Ultimate NYC Fall Bucket List Guide from a Local NY’er

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How to Spend Fall in NYC Bucket List Guide

If you didn’t already know, New York City in Autumn is just amazing! Offering some of the best fall foliage in the United States, New York offers tons of fall vibes and activities. So if you are planning on heading to NYC in the Fall, here is your ultimate bucket list of things to do!

Keep in mind this list covers some of the best fall activities in NYC, but if you are looking for NYC staples such as Top of The Rock, The Statue of Liberty, etc, you can find the overall best things to do in NYC here!

Central Park in NYC is a great free things to do
Strolling around Central Park is one of the best free things to do in NYC in fall

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Stroll through Central Park

Central Park should easily be at the top of your Fall NYC bucket list! While Central Park is arguably great all year round, it’s wonderful during the fall foliage.

Central Park encompasses 843 acres situated between the Upper East side and Upper West side of Manhattan. Some of the most notable places to visit in Central Park include Bow Bridge, Bethesda Fountain, Strawberry Fields, Gapstow Bridge, and Belvedere Castle.

Additionally, you must also walk through “The Mall” in Central Park which is most photographed during autumn because of how the trees cover the walkway! If you want Instagrammable photos in NYC – you will find plenty here!

If you’d like a more romantic experience, consider even renting a row boat in Centra Park!

Central Park NYC at Bow Bridge
Bow Bridge in Central Park in fall
Bow Bridge in Central Park should be on your NYC Fall Bucket List

Explore the Highline

I have mentioned the Highline in past New York guides, and I will say it again in this NYC Fall bucket list! Similar to Central Park, the Highline is nice all year (maybe not as much in Winter) and is especially nice during the Fall!

The Highline was a railroad track, transformed into a 1.45-mile elevated green space that is totally free to enjoy!

Now with NYC’s newest additions of the Edge and Vessel at Hudson Yards, you can easily enjoy all 3 at the same time since the Highline starts right after.

From the Vessel, you can walk all the way down the Highline to Gansevoort St. However, if you don’t feel like walking the full stretch, I’d suggest walking the Highline to the Chelsea Market at the very least! At Chelsea Market, they will surely have fall treats including apple cider donuts and pumpkin lattes.

One of the best things to do in NYC is walking the Highline in fall
View of the Empire State Building from the Highline

See Brooklyn Botanic Gardens fall Blooms

Love Botanical Gardens? Add the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in Prospect Park to your Fall NYC bucket list for their fall blooms!

This gives you a chance to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy 52 acres of beautiful blooms. They even have a bloom calendar you can check before your visit.

After making your way through the garden, you can explore more of Prospect Park. If you are visiting towards the end of fall in November, you can even catch their famous holiday train show!

Currently, tickets must be purchased in advance. Check the Brooklyn Botanic Garden site for tickets and additional information on your visit.

Central park in Fall in NYC at Bow Bridge.

Take a Hiking Day Trip from NYC

Hiking is a very popular activity among New Yorkers in Fall for good reason. Because the weather in NYC is so pleasant during fall, it makes hiking the perfect bucket list activity!

There are quite a few places you can go hiking close to NYC. Some popular places to consider are Bear Mountain, the Appalachian trail to Anthony’s Nose, Breakneck Ridge, many Greenways on Long Island, and hiking in upstate New York.

Some helpful apps to use for hiking in NYC are AllTrails and Maps.Me.

Go Apple Picking

Another Fall NYC favorite and totally bucket list-worthy activity to do is apple picking! There are quite a few apple orchards near NYC including those in the Hudson Valley and tons of apple picking locations out East on Long Island! Most farms will also include corn mazes, fresh apple cidar donuts, hot and or spiked apple cidar, and more.

Some of my favorite farms to go apple picking are:

Apple picking is generally from the beginning of September through October. It is always best to check with the farm before visiting!

