How to Spend Fall in NYC: Ultimate Bucket List Experiences
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 Times Square, The Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Terminal, etc., you can find the overall best things to do in NYC here!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- How to Spend Fall in NYC: Ultimate Bucket List Experiences
- Stroll through Central Park
- Explore the High Line
- Experience Fall Foliage From A NYC Observation Deck
- See Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Fall Blooms
- Take a Hiking Day Trip from NYC
- Go Apple Picking
- Queens County Farm Museum
- Experience the Halloween Parade
- Pumpkin Experiences in NYC
- NYC’s Haunted Houses
- NYC Whale Watching Cruise
- Enjoy A Drink At The Cantor Roof Garden Bar Inside the MET
- Join in on Oktoberfest
- Go Ice Skating in NYC
- Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
- The Haunted Tavern: A Dark Pop-Up
- Eat Your Way Through Eataly
- Attend a Football Game
- See the Cloisters at the MET
- Experience Smorgasborg
- Go on A Haunted NYC Walking Tour
- Indulge in Resturant Week in NYC
- Check Out the NYC Fall Festivals
- See the Winter Village at Bryant Park
- Experience the Holiday Displays Without The Crowds
- NYC Christmas Attractions in Fall
- Go Kayaking on the Hudson
- New York Botanical Garden
- Go Leaf-Peeping in NYC Parks
- Check Out a Fall or Halloween Inspired Restaurant or Bar
- NYC Fall Bucket List Review
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 Central Park’s most notable places to visit include Bow Bridge, Bethesda Fountain, Strawberry Fields, Gapstow Bridge, and Belvedere Castle.
Additionally, you must also walk through “The Mall” in Central Park. It is one of the most photographed places in NYC during autumn because of how the trees cover the walkway!
If you’d like a more romantic experience, consider even renting a row boat in Central Park! Furthermore, a great free fall event in NYC is the Central Park Foatilla, where you can see pumpkins float across the Harlem Meer!
Read: If you want Instagrammable photos in NYC – you will find plenty here!
Explore the High Line
I have mentioned the High Line in past New York guides, and I will say it again in this NYC Fall bucket list! Like Central Park, the High Line is nice all year (maybe not as much in Winter) and especially during the Fall!
The High Line 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.
Experience Fall Foliage From A NYC Observation Deck
Walking through all the fall foliage in New York City is all well and good, but an even cooler way to see fall colors is with the thrilling activity of being at the top of one of NYC’s observation decks!
This will allow you to get a birds-eye view of the incredible fall foliage throughout the Manhattan skyline! Two of the best observation decks to do this is at the Summit One Vanderbilt and the Top of the Rock. Both of these towers should give you lovely views of Central Park from above.
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.
Take a Hiking Day Trip from NYC
Hiking is one of the most popular fall activities in NYC, and 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.
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 on Long Island! Most farms will also include corn mazes, fresh apple cider donuts, hot and or spiked apple cider, and more.
Some of my favorite farms to go apple picking are:
- Lewin Farms in Calverton, Long Island
- Harbes Orchard in Riverhead, Long Island
- Daves Orchards in Warwick, NY
Apple picking is generally from the beginning of September through October. It is always best to check with the farm before visiting!
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.
Each year, they have a pumpkin patch, Corn Maze, Hayrides, fall decorations, and a Halloween event. In the past, they have also held trick-or-treat events for families.
While you’re there, don’t miss the farm stand for some fresh produce or apple cider donuts. 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. This year, the afterparty will be at Webster Hall.
Pumpkin Experiences in NYC
While you can enjoy tons of pumpkin treats while in NYC, like pumpkin spiced lattes, basic, I know, you should also enjoy some actual pumpkin experiences. Therefore, I’d recommend checking out 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 2023 are TBA.
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!
NYC’s Haunted Houses
If you really want to get into spooky season, why not enjoy some of the most haunted places to visit this fall in NYC! These are, by far, some of the best Halloween events in NYC!
This year, the pop-up Nightmare Dollhouse will test your fears, with immersive creepy, and scary things “coming for you.” This is a 16 years and up event, so you know it will be more on the spooky side! You can find tickets for this event here.
Blood Mannor has been known as one of the most frightening haunted houses to visit in NYC during the fall season. This haunted house will have you “facing your darkest fears” and pull all the stops to make you scream! It’s their 20th year and tickets are on sale directly on their website.
If you don’t mind heading out to Long Island, there are also several haunted houses to choose from, including Bayville Scream Park Bayville, Chambers Of Hell Hauppauge, and F&W Schmitt’s Family Farm Melville.
NYC Whale Watching Cruise
Did you know fall is a perfect time to go whale watching in NYC? In recent years, New York’s waterways have seen an influx of whales and dolphins! This unique activity to do in the fall also includes seeing some of NYC’s top landmarks from the water – which are honestly some of the best views!
