Fall in NYC: 33 Uniquely Fun Things to Do + Local Hidden Gems

People canoeing on the lake at Central Park in New York City in fall

Ahhh…. Fall is one of the best times to visit New York. The summer crowds have fizzled out, the air is crisp, and the fall foliage is breathtaking. With the holidays around the corner, fall in New York City is packed with exciting events, outdoor fun, and seasonal city activities. From leaf peeping to Halloween festivities, there’s a reason us New Yorkers love the fall in NYC. Here are some of the best things you can’t miss!

Fall in New York City: Weather + Tips

Temperatures fluctuate a lot during the fall in NYC, ranging from the mid 70’s to low 50’s later in November. Layers are essential, and you’ll definitely want to pack a jacket, sweaters, and a scarf. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so be sure to pack comfortable sneakers or boots!

There is a very small chance of snow, but it’s not uncommon. We’ve had halloweens covered in snow here. So pay attention to the weather, the closer you get to your flight. Don’t miss our guide on what to wear in New York + packing tips.

Things to Do in NYC in Fall + Special Events

1. Go Glamping in NYC

Ideal temperatures and vibrant New York foliage make fall a perfect time to go glamping in NYC. From luxurious retreats to unique getaways, New York offers plenty of glamping opportunities.

2. NYC Fall & Christmas Markets for Shopping 

NYC markets are the best places to find unique souvenirs or gifts for the holidays. From vintage items to handmade crafts, you can find anything at these markets!

  • The Market at the Brooklyn Museum: Every Sunday, this market sets up in front of the Brooklyn Museum, selling handmade goods from local artisans. Clothing, jewelry, home goods, and apothecary items are all available from the 20+ local vendors that participate.
  • FAD Market at Governor’s Island: Take a quick ferry to this market, which takes place on the third weekend of the month, through October. While perusing handmade items, enjoy a delicious cocktail or game of pétanque!
  • Brooklyn Flea Market: Brooklyn’s largest flea market takes place each weekend, underneath DUMBO’s archway. Shop for vintage pieces and antique furniture, along with a small selection of jewelry, crafts, and delicious food.
  • Bushwick Flea Market: This eclectic market is located on Wyckoff Ave in the trendy neighborhood of Bushwick. You’ll find everything from giant plants to vintage knick-knacks and antique furniture.
  • Christmas Markets: I have dedicated a whole post to the best Christmas Markets in NYC <– click to see.

3. Green-Wood Cemetery Tours

This 478-acre cemetery in Brooklyn was founded in 1838 and is a National Historic Landmark. Green-Wood offers stunning views of the skyline and hosts annual events, movie nights, concerts, and art installations. Sign up for a guided tour (either by foot or trolley) to learn more about its unique history.

Don’t miss the concerts in the catacombs and the Halloween-themed events when visiting Green-Wood Cemetery in the fall.

4. NYC Helicopter Tour

To appreciate the fall foliage from above, hop on a NYC helicopter tour. Take in breathtaking views of the city’s iconic landmarks as you soar over Central Park and the Statue of Liberty. The ride lasts 15 minutes, leaving you plenty of time to continue exploring these sites once you’re back on the ground!

5. City Biking Trails & Tours

Biking is one of the best ways to get to know various neighborhoods of the city. You can grab a citibike and venture on your own or go on a tour where all equipment is provided, and the guides are super knowledgeable about the area you’re exploring.

  • Lower Manhattan: This 2-hour tour takes you through Lower Manhattan and over the Brooklyn Bridge. Your guide will explain the history of the area and point out prime photo opps!
  • Central Park: To explore Upper Manhattan, hop on this 3.5 hour electric bike tour. You’ll cycle through classic landmarks in Central Park and the surrounding neighborhoods. 
  • Brooklyn Bridge Waterfront: Discover the lively neighborhoods of DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights on this 2-hour guided tour. You’ll ride over the Brooklyn Bridge and along Brooklyn’s gorgeous waterfront. 
  • For biking trails to do on your own, I highly recommend Randalls Island, Starlight Park (Bronx River Greenway), and the West Side Highway. Avoid the bridges unless you’re experienced or on a e-bike. The incline is gnarly. And the crowds on the Brooklyn Bridge are dangerous to bike through. If you want to bike the BK Bridge, do so in the very early morning or late night.