Apple Picking in NYC during the fall
Warwick Apple Picking
Apple picking at Lewins Farm
Apple Picking at Lewins Farm

Queens County Farm Museum

A fun place to visit during the fall in New York is the Queens County Farm Museum. Not only will you enjoy some lovely fall foliage, but they also set up fun fall displays. The farm celebrates 325 years of agricultural roots and has a lot of fun fall activities this year.

Enjoy the pumpkin patch, Autumn Dance Celebration (November 13th), their Amazing Maize (Corn) Maze, Hayrides, and Halloween event. The corn maze is sponsored by Con Edison and in the shape of a Ram’s head this year and is open during the day and at night for those looking for a more spooky experience.

On the 30th of October, the Queens County Farm will host its Trick-or-Treat party where there will be a costume contest, a haunted house, and a dance party. Tickets are $20 USD, and free under 3 years old. You will need to get tickets in advance!

Additionally, you won’t want to miss the farm stand if you are looking for some fresh produce or apple cider donuts on the weekend! To get tickets to the special events, head to the Queens County Farm Museum website.

Address: 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy, Queens, NY 11004

Experience the Halloween Parade

Spending Halloween in NYC? If you are not already attending a Halloween party, make your way over to the annual Village Halloween Parade! Everyone and even their pets get dressed up and celebrate down the streets!

The Parade is usually on Halloween, October 31st from 7 PM to 11 PM. After, you can find tons of parties and events happening all over the City.

Furthermore, if you love Halloween festivities, you can experience one of the Jack O’ Lantern events happening in New York.

Rise of the Jack O’ Lanterns at Old Westbury Garden in Long Island has around 5,000 hand-carved Jack O’ Lanterns creatively placed down a walking path with music and all the spooky feels! It is one of the best fall activities to do on Long Island, NY.

Long Island also has a handful of Haunted Houses and pumpkin patches where you can do U-Pick pumpkins. Check the Jack O’ Lantern website here for tickets.

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in the Hudson Valley in New York is planning over 7,000 Jack O’ Lanterns this year. The dates for 2022 will be September 17- November 20th. Advance reservations are required.

The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze is happening from September- November and you can learn more about the Jack O’ Lantern Blaze here! There is also one on Long Island as well!

Pumpkin Picking in Long Island New York. Field of pumpkins
Pumpkins on Long Island, New York

House of Spirits: A Haunted Cocktail Soirée

This NYC fall activity is for those who are looking for a fun Halloween experience while also enjoying some cocktails in a haunted mansion. The event starts on October 1st where you can enjoy wandering around the mansion, sipping on miniature craft cocktails and French Truffle Chocolates.

They even encourage you to dress up for extra Halloween Spirit! Tickets go quick, so check here for additional event information and tickets to the House of Spirits.

Go Iceskating in NYC

Exploring the City around the end of October? You have your choice of several outdoor ice skating rinks to choose from!

Outdoor skating rinks include Wollman Rink in Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and Bryant Park rink! All of which are in amazing areas in the city, so enjoy!

Wollman Rink Address: 830 5th Ave, New York, NY 10065

Rockefeller Center Address: 600 5th Ave, New York, NY 10020

Bryant Park Rink: 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

Around NYC for the Thanksgiving break? Then you should consider adding the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to your Fall NYC Bucket list!

This parade is one of the largest in the world and the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the USA.

Watch giant balloons make their way through NYC from 9 am – 12 pm on Thanksgiving starting by Macy’s in Herald Square.

Fun Fact, I actually use to work at Macy’s Herald Square in Men’s shoes in my college days!

After Thanksgiving, you can also join in on the madness of Black Friday in New York City where people will be storming the stores.

Macys window displays are one of the best places to see in NYC during December

Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience

Where are all my Harry Potter Fans at? This fun new experience can be the perfect fall activity in New York – espeically if you are looking for something new or different from normal tourist attractions.

The Forbidden Forest Experience is located in Westchester and includes a forest trail inspired by the wizarding world with magical food and drink giving you all the Harry Potter vibes.

The event starts in October (most dates for October sold) and runs into January. The hours are from 5 PM – 11 PM and it takes a little over an hour to walk through the trail. Find tickets and more information about the Forbidden Forest Expereince here.

