Everything You Need to Know About Connecticut Fall Foliage

connecticut fall foliage along a meadowIt’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 it.

Check-out our guide before you plan your trip to see Connecticut Fall Foliage!

Guide to Connecticut Fall Foliage

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.

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. 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.

Many of these places, like:

  • The Greenwich Audubon Center
  • New Canaan Nature Center
  • Stamford Nature Center

Are museums with hiking trails for you to 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 drive 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.

But there are places in the state closer to Greenwich, and New York City. Some of our favorite destinations for Connecticut day trips include: New Haven, Mystic, and Hartford.

Litchfield Hills Scenic Drive

connecticut farm in the fallOne 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 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 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 Torrington, CT’s historic downtown district. But even if you don’t, there’s plenty to see along the way. Some famous points of interest include:

  • Kent Falls State Park
  • Bull’s Bridge, a covered bridge over the Housatonic River
  • Mount Tom State Park
  • Macedonia Book State Park
  • Sloane-Stanley Museum
  • Mohawk State Forest
  • Lake Waramaug State Park
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.

But the historic Yale campus is especially pretty when punctuated with the brilliant colors of Fall.

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!

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 activities to enjoy the foliage include:

Hiking

connecticut fall foliage around squantz pond near danbury, ctOne 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. The Babcock Preserve, Audubon Greenwich, and Devil’s Den Preserve are all perfect places to spot some of nature’s most beautiful leaf displays this fall.

Apple Picking

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.

Event-Going

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, which takes place 40 minutes northeast of Greenwich.