There is truly no better time to visit New York than autumn. From the bustling streets of New York City to the quaint little towns upstate, every fall New York completely transforms right along with the leaves on the trees.
Amongst the people of New York State, fall is one of the most anticipated times of year – the very season is deeply ingrained into the culture of the region.
We invite you to come up and see exactly why. Between the fall foliage, cool weather, and the autumnal spirit of the northeast, we know your visit won’t disappoint.
New York City
If you’ve been thinking about making a trip to New York City, prices and crowds wane as the rush of summer tourism comes to an end, making it the perfect time to visit. Not to mention that autumn is the driest and most temperate season of the year in the region!
It should come as no surprise that Central Park makes the cut of one of the best places to see fall foliage in New York. World-renowned and the largest park in the city, Central Park is a true respite for New Yorkers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Central Park more than lives up to expectations, particularly when fall foliage comes to the big city. The only downside is the park is so massive that it’s pretty much impossible to see the whole place in less than a day!
While we absolutely recommend getting aimlessly lost on the park’s many winding paths, we understand that this isn’t practical for most visitors. Here are a few suggestions if you’re looking for the best autumnal views this incredible park has to offer.
Belvedere Castle: Sandwiched between the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History, the Belvedere Castle sits on the second-highest point in Central Park, offering sweeping views of the surrounding fall foliage.
Looking north, you’ll have exceptional views of New York’s classic architecture highlighted by the array of stunning autumnal colors. Looking south, you’ll have a view of the Ramble, the most heavily forested part of Central Park. It’s a can’t-miss spot.
Bow Bridge: Located on The Lake, Bow Bridge is perhaps the most iconic bridge in Central Park. From this stunning vantage point, you’ll be surrounded by some of the densest foliage in the park. Right on the water, skyscrapers peaking up above the multicolored trees, you won’t be able to help but snap a few good pictures.
Don’t forget to rent a rowboat nearby! It’s the most serene way to enjoy the park.
The Ramble: Aptly named after its rambling pathways, The Ramble is the most forested part of Central Park. Winding and wooded, The Ramble is a favorite spot for bird watchers, providing visitors with countless nooks, crannies, and off-beaten tracks to explore.
Fort Tyron Park
Want to see some of the best New York has to offer like a true local? Fort Tyron Park sits atop one of the highest and most northern parts of Manhattan, far away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
More natural than Central Park, Fort Tyron is a densely wooded area chock full of both paved and unpaved trails.
From some of the highest points in the park, you’ll be treated to some exceptional views of the Hudson River and the heavily wooded palisades across the water. With all of the tree cover on both sides of the river, it’s easy to forget you’re even in the United State’s biggest city!
When visiting Fort Tyron, it’s essential that you take the time to visit the Met Cloisters housed within the park itself. An extension of the world-renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Met Cloisters are built in the style of an old medieval castle, hosting an array of classical pieces.
Take a walk through the Cloisters’ various seasonal gardens and courtyards and enjoy some of the most exceptional fall foliage in town.
There’s no more naturally beautiful place in Manhattan than Fort Tyron Park.
New York State
For many, the name New York calls to mind the bustling streets of the big city. Often overlooked by tourists is the natural beauty upstate New York has to offer.
From Niagara Falls to the Adirondacks, the densely forested, rolling hills of New York State stun and amaze during the autumn season.
Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway
Located just northeast of Lake Placid, the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway traverses right up along Whiteface Mountain for stunning 360-degree views of the Adirondack mountain range. Nearly 5,000 feet above sea level, on a clear day, visitors will have the opportunity to see untouched woodlands as far as Canada and Vermont from the summit.
To catch the best of the fall foliage before the highway closes for the winter on October 10th, we recommend visiting during the last week of September or the first week of October.
Palisades Interstate Parkway
Looking to do a road trip through New York State to see the fall foliage? Starting in northern Manhattan, cross the George Washington Bridge and head north. On your left, you’ll have exceptional views of downtown Manhattan, and on your right, you’ll be treated to one of New York’s most stunning natural wonders, the Palisades.
Immediately after you drive across the Hudson, brick buildings give way to a heavily forested scenic byway known as the Palisades Interstate Parkway.
Following along the steep cliffs of the Hudson River shoreline, visitors can find 24 parks and eight historic sites along over 20 miles of byway, each of which hosts their own exceptional views over the jaw-dropping cliffs of the Hudson River.
You will complete your journey on the byway as you cross the famous Bear Mountain Bridge into Bear Mountain State Park where you can find exceptional hiking trails and views of the surrounding hills.
Just make sure you bring your camera! The view from Bear Mountain Bridge is one to remember.
Few places are more scenic during a New York fall than Lake Placid. Most famously known for hosting the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is a beautiful little town tucked away in the northern region of the Adirondack Mountains.
The best time to visit Lake Placid to catch the autumn foliage is the last week of September or first week of October. That being said, as this beautiful little town is one of the most popular tourist destinations for autumn travelers, it’s best to make your plans far in advance.
It’s difficult to go wrong with all of the exceptional indoor and outdoor activities lake Placid has to offer. From the old Olympic venues, breweries, hiking trails, astonishing vistas, mountain biking, and highly rated spas, you won’t likely run out of things to do.
Nothing beats sitting in front of the lake and looking at the autumn colors with a hot cup of cider, though!
Adirondack Scenic Railroad
See the Adirondacks in style on the Adirondack Railroad’s Fall Gateway. This beautiful glass-domed train takes you through some of New York’s most stunning autumnal passages by way of rail.
Leaving in the morning from Utica, you’ll be wined and dined on your way to Old Forge, often known as the “base camp” of the Adirondack mountains.
The first leg of the trip is approximately 2 hours long, and passengers are given a little over 4 hours to explore and enjoy the crisp mountain air and falling leaves in Old Forge before reboarding the train for the 2-hour return trip in which dinner and alcoholic beverages are served.
Passengers have the option to take the more affordable coach class. However, the first class and diamond class tickets are well worth the extra $30 dollar splurge.
White tablecloth service and exceptional views of the passing landscape? There’s something about traveling through the American countryside in a passenger train that just can’t be beat.
Ever heard of the headless horseman and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Sleepy Hollow, New York is the very town in which Washington Irving set his famous story of Sleepy Hollow. And believe us when we say this little town certainly lives up to its name.
What’s fall without a little bit of haunting and howling, anyway?
With Halloween events all season long, you can’t go wrong visiting Sleepy Hollow throughout the entire month of October. Check out the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, the Headless Horseman Ball, or take a Haunted Hayride through one of the spookiest towns in the United States!
The best part? From Penn Station in New York City, you can catch a train to this charming little town in less than an hour!
Wrapping Up the Best Spots to See New York Fall Foliage
Fall is often one of the most overlooked times to visit New York State. With stunning fall foliage, quaint little colonial towns, falling leaves on bustling city streets, and the rolling hills of the Adirondacks, you’d be hard-pressed not to find a fall activity that’s right for you in this beautiful state.
So pack your bags, grab your camera, and throw on your coat. It’s going to be a great trip.
Looking for some more ideas of where to see stunning fall foliage? Check out our article: Your Ultimate Guide to Colorado Fall Foliage.