Anyone who’s been in Pennsylvania during the Summer or fall months has seen the incredible amount of nature we have in Pittsburgh. For that reason, it’s not a surprise that Pennsylvania is one of the best states in the U.S. to catch some beautiful fall foliage.
Like many, fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year, my only complain though is that it goes by way too fast. Don’t you agree? What I’ve learned to do as I just hit my four-year anniversary in this city (yay for me!!) is to prepare ahead of time by making a list of the places I absolutely want to see. Fall is also one of my busiest seasons of the year, and part of what I like to do for my lovely clients is to be updated and give them the proper recommendations of the best spots to go for fall photos and fall activities. That’s why I want to share these places with you all, so you can too, enjoy them and take as many photos as you want.
We’re so good at complaining about the winter months, but we have a huge advantage because Pennsylvania longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state in the nation. I bet you didn’t know that! Looking at it that way, we can be thankful we’re in the steel city to enjoy the parks, valleys and hillsides, which turn from beautiful shades of greens to vibrant reds, oranges and yellows that will make you feel like you’re in a completely different place.
Let’s make sure you’re in awe by the end of the Fall season and you can share with me what were your favorite parts.
I’ll start by giving you the locations that are in the city of Pittsburgh, which you can locally visit any afternoon after work while we still have long days and then I’ll share with you the ones that are 30-60 minutes away from the city so you can take a day out of the weekend to go explore them.
First off, let’s get to the best places to see the fall foliage in the city of Pittsburgh.
You can start off by taking a ride on the Duquesne Incline for breathtaking panoramic views of the city. You’re not only going to be taking in some incredible fall views, but you will be riding the historic incline, which was completed on 1877!
You have options, and if you’ve done the Duquesne Incline way too much lately, you can also try the Monongahela Incline: A Pittsburgh Icon, which was done in 1870!
I like to go explore either Mount Washington (Allentown) stop for a bite or get some ice cream if that’s where the Dusquene incline dropped you off, or if you decide to take the Monongahela incline from Mt. Washington to the South shore into station square you can to do a nice dinner at the Grand Concourse and later get a drink at one of the bars and then take a walk along the three rivers heritage trail and watch the city as it gets dark. The view you will get not only of the city, but of the Smithfield Street Bridge is incredible, trust me!
If you rather do this earlier and get a more outdoorsy experience, you can ride your bike the Allegheny Passage. Like I said, we have plenty of options!
Point State Park
The Point where the three rivers meet: The famous golden triangle that is an icon in Pittsburgh
No matter what your favorite part of the city is or the most iconic place you think represents Pittsburgh best, we have to acknowledge Point State Park. It’s one of the main focal points when it comes to Pittsburgh. I remember seeing the photos before I ever step foot in Pittsburgh and those were the photos that came up the most when I searched this city.
I later understood how important The Point is in Pittsburgh, which is where the three rivers meet, festivals happen, as well as proposals, and a lot more throughout the year. I’ve had the pleasure of taking engagement photos at all seasons of the year and let me tell you, it changes drastically from season to season, but during the fall, it’s just GORGEOUS. All the trees around turned into beautiful colors with the famous bridges that are so important to the city around and Mt. Washington in the distance, it makes it seem like it’s out of a children’s book.
If you go early enough, you will get the best out of the two worlds, the fountain, which is one of Natalia Baqueiro Photography Pittsburgh favorite during the Summer days, and all the fall beauty! It’s the perfect time to get a blanket and spend the afternoon reading while you take in the sunny fall days.
Emerald View Park
Emerald View Park or The Grandview Park as the locals refer to it, is personally one of my all-time favorite places in Pittsburgh. It’s so unique to me, you can be surronded by nature, while you have the Pittsburgh Skyline and if you go at the right time, you also get this amazing sunset that is just perfection. I often think it’s an underrated place not a lot of people know about or tend to overlook. Emerald Park is nestled in Duquesne Heights in Mount Washington and Allentown, trust me when I say this, this park has one of the best Pittsburgh Skyline views.
I’ve done countless wedding proposals and engagement sessions in here, and I like to encourage my clients to have a picnic to make it extra special. If you haven’t been in a little while, I urge you to go at least 2 hours before sunset so you can have the best experience and watch how the sun sets with the city behind it.
Frick Park – Squirrel Hill
If you’re in Pittsburgh, I’m sure you’ve hear about Squirrel Hill, a charming neighborhood, which is home to Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham University. Forbes Ave. is great because you get a diverisity of neighborhoods with Thai, Chinesse, Italian, middle eastern, African and American restaurants that are sure to give you a taste of culture. Every time I’m craving some bubble tea and street photography that’s my go-to neighborhood, and I lived there for some time, I saw how beautiful the trees would get, giving you all of the halloween movie vibes. and features a cluster of indie clothing boutiques, chic decor shops and bookstores.Ah! In one of the best
Frick Park is in this lovely neighborhood and you can seriously enter a different world if you spend half a day here. You can start by taking a hike on the Frick Park Trail Loop, and if you make it to the top, you’ll see a view of Homestead, which is the neighborhood where the Waterfront is. It’s pretty cool to see everything from up there. On your way out, don’t forget to stop by the Frick environment Center and learn more about nature and all the trees you can find in this nature oasis.
Hartwood Acres and Hartwood Mansion
Talk about unique places. The Hartwood Acres was originally designed as a county estate and is now enjoyed by Pittsburghians with different interests, such as hikers, people who are into horseback riding, mountain bikers, and all in all, nature lovers. I personally take advantage of this place by planning family and couple sessions during golden hour year-round, but it’s specially beautiful during the fall, as you can imagine.
