Looking for the best things to do in New York City in the fall? You’ve come to the right place!
New York in autumn is just as magical as you’d imagine. From the fall foliage engulfing Central Park to businesses getting ready for the holidays, the best time to visit NYC is in the fall.
This list of the best things to do in New York City in the fall has been eight years in the making. Like many others, fall is my favorite season and I’m always out and about looking for some fun fall activities in NYC.
I wanted to make sure to cover absolutely everything you need to know before visiting NYC in the fall. So without further ado, lets get to the good stuff!
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Why You Should Visit New York City in the Fall
The New York City fall weather is perfect for exploring
Mild NYC fall temperatures make for the most comfortable weather for exploring. Average temperatures are between the low 50’s and high 70’s, making being outside for long periods of time enjoyable. The best time to visit for fall color is in November, when the leaves have turned but the trees aren’t completely bare yet.
Never ending fall festivities and events
New York City in the fall is chock-full of different festivals and events for locals and visitors to attend. From Halloween parties to lighting the tree at Rockefeller Center after Thanksgiving, finding things to do in New York City during the fall should be a piece of cake (or pumpkin pie). 😉
Holiday spirit is in the air
Autumn in New York City is when the city comes alive. The holiday season is right around the corner and businesses are bustling in preparation for eager shoppers. The festive spirit is contagious and can be felt all around. Visiting New York City during the fall is equal parts charming as it is exciting!
Further Reading: Interested in more holiday content? Check out 20 Magical Things to Do During Christmas in NYC (+5 to AVOID)
Things to Do in the Fall New York City (Post Overview)
Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.
#1. Stroll/bike through Central Park’s fall foliage
Ask any New Yorker about their favorite park in the Big Apple and the honest ones will confess to Central Park. Which is why this activity tops the list of the best things to do in New York City in the fall.
Spanning more than 840 healthy acres, Central Park is an architectural feat that few can resist falling in love with, myself included.
This is one of the first man-made parks in the country — designed using a new concept for the time called landscape architecture. There’s so many iconic spots to see in Central Park, which is why biking around is a great way to explore and make the most efficient use of your time.
Biking Central Park is a very popular fall activity in New York City, make sure to take in all the New York autumn colors.
#2. Enjoy fresh apple cider (& apple cider donuts) from a local farmers market
Is there anything better than fresh apple cider and donuts during fall in NYC? I think not! Home to 48 farmers markets throughout the Big Apple, there is not shortage of fresh fall treats.
My personal favorite market for apple cider goodies is Union Square Farmers Market. In my eight years living here, I’ve ate my fair share in calories so you don’t have to.
Heck, if I have to try multiple donuts, to find the best then so be it! I’m a serious woman and this is not something I take lightly.
#3. Snap a photo under the pumpkin arch on Pier 17
Are you looking for one of the most instagrammable spots during fall in NYC? Look no more.
Since 2020 Pier 17 has put together a free art instillation made up of over 500 pumpkins in the shape of an arch for no reason other than to bring folks joy.
Drawing people from all over the city, not only does this perfectly orange pumpkin arch make for great photos, the Brooklyn Bridge as the backdrop is stunning.
Typically making an appearance mid-October this massive pumpkin arch is located on Pier 17 at South Street Seaport. Snapping a photo with this masterpiece is one of the best things to do in New York City during the fall.
While technically there are no rules for how long you can take pictures, be courteous of those around you. Try to take your pictures quickly to maintain the flow of the line.
Pro Tip: Visit the pumpkin arch at night for a magical experience. The arch is full of lights that when lit, add a whole other dimension to the arch and your photos.
#4. Celebrate Oktoberfest with friends
Unless you’re planning a trip to Germany any time soon, this NYC fall tradition is the next best thing.
From September 2nd (yes really, a whole month early) to October 31st, New Yorkers and locals alike can enjoy this epic NYC fall event. Did I mention it’s seven days a week? There is no rush when it comes to partaking in this NYC fall activity.
Located on Pier 15 south of the South Street Seaport (a mere two piers from the pumpkin arch), head to Watermark Bar for this lively NYC fall activity. We’re talking delicious food, tasty beer and all sorts of entertainment.
Oktoberfest is a free event, you just register online and then pay for any beer or food while celebrating.
