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Fall is my favorite time to visit New York City. My freakin’ favorite. If I was forced to pick only one season to go to New York, then I’d choose autumn every single time without fail.
Why do I love fall in New York? Lots of reasons.
Temperatures are crisp and cool. Bloody orange leaves liter the paths of Central Park. Brownstones are decorated for Halloween. Pumpkin flavored coffee is in swing at all the small cafes. Locals and tourists alike are buzzing around enjoying the day.
Oh, and you’ve fall fashion sales in full swing, too, which is especially great when you have money to burn.
Autumn in New York is perfect.
I just love the idea of sitting outside (with a coffee under a leafy tree) and taking in my surroundings as if I were a famous writer.
Of course, if you’re planning any trip to New York, then you need to consider your packing list.
I always try to be prepared even when I’m only spending a day in New York. As the largest US city, you’ll spend a lot of time on your feet, so you don’t want to forget anything important.
This packing list for New York City will help you. Let’s get started!
I. NYC Packing List Fall: Essential Daily Items
Let’s begin with the essentials for what to pack for New York in fall.
These are the items you want to have with you – both at your accommodation and exploring the five boroughs.
The good news is you’ll be able to buy anything you need in New York. However, prices are high here. You don’t want to waste too much of your hard-earned cash on basics.
Plus buying your packing list in the city wastes times better spent at a quality museum, like the Met or the Whitney, or dining at a cool restaurant.
So it’s best that you don’t leave anything at home.
1. A North American Electric Adapter
This item is especially important for visitors coming from abroad. The U.S. has completely different outlets then what you’re used to in your home country.
Make sure to pack an appropriate North American electric adapter so your phone and laptop doesn’t die on you.
Accidentally forgot your adapter? Sometimes hotels have extra adapters, but I personally wouldn’t risk it.
Buy them right away instead, even if you have to fork over the cash at JFK or Newark Liberty, and then bring the adapters with you into the city.
2. A Point-and-Shoot Camera
A lightweight camera is wonderful to have in New York. Actually, for me, a good camera is a requirement.
Sure, your phone is cool and compact, but you’ll definitely want a “real” camera if you want to zoom in and take more professional photos documenting your stay.
In my opinion, for a basic camera, you should try Canon’s PowerShot SX620 with 25x Optical Zoom on your upcoming vacation to New York City. Canon makes reliable products and the price point isn’t too terrible.
However, if you’re aiming for something a little more sophisticated (or are a professional photographer), then I would splurge and go for a Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless digital camera. It’s sleek and stylish and takes incredibly high quality photographs.
Going in Winter Instead? Check out my New York City Winter Packing List
3. A Light Urban (and Fun!) Backpack
Bring a backpack for running around New York City!
However, you don’t want to look as if you’re going camping for three weeks. New York is a sleek and classy city, and you want to fit in.
As for me, I personally adore Tumi’s line of backpacks, and not only they’re fashionable either. With these Tumi products, you’ve many pockets to store things, including laptops.
4. A Portable Cell Phone Charger
Don’t wander around New York City with a dead phone! Don’t, don’t, don’t.
Always have a spare charger with you to stop your battery from dying a slow death in Times Square or at the Empire State Building.
It’s even more important to bring a portable charger if you’re planning to use your camera phone to take pictures. Photos drain battery.
5. Filtered Water Bottle
New York’s tap water is perfectly safe to drink and I’m fine with it. However, the tap water might taste differently than what you’re used to.
Unsurprisingly, you’ll walk A LOT in New York, so it’s important to pack a filtered water bottle and re-hydrate throughout the day.
Filtered water bottles are also environmentally friendly. By having one, you won’t have to buy multiple plastic bottles. I won’t get on my high horse about this topic, but the less plastic, the better. The world will thank you.
6. A Phone Case Wallet
Credit card is king in New York. Always have an unblocked credit card in your possession.
Call your bank ahead of time. I would do this even if I was coming from another state, honestly.
But, more importantly, you’ll need a metro card to take the New York City subway. I personally HATE rummaging through my purse for my metro card. I feel stressed, haha.
Having a phone case wallet makes it much easier to find your cards. Problem solved!
Read More: Your Guide to Solo Travel in NYC
II. What to Wear in New York City in Fall
A big question is “what to wear in New York City in fall” especially considering how fashion forward this place is.
