Leaf Peeping 101: Tips for Experiencing the Beauty of Fall

I grew up in Upstate New York (actually, it’s technically Central New York but most people associate anything above the city as “upstate” and I’m wayyy upstate from Westchester or Orange County). I still live in the small town where I went to high school and while we don’t have oceanside beaches or a thriving night life, my part of the world does autumn – and it does it well.

Where I live, there are pumpkin patches and apple orchards literally everywhere. Local farmers are eager to sell dried cornstalks for your front porch decor and gallons of freshly-pressed local cider line every grocery store’s front display. Aside from the food and fall activities, we have the ultimate privilege of being treated to vibrant orange, red and yellow leaves as the landscape says goodbye to summer and transitions into cooler weather. Of all the fall activities, leaf peeping is one of my favorites.

What is Leaf Peeping?

Leaf peeping is a term used to refer to the act of traveling to view and photograph fall foliage. It’s an especially common term in New England, an area known for its vibrant fall colors!

Where Can I Go Leaf Peeping?

Leaf peeping is really popular in New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island) and also in the West. As mentioned above, I live in New York and have also enjoyed leaf peeping in my local area every year.

Big Cozy Fall Leaf Sweater & Maternity Jeans

How Do I Go Leaf Peeping?

Interested in going leaf peeping this fall? Keep reading for my top seven tips for making the most of the experience!

7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Leaf-Peeping Experience

Do Your Research

If you don’t live in an area known for leaf peeping, then you’ll want to do your research on where to go. Once you have identified a travel destination, read weather reports to find out when that location will be experiencing peak color. Be diligent in your research – peak color doesn’t last long and you won’t want to miss it!

Bring a Camera

Camera phones are great but they’re definitely not the same as a real camera! Set your camera settings to RAW (you’ll capture so many more details this way) and snap away. Take more photos than you think you need – you’d be surprised how photos snapped seconds apart can be vastly different – and have fun editing after-the-fact. My favorite photo editing software is Adobe Lightroom. While the desktop version comes at a price, their app is also amazing and (bonus) free!

Pack Snacks

If you’re planning to be on the road for a while, don’t forget to bring water and snacks! You don’t want your hunger to get in the way of taking in the beautiful foliage. Granola bars, trail mix and peanut butter filled pretzels are some of my favorite road snacks. If you’re able to bring a small cooler, cheese sticks, yogurt and fruit are also healthful, satisfying options.

Don’t Be Afraid to Pull Over

You’ll get way more out of your leaf-peeping experience if you are willing to pull over on the side of the road and take in the color. Don’t rush the experience! Just be sure to use your blinker well in advance of pulling over and be mindful of traffic when exiting your vehicle. I always like to walk out away from the road so that I don’t have to worry about safety when I have my eye to my camera’s viewfinder.

Dress in Layers

While you may be cozy and warm in your car, if you get out to take photos you may want to throw on a jacket or sweater. Depending on what state you’re in, leaf peeping season can be chilly! This Leaf Peeper sweater is not only fantastically appropriate for the fall outing but its wool composition will also keep you warm and dry in the brisk (and sometimes rainy) fall weather.

Pack an Umbrella

Don’t let rain deter you – overcast skies can actually make for some really beautiful photos! Pack a raincoat and an umbrella and power through!

Live in the Moment

Make your experience especially hygge by putting your phone away and living in the moment. Don’t worry about taking video clips for your Stories or Snapchatting your BFF. Instead, take this time to truly appreciate the beauty of nature and the phenomenon that is fall foliage.

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