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25 ways to still have an amazing fall in New York

Make the most out of the city's best season with these super fun activities.

Written by
Time Out New York editors
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If you ask any New Yorker what their favorite season is in the city, there’s a good chance they’ll say fall. There’s something magical about that time in the city when the air gets crisp, the temperature dips just enough that you can start wearing your favorite outfits and the leaves turn vibrant colors. However, there’s no doubt this fall is going to be very, very different from past ones in the city. Major cultural institutions are launching “virtual” fall seasons. Restaurants will only be allowing 25 percent of their normal crowds in to warm themselves by the fire. Broadway’s still dark. Luckily, those necessary changes don’t mean that there isn’t a ton of amazing things to do in the city this season. Here are 25 ways you can still make the most of fall in New York.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best things to do in New York

How to still have an amazing fall in New York

  • Things to do
  • City Life

From September 30 to October 31, Los Angeles’ beloved Haunt O’ Ween will finally pop up on the East Coast in Holmdel, New Jersey—an hour’s drive from NYC. Haunt O’ Ween gives similar spooky but quirky, family-friendly vibes with around-the-clock trick-or-treating, a carnival with rides and face painting, and a walkthrough and tunnel of glowing jack o’lanterns, including nine “worlds” you can explore across 200,000 square feet. Of course, there is a pumpkin patch perfect for picking out your gourd and a carving station where you can bring it to life with a design. There will also be a DIY Potion Bar at “Moonlight Magic,” Dance Domes in a “Beyond The Grave Rave.”

  • Things to do

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is bringing back its gorgeous, after-dark illuminated spectacular to its grounds in November. Lightscape, which is a one-mile, illuminated trail of art from local and international artists, hits BBG starting November 16 and will once again feature the iconic Winter Cathedral and a larger Fire Garden—all set to over a million lights, color, and music.  Food concessions along the trail will offer seasonal treats like s’mores and spiked hot chocolate for adults.

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  • Movies

Easily one of the best things to do in the fall, the annual New York Film Festival dates back to 1963 when it established a mission of bringing the best work from around the world to Lincoln Center. Excitement is already feverish for this year’s 60th edition, thanks to the August announcement of this year’s main slate lineup which will include Noah Baumbach’s White Noise, Chinonye Chukwu’s Till Will World, Mathieu Amalric’s Hold Me Tight, Kiro Russo’s, 4K restorations of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colors trilogy, and a long-overdue retrospective featuring selected works from director, producer and screenwriter King Vidor.

There’s loads to see—which is why we’ve broken it all down for you. Here are the 18 must-see films at this year’s New York Film Festival.

  • Things to do
  • Weird & Wonderful

Add this one to your fall bucket list: Get into the fall spirit by seeing if you can navigate this three-acre corn maze at a farm in Queens. 

Called The Amazing Maize Maze, this plant puzzle at the Queens County Farm Museum lives up to the hype. This year, the maze pays homage to Georgia O’Keeffe’s iconic “Ram’s Head, Blue Morning Glory” painting, and it was developed in collaboration with Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. 

The maze is open on Fridays (noon-4:30pm), Saturdays (11am-4:30pm), and Sundays (11am-4:30pm) from September 16 through October 29. It’s also open Monday, October 10 (11am- 4:30pm). Pricing is $12 for adults and $8 for kids — get your tickets here.

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  • Things to do
  • Weird & Wonderful

Thousands of stories lie beneath the grounds at the historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, and this season, those tales are coming back to life through a variety of tours. 

Dozens of events are on the calendar at Green-Wood this fall, including trolley tours, a Dia de Los Muertos event, and after-hours tours if you dare.

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals

Comics fans across the city have been waiting with bated breath to see if New York Comic Con would return this year — it is! While it's back in person, it's also online again because that capacity is limited. That being said, it's set to be a great one with can’t-miss panels, celebrities and all the cosplay you could ever fantasize about.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Going upstate to see fall leaves is great, but it's a trek. Luckily, if you know where to look here in NYC, there are some truly stunning foliage to see in many parks and gardens across the boroughs, including at Fort Tryon Park, the Greenbelt Nature Center, and Sunken Meadow State Park. Happy peeping!

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Head to the garden's Seasonal Walk, where you'll find yellow lace flowers, dahlias and 'Midnight Dancer' daylilies or get lost in the Thain Forest, where you'll hear the trickling of the Bronx River and its waterfall. In the fall, the forest is an incredible setting to see the leaves changing. Also, don't miss the duck families in the Conservatory Courtyard Pools that feed on small plants and insects around the water lilies.

  • Things to do

Grab an empty basket and don your best plaid for a fall PYO adventure. At local farms in the tristate area, you'll find a generous offering of apple varieties and fun seasonal activities like petting zoos and corn mazes. We guarantee you're bound to stumble upon some apple cider doughnuts along the way.

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  • Museums
  • Special interest
  • Queens

This Queens County treasure is well worth the bus trek or car ride. As the city’s longest continually farmed site in the city (it’s been in operation since 1697), the 47 acres feels like an entirely different world compared to Manhattan. Feed and pet the barnyard animals, including sheep, ponies and goats, hop aboard a hayride and take advantage of the fall harvest season when you can go pumpkin picking and attempt to find your way through the Amazing Maize Maze (yes, that’s a corn maze).

