7 Not-So Spooky Reasons to Visit NYC in Fall

let's visit nyc in fall for the foliage

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Fall is the most magical time of year. Mag. Ic. Al. And, let’s be real, fall is also my absolute favorite season, haha. Can you tell?

Naturally, it’s unsurprising that I think my favorite city, the glorious Big Apple, is extra special when the cool weather rolls in. The crisp air provides so much relief to the northeast United States after the steamy and humid days of summer. 

In this post, my goal is to convince you to visit NYC in fall. The comfortable weather is a big reason (I rave about it a lot), but the crunchy leaves, outdoor brunches, and Halloween decorations all add a little bit of irresistible charm to this otherwise bustling metropolis of more than 8 million people. 

the natural history museum is especially lovely in fall

Why I love New York City in Fall

I’ve already mentioned NYC in fall is a special experience for me. It doesn’t matter if I’m traveling alone to NYC or if I’m with friends or family. 

I love wandering the Upper West Side and snapping pictures of classic and elegant townhomes decorated for Halloween. I love the smell of pumpkin spice coffee (if this makes me basic, I seriously don’t care) as I step into independent and cozy coffee shops. I love that I can wear comfortable leggings and oversized sweaters, and still look classy enough for such a suave city. 

The memories that I’ve made in New York will last me a lifetime. Well worth it. 

nyc in the fall has plenty of colorful leaves

7 Not-So Spooky Reasons to Visit NYC in Fall

Okay, let’s talk about the not-so spooky reasons that you should visit NYC in fall! 

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list either. New York City seems to add unique events every time autumn rolls around. Make sure to do your research and plan your itinerary around any special weekends or holidays. 

2 days in new york itinerary seeing the vessel

Most Comfortable Weather

Fall weather in New York City is the best weather. Seriously, I will go to the grave arguing that autumn weather is superior to spring and summer.

Why? Well, mainly because the temperatures usually average in the low 70s to mid 60s with relative low humidity. For my international friends, these beautiful numbers convert to roughly 20-22 degrees celsius. Perfect, huh?

In New York City, you will walk. A lot. A hell of a lot.

I mean, I know that I average 12,000 steps every time I visit this gigantic metropolis. Sometimes more. 

Therefore comfortable weather is important, especially if you have a jam-packed itinerary. 

enjoying nyc in the fall in central park
Happy Visiting NYC in Fall.

Gorgeous Foliage Everywhere

Oh my goodness, who doesn’t love brightly colored fall foliage? Be still my beating heart! 

I recommend seeing New York City’s foliage in its many iconic parks. For example, Fort Tyron Park, Central Park (of course), and Prospect Park all have wonderful foliage that you can admire on your walks. You can easily spend two hours doing a self-guided walk in Central Park on a beautiful and clear fall day. 

If you have room in your itinerary, NYC has several fall foliage cruises that will take you along the Hudson River into New York State. The stunning Hudson Valley has a lot of fantastic foliage that will make you feel like you’ve been magically transported to the heart of New England. 

Without a doubt, the spectacular foliage is one of the best reasons to visit NYC in fall. 

spoon in nyc is a lovely spot for food
Salmon Salad is the Perfect Fall Meal.

Coffee and Brunch Dream Come True

I don’t know about you, but fall feels like the perfect time of year to indulge in all the artisan coffees and eat brunch outside. And New York City? Has a lot of both these delicious things! 

We all know that fall is the best time of year to indulge in some pumpkin spice lattes. I mean, obviously. 

However, New York’s artisanal coffee is so creative that you’ll likely encounter even more seasonal flavors! Wander any neighborhood street, find a local coffee shop, and strike up a conversation with the baristas (if they’re willing to chat and not too overworked!). You’ll truly feel like you’re part of a community in this gigantic city. 

Furthermore, ever since the COVID-19 Pandemic, New York City has expanded its outdoor dining scene and some restaurants truly went above and beyond with innovation and creativity. 

New York is very much a “brunch city.” Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad time at bottomless brunch! With the great weather, fall is the perfect time to explore New York’s incredible food scene. Go alone or grab a group of friends, and eat Eggs Benedict until your heart and stomach are content. 

nyc in fall has cute window displays

Not Christmas Crowds Yet

Do you want to beat the true tourist crowds? Then come to NYC in fall. 

Visiting New York City in December is a cheery and unique holiday experience. I promise I’m not turning my nose up at a Christmas trip in New York. I adore all the Christmas decorations, especially the famous tree at Rockefeller Center! 

However, if you want to visit New York for the holiday season, you need to mentally prepare yourself for crowds clogging public transportation, department stores, restaurants, and more. 

Fall is not nearly as crowded unless you plan on visiting over Thanksgiving to see the Macys Parade. Then the streets are jammed, haha.

If you really want to enjoy the city without tourist hordes, then my suggestion is to pick a non-holiday week and go to the major of the sites in the middle of the work week. You will have zero issues. 

see the jack o' lantern blaze during nyc in fall

Loads of Wonderful Day Trips

Do you need a break from the city’s hustle and bustle? No problem!

If you’re spending a lot of time in NYC, then you definitely need to take advantage of all the wonderful NYC fall day trips that lie within an easy car or train ride away!  New York State, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania all offer great options for travelers ranging from cool bridges to wineries to breath-taking hikes. 

