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Storm King
Photograph: Courtesy Storm King

The best fall day trips from NYC

Take an autumn adventure with these fall day trips from NYC

Keith Flanagan
Written by
Jennifer Picht
&
Keith Flanagan
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Autumn in NYC is one of the loveliest times of the year. The weather is crisp and cool, perfect for enjoying the city without melting or freezing. You can see fall foliage within the city limits or check out one of the many fall activities going on around town. Fall is also a great time for getting out of the city, and these fall day trips from NYC are just the thing to kick those seasonal cozy vibes into high gear. Whether you’re looking to go apple picking, take a hike or explore nearby Halloween events, these fall day trips are worth the journey. They’re all within three hours of the city, so you’ll be back in time to reminisce about your autumn outing over a cup of hot chocolate.

Best fall day trips from NYC

2hrs and 30mins by car 

There are many types of apples, but the best version of everyone’s favorite autumnal snack is clearly the fermented kind. At Twin Star Orchards, you can enjoy the best of the fruit and the alcoholic beverage in one-go. Just two hours away from the city, the picturesque orchard offers apple picking as well as free tastings of the attraction’s award winning ciders that are carried under the Brooklyn Cider House label. Sample variations from Still Bone Dry to Half Sour before picking up a few bottles to take home. Feeling peckish? Dig into some wood-fired Neapolitan pizza or burgers at Twin Star’s on-site eatery while overlooking the pond. 

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1hr by Metro-North

Ready to experience the most gourd-eous display of pumpkins in all of New York? At the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, you’ll witness an army of more than 7,000 intricately carved jack o’lanterns glowing along the riverside near Van Cortlandt Manor. Ogling pretty gourds isn’t the only draw. Before entering the maze, grab some grub at the food tents selling autumnal fare like hot cider, apple doughnuts and more devilish treats. There's also a mini-market selling Halloween paraphernalia. Tickets always sell out, so make sure to cop a set before it's too late. Bonus: Traveling to the Blaze is a breeze. Just take the Metro-North Hudson Line from Grand Central Terminal to Croton-Harmon station (under an hour from Manhattan). Van Cortlandt Manor is only a five-minute cab ride or a 10-minute walk from the station. 

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1hr 30mins by car or bus

If you think roller coasters are scary, just wait until you experience this Pennsylvania amusement center Dorney Park's frightening fest. You may want to save your screams while riding fun coasters like Steel Force (the big top offers a thrilling, 205-foot drop) or else your sqeaker will be totally shot after walking through Dorney Park’s multiple “scare zones." We're creeped out just thinking about it.

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2hr and 30mins by sail 

Take a leisurely cruise up the Hudson River to gorgeous Bear Mountain State Park. After a 2.5-hour cruise, you'll have three hours to explore the park's natural beauty, abundant hiking trails and zoo. On the way back, join the onboard Oktoberfest complete with craft beer, German food and live music.

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2hrs by car

Storm King Art Center consists of 500 breathtaking acres that meld art with nature. Its rotating contemporary-sculpture collection features about 100 pieces dotted around the property. In the fall, the foliage is glorious with trees covered in red, yellow and orange leaves. 

1hr and 20mins from Penn Station

Only a bus or train away, Philadelphia is the perfect day trip for folks who want to get out of Manhattan but still feel like they’re in metropolis. Start the day on a hoppy note during a brewery tour, at which you’ll get to taste 15 types of beer (including Oktoberfest iterations) from Philly’s best brewpubs. The all-inclusive experience includes lunch, plus insider tips from the owners on their beer-making process. End the day on a creepy note and take a haunted walking tour through the cobblestone streets of historic Philadelphia. Your informative guide will share scary tales about Leo Callahan, the only prisoner to escape from Eastern State Penitentiary. Spoiler alert: He was never recaptured! Try not to lose your cool after listening to spooky folklore about the ghouls who haunt Independence Hall as well as the paranormal activity that goes down at Liberty Hall and Pine Street.

 

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1hr 6mins by Metro-North

Nature lovers and design snobs unite in New Canaan, where the main attraction is see-through. The Glass House, an architectural pilgrimage for Instagrammers, built by architect Philip Johnson, is just as transparent this season as always, but the glass structure’s pastoral 49-acre landscape is full of vibrant orange and red colors that will make any post pop. Next, head to Grace Farms, an old equestrian property turned community center where 77 acres of forest and meadows act as a backdrop.

1hr 15mins by Metro-North

So you’re a thrill-seeking leaf peeper, eh? Strike Cold Spring off your bucket list. This chocolate-box town is ultra cute but gets serious along the Breakneck Ridge trail. The full route is four-and-a-half miles, but you’ll arrive at panoramic views of the autumnal Hudson Highlands, river and nearby towns well before the end. Fancy a simpler stroll? Stonecrop Gardens, a 12-acre estate, trades florals for foliage in the fall.

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1hr 40mins by Amtrak train

The town is known for bucolic beauty in the Hudson Valley—and that’s saying something. For proof, meander around Ferncliff Forest, a 200-acre nature preserve bursting with old-growth forest. Entry is free, so spend as much time as you like along 11 breezy trails—and don’t miss the fire tower for a sunset view of the Catskill Mountains. In town, keep the back-to-basics vibes going at The Amsterdam, a restaurant inside an 18th-century Dutch townhouse with a backyard fire pit and bocce court.   

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