If drinking is not your style, no worries! Oktoberfest was set up to be a celebration that everyone can enjoy (kids included). Grab your friends and family and make a NYC fall day out of it. Soak in the amazing views of the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges and revel at the Brooklyn skyline.
#5. Go on the hunt for New York City’s best hot chocolate
Fall in New York City is all but guaranteed to bring chilly weather, so warming up with a drink is a must. Something about autumn in NYC and the holidays being so close, your inner child is dying to come out. And let’s be honest, coffee doesn’t always cut it.
Hot chocolate is the perfect cozy fall drink regardless of your age or the time of day (and it doubles as a hand warmer!). The trick is finding the best hot chocolate in New York City.
I know, poor you! Having to try multiple hot chocolates to narrow down the best, it’s no easy task.
If you like your hot chocolate rich and dark, I suggest checking out Jacques Torres Chocolate or L. A. Burdick. If a lighter, thinner hot chocolate is your style, head over to Levain for a delicious cup of cocoa.
Further reading: 20 Cozy Cups of Cocoa | The Best Hot Chocolate in NYC
#6. Bundle up at a rooftop bar
Fall in New York City brings the most ideal temperatures so hanging outside on a rooftop should be no problem. In fact, I would even argue that it’s the best time to enjoy a rooftop bar (take that summer!).
Wind is light, the weather is comfortable and let’s face it, fall outfits tend to be the cutest (and comfiest). Throw on your favorite comfy sweater, strap on your boots and make your way to any of the epic rooftop bars NYC has to offer.
If budget (and time) is not an issue for you, I recommend making an effort to dine at Mo Lounge. Mo Lounge is a restaurant within The Mandarin Oriental Hotel overlooking Central Park.
With drinks clocking in around $26, it is on the expensive side. However, the stunning views of Central Park in autumn are hard to beat and it’s one of the best things to do in NYC in the fall.
If casual is more your style, Westlight in Brooklyn has epic views of the city (and fries).
#7. Wander neighborhoods to find the best halloween decorations
I currently have an on-going debate with my husband on which New York City neighborhood is home to the best halloween decorations. I’m partial to the (oh so charming) Greenwich Village, while my husband argues the Upper West Side is where it’s at.
Charming brownstones lined with spider webs, skeletons and vibrant pumpkins turn every day strolls through the city into an experience. Autumn in New York City is like no other.
One of the best things to do in New York City in the fall is to make time to wander through different neighborhoods checking out the halloween decorations. Grab your favorite warm drink, bundle up and explore the magic in NYC during the autumn.
Regardless of which neighborhood you choose to explore during the fall in NYC, you won’t be disappointed!
#8. Get your fill of pumpkin beer
Finding delicious pumpkin beer in New York City in the fall will be an easy thing to achieve. You can find great options at any local pub or bodega.
But what if I told you I know a spot that takes it one step further and serves pumpkin beer in a Pumpkin Keg? It’s true! Loreley Beer Garden on the Lower East Side is the genius behind this NYC fall concoction.
Between September 23nd and November 6th, grab your friends and enjoy a 60 oz Pumpkin Keg filled with pumpkin beer. The keg is fitted with a beer tap and you can roughly get 4-5 glasses of beer out of it.
If you’re not a fan of pumpkin beer but still want to partake in this NYC fall activity, no worries. You have the option to substitute the flavored beer with any beer Loreley’s has on tap- no charge.
#9. Dine under the fall decorations at Serra By Birreria
Serra By Birreria is located on the rooftop of Eataly in the Flatiron District. It’s a seasonal restaurant serving delicious Italian food and well crafted cocktails. With every changing season, the restaurant manages to outdo the previous decor making eating here one of the best things to do in Fall in NYC.
During the autumn in NYC, the decorations always take a colorful and cozy turn. The warm orange and red tones fill the restaurant with faux fall foliage climbing the ceiling. It’s a great spot to catch up with friends over drinks or to snag a photo for instagram.
I bring all my out of town guests here when they visit New York City in the fall and they can’t get enough of the delightful decorations.
#10. Check out the Macy’s Day Parade
The iconic NYC fall event has been a New York City staple since 1924. The event has grown so much in popularity, that it is now a televised event folks can look forward to every Thanksgiving morning.