6. Queens County Farm + Falls Event

The Queens County Farm Museum is NYC’s largest remaining stretch of undisturbed farmland, and one of the most unique free museums in NYC. The grounds are open to the public and they host fun events throughout the year, including special dinners and farmhouse tours.

In the fall, fun events are scheduled like:

  • Amazing Maize Maze: the only corn maze in NYC, and pumpkin picking every October! If you’re in NYC in November, check out the Harvest Dance Celebration, which celebrates Native American culture through music and dance. 
  • Annual Queens County Fair: This weekend-long agricultural fair takes place every September. Trade in the hustle of the city for pie eating contests, hayrides, and carnival rides. There’s always plenty of live music, theatrical performances, and food vendors.

7. Go Ice Skating in NYC

Not only is ice skating one of the best winter activities in NYC, it’s also a great choice for late fall, as places open for the season in November. If you’re visiting NYC in December, you may even see snow flurries while you skate!

8. Open House New York

This nonprofit focuses on celebrating all things New York, and every fall they host OHNY Weekend. This annual festival celebrates all 5 boroughs of the city, with in-person events, self-guided adventures, and digital content all free to the public. Explore factories, city blocks, and entire buildings through this immersive event.

9. Westchester Fall & Halloween Day Trips

If you’re visiting NYC in October, then take advantage of the many Halloween-themed day trips from the city. Between the Hudson Valley, Catskills, Westchester, and Long Island, there are plenty of festive (and slightly scary) events to check out!

  • Pumpkin Blaze: Each year in Westchester, an 18th-century estate is transformed into the Hudson Valley’s most prominent fall event! Over 7,000 carved pumpkins are illuminated, as synchronized lights, life-size dinosaurs and a 24-foot spider web take over the manor!
  • Lyndhurst After Dark: Every fall, the Lyndhurst Mansion opens for evening visits. See the enchanting mansion lit by candlelight, while performers depict the property’s dark history.

10. NYC Fall Food + Eating Markets

Visiting outdoor food markets is one of the best things to do in New York City. They’re a great way to discover local businesses and try delicious dishes from around the world.

  • Smorgasburg: Brooklyn’s biggest open-air food market takes place on Saturdays in Williamsburg and Sundays in Prospect Park. Over 65 vendors sell a diverse range of delicacies, so it’s perfect for discovering local restaurants!
  • Bronx Night Market: This monthly outdoor food market in Fordham Plaza features over 40 global cuisines. The market also includes fantastic musical performances each month.
  • Queens Night Market: Every Saturday from 5pm to midnight, 100 vendors sell art, products, and incredible food. Cultural performances are scheduled each week, making this a wonderfully festive, and delicious, market!

11. NYC Parks for Fall Foliage

To see the most impressive NYC fall foliage, head straight to some of the city’s most idyllic parks. 

  • Wave Hill Gardens: This hidden gem in the Bronx is sprawled across a  28-acre estate. Greenhouses, gardens, a cafe, galleries, and woodland comprise the stunning space. Sign up for their fall foliage tours to learn more.
  • Prospect Park: While beautiful all year, Prospect Park is especially magical in the fall. Stroll through the lush park and along its expansive lake to admire the vibrant fall colors. The park also houses the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, which is gorgeous in the fall.
  • Central Park: This is Manhattan’s ultimate spot for leaf peeping. Stroll along the Reservoir or walk through the Ramble for some of the park’s most vibrant foliage. At the Loeb Boathouse, rent a rowboat and appreciate the stunning colors from the water!
  • Fort Tryon: This gorgeous oasis is a prime spot for experiencing NYC’s foliage. The park offers 8 miles of tree-lined pathways and amazing riverfront views. Don’t miss the park’s stunning 3-acre Heather Garden!

12. Explore the Bronx

In addition to Wave Hill and the Bronx Night Market, there are endless things to do in the Bronx! Check out the New York Botanical Garden, go on a Bronx Historical Tour, or visit the Universal Hip Hop Museum. If you’re visiting NYC in September, you can even catch a Yankees game at their home stadium!