Don’t beat yourself up too much, though. I always feel underdressed in Manhattan, haha. And, even if you feel embarrassed against the armies of models, you’ll never see any of these people ever again.
So here are some of my suggestions for what to wear in New York in fall.
1. A Rain Jacket
Alas, fall weather in New York is unpredictable.
You can have sun 24/7. Rain might plummet over the city. Temperatures drastically vary from one day to the next. Such is life in the northeastern United States.
Personally, I love North Face’s Venture rain jacket for any trip with the potential of unsettled weather. Mine’s several years old (I think I bought it in 2013), and it’s still in fabulous condition. Worth the investment in my experience.
Read More: 15 Best Day Trips from NYC in the Fall
2. Stylish and Comfortable Boots
You’ll walk a lot in New York City.
I average about 10 miles (or roughly 16 km) every time I take an adventure around the Big Apple.
Personally, I love Clarks line of ankle booties, because they keep your feet warm, are easily paired with a variety of outfits, and are gentle on your soles.
Again, my Clarks shoes last for years, so I think they’re worth the extra investment.
3. A Flashy Pair of Sunglasses
You don’t need to shell out hundreds on dollars on Prada or Jimmy Choo sunglasses, but still invest in a pair for your New York City fall packing list.
The sun is extra bright in the city, thanks to all the skyscrapers, and you want to protect your eyes.
There are plenty of colorful and affordable sunglasses available to order online. Sunglasses are especially important for New York in September. Find one that best suits your face shape.
4. A Neutral Colored Travel Scarf
Pack a neutral travel scarf to stay warm particularly in the mornings and evenings. Like I said (ad nauseam), temperatures will fluctuate throughout autumn in New York.
Not to mention, you’re able to keep your phone inside your travel scarf, giving you even more room to go on a shopping spree in Soho.
5. Aim for Black and Classy
To save room in your suitcase, go for simple black clothing that you’re able to “dress up” or “dress down.” You’ll pack less items and save yourself a headache checking your luggage at JFK.
For instance, a black button-up blouse is easily worn with jeans during the day, or snazzed up with a nice piece of costume jewelry at night.
You can’t go wrong with a little black dress either!
6. Final Fashion Tip: Layers, Layers, Layers
Finally, it’s important to “layer up” as you board the ferry for the Statue of Liberty or take a walking tour through Central Park.
Wrap shawls are a great and effective way to layer your clothing. And still look stylish!
If you feel warm, stash your shawl away in your backpack.
Read More: Tips for Visiting New York for the First Time
III. Odds & Ends for Your New York Packing List
Lastly, here are some other bits and pieces you want to have at your disposal on your autumn vacation to New York.
You won’t have to carry these items with you throughout the day (unless you want to!). But they’ll absolutely make your New York adventures a million times better!
Let’s do this!
1. Travel Insurance
I always say that if you can’t afford insurance, then you can’t afford to travel. Period. End of story.
Especially traveling internationally, then you need to buy travel insurance for your visit to New York. I always buy World Nomads for my trips. It’s easy and quick to buy a policy online – even if you’re leaving within 48 hours.
Plus they’re one of the more affordable companies, so, if you’re trying to save cash, then World Nomads is the way to go!
2. A Portable Travel Umbrella
Due to potential rain, you’ll want to bring a packable umbrella especially when out and about in New York’s many diverse neighborhoods.
Stick with a travel-sized umbrella. A regular umbrella is heavy and clunky, and will take up way too much room in your suitcase and backpack.
3. A Solid Guidebook on New York City
As the biggest city in the United States, it’s even more important to have a good guidebook for New York City to effectively maximize your time.
We all have different interests as travelers. However, New York truly has surprises for every type of person on the planet.
A guidebook will help you organize a day-to-day itinerary, so you don’t miss a single thing! And Lonely Planet’s a very reliable company.
4. A Travel-Sized Notebook
I’m a writer at heart, and New York City is the perfect place to practice my craft! I mean, there’s no other place on earth with better opportunities for people watching.
I’d suggest packing a pocket-sized notebook for those excursions to Central Park and Washington Square.
Don’t buy anything too clunky that’ll only succeed in weighing you down. A small, simple notebook will do just fine.
Not to mention, your travel writing is one of the most beautiful souvenirs to give yourself after a trip has come to an end. The memories will last forever and ever.
I hope I helped you figure out what to pack for New York in fall! What else would you bring with you? Have you ever visited New York in fall? What are your favorite autumn travel destinations?