101 things to do in New York City: Fall 2012

Your essential guide to the season’s best things to do in New York City—festivals, parties, hot new spots and more—makes like a leaf and drops.



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  • Courtesy: the artist and Public Art Fund

    1. Get up close and personal with Christopher Columbus

    Pictured: Tatzu Nishi, Discovering Columbus, artist's concept exterior

  • Photograph: courtesy Walkway Over the Hudson

    2. Go upstate to see the autumn leeeeeeaves (of red and gooooold)

    Pictured: Walkway Over the Hudson

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    3. March in the Village Halloween Parade

  • Photograph: Courtesy SHoP Architects

    4. Check out the Barclays Center

  • 5. Preview the Lowline

    Pictured: "Imagining the Lowline" rendering

  • 6. Catch the next big thing in indie rock

    Pictured: CMJ Music Marathon 2011



  • Photograph: BFAnyc.com

    7. Mingle with culinary stars at the NYC Wine & Food Festival

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    8. Cavort with the beautiful people at Fashion’s Night Out

  • Photograph: Francine Daveta

    9. Be tantalized at the New York Burlesque Festival

  • 10. Do good things, see a great show

    Pictured: Neil Young, who headlines Global Festival 2012



Courtesy: the artist and Public Art Fund

1. Get up close and personal with Christopher Columbus

Pictured: Tatzu Nishi, Discovering Columbus, artist's concept exterior

It's not too hot. It's not too cold. In fact, the temperature's just right. Find out how to take advantage of fall in New York with these essential things to do in New York City. We've got events and activities that range from wholesome county fairs (pig-racing anyone? We've got a monkey on the pot-bellied swine.), to a veritable army of women your mother warned you about at the New York Burlesque Festival.


Get up close and personal with Christopher Columbus

  • Critics choice
  • Free

With the help of the Public Art Fund, the Japanese artist is building a living room atop the monument in Columbus Circle. The elevated platform will give the public a previously unseen view of Central Park and midtown, along with the opportunity to look the statue in the eye, recline on couches to watch TV and admire Nishi’s custom-designed wallpaper of American pop-culture icons. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance for the chance to climb six stories to the home away from home. (Elevator access is available for those who require special assistance.) Registration opens September 12 via publicartfund.org.

  1. Columbus Circle Central Park South, at Central Park West
  2. Sun Dec 7
More info
Walkway Over the Hudson, one of Time Out's 101 things to do in New York in the fall

Go upstate to see the autumn leeeeeeaves (of red and gooooold)

  • Critics choice

Less than two hours’ drive from Manhattan, Walkway Over the Hudson (87 Haviland Rd, Highland, NY; 845-454-9649, walkway.org) is Poughkeepsie’s answer to the High Line. The former railroad overpass is more than a mile long, making it the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge. And smack dab in the middle of that walkway—perched 212 feet above the Hudson River and surrounded by the Catskills—is where you’ll find a spectacular, 360-degree view of fall in all its colorful glory along the banks of the river. If hoofing it isn’t your style, board the Rip Van Winkle (1 East Strand St, Kingston NY; 845-843-7472, hudsonrivercruises.com; ten-person minimum, $15 per person) for a two-hour narrated Fall Foliage cruise. Your guide will also point out some of the area’s stately mansions, photoworthy lighthouses and other historic sites. Find more places in New York state to see fall foliage.


March in the Village Halloween Parade

  • Critics choice
  • Free

As the Mayan calendar counts down and humanity prepares to (maybe) clock out, don’t put off taking part in this huge masquerade—it could be the last. Every parade begins with a procession of macabre puppets, and organizers are certainly tempting fate with this year’s theme of time. While the spectacle is still being finalized, expect plenty of clocks with wings (time flies—ha!) and white rabbits frantically checking watches. The puppets and creations are made by famed groups such as Superior Concept Monsters, the Madagascar Institute, the Puppeteers’ Cooperative and Basil Twist’s studio, and music comes courtesy of the Hungry March Band. Sign up via halloween-nyc.com now to volunteer to be a puppeteer or a performer in the procession. Spots are filling up faster than usual so hurry—tick-tock, tick-tock.… If time runs away with you, just turn up in costume on the night to walk with the throng up Sixth Avenue (start at Sixth Ave between Canal and Spring Sts; Oct 31 6:30–8:30pm).


