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Top Spots to View Fall Foliage in Philadelphia

Our picks for the best spots to see vivid fall colors in the Philly area

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Longwood Gardens Photo courtesy Longwood Gardens
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Independence Mall Photo by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia
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Wissahickon Valley Park Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia
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Every autumn across the Greater Philadelphia area, the leaves turn to vibrant reds, oranges and yellows in one of nature’s greatest shows.

Peak Foliage: Mid-October through Early November 2018

Tony Aiello, director of horticulture at the Morris Arboretum, says to expect peak fall foliage in the greater Philadelphia region “in the third week of October through the end of the month, and for some species, like Japanese maples, into early November.”

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,” Aiello said. “We still need those sunny days.”

Check out these top picks for favorite parks, trails and museums to take advantage of the super-picturesque foliage all season long.

01

Independence Hall and Philadelphia's Historic District

A must-see site in every season

Fall foliage in Independence Square in Philadelphia Fall foliage in Independence Square in Philadelphia
— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

See Independence Hall and the rest of Philadelphia’s Historic District in all of its fall glory. Get schooled on the nation’s history amid a spectacular backdrop of red, yellow, and orange.

Where: Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street

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02

Fairmount Park

More than 2,000 acres of natural beauty

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.

Where: Belmont Mansion, 2000 Belmont Mansion Drive

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03

Wissahickon Valley Park

Hundreds of acres of leafy parks and preserves

Wissahickon Gorge Wissahickon Gorge
— Photo courtesy Wissahickon Valley Park

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, more than 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, which intersects with a number of gorgeous trails that criss-cross the park.

Where: Wissahickon Valley Park, 206 Lincoln Drive

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04

Schuylkill River Trail

A 30-mile, multi-use path from Philadelphia to Phoenixville

Schuylkill River Schuylkill River
— Photo by C. Smyth for Visit Philadelphia

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 foliage, the river trail features spectacular views of Boathouse Row, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the city skyline.

Where: Boathouse Row, 1 Boathouse Row

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05

Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Philadelphia’s most artistic — and colorful — mile

Benjamin Franklin Parkway Benjamin Franklin Parkway
— Photo by J. Smith for Visit Philadelphia

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s answer to the Champs-Elysées, is lined with trees that form a canopy of red, orange and yellow during the autumn months. Some of the world’s most renowned museums, including the Barnes Foundation, The Franklin Institute, the Rodin Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, can be found just steps away.

Where: The Oval, 2451 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

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06

Franklin Square

Family-friendly fall fun

Franklin Square Franklin Square
— Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

The 7.5-acre Franklin Square is one of five squares that William Penn laid out in his original plan of the city in 1682. 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.

Where: Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street

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07

University City

One of the prettiest college campuses around

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.

Where: Steinberg-Dietrich Hall, 3620 Locust Walk

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08

Longwood Gardens

One of the biggest and best destinations to take in autumn's colors

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 horticulture enthusiasts, and Longwood hosts special Autumn’s Colors programming each fall.

Where: Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square

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09

Morris Arboretum

A romantic Victorian landscape garden

With 92 acres of gardens to explore, Morris Arboretum is a spectacular setting for the beautiful colors of autumn. The historic grounds are home to thousands of plants, including gorgeous maples, dogwoods and oaks.

Where: Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Avenue

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10

Bowman's Hill

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 navigating to Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and Bowman’s Hill Tower. The magnificent vista of stunning fall foliage in every direction is a spectacular sight from a vantage point 125 feet high.

Where: Bowman's Hill, 1635 River Road, New Hope

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11

Valley Forge National Historical Park

3,600 acres of rolling hills

Foliage at Valley Forge National Historical Park Foliage at Valley Forge National Historical Park
— Photo courtesy Valley Forge National Historical Park

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.

Where: Valley Forge National Historical Park, 1400 N. Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia

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12

Bartram's Garden

Fall colors in the country's historic first garden

Take a stroll in the country’s first garden or along the river trail and see the colorful autumn blooms and bright leaves as they change overhead at this historic botanical garden and outdoor attraction.

Where: Bartram's Garden, 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard

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13

Delaware Canal State Park

A 60-mile tree-lined 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 path is used today by people looking to engage in exercise and other recreational pursuits.

Where: Delaware Canal State Park, 11 Lodi Hill Road, Upper Black Eddy

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14

Ridley Creek State Park

For the fisherman and fall foliage seeker alike

Ridley Creek State Park Ridley Creek State Park
— Photo courtesy Ridley Creek State Park

Ridley Creek State Park has a creek stocked for trout fishing and trails perfect for exploring. Look forward to gorgeous views, waterfalls and a slew of vibrant fall colors.

Where: Ridley Creek State Park, 1023 Sycamore Mills Road, Media

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15

Tyler State Park

Capture fall beauty from out on a canoe

Why not rent a canoe and experience fall out on the water? Do that and more at Tyler State Park, located off the Newtown Bypass. Nature fans who prefer to stay on land can go for a stroll and find the old covered bridge on a maintained walking path.

Where: Tyler State Park, 101 Swamp Road, Newtown

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16

Marsh Creek State Park

Inviting fall excursions of all kinds

— Courtesy Marsh Creek State Park

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.

Where: Marsh Creek State Park, 675 Park Road, Downingtown

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17

Tyler Arboretum

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.

