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Fall in NYC
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best things to do in the fall in NYC

We have the ultimate list of things to do in the fall—NYC's Halloween events and autumn activities can't be beat

By Time Out New York editors

Fall in NYC is everything you could hope for in a season. First, the city gets delightfully spooky for Halloween. With thrilling Halloween events and Halloween festivals happening in every borough, it’s easy to get in the spirit of things! Aside from pumpkins and funky costumes though, you can keep the autumn excitement going by leaf peeping around the city, warming up with whiskey, parades, virtual parties and so much more. Autumn in NYC is tough to match!

Best things to do in the fall

Photograph: Courtesy Alan Winslow

1. Catch a two-month-long outdoor photography festival

News Art

Photoville, which typically takes place in Brooklyn Bridge Park for two weeks each year, is now coming to public spaces across the city for the next two months. Don't miss portraits of NYC's spring graduates in Pandemic Class of 2020 by Elias Williams, a series of photographs documenting the stories of 10 NYC-based Asian Americans who experienced racism during the pandemic called Asian Americans on Race and The Pandemic by Haruka Sakaguchi; and a documentary series about the indie wrestling scene in the South Bronx called Bronx Wrestling by Sofie Vasquez.

Fall foliage in New York
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Head to these great spots for leaf-peeping

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!

drive-in movie theater
Photograph: Shutterstock/Viniciu

3. Cozy up under the stars for outdoor movie screenings and drive-ins

Things to do

Nothing is better than watching a movie under the stars on a cool fall night. One of the upsides to 2020 is the return of the drive-in movie theater and proliferation of outdoor screenings. We recommend checking out the Skyline Drive-in in Greenpoint, the Queens Drive-in at Flushing Meadows Corona Park and a free screening on any day of the week by Bushwick's Syndicated.

Met Museum
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. Check out NYC’s museums as they reopen with new exhibitions


Museums are finally opening their doors to the public after six months of closure. Make up for lost time by checking out must-see exhibits, including "Making the Met: 1870-2020" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Studio 54: Night Magic" at the Brooklyn Museum, and "The Nature of Color" at the American Museum of Natural History." 

New York Botanical Garden
Photograph: Courtesy Robert Benson Photography/New York Botanical Garden

5. Roam the grounds at the New York Botanical Garden

News 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.

The Carreau Club
Photograph: Courtesy of The Carreau Club

6. Play lawn games and drink

News Drinking

The Carreau Club, New York's first pétanque bar, just opened in Industry City along the Brooklyn waterfront and is a great spot for you and your pod. This socially-distanced friendly lawn game is easy to pick up (it's basically bocce's French cousin) and you can sip a martini at the same time.

wine tasting
Photograph: RGNY

7. Visit a local vineyard

Americans aren't visiting Italian or French vineyards to partake in the fall harvest this year, but there are plenty of wineries close enough to New York City that are worth a day trip. You can easily find yourself on the North Fork of Long Island or in Hudson Valley within a few hours via public transportation. There's also the Finger Lakes, perhaps the state's most prized wine region, if you really want to make a road trip of it and taste some excellent pours.

The Rockaway Hotel
Photograph: Courtesy The Rockaway Hotel/Matthew Placek

8. Check into the hottest hotel in Queens

News City Life

The number of idyllic beach days are limited, but if you want to hang out in the Rockaways, the Rockaway Hotel is an ideal spot to call your own beach bungalow. All the rooms have water views and if the weather starts feeling a bit too much like sweater weather, you can always dip into the heated pool.

Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson on September 27, 2018.  (Photo by Tom Nycz)
Photograph: Courtesy Historic Hudson Valley/Tom Nycz

9. Head to the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze's new second location

News City Life
New York's most anticipated Halloween event is spreading its spooky spirit. For the first time, the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze will set up shop at the historic Old Bethpage Village Restoration on Long Island, in addition to the Van Cortlandt Manor in the Hudson Valley. Visitors will be able to admire 7,000+ hand carved illuminated jack o'lanterns as eerie music and synchronized lights add to the festive experience. 
Photograph: Courtesy New York Philharmonic

10. Catch live classical music performances

The New York Philharmonic's concerts at Lincoln Center may be on pause, but its NY Phil Bandwagon performances are popping across all five boroughs. Through October, musicians will set up live pop-up concerts via a pickup truck where you'll hear everything from Mozart to Broadway tunes.

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More fall stories

Photograph: Courtesy Steve Acres/Into the Veil

The best fall date ideas in NYC

Things to do

We’re familiar with “summer loving,” but once you take a gander at our list of fall date ideas, you’ll soon see that “autumn loving” is what it’s all about. Just think of all the possibilities! From admiring fall foliage at the best NYC parks, to holding your S.O.’s hand during New York’s spookiest ghost tours, we think these activities are the foundation for a long-lasting relationship. And, hell, these date ideas will get your through cuffing season at the very least. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in the fall in NYC

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