While Vermont and New Hampshire might get more national attention for their beautiful displays of fall foliage, residents of Northeast Ohio know that our autumn colors are just as breathtaking. Our slice of paradise is bursting with sprawling parkland, sparkling lakes, wooded roadways and trails where you can get a taste of our seasonal beauty—you just have to know where to go.
We rounded up 12 of our favorite places to see fall foliage in the area—including some parks, waterfalls and covered bridges—so grab your camera and get ready to fall in love with Ohio all over again!
Note: Most of Ohio’s best fall colors occur in the middle of October, but you can still see some leaves changing all throughout September. For the most accurate prediction, check out this fall foliage map from the Smoky Mountains National Park website.
Photo courtesy of Richard McBride via the Ashtabula Covered Bridge Festival
Nestled in the extreme northeast corner of Ohio, Ashtabula County is chock full of stunning places to view fall leaves, due to its dense deciduous forests and sparse population. For the best views, drive south on State Road 534 from Geneva to Windsor, where you’ll be treated to miles and miles of vineyards as well as two of the county’s 19 covered bridges. We recommend visiting on the second weekend of October when the Ashtabula County hosts their annual Covered Bridge Festival—full of entertainment, rides, games and a festive parade!
The Bedford Reservation, nestled just above the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Bedford, features a deep gorge carved out by Tinker’s Creek, full of picturesque vistas and waterfalls. In the forests, you’ll find mature trees adorned with yellow, orange and green and other abundant wildlife. The area also offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, picnicking and horseback riding. But to get the most out of your scenic visit, we recommend heading straight to the overlook along Gorge Parkway, which boasts one of the best views in Northeast Ohio.
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This centrally located national park is just a short distance from Cleveland and Akron, but its many acres of untouched scenery and countless species of plants and wildlife make it feel like it’s worlds away. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is perhaps the most popular outdoor destination in the state, and frequently makes lists of “must-visit” parks in the country. During the fall, this is even more true! The trees explode into color, providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere for leisurely hikes and picnics. If you’re interested in taking a hike while you’re there, make sure to check out our complete guide to hiking in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park!
This popular, outdoorsy destination is filled with some of the most interesting scenery in the country, from breathtaking sandstone cliffs and waterfalls to caves and colorful forests. During the day, you can hike, bike and fish your way around the hills, or visit the charming towns nearby. And while locals and visitors alike flock to Hocking Hills for the camping, we highly recommend booking a cabin for a weekend or longer. Most of these cabins are outfitted with hot tubs, fireplaces, hammocks and spectacular views (of course). On your way, don’t miss out on the chance to stop by Ohio’s Ravenwood Castle, which has repeatedly been named one of the coolest destinations in the state.
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If a visit to the Holden Arboretum isn’t on the top of your fall to-do list, then stop everything you’re doing and head over right now. This famous arboretum is practically an outdoor playground that features cultivated gardens, trails and interesting attractions like the Murch Canopy Walk and the Kalberer Family Emergent Tower, which stands 120 feet above the forest floor. Not only will you have a blast exploring all of the interesting fauna among the bright autumn colors, but you’ll also be able to stand in the trees and catch a breathtaking view from above. Need we say more?
Holmes County, the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country, is certainly one of the most charming places in the state. On any given day, a leisurely walk or drive in the area will reveal narrow, winding roads, horse-drawn carriages, roadside farm stands, wavy fields of corn and a variety of beautiful trees. During the autumn months, these trees (including maples, oaks and buckeyes) explode into vibrant reds, oranges and yellows, transforming the county into something out of a fairy tale. But don’t take our word for it—according to National Geographic, Holmes County is one of the top 10 places in the world to see fall foliage.
If you’re not ready to give up the fun of summer quite yet—don’t worry, we get it. Head out to Lake Erie Bluffs on the coast, which offers the perfect mix of summertime lake activities and scenic fall views. If it isn’t too cold, you can take a kayak or canoe out on the water and experience the shoreline views of trees and trails first hand. There’s also a 50-foot observation tower where you can get a 360-degree perspective of Lake Erie and the best of Ohio’s natural fall beauty!
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Lanterman’s Mill dates back to 1845 and is recognized as one of Mahoning County’s most historic landmarks—and one of its most picturesque! The mill sits adjacent to the Mahoning River and overlooks Lanterman’s Falls, which makes for a great photo from the outside. But don’t leave without venturing in—the mill still offers stone-ground flours and gifts to the public, and is staffed by knowledgeable people who can inform you about the history of the area!
If you want to find a place to enjoy the season within the city, pay a visit to the Cleveland Cultural Gardens in Rockefeller Park just outside of Cleveland. The lush grounds host more than 30 gardens, all designed and cultivated by distinct cultural or nationality groups, representing the diversity and multiculturalism of the city. The area is even more gorgeous in the fall when trees all over the park turn a startling bright yellow and shed their leaves. The gardens are often driven through rather than explored by foot and admission is free!
Photo courtesy of Kyle Lanzer via Cleveland Metroparks
Cleveland Magazine calls the Rocky River Reservation one of the best places in the state to view fall leaves, and we tend to agree! The reservation includes a nature center, marina and stables along with interesting hiking trails so you can see the fall foliage up close. While you’re there, make sure to take advantage of the Fort Hill Stairs, which ascend 90-feet above the east and west branches of the Rocky River, providing an optimal view of the area’s fall foliage.
Perhaps the most picturesque destination in Cleveland, the ruins of Squire’s Castle stand proudly in the heart of the North Chagrin Reservation. After a hike in the woodlands (or a rousing game of golf at the Manakiki Golf Course), set out a picnic in front of the castle. From here you can admire the beautiful architecture, soak in the autumn sunshine, and capture pictures of the colorful foliage. While there, make sure to share the story of builder Feargus B. Squire, whose wife supposedly still haunts the grounds.
Photo courtesy of the Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
Built in 1915, the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens is a spectacular example of architecture from the era. The home once belonged to the founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Frank Seiberling, but was opened to the public after his passing. It now stands as a beloved Akron landmark and has even received the title of “best historic home tour in America” by the readers of USA Today. Tour the house and marvel at the antique furniture and detailing, but don’t miss out on a turn through the gardens. During the fall months, a picnic outside allows you to view the marvelous mansion and the surrounding color all at once.
What did we miss?
Did we leave out your favorite spot in Northeast Ohio to see fall colors? Let us know in the comments!