2023’s Best States to Visit This Fall

Backpacker walking over a bridge, approaching a farm in a valley against a background of hills covered in colorful fall foliage

Grab your pumpkin spice latte — autumn is here. But which states are the most festive for fall?

With leaves beginning to change their hues in many parts of the U.S., LawnStarter ranked 2023’s Best States to Visit This Fall.

We compared the 48 contiguous U.S. states based on four categories. We looked at the length of projected fall foliage, scenic drives, fall festivals, and pumpkin patches, among 22 total metrics.

Explore our ranking below. To learn how we ranked the states, see our methodology.


State Rankings + Infographic 

See how each state fared in our ranking:

Infographic showing the Best States to Visit This Fall, a ranking based on fall foliage, scenic drives, fall festivals, and more
Note: For presentation purposes, not all ties may be displayed for some metrics above.

Top 5 Close Up

Check out the slideshow below for highlights on each of our top five states.

No. 1: California | Overall Score: 63.86

Projected Number of Days of Peak Fall Foliage: 17 (Rank: 2 – TIE)
Number of Scenic Drives: 139 (Rank: 1)
Number of National Parks: 9 (Rank: 1)
Number of Fall Attractions: 256 (Rank: 1)
Number of Fall Festivals: 34 (Rank: 3)

Local tips: Go wine tasting and grape stomping through Napa Valley. 
Pick apples and pumpkins and chomp down on apple cider donuts at Apple Hill, a region outside of Sacramento that boasts over 50 local farms.

Take the scenic route (and some unforgettable photos) through the Avenue of the Giants.

Photo Credit: Daniel Semenov / Pexels / Pexels License
A daytime shot of the New York City skyline from the Hudson River with the Statue of Liberty in the foreground
No. 2: New York | Overall Score: 56.77

Projected Number of Days of Peak Fall Foliage: 31 (Rank: 1)
Number of State Parks: 215 (Rank: 2)
Number of Forest Trails: 3,524 (Rank: 2)
Number of Fall Attractions: 179 (Rank: 4)
Apple Orchards per 100,000 Residents: 0.69 (Rank: 4)

Local tips: Hike through the Adirondacks and Catskills, tour cideries in the Finger Lakes, or look out for the headless horseman in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow.

Photo Credit: Pierre Blaché / Pexels / Pexels License
A shot of a trail flanked by evergreens overlooking tall peaks at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state
No. 3: Washington | Overall Score: 55.14

Projected Number of Weeks With Fall Foliage: 12 (Rank: 1 – TIE)
Number of State Parks: 212 (Rank: 3)
Number of Forest Trails: 3,172 (Rank: 3)
Number of Fall Attractions: 184 (Rank: 3)
Wineries per 100,000 Residents: 17.61 (Rank: 2)

Local tips: Attend the Autumn Leaf Festival in Leavenworth, an alpine-themed village with great access to skiing and wineries.

Photo Credit: Vlada Karpovich / Pexels / Pexels License
A lake shimmers in front of the Detroit skyline as clouds creep overhead.
No. 4: Michigan | Overall Score: 51.13

Projected Number of Weeks With Fall Foliage: 12 (Rank: 1 – TIE)
Total Acreage of State and National Parks: 836,790 (Rank: 9)
Number of Fall Festivals: 26 (Rank: 8)
Cideries per 100,000 Residents: 1.85 (Rank: 2)
Hayrides per 100,000 Residents: 0.98 (Rank: 6)

Local tips: Take a fall color tour through the Tunnel of Trees or hop aboard the Pumpkin Train for a festive, foliage-filled ride. 

Photo Credit: Anon / Pexels / Pexels License
No. 5: Pennsylvania | Overall Score: 47.87

Projected Number of Weeks With Fall Foliage: 12 (Rank: 1 – TIE)
Number of State Parks: 121 (Rank: 8)
Number of Forest Trails: 2,618 (Rank: 5)
Number of Fall Attractions: 139 (Rank: 5 – TIE)
Number of Fall Festivals: 46 (Rank: 1)

Local tips: Enjoy peak foliage in the Poconos at the Jim Thorpe Fall Foliage Festival. Take a scenic excursion via train during the day, then learn some local lore with a nighttime ghost tour.
Photo Credit: Warren LeMay / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Key Insights

The Gist

West Coast and Northeastern states — like California (No. 1), New York (No. 2), and Washington (No. 3) — dominated the top of our ranking, with abundant state parks, forest trails, and a lengthy foliage season. A total of 14 states tied for the longest projected period with fall foliage, basking in 12 weeks of autumn aesthetics. 

