These Cruises May Be the Best Way to See Fall Foliage

Sit back and enjoy the views.

American Queen river boat cruise in Memphis during autum

On fall foliage road trips, the journey is the destination, but why not make the journey as carefree and hands-off as possible? Hop aboard a leaf-peeping cruise with American Queen Voyages, and you can skip the navigating, route planning, and long hours of driving. Instead, your adventure could look like sailing between quaint towns with stunning fall foliage and plenty of time to explore at stops along the way.

Nothing officially separates an American Queen Voyages leaf-peeping cruise from a non-leaf-peeping cruise; what sets it apart is simply the time of year in which it takes place. Book a fall sailing and you can hit the best leaf-peeping spots at peak season — and do it from the cozy stateroom of your small-ship river or ocean cruise for a unique experience.

American Queen river boat cruise on the Mississippi river at sunset

Courtesy of Hornblower Cruises

One option is the Montreal to Chicago route, which hits Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the southern Canadian coast, including overnight stays in Toronto and Mackinac Island. But you’ll have to plan pretty far in advance, as the September 2022 voyage has passed, with the next one slated for September 2024.

Boston to Saint John, New Brunswick, sails twice in October 2022 and twice in October 2023. Along this route, you’ll catch classic New England fall foliage from the water while cruising along the coast. The fiery fall colors of Bar Harbor, Maine, contrasting with the steep granite cliffs of the Acadia National Park region is a sight to behold toward the end of the journey.

While the New England area is a crowd favorite for fall foliage, the Pacific Northwest has some gorgeous seasonal scenery, too, and the Spokane to Portland route has available dates through November 2022 (and into 2023 and 2024 as well). 

As the four-deck American Empress — the largest overnight riverboat west of the Mississippi — sails along the Columbia River, the vivid colors are never out of sight for long; every day, passengers will find themselves surrounded by spruce and pine forests, rolling vineyard hills, or groves of cherry trees. Best of all, each stateroom comes with a window, and many also have a veranda for your own private viewing of one of nature’s best shows. And when you disembark in Portland, make sure to check out the Portland Japanese Garden for yellows, oranges, and reds straight out of a storybook.

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