13. Fall Day Trip to Cute Small Towns 

To experience stunning fall foliage and get a break from the city, visit one of the many charming small towns in Upstate NY. With plenty of public transportation options, there are numerous, easily accessible day trips from NYC

  • Cold Spring, NY: One of the most gorgeous and walkable small towns in New York. Check out the antique shop along Main Street, go for a hike, or visit Bannerman Castle on the Hudson River. The scenic train ride from NYC takes about 90 minutes and brings you straight to the town center.
  • Beacon, NY: This charming town along the Hudson River is easily reached by a 90 minute train ride from NYC. Museums, art galleries, scenic hikes and delicious restaurants make Beacon an ideal day trip from NYC. The town is quite walkable, though there’s also a free bus that takes visitors to key spots. 
  • Peekskill, NY: Another easy train ride away along the Hudson River, Peekskill is known for its thriving artistic community and has several galleries. Even though it’s still up-and-coming, there are many unique things to do in Peekskill, NY.
  • Sleepy Hollow, NY: Just 30 minutes north of NYC, this charming village offers historic landmarks, the walkable Valley Street, and the famous story about an elusive Headless Horseman.

14. New York Film Festival

Taking place every fall, this is one of the longest-running and most prominent film festivals in the United States. Works by both renowned filmmakers and new artists are showcased throughout the festival. Attendees can purchase single screening tickets or multi-day passes for the whole event.

  • Location: Lincoln Center
  • Cost: Prices Vary [Get Tickets Here]
  • Dates: September 29 – October 15

15. Hudson Valley Cruise from Manhattan to Bear Mountain

This cruise to Bear Mountain leaves from Pier 83 in Manhattan and takes you along the Hudson Valley’s dreamy fall foliage. It’s such a unique way to get out of the city! On the boat ride up, you can listen to live music and enjoy some Oktoberfest-themed food and beer. But the biggest highlight is arriving at Bear Mountain State Park to explore the beautiful nature. Here, you can go boat paddling, hike one of the many trails (right now only Popolopen Creek Trail is open), eat at the 1915 Restaurant, and much more. 

For this cruise, I recommend getting the VIP tickets as this will grant you access to the nicer parts of the boat and includes your food and beverage. Or, you can wait until getting to the Bear Mountain State Park and eat at the on-site restaurant, but this may eat at your time in Bear Mountain State Park which is limited to 3 hours. 

Bonus – Their Oktoberfest theme is complemented by a German Polka band playing on the second floor.

16. Go Kayaking & Canoeing in NYC

Make the most of the great weather in early fall by hopping on a kayak! You can take part in a free program, or sign up for a guided tour.

  • Manhattan Community Boathouse: At Pier 96, enjoy free kayaking on the Hudson River through early October! It’s first come first serve, and open every weekend. 
  • Statue of Liberty Tour: Kayak to NYC’s most iconic landmark on this 3 hour tour! Prior experience is encouraged, as you’ll be navigating deep water.

17. NYC Ghost & Halloween Tour

Get in the Halloween spirit with this spooky, evening ghost tour of Greenwich village! For 2 hours, follow your guide as they tell creepy stories of celebrity ghosts and lost children, and bring you to Washington Square Park’s Hanging Tree. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts and goblins, it’s a fun way for learning more about the history of the area!

18. Day Trip to Niagara Falls

For an incredibly scenic day trip, head to Niagara Falls. While the drive is about 7 hours, it will be completely worth it- and gorgeous thanks to all the fall foliage you’ll drive through! Admire the jaw-dropping waterfall, take in the view from a boat tour, or hop on a helicopter for a birds-eye-view. 

19. San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy Neighborhood

This 10-day celebration takes over Little Italy every year with games, rides, and of course, food. The Feast of San Gennaro celebrates the life of the Italian bishop, and has become a beloved festival in NYC. Music performances, dance groups, and several eating competitions are all part of the festivities!

Fun fact: Did you know that the ORIGINAL Little Italy neighborhood is actually in the Bronx?

20. Fall Foliage Sailing Tours (Half-Day)

Seeing the NYC skyline from the water is a must, but especially when it’s draped in vibrant fall colors. Hop on a half-day tour along the Hudson River to enjoy cityscape views, along with New York’s impressive foliage.

