Circle Line Annual Bear Mountain Day Cruises
The behemoth of NYC cruises has coordinated a series of trips up the Hudson River with Bear Mountain State Park, such that passengers arrive just in time to enjoy three hours of the park's annual Oktoberfest, featuring a slew of live music acts, plus traditional German eats and beer. (A picnic lunch may be ordered in advance instead, for $14 a person.) The nearby carousel and zoo are ideal for the smallest in tow; mini mountain climbers will want to hit the trail up the mountain for even more stunning views of the Hudson River Valley. The journey up and back takes about three hours each way. Sat Sept 15--Sun Oct 28: Sat, Sun 9am--5:30pm (boarding begins at 8:30am). Pier 83, W 42nd St at the Hudson River (circleline42.com, 212-563-3200). $50, seniors $41, children ages 3--12 $31, children under 3 free. For Bear Mountain offerings, visit palisadesparkconservatory.com.
Fall Foliage Brunch Cruise Aboard Yacht Manhattan
This small, 1920s-style electric boat is perhaps best known for its luxe, superfun Sunday brunch cruises, during which the vessel circumnavigates the isle of Manhattan. For four weekends, the brunch takes a detour north, leading passengers young and old along the Upper West Side, under the George Washington Bridge and past the Palisades, turning around at the Tappen Zee Bridge. Families will enjoy the fall brunch buffet (it includes a drink for grown-ups; additional beverages may be purchased on board, though juice, coffee and tea are complimentary), on offer throughout the 2.75-hour trip. Sat Oct 20, Sun Oct 21, Sun Oct 28, Sat Nov 3, Sun Nov 4, Sun Nov 11, Sat Nov 17, Sun Nov 18 at 10:15am. The Manhattan departs from Pier 62, Chelsea Piers, W 22nd St at the Hudson River (sail-nyc.com, 212-209-3370). $95, children under 13 $45.
Fall Foliage Lunch Cruise Series
The Spirit of New York, a grand cruise ship--style vessel, has a spacious open deck on which you and the crew can take in the fall colors as the boat leisurely sails up the Hudson past the Washington Bridge in the middle of the day. The ticket includes a lunch buffet, plus deejayed music and live performances. Sat Oct 13, Thu Oct 18, Sat Oct 20 noon--3pm. Boarding begins at 11:30am. Spirit Cruises, Pier 62, Chelsea Piers, W 22nd St at the Hudson River (866-483-3866, spiritofnewyork.com). $49.90 per person.
New York Water Taxi Fall Foliage Cruises
The yellow catamaran zips up the Hudson toward Bear Mountain on this four-hour jaunt in search of autumn's brilliance. Families are welcome to bring lunch aboard, or purchase eats at the on-board caf; donuts and cider are on the house. (A bar is available for adult brunch drinks.) You'll cruise past sites like Grants Tomb, the Little Red Lighthouse and the Palisades on the way up and the way back—plus, of course, tulip trees, white birch and red oak as they're flickering their brightest colors. Sun Oct 21, 28, Nov 4. Departs from Pier 17 at 12:30pm (boarding begins at noon) and returns at 6:15pm; departs from Pier 84 at 1pm and returns at 5:45pm. Pier 17, Fulton St at the East River; Pier 84, W 44th St at the Hudson River (nywatertaxi.com, 212-742-1969). $65 per person.
Shearwater Fall Foliage Sail
The kids will feel like swashbucklers aboard the hand-built, 82-foot Shearwater, a classic Maine schooner crafted from white oak in 1929. The boat will sail up the Hudson as far as it can (depending on the tides) to take in as many colors as the peak foliage day has in store. This is a bona fide sailboat, so be prepared for some surf and some tacking on the part of the crew on this four-hour cruise. Check the website for the date of this year's cruise (typically in October), which was not available at press time. North Cove Marina, 385 South End Ave at the Hudson River (212-619-0907, manhattanbysail.com). $75, children under 13 $50.