Personally, one of my personal favorite adventures from New York City is taking a fall day trip to Sleepy Hollow. Actually, Sleepy Hollow has so many things to do that you could even do a spooky weekend getaway there rather than a day trip! For example, the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is stole my heart with its 7,000 illuminated pumpkins.

Fall in love with New York. But go beyond the city for even more incredible fall experiences. 

the brooklyn book festival

Festivals, Festivals, and More Festivals

NYC in fall is especially awesome due to the many, many, many festivals that happen this time of year. Seriously, I think the city adds more events with each passing year.

Of course, you need to do some planning if you want to come for a certain festival, which means booking hotel rooms in advance, as well as buying tickets to the festival (if a paid event).

Below, I’ve included some of my favorite New York festivals, but trust me, you can find even more festivals if you look for them!

Festival Ideas for Visiting NYC in Fall

  • The Brooklyn Book Festival: If you adore books, then you need to go to the Brooklyn Book Festival that usually takes place in late September or early October. I’ve written all about the Brooklyn Book Festival, and think all visitors to NYC in fall should try to go at least once! Just bring a tote with you, so you can buy literally alllllll the books!
  • The Feast of San Gennaro: I always consider September fall (sorry). If you’re in NYC in early fall, then you definitely want to go to the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy. At the feast, you can eat an abundance of Italian-American specialities and see delightful events, such as a cannoli and meatball eating competition! 
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Okay, maybe the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade isn’t a festival in the truest sense of the world, but it’s an iconic New York City event. Just make sure to plan far in advance if you’re going to this world-famous parade. 
  • New York Comedy Festival: New York City is one of the cradles of comedy. This seven day festival happens in November. Over 200 comedians perform across New York City’s boroughs, so it’s super important to pick your shows in advance and have a plan in between the laughter! 
  • New York Food and Wine Festival: Guh, are you ready to eat, eat, and eat some more? Then come to the biggest food festival in New York City. In October, you can sign up for masterclasses, brunches, late night parties, and more! 
  • NYC Village Halloween Parade: Ahhh, no holiday captures the spirit of fall quite like Halloween does! The wildly creative and fun NYC Village Halloween Parade is a free public event that will leave you feeling spooky and inspired! If you’re in NYC on Halloween, don’t miss this incredible event! 
checking out the wonderful views when seeing nyc in fall
Seeing NYC in Fall and Looking Stylish!

Less Bulky Items to Pack

Who else hates lugging around a super heavy suitcase? Uh, me!

Unlike winter, you don’t have to pack as many bulky items for fall travel, especially in the Northeast United States. Although a less crowded bag seems like a small plus, not having overweight suitcases and bags will make you way more mobile for your trip to New York City.

However, even though you don’t need as many big items, you don’t want to forget these essentials for your upcoming adventure in New York City.

NYC in Fall Essentials

  • A Light Jacket: As temperatures drop in late autumn, you will definitely want a lightweight jacket to keep you warm, such as this adorable fleece jacket
  • New York City Guidebook: In a city as massive as NYC, you will want to bring a good quality guidebook on your trip. Lonely Planet writes my favorite guides! 
  • Sunglasses: Despite summer ending, New York’s fall days may have bright and sunny skies. Protect those eyes with a flashy pair of sunglasses
  • A Smart Phone Charger: Ugh, you guys, my phone dies constantly whenever I go to New York City. I’m always opening apps and snapping pictures, and if you rely on your phone as much as I do, then you will want to have a portable charger with you when you visit NYC in fall.
  • Stylish Walking Boots: See beautiful orange and red leaves? Then it’s time for some cute walking boots! These black boots by Merrell are highly quality and comfortable. Perfect for New York City! I wear them all the time when I hop on the subway. 

nyc in fall is so lovely and colorful

Where to Stay in NYC in Fall

Whew! I hope you enjoyed reading about all the awesome reasons to come to New York in the fall.

Now for a bonus: where should you stay on your city vacation.

After all, New York City is incredibly large. Although most visitors stay in Manhattan, this narrow and packed island is home to a plethora of neighborhoods. Choosing one to stay in feels overwhelming at times.

In my opinion, if you visit NYC in fall, which you should, then I am partial to the neighborhoods near Central Park, such as the Upper West and East Sides. 

In addition, I think the West Village in Lower Manhattan is another wonderful spot to spend a fall trip in New York City. You’re super close to NYU, which is vibrant in the fall with school back in session. 

I’ve included a few hotel recommendations below, but feel free to do your own research.

nyc in fall has lots of homes decorated
See all the Fall Decorations in New York City.

Accommodation Ideas

  • Concorde Hotel New York: Technically located in Midtown East, this hotel is an easy walk to the Upper East Side and all its many attractions. The Museum of Modern Art is also in close proximity to this beautiful hotel. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
  • Hotel Beacon: Located in the Upper West Side, Hotel Beacon is very close to Central Park and a super short walk away from The Museum of Natural History. This charming and highly rated hotel will provide you with a perfect neighborhood experience. See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
  • The Walker Hotel: Located in Greenwich Village, super close to West Village, this hotel has some really cool 1920s decor that I really love for fall! They offer a lovely cocktail bar on site too! See prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.

sleepy hollow in fall is so delightful

Have I convinced you to visit NYC in fall? What would be your favorite things to do in this city in autumn? Feel free to share all your not-so spooky thoughts!

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