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15 Best Day Trips from NYC in the Fall
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, my friends. Which means do want to know the best day trips from NYC in the fall? Great! As I’ve said on this website, fall is my absolute favorite time of the entire year. I’m obsessed and wish fall could be a year round occurrence. I adore, adore, adore fall.
Why do I love autumn so much? First of all, I think it’s a fabulous time to go traveling with gorgeous changing leaves and (usually) comfortable weather. Fall just stokes the adventurer in me.
And if you’re coming to New York, you’ll want to explore the scenic areas located within a stone’s throw of the big city.
The Best Day Trips from NYC in the Fall
This post contains a variety of day trips to take from New York City. Options range from natural wonders to scenic small towns to major cities.
A big, big, big THANK YOU to all of the contributors who took their time and effort to write for me.
As for my readers, I hope you leave without plenty of good ideas for day trips from NYC in fall. Happy travels and eat plenty of apple cider donuts for me. Or drink a delicious pumpkin cider.
1. Sleepy Hollow, Hudson Valley NY
First on our list is the small village of Sleepy Hollow. You probably recognize this name from Washington Irving’s famous short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
In reality, Sleepy Hollow has so many things to see in the fall. I personally loved the Old Dutch Church and Sleepy Hollow cemetery. While it sounds morbid to explore a cemetery, this burial ground is beautifully kept and is the final resting place of many historically significant people – including Washington Irving himself.
One of the greatest fall ventures near Sleepy Hollow is the incredible Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. Over 7,000 Jack O’Lanterns are beautifully craved. You can see a pumpkin art museum, Statue of Liberty, and cross Horseman’s Bridge. It’s a gorgeous night, but tickets need to be purchased well in advance.
— Rachel Elizabeth, author of Blond Wayfarer
2. Bethlehem and Covered Bridges, PA
The industrial city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is an unlikely getaway from New York City, however, there’s actually a lot happening here. The city has an exploding culinary scene with restaurants, breweries, and distilleries. The city’s industrial past has been preserved at the beautiful Steel Stacks and the Moravian historical sites in the city tell the unusual history of some of America’s first immigrants.
However, one of the best reasons to visit is to explore the covered bridges of the Lehigh Valley. Much of Pennsylvania, and the Lehigh Valley in particular, were settled in the 1700s by immigrants from Germany and Central Europe. These settlers brought with them construction techniques from their homeland. Chief among these were the building of covered bridges from Switzerland.
Before steel (yes, the same steel from the city of Bethlehem) was in building bridges, all bridges were made out of wood. And thousands of them in Pennsylvania were covered. Just like back in their native Switzerland, covering the bridge kept the trusses and roadway dry and prevented rotting. A covered bridge could last for hundreds of years…and many still stand.
Near Bethlehem, seven covered bridges still stand. These are in more rural areas and many are surrounded by parks and natural areas along the Jordan Creek. As the leaves start to change colors, a visit to the bright red covered bridges makes a beautiful (and romantic!) getaway from the frenzy of NYC.
– Lance and Laura Longwell are authors of Travel Addicts. They enjoy long road trips in unusual corners of the world, romantic sunsets, and eating local delicacies.
3. The North Fork, Long Island NY
Located approximately 90 miles east of New York City, the North Fork in Long Island makes for the perfect day trip.
There are so many ways to get to the North Fork. You can either drive (easiest), take public transportation (take the LIRR to Greenport) or opt for the many day tours available on sites like Groupon.
So what to do in the North Fork.
Well, first you have wine. With over 55 vineyards and wineries, there is no need to travel far to get a great glass (or bottle of wine). Some must-visit wineries.
Raphael Vineyards: It’s like going to Italy except it is a lot cheaper.
Kontakosta Winery: One of the only wineries in the North Fork with views of the Long Island Sound. Their property is gorgeous and a great place to visit in the Summer.
