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Temperatures haven’t yet dropped to brutal colds and snow hasn’t begun to fall, but everyone knows that winter is coming and they’re determined to make the most of the shortening autumn days.
The entire city gears up for the holiday season with a menagerie of colorful leaves, warm drinks, and plenty of fun events. If you’re looking for this best time to visit the city, it is now. Not only are there fewer tourists, but there are also more things to do. From sampling unique foods at a farmer’s market to learning something new at cultural festivals, there are plenty of reasons to book your autumn New York trip as soon as possible.
In case you still need convincing, these are seven reasons why you should visit New York City in the fall.
Central Park Leaves
Something magical starts to happen in Central Park every September. The leaves turn all shades of orange, red, and yellow, and start to collect on the ground. If you can find a patch of raked leaves, indulge your inner child and jump in them. Otherwise, wander around the park’s multiple ponds and appreciate the reflection of the tree canopies in the water.
Adirondack Scenic Fall Foliage Train
Take a train out of the city to do some leaf peeping. Starting at Penn Station, this seasonal Amtrak train provides some of the most picturesque views of autumn leaves along the Hudson River. The “Great Dome Car” gives passengers panoramic views on an already-scenic route. Service runs from September 27 through November 2. It runs all the way up to Montreal if you’re looking to book a full escape.
Farmer’s Market Apple Cider
Autumn is the last hurrah for the farmer’s market. But it’s probably the best time to visit. Get a glass of hot apple cider and a parcel of apple cider doughnuts—there's no more perfect autumn breakfast. The Union Square Greenmarket and the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket will have exactly what you’re looking for.
New Yorkers prepare for the coming onslaught of winter with a plethora of food festivals. At almost the same time, the New York Wine and Food Festival (October 11 through 14) and the Coffee Festival (October 12 through 14) are bringing some of the world’s best baristas and chefs into Manhattan. Hit up both during the same weekend for a one-two punch of the best food and drink the city has to offer.
Jack O’ Lantern Blaze
Every year, around Halloween, Croton-on-Harmon lights up with more than 7,000 elaborately carved pumpkins. This year, the fantastic display will blaze from September 28 through November 24. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze includes a windmill with flying, fiery pumpkins, a haunted castle, and even a pumpkin planetarium.
Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters
Venture uptown to feel one with nature without having to leave city limits. The riverside views from Fort Tryon Park are even more fantastic when painted with the hues of fall. To get the most out of your trip, be sure to stop by the Met Cloisters. The outdoor cafe is open through October, if you’d like a cup of tea while overlooking the park canopy.
Before everybody disappears into their apartments for the winter, festivals keep everyone entertained. The New York Film Festival runs from September 28 through October 14, drawing some of the biggest names in the industry to Lincoln Center. From November 5 through 11, the New York Comedy Festival brings laughs to venues across the city. This year’s headliners include Conan O’Brien, David Cross, and Jonathan Van Ness and Antoni Porowski from Netflix’s “Queer Eye.” If you prefer to explore the city at your own pace, be sure to time your visit to Open House New York (October 12 to the 14) when some of the city’s biggest institutions open their doors for free.