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Fall foliage: Where to go leaf peeping in Philly and beyond

October 12th, 2022 |

Written by Molly Given for Metro Philadelphia

With the fall season comes ample opportunity to get some leaf peeping in—especially in the Greater Philadelphia area. With the weather cooling down, it’s the perfect time to see the outside world change whether you’re in the city, or looking to head out for a short drive. Here is your guide to some of the best fall foliage in and around the City of Brotherly Love.

Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park is home to some of Philly’s most beloved attractions including the zoo, historic mansions, the Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, and the Shofuso Japanese House and Gardens. Spanning 2,050-acres, the historic and famous park is home to over 50 miles worth of hiking trails where you can get the best views of beautiful fall foliage in 2022. 

myphillypark.org

Independence Hall

There is something magical about Old City. Stepping into the past with the cobblestone streets, old taverns, and revolutionary timed attractions is always enjoyable. Being at the epicenter of our nation’s existence is the best place to be when you’re in the mood for some fall foliage. 

520 Chestnut St., nps.gov/inde/planyourvisit/independencehall

Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites 

Historic Bethlehem not only offers visitors the opportunity to check out three centuries of American history, it also is a prime leaf-peeping destination for travelers who want to head outside of the City of Brotherly Love. The area offers visitors the chance to check out its scenes through a self-guided tour featuring 19 historic buildings, 20 acres of land and two National Historic Landmarks. If that wasn’t enough to sell you on this destination, the area was also nominated to the U.S. Tentative List for World Heritage Designation just a few years ago. 

505 Main St., Bethlehem, historicbethlehem.org

Franklin Square 

This square offers just as much history (William Penn laid his original plan of the city in 1682, and it included Franklin Square) as it does fall foliage. While admiring the colors of the season, Philadelphians can also grab a burger, ride a carousel and play some mini-golf—or rather this time of year, spooky mini-golf. Now through Oct. 31, the course will be decked out in Halloween finery, with spooky music, lights, smoke and special effects.

200 N. 6th St., historicphiladelphia.org

Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour 

There’s something romantic about covered bridges, and they don’t need to be in Madison County for there to be some action. Lehigh Valley holds seven of the slightly more than 200 covered bridges in Pennsylvania built in the 1800s, all of which are welcoming visitors—especially during this picturesque season. This drive-able tour covers 50 miles, but that’s not the only route that passengers can take when looking for some scenic fall scenes. According to a release, Philadelphians can also cruise along Route 611 to explore the Slate Belt’s fall foliage covering dozens of small towns including Nazareth and Bangor. Then hike, bike or walk the four-mile John M. Mauser Nature Education Trail System in Lower Mount Bethel Township. To catch a picturesque fall sunset glistening against the foliage, leaf peepers can also traverse the rolling hills of Lookout Drive and Mountain Drive near Lehigh University. The downloadable brochure is available at discoverlehighvalley.com/things-to-do/tours/covered-bridge-tour. 

Morris Arboretum

Imagine walking through a gorgeous Victorian-era garden while admiring the colors, sights and sounds of fall. That is precisely the experience you will get when you take a trip to Morris Arboretum this season for fall foliage. Known as the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the public garden and grounds offers its own take on the great outdoors to ultimately, “bridge an understanding of the relationship between plants, people and place through education, research and horticultural display.” Everywhere you turn, you’re not quite sure what to expect, with gardens, beautiful buildings on the ground, and unique fixtures (such as their own fernery), it’s definitely a venue like you’ve never seen before. And that idea is made apparent when looking at perhaps the most eye-catching display on the grounds, the Garden Railway. Everything Morris offers acts as a perfect backdrop for some autumn adventures in Philadelphia.

100 E. Northwestern Ave., morrisarboretum.org

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary 

Hawk Mountain has plenty to see, and once here, visitors will get a charming view of the wild bird sanctuary located along the Appalachian flyway. Typically, the sanctuary is a hotspot for hikers, birdwatchers and outdoor enthusiasts alike and that sentiment is elevated even more in the fall season. The 8-mile trail system there is open for everyone through the new accessible trail through the South Lookout. The official trail map is also located on Discover Lehigh Valley’s website. 

1700 Hawk Mountain Rd., Kempton, discoverlehighvalley.com

 

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