You can bet your buckeye that Ohio is bursting with fall colors throughout October and even into November each year. From the major metro areas’ hidden parks to Amish Country and the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, fall visitors can choose from 27 scenic byways, each offering unique attractions along the way.
Leaf peeing in Ohio starts in early October in the northern part of the state, and the colors cascade down to the southern edge by late October. You don’t have to wing it, just use the interactive Ohio fall color prediction map.
Start your Ohio fall road trip itinerary with this walkthrough of the best towns along scenic drives with fall vibes.
Related: 10 Can’t-Miss Fall Towns in Ohio
This scenic byway is a pastoral path reminiscent of the early 19th century. The roads weave through rural roads and historic towns. A self-guided tour is available for anyone with a mobile device. Explore all 39 miles of this state scenic byway at your own pace.
Cleveland rocks when it comes to leaf peeping. It also is the beginning (or end) of the nationally recognized Ohio & Erie Canalway Byway.
Nearly 60 communities line the route, from urban to rural. At the turnaround point, visitors can explore the fall wonderland surrounding Schoenbrunn Village, Ohio’s first settlement, church, and school.
Ohio’s past, present, and future are embraced on this scenic byway, and the leaf-peeping makes it that much more of a unique Buckeye experience.
Touted as an Appalachia adventure, the full byway covers nearly 950 miles, but 452 miles are in Ohio. Along this route, you’ll keep the Ohio River in sight, seeing fall colors mixed with river traffic and historic sites. October is one of the most popular months for this byway beauty.
We highly recommend at least going as far as the Scioto Heritage Trail (97 miles) into the state’s largest forest and plethora of Indigenous history. Visitors are rewarded with scenic views of the valley below.
While among the newest national scenic byways, nobody in Ohio was surprised to have Hocking Hills’ famed 26 miles added to the list. Hocking Hills offers some of the best scenery in the state, including a short hike off the byway to Old Man’s Cave and Cedar Falls.
As you drive this route, consider that it was once part of the Atlantic Ocean and was carved by the slow progression of glaciers. Trees and small towns line the route, and you can download the Byway Driving Tour so you don’t miss a single stop along the way.
As autumn paints the landscape with vibrant red, orange, and gold hues, the charm of these historic bridges is accentuated. Fall fun extends through the annual Covered Bridge Festival in mid-October.
This is also Ohio wine country, with more than 30 wineries nearby. Ashtabula is also five miles from the Lake Erie shoreline, where you can connect with the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Byway.
Sandusky shines as an ideal fall destination along the nearly 300-mile Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Byway. Its unique blend of attractions and natural beauty makes it a must-stay town for autumn travelers.
You can extend your road trip to the Lake Erie Islands with a ferry for people, pets, and cars.
The lakeside locale offers stunning fall foliage and serene lake vistas, including the Marblehead Lighthouse. Several fall festivals, including apple orchard events, surround the towns of this beautiful byway.
St. Marys, Ohio
St. Marys is your portal to a bygone era, where cobblestone paths lead to historic homes, and cozy cafes invite you to savor the season’s flavors.
Explore the stunning Grand Lake, where the mirror-like waters reflect the fiery foliage, and embark on tranquil boat rides, immersing yourself in nature’s vibrant canvas.
The leisurely ride on the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches covers nearly 40 miles and passes more than 50 churches on the National Register of Historic Places. The fall foliage embraces the holy nature of this sacred place, with some churches dating back to the mid-1800s.
Nelsonville offers a central location to explore Hocking Hills while starting the 122 miles along the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
This route embraces almost everything mentioned above, including covered bridges, the Hocking River, the Ohio River, and Wayne National Forest, complete with fall foliage-filled roads and covered bridges along the way.
Jeep drivers can take a 100-mile off-road adventure through the autumn landscape.
TRAVEL TIP: Caldwell in Noble County is another great town on this scenic byway, a little more centrally located and offering abundant fall activities county-wide.
Millersburg captivates road trippers in the fall, immersing themselves in the sublime beauty of Amish Country. This picturesque town is the ideal starting point for a memorable journey along the Amish Country Scenic Byway that covers 160 miles in Ohio.
Stroll along Millersburg’s charming streets, where historical buildings and artisan shops invite you to experience fall flavors.
The Amish Country Scenic Byway splays from this centrally-located city in five directions. Before you know it, you’re on rolling roads that reveal lush farmlands, horse-drawn buggies, and golden-hued foliage. The clip-clop of horses’ hooves adds a timeless rhythm to the journey.
Indulge in homemade pies, fresh produce, and handcrafted goods at local markets. Immerse yourself in Amish culture through visits to working farms and quilt shops.
Gallipolis, an enchanting town along the Welsh Scenic Byway, beckons autumn travelers with a tapestry of vibrant foliage and rich cultural experiences. Plus, famed farms and restauranteur Bob Evans personally invites you to visit.
You’ll get the bonus of colors cascading along the Ohio River in Gallipolis, and then as you explore the 64-mile Welsh Scenic Byway, you’ll find a blend of churches, farms, and burial grounds that take on a colorful spectrum in autumn’s glow. This is yet another way to showcase the rich immigrant history of the Buckeye State.
Rio Grande still embraces the Bob Evans Homestead, and mid-October brings the Bob Evans Farm Festival. Outside of that event, you can explore the farm, eat at the restaurant on-site, and soak in the hospitality only Bob Evans can offer.
“Down on the farm, we have one rule to live by: treat strangers like friends, and friends like family.” – Bob Evans
Mansfield awakens with a rustic charm as autumn’s embrace highlights two amazing men who helped make fall as fantastic as we know it to be today.
The historic Malabar State Farm was once home to the renowned author and garden enthusiast Louis Bromfield. It’s perhaps no confidence that the book earning him a Pulitzer was named “Early Autumn.” The estate’s sprawling fields burst with a kaleidoscope of fall colors.
Then, take a drive on the 30-mile Johnny Appleseed Historic Byway; you follow the footsteps of the legendary Johnny Appleseed himself, an American pioneer who spread apple orchards across the frontier. Leaf peeping just seems a little more vibrant while holding a freshly picked apple.
Waynesville makes the perfect fall destination for the Quaker Scenic Byway, which crosses 60 miles of undeveloped land and has a simple life with stunning fall colors.
Autumn also brings the annual Sauerkraut Festival, a beloved tradition celebrating all things sauerkraut, from delectable dishes to artisan crafts.
More than seven tons of sauerkraut are served among 30 food booths and 450 craft vendors.
As you explore Waynesville’s quaint streets, you’ll discover historic buildings, boutique shops, and cozy cafes.
The Quaker Scenic Byway showcases the beauty of Southwestern Ohio, winding through landscapes that evoke a sense of peace and tranquility. You can stop at charming towns, like Wilmington, home of the original banana split.
Ohio Loves Fall
Autumn is also when the famed buckeye falls from the trees. They are covered in a leathery shell and, once revealed, are said to resemble a deer’s eye (a “buck” eye). Carrying one in your pocket is said to bring good luck.
Don’t eat the nuts or seeds, as they are poisonous. However, you’ll find plenty of edible buckeye treats along the Ohio Buckeye Candy Trail.
Ohio embraces the transition to fall, offering festivals and activities throughout the month. With 75 state parks, you can also parlay a drive into a guided tour of fall trails. You won’t find a boring corner of this brilliant season in the Buckeye State.