You don't need a car to see peak fall foliage in New York—you can take a boat! A number of NYC leaf-peeping boat cruises leave right from Manhattan and sail up the Hudson River, delivering your autumn dreams of gorgeous changing leaves.
RECOMMENDED: Where to see fall foliage in NYC
This October, we took the Circle Line: Bear Mountain Full-Day Cruise, which as the name suggests, took us 50 miles north from Pier 83 to Bear Mountain and gave us three hours to hike trails and visit museums and its animal refuge before setting back down the river. It was a wonderful opportunity to escape the city sans car and train for the day and get some fresh air. Better yet, the cruise celebrates Oktoberfest with bratwurst, pork schnitzel, German potato salad, Prop & Peller Bavarian pretzels, and Sam Adams Oktoberfest beer and Warsteiner lager and a live Oompa band. It was a blast to get in party mode while anticipating our hike, seeing the beauty of the Palisades and Hudson Valley, listening to the captain point out landmarks and then relaxing on the way back home to NYC. The cruise goes on Saturdays and Sundays through October 31 and begins at $69 per person, which is really worth it.
Here are some other fall foliage cruises you should consider this autumn:
Leaving from West 39th Street at 11:30am, this three-and-a-half-hour cruise takes you through Sandy Hook Bay, under the Verrazano Bridge, and along New York Harbor. You'll also see the shores of Hastings-on-the-Hudson, Tarrytown, Ossining, Croton Point, Haverstraw and Stony Point and get as far north as West Point. A buffet brunch is served while on deck with apple salad, tortellini salad, fingerling potato salad with haricot vert, butternut squash bisque, smoked salmon, flank steak, southwestern grilled chicken with mango salsa, and assorted pastries. This cruise is also narrated so you'll learn all about the sites you pass along the way. The cruise is offered Saturdays and Sundays through October 31. Tickets are $119 per person.
Don’t have a full day to spend admiring the changing colors? Reserve a seat on the brunch cruise with Classic Harbor Line from Pier 62 for a shorter route, leaving just enough time for you to admire the gold, red and russet-hued leaves of the Palisades. From October 15 to November 14, these two-and-a-half-hour cruises offer the perfect trip up the Hudson:
- Manhattan II: Grand Palisade Fall Foliage Cruise ($88-$106 per adult and $64 per child 3-14)
- Full Moon: Fall Foliage Cruise on Full Moon from Chelsea Piers ($88-$106/adult and $64/child 3-14)
- Kingston: Fall Foliage Cruise aboard Kingston ($88-106/adult and $64/child 3-14)
- Adirondack: Fall Foliage Schooner Sail (3.5 hours; $88-106/adult, $64/child 5-14)
We suggest heading out on a weekend brunch cruise, which comes with a three-course prix fixe menu (includes New York bakery pastries, salmon and lox, chef’s autumn salad with roasted vegetables, oven-roasted ham and more) inside the glass observatory of the Yacht Manhattan and Manhattan II across two-and-a-half hours. It takes off on Saturdays and Sundays and tickets are $124-142 per adult and $72 per child 3-14.
The top-rated, two-hour Fall Foliage Luncheon Cruise on Fridays and Saturdays has a multi-course menu including homemade soups such as a spice roasted butternut squash soup or a cauliflower soup topped with prosciutto and Manchego cheese. A roasted pumpkin and candied walnut salad with Chef’s maple vinaigrette, and assorted tea sandwiches are also in rotation on the menu. Each booking group is seated at a private table separated by clear partitions, with the option to open sliding glass windows throughout the vessel. Tickets are $96-132 per adult and $72 per child 3-14.
Your ticket to a Classic Harbor Line trip also includes an autumnal spiked hot cocoa, as well as a well-curated selection of beer, wine, champagne, and soft drinks.
Head out from Pier 61 on the Bateaux New York Fall Foliage Lunch Cruise on October 20 or on the New York Fall Foliage Lunch Cruise Saturdays through October (October 16 and 23) for a three-hour cruise up the Hudson River with a freshly prepared buffet (jumbo shrimp cocktail starter, salad, honey sesame chicken, oven-roasted flounder, baked ziti and more), paired with seasonal cocktails, onboard entertainment with a live DJ, interactive games, a rooftop lounge and unlimited coffee and tea. Tickets for the cruise are $78.90 or $103.90 per person for a window table and $99.85 or $129.85 per person for the Bateaux cruise.
You’ve got to go across the river to Weehawken, New Jersey to board Majestic Harbor Cruises’ three-hour leaf-peeping cruise. But if you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy day party, this is the option for you. A DJ will be spinning live music as you snack on a buffet lunch (featuring salad, penne rigate, baked tilapia, and chicken Francaise) while voyaging north to those picturesque cliffs at the Palisades. Wine and cocktails from the cash bar only make the views sweeter. Tickets start at $59 per adult and $29.50 per child.