For three hours every Thanksgiving, 12 foot floats take over the NYC streets, starting at West 77th Street & Central Park West and ending at Macy’s in Herald Square.
To the tune of 50 million viewers cheering them on, it’s a NYC fall event unlike any other and you can’t afford to miss out on it (in person) if you are in town.
The live broadcasting starts at 9:00 AM, but if you plan on attending this epic NYC fall event, I suggest showing up (the earlier the better) at least 2 hours early to get a good spot.
Pro Tip: Pack snacks and make coffee at home to take with you. The streets get crowded quickly and lines for coffee shops are ridiculous!
#11. Go iceskating surrounded by fall foliage in Central Park
Ice skating at Wollman Rink is arguably one of the most iconic things to do in NYC during the fall. Located in the southern part of Central Park, the rink is open from late October through early April.
It’s one of the NYC fall activities everyone needs to add to their bucket list. Now surround yourself with the colorful tree’s and crisp Central Park air, you have created the ultimate New York autumn experience.
It gets crowded quickly during the Christmas season, especially during weekends. Try to visit during the weekday and arrive early!
Note: Wollman Rink is CASH-ONLY, but there’s an ATM onsite.
Further reading: Check out 10 Impressive Ice Skating Rinks in New York City to visit this fall in NYC.
#12. Take your kids to Camp Romper
Camp Romper is an annual event hosted by BDG Media at Battery Park which will be taking place this fall in NYC on September 24th, 2022. For those who don’t know, BDG Media are the folks who bring us fan favorite magazines like Bustle, Gawker and of course, the magazine all about motherhood, Romper.
From 10 AM to 5 PM there is a free festival for your little ones to enjoy. The event consists of a craft cabin, a forest theater, and a woodland library, among other activities. There will also be performances by the Brooklyn United Drumline, Puppetsburg and the Rock & Roll Playhouse.
Not to mention there will be enchanted eats, where kids will be able to decorate cookies and have a glass of milk.
The event has a jam-packed schedule and is one of the best things to do in New York City in the fall if you have kids. The best part? The festival is free to enjoy so long as you RSVP in advance!
Address: State Street and Battery Place, New York, NY
#13. Stroll through Chelsea Market’s fall decorations
The Chelsea Market is a famous food hall mixed with unique shops, restaurants, spice markets, and cafes. The market has 35 vendors waiting to impress you with tasty treats and fare.
Checking out Chelsea Market during your visit to New York City in the fall is a no brainer. Think of Chelsea Market as the house on the block that goes all out for halloween or Christmas. No corners are cut when it comes to decorating, lucky us!
Whether you plan on shopping or just strolling through the epic decorations, swinging by Chelsea Market is a can’t-miss NYC fall thing to do.
Highlights at the Chelsea Market include: Matcha from Chalait (so good), warm donuts from the Doughnuttery (what’s better than a warm donut?), tacos from Los Tacos No. 1, spices from Spices and Tease and souvenirs from Pearl River Mart.
#14. Experience the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center
The Rockefeller Christmas Tree is an annual Christmas tradition that dates back to 1933 officially (unofficially, construction workers put up the first tree in 1931). The tree typically gets lit the end of November/early December, you can check exact days here.
A new tree is selected every year with an impressive requirement: the tree must be at least 75 feet tall. Decorated with more than 50,000 lights and topped with a breathtaking (and super bright) Swarovski star, seeing this masterpiece get lit for the first time (in person) is one of the best things to do in NYC in the fall.
Consider this a non-negotiable NYC autumn experience!
#15. Warm up with a whiskey
One of my favorite NYC fall traditions is to sign up for whiskey tasting. New York City is home to some of the best bars in the world, and it would be a shame if you didn’t take advantage during your trip to NYC in the fall.
Many bars offer private whiskey tastings for large groups. Gather a group of friends and learn about the whiskey making process. You’ll walk away with a deeper appreciation for good drinks.
If you’re traveling to NYC in the autumn alone or in a small group, I suggest popping into a bar for a whiskey flight. They’re less expensive and require less planning than a whiskey tasting and can be just as fun.
