It’s difficult to find a scene more awe-inspiring than a mosaic of millions of fire-red, sunset-orange, and golden-yellow leaves.
Indeed, autumn is a magical time of year for many reasons, but leaf peeping is one of the best.
There’s no better place to experience this fun seasonal activity than the heart of New England! Connecticut fall foliage is one of our favorite parts of autumn.
Below, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about fall foliage in Connecticut.
Check-out our guide before you plan your trip to see Connecticut Fall Foliage!
Guide to Connecticut Fall Foliage
- Connecticut Scenic Drives to See Autumn Foliage
- Connecticut Fall Foliage Day Trips
- When is Leaf Peeping Season in Connecticut?
- More Fall Foliage Activities
Your Ultimate Guide to Connecticut Fall Foliage
One of the locals’ favorite things to do during fall in Connecticut is to enjoy some leaf peeping! New England is one of the best places in the country to watch the leaves change, after all. Due to our high population of deciduous trees and cooler winter climate, our fall foliage is truly a sight to behold.
Where to Experience Connecticut Leaf Peeping
As the Gateway to New England, many people like to begin their leaf peeping adventure in Greenwich before heading deeper into Connecticut or the rest of New England.
In a typical year, peak fall foliage hits the northwest and northeast corners of the state in mid-October. The season ends around early November, when peak foliage creeps to the Connecticut shoreline and lower Connecticut River Valley.
This writer is a little cagey with exact time frames, as it depends on such variables as:
- Drought conditions
- Acts of God
That said, Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection provides a weekly foliage update report on fall foliage conditions.
Trust the state foresters on this one.
Connecticut Scenic Drives to See Autumn Foliage
Despite being a tiny state, Connecticut has a lot of variety packed into its less than 5,000 square miles of land area.
Map design by Stanton House Inn
Some of our favorite scenic Connecticut fall foliage driving routes include:
Connecticut’s Beautiful Merritt Parkway
The Merritt Parkway is without a doubt one of the top Connecticut fall foliage driving routes. This historic limited-access parkway is located in Fairfield County and is known for its scenic landscape, especially in the cooler months. The Merritt, as it’s known locally, runs from the New York state line in Greenwich to the Housatonic River in Stratford.
Limited-access on this National Scenic Byway just means that trucks and buses can’t drive on it due to the low historic bridges that cross it. The Art Deco bridges were built when the Merritt Parkway opened, in the 1930s and early 1940s. In my opinion, limited-access translates to a more relaxing drive.
Fall Activities Along the Merritt Parkway
For those looking to go farther afield in their efforts to go leaf peeping in CT, you can head up to Round Hill Road and visit the Audubon Center before driving north on the Merritt Parkway. Along the Merritt are plenty of places to stop and get a closer look at fall foliage in Connecticut, like the Nature Centers in Stamford and New Canaan or the Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens.
Many of these places, like:
- New Canaan Nature Center in New Canaan, CT
- Stamford Nature Center
Are museums with hiking trails, so you can inspect the beautiful leaves for which fall in New England is so well known. You can stop in Easton and check-out Silverman’s Farm for apple picking and Devil’s Den Preserve for a great hike, or continue on the Merritt all the way to Trumbull and beyond.
I-684 to 84
The fastest way to get from Greenwich to Danbury and parts north of there is via I-684 to I-84. You actually have to leave the state of Connecticut, head south, then double back and cross through northern Westchester County.
While not exactly a Connecticut drive, it is still a scenic one, especially in the Autumn. And when you finish, you’ll be close to the starting point of the next Connecticut scenic driving opportunity on the list.
Connecticut Fall Foliage Day Trips
There are a ton of adorable towns to visit for a fall day trip.
Some of the most well-known places to check-out are the small mountain towns in Litchfield County, the Berkshires of Connecticut.
A few of our absolute favorite fall foliage drives are below, but check the full guide of CT fall foliage driving routes for all the top picks. The full list includes the Connecticut River Loop, and a scenic coastal drive along Long Island Sound.
Map design by Stanton House Inn
Litchfield Hills Scenic Driving Routes
One of the first fall drives people in Greenwich think of is up to Litchfield County. While the drive can be long, you’ll feel like you’re in a different world compared to the Connecticut shoreline. The towns of the Litchfield Hills are smaller and still have their quaint little downtowns.
Those classic images of a town green with white church steeples, all surrounded by wild autumn colors? You’ll find those shots a plenty in the cute Connecticut towns of Litchfield County.
Head from Greenwich up to either the towns of Litchfield or Kent. From either starting point, meander on the roads up to close to the Massachusetts border, including North Canaan, East Canaan, and Norfolk.
You can extend the trip to see the historic downtown district of Torrington, CT. But even if you don’t, there’s plenty to see along the way. Some famous points of interest include some of the best state parks in Connecticut, plus some other unique spots:
- Kent Falls State Park
- Bull’s Bridge, a covered bridge over the Housatonic River
- Mount Tom State Park
- Macedonia Brook State Park
- Sloane-Stanley Museum
- Mohawk State Forest
- Lake Waramaug State Park
Upper Connecticut River Valley
Hartford and Wethersfield get most of the attention in this corner of the state surrounding Hartford County. And yet Simsbury is ideally suited as a fall foliage destination.
