New York in fall – top attractions to see the change in season
New York in fall
Let’s face it, there’s never a bad time to travel to New York. And with my second favorite season in full swing, New York in fall is a pretty time to visit.
Weather in New York in fall
Fall weather in New York is still relatively mild. A light jacket, or coat with scarf should suffice, and temperatures are comfortable to explore the city. October and November are good months, as you miss the brunt of the harsh, and usually long, winters.
1. Take a bike tour
That said, conditions are ideal for discovering the ins and outs of New York on 2 wheels. I particularly like Central Park Bike Rentals when in Manhattan. The prices are competitive and the bikes are a good, and comfortable, fit.
Or, you might prefer exploring other areas of the city by bike, such as the neighborhood of Harlem. To discover parts of Brooklyn like a pro, I suggest trying the Brooklyn Bridge Sightseeing Bike Tour.
Not only do you get to bike across this iconic bridge, but you’ll also see Brooklyn’s hidden treasures. The view’s memorable too, with Ellis Island and the New York Harbor just a few attractions you’ll see.
2. Explore the gardens
New York Botanical Garden — New York in fall
Nothing says autumn more than visiting the blooms of the city’s many botanical gardens. With The Sightseeing Pass NYC you get entry to over 90 attractions, and get to skip the line in the process. The pass is also available in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and German.
With 250 acres of flora and fauna, the New York Botanical Garden attracts visitors in their droves. The garden has an excellent ‘Fall Forests’ program, which includes a guided walk along the Thain Family Forest trails. It’s the largest remaining tract of old-growth forest in the city, and a fall must see.
Adventurous travelers may prefer a scenic canoe ride down the Bronx River, looking out for local birds of prey. With Halloween high on the agenda, families are sure to enjoy activities like the spooky pumpkin garden. Younger children can also participate in year-round activities like ‘craft your own garden adventures’.
New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY
New York Botanical Garden
Snug Harbor Botanical Garden — New York in fall
While New York Botanical Garden is one of the biggest, there are other equally stunning gardens to visit. Brooklyn Botanical Garden and Snug Harbor Botanical Garden are located in Brooklyn and Staten Island respectively.
The former is a 52-acre garden in Brooklyn founded in 1910, which features specialty gardens and an art gallery. They also serve healthy vegetable-based dishes at its 2 eateries on site: Yellow Magnolia Café and Yellow Magnolia Canteen.
Snug Harbor Botanical Garden is part of Sailors’ Snug Harbor. It’s regarded as a National Historic Landmark District, given the significant 19th-century buildings, which are set in an 83-acre park. The gardens include a Secret Garden, complete with castle and a maze, as well as an authentic walled Chinese garden.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY
Empire State Building
3. See New York from above
See the transition in season, and from some of the best viewing points in the city. While you’ve probably done the Empire State Building before, there’s something special about the views in fall. Look out for sights like Central Park, Times Square and the Statue of Liberty, to name but a few.
Get to the 86th floor observation deck to get a 360-degree view of New York and beyond. It’s the highest open-air observatory in the city and a chance to see the setting of many popular films.
Beat the crowds — New York in fall
I prefer to arrive earlier, simply because I like to take in the crisp New York air at that height. Also, be sure to visit on a clear day so you can actually see the surrounding views. See how many top attractions you can spot from above.
From one New York landmark to another, you can find the Top of the Rock Observatory in the Rockefeller Center. There are 3 levels of observation decks to explore. The first deck is the gift shop, but the second and third is where you’ll see the best views.
My personal favorite is the third deck on the 70th floor, which has an open-air roof deck and no glass enclosure.
“For me, nothing says autumn more, than immersing yourself in the blooms of the city’s many botanical gardens..”
4. Explore NYC by foot, boat or bus
By foot — New York in fall
New York’s the kind of city where you’ll do a lot of walking, but for good reason. While the metro takes you to your destination, you need to walk further in to really discover the neighborhoods. However, as long as you’ve got the right walking shoes, it’s a vibrant city to see on foot.
By boat — New York in fall
Weather pending, I love taking a cruise whenever I’m back in the Big Apple. There’s something about feeling the breeze sweep across your face as you watch the city unfold before you. There are several cruise tour companies in New York that offer different perspectives of the city.
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises is probably the most well-known, and has been in business since 1945. They have many tours, which includes the ‘Best of NYC Cruise’ ‘Statue by night’ and the Bear Mountain cruise.
The last tour gives you a first-hand look at the yellows and reds of fall along the Hudson River. It also stops at Bear Mountain State Park for 3 hours, where you can enjoy the biking and hiking trails.
Shearwater Classic Schooner Cruise
For a yachting experience with a touch of romance, Manhattan by Sail ticks all the right boxes. Their yachts include an authentic 1929 schooner called The Shearwater, and the Clipper City.
Their tours are definitely geared towards the flashpacker. Take their wine tasting sailing tour. You spend an afternoon sailing around New York Harbor, sampling top wines, and partnering them with cheese and meats.
It’s really a cruise unlike any other, because each wine sail focuses on different countries and themes. It’s an ideal way to set the sun set over the city, and, hopefully also, with someone you love.
Clipper City schooner
New York in fall by bus
Bus tours have come back into fashion in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. A bus tour is a fun way, not just for sightseeing, but to also get your bearings around New York.
The classic Big Bus Tours in New York has been around for forever, and is still a big hit. Its Hop on Hop off bus tour takes you around the city depending on your ticket type. The deluxe ticket is valid for 2 days and includes both a night tour and Brooklyn tour.
There’s also the option to see both New York and Washington DC by bus too. This ticket includes all the sights of New York, along with the capital’s landmarks.
When Harry Met Seinfeld Bus Tour
For a bus tour with a bit of a film twist, you have to try the ‘When Harry met Seinfeld Bus Tour’. Essentially, the tour shows the different film locations that you may have seen in some of your favorite movies.
Lasting approximately 2 hours, you’ll discover the lesser known locations from films like Pitch Perfect, and You’ve Got Mail. What’s more, the bus tour’s ideal for families, and will teach the kids something they probably won’t learn in school!
Cafe Lalo in You’ve Got Mail
Best boutique hotels in New York
In case you’re stuck for somewhere to stay in New York, these hotels are both boutique and ideal for fall.
The Crosby Street Hotel is a 5-star hotel in a vibrant, yet quiet part of SoHo. Its garden offers a leafy urban oasis, which will be even more striking in fall. On top of that, its individually styled rooms are sure to hit the right note for fellow boutique travelers.
Across in Tribeca, Greenwich Hotel is a seriously chic yet understated luxury boutique 5-star hotel. I highly urge you to take advantage of having breakfast in the courtyard before the cold weather sets in.
Crosby Street Hotel garden
Have you ever visited New York in fall? If so, what did you enjoy most? Let me know in the comments below!
Till next time, happy boutique travels x
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. Thank you for your support.
Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience; a demographic (late 20s onwards) that enjoys glamping over camping, staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels, sampling the local food and wine, cultural activities, and indulging in a spot of wellness on their travels. Read more here…