North America's Most Charming Fall Islands

Nothing amplifies autumn's fiery Technicolor blaze like an island, with its 360-degree waterfront. For your leaf-peeping pleasure, we present the 12 dreamiest places in North America.


Fascinating dwarf trees, no neon signs or traffic lights, and photo-worthy sunsets make this an intriguing leaf-peeping locale.
About 25 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, Nantucket Island braves strong Atlantic headwinds, a likely reason why its trees never reach great heights. Beech and oak trees that normally tower above the ground on the mainland reach only a few feet tall here. For leaf-peepers, this means that the fiery reds and brilliant yellows of fall hug the landscape in a unique way. The island's location east of the mainland also presents a westerly ocean panorama found almost nowhere else on the East Coast—it's a view that is sensational any time of day, but especially at sunset. Before sundown, rent a bike and loop through the cobblestoned carriageways of the island's downtown, emptied of summertime beachcombers, and admire the 800 or so mostly gray-shingled homes and shops built between 1740 and 1840. Young's Bicycle Shop, open since 1931, rents bikes from $10 a day. For local flavor, try to visit during the Harvest Fair on October 1 or the cranberry festival taking place October 8.

Timing Tip: Foliage peaks around the third week of October. Follow the changes on
the state's foliage website.

Get There: From Hyannis, several ferries serve Nantucket, such as the Steamship
Authority‚ a one-hour high-speed ferry that sails back and forth year round. steamshipauthority.com, $35 for adults, $18 for kids 5–12.


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