One of the highlights of autumn in Central New York is the stunning display of fall colors as the leaves begin to change. What are the best leaf-peeping road trips? Buckle up - some are less than an hour from Utica.

There's no better place to socially-distance than your own vehicle. Pack a picnic lunch, put together your favorite playlist, and the perfect fall day is just a drive away.

Best Upstate New York Fall Foliage Leaf-Peeping Road Trips

1. Drive to Old Forge and through to Inlet, NY - this is an easy drive for anyone in the Mohawk Valley, and one of the prime places to catch fall foliage. Take Route 12 North, and then Route 28 North.

Fall Foliage in the Adirondacks
Photo Credit: ADKandBeyond via YouTube

2. Head to the Grand Canyon of the East - Letchworth State Park - This an over 2 hour drive, along the Thruway, but worth every minute. You'll see some color as you drive, but you'll have your breath taken away by the spectacular views at Letchworth. You'll definitely want to get out of your car and walk around.

Credit: NYS Parks
Credit: NYS Parks

3. Visit Whiteface Mountain - The scenic drive along Route 8 North will offer its own great views, and then once you get to Whiteface, you can take advantage of their scenic gondola ride to really take in the view. You can also reach the summit by car via Memorial Highway.

4. Travel the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail - there's foliage, spectacular views, and wine - it doesn't get much better. The wine trail takes you alongside Cayuga Lake along Route 89, and then you can head over to the many gorges in Ithaca, or head to Watkins Glen State Park.

5. Head to the Catskill Mountains - a longer drive, but you'll be rewarded with sights so stunning, they've inspired artists for centuries. Get to Route 23, and won't be disappointed. There are several stops along the way, like Kaaterskill Creek.

If you'd like to stay local, and maybe walk a little - try some of the fantastic sites explored all summer long - utterly transformed by the changing seasons. Find those hikes HERE.

See the Must-Drive Roads in Every State

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