of rolling hills steeped in American history.