First you feel it in the air – the morning chill and cooler wind making you grab that extra layer before leaving for work. Along comes softer sunlight and scarlet sunsets. Days get shorter. Evenings get longer. And then, on one chilly afternoon, tucked behind a blanket, holding on to that first mug of hot chocolate of the season, you realize it’s here — Autumn.
We’re not judging a city by its season, but simply stating a fact: Autumn has been voted by many as the most beautiful time to visit New York City – sorry to all the ice skating enthusiasts in Central Park! If you’re looking for that Goldilocks season between the fierce cold and intense heat, the golden months of September, October, and November might be the time for you.
We’ve gathered ideas for a relaxing yet action-packed NYC city break to make sure you’ll find something for yourself – in the sun, wind, or pouring rain.
Embrace the outdoors
Waking up early to squeeze the most out of the day, grabbing one of the famous NYC bagels and heading straight to that perfect picnic spot you discovered the night before (we’ve heard that Shakespeare Garden is a great place for a relaxing break in Central Park). Strolling around narrow streets or taking a bike ride by the Hudson River, marveling at the colours of the leaves during golden hour to finally find refuge in a cosy cafe, finishing your day over a cup of warming chai tea.
Sounds like a perfect day for you? Be sure to check out other outdoor activities we’ve gathered to let you experience this Autumn fully.
- Roam around Greenwich and West Village, Manhattan.
- Take a guided bike tour: Brooklyn Bridge Bike Tour, Tip of Manhattan Bike Tour
- or use citybike bike rentals and ride along the Hudson River Greenway for a more affordable option.
- Visit Dog Beach at Prospect Park — because walking gets much more enjoyable when you can bump into cute dogs, right?
- Stroll around Wave Hill’s gardens and marvel at the great views of the Hudson River and Aquatic gardens.
- Rent a boat to admire the golden leaves in Central Park from a different perspective.
Pro tip: if you want to avoid crowds and experience some of that legendary morning tranquility, try to arrive early in the morning.
- Watch a sunset – NYC’s sunsets are particularly beautiful in Autumn due to the fact that the Earth is in transition more during the Spring and Autumn time, resulting in crisper air and brighter colours. For that perfect sunset frame, we recommend Brooklyn Bridge Park along with one of NYC’s many rooftop bars.
- Take part in Great Jack Lantern Blaze — because Autumn wouldn’t be the same without all the hand-carved pumpkins, would it?
- Join a parade: choose between that epic Halloween parade, which takes place in lower Manhattan on October 31st or Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on October 25th – the world’s largest and second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States.
- Free walking tours — there are many to choose from, but be sure to book a spot in advance! Pro tip: tip your tour guides.
- Walk around Brooklyn Botanic Garden for even more of that beautiful Autumn foliage.
- Fan of spooky things? Check out Ghosts of Greenwich Village tour by Watson Adventures for a thrilling dive into histories of murders and dark tragedies.
- Go ice skating without the crowds — yes, you heard us right. From November on you can make use of one of the city’s ice rinks.
Pro tip: the one at Bryant Park is free.
Bring the Autumn indoors
Rainy days are made for hot drinks, fluffy blankets, and… museum tours! Rather than complaining about the spitting rain, ask for that extra shot of espresso in your coffee and head towards some of the places we all know you wouldn’t be visiting if the weather was “just too beautiful.”
- Plenty of museums are open again with some must-see exhibits. Be sure to put the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History on your itinerary.
- Tune into that Halloween mood visiting various events organised by the Merchant’s House Museum, a building said to be haunted by Gertrude Tredwell, who once lived there with her parents — and may not have left…*gasps*.
- Grab a seat at the New York Film Festival, an annual film fest running from late September through early October offering world-class cinema along with interesting lectures and presentations.
- Rethink and reinvent the museum experience at the Museum of Food and Drink, a place focusing on the science and culture of eating.
- Squeeze out some time to visit a museum changing according to the feelings of the city. If it is optimistic, the outside of The Museum of Feelings turns red, and if the city is joyful, the building turns green.
Cosy Autumn treats & drinks
Whether you want to sit in and warm up a bit or grab a quick bite and head for the next stop, the NYC food & drink scene will not disappoint you. Below are some of our Autumn food recommendations.
- Pumpkin spice cupcakes at Molly’s Cupcakes — a bakery with a mission to help children in need.
- Rumour has it a cup of takeaway coffee from Ludlow Coffee Supply tastes best in the crisp autumn air. And they serve amazing pumpkin spice lattes too!
- Get those energy levels up with some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies at Levain Bakery, or try the vegan and gluten-free options (as well as seasonal flavour donuts!) at Erin McKenna’s Bakery.
- Ready to take your chai tea to another level? The Hideout Chai Bar has got you covered with a variety of unusual chai creations like nitro chai or their ever famous — masala chai tea.
- Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pale ales, pumpkin breads and pies… but let’s not forget the apples! If you can’t decide where to go for an Autumn dessert, this listicle might help.
- Visit Seasoned Vegan for hearty meals that you would never guess are vegan. Some say their Mac n cheese is to die for.
- The Butcher’s Daughter makes it easy for you to “eat with the season.” Each month they bring new dishes, juices, and cocktails to each of their restaurants. We think that their mushroom and squash carbonara would be ideal for a warming post-sightseeing dinner.
- Last but not least, the ultimate (non-pumpkin) Autumn treat: apple cider donuts. You can grab one while shopping for veggies at one of NYC’s farmers’ markets. Check grownyc.org to find a market near you.
Fully experiencing a city as vibrant as New York can be as tiring as it is exciting – in moments like these, we tend to appreciate good night’s sleep and hotel service more than ever. Join Bidroom for free and gain access to the best Autumn hotel deals and travel extras.