Autumn throughout Pittsburgh is certainly spectacular, but the heart of downtown offers somewhat limited views of the bursting fall foliage. Fortunately, Pittsburgh’s convenient location to neighboring lakes, historic landmarks and outdoor adventures deliver fun and unique fall activities. From New York to West Virginia and everywhere in between, there are tons of surrounding spots ideal for soaking up the seasonal sights and sounds. Here are five of the best places within a four-hour drive of downtown Pittsburgh to experience fall colors and fun.
Chautauqua, NY 14757
Chautauqua Lake isn’t just for summertime memories; fall’s bold and bright foliage is the perfect backdrop for all the seasonal fun you can find just north of the city. Whether you prefer biking, birding, boating, hunting, fishing, golfing or relaxing lakeside, you’ll find it all and more at Chautauqua Lake. Book a room at its charming inns and cottages and spend time at the area’s art festivals, nature camps, seasonal celebrations and farmers markets. Reach Chautauqua Lake via a three-hour drive northeast of downtown Pittsburgh.
Gettysburg, PA 17325
The region has suffered from sweltering heat and humidity for much of the summer, leaving many to postpone a trip to Gettysburg’s great outdoors; however, the cooler temperatures of fall coupled with the stunning mountain drive to southeastern Pennsylvania are ideal for soaking in the season’s changing leaves. You’ll be on sensory overload as you gaze upon the countless colored trees that line your easy and pleasurable drive. Reach Gettysburg and you’ll be even more impressed by all the fall fun there is to be had. Wander the battlefields, sip wine at a local winery, stop by a popular fall festival or come in October for a haunting good time. Gettysburg’s many activities are just a 3.5-hour drive from downtown Pittsburgh.
McHenry, MD 21541
Few spots within such a close proximity to Pittsburgh deliver the outstanding displays of fall foliage of Deep Creek Lake. Fire-colored leaves of red, orange and yellow dot the shoreline along this mountain lake as visitors from all along the tristate area flock to nearby downtown Oakland for seasonal celebrations like the annual Autumn Glory Festival, held in early October and named the top fall festival by msn.com. While there, rent a kayak, breathe in the crisp air or simply relax in a beautiful lakeside bed-and-breakfast. Deep Creek Lake is located roughly two hours southeast of downtown Pittsburgh in McHenry, Maryland.
Washington, DC 20001
Your road trip to the nation’s capital will provide some of the most beautiful views of the changing leaves thanks to Washington, DC’s proximity to the Potomac River and the Appalachian Mountains. Take in the vibrant hues of the season as you pass through Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains before arriving in Washington, D.C. where you’ll find a variety of activities to enjoy. For instance, spend time in the great outdoors hiking and exploring at Rock Creek Park or check out a local fall festival, such as a D.C. Brew Tours or the Taste of D.C. feast. With summer tourists clearing out of the city, fall is the perfect time to pack up the car and hit the road to take in the season’s colors at the U.S. National Arboretum, Tudor Place or the U.S. Botanic Garden. A roughly four-hour drive on I-76 E and I-70 E will lead you right into the heart of D.C.
Glen Jean, WV 25846
New River Gorge is a top choice for Pittsburghers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in exchange for the quiet peacefulness of nature. Changing leaves are in abundance in the Glen Jean, West Virginia region where this beautiful gorge is located. Locals note that the majority of foliage is in full effect in late October, which is considered to be the best time to visit. Pitch a tent or rent a cabin and breathe in the beauty of the season on a hike, white water rafting adventure, during Bridge Day Festival, or while biking the numerous trails. New River Gorge is just a four-hour drive south of downtown Pittsburgh via I-79 S and US-19 S.