Further reading: Need more options? Check out 10 Memorable Manhattan Bars Everyone Should Visit
#16. Pick a pumpkin from Queens County Farm
When I first moved to New York City eight years ago from the Pacific Northwest I was worried I’d be giving up essential fall activities.
My first thought was where the hell does someone get a pumpkin for Halloween? Sure bodegas are great and they get the job done, but it’s not the same. I need the fall experience.
To my surprise, fall activities in New York City were possible! Thanks to Queens County Farm (and a hefty subway ride) I was able to get my fix of a pumpkin patch and corn maze. Queens County Farm has been around for over 300 years and serving New Yorkers with the ultimate NYC autumn expierence.
The pumpkin patch is opened daily from October 1st to October 29th. Opened Monday thru Friday from 12 PM-4:30 PM and Saturday & Sunday from 10:00 AM-4:30 PM.
Best part? Free admission! Pumpkins are priced by size if you choose to get one. One of the best things to do in NYC in the fall is to join Queens County Farm and attempt to do the corn maze at night.
#17. Grab a burger at Oscar Wilde
Quick history lesson: Oscar Wilde was an Irish poet and one of the most popular playwrights in the late 19th century best known for his wit and flamboyance.
Unfortunately, Wilde’s reputation was tarnished after falling in love with a man. As you probably know, in the Victorian era being gay was not only frowned upon, but a crime. So much so that Wilde spent two years in prison because of it.
This Victorian style restaurant is a way to celebrate all that Oscar Wilde stood for. Hosting an impressive art (and object) collection dating back to the 1800’s you can enjoy a French fireplace from the 1840’s, stained glass from an Irish castle and so much more.
Making reservations at Oscar Wilde during the fall in NYC is non-negotiable. The restaurant decorates for the autumn in a way that is unmatched.
Every inch of the place gets decorated (including the ceiling), minimalism has no place here. And don’t even think about leaving without trying the Wilde bacon cheeseburger and truffle fries.
PS, check out all the clocks in the restaurant. You’ll find that they are set to 1:50. The reason? That’s the time that Oscar Wilde died. No corners are cut when it comes to attention to detail here!
#18. Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park & Ice Skating
The park is transformed into a European-style holiday market, equipped with 100 vendors that lining a popular ice skating rink.
The stalls sell fun Christmas decorations, handmade crafts, unique jewelry and — my favorite — food, lots of good food. Grab a hot chocolate or mulled wine as you make your way around the lively market.
The 17,000-square foot ice rink is free to use but ice skate rentals run $20-$36 per person.
I highly recommend this experience, it’s my favorite things to do in NYC during the fall. It’s a fun way to ease into the swing of the holiday season.
Further reading: Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is home to No Chewing Allowed, one of the top 20 Cozy Cups of Cocoa in New York City.
#19. Check out Tompkins Square Halloween dog parade
Yup, Tompkins Square throws an annual Halloween parade for dogs and it’s just as adorable as it sounds!
Folks from all over flood the East River Park Amphitheater with their pups dressed in ridiculously cute costumes creating one of the best fall activities in NYC.
Since moving to NYC I learned New Yorkers don’t mess around when it comes to their dogs, so why would Halloween be any different? Especially when there are awards at stake!
Clear your schedule on October 22nd because you’re not going to want to miss this. The creativeness and dedication leaves me speechless year after year. A lot of the dogs I see at the parade are dressed better than me.
Whether you own a dog or not, this NYC fall activity is so stinking precious and you are guaranteed to melt into a puddle from all the cuteness.
#20. Shop in SoHo for the perfect sweater
SoHo stands for South of Houston Street, it’s my favorite neighborhood to explore in New York City in the fall. Imagine long city blocks peppered with trendy shops, cute cafes and famous restaurants.
Fall in NYC is all but guaranteed to bring chilly weather so why not take advantage of your trip to New York in the autumn and add to your sweater collection? Exploring SoHo is one of the best things to do in New York City during the fall.
Spend time window shopping, perusing galleries or absorbing the historic architecture in this (very expensive) neighborhood. Then rest your legs at one of the many cafes while watching the world go by. Great people watching here!
#21. Take an after-hours tour of Green-Wood Cemetery
Hear me out on this one. I know some folks might consider the mention of a cemetery as one of the best things to do in New York City during the fall creepy, but it’s true.
