Southern Connecticut Fall Foliage : 5 of the Best Spots for Leaf Peeping

Autumn in Connecticut is beautiful, and we’re particularly lucky here at Saybrook Point. With the Connecticut River by our side and plenty of hiking in the area, you can admire the fall foliage by boat, car, on foot, and more. To make your Southern Connecticut fall foliage outing a success, we’re pointing out some of the must-stop spots nearby.

Take a Hike: Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, Conn. 

Just 45 minutes from the Point, spend an afternoon amongst the colors of fall at Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, Conn. Whether you grab a seat at a picnic table in the park or set out to explore the woods, the views are beautiful anywhere you’re perched. For the very best sights, hike the scenic 1.5-mile trail to the stone lookout tower.
Sleeping Giant State Park
Photo: Bob P. B. via flickr / CC BY 2.0

Guilford, Conn. – Bishop’s Orchards and the Salt Meadows Sanctuary

Driving through the town of Guilford will yield many photo-worthy stops, but these are two to note in particular. At Bishop’s Orchards, combine foliage views with the seasonal tastes of apples and spices that bring it to life. While you’re in the area, head to the Guilford Salt Meadows Sanctuary for a peaceful foliage walk. The inland tidal area is a crucial habitat for saltmarsh vegetation and species. Take the easy one-mile Anne Conniver Nature Education Trail loop for some good views.

Essex Steam Train

On this Southern Connecticut fall foliage drive, no one has to fight over who gets to be the passenger. Hop aboard a classic locomotive on the Essex Steam Train, and dedicate your attention to sitting back and enjoying the sights. Train routes take passengers through the unspoiled and scenic Connecticut River Valley, where fall’s colors reflect beautifully on the water. Make the trip extra special by booking a seasonal package and adding on an overnight stay and breakfast at the Point. Essex Steam Train

Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, Conn.

Gillette Castle State Park is a must-see stop for Southern Connecticut fall foliage. Despite the name, this titular “castle” is actually a twenty-four room mansion built by actor, director, and playwright William Hooker Gillette. Admire the season here — you’ll be wow-ed with panoramic views of the Connecticut River and the walking paths on this 184-acre estate.

Connecticut River Museum in Essex, Conn.

If there’s one place nearby that can appreciate the Connecticut River, it’s the museum that’s named after it. A trip to the Connecticut River Museum in the fall offers waterfront ways to leaf peep while learning about the area. Get your fill of the scenery on one of the museum’s river cruises, or go at your own pace by renting a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard to motor yourself up and down the river. The first step to planning the perfect Connecticut fall foliage trip is knowing where you’ll be sleeping when the sun goes down. With a room at the Point as your foliage crash pad, you’re free to explore these spots or discover your own hidden leaf peeping vantage point.