Lieb Cellars: This place gets busy on the weekends so reservations are recommended but they usually have live music, prices are extremely reasonable and you can get a box of wine to take home for about $40.
And if wine is not your thing then check out one of the many family farms where you can sip on hot apple cider, munch on apple cider donuts (are you feeling a theme) and pick up fresh pies and produce to bring home. Oh and don’t forget to take pictures. The fall colors are just out of this world.
A favorite is Harbes Family Farm. It is great for everyone. Families, singles, couples. You name it. And they only have a winery if you are interested in that as well.
— Taima Ramsey is the author of Poor in a Private Plane
4. Saugerties, NY
So many New Yorkers escape the grit and grind of the city by venturing north, into the Hudson Valley. Getting away from the urban jungle into lush greenery and nature the surrounding state offers is vital to survival sometimes! Saugerties, New York is perfect for a day trip or a few days getaway. It’s just about a two hour drive time from Manhattan and is on the Hudson River. It’s just north of Rhinebeck and south of the Catskills.
Saugerties is a city with plenty of landscape so you can breathe fresh air! The city’s “downtown” area consists of blocks of shops and restaurants that won’t overwhelm you but provides just enough options to keep your interest for a weekend trip. Some restaurants, including Rock da Casbah, even offer live music on the weekends if you’re interested in a bit of entertainment in the evening when you visit. Love Bites Cafe turned out to be another favorite place during our trip where we had breakfast two days in a row.
There are a lot of cute Air BnBs available to rent in the heart of downtown if you desire walkability to restaurants and such. If hotels are more your style, check out the Diamond Mills Hotel. If you love Bed and Breakfasts, try the Renwick Clifton House.
No trip to Saugerties, New York is complete without a visit to their lighthouse and waterfalls. The falls are just behind the Diamond Mills Hotel, on Esposus Creek, and there’s a great viewing platform to enjoy the small fall from and view of the attractive bridge in the distance. The lighthouse is reachable from a small park trail that runs half a mile through Ruth Reynolds Glunt Nature Preserve. A boardwalk enables you to walk over wetlands safely and view wildlife on the way.
— Mikkel Woodruff, author of Sometimes Home
5. Boston, Massachusetts
If you’re looking for a fabulous day trip for New York, you really should consider Boston. Now, I’m not saying if you should put cream in your clam chowder, let alone weighing in on Red Sox vs. Yankees. You can make the trip in about four hours by car, bus, or train, so why not see them both?
Boston is famous for its role in the American Revolution. From Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride (one if by land and two if by sea) to Bunker Hill (the site of the first battle), your history books come to life. The Boston Freedom Trail connects 16 of the most historic sites into a 2.5-mile path. It’s widely regarded as Boston’s number one attraction and absolutely free.
While you’re in Boston, be sure to check out some of their unique taverns from The Bell in Hand (America’s oldest tavern) to Cheers (you know, the place where everybody knows your name). If you’re a baseball fan, make sure you go to the Bleacher Bar in Fenway Park that looks out over center field. You don’t have to root for the Bosox to take a fifty-minute stadium tour to see the Green Monster, even if there is no game.
For the science nerds, you can see for yourself if it’s really 364.4 smoots plus or minus one ear across the Harvard Bridge to MIT. For the rest of us, you can spend the day enjoying one of America’s most historic and most walkable cities.
— Jenn and Ed Coleman, authors of Coleman Concierge
6. Westchester, NY
Located just 30 miles north of Manhattan in New York City. Westchester is the perfect place for fall festivities for anyone of any age.
To get to Westchester county, you can board a Metro-North train that travels south from Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Trains run every 20 minutes and the journey takes about an hour.
Kick start your fall season with apple, peach, and pumpkin picking at Wilkens Fruit Farm. With over 103 years of harvesting experience, they sell everything from their own pressed apple cider to freshly baked pies, and apple cider donuts. The farm also hosts an annual Choose-n-Cut Christmas Tree event just after Thanksgiving.