Green-Wood Cemetery has a plethora of NYC fall events to choose from. You can take tours of the cemetery (after dark), a Crime and Catastrophe trolley tour or enjoy music and entertainment all while relishing in the ambiance of this NYC cemetery.
Check out Green-Wood Cemetery’s calendar here and plan the prefect spooky night while visiting New York City in the fall.
Oh, and I should mention a fascinating 25-year creative installation located at the cemetery. The installation, called Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery, is a grave designed specifically for secrets. Visitors can write their most intimate secrets on a sheet of paper and finally lay them to rest.
#22. Take a fall foliage cruise
What better way to soak in New York City in the fall than aboard a 1920s-style yacht that takes you past all the major sites in Manhattan?
You’ll be cozily tucked inside a glassed-in heated observatory completely decked out in festive decor with charming music playing in the background.
Beer, wine, Champagne and hot beverages are available for sale on board and you won’t want to partake in this joyful NYC fall experience without a hot chocolate in hand.
Get your tickets here and enjoy one of the best things to do in New York City in the fall.
#23. Check out Boo at the Zoo
Finding fall activities in New York City for kids isn’t always easy, which is why I really appreciate Boo at the Zoo. Every year the Bronx Zoo hosts a Halloween party in NYC the whole family can take part in.
Guests are encouraged to show up in costume and take part in a day of fun. The zoo has candy trails so kids can trick or treat alongside their favorite animals. It’s an educational day too, since the zoo shows what some of the animals’ favorite snacks are as well.
There’s a multitude of arts and crafts kids can take part in, as well as a magician, pumpkin carving shows, and a costume parade that takes place three times a day. Long story short, this is one of the best things to do in New York City in the fall.
Tickets must be purchased in advance and go on sale September 7th.
- Adulst: $41.95
- Senior (65+): $36.95
- Children (3-12): $31.95
- Child under 2: Free
Dates: Saturday & Sundays October 1st- 30th
Address: 2300 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10460
Further reading: Bronx Zoo is on our list of 18 Breathtaking Spots for Fall Foliage in New York City check out why.
#24. Catch a football game at a local sports bar
It should go without saying, New Yorkers are passionate. Passionate about their food, passionate about their neighborhoods, passionate about their sports teams.
Being at a sports bar where everyone is rooting for the same team is nothing short of exhilarating. Whether it’s celebratory high fives with strangers or the colorful language used after a bad play, the experience is worth the stop when visiting New York City in the fall.
New York has two football teams, the NY Giants and the NY Jets. Although neither have been very competitive in recent years fans are as loyal as ever.
Standings is a sports bar in the East Village that’s as New York as they come. There’s no music, just sports and the crowd is always a good time. Enjoying a drink at a little dive bar while watching the game is one of my favorite things to do in New York City in the fall.
#25. Partake in the Medieval Festival
Now this New York fall activity isn’t for everyone, but for those who have an interest- you’re in luck! Located in Fort Tryon Park, after a two year hiatus (thanks COVID) NYC Parks is bringing back the Medieval Festival.
On October 2nd from 11:30 AM to 6:00 PM, performers, guests and knights on horsebacks all come out of the woodworks to partake in this NYC fall activity. It’s a free event for all ages with authentic period music, jugglers & jesters and vendors selling medieval crafts and food.
Vendors dress their stands to the theme and folks from all over take this as an opportunity to express their style with Medieval costumes. This festival is a way for everyone to enjoy the spirit of the Middle Ages.
Something to note, if you do plan on buying anything while enjoying this NYC fall activity, there are no ATM’s on site. Plan to bring cash or a card.
#26. Explore the New York Botanical Garden
One of my favorite New York City fall activities is celebrating Fall-O-Ween at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). Beginning September 17th, NYBG kicks off the autumn season with loads of pumpkins, hordes of gourds and plenty of NYC fall activities. I’m telling you, no trip to New York City in the fall is complete without checking one of their many events off your list!
A personal favorite of mine is the Pumpkin Parade Weekend. This year it’s held on October 22nd & 23rd between 11:00AM-4:00PM. The entire weekend is chock-full of pumpkins, families and Halloween festivities. Kiddos dress up in their Halloween costumes and get to strut down Garden Way showing off the cutest looks.