  • Sunset Cruise: Take in vivid fall colors and iconic NYC landmarks on this 2 hour sunset schooner cruise. Sip on champagne, wine or beer as you sail past the One World Trade Center and the orange hues of Battery Park.
  • Sailboat Cruise to Statue of Liberty: Cruise past the Statue of Liberty while admiring NYC’s skyline, surrounded by fall colors. Your sail comes with one complimentary drink and lasts two hours.
  • Fall Foliage Sail: Specifically designed for scoping out fall foliage, this tour sails up the Hudson River. Take in the stunning fall colors from the water on this scenic half-day trip, which includes hot chocolate, beer or wine. It’s a more intimate experience on a traditional wooden sail boat with a cute interior. You can also bring your own picnic.

21. Best Fall Hiking Day Trips from NYC

Fall in NYC is the best time of year to go for a hike. Enjoy the crisp air and extraordinary colors on one of the many easily accessed hikes from NYC.

  • Anthony’s Nose: This 2 mile trail is a quick, moderate hike located in the Hudson Highlands, providing sweeping views over the Hudson River. To get here, take the train from NYC for a little over an hour and then walk to the trailhead from the Manitou station. 
  • Bull Hill: Reachable from Cold Spring, this 6 mile hike is considered long and moderate. Located in the Eastern Hudson Highlands, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with picturesque views of the Hudson River.
  • Cornish Estate: The Cornish Estate Ruins in Cold Spring are reached by a quick and easy 1.8 mile trail. It’s a very peaceful hike along a mostly paved trail, and perfect if you’re not looking for an extreme workout. 
  • Kaaterskill Falls: This two-stage waterfall in the Catskills is reached by a short, 1.4mile round trip hike. It’s a popular trail, so get there early or opt for a weekday visit.
  • Awosting Falls + Minnewaska Lake: Minnewaska State Park is just 2 hours from the city, and known for its stunning lake and waterfall. Reach the Awosting Falls by a 1.1mile trail, or picnic along the park’s stunning lake.

22. New York’s Annual Village Halloween Parade (FREE)

If you’re visiting NYC in late October, there is the Village Halloween Parade. Beginning from King Street, and running up 6th avenue until 15th street, the NYC Halloween parade showcases the most elaborate and creative costumes in the city. You can participate or admire as a spectator for a fun and festive night! 

23. Attend a US Open Tennis Match

Tennis fans visiting NYC in early fall are in luck! Every year, the US Open takes place in early September, in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Tickets tend to sell out quickly, so it’s worth booking in advance if you’re hoping to attend. And who knows, you might bump into a celebrity or two!

24. New York Comic Con

The East Coast’s largest comic and pop culture event takes place every October. Panels by comic creators, celebrity meet and greets, and countless fans decked out in elaborate costumes all join together for this 4 day convention. Buy your tickets early, because this popular event always sells out! 

25. Sleep No More Interactive Theatre

This is one of the coolest things to do in NYC if you love art and immersive theater experience. Sleep No More shares the tale of Shakespeare’s Macbeth through a film noir lens. Audience members move freely throughout various flors and rooms of the McKittrick Hotel, coming upon different moments of performances. There is even a part with a beautiful bar and a singer (the Manderley), that you shouldn’t miss! This DIY journey through Shakespeare’s tragedy is perfect for getting into Halloween’s spooky spirit.

26. Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

If you want to take a break from city-living, you can take the train or drive to the cute town of Saugerties for the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival– a two-day annual fall event with tons of garlic-related activities. You can explore hundreds of stalls with different types of garlic dishes and food samples, like garlic ice cream! You can also attend chef demonstrations, hear live music performance, and shop for artisan crafts.

27. Atlantic Antic

This beloved Brooklyn event is the oldest and biggest street festival in Brooklyn. From Fourth Ave to the waterfront, Atlantic Avenue is filled with music, entertainment, diverse food and local crafts. Try cuisine from some of the avenue’s many restaurants, and shop from local artisans at this lively street festival.

28. Go Pumpkin Picking in NYC or Upstate NY

Pumpkin picking is the perfect way to celebrate the fall in New York City or Upstate NY. You can stay in the city, or visit one of the many great options that are within 2 hours of NYC by train, bus, or car.

