ABOVE PHOTO: Wissahickon Gorge (CREDIT: R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
Our picks for the best spots to see vivid fall colors in the Philly area
Every autumn all across the Greater Philadelphia area, the leaves turn to vibrant reds, oranges and yellows in one of nature’s greatest shows.
We’ve rounded up our favorite parks, trails and museums where you can take advantage of the super-picturesque foliage all season long.
Tony Aiello, director of horticulture at the Morris Arboretum, reports that we can expect peak fall foliage in the greater Philadelphia region “in the third week of October through the end of the month.”
That’s thanks to mild summer temperatures and a relatively wet September, which means that “the plants are well hydrated and not losing their leaves because of drought,” according to Aiello.
To see the brightest and best reds and oranges on this year’s trees, “hope for nice bright sunny days going from late September into October,” said Aiello. “We still need those sunny days.”
Independence Hall and Philadelphia’s Historic District
See Independence Hall and the rest of Philadelphia’s Historic District in all of its fall glory. Get schooled on our nation’s history amid a spectacular backdrop of red, yellow, and orange.
Soak in the season at Fairmount Park, a 2,050-acre gem scattered throughout the city that offers more than 50 miles of designated trails, 43 sculptures, two performing arts centers, the Philadelphia Zoo, Shofuso Japanese House and Gardens, historic mansions, the Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, renowned museums and amazing foliage. Tip: Take in a spectacular view of the Philadelphia skyline over treetops of a mosaic of colors from Belmont Plateau.
Wissahickon Valley Park
Hundreds of acres of leafy parks and preserves
Enjoy the autumn foliage and breathe in the sweet smells of fall in Wissahickon Valley Park, one of Philadelphia’s natural treasures. Bordering Chestnut Hill and Germantown to the south, the 1,800 wooded acres of the Wissahickon Valley Park include the lovely Wissahickon Creek, 50 miles of hiking and walking trails, Pastorius Park (a favorite refuge for picnics and summer concerts) and Forbidden Drive, a wide, no-cars-allowed road beside the creek, intersects with a number of gorgeous trails that criss-cross the park.
Schuylkill River Trail
A 26.5-mile, multi-use path from Philadelphia to Phoenixville
The twisting, turning pathway along the Schuylkill River is a fantastic spot for a brisk fall walk, run or bike ride. In addition to great fall foliage, the river trail features spectacular views of Boathouse Row, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the city skyline.
Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia’s most artistic — and colorful — mile
Philadelphia’s answer to the Champs-Elysées features vibrant fall foliage just steps away from Center City. The entire Benjamin Franklin Parkway is lined with trees, forming a canopy of red, orange and yellow above your head during the autumn months. As you stroll, consider stopping to explore some of the world’s most renowned museums, including the Barnes Foundation, The Franklin Institute, Rodin Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Surround yourself in fall’s colors
Franklin Square is a great place to take in some fresh fall foliage. The 7.5-acre space is one of five squares William Penn laid out in his original plan of the city in 1682, and today it’s a refreshing spot to take in fall’s colors surrounded by a number of fun attractions, including a mini-golf course, carousel, burger joint, storytelling bench, picnic area and more.
One of the prettiest college campuses to be seen
The University of Pennsylvania campus in University City is framed and subdivided by canopy trees, lawns and meadows. Locust Walk, the main thoroughfare across the campus, is particularly beautiful in the fall. The stately architecture throughout the property adds to the visual display.
Kennett Square, Chester County
One of the biggest and best places to surround yourself in nature
Clocking in at more than 1,000 acres in the heart of the beautiful Brandywine Valley, Longwood Gardens is easily one of the biggest and best places in the region to view fall foliage. The lush gardens, woodlands and meadows are a welcome sight for fall foliage enthusiasts, and Longwood hosts special Autumn’s Colors programming each fall.