Aside from the parade, you can expect to see pumpkins larger than life and pumpkin carvings like never before. Here is the calendar for New York Botanical Garden. Plan your trip to New York City in the fall the right way and squeeze in Fall-O-Ween!
Pricing varies depending on age, non-residents can plan to pay $30 for adults & $15 for ages 2-12 (Kiddos under 2 are free!). Residents of NYC can plan to pay $15 for adults & $4 for ages 2-12.
#27. Take part in the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade
This year is the 49th annual Halloween Parade NYC hosted in Greenwich Village. The tradition started with a solo mask maker and puppeteer who walked his neighborhood streets for the local kids’ entertainment.
By the third year the NYC Halloween parade developed into a non-profit organization full of volunteers who dedicate themselves to keep the tradition alive. With more than 50,000 costumed participants a year I’d say the parade is very much alive and well.
As far as fall activities in New York City go, the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village tops the list. If you’re in the city on October 31st this is where you want to be. The parade can be viewed on both sides of 6th Avenue between King St. and 15th St.
There are also a handful of ways to participate. The Halloween parade is always looking for volunteers and if you want a more flashy role consider actually being in the parade. This year the theme is freedom.
There will be a costume contest, which you automatically enter just by showing up in costume. The Halloween Parade has “secret scouts” out looking for the most original and fun costumes. Prizes are announced after the parade.
Address: 6th Avenue between King St. and 15th St.
#28. Trick or Drink at the Halloween Bar Crawl
Looking for one of the best boozy fall activities in New York City? Get ready to Trick or Drink.
Barcrawlerz is hosting this years annual Trick or Drink bar crawl, where for three days you can dress up and head to participating bars for drink specials surrounded by other ghouls and goblins.
The process is super simple. You buy your tickets and then go to the registration site (found in your confirmation email) to get your wristband and a map of the participating bars. Included will be a list of the specials each bar is running for this epic fall activity in NYC. Then head to your first spot for no cover charge and drinks!
This is one of my favorite things to do in New York City in the fall. The people at the bars with you are usually participating at the bar crawl too and it’s a great way to make friends. Not to mention, if you decide to dress up it makes for quite the ice breaker to get the conversation going!
#29. Partake in a Spooky Soiree at House of Spirits
If you’re looking for a spooky soiree there are few fall activities in New York City better than the House of Spirits. It’s an evening cocktail party where you visit a haunted mansion.
This year is the Tale of Volkov Manor, a doctor who takes in his orphaned niece and nephew who are seemingly being protected by spirits of ghosts.
Guests are highly encouraged to come dressed over the top in time period fashion, costumes or elegant dresses. At the mansion there will be themed mini drinks available, as well as actors and props to make a spooky night of it.
For two hours, folks can expect to mingle, drink and enjoy this spooky fall activity in NYC. There will also be tarot card readings, ouija boards and live music.
Pricing will depend on the package chosen. Starting at $79 with four mini drinks included, prices go up from there to include more drinks and early entries.
Dates: October 1st to October 31st 2022
Address: 60 Pine St, 5 Story Mansion A, New York, NY 10005
#30. Explore Industry City
Industry City is one of my favorite spots in New York City in the fall. Think of a one-stop shop for all things NYC, then multiply it by ten and you have Industry City.
Comprised of 16 buildings across 35 acres, Industry City sits on the Brooklyn waterfront located in Sunset Park. The large industrial space was established back in the 1890’s and the space was used for manufacturing and distributing. Today it is one of the most popular things to do in New York City in the fall.
Chock-full of events, eateries and shops, Industry City has it all. You can spend hours getting lost, roaming from place to place and still barely scratch the surface. In between the buildings you’ll find colorful courtyards decorated with pumpkins and fall decor creating the most charming backdrop for a photo.
As a local, this is a non-negotiable for my out of town visitors when I hear they are coming to NYC in the autumn. Planning a trip to New York City in the fall and not stopping by Industry City is unforgivable!
#31. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most memorable things to do in New York City in the fall. How do I know? Well, for starters, my mom has visited me six times since I’ve moved to New York City and we’ve walked across this bridge every single time.
