The summer might be peak season for tourism in New York City, but venture a little further upstate and it’s all about the fall.
The explosion of fall foliage that comes in early September and departs around November brings thousands of tourists and leaf peepers, those who travel to view and photograph the fall foliage, to the state’s Hudson River Valley, making it the busiest time of year for the area.
Advertised as the “perfect antidote to urban stress,” tours of the Hudson Valley offer an extensive array of options for the city dweller who doesn’t want to venture too far afield.
“We usually get around 1,500 people in the fall who participate in our day tours,” said Nancy Lutz, communications manager for Dutchess County Tourism. “By the time it’s October, we’re getting two to three buses a day on Saturdays and Sundays.”
For these tourists, fall foliage is not just the backdrop. More often than not, the robust greens, oranges, reds and yellows that cover the area are the main attraction.
The Northeast on the whole is filled with a huge variety of broad-leaved trees whose foliage paints the region with a spectacular color range. But it is New York State in particular that boasts most of these trees—almost as many acres as the rest of the Northeast combined.
The state’s tourism site, ILoveNY.com, provides leaf peepers with a gaggle of charts, figures and reports on up-to-date fall foliage color. A weekly report comes in the form of a detailed map charting fall color progress and listing the best vantage points for peepers in the state.
With that said, finding the trees is not the hard part—it’s knowing where to go and how to get there.
The Hudson Valley encompasses a wide area and is closer to New York City than the average urbanite might realize (the trip from Grand Central Station to Wassaic in the mid-Hudson takes a little over two hours). Westchester and Rockland counties mark the southern tip of the region, which passes through Dutchess and Ulster counties and stretches up through Albany.
For those with cars, it’s easy and convenient to make the two-hour drive up to Dutchess County, located in the middle of the region, and explore the surrounding farms, mountains, parks and nature trails. The county’s tourism site, DutchessCountyTourism.com, provides several itineraries for both day trips and overnighters. The site is a great tool for anyone planning a trip to the area, with lists of the best fall foliage spots, hiking trails, dining options and wineries.
As for group tours, which can be found on the same website, the options are so extensive and far-ranging that the perfect fit is easily achievable. Whether you’re a foodie looking for an exceptional culinary experience, an adventurer looking to explore the outdoors or a history buff looking to learn about the region’s rich past, there’s something for every interest.
Dutchess County Tourism has also partnered with MTA Metro-North Railroad to provide affordable group getaway day tours that allow tourists to not only survey the beautiful scenery but discover a bit of the local fare.
And then there’s the Hudson River Valley Ramble, which takes place over three weekends, from Sept. 7 through Sept. 25, and celebrates the area’s vibrant history, communities, cultural attractions and natural resources. “It’s the perfect opportunity for people who want to get out and enjoy the great outdoors but don’t know where to go,” said Lutz. With over 200 events it’s easy to get overwhelmed, so check out Hudsonrivervalleyramble.com for the complete list of events, which include guided walks, hikes, camping and kayaking trips and festivals.
Go for the leaves but stay for any one of the dozens of reasons so many people flock upstate this time of year. With so much to see, you’ll be praying Monday never comes.
New York has almost as many acres of trees as the rest of the Northeast combined. Photo by Danny T
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