Eat Your Way Through Eataly

One of the new and trending places to visit in NYC and across the USA is Eataly. They offer high-quality Italian food and go all out on their seasonal decorations!

So after you finish obsessing over their fall decor, enjoy some gelato at the Flat Iron location!

While you are in the area, you should also check out the Flat Iron building, one of the most unique buildings in NYC! From there, you can digest all the pasta and gelato in Madison Square Park (right across the street).

Attend a Football Game

Football is probably my favorite spot and lucky for you, New York has 3 teams to cheer for, 2 in the immediate vicinity during the fall. Head over to MET Life Stadium to see the Football Giants or The New York Jets play. The football season starts in September,.

We are a split family of who our favorite teams are as New Yorkers lol.

NY Football Giants game at night
Giants Game at Metlife Stadium

See the Cloisters at the MET

The Cloisters are easily an underrated gem of NYC and fall bucket list-worthy! Located in Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights, this charming place boasts European medieval art and architecture, with a focus on the Gothic Romanesque periods.

It is a bit of a hike from mid-town, just to keep in mind. You will have to take public transportation or a car service.

Address: 99 Margaret Corbin Dr, New York, NY 10040

Experience Smorgasborg

If you are a foodie, you will definitely want to add Smorgasborg to your bucket list of NYC Fall activities! Basically, they are an outdoor food hall with tons of great stands to choose from which include some must-eat places in New York.

There are 3 locations that often rotate. They are located at the Oculus Center, Prospect Park, and Williamsburg. Smorgasbord is not open every day, so you will want to double-check.

Smorgasburg is generally open starting in the Spring and throughout the Fall. For more about visiting them, stay up to date with the Smorgasburg website!

Williamsburg, Brooklyn New York City Skyline view
Williamsburg, Brooklyn at Smorgasburg

Check Out the NYC Fall Festivals

NYC has tons of festivals in the fall that you might want to consider checking out! These fall festivals are happening from September through December. Here are some of the best fall festivals to check out in NYC.

  • Electric Zoo Music Festival – Ok this one is technically the end of summer, but once September hits, I am in fall mode. September 2nd-4th. EZoo Tickets
  • New York Fashion Week – People from around the globe come to NYC for this fall event. September 9th – 14th, 2022. If you are staying in New York during these dates, book a hotel asap. See the NYFW Shows.
  • Feast of San Gennaro food Festival (Italian food galore!) September 19th, 2022
  • New York Comic Con – An extremely popular event in NYC. October 6th – 9th, 2022. Comic Con Tickets. If you are staying in New York during these dates, book a hotel asap.
  • New York Film Festival – September 30th – October 16th. NY Film Festival Info.
  • Illumination Light Art Festival in Brooklynn – October 6th – 8th.
  • New York City Marathon – a lot of streets shut down. November 6th.
  • New York Comedy Festival – get your laugh on from November 7th – 13th.
  • NYBG GLOW: An Outdoor Color and Light Experience at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. November 18–19, 23, 25–26; December 2–3, 9–11, 15–17, 22–23, 26–30, 2022.

Here are the best hotels and neighborhoods to stay in NYC.

Best Places to Stay in NYC Empire State Building Skyline

See the Winter Village at Bryant Park

So why would a winter village be a part of a fall NYC bucket list? Well because it’s awesome and it starts soon after Halloween.

The Ice skating rink opens, their European holiday shops emerge, the winter village bar opens and tons of other amazing food vendors open up shop! Plus, the Winter Village is also across the street from the NYC Public Library so you can also take a peek in there.

Visiting New York City in December? Make sure to visit the Bryant Park Winter Village!

Experience the Holiday Displays Without The Crowds

If you are heading to NYC after Thanksgiving, you have the opportunity to see a lot of the Christmas window displays without huge crowds!

While you might not get the full effect, (like you would closer to Christmas in NYC) the tree at Rockefeller Center will likely be up (but not lit) Holiday villages will open and Big stores will start to put up their decorations such as Saks 5th Ave, Cartier, and Macy’s.

