Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

Great places to see fall leaves in NYC

Where to find beautiful foliage in the five boroughs.

  • Central Park

  • Central Park

  • Central Park

  • Central Park

  • Alley Pond Park

  • Alley Pond Park

  • Prospect Park

  • Prospect Park

  • Fort Greene Park

Central Park

  1. In the city
  2. Outside the city
  3. Leaf guide


Whether they pick them up from the sidewalk on the way to school or plunge into a pile of them at a nearby park, brightly hued, crunchy leaves can provide hours of amusement for kids. Most trees in New York City will begin to turn in September, when the decrease in daylight hours causes them to stop producing chlorophyll, says Richard Simon, a captain for the Urban Park Rangers. At that point, he says, "the other colors in the leaves, like yellow and red, begin to emerge." So tuck a heavy tome in your bag for preserving your offspring's treasures. Then set out for one of the parks below.

Alley Pond Park
The Tulip Tree Trail will lead you past one of NYC's tallest such specimens, but Alley Pond Park is also dotted with sassafras trees, which are a very pretty peep: You'll find three leaf shapes (oval, mitten, and three-pronged) that might have dropped from the exact same branch. They come in a spectrum of colors from yellow to deep red. Enter from Winchester Blvd at Grand Central Pkwy, Douglaston, Queens (alleypond.com)

Central Park
Though the Great Lawn has ginkgo and sweetgum trees, some of the less popular spots offer foliage highlights. On Bow Bridge, look east for a vista of red maples; and at the 100th Street Pool, the reflection means twice the pretty. Near the end of the season, when leaves are finally ready to give up the ghost, head to Literary Walk: "You get a breeze coming through there, and the leaves kind of come down like snow," says Neil Calvanese, VP of operations for the Central Park Conservancy. At the end of October, go to the open meadow below Belvedere Castle. That's where you'll find red sailing down from the black tupelo trees. The Ramble is another place to play, especially in late autumn, when the ginkgo trees seem to shed their leaves all at once. "It forms a carpet of gingko leaves that's one of the best sights in Central Park," says Calvenese. Midpark at 79th St (centralparknyc.org)

Clove Lakes Park
Visit the northwest section of the green space, where you'll find a 300-year-old, 107-foot-tall tulip tree, Staten Island's largest living thing. The park is also home to white pine, maple, beech and oak trees. Enter from Victory Blvd at Clove Rd, Staten Island (nycgovparks.org)

Fort Greene Park
Home to nearly 40 different species—including ginkgo, green ash and London plane—Walt Whitman's former stomping ground is an ideal place for leaf lifting. Head to the visitors' center and then follow the Tree Trail, a marked pathway with helpful descriptions of each species. Enter from Washington Park at Willoughby Ave, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (fortgreenepark.org)

Inwood Hill Park
Pedal, skate, scooter, run or stroll here along the Hudson or hop on the A train and get off at either Dyckman or 207th St, the last two stops. Enter and breathe deeply: This 196-acre park is the only remaining proof that this concrete jungle we call Manhattan was once a verdant forest. The hiking trails are so quiet you almost forget you're in the city; they're a favorite of urban trekkers. Enter at 207th St and Seaman Ave, Inwood (nycgovparks.org)

New York Botanical Garden
Explore the arboreal Bronx spot from home with its online foliage tracker, which tells you when its trees—like the orange cutleaf staghorn sumac near the Ross Conifer Arboretum—have hit their fall-color peak. Bronx River Pkwy at Fordham Rd, Bronx (718-817-8700, nybg.org)

Prospect Park
The sugar maples along the south shore of the lake are the first trees to change, to a brilliant orange. But if you want more of a woodsy feeling, head for the ravine trails, located between the Nethermead and the Long Meadow. Bonus: The trees—ash, tulip and others—are reflected in ponds, doubling the stunning spectacle. Enter from Prospect Park West at 3rd, 9th or 15th St, Brooklyn (prospectpark.org)

Riverside Park
The Hudson-adjacent park is as close as you'll get to a river cruise without risk of seasickness, and you can peer across to New Jersey's own entry into the autumn hue contest, the Palisades. On this side of the river, the Woodland Restoration area near 110th Street is especially leafy. Riverside Dr between 58th and 156th Sts (riversideparkfund.org)

Staten Island Clay Pit Ponds State Park
This preserve has educational programs and hiking trails to give you something to do other than gander at the leaves by Sharotts Pond—some of which are almost as orange as the ferry you came over on. (nysparks.com)

Van Cortlandt Park
In Memorial Grove, 30 pin oaks and Norway maples, which turn orange and bronze in the autumn, stand in remembrance of fallen World War II troops—look for plaques bearing the names of Bronx soldiers at the bases of the trees. Broadway at 242nd St, Bronx (718-430-1890, nycgovparks.org)

  1. In the city
  2. Outside the city
  3. Leaf guide

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