There’s nothing quite like visiting New York in autumn. When the air starts to get a little crisper, and the leaves start to change from green to fiery shades of red, yellow, and orange, there’s a magical glow that sets over the city. You’ve seen it in movies and your favorite T.V. shows with scenes of coffee-holding, well-dressed professionals strolling the city streets as the color-changing leaves fall around them. Whether you’ve lived in the city your entire life or you’re a tourist who’s lucky enough to be in the Big Apple during the fall, you’ll fall in love with NYC and never want to leave. So grab your pumpkin-spiced lattes and apple cider-flavored donuts, and check out our guide to a festive fall in New York.
See Central Park in All Its Autumn Colorful Glory
There’s just no way we could leave Central Park off our list. From the West Side to the East Side of the park, you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world with the magical aura that emits from the leaves changing colors. You’ll have plenty of photo ops, so get your iPhone camera and Instagram captions ready. There’s a reason why autumn in Central Park has made its way into several famous television shows and movies, from popular TV shows like Gossip Girl to the classic film, Autumn in New York. You’ll find that it’s a wonderful reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.
Some of the best Central Park spots for leaf-peeping include The Reservoir, The Mall & Literary Walk, The Ramble, and The Hallett Nature Sanctuary. While there’s much to do in Central Park, from visiting the Belvedere Castle and the Central Park Zoo to ice-skating and boat-paddling, you can always just get lost among the leaves and go for a nice, relaxing stroll.
Comb Through a Corn Maze in Queens
While not technically in the city, the Queens Country Farm Museum is only around a half-hour ride away from Manhattan (barring too much traffic, of course) and feels like the height of rural life. It’s fun for a family day trip, a great date spot, or just a fun fall-themed day with your friends. When you go, you’ll find a large corn maze, a petting zoo, a pumpkin patch, and a beautiful flower garden where you can take pictures. If you’re hungry, stop by the store that has fresh, homemade apple cider and apple cider-flavored donuts. If you need that autumnal fix but also want to get out of the city for a day, the Queens Country Farm Museum will be a welcome respite for you. Best of all, it’s super affordable.
Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving ParadeIs Thanksgiving your favorite fall holiday? If so, then you might want to think of taking advantage of some cheap flights to check out the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. If you’re not afraid of getting up early and being amongst large crowds of people, head to the Parade and you’ll have the opportunity to see live performances by The Big Apple Circus, the Ballet Hispanico, and more. You’ll also get to see the infamous, extravagant parade floats and giant balloons, great for you and your young ones. With all of this festive fanfare, there’s a reason the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is so iconic.
See the Spooky Halloween Parade in the VillageWhen it comes to quintessential New York City in autumn holidays, Halloween always comes to the forefront of our minds. The orange and black colors, the spookiness, and the festive atmosphere that surrounds Halloween is just right for fall. And, what better way to celebrate Halloween than in the West Village of NYC? Every Halloween, thousands of costume-clad New Yorkers partake in the NYC Village Halloween Parade. If you go, you’ll find giant puppets, over 50 bands playing live music, and tons of dance performances. Don’t have a costume? No worries, you can watch the parade too!
Bask in the Colorful Fall Foliage of Brooklyn
When you think of Brooklyn, beautiful landscapes and scenes of nature probably don’t initially come to mind. But, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has fabulous fall foliage for you to see. You’ll find the multi-colored katsura tree, as well as scarlet-colored oaks and brightly colored maples, and many fall blooms from rough-leaved goldenrods to purple toad lilies. You’ll also want to check out the pumpkin patch, corn, and apples in the herb garden. Before you leave the gardens, you must check out the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden with scenic fall views of hundreds of maple trees. They even offer a fall-themed watercolor workshop as well as historical art collections.
Walk the High Line in Chelsea
If you’ve ever been to NYC or have lived there for a while, you may have already walked the High Line. But, there’s nothing comparable to a long stroll during the fall there. At the High Line, you’ll discover a fantastic blend of city life and natural scenery. While you’re still right in the center of New York City, you’re also accompanied by fall scenery on your way. There are beautiful, lush woodlands, sundecks over the water, and the lushly packed Chelsea Thicket. Orange leaves and autumn moor grass fill the gardens of the Gansevoort Woodland, so get your cameras ready for a fall photo shoot. If you want to shop for some fall clothing or grab a bite to eat, head over to Chelsea Market.
Tour New York’s Fall Foliage by Boat
There are many options for cruising around the Hudson River during the fall, but they each come with views fit for the most ardent autumn lover’s dreams. For instance, New York’s Fall Foliage Cruise will offer you some great leaf-peeping opportunities and wonderful views of the Met Cloisters, the Statue of Liberty, the Palisades, and more. The cruise leaves from Pier 36 every Saturday and Sunday and lasts for around three hours. You’ll have amazing opportunities to snap some scenic photos or to just sit back and relax as you sail around the fall-filled sights. If you’re willing to splurge, there are yacht cruises that offer lunch or brunch menus as well.
Experience a Festive Halloween in Harlem
Every Halloween, hundreds of excited New Yorkers and tourists flock to the Harlem Meer to carve candlelit pumpkins and release them onto the lake, creating a spooky but hauntingly beautiful scene. Located by the Harlem Meer between 106 and 107th Streets on the northeast side of Central Park, The Annual Pumpkin Flotilla is a free event that’s great for kids and adults alike. If you love pumpkins as much as we do, this haunting Halloween glow is sure to both delight and scare you. Oh, and don’t forget to wear your spookiest costume!
Are there other fall-themed adventures in NYC that you love? Tell us about it below!