These colder months of the year are such a magical time to explore the best things to do in NYC in Fall. Although the city bursts with beauty and entertainment all year round, there’s something about this particular season that sparks a special feeling and excitement all over the place. Whether you’re looking for peaceful fall activities in NYC, the best Halloween events, or super fun parties/festivals, you’ll find endless options for all tastes – and budgets!
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Is fall a good time to visit NYC?
Fall is an excellent time to visit New York, especially between late September and October when summer’s oppressive heat and humidity are gone. This is perfect for doing outdoor activities and exploring the city by foot without feeling uncomfortable.
There are plenty of events and fall activities in NYC that only occur during this season, so it’s a good opportunity to do different things from the usual tourist attractions. And as the parks and streets come alive with beautiful foliage and Halloween spirit, every single corner is the perfect Instagram spot.
Just picture Central Park covered in vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds; Halloween decorations everywhere, and the best coffee shops serving pumpkin spice treats – there’s no cozier time to visit New York!
Tip: NYC can get pretty cold – do you have all your fall and winter essentials? If not, steal my NYC winter packing list 🙂 Alternatively, I can just send it to you for FREE! Just let me know where!
Best Fall Activities In NYC
Apart from the best-known attractions and landmarks, New York has a lot to offer to tourists and locals. Here are the ones you won’t regret trying.
Keep in mind that some of these activities are only available during fall months and others are specifically thought to be enjoyed in the atmosphere of the season. If you’re looking for more general things to do, steal my NYC bucket list! – Or would you rather I’d send it to you for FREE? Just let me know where!
No bucket list of fall activities in NYC would be complete without a visit to Queens County Farm Museum. Being the oldest working farm in New York, it’s a fantastic place to get a glimpse into the state’s agricultural heritage and enjoy your day away from the bustling city.
There are many fun things to do at the farm during fall, such as exploring the pumpkin patch, finding your way out through The Amazing Maize Maze by moonlight, and Halloween events. There’s also an annual fair in September celebrating the farm’s anniversary that includes games, live performances, and different competitions.
General admission to the farm is free unless you’re attending any specific events. In that case, you need to book your entry tickets in advance. Check out the website to see all dates and prices.
If you’re planning a trip to Brooklyn, you can’t miss the chance to take a Madam Morbid’s Trolley Tour of the city. Hop on a funeral parlor trolley that will drive you around the borough visiting the most mysterious locations. Even if you don’t believe in the supernatural, this trip is very fun and informational, and you’ll hear the spookiest stories about Brooklyn’s dark history. It’s a great way to explore and enjoy the sights from the trolley’s fancy leather seats.
There are tours available the whole season. Book your spot here!
Another great way to spend the day outdoors is by exploring the New York Botanical Garden located in the Bronx, just 20 minutes from Midtown Manhattan. This must-see destination features 250 acres of mesmerizing nature, exotic plants, indoor rainforests, and waterfalls.
And for some extra fun, visit the garden during Fall-O-Ween, when you can take part in different seasonal events starting in September.like Bales & Ales, Spooky Nights, and Pumpkin Parade Weekend, with exciting activities and attractions for all ages.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is easily one of the best things to do in NYC in fall. I know you’re probably thinking “They’re just pumpkins”, but I promise you, you’ll be blown away!
Walk through the spooky woods at night and enjoy more than 7,000 dazzling pumpkins everywhere. They’re so skillfully carved and set all over in the most original displays. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience worth trying at least once.
All admission tickets must be booked in advance. Get yours here.
Tip: go in November for cheaper tickets and merch 😉
Need more activities to do in the nighttime? I’ve got you covered with my list of top things to do in New York City at night.
Try Fall Goodies At Farmers Markets
Many farmers’ markets in NYC that operate during summer are still open in the fall. This is a great time to find fresh, locally-produced goods like apples, pumpkins, grapes, honey, and nuts.
In addition, many vendors offer seasonal specialties such as apple cider, apple cider donuts, pumpkin pies, and other autumn-inspired baked products.
Here are some markets that operate during fall:
- Saratoga Farmer’s Market (Saratoga Springs)
- Ithaca Farmer’s Market (Finger Lakes)
- Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market (Hudson Valley)
- Rochester Public Market (Finger Lakes)
Looking for spookier experiences? Here are more Halloween events in New York.
Not the type to get scared easily? Check out these Haunted places in Salem.