Delaware (No. 46) finished near the bottom, alongside Southern states like Texas (No. 44), Florida (No. 45), and Louisiana (No. 48) in last place. The South generally has shorter timelines for leaf peeping. Florida and Louisiana tied with the fewest weeks with fall colors, 5. Delaware simply lacks the fall spirit, with relatively fewer fall attractions, festivals, and natural spaces to enjoy the views.

Standout Stats

Golden State Hues

  • California brought home the gold for the 2nd year in a row, dominating at 1st place in 10 metrics. The Golden State is the most friendly to camping, featuring the most national parks, state parks, and trails. California also boasts the most scenic drives, 139. Try to pick your pumpkin early, though — the state disappoints with the 3rd-fewest pumpkin patches per capita. 

Natural Northeast

  • Northeastern states offer optimal sights for leaf peeping, thanks to abundant natural space. New York (No. 2) enjoys the longest projected period of peak fall foliage for 2023 and the 2nd-highest number of forest trails, 3,524, to stroll through the colors. 83% of Maine (No. 6) is covered by forest land, the highest in our ranking.

Mountainous Memories

  • Have a peak celebration in Vermont (No. 6), boasting the most corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and cideries per capita. Its neighbor, New Hampshire (No. 17), offers the most apple orchards per capita, followed by Vermont. 80% of the White Mountain State and 74% of the Green Mountain State are covered by forests. 

Full of Fall Festivities

  • Indulge in apple cider doughnuts, caramel apples, and other harvest season favorites in Pennsylvania (No. 5), which planned the most fall festivals, 46, for 2023. Six Midwestern states stand out — including Missouri (No. 23), Wisconsin (No. 11), and Ohio (No. 12) — among the top 10 states with the most fall festivals.

Hitch a Hayride 

  • Take a spin in Rhode Island (No. 30): the smallest state boasts the most hayrides available per capita, followed by Maine (No. 10) and New Hampshire (No. 17). Despite the state’s abundant farms, Californians might feel cramped with the 2nd-fewest hayrides, 0.11 per capita, after Wyoming (No. 36).

Pacific Coast Cornucopia

  • Oregon (No. 7) offers the most wineries, 21.93 per capita, to sip, sit back, and take in the changing leaves. California (No. 1) enjoys over 4,700 more wineries than Washington (No. 3). However, WA claims the 2nd-highest number per capita, 17.61, and CA lands in 3rd with 15.19. Take the sober route with an unforgettable tour through the Evergreen State, which spins down the 5th-highest number of scenic drives, 35, followed by the Beaver State with 24

Safe Sweater Weather

  • Minnesota (No. 9) is the only top-10 state that finished near the top of Safety, placing 7th in that category. The state benefits from a balance of splendid scenery, festive activities, and security from wildfires and hurricanes.

Ask The Experts

We turned to a panel of experts for some inspiration and tips for planning a memorable (and well-timed) fall getaway. 

Make the most of your autumnal adventure with help from their insights below. 

  1. What’s a fall travel essential that every traveler should pack?
  2. What are 3-5 unique fall travel activities you’d recommend?
  3. When is the optimal time to see fall foliage depending on the region where one lives?
Min Park, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Academic Program Coordinator, Tourism and Events Management, School of Sport, Recreation, and Tourism Management
Rosa Abreu
Assistant Professor, Hospitality Management
Min Park, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Academic Program Coordinator, Tourism and Events Management, School of Sport, Recreation, and Tourism Management
George Mason University

What’s a fall travel essential that every traveler should pack?