A romantic Victorian landscape garden
With 92 acres of gardens to explore, Morris Arboretum is a spectacular setting for the beautiful colors of autumn. In fact, Travel Pulse recently named the arboretum one of the five best U.S. gardens to visit in the fall. The historic grounds are home to thousands of plants, including gorgeous maples, dogwoods and oaks.
New Hope, Bucks County
Stunning views from the top of a tower
The drive along Route 32 from Washington Crossing to New Hope is an excellent day trip, especially when you navigate to Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and Bowman’s Hill Tower, where you can score a magnificent vista of stunning fall foliage in every direction. And don’t miss the gazebo nestled among the tall trees of Penn’s Woods arboretum.
Valley Forge National Historical Park
King Of Prussia, Montgomery County
3,600 acres of rolling hills
Once the headquarters of General George Washington’s Revolutionary army, this wonderfully tranquil park offers trails for jogging and biking and 3,600 acres of rolling hills full of autumn beauty.
Take a stroll in the garden or along the river trail and see the colorful autumn blooms and bright leaves as they change overhead in this historical botanical garden and outdoor attraction.
Delaware Canal State Park
Upper Black Eddy, Bucks County
A 60-mile, treelined towpath
Revel in the brilliant fall colors while strolling the historic towpath that runs from Easton to Bristol, Pennsylvania. Once trod by mule teams pulling cargo-laden boats along the canal, the 60-mile towpath is used today by people looking to engage in exercise and other recreational pursuits.
Ridley Creek State Park
Media, Delaware County
For the fisherman and fall foliage seeker alike
Ridley Creek State Park has a creek stocked for trout fishing and trails perfect for fall foraging. Look forward to gorgeous views, waterfalls and a slew of vibrant fall colors.
Tyler State Park
Newtown, Bucks County
Capture fall beauty from out on a canoe
Why not rent a canoe and experience fall out on the water? You can do that and more at Tyler State Park, located off the Newtown Bypass. If you prefer to stay on two feet, go for a stroll and find the old covered bridge on a maintained walking path.
Marsh Creek State Park
Downingtown, Chester County
Inviting fall excursions of all kinds
The 535-acre Marsh Creek Lake is a popular destination for boaters, but the surrounding forests, fields and wetlands are packed with fantastic trails perfect for a fall excursion.
Media, Delaware County
650 acres blazing with color
Tyler Arboretum has been a refuge for tree lovers in the Philadelphia region since the days of William Penn. During autumn, its 650 acres are ablaze with seasonal color.
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
A favorite locale among birder’s in the know, this wetland is a refuge for a variety of birds and other wildlife, and the perfect pastoral place to see the changing of the seasons. Bring your binoculars or take it all in with the naked eye.
Washington Crossing Historic Park
Washington Crossing, Bucks County
A park with rich history and equally rich fall foliage, George Washington and his troops turned the tide of the American Revolution by crossing the Delaware River in the Washington Crossing Historic Park area back in 1776. In addition to the park’s extensive historic significance, Washington Crossing is also known for its wonderful outdoor trails and wildlife habitat.
Doylestown, Bucks County
Henry Mercer’s concrete castle — and its beautiful grounds
The ceilings and walls of Henry Chapman Mercer’s storybook stone mansion may be embedded with handcrafted Moravian tiles, but it’s the grounds around the castle, decked in vibrant colors in the fall, that do their best to show up Mercer’s work.
French Creek State Park
Elverson, Chester County
40 miles of trails for long, beautiful walks
Hopewell Lake at French Creek State Park is famous for fall scenery, but the 40 miles of trails make it the perfect fall getaway for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
Brandywine River Museum of Art
Chadds Ford, Delaware County
Home to the scenery of Andrew Wyeth’s majestic paintings
The artistic talents of the Wyeth family are on full display at this picturesque Brandywine River Museum of Art, seated along the Brandywine River. Venture outside and see the beautiful countryside that inspired Andrew Wyeth to paint his signature landscapes.
For more information read: http://www.visitphilly.com/articles/philadelphia/top-spots-to-view-fall-foliage/