Poll any group of people on their favorite season, and one of the top answers will most likely be fall. As humans, we have an innate need to recognize and celebrate the changing of the seasons, and fall provides one of the most spectacular shows for our appreciation. While Delaware is rich with state parks and city parks exhibiting beautiful fall foliage, we’ve collected a list of just a few of our favorite spots so you can observe nature’s magnificent show. Pro tip: the leaves in Delaware typically reach their color peak in mid to late October.
Brandywine Valley National Scenic Byway
One of Delaware’s most famous driving routes for fall foliage is the Brandywine Valley National Scenic Byway, which starts in downtown Wilmington and wends its way to the Pennsylvania state line. Along the way, you’ll pass several important sites spanning three centuries of American industrial history, but you’ll also enjoy long stretches of rural roads surrounded by trees with fiery leaves.
The drive will take approximately an hour, so be sure to enjoy the moment by packing your favorite snacks, a picnic, and a thermos of tea or coffee to enjoy along the way! You can find a map of the Byway here, along with details on nearby cultural attractions like the Historic Inn at Montchanin Village, the Delaware Museum of Natural History, the Hagley Museum and Library, Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, and more. Once you cross the border into Pennsylvania, the route continues as the Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway. Driving this route is a wonderful way to explore a beautiful display of fall foliage while traveling safely.
Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel
If you prefer to enjoy the colors with a glass of wine in hand, we know the perfect place. Established in 2010, Harvest Ridge Winery is a family farm winery nestled in the countryside of Marydel, DE. The Delaware tasting room is open Sunday through Thursday from 12pm to 5pm and Friday through Saturday from 12pm to 8pm, and you’ll find selections to satisfy every palette, from sweet wines to red wines to dry wines. (Be sure to sample one glass of their best seller - Blue Hen Blue.)
The view from the winery is as exquisite and delightful as the taste of the wine itself, as the property spans Delaware and Maryland. In fact, the winery houses one of the original witness stones and crown markers of the Mason-Dixon. And in case you have any doubt that the tasting room is a special place to observe fall foliage, look no further than the winery’s logo itself, which depicts the large and distinctive tree at the front of the property. Be sure to check their website for all of their current COVID operating procedures before you visit.
Delaware Water Gap
The Delaware Water Gap is an idyllic area where the Delaware River flows through the Blue Mountains/Kittatinny Ridge on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You’ll want to plan for a full day trip or a weekend getaway, because there’s a lot to explore. The National Recreation Area encompasses 40 miles of the river, 67,000 acres of forested mountains, more than 100 miles of hiking trails along mountaintops, ridges, and streams, 27 miles of the Appalachian Trail, more than 100 miles of beautiful roadways, and diverse terrain like waterfalls, ravines, floodplains, valleys, and agricultural fields that have been used as farmland for generations.
Most of the park is open 24/7, while areas like trailhead parking lots and picnic areas are open from sunrise to sunset. The park offers four campgrounds to accommodate tent and RV sites (some with electric and water hook ups), primitive campground sites, camping areas for Appalachian Trail hikers, and river camping for canoers and kayakers. You can see details about all campsites here. We also recommend referencing their main webpage for details on fees, accessibility, safety, things to do, and more. Needless to say, with such an incredibly large and diverse park, the scenery is an outstanding place to observe fall foliage.
Please note that some of the park facilities are temporarily closed due to COVID-19. In accordance with health and legal guidelines, the park is increasing access and services by phases, so be sure to check the park website for the latest details as you plan your trip.
The Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania
Near the Delaware Water Gap is the forested Pocono Mountain range. The range has become the home of popular resorts, getaways, restaurants, a museum, outdoor activities, bed and breakfasts, outlet stores, and so much more. While some of its inns and B&Bs are still operating, there are also plenty of day-trip opportunities for those who prefer to reduce overnight travel during COVID-19.
For example, the Pocono Mountains Blog outlines seven scenic drives that allow you to pass by over 120 species of unique trees and plants. Top drives include Route 6, which has been recognized as one of the top drives in America, Route 402, which winds through the Delaware State Forest, Route 507, which is known as one of the top locations for fall foliage observation, Route 447, which passes many majestic oak and hickory trees, and Route 209, which progresses through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area, among others. See full details here.
Killens Pond State Park
If you’d rather stay local, you need look no farther than Delaware’s own Killens Pond State Park in Felton. This hilly, forested park encircles a 66-acre pond where you can view the foliage from a boat, from the shoreline as you fish, or by hiking the 2.6-mile trail surrounding the pond. From game courts and ball fields to the 18-hole disc golf course, there’s a lot to do in the park, so be sure to plan for an afternoon or day trip so you can take advantage of all the park has to offer. There are also plenty of places to picnic as you enjoy the beautiful fall colors mirrored magnificently in the Pond. For Delaware residents, entrance fees are only $4 for a day pass.