Free Things To Do In NYC In Fall
Since many of the activities I mentioned above require the purchase of an admission ticket –which can be pricey– I thought I’d also make a list of free things to do in NYC in fall! So, even with a small budget, there’s no excuse for you to stop having fun and enjoying the city.
Need a little help planning your trip on a budget? I’ve got you covered!
Taking a stroll through Central Park is the easiest of fall activities in NYC. Although the park looks beautiful at any time of the year, during the fall months the vibrant colors of the foliage completely transform the atmosphere of the place with a cozy, nostalgic feeling. The spectacular sights are complemented by iconic locations throughout the park like the Bow Bridge, The Ramble, the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, and different statues.
Moreover, the park is constantly filled with life and activity. You’ll often see rowing boats on the lake, street performers, pedicabs riding around the park, and groups of tourists taking guided tours. You can even ice skate on the frozen lake in colder months. So there’s plenty to see and do in just one place.
Partake In The Village Halloween Parade
If you don’t know how to celebrate the spooky season without spending too much, the Village Halloween Parade is an excellent option! Every October 31, thousands of participants take part in one of the largest annual Halloween parties in the city. All kinds of artists, ghosts, and creatures gather together to give an incredible show free for everyone to enjoy. Prepare to be astonished at the most creative costumes, makeup, and giant puppets you’ll ever see.
Everyone is welcome to participate in the parade and show their creativity for free; the only requirement is wearing a costume!
The theme for 2023 is ‘Upside/Down – Inside/Out’– how would you turn that into a scary costume?
Attending Oktoberfest is easily at the top of the list of best things to do in NYC in fall. This beer festival was originally a German tradition but has extended to many cities across the world. In New York, specifically, Oktoberfest celebrations are usually held from late September to the first weekend of October. These take place at several locations across the city, including some notable spots like Watermark Bar, Zum Schneider, and Central Park.
Not a fan of beer? You don’t have to be! Oktoberfest is primarily a beer festival but you will actually find a vast variety of drinks, traditional German foods, live music, and even fun games and competitions. So there’s something for everyone.
It’s a really exciting event you can attend for free to immerse yourself in German culture and embrace the festive spirit of the city.
Take A Hiking Day Trip
Hiking is one of the most enjoyable fall activities in NYC. A hike during the fall can be a nice activity to disconnect from the chaos of the metropolitan area and enjoy the pleasant weather and stunning sights.
Although New York is primarily an urban environment, there are several natural areas for a hiking day trip. Most of them are beyond the city limits, but they’re easily accessible by a short drive or train ride.
Below I’ve listed some of the most popular places to hike in the city:
- Inwood Hill Park – located in Upper Manhattan, this park has various trails and beautiful vegetation, including views of the Hudson River.
- Van Cortlandt Park – the third-largest New York City Park with forested areas, historical homes, and the oldest golf course in the US. It’s also a great place for a picnic by the lake.
- Breakneck Ridge Loop – this park is better for those who enjoy more challenging trails. You’ll also find fantastic views of the Hudson Valley and the lush mountains.
- Mount Jo – there is a long and short trail to climb the mountain. Mount Jo is surrounded by the Adirondack Mountains with beautiful nature all around. Although it’s free to enter, there’s a parking fee of $15.
Attend The Medieval Festival
The Medieval Festival is a popular annual event that brings back to life the spirit and customs of the Middle Ages. Every fall, the Fort Tryon Park in Manhattan is transformed into a medieval village with banners, processional flags, and attendees dressed in costumes of the period.
The festival is free for everyone to enjoy and celebrate this time in history with medieval-themed entertainment and vendors selling a variety of crafts and food. Furthermore, you’ll find multiple stages throughout the park hosting different performances. These usually include live period music, dancing, theater, magic shows, jesters, and even a jousting tournament between knights on horseback. People can also take part in different activities such as archery, games, and workshops.
This year, the festival will take place on September 29th. If you’re traveling with children and need fall activities in NYC that are more family-friendly, this is a good alternative to other Halloween events that can be too scary or aimed at adults.
These were just a few of the many things to do in NYC in fall, but I encourage you to explore everything that the city has to offer! New York is a wonderful location with endless options for everyone’s interests, ages, and budgets. This is what makes it such an awesome destination for the holidays.
I hope you find something that makes your trip super fun and full of unforgettable experiences, whether you’re traveling alone, with friends, or with your family. And if you have the chance to visit NYC in the fall, I thoroughly recommend you do so! You’ll experience a completely different side of the city than in summer.
Safe travels and happy Halloween!