With its lovely undulating hills, Westchester has some of the best hiking trails in New York State. Mianus River Gorge Preserve is an easy five-mile walk that’s great for families with children. Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla has a 300 foot high and long dam which forms the Kensico Reservoir. Anthony’s Nose Trail is a six-mile and three-hour loop – perfect for walking, cycling or hiking.
Head to the Museum of Pumpkin Art and meander through a breathtaking display of more than 7,000 illuminated jack o’ lanterns. Handcrafted by local artisans, this instagrammable spot even had a 25-foot-tall jack o’ lantern Statue of Liberty.
End your day with a wine tasting at America’s oldest winemaking and grape-growing region, Hudson Valley or if you prefer to hit up the quality craft breweries, Sleepy Hollow’s Bridgeview Tavern is a great option!
— Art, author of The Broke Backpacker
7. Mohonk, New York
Mohonk in New York’s Hudson Valley makes the perfect fall day trip from NYC. The area includes both the Mohonk Mountain House and the Mohonk Mountain Preserve. The Mountain House is a classic resort hotel built on the edge of a small lake. It’s a jumble of wooden and stone styles that looks like something out of Harry Potter. You can easily visit as a day guest. They have an incredible weekend brunch and daily seasonal outdoor BBQs that include access to the grounds for the day, or you can skip the meal and just buy a day pass.
Mohonk is great any time of year, but the fall is when it really shines. The color of the leaves here is nothing short of spectacular. You can enjoy yourself no matter what your desired level of activity is. If you are feeling lazy, do nothing more than sit in one of the rocking chairs on the porch and enjoy the fall foliage or feed the fish in the lake. If you are feeling more energetic, hike up to the fire tower for spectacular views over the lake and the surrounding forest, which is ablaze with red, orange and yellow in the fall. For the truly adventurous, you can get to the fire tower via a rock scramble – which involves clambering over boulders, climbing ladders and squeezing though narrow cracks in the rocks. This is best left to adrenaline junkies. The adjacent Mohonk Preserve is a large wooded area with plenty of great hikes, which are especially stunning in the fall. A small daily or annual fee is required. The middle weekends in October are typically the best time, but this can vary from year to year. You can read more about fall in Mohonk and throughout the Hudson Valley here.
— James Ian, author of Travel Collecting
8. Beacon, New York
People who live in New York City can sometimes act like there’s no reason to leave the Big Apple. After all, NYC is home to some of the most amazing cultural attractions in the world. But the rest of New York State also has many wonderful museums, stores, and restaurants. And the small town of Beacon, New York hosts one of the best contemporary art museums on the east coast, Dia: Beacon. New Yorkers will happily take the approximately 90 minute train ride from Grand Central Station just to visit this museum.
Dia: Beacon is housed in a closed-down Nabisco factory. But the only treats you’ll find here nowadays are masterpieces by Louise Bourgeois, Andy Warhol, Robert Ryman, and On Kawara, just to name a few. And the fall is the perfect time to visit Dia: Beacon because you can enjoy the views of the gorgeous yellow, orange, and red leaves in the sculpture garden.
You don’t need a car to fully explore Beacon. There’s a free shuttle bus that operates every day except Sunday. This shuttle will take you from the train station to the museum to Beacon’s Main Street. When you’ve had enough culture at Dia: Beacon, you can enjoy the trendy stores and tasty restaurants on Main Street.
Hudson Beach Glass is one of the best stores on Beacon’s Main Street. It’s an active glassblowing studio, so you can watch them make glass or even take a glassblowing class yourself. You can also find gorgeous retro clothes at Vintage: Beacon or get some local soaps and lotions at Beacon Bath & Bubble.
If the fall weather starts to get chilly, warm up with some homemade soup and gluten-free baked goods at Ella’s Bellas. And if you stay in Beacon for dinner, enjoy classic Italian at Brother’s Trattoria. Their zuppa di pesce is the perfect end to any autumn evening!