While Simsbury is one of the most charming towns in the state, the major draw in the fall is Talcott Mountain State Park.
An intense hike up the mountain leads to Bavarian-style tower, the Heublein Tower, perched above the Farmington River Valley. The sweeping views of the valley extend to several nearby states on a very clear day.
While this is one of the best hiking trails in Connecticut anytime of year, it’s especially fantastic for autumn colors.
New Haven, Connecticut, Fall Foliage Trip
New Haven is a draw any time of the year for its diverse restaurant and arts scene and the Yale University campus.
The list of things to do in New Haven, Connecticut, is always lengthy, regardless of the weather.
But the historic Yale campus is especially pretty when punctuated with the brilliant colors of Fall.
And a hike up Sleeping Giant State Park in nearby Hamden will provide an amazing view from the lookout tower. While Hammonasset Beach State Park isn’t famous for fall foliage, the waterfront walk is still lovely. And that goes for anytime of year.
Essex, CT, Fall Foliage
A little past New Haven is Essex, Connecticut. This little town on the Connecticut River is surrounded by cute towns to explore during the fall foliage season.
But Essex is a huge draw because of the fall foliage train rides and steamboat rides offered there. If you can snag fall foliage train ride tickets, it’s worth the trip for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Continue on to Mystic to enjoy the best attractions and activities for the rest of your Fall afternoon.
Driving inland from Mystic is an entire day trip in and of itself!
Head towards Lisbon, Connecticut, and nearby Pachaug State Forest. The largest state forest in the state, Pachaug State Forest spans six towns.
The main attraction here is the view from the top of Mount Misery.
Afterwards, head to Lisbon and drive north on Route 169, one of the top Connecticut fall foliage driving routes you’ll find anywhere here.
Local Greenwich Scenic Bike Ride or Drive
If you’d like to stay in town, just joyriding past Greenwich mansions surrounded by fall colors is a great way to spend an afternoon.
For those looking to stay close to us here when they visit Greenwich, we’ve got a driving itinerary in mind as well as one for those looking to go further afield and experience more of what this corner of Connecticut has to offer. The one that doesn’t go traipsing across Connecticut is also possible to take by bike, by the way, you just need to be fairly in shape, as the hills in Greenwich are no joke.
Exploring the Hills of Back Greenwich
As I’m including a map of the route, I’m going to be fairly vague with written directions on this Connecticut fall foliage driving tour.
If you’re biking, I would recommend biking first over to Glenville, another neighborhood in town, before getting on King Street, which travels the border between New York State and Greenwich.
Follow King Street north of the Merritt Parkway on one of the least steeply-inclined roads in town until you turn right on Bedford Street to head into Armonk, New York. From there (the highest point on the trip, by the way), it’s a relatively easy ride, mostly downhill back to Stanton House Inn through lovely horse farms, old Greenwich mansions, colonial homes and the colors of autumn.
When Is Peak Leaf-Peeping Season?
Everyone knows that the beautiful, warm hues of fall foliage are fleeting. Luckily, Connecticut boasts the longest foliage season in New England! Though each year brings some variation in peak leaf peeping times, you can generally expect the best, most reliable color between mid-September and late-October. Be sure to check the Connecticut Fall Foliage Report for real-time updates!
Activities to Enhance Your Connecticut Fall Foliage Experience
Driving isn’t the only way to see the best fall spots in Connecticut. Some of our favorite fall outdoor activities to enjoy the foliage include:
One of the best places to spot fall foliage is from the vantage point of a Connecticut hiking trail! There’s no better place to begin your adventure past scenic vistas and rolling valleys than Greenwich.
There are few activities that scream “fall” more than apple picking!
One of the best things about Connecticut in the fall is the opportunity to pick your own delicious fruit straight from the tree.
There are several places near Greenwich to do so. In the town of Easton, you’ll find Silverman’s Farm, where you’ll find a u-pick orchard as well as live animals, tractor rides, and musical performances. For fresh maple syrup and fantastic apple-picking, Warrup’s Farm in West Redding is another popular spot in the fall. There are also many apple orchards over the border in New York State.
And don’t forget the other major fall activities, like:
- Getting lost in Connecticut corn mazes
- Picking the perfect pumpkin at pumpkin patches throughout Connecticut
There are many annual events that take place in Greenwich, and Connecticut, each fall.
The Bruce Museum Outdoor Arts Festival is a tradition locals and visitors alike anticipate. This 2-day event celebrates local artists and showcases their work. Browse paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, mixed-media pieces, and photography as you get to know the artists. You may even fall in love with one of their masterpieces!
Want more options? There are several different fall festivals in Connecticut to attend.
Another one of our favorites is the Bridgeport Harvest Festival. It takes place 40 minutes northeast of Greenwich in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Find even more opportunities for enjoying the fall foliage in Connecticut
Want to keep planning your fall getaway?
A few more potential fall itineraries to plan around depend on your interests:
- Wineries along the Connecticut Wine Trail
- The best breweries across Connecticut
- The most haunted places in the entire state of Connecticut
- Great Connecticut date ideas, including a fall-themed pick or two
Or, start your research with our definitive guide to fall in Connecticut.
We hope you enjoy wherever the road takes you!
Updated and republished: July 12, 2023