If you’re looking for a gorgeous and unique wedding venue, make sure to check out the availability of Hartwood Mansion, it’s something you won’t regret, especially during the fall months. However, make sure you’re quick because it books out pretty quick in advance.
Alright. I must accept that I have a personal preference for North Park and is one of my very favorite places in Allegheny county.
Like I just mentioned, North Park is still located in Allegheny County, even though is more towards the north of the city. I would say it’s about a 35-minute drive from Downtown Pittsburgh, so it’s not bad at all, and it’s totally worth it.
If you’re feeling like making it into a weekend activity, I suggest you have brunch at the Boat House, and later go relax by kayaking or finishing before lunch, which you can have in one of their lovely tables by the water where you can grill some delicious food and have mashmellows with a blanket as you watch the sunset. It’s seriously such a cool place, and it feels like you are somewhere in the woods.
They also have tennis courts, soccer fields, pools, a gold course, doggie areas and for the winter an ice rink! Possibilities are endless here. It’s so much to explore, and a very short drive from the city.
If you continue driving north towards Wexford, you will find Going Soergel Orchards.
This family farm is one of those places you can get a little preview of all fall activities. During the fall they have apple & pumpkin picking with different activities which you can find in their calendar. Not only that, but who doesn’t love animals? They have their resident farm animals, a playground for kids, endless activities, as well as stores so you can stop for a nice treat or buy unique holiday treats.
Moraine State Park
This is another gem that is within a 60-minute drive outside of Pittsburgh going north to Butler. There’s so much to do and see here. In the summer this is a great place to go enjoy the sun, get a little bit of tanning, get in the boat and even go for a swim in the clean water!
I love to have photo shoots here in and by the water, so to me the fact that is clean and safe to go in is important.
In the fall all that natural beauty turns into a colorful heaven. I can’t wait to go hang out here, have a picnic and take a book to relax and have a day in nature before it gets too chilly.
Also, when I was researching for this blog post, a fellow photographer recommended me to check out Cleland Rock in Potersville, which is still technically in Moraine State Park.
Racoon Creek State Park
Racoon Creek State Park is a popular one–it’s one of Pennsylvania’s most visited state parks and is located about 30-miles west of the city. As many of you know I LOVE flowers. I like to get fresh ones at least once a month, and when I can see and photograph them out in the wild, it’s a little bit extra special. Well, Racoon Creek State Park has 314-acre of wildflower reserve! Isn’t cool?! I’ll be coming here in about two weeks to enjoy this natural space and obviously bring my camera with me to capture all the beauty it has to offer.
For all of those who live in Mt. Lebanon and are South Hills residents, you might be very familiar with South Park. It’s different than North Park, or any other parks and natural reserves I’ve mentioned. I did an elopement two summers ago here and their gazebo, trees, and creek was just all that I needed to make the bride and groom be in a dreamy paradise. Depending on the season, you will find different activities being offered such as ice-skating rink, golf courses, and more. I still want to make it out there in the fall to take in person all the beautiful changing color trees.
Boyce Park is like our Small Seven Springs. It’s not quite as far as Seven Springs and we can get a little preview of all the fun activities we do in Seven Springs.
I recently did a wedding there this past summer, and it was so cool to see it during the warm and sunnu months of Pittsburgh. During the winter it’s a completely different scenery, and it looks like you’re in a completely different place.
This park has more than 1,000 acres for you to get lost in. It seriously is so huge, and the hills make it that much interesting and long. If you’re in Monroeville and the Plum area of Pittsburgh this is probably one of the places you visit the most. And if you’re into hiking, you’ll enjoy the Carpenter Log House Loop, which will take you into a beautiful scene and an adventure. Because who doesn’t like an adventure?!
Ohiopyle State Park
AH! Ohiopyle is special. I actully went for the very first time last year for fall and I was ecstatic! Ohiopyle State Park and Laurel Highlands is another one of those places we’re so lucky to have nearby. See? If we start to list all the amazing things we have so close to the city of Pittsburgh, the list becomes long, and with how busy we all are, there’s no way we can cover going to all this places, so we gotta pick and choose and leave some more for some other time.
Well… A magical place, it’s a scenic place and if you’re into nature and any of the many outdoor activities you can do in the beautiful mountainous parts of OhioPyle such as hiking, biking, walking or just relaxing taking in all of the trees and water, you’re in for a treat.
That’s not all, during the Summer you can plan ahead camp, and do some whitewater rafting and hike your way up to beautiful trails that will lead you to the natural cascading waters of Cucumber Falls.
I’m planning on going this fall, and I’ll be sure to stop at the little shops while sipping on some coffee to make it extra special and cozy. It’ll be a combination of small town nature vibes that come in so perfect in the fall season.
Oh! I almost forgot, make sure to plan ahead and stop at the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and House on Kentuck Knob for an architectural experience you won’t ever forget, because going here during fall makes it a little more beautiful.
Alright guys, I feel like I wrote a chapter of a novel. Haha – I’ve giving you plenty options for you to choose from depending on what you’re in the mood for. Whatever you end up doing, if this guide inspires any places that you end up checking out, please share it with me! I’m also happy to learn I helped bring a little bit of fun into someone’s life, and if there’s one you think I should absolutely add to my list, make sure to share it with me, too!
Until next time! 🍁