Where: Tyler Arboretum, 515 Painter Road, Media

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18

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

A favorite locale among birders in the know, this wetland is a refuge for a variety of wildlife and the perfect pastoral place to see the changing of the seasons. Bring binoculars or take it all in with the naked eye.

Where: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, 8601 Lindbergh Boulevard

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19

Washington Crossing Historic Park

A park rich with both history and 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.

Where: Washington Crossing Historic Park, 1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, NJ

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20

Fonthill Castle

Henry Mercer’s concrete castle — and its beautiful grounds

Foliage at Fonthill CAstle in Doylestown Foliage at Fonthill CAstle in Doylestown
— Photo courtesy Fonthill Castle

The ceilings and walls of Henry Chapman Mercer’s storybook stone mansion are embedded with handcrafted Moravian tiles, and the grounds around the castle, decked in vibrant colors in the fall, are just as enticing.

Where: Fonthill Castle, 525 E. Court Street, Doylestown

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21

French Creek State Park

40 miles of trails for long, beautiful walks

— Courtesy French Creek State Park

Hopewell Lake at French Creek State Park is famous for fall scenery, but the 40 miles of trails also make it the perfect getaway for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.

Where: French Creek State Park, 843 Park Road, Elverson

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22

Nockamixon State Park

A boating lake surrounded by 1,450 beautiful acres

Nockamixon State Park Nockamixon State Park
— Photo by Carl Reader for Nockamixon State Park

As the leaves turn to hues of crimson and gold, Bucks County residents and visitors flock to Nockamixon State Park to take in the foliage. Offering more than 1,450 acres and four public launching areas, the area is perfect for activities of all kinds, including boating out on Lake Nockamixon.

Where: Nockamixon State Park, 1542 Mountain View Drive, Quakertown

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23

Northbrook Canoe Company

Meander down the river and enjoy the countryside

Northbrook Canoe Company’s season runs through the end of October, which is perfect for those wanting to check out the fall foliage from the vantage point of a kayak, canoe or tube. Located along the scenic Brandywine River in Chester County (about an hour southwest of Philadelphia), Northbrook offers an amazing way to tour the Brandywine Valley and Wyeth Country, offering the chance to coast downstream along the calm, meandering river and take in the beautiful, colorful countryside.

Where: Northbrook Canoe Company, 1810 Beagle Road, West Chester

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24

Jenkins Arboretum

Native plants in a tranquil setting

Jenkins Arboretum Jenkins Arboretum
— Photo courtesy Jenkins Arboretum

More than a mile of paved walkways run through the woods of this majestic botanical garden, making it the perfect fall foliage spot for horticulturists of all ages. For those looking to get a little more exercise, Jenkins Arboretum also offers maps with free self-guided tours of the property and the nearby conservation woodlands.

Where: Jenkins Arboretum, 631 Berwyn Baptist Road, Devon

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25

John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove

A birdwatcher's paradise perfect for leaf viewing, too

Mill Grove, the former home of American naturalist John James Audubon, is a haven for wildlife, with 175 sprawling acres of trails, woods and history. The woodlands of John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove draw bird- and leaf-watchers alike.

Where: John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, 1201 Pawlings Road, Audubon

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26

Balloon Rides in Bucks County

Take in sights from a sky-high ride

— Chad Harnish for U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team

For a different perspective on the greens, reds and oranges of fall, take to the sky in a hot air balloon. The U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team out of Holicong in Bucks County offers rides that depart each morning and afternoon from The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm. As if the view wasn’t enough, a champagne and hors d’oeuvres celebration concludes each flight.

Where: The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm, 5281 Old York Road, Holicong, PA

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27

Evansburg State Park

Where golfing meets farmland

Choose from meadows, forests, farmland or fields for a fall foliage adventure at Evansburg State Park. Heads up to golf enthusiasts: the 18-hole Skippack Golf Course is located within the park.

Where: Evansburg State Park, 851 May Hall Road, Collegeville

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28

Brandywine River Museum of Art

Home to the scenery that inspired 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.

Where: Brandywine River Museum of Art, 1 Hoffmans Mill Road, Chadds Ford

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29

Tohickon Valley Park

Enjoy fall foliage on dry land or out on the water

Tohickon Valley Park Tohickon Valley Park
— Photo courtesy Tohickon Valley Park

Meaning “Deer Bone Creek” in Lenape, Tohickon Creek in Tohickon Valley Park is one of the cleanest in the state and is great for fishing, rafting and rock climbing. Enjoy fall foliage from out on the water or while wandering around on land. Be sure to check out High Rocks, where 200 feet of shale rise above the creek to offer a gorgeous scenic lookout.

Where: Tohickon Valley Park, 158-164 Cafferty Road, Pipersville

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Independence Hall and Philadelphia's Historic District
Fairmount Park
Wissahickon Valley Park
Schuylkill River Trail
Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Franklin Square
University City
Longwood Gardens
Morris Arboretum
Bowman's Hill
Valley Forge National Historical Park
Bartram's Garden
Delaware Canal State Park
Ridley Creek State Park
Tyler State Park
Marsh Creek State Park
Tyler Arboretum
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
Washington Crossing Historic Park
Fonthill Castle
French Creek State Park
Nockamixon State Park
Northbrook Canoe Company
Jenkins Arboretum
John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove
Balloon Rides in Bucks County
Evansburg State Park
Brandywine River Museum of Art
Tohickon Valley Park
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