Check out the Barclays Center

  • Critics choice

Some may have railed against the controversial Atlantic Yards development, but we must admit we're getting excited, especially for the first Brooklyn Nets home game against the Knicks on Nov 1. Jay-Z opens proceedings with a string of sold-out shows, and should challenge the Guinness World Record for the number of times an artist can say "Brooklyn" during a concert. Other highlights on the schedule include Kentucky versus Maryland in the stadium's first collegiate basketball game, the Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Championship, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and concerts by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Justin Bieber, Journey, Rush, Barbra Streisand and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli (the possibility of highbrow fare presented by BAM is also a big plus).

  1. 620 Atlantic Ave, (at Flatbush Ave)
  2. Opens Fri Sept 28
Book online
"Imagining the LowLine" rendering, one of Time Out's 101 things to do in New York in the fall

Preview the Lowline

  • Critics choice
  • Free

It’s a daring idea: Build the world’s first underground park in a disused trolly terminal on the Lower East Side, using technology that funnels sunlight below street level so plants can photosynthesize. Since announcing the proposal, the project has raised more than $150,000 through Kickstarter (it met its initial target of 100 large in one week), signed up Audi as a corporate sponsor and got the city and the MTA’s ear, taking an important step towards saving us from death by Morlocks. This fall, it unveils “Imagining the Lowline,” demonstrating the solar technology it plans to employ with a small-scale indoor park in Essex Market Building D, an abandoned warehouse space. A range of programming is planned, including talks and a pair of indoor street fairs (Sept 16, 23) featuring local businesses. There will also be a companion exhibit, “Experiments in Motion” by Audi and Columbia University's School of Architecture, proposing new methods of urban transport and displaying a 50-foot-long model of Manhattan’s current subway system. Various times, see thelowline.org/exhibit for details

  1. Enter at Broome St (between Essex and Norfolk Sts)
  2. Sat Sep 15 - Thu Sep 27

Catch the next big thing in indie rock

  • Price band: 1/4

For five days in October, the CMJ Music Marathon hosts more than 1,000 gigs throughout the city, offering music lovers a chance to see bands on the verge of a breakthrough. The initial lineup for this year’s onslaught is very promising. On the up-and-comers front, we suggest checking out King Tuff, a Cali outfit that delivers infectious garage-tinged songs and fun, sweaty live shows, and Baltimore’s grungey-rock crew Roomrunner. The fest also draws already-established favorites like local indie-rock heroes the Walkmen and upbeat folkies the Mountain Goats.

  1. Various locations
  2. Until Sun Oct 21
More info

Mingle with culinary stars at the NYC Wine & Food Festival

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Food Network celebs join a slew of NYC’s top toques for this annual celebration, which consists of a nonstop stream of tastings, workshops, lectures and parties. Book now for sure-to-sell-out marquee events such as the Burger Bash with Rachael Ray (Oct 12; $225), Meatball Madness with Giada De Laurentiis (Oct 11; $175), Trucks and Tracks with Andrew Zimmern (Oct 14; $150) and the star-studded Grand Tasting (Oct 13, 14; $195 per day). Many of the panel discussions cost as little as $20, but if you’ve got cash to burn, the festival’s dinner series is as high-profile as ever: Feast on Korean barbecue prepared by Roy Choi with Jean-Georges and Marja Vongerichten (Oct 12; $300), or collect autographs at the Bouley Alumni Dinner, which features a dozen chefs including Dan Silverman, Anita Lo, Kerry Heffernan and Dan Barber (Oct 11; $400).

