Summer’s hanging on in there, but the leaves have started changing colour and by evening, there’s an unmistakeable whiff of autumn in the air. To make the most of this colourful season, we’ve put together a guide to Bristol’s best parks for autumn leaf peeping:

For more outdoorsy autumnal inspiration, don’t miss our Bristol’s Best Autumn Walks blog.

Westonbirt The National Arboretum

No leaf peeping list would be complete without the star of the autumnal colours show, Westonbirt Arboretum. From the enchanting flaming red Japanese Maples, to the vibrant yellow Black Walnuts, the Arboretum is an utterly magical riot of colour – best seen between the third week in October and first week in November. Go acorn-hunting, make leaf crowns or get a spectacular birds-eye view of the tree canopy from the suspended tree top walkway.

Westonbirt Arboretum - Bristol’s best parks for autumn leaf-peeping

Image - Westonbirt Arboretum, credit Forestry Commission

Tyntesfield

Marvel at the colours of autumn at Tyntesfield, a Victorian Gothic Mansion surrounded by characterful gardens, woodland, rolling parkland and hundreds of rare and beautiful trees. Discover copper-coloured, yellow-y and deep red leaves on a Golden tree walk or check out the gorgeous bounty from the kitchen garden. In October, there’s oodles of seasonal activities to give kids an autumn buzz – youngsters will love decorating an autumn willow crown, solving the terrifying Tyntesfield mystery, pumpkin painting, or taking part in some spooky Halloween games.

Tyntesfield - Bristol’s best parks for autumn leaf-peeping

Image - Tyntesfield, credit Chris Watts

Kings Weston Estate

Kings Weston House was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh (architect for Blenheim Palace) and the history of its parkland is no less impressive. The estate was once famed throughout Europe for its beautiful gardens and stunning views across the River Avon and Bristol Channel, drawing royalty and aristocracy from afar. On your leaf peeping journey around the grounds, look out for the sundial, lily pond, grotto, oldest avenue of lime trees in the city and conkers, of course.

The University of Bristol Botanic Garden

Those who love to capture autumn highlights on camera can join an autumn guided walk with a professional photographer on 28 September. Don’t miss The Impossible Garden, a set of experimental sculptures by Bristol-based artist Luke Jerram, designed to stimulate debate about how visual impairments can affect our perception of the world (until 25 Nov).

The Downs

An enormous area of protected parkland in Bristol, The Downs is the perfect place for an autumnal stroll. Head to the ‘Sea Walls’ end for spectacular far-reaching views out towards the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Leigh Woods and the Severn Estuary. Intrepid conker seeker? Work your way along the Horse Chestnut-abundant Saville Road, to Westbury Park Road for a generous bounty.  

Clifton Down - Bristol’s best parks for autumn leaf-peeping

Image - Clifton Down, credit Paul Box

Queen Square

A beautiful park near Bristol city centre, Queen Square’s mature plane tree-lined edges transform the area into a blaze of yellows, oranges and rusty brown come autumn. Wade through a carpet of leaves admiring the Georgian townhouses before dipping into a nearby coffee shop to warm up.

Clifton Down

Shuffle and kick leaves to your heart’s content on Clifton Down’s Beech Tree-lined avenue before delving into the fiery-coloured foliage and emerging into the open air for jaw-dropping Avon Gorge and Clifton Suspension Bridge views.

Cabot Tower and Brandon Hill

Climb the steep, winding steps of Cabot Tower to witness Bristol autumnal makeover all the way out to the Mendip Hills. If heights aren’t your thing, the views from Brandon Hill Park are almost as enchanting.

View from Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill- Bristol’s best parks for autumn leaf-peeping

Image - View from Cabot Tower, credit Paul Box

Blaise Castle House Museum & Estate 

Blaise’s wooded gorge conjures a colourful canopy in autumn time. Stroll along leaf-strewn pathways under vibrant branches, cross the stream and gaze over acres of glowing trees from the top of the folly. Warm up inside the 19th century manor house where there’s a museum to explore, or let kids get all rosy-cheeked in the play park.

Leigh Woods

Wander through ancient and veteran trees in this National Trust’s woodland. Located on the edge of the Avon Gorge, your leaf-stomping efforts are rewarded with breath-taking views over the Clifton Suspension Bridge and dramatic gorge. There are a variety of trails to choose from as well as mountain biking, a natural play area for kids, Stokeleigh Iron Age Hill fort to discover and expert-led events such as the ‘Fungi Foray’ to help you brush up on your forest knowledge.