I don’t even fight her on it when she suggests the trek, it’s iconic and I love this popular NYC fall activity regardless of the amount of times I’ve crossed the bridge. Fall in NYC brings out all the cheery folk, bundled up stopping to snag a picture – it’s infectious!
Make sure to add this to your list of best things to do in New York City in the fall. The bridge spans one mile and takes about 15-20 minutes to walk across, but you should allocate more time because you’ll want to take photos (you can see the Statue of Liberty from here!).
#32. Visit Washington Square Park
Best known for the monolithic grand marble arch that sits at the northern entrance of the park and overlooks the central fountain, the Washington Square Arch was built to commemorate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration.
Many folks consider this one of the most inviting parks in NYC and come from all over the city to let their hair down and be themselves. The welcoming atmosphere makes Washington Park a great NYC park for people-watching. The energetic mood is contagious and you’ll notice park visitors from all corners of the world.
From suited businesswomen to relaxed college students and nervous tourists, you’ll see it all. The stars of the show tend to be the talented street musicians that give the park an easy-going vibe.
Quick history lesson: During the late 18th century, this area was a burial ground for indigent victims of illness and disease. As the property slowly morphed into Washington Park, it became the epicenter of many movements and protests. As such, Washington Square Park is one of the more important historic park in New York City.
#33. Explore DUMBO
If you’re into fun and trendy photographic spots, DUMBO is the place for you. DUMBO stands for Down Under the Brooklyn Bridge Overpass.
Walk further down to see Jane’s Carousel and the Time Out Market. We actually didn’t realize there was a Time Out Market in New York City, the first one we visited was in Lisbon. It’s a food hall chock-full of little restaurants serving up delicious fare.
New York City in the fall is breath-taking and DUMBO is no exception. Take your time strolling the streets and enjoying the crisp autumn air.
#34. Walk the Highline
The High Line is one of the most unique parks in New York City. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, High Line Park was born from an eye-sore.
The elevated tracks this NYC park was built on were originally used by freight trains delivering cargo to the city. A practice that became moot with the rise in trucking.
For ages, the railroad track was abandoned and neglected, a blight on the neighborhood. That is until Mayor Bloomberg approved a plan to transform the derelict train tracks into a park for the people.
The High Line opened in 2009 and became an instant success.The elevated promenade stretches 1.5 miles and receives an average of 8 million visitors annually. It didn’t take long for folks to realize this as one of the most iconic and interesting parks in New York City.
As a local, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoy visiting the High Line especially during autumn in NYC.
#35. Get lost in Greenwich Village
The West Village is arguably the most charming neighborhood in New York City. And when you think it can’t possibly be anymore enjoyable, just wait until fall in NYC.
There’s a plethora of great cafes in the area so grab a warm drink and walk around with your special someone close by. Greenwich Village in the fall is full of life and full of color. Stoops are carefully decorated and NYC autumn colors burst throughout the neighborhood.
Admire the brownstones, pop into cozy shops, spend a few minutes appreciating the decorated window displays and walk the empty streets to your hearts content.
Not everything can (or should) be planned. Make time during your trip for aimless wandering – you won’t regret it!
#36. Visit the MET
Founded in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is often considered the best museum in New York City and it’s not hard to see why.
With more than 2 million pieces of art spanning 5,000+ years, the Met is the largest museum in the country and the fifth largest museum in the world. Averaging 6 million visitors per year, it’s also the most visited museum in New York City
If you only have time to visit one museum in NYC, this is the one. Plus, it’s conveniently located within Central Park, so you don’t have to go far out of your way to visit.
Admittedly, the museum can get overwhelming if you don’t have a game plan. I suggest picking one or two topics you’re interested in and sticking to those. There’s also some notable pieces you absolutely can’t miss, such as:
Must see at the MET: Washington Crossing the Delaware, The Temple of Dendur, Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait with a Straw Hat and Monet’s Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies.
Tips for Visiting New York City in the Fall
Comfortable walking shoes are a must
You will be doing a lot of walking while exploring New York City in the fall. The subway is efficient but sometimes it’s better to walk between places to absorb more of the city — the skyline is euphoric and the color of the city is magical. Bring your most comfortable pair of shoes because you’ll be getting those steps in, I guarantee it.