  • Queens County Farm Museum: Open daily in October, this expansive pumpkin patch in Queens is free to the public. Pumpkins are priced by weight, and you’ll need to bring your own bag.
  • Decker Farm: Pick your own pumpkins at this Staten Island farm, which is open every weekend. You can also enjoy a farm fresh meal or try pumpkin chucking!
  • Lewin Farms: This family owned farm is a great place to go pumpkin picking in Long Island. They also set up a fun corn maze and sell beer from a nearby brewery.
  • DuBois Farms: This is one of the most popular farms for pumpkin picking in the Hudson Valley. After picking your pumpkins, have a drink at their tavern or shop at their on-site farmers market.
  • Kelder’s Farm: In the Catskills, this picturesque farm offers pick-your-own pumpkins from their sprawling field. They even have an on-site bar and farmers market!

29. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

On Thanksgiving morning, countless locals and tourists line up along Central Park West and Sixth avenue to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Gigantic balloons, Broadway musical cast members, celebrities, and marching bands take part in the festivities, which lasts from 9am to 12pm. It’s definitely worth checking out for the elaborate balloons!

30. Brooklyn Book Festival

Authors of all sizes and avid readers are brought together at NYC’s biggest free literary festival. Taking place every fall in Downtown Brooklyn, the festival lasts one week. Discover up and coming authors, take part in discussions, and connect with the literary community at this wonderful event!

31. Opera Season Begins

Opera season begins in October, making it a perfect fall activity in NYC! The Metropolitan Opera House is a legendary NYC venue, and the biggest repertory opera house in the world. See what’s scheduled when you’re in town, and check out the Met’s Friday’s Under 40 program which offers discounted Friday tickets for attendees 40 and under.

32. Greenwich Village Food Walking Tour

Fall in NYC offers the perfect weather to walk for hours around NYC! And with so many diverse restaurants to try, a food walking tour is a fun way to get to know the city culturally. This Greenwich Village tour lasts 3.5 hours and takes you to some of the neighborhood’s best local haunts. Donuts, pizzas, bagels, cupcakes and more are all on the menu, so you won’t leave hungry!

33. Fall Farmers Markets in NYC 

Whether you’re craving homemade pumpkin pie, apple cider, or seasonal veggies, there are hundreds of NYC farmers markets to explore. Here are the biggest ones:

  • Grand Army Plaza: Found at the Northwest entrance of Prospect Park, this market is open every Saturday from 8am-3pm. Neighborhood locals flock here for farm fresh produce, plus weekly cooking demonstrations.
  • Columbus Avenue: The 79th Street Greenmarket takes place every Sunday on Columbus Ave. A variety of fresh produce is offered, from ostrich meat and grass fed beef to seasonal vegetables and fruits.
  • Union Square: This is NYC’s largest farmers market, where up to 140 farmers, fishers, and bakers sell their produce. Artisan breads, maple syrup, fresh cut flowers and plants are just some of the market’s unique offerings.

 34. Apple Picking in the Catskills & Hudson Valley

Apple picking is one of the most cherished fall activities in NY. And just outside of the city, you’ll find plenty of apple orchards to explore! Perfect for kids or adults, apple picking is a New York autumn ritual, with dozens of orchards and patches located just outside of the city.

  • Group Tour: This tour to Pennings Orchards includes roundtrip transportation from NYC, guaranteeing a seamless daytrip. Spend the day picking up to 10 pounds of apples, followed by a glass at their family owned cidery.
  • Apple Ridge Orchards: Two hours away from NYC, this family-run orchard features gorgeous views and a variety of apple trees to pick from, plus pumpkins in October. They also have hay rides, farm animals, and weekend BBQs!
  • Masker Orchards: In the Hudson Valley, this 200 acre orchard is perfect for a day of apple picking. Admission is free, but you’ll be charged by the bushel after you’re done picking.
  • Greig Farm: Apple and pumpkin picking are offered at this environmentally conscious Hudson Valley farm. They also have pygmy goats, a koi pond, and a community garden.

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About the Author: Shea Glaser

Shea was born in NYC and has called the city home for most of her life. Her work as a travel-focused content creator has taken her around the globe, but her heart always brings her back home to New York City. You can usually find her drinking coffee in Brooklyn, hiking somewhere Upstate, or running up to pet a stranger’s dog. Follow her on Instagram @sheaglaser.

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