Spots are limited and usually only happen on Sundays, so make sure to check out ticket availability! It’s a little over 4 hours on the water!
Enjoy A Drink At The Cantor Roof Garden Bar Inside the MET
During your fall trip to NYC, you would be remiss to skip the MET, one of the best museums in the city. However, to make your fall visit more exciting, head to the 5th floor to the Cantar Roof Garden to enjoy some small bites, drinks, and beautiful views of Central Park’s fall colors!
The roof will be open until October 22nd this year, so if you visit the MET, make sure to add a stop at the roof!
Address: 1000 Fifth Avenue; New York, NY 10028
Join in on Oktoberfest
If enjoying some great beer is your thing, a great way to enjoy fall in NYC is by participating in Oktoberfest around the city. Tons of Biergartens will be joining in!
Although the name makes you believe this is an event that just happens in October, but that is actually not the case. This year, you will find beer festivities from early September through the end of October.
Some of the best places to enjoy this German tradition are:
- Stone Street
- Watermark Bar
- Loreley Beer Garden
- TorchFest in Union Square
- Oktoberfest Long Island
Go Ice Skating 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 these 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. If you want a good spot, they suggest getting to the west side of Central Park West from West 75th to West 61st Streets by 6 AM. This is where some of the best views can be found.
Fun Fact: I actually used 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.
The Haunted Tavern: A Dark Pop-Up
Want to feel festive and have cocktails included in the experience? Then, you will want to add The Haunted Tavern to your NYC fall bucket list. This pop-up event includes a 4-part interactive cocktail experience operated by the descendants of Ichabod Crane (the man portrayed in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow).
The event takes place at Marte Hall, and you can find tickets here!
Address: 81 Seigel St, Brooklyn, NY 11206
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 sport, 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.
See the Cloisters at the MET
The Cloisters is 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
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!
Go on A Haunted NYC Walking Tour
Did you know NYC has a ton of haunted places? In fact, there are even landmarks that were built on top of cemeteries. One of the more “haunted” neighborhoods is Greenwich Village.
So, join a fun and yet spooky walking tour that will go over some of the darker sides of this city.
Indulge in Resturant Week in NYC
Twice a year, NYC has Restaurant Week, one of the most coveted times for locals. This is because some of the best restaurants in New York put together fixed prices, making meals exciting and more affordable.
One of these times is in September, and it usually last a couple of weeks. It has already ended this fall – so if you missed it, you can try back around January/February.
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 1st-3rd. EZoo Tickets
New York Fashion Week – People from around the globe come to NYC for this fall event. September 7th – 13th, 2023. 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!) in Little Italy on September 14th, 2023
New York Comic Con – An extremely popular event in NYC. October 12th – 15th, 2023. Comic-Con Tickets. If you are staying in New York during these dates, book a hotel ASAP.
New York Film Festival – September 29th – October 15th. NY Film Festival Info.
Columbus Day Parade – October 10th
New York Marathon – a lot of streets shut down. November 5th.
New York Comedy Festival – get your laugh on from November 3th – 12th.
Brooklyn Botanic Lightscape: An Outdoor Color and Light Experience at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Tickets on sale for November 17th – January 1st.
NYBG GLOW: Mid-November
Here are the best hotels and neighborhoods to stay in NYC.
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.
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.
NYC Christmas Attractions in Fall
Just like holiday window displays, you also have the opportunity to enjoy Christmas attractions in the Fall. These usually open up the week of Thanksgiving in November or just after Thanksgiving.
Some events you should look to see include The Christmas Spectactical Rockettes at Radio City, The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center (tickets go on sale 9/25), and the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights.
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. They are now on a first-come, first-served, and they recommend getting to the dock early. All skill levels are welcome as long as you know how to swim! Additionally, they offer lockers! Also, plan to get wet.
Address: Pier 96 Boathouse 56th Street in Hudson River Park
New York Botanical Garden
If you’re looking for some more beautiful fall colors, you can also consider adding the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) to your NYC Fall bucket list. It is also great for those looking for things to do with kids. NYBG usually has fall events, including pumpkin patches, and all their fall flowers are in bloom.
Last year, the NYBG had Spooky Garden Nights, Halloween at the Garden, Bales and Ales, and pumpkin carving.
Address: 2900 Southern Boulevard Bronx, NY 10458-5126
Go Leaf-Peeping in NYC Parks
Aside from the famous Central Park, there are other beautiful parks in NYC to enjoy fall colors and leaf-peep. Some additional New York City Parks you should consider adding to your bucket list include Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, Brooklyn Bridge Park (by the Promenade), and Battery Park.
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!
Have any questions about this Fall in NYC Bucket list or feel like I missed something? Let me know in the comments below!