Here are some of the best NYC Christmas Decorations to check out. Most will be up after Thanksgiving.

Radio City Music Hall in NYC Photography

NYC Christmas Attractions in Fall

Just like holiday window displays, you also have the opportunity to enjoy Christmas attractions in Fall. These usually open up the week of Thanksgiving in November or just after Thanksgiving.

Some events you should look on seeing include The Christmas Spectactical Rockettes, The Nutcracker, and the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights.

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights NYC

Go Kayaking on the Hudson

A fun and free event you can do in the fall is kayaking down the Hudson River with Manhattan Community Boathouse at Pier 96. They are a non-profit, run by volunteers and funded through donations from the public.

Kayaking ends around October 10th giving you some fall time on the water. You can get reservations on the Manhattan Community Boathouse website to hold your spot up to 2 weeks in advance. All skill levels are welcome as long as you know how to swim! Additionally, they offer changing rooms and lockers!

Cricket’s Candy Creations Sweet & Spooky Halloween Harvest

If you are looking for some additional fun in Manhattan with the family, consider visiting Tthe Cricket’s Spooky Halloween Harvest Event which is running through October. A visit includes tons of fun arts and crafts like painting pumpkins, making Halloween-themed edible candy crafts, and enjoying apple cider and apple cider donuts. General admmission is $65 and $80 for VIP.

They will also be hosting a family movie night and a Halloween Party on the 29th and 30th with costume contests, face painting, Halloween candy crafts, and more! The movie night is $45 for those over 2 years old and the Halloween Party is $20 USD. You can find tickets and get more details on Cricket’s Candy Creations here.

Address: 200 Hudson St. New York, NY 10013

Halloween candy treats on a orange background
Photo Courtesy of Cricket’s Candy Creations

Check Out a Fall or Halloween Inspired Restaurant or Bar

Besides hitting up all the cozy and cute cafes in NYC, you might want to check out some fun bars and restaurants.

  • Oscar Wilde NYC | Menu
  • Beetle House | Menu
  • Lillie’s Victorian Establishment | Menu
  • The Cauldron NYC | Menu

NYC Fall Bucket List Review

This concludes some of the best things to do in New York City and everything that should be added to your Autumn bucket list! Fall is really one of the best times to visit NYC, so you will not be disappointed!

Additional New York resources including the best things to do in NYC can be found below!

NYC Guides: Things to know before visiting NYC | Best Free Things to Do in NYC | How to use the Subway in NYC | Funny New Yorker Slang | 4 Days in NYC Massive Itinerary | Best Things to do in NYC at Night | Best Views in NYC | How to Spend Rainy Days in NYC | NYC Quotes

Where to Stay in NYC: MOXY NYC Times Square | Hyatt House Chelsea | Hotel Edison Times Square | New York Marriott Marquis | Lotte New York Palace

NYC Attractions Passes and Guides: City Sightseeing Pass | Hop on Hop Off Bus | Get Your Guide NYC Tours | City Pass

Enjoyed this NYC in Fall Bucket List? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

NYC Fall Bucket List best things to do in New York

8 thoughts on “Ultimate NYC Fall Bucket List Guide from a Local NY’er”

  1. What a wonderful list! As someone who just moved to NYC last year, these were all on my list of things to do! Central Park and the High Line are two of my favorite fall activities, as well as finding cute cafes with fall themed treats and drinks!

  2. We’re moving to Philadelphia in a few years and I can’t wait to finally visit NYC! I definitely want to go for Thanksgiving one year!

  3. This is such a great guide for NYC in the fall. I would have never known about Smorgasborg that’s so cool. Adding to the list for sure!

  4. So many amazing spots in New York City for the fall! I love NYC in the fall because the weather is beautiful, and of course, the foliage is incredible. I haven’t done the hikes you mentioned, so I’m adding those to my bucket list!

  5. I’ve probably been to NYC about 15 times now, but never in fall! The city looks so beautiful with the fall colours. Pinning in hopes I can visit in the future!! Thanks for sharing.


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