— Stella Jane, author of Around the World in 24 Hours
9. Easton, Pennsylvania
Sitting at the crossroads between NYC and Philadelphia, Easton, PA, has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past 10 or so years. After a period of decline, the city has bounced back in a big way, drawing tourists from all over with its notable restaurants and bars, numerous historical and cultural attractions, and abundant natural beauty.
Easton is easily accessible from NYC – it’s only one hour by bus – and the downtown is compact and walkable. If you come on a Saturday, a good place to start is the Easton Farmers Market – the oldest continuously operating farmers’ market in the U.S. – in Center Square (fun fact: Center Square is actually a circle). A little further up Northampton St. is the indoor Easton Public Market, where you’ll find popular lunch spots like Mister Lee’s Noodles and Full of Crepe. If you need a caffeine break, next door to the market is Terra Cafe, or stroll a few blocks from the square to ThreeBirds, which is located in a newly renovated historic home.
In the afternoon, stroll around Easton’s many shops and art galleries, or tour the Sigal Museum to learn more about the city’s rich history – it was the site of one of only three public readings of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. For dinner there are plenty of restaurants to choose from ranging from low key to high end and representing many different cuisines – there’s 3rd & Ferry for seafood, Bayou for Cajun, Aman’s for Indian, and Stoke for pizza. Before heading home, take in a show at the nearly 100-year-old State Theatre or enjoy a few beers at the popular Two Rivers Brewery.
— Brianne Miers, author of A Traveling Life
10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
If the multitude of tourists in Times Square or the awful stench of the subway is ruining your time in NYC, why not spend your Fall in Philadelphia. Located only 1.5 hours away from New York City by train, Philadelphia is a major metropolitan city that is perfect for a fall getaway. Filled with exciting activities but with a fraction of the tourists in NYC, Philadelphia is a great place for anyone looking for a less hectic time.
During the fall season, Philadelphia becomes an autumn paradise. Take a stroll along the beautiful parks such as Spruce Street Harbor Park and Penn Treat Park and you will be overwhelmed by the glorious autumn colors along with the liveliness of the people. Everyone is out to enjoy the beautiful weather and have a good time. And when you are tired of relaxing in the various parks, piers and other amazing public spaces, why not spend some time learning about the rich history of one of the most important historical places in the United States of America. Head over to the Independence National Historical Park and get a glance of the Liberty Bell. As one of the symbols of freedom and independence in America, the Liberty Bell is one of the most significant artifacts of American history.
And if you are visiting Philadelphia during Halloween time, make sure you visit the Eastern State Penitentiary. The Eastern State Penitentiary was the first prison to practice something called solitary confinement. They believed the jailing the inmates in complete isolation would expel the demons inside them. As a result, many of them went insane and paranormal experts believe the Eastern State Penitentiary is haunted. During Halloween, they have a haunted house called Terror Behind the Walls, a fun adrenaline-pumping activity for everyone in the family, but maybe not the elders.
— Sean, author of Living Out Lau
11. The Caskill Mountains, New York
About three hours away from New York City, the Catskill Mountains stand tall and proud.
During the fall, they are by far my favorite escape from the city. You’ll see the fall foliage get more vibrant the farther you drive, like someone is sliding up the saturation gauge on the world. Simply taking a drive through the region, where you can take in the autumn leaves, can be immensely satisfying. You can stop at seasonal shops to try apple cider and apple bakery items. These shops are usually chock-full of seasonal home decor, perfect for bringing a bit of the season home with you.
I love taking fall drives, but I will nearly always choose to hike my way through the fall foliage. There are a variety of trails in the Catskills, ranging from a mile or two, to over ten miles. For a day trip, I’d recommend hiking at least 3 miles, but no more than 7, to both make the drive worth it, and get back to the city by the evening. Remember that It gets dark earlier in the fall, and you don’t want to be making your way back to the car in the dark.
