The Best of Autumn in New York

By: Maxine Sheppard

October 14, 2010

Parades and spectacles, changing colours in the park”¦autumn is the time to visit the Big Apple. After sharing her favourite side-trips from Manhattan, Melanie Nayer now shows us how to enjoy the fun and festivities of fall.

There is of course no wrong time to visit New York, and each season has its attractions, but to those in the know autumn comes out on top. The crowds have died down and the city seems a little quieter, so enjoy the last few days of outside cafes, breathe in the crisp autumn air and watch the leaves in Central Park go from green to gold. New York in the fall means Halloween parties, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the start of the skating season at the Rockefeller Center.


The Best Places to See Fall Foliage

Central Park

There’s no place like Central Park and its 843 acres are a New York staple for residents and visitors alike. The 2.5-mile long stretch between 59th Street (Central Park South) and 110th Street (Central Park North) is one of the best places for watching the colours change from summer to autumn. Spend a day strolling through the park, have lunch under one of more than 25,000 trees or take a gondola ride along the canal.



Fall Foliage in Central Park by Alaskan Dude on Flickr

Fall Foliage in Central Park by Alaskan Dude on Flickr




One of New York’s most loved neighbourhoods is also one of the best for watching the colours change. Go for a brisk walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and head into DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Once you cross into Brooklyn, make your way into Brooklyn Bridge Park where you can take in amazing views of Manhattan.



View from Brooklyn Bridge Park by Saucy Salad on Flickr

View from Brooklyn Bridge Park by Saucy Salad on Flickr


Long Island and the Hamptons

Get out of the city for a day or two and head to Long Island. Accessible via the Long Island Railroad, you can hop off at various locations on the island for a day of driving and ‘leaf-peeping’. Our suggestion? Head straight to the Hamptons, Long Island’s summer holiday town, and drive from Montauk to Long Island wine country. If you plan to visit a few vineyards, it’s wise to book a scheduled tour so you don’t have to worry about driving. At the end of the day, take the ferry from Long Island back to Manhattan.



New York’s Autumn Experiences

Village Halloween Parade

There are few things as fun as Greenwich Village at Halloween. All are welcome to join the parade, which starts at 6th Avenue south of Spring Street and above Canal. Join the dancers, artists, bands, puppets and people from another planet as they parade through the streets of Greenwich Village in a Carnival-like party. The only caveat: you must come dressed in costume to participate!



New York Marathon




New York Marathon starting line at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge by fergie_lancealot on Flickr

New York Marathon starting line at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge by fergie_lancealot on Flickr



The New York Marathon, which takes place in early November, is more than just 26.2-miles of torture on your body. It’s also a celeb-filled spectator event that keeps everyone cheering for hours. Runners start on Staten Island and make their way through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx before finishing in Central Park. For the best viewing, try Central Park South near the finish line.



Thanksgiving Day Parade

Get up early to grab your spot for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; no matter what part of the route you’re on you’re bound to have fun. From celebrity floats to Broadway shows to balloons of unbelievable size, it’s as much as part of New York autumn as it is a part of historical tradition. Santa Claus is the highlight and is always on the last float of the parade, so when you see him coming around the corner you know that Christmas isn’t too far away”¦



The Best Places to Stay

On the Ave Hotel

Only two blocks from Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History, the On the Ave hotel is located at the corner of Broadway and West 77th Street. Each guestroom offers city views, so you’ll get a combination of autumnal colours and concrete jungle. For a different view, head to the 16th floor and take in the panoramic views of the Hudson River from a landscaped patio.



On The Ave patio © On The Ave New York

On The Ave patio © On The Ave New York


The Carlyle Hotel

On the other side of the park is The Carlyle Hotel, located on the Upper East Side. The hotel is one block from the Whitney Museum of American Art and Central Park, and only five blocks from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Guestrooms feature hardwood floors, down duvets and views of the city and park. In the evening, warm up in front of the lobby fireplace or head to Café Carlyle for live jazz.



Algonquin Hotel

Want something a little more festive for fall? Book a stay at the Algonquin Hotel, said by some to be haunted. Located in Midtown Manhattan at 59 West 44th Street, guests of the hotel claim to have spotted members of The Round Table, a group of writers that met at the Algonquin for lunch daily after World War I.



Algonquin © Algonquin Hotel New York

Algonquin © Algonquin Hotel New York


Thanks to Flickr photographers Ed Yourdon (for the header picture) Saucy Salad, Alaskan Dude, and fergie_lancealot, for the fantastic shots.


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Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.

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