Autumn in New York is a romantic, contemplative time; once the temperature dips a bit, the city seems to takes a deep calming breath and time slows down, even as the days become shorter. Every New Yorker has an opinion on their favorite season, and they all have a point; but for many, the New York of their memories and imaginations will always exist in the fall. Here are just a few of the ways to enjoy autumn in New York!
There is never a bad time to visit Central Park, but there is something particularly magical about the park in the fall. The summertime crowds have thinned, the temperatures are mild, and there is no better place in Manhattan to enjoy fall foliage. Fall is also one of the best times to see migrating birds, and Central Park has long been a popular spot for migrating birds and birdwatchers from around the world.
The 54th New York Film Festival
September 30th – October 15th
For the 54th consecutive year, the Film Society of Lincoln Center will bring the best in new independent and international film to New York. This year’s feature presentations include Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women, a “texturally and behaviorally rich new comedy” starring Annette Bening and Billy Crudup, as well as Ava DuVernay’s criminal justice doc The 13th, the first nonfiction work to open the festival. Tickets are currently on sale.
Open House New York
October 15th and 16th
Urban adventurers, amateur historians, and architecture and design buffs should appreciate Open House NY, a community organized event dedicated to giving New Yorkers a glimpse into the corners of the city that don’t always necessarily get the appreciation that they deserve. On October 15th and 16th OHNY will take travelers on a guided tour of some of NYC’s lesser known treasures while providing a nuanced glimpse into the city’s storied history. According to the website-“For two days each October, the annual Open House New York Weekend unlocks the doors of New York’s most important buildings, offering an extraordinary opportunity to experience the city and meet the people who design, build, and preserve New York.”
Have a look at the official Open House NY event guide here.
NYC Wine and Food Festival
October 13th- October 16th
There’s little mystery as to why this is one of New York’s most popular and highly-anticipated annual festivals. For the ninth time in as many years, the NYCWFF will bring big-name culinary talents like Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray, and a party atmosphere, to locations around the city. There’s no better way to taste all of the flavors that the Big Apple has to offer. Here are a few of the best events to check out during the four day festival.
October 17th – October 23rd
No one really needs an excuse to go to the spa, but during Spa Week, the city’s premier spas will offer a range of treatments for as low as $50, so there’s no excuse not to. Treat yourself! Book your spa day here.
Scarecrow Nights at the New York Botanical Garden
Through October 30th
Artist Ray Villafane’s new outdoor installation at the New York Botanical Garden traces the history of the American scarecrow in a series of larger-than-life animatronic sculptures that are as terrifying as they are educational. Advance tickets are recommended.
Cider Week NYC
October 21st- October 31st
What’s more autumnal than a fresh batch of apple cider? Cider Week NYC kicks off on October 21st, with over 50 participating bars, pubs, and wine sellers throughout the five boroughs hosting workshops, food pairings, and free tastings.
The Village Halloween Parade
The iconic Village Halloween Parade will once again make its macabre way through the heart of Greenwich Village beginning at 7pm on Halloween Night. It tends to get a bit crowded and rowdy so get there early, and get ready to witness a spectacle that is truly surreal and quintisentially New York. It’s one of those demented scenes that every Manhattanite should run into by mistake at least once (the New York City Marathon on November 6th also comes to mind).
City Circle Line, Bear Mountain / Onboard Oktoberfest
Saturdays and Sundays through November 6th
See resplendent Fall foliage like never before on this scenic day cruise through the Hudson River Valley. The ship will dock at Bear Mountain Park, where visitors can access a wealth of hiking trails and boating options, or just enjoy a picnic in the grass. Passengers will also be treated to an Onboard Oktoberfest celebration complete with a German band. Tickets are currently available.
I know that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a pretty big deal and all, but if you want a little bit of that Thanksgiving Day Parade magic without having to brave the crowds, get out to the American Museum of Natural History the night before, and watch the Balloon Inflation instead. It’s a lot less claustrophobic, the whole family will love watching their favorite cartoon characters slowly plump up into existence, and you can check out the holiday window displays at Barneys and Saks 5th Ave on the way home.
Union Square Holiday Market
November 17- December 24th
The Union Square Holiday Market has certainly worked its way into our hearts over the years; and while it’s always a good idea to support small businesses, that’s perhaps never more true than during the holiday season. The market is very popular among tourists and city-dwellers alike, but it’s never so crowded that the experience isn’t pleasant (even when it’s freezing, somehow), and if you’re looking for that special gift, there’s an excellent chance you’ll find it here. Happy hunting!