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  • Things to do

The massive 2022 NYC Marathon, the 51st annual iteration of the event, will take place on Sunday, November 6, starting at 8am. 

Some 50,000 runners from all over the world will descend upon the city to blaze through all five boroughs on foot, with top athletes training all year for a chance to be a part of this huge event.

For those who think 26.2 miles is an ungodly distance to run, watching the marathon is a thrilling way to be a part of the action. Here's our guide on where to cheer on the runners.

The best spots to see fall foliage in NYC

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Queens

At just over a half-mile long, Tulip Tree Trail is a great place to spot this species. The park is home to what's purported to be the oldest and largest tulip poplar in the city (called the "Alley Pond Giant"), at a towering 133.8 feet tall. Other varieties that you'll spot within the Queens green space include white oak, red maple and sassafras trees, which turn yellow and red.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Staten Island

This 139-acre park features scores of verdant woodlands and a vast diversity of trees. Join a free Fall Foliage Hike on October 25 at 1pm to learn about how leaves change and to see the shifting palette of greens, browns and oranges in Staten Island’s dense, untouched woods.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Central Park

Start at the Conservatory Water, near the entrance at Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street, where you can spot hawthorn trees covered in red berries. Then continue to the 38-acre Ramble in the middle of the park, where you'll find a large tupelo tree at the southern end of an area known as Tupelo Meadow; the leaves appear in various shades—red, yellow and purple—throughout the season. Continue your nature trek in the North Woods, a rustic landscape alongside the Ravine, featuring brooks, various oaks, elm, red maple and black cherry—enter at the eastern edge of the Pool (between 100th and 103rd Streets) and follow the trails north. Near the Great Hill, look for European beech trees, which has leaves that turn a warm shade of orangey-red.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Washington Heights

After a stroll into the Heather Garden’s vast swath of perennials and a walk through the Cloisters, hike through the arching trees and take a seat at the Linden Terrace, one of the highest points in Manhattan, where you’ll be able to gaze across the water at the Hudson River Palisades, which has 20 miles of cliffs that will be covered in vivid copper and orange foliage.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Staten Island

Consisting of 2,800 acres of interconnected open space in suburban Staten Island, the Greenbelt offers 35 miles of trails through parks and woodland. Start your expedition at the Nature Center, where you can pick up a copy of the trail map (which can also be downloaded from the website) and talk to naturalists. The eight-mile Yellow trail passes the ironically named Moses' Mountain, which was created from debris from Robert Moses's nixed plan to construct a highway through the area. From the 260-foot hill, you get a panoramic view of the surrounding treetops—the mix of oaks, sweet gum, tulip, sassafras and red maple provide a blaze of autumnal color. On the other side of the mountain, cross Manor Road and head back into the woods toward the 90-acre High Rock Park, where you'll glimpse ponds and clusters of red maple.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • The Bronx

For the best leaf spotting, get lost in the garden's Thain Family Forest. The 250-acre woodland area is the city's largest patch of old-growth forest (with some trees dating to the 19th century), and numerous species—including a high concentration of oak, red maple and tulip trees—can be found within the site. Keep an eye out for sweet gums, whose star-shaped leaves turn red and purple as autumn progresses, and scarlet oak trees, which are rich in tannins and display brilliant shades of orange and red. To learn more, head to the garden for two Fall Forest Weekends, which include guided foliage-themed tours, among other activities.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Prospect Park

Sugar and red maples—which you can spot around the park's lake—are the first trees to change, turning orange and red, respectively. The rest of the park's foliage should follow by late October, with species like elm, sour gum and sassafras all displaying fall colors. Head to the Ravine, a densely wooded area at the center of the park, for the highest concentration of plants. Seen enough trees? Climb the hill behind the Audubon Center; there you'll find a wildlife garden filled with plants such as holly shrubs, whose berries also transform in cooler weather.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • The Bronx

This enormous Bronx park can overwhelm, with more than 1,000 acres (and an estimated 80,000 trees) within its borders. But that also makes it ideal for leaf peepers, who can see species such as oak, sweet gum and hickory displaying rust and orange leaves. For superlative views, take a stroll along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, a 1.1-mile nature walk built atop a former tunnel that shuttled water from the Croton Reservoir down to New York City. Check out tulip and maple trees in shades of goldenrod and scarlet.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • The Bronx

Vivid foliage is in evidence as soon as you enter the grounds of Wave Hill—look out for a golden larch south of the main entrance. It's best viewed from beneath its branches on a clear day when the sun shines through the gilded leaves, says horticultural interpreter Charles Day, who will lead a foliage walk on November 4 at 1pm (free with admission). A katsura tree on the lawn south of the Glyndor Gallery has heart-shaped leaves that turn pale yellow on the tree, and once fallen, emit a fragrance similar to caramel. In the Wild Garden, small trees such as cutleaf sumac (copper-orange), dogwood (red) and shadbush (orange) contrast beautifully with evergreens and late-blooming asters in blue, purple and pink. Also look out for for the narrow, upright English oak, whose leaves turn coppery brown, near the gazebo. Take a seat in the open-sided structure to admire the fiery palette of the New Jersey Palisades on the other side of the Hudson—the pristine oak-hickory forest is scattered with maples, sweet and sour gums, black birch and tulip trees, resulting in an impressionist patchwork of rich hues. If you still crave more, venture into Wave Hill's eight-acre woodland to stroll amid sugar maple and hickory trees.

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