Boston's leafy outskirts are lovely in the fall. The city looks stunning with crimson and golden colors of the season. Local tour operators offer guided fall foliage tours across New England—to Cape Cod, the Maine coast, and New Hampshire villages. There are also plenty of excellent places for leaf peeping in Boston itself. You can discover beautiful parks and forests on your own or join a fall foliage tour.
The Public Garden
The Public Garden, nestled in the heart of Boston proper, is America’s first botanical garden. As fall descends upon the city, the leaves in the garden are some of the first to turn. Japanese maples are the champions of the season as they tend to turn red early on. The Public Garden hosts a diverse array of trees, so the leaves of the different species change colors at different rates and times. So, be ready to see a different layout each time you walk through the park. For even more striking views, go to the footbridge across the lagoon in the heart of the garden. Another attraction in the park is the cute Make Way for Ducklings statues close the northeast corner, near Beacon Street. Cost: Free Where to stay: Boston's fall foliage colors will be right at your door when you stay at one of the hotels overlooking the Public Garden or just around the corner. Some hotel rooms have fireplaces, making your stay even cozier. Staying in the area also gives a quick access to the top theaters and restaurants of Boston.
The iconic Boston Esplanade is a long, narrow park that stretches along the Charles River between the Museum of Science and the Boston University Bridge. When fall is in full swing, this three-mile-long pedestrian park turns gold and orange in October. Some of the best fall foliage views can be spotted from the footbridges that connect the river bank with "The Island." You can go for a walk, a run, or a bike ride along one of the river paths of the Esplanade and enjoy reflections of the stunning hues in the water. In mid-October, you can also cheer participants of the Head of the Charles Regatta (remote event in 2020), Boston's biggest rowing event on the Charles River. Cost: Free Where to stay: Beacon Hill, within a ten-minute walk from the Esplanade, boasts a wide choice of hotels from luxury to more affordable options. This area also offers lots of dining options. There are several accommodations along Beacon Street, just a block or two away from the Esplanade.
Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
Arnold Arboretum puts on a magnificent display of Boston fall foliage throughout the month of October. The Arboretum is open every day from sunrise to sunset and offers free admission. The area features over 15,000 trees and shrubs, all contributing to the fall foliage symphony of Arnold Arboretum. You can get there by bus, subway, or car. Cost: Free Where to stay: Jamaica Plain neighborhood, where the Arboretum is nestled, is home to well-educated professionals and artists. There is a significant Spanish-speaking population, so you can find lots of Latin owned businesses here. Most folks congregate around Centre Street with an eclectic mix of independently owned shops and restaurants.
Mount Auburn Cemetery
A bit further from Boston's city center, you can find Mount Auburn Cemetery, which boasts some 5,000 trees of about 630 species. One of the best spots in Massachusetts for fall foliage, Mount Auburn Cemetery is located to the north of Boston, in Cambridge. Mount Auburn's wooded rolling hills are known as America's first garden cemetery—what a place for a pensive stroll! The cemetery hosts seasonal walking tours to observe the best of the fall foliage. Moreover, Memorial Drive (Mem Drive to locals) close by is another good place for a peaceful walk since it's closed to traffic on Sundays between Western Avenue and Mount Auburn Street until mid-November. Cost: Free Where to stay: There are several accommodation options in the Mount Auburn area to choose from. Otherwise, you can easily get there by bike, subway, or car.
The best time for leaf peeping in Boston
The fall foliage display starts in late September and continues into early November. October is the best time for a walk as fall colors peak and the weather is still pleasant. Fall colors paint Boston's landscapes at a different times each year. The first splashes of color are visible during the second or third week in September. In some years, leaves start to turn even earlier in the month, especially if the summer months were rather dry. By early October, leaves expose all shades and hues of yellow, red, orange, and eventually brown. Fall colors peak in Boston in mid-October, but again, each year it might happen a week earlier or later. At this beautiful time of year about 50% of leaves turn gold or crimson. By mid-November, vibrant colors may be gone, but you still might be lucky to see plenty of subdued colors before winter takes over.
When planning your fall trip to Boston, make sure to book a place close to the most scenic spots like The Public Garden, the Esplanade, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, or the Mount Auburn area.