Regardless of my suggestions, you have to choose a trail that matching your hiking ability. Trails in the Catskills range from easy to difficult. I recommend any trail that brings you to a fire tower, top of a mountain, or an overlook. There is no better feeling than looking over a valley filled with the red, gold, and orange leave adorned trees.
— Ash, author of Dashin’ Ash
12. Lake Placid, New York
Lake Placid is nestled in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks, about five hours from Manhattan, but worlds away from the noise and bustle of the city. Fall is a magical time to visit and is perfect for hiking, paddling, leaf-peeping, and adventuring.
You’ll spend much of your travel time cruising along on Interstate 87, but the fun begins when you hop off the highway and onto the back roads that lead to Lake Placid Village. You’ll pass numerous pull-offs, trailheads, waterfalls, and mountain lakes on your journey, all just begging to be explored.
If hiking is your thing, there are dozens and dozens of great day hikes right in Lake Placid, but our favorite is up to the summit of Mt. Jo. This is a moderately steep 2.1-mile loop with fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and the summit is the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic.
Don’t want to hike? You’ll be pleased to know that Lake Placid is a fun destination for shoppers, beer lovers, and sports fanatics. Both the 1932 and the 1980 US Winter Olympics were held in Lake Placid, and it is still a mecca for winter sports. Be sure to visit the Lake Placid Olympic Museum right in town and the Olympic Jumping Complex, where you can ride the chairlift and elevator to the top of the jump. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to watch young skiers training, perhaps for the next Winter Olympics!
After working up an appetite, head over to Lake Placid Pub & Brewery for tasty pub fare, and be sure to try their Ubu Ale — they’re famous for it.
— Tara, author of Back Road Ramblers
14. Bear Mountain, New York
It’s no surprise why the 5,000-acre Bear Mountain State Park in New York state is one of the most-visited parks in the Northeast.
Reachable by car or train, Bear Mountain is located just 40 miles from New York City. The park has something for everyone and it’s a great day trip or weekend getaway in fall.
Bear Mountain State Park is home to four museums that are open daily year-round. You can spend your day learning about the indigenous people of the area at the History Museum or exploring the formations of the Hudson Highlands at the Geology Museum. Learn about native animals at the Herpetology House or Natural History Museum.
After a history lesson, skate away at the large, uncovered outdoor ice rink. Open from late October through mid-March. It opens from 10 AM till late and skating beneath the starry night skies could be the perfect way to end a date.
For breathtaking views of the park, the Hudson Highlands and Harriman State Park, climb The Perkins Memorial Tower or go on the Merry-Go-Round which has stunning 42 hand-carved seats of the parks native animals including black bear, wild turkey, and Canada goose.
— Lerato LB, author of One Weird Globe
15. New Hope, PA & Lambertville, NJ
The last out of all the day trips to take from NYC in the fall covers both Pennsylvania and New Jersey at the same time.
If you have a car in New York City (bless you), then a day trip to New Hope and Lambertville are very possible for you! These two adorable towns are nestled right on the Delaware River, and look quaint and cozy amongst the stunning colors of the fall foliage. It’s easy to walk across the bridge between the two towns. There’s a clearly marked pedestrian pathway. You can even stand over the official divide between New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
In particular, you’ll want to come to these towns if you have a deep interest in supporting local artists. Galleries seem to exist within every few feet of one another. Spend your money here. The currency stays “close to the ground.”
Do you want to shop for antiques too? Then these towns are for you! Lambertville, in particular, seems to have nothing except cool and funky antique shops on all the side streets.
New Hope also has a vibrant LGBT community, meaning that this is your opportunity to support their local businesses. You can even catch a Drag Race in October! Tons of fun!
— Rachel Elizabeth, author of Blond Wayfarer
What are your favorite day trips from NYC in fall? Have you been to any of these destinations? Leave all your thoughts in the comments. And a BIG THANK to everyone who contributed to their content to this guide.