Oct. 17, 2012 at 10:10 AM ET
Driving around looking at the gorgeous amber, orange and sunset-colored leaves of deciduous trees is a familiar fall road trip, but a handful of enterprising boat companies now offer traffic-free foliage tours by water.
For three upcoming Sundays (Oct. 21 and 28, and Nov. 4), New York Water Taxi offers guided day trips leaving from Manhattan at 12:30 p.m., and gliding 60 miles up the Hudson River to West Point. Introduced two years ago, the five-hour round-trip takes passengers past historic sights such as Grant’s Tomb, and Sleepy Hollow, where Washington Irving is now buried; and offers views of brightly hued trees like red maple, yellow birch and flowering dogwood. The $65 ticket price includes lunch (sandwiches, salads and desserts from Fresco by Scotto); a cash bar sells cocktails costing up to $10. The route is so popular that the company also does a VIP tour lasting a full weekend, with a night in West Point, rooftop cocktails at a lounge overlooking the Hudson Valley, and a tour of America’s oldest winery, Brotherhood, which still uses cellars dug in 1839.
Tickets are $499 for one person, or $750 for two.
More fall foliage cruises:
DC Cruises, Oct. 20-Nov. 24 (weekends only)
One-hour cruises on double-decker boats take passengers through the capital’s waterways, passing sights like the Jefferson Memorial, flanked by brilliant trees. Passengers can sip free hot cider from Ziegler’s, made from regionally-sourced apples. A Thanksgiving day cruise swaps cider for pumpkin-spiced tea and other festive snacks.
Tickets: $24 for adults, $12 for children.
Atlantic Seal Cruises, Oct. 6-27
Three-hour excursions on a 28-person cruiser navigate around the small islands of Maine’s Casco Bay. As the company name suggests, harbor seals congregate on rock ledges and play in the bay as the boats pass. Other wildlife native to the area includes osprey, herons and the occasional whale.
Tickets: $35 for adults, $25 for children 5-12, $20 for children 1-5.
Mississippi River Cruises, Sept. 27-Nov. 17
The Celebration Belle, a classic 800-passenger paddlewheel boat, departs from both Moline, Ill., and Dubuque, Iowa, on four-hour Mississippi cruises. A lunch buffet with dishes like baked cranberry-glazed chicken and turtle cheesecake—all prepared fresh on board—is included, as is live music from the Celebration River Cruises band.
Tickets: $60 for adults, $45 for children.