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Fall foliage in New York
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Where to see fall foliage in NYC

For fans of crisp autumn days and the beautiful changing leaves, here's where to see fall foliage in NYC

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Autumn in New York just might be one of the best seasons of the year. We’re no longer melting from the summer heat, leisurely strolls become pleasurable again, thoughts turn to outdoor dining and spending time in NYC’s parks, and best of all the leaves start to turn. The brilliant colors of fall can add a pep to your step as you breathe in the crisp cool air. So if you’re wondering where to see fall foliage in NYC, look no further. These spots around the city will be bursting with the reds, yellows and oranges of fall.

You might think leaf-peeping is primarily for New Englanders, but New Yorkers have plenty of options for viewing the foliage in and around the city. From a stroll through a park to a train ride through the Adirondacks, natural beauty is definitely within reach. When planning your fall viewing, be sure to check out some apple picking spots near NYC. And if New York City fall foliage is not enough, check out our guide to all the other great spots where you can see fall foliage in the US.

Recommended: The best things to do this fall in NYC

Where to see fall foliage in NYC

  • 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.

  • Things to do

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.

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  • Things to do
  • Literary events

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
  • 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.

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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. 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

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. 

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Staten Island

This 139-acre park features scores of verdant woodlands and a vast diversity of trees. Occasionally, the park offers free fall foliage hikes, during which you can learn about how leaves change and to see the shifting palette of greens, browns and oranges in Staten Island’s dense, untouched woods.

  • 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. 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.

Though Long Island is better known as a summertime beach destination, there are plenty of reasons to head east after Labor Day. Sunken Meadow State Park is just 50 miles outside of the city, and offers dazzling views of Long Island Sound and even a slice of Connecticut in the distance. The park’s diverse topography allows you to view the seasonal changes in a variety of settings, from beachfront to bluff top. The fall harvest season is also a great time to make your way to Long Island Wine Country to visit the tasting rooms of more than three dozen local wineries.

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Think of Walkway Over the Hudson as Poughkeepsie’s answer to the High Line. The former railroad overpass is more than a mile long, making it the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge. And smack dab in the middle—perched 212 feet above the Hudson River and surrounded by the Catskills—is where you’ll find a spectacular, 360-degree view of fall in all its colorful glory along the banks of the river.

There’s no denying that the autumnal colors of Central Park have a lot of charm. But 90 miles north of midtown, the Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway, an 88-mile loop between Kerhonkson and New Paltz, NY offers drive-by gawkers some of the state’s most picturesque views, with rustic farmlands and mountain vistas. The prime leaf-spotting happens as you ascend into the Shawangunk Mountains, which rise more than 2,000 feet above sea level. Along the way you’ll pass two back-to-back overlooks, each with imposing views of the Rondout Valley and the Catskill Mountains.

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What better way to take in the beautiful autumn scenery than a cruise up the Hudson? Take advantage of the peak leaf season aboard a luxury yacht while you sip a mimosa or Bloody Mary, and enjoy a plentiful brunch spread on the Grand Palisades Fall Foliage Cruise aboard Manhattan Yachts. On this nearly three-hour adventure, you’ll observe New York’s natural wonders and the most vibrant foliage of the season. Don’t worry about the possible chill; the boats also have a heated, enclosed area from which to take in the sights.

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