New York City averages more than 63 million visitors per year, crowds are all but guaranteed especially during fall in NYC. That’s a lot of people trying to eat at the same popular restaurants and do the same popular thing. With holiday season slowly creeping in, prepare for crazy long lines while visiting New York City in the autumn.
Treat the sidewalk like a highway
Nothing bothers a New Yorker more than a person that stops smack-dab in the middle of the sidewalk. It’s inconsiderate and you’re guaranteed to garner eye rolls. There’s two ways you could inadvertently hog the sidewalk: walking side-by-side in a large group and stopping in the middle of the sidewalk, effectively preventing access. Make sure you step to the side of the sidewalk if you need to stop.
Is the New York City Pass worthwhile?
Good question. It depends on the duration of your trip.
The pass is $132 per person and allows access to six attractions over the span of 9 days. If you think you have adequate time for at least 6 of the attractions listed below, the pass might be worth your while.
Another option to consider is the New York City C3 Pass. The C3 pass is $84 per person and allows access to three attractions over the span of 9 days.
Attractions covered by the City Pass:
- Empire State Building
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck
- Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum
- American Museum of Natural History
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Museum of Modern Art
- Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
- Guggenheim Museum
- Hornblower Sightseeing Cruises
Based on my math, I suggest getting the New York City C3 Pass if you plan to visit at least three of the following places: (plus, the ability to skip lines is invaluable!)
- Empire State Building (regular admission is $20/person)
- Top of the Rock (regular admission is $36/person)
- The Statue of Liberty (regular admission is $19/person)
- 9/11 Museum (regular admission is $24/person)
- The MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) (regular admission is $25/person)
- The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) (regular admission is $25/person)
GETTING AROUND NEW YORK CITY
Walking is a great way to get around
- You will be doing a lot of walking during your first visit to New York City. The subway is efficient but sometimes it’s better to walk between places to absorb more of the city.
Uber and Lyft
- Using Uber and Lyft is a great way to get around New York City, especially if traveling in a larger group. The last time I visited NYC with a group of friends Uber and Lyft were sometimes cheaper than the subway split between the 4 of us.
The Metro (subway)
- The subway is quite the New York City experience. I personally love taking it whenever I can but be warned – it gets terribly crowded during commute hours.
- Also, in the summer, some of the subway stations are hot and muggy. Since the itinerary takes you to every corner of Manhattan, I suggest getting a MetroCard during your 4 days in New York.
- What is more iconic than a bright gold New York City taxi? To know if a taxi is available for pick up, check the light on top of the cab. If the light is illuminated, the taxi is eager to take you! Credit cards accepted.
Best Things to Do New York City Autumn (Post Summary)
In sum, these are the best things to do in the fall in New York City.
- Stroll (or bike) through Central Park
- Enjoy fresh apple cider & apple cider donuts
- Snap a picture at the pumpkin arch on Pier 17
- Celebrate Oktoberfest with friends
- Try to find New York City’s best hot chocolate
- Bundle up at a rooftop bar
- Find the best halloween decorations
- Get your fill of pumpkin beer
- Dine under the fall decorations at Serra By Birria
- Check out the Macy’s Day Parade
- Go iceskating surrounded by fall foliage in Central Park
- Stroll through Chelsea Market’s fall decorations
- Experience the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center
- Warm up with a whiskey
- Pick a pumpkin from Queens County Farm
- Grab a burger at Oscar Wilde
- Bryant Park Winter Village & Ice Skating
- Check out Tompkins Square Halloween dog parade
- Shopping in SoHo for the perfect sweater
- Take an after-hours tour of Green-Wood Cemetery
- Take in the fall foliage from a boat
- Check out Boo at the Zoo
- Catch a football game at a local sports bar
- Partake in the Mid Evil Festival
- Explore the New York Botanical Garden
- Take Part in the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade
- Trick or Drink at the Halloween Bar Crawl
- Have a drink at the House of Spirits
- Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
- Visit Washington Square Park
- Explore DUMBO
- Walk the Highline
- Get lost in Greenwich Village
- Explore Industry City
- Visit the MET
Map of Best Fall Activities New York City
I hope you enjoyed this guide as much as I enjoyed creating it! Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions – happy to help!
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.