Fashion's Night Out, Uptown, one of Time Out's 101 things to do in New York in the fall

Cavort with the beautiful people at Fashion’s Night Out

  • Critics choice
  • Free

For one night a year, shoppers can stay out late and mingle with some of the biggest names in fashion: More than 700 local shops will keep their doors open late, hosting sales and events, and enabling celebrity sightings ranging from Kim Kardashian to Anna Wintour.

  1. Various locations
  2. Sat Sep 6

Be tantalized at the New York Burlesque Festival

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The cream of the burly-Q world converges upon Gotham for this tenth annual four-day festival of tease. Visiting tassel-twirlers include Australia’s Imogen Kelly, Japan’s Cherry Typhoon and Italy’s Guiditta Sin, but there’s plenty of local talent to leer at, including Gin Minsky, Darlinda Just Darlinda, Harvest Moon and Angie Pontani. The action kicks off with the Teaser party at the Bell House (Sept 27 at 8pm; $15, advance $10), then moves to Brooklyn Bowl for the Premiere Party (Sept 28 at 8pm; $10), hosted by Scotty the Blue Bunny. Murray “Mr. Showbiz” Hill comperes the supper-clubby Saturday Spectacular at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill (Sept 29 at 7:30pm; $30, advance $25; VIP $70, advance VIP $65), with 40 performers and a live jazz big band. The feathered fest ends with the Golden Pastie Awards at Highline Ballroom (Sept 30 at 8pm; $30, advance $25; VIP seating $45, advance VIP seating $40), hosted by Miss Astrid and featuring an appearance by Tempest Storm, a burlesque icon of the 1950s and ’60s.

  1. Highline Ballroom 431 W 16th St, between Ninth and Tenth Aves
  2. Sat Sep 29 - Sun Sep 30
More info

Do good things, see a great show

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Global Festival 2012 takes a novel approach to the benefit concert. Fans who want to see Neil Young, the Foo Fighters, the Black Keys, Band of Horses and rapper K’Naan in Central Park need to help out the Global Citizen Project, which combats extreme poverty, for a chance to win tickets. Register at globalcitizen.org to find out what the campaign wants you to do, such as watching an awareness-building video, sharing material on social media, donating to an affiliated nonprofit, signing a petition or writing a letter to Congress. Each deed earns you credits, and three credits enters you into a lottery to win a pair of tickets to the gig. Increase your chances by continuing to rack up credits—every five points yields one more entry into the lottery. If you’re cash rich but time poor, VIP tickets are available ($189.50–$489.50).

  1. Central Park, Great Lawn midpark, from 79th to 85th Sts
  2. Sat Oct 4
More info

Users say

Rod Carlysle
Rod Carlysle

I was really enjoying this list, I hadn't made plans for tonight, so I was sitting alone, in my apartment, with my tabby Max. He and I were especially excited about the Queens County Fair, but unfortunately I don't think we'll be able to make it since my mother will need to be taken to the doctor's that weekend and she likes knowing that I'm at home in case she needs me. It was an enjoyable evening, me and Max, but unfortunately when we came to the end of the list our pleasant evening was brought to an unexpected halt. I searched the entire length of this list, and the rest of your website, but I can't seem to find the 101st thing to do in NY. LIkely I won't be able to do it, I don't get out of the house that often because of my asthma, but I really enjoyed imagining myself doing those wonderful things with all those happy looking people. I hope you'll post the 101st item, if no please send it to the included email address, I don't have a computer with a printer, but that is my mother's email address, she'll print it out and deliver it to my apartment, Yours Truly, Rod


This list is awesome! I'm particularly jazzed about the LitCrawl and Halloween Parade. You left taking a language class off the list though. Fall is the perfect time to take an indoor class and keep your mind active. I took a Spanish class at Fluent City and it was awesome. The offer 10 languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Hebrew) and have affordable classes in Brooklyn and Manhattan. My teacher was Ricardo and he was really cool. Check out their classes at http://www.fluentcity.com Thanks for the list!!