Ashton Court Estate

Breathe in some fresh autumn air in the vast grounds of Ashton Court Estate, a huge area of forested mountain bike trails, bridle paths and wide-open countryside, just the other side of Clifton Suspension Bridge. The Estate is renowned for its large number of unusual tree species, including a 700-year-old Domesday Oak and Ginkgo, which flushes a vivid yellow in autumn. Gaze back over views of the city or duck into russet-coloured woodland to whip up a bed of leaves.

Ashton Court Estate - Bristol’s best parks for autumn leaf-peeping

Greville Smyth Park

Once part of Ashton Court Estate, this park is renowned for its beautiful mature trees whose leaves are hues of gold and pumpkin in the autumn season. From here you can glimpse the Clifton Suspension Bridge from below and join the Avon Trail - a walking and cycling route that runs 23 miles from Pill to Bath.

St Andrews Park

Conker hunters should head straight to the Sommerville Road entrance of St Andrews Park to find a huge Horse Chestnut tree. Pretty paths wind through this classic Victorian neighbourhood park - a family favourite thanks to its great play area.

Arnos Vale Cemetery

When autumn gets its grip on the city, this fascinating Victorian garden cemetery comes alive with colour. For an in-depth look into Arnos Vale’s darker side, book onto an atmospheric after-hours tour - upcoming events include Morbid Curiosity Night Tours and a Murder, Mayhem and Mystery Tours – see their website for more details.

Arnos Vale Cemetery - Bristol’s best parks for autumn leaf-peeping

Image - Arnos Vale Cemetery, credit Paul Box

Victoria Square

The stroll through this picturesque square won’t take you long, but the trees and surrounding Clifton architecture make for a charming autumn saunter. For your fill of autumnal trees, wander over to nearby Birdcage Walk where beautiful trees create a fairytale arch over the path.

St George Park

St George Park is particularly lovely in autumn when the park’s many trees are ablaze in the season’s shades. Scuff up the auburn undergrowth before skirting around the lake at its centre.

Castle Park

Next to the Floating Harbour, overlooking the new Finzel’s Reach development and Floating Ballast Seed Garden (a disused concrete barge populated with foreign seeds and non-native plants that were once mixed up in the ships’ ballast), is Castle Park. The skeleton of St Peter’s Church (destroyed in WWII bombing) looks equally eerie and impressive alongside a bed of yellow-ing leaves and fiery trees. Discover more about the park’s plants on a tree trail with this handy guide from the Bristol Civic Society before catching a Bristol Ferry Boat to see the city’s autumnal side from the water.

Castle Park - Bristol’s best parks for autumn leaf-peeping

Image - Castle Park

Oldbury Court and Snuff Mills

Wrap up warm and catch falling leaves in Oldbury Court Estate, a pretty park with wheel-friendly riverside walks, wooded trails and big green spaces. There are some great natural play areas for kids, wildlife to spot (if you’re lucky kingfishers, herons, foxes, owls, bats and deer can be seen in these parts), weirs and the historic old quarry and stone mill to discover

Victoria Park

Hilly Victoria Park sits south of the river in Bedminster near the train station, and has tennis courts, a bowling green, jogging route, a few exercise stations dotted around, several children’s playgrounds and a café. For a properly autumnal celebration, the park normally hosts a huge Guy Fawkes Night, with bonfire, a 'judge the guy' competition and several food and drink stalls.

Eastville Park

It’s possible to start here and walk all the way along the River Frome to Oldbury Court and Snuff Mills. This Victorian city park also has lots of green space, its own fishing lake, children's playground and football pitches.

Eastville Park - Bristol’s best parks for autumn leaf-peeping

Image - Eastville Park, credit Paul Box

Conham River Park

Part of the River Avon Trail (which starts in Pill and goes all the Pulteney Bridge in Bath), from Conham River Park you can walk for as long or little as your like along the river onto Trooper’s Hill Nature Reserve or Hanham Lock (about an hour away). Beese’s Tearooms sits on the other side of the riverbank and can be reached by boat if you need to warm shivering limbs. Otherwise, enjoy the woodland and crisp air.

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Bristol's best parks for autumn leaf peeping

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