I would say a mask is still the number one item every traveler must pack this fall. A packable jacket comes in handy in the evenings when the air gets chilly. Don’t forget to charge your phone for photogenic autumn colors.

What are 3-5 unique fall travel activities you’d recommend?

I would recommend the following activities:

  1. Take a scenic drive to experience gorgeous autumn colors in national/state parks, recreation areas, and scenic roads.
  2. Take a farm tour for apple picking or pick-your-own pumpkins.
  3. Fall is a season for festivals in every place. Apple butter making, pumpkin flavored goodies, arts and crafts, live music, craft beer and wine festivals, and much more. Find a fall festival that suits you and the ones you love.

When is the optimal time to see fall foliage depending on the region where one lives?

In general, fall foliage peaks in mid-October through mid-November in most parts of the nation. Some mountains in the northwest are often at their most colorful in mid-September to early October.

As I live in Virginia, Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park is one of the best for fall colors. The best time to experience gorgeous fall colors in Shenandoah National Park is in October. Visitors can make the scenic cruise along the 105-mile-long Skyline Drive, which offers 70 overlooks where travelers can hop out of the car for a better view of foliage with red, yellow, and orange leaves.

Rosa Abreu
Assistant Professor, Hospitality Management
New York City College of Technology

What’s a fall travel essential that every traveler should pack?

In the fall you should pack comfortable walking shoes, light jacket and sweater since temperatures can fluctuate

What are 3-5 unique fall travel activities you’d recommend?

  1. Stay in a place that has a fire pit and roast marshmallows
  2. Have a few drinks by the fire
  3. Go glamping
  4. Pumpkin and apple picking is always fun

When is the optimal time to see fall foliage depending on the region where one lives?

In New England and Upstate New York, the best time to see the fall foliage is end of September to late October.


First, we determined the factors (metrics) that are most relevant to rank the Best States to Visit This Fall. We then assigned a weight to each factor based on its importance and grouped those factors into four categories: Fall Scenery, Outdoor Recreation, Entertainment, and Safety. The categories, factors, and their weights are listed in the table below.

For each of the 50 states, we then gathered data on each factor from the sources listed below the table. We eliminated 2 states — Hawaii and Alaska — lacking sufficient data in a single category, resulting in a final sample size of 48 states.

Finally, we calculated scores (out of 100 points) for each state to determine its rank in each factor, each category, and overall. A state’s Overall Score is the average of its scores across all factors and categories. The highest Overall Score ranked “Best” (No. 1) and the lowest “Worst” (No. 48).

  • The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 48 due to ties.
  • Alaska and Hawaii were not included in our ranking due to lack of fall foliage data.

Sources: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, AllTrails, American Cider Association, America’s State Parks, Everfest, Farmers’ Almanac, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Funtober, HayRides.com, Lawn Love, National Park Service, PlaygroundEquipment.com, PumpkinPatchesAndMore.org, SmokyMountains.com, and U.S. Forest Service

Honorable Mentions

From fall festivals to Oktoberfests, communities across the country are gathering to honor the changing of the seasons. Put on some flannel, and check out some more autumn escapes below. 

  • Morton, Illinois, produces 90% of the world’s supply of canned pumpkin, earning its self-proclaimed title of “pumpkin capital of the world.” Add the village and its annual Morton Pumpkin Festival as a stop on your fall bucket list. 
  • Salem, Massachusetts, is an iconic fall destination for both witches and common folk. With a population below 50,000, this quaint coastal city explodes in the fall, with some daily crowds reaching over 100,000 visitors.
  • Spring Grove, Illinois, is home to the world’s largest corn maze, with over 9 miles of trails spanning 28 acres of corn fields at Richardson Farm
  • Vermont (No. 6) is the maple syrup capital of the U.S., producing more than 50% of the nation’s supply. Visit one of the state’s many sugarhouses for a closer look at how the syrup is made.
  • See colors splash across the Blue Ridge Mountains when you steer through Skyline Drive in Virginia (No. 20).

Foliage is pretty. The piles of dead leaves on your lawn? Not so much. Hire a local LawnStarter pro to take care of leaf removal and other fall cleanup tasks around your yard.

Media Resources

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate of the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.