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Top 14 Things To Do This Fall in New York

Fall in New York is beautiful, from New York City to Upstate. The brilliant colors of autumn can be enjoyed right in Central Park, although it’s hard to beat the Catskills, Adirondacks, or the Finger Lakes Region. Whether you want to enjoy leaf-peeping and fall activities like apple picking and pumpkin patches, embark on an epic hike,  join in the fun at a fall festival, or just about anything else, you’ll find plenty of options on this list.

Roll Through Autumn Hues with Rail Explorers Cooperstown Rail Explorers USA
Credit: Rail Explorers USA by Rail Explorers USA

Roll Through Autumn Hues with Rail Explorers Cooperstown

What Is It? Rail Explorers, Cooperstown is a rail bike company that offers rail biking in the foothills of the Catskills. It’s an eco-friendly activity that involves a two- or four-seat man-powered machine that runs along railroad tracks.

Why Do It? It’s a fun way to enjoy the beautiful scenery, including the fall foliage, of Upstate New York with two different track options available. The Charlotte Valley Express is the shorter route, traveling south for a total of eight miles round-trip along the Susquehanna River and over the 200-foot-long Portlandville Trestle. The 12-mile round-trip Milford Track also travels along the river, heading north through forests and farmlands.

Good to Know: Rail Explorers Cooperstown operates seven days a week through October 31. Riders can also opt for a lantern or campfire adventure after dark.

Experience The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze Van Cortlandt Manor - Croton-on-Hudson This is a view of the 2022 Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze at Old Bethpage Village Restoration in Old Bethpage, N.Y. on September 29, 2022.
Credit: This is a view of the 2022 Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze at Old Bethpage Village Restoration in Old Bethpage, N.Y. on September 29, 2022. by The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

Experience The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze Van Cortlandt Manor - Croton-on-Hudson

What Is It? The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze allows visitors to walk through an 18th-century landscape to marvel at an incredible display of over 7,000 illuminated jack-o’-lanterns that were designed and hand-carved by a team of artisans, with synchronized lighting and an original soundtrack.

Why Do It? It’s a dazzling spectacle that provides fabulous photo-ops while enjoyed at your own pace.

Good to Know: The attraction is about a half-mile walk-through, and visitors can also see the twirling pumpkin Ferris wheel and experience a circus sideshow. An annual event, it runs from September 15 through November 19 in 2023.

Zip Line Through Brilliant Fall Foliage - Ellicottville Holiday Valley New York Canopy Ziplines Aerial Adventure Park
Credit: Holiday Valley New York Canopy Ziplines Aerial Adventure Park by Holiday Valley New York Canopy Ziplines Aerial Adventure Park

Zip Line Through Brilliant Fall Foliage - Ellicottville

What Is It? There are 13 zipline courses at the Holiday Valley Sky High Adventure Park in Ellicottville in the western part of Holiday Valley, part of the Chautauqua-Allegheny region.

Why Do It? You can enjoy a big thrill, an autumn breeze, and gorgeous colors while whizzing across the various ziplines.

Good to Know: In addition to ziplines, there’s a Mountain Coaster, Climbing Forest, Gem Mining, mountain biking, and chairlift rides to Spruce Lake.

Take a Scenic Fall Drive - Watertown, New York Fall foliage in the Adirondack Mountains
Credit: Fall foliage in the Adirondack Mountains by Hazal Ozturk via Unsplash

Take a Scenic Fall Drive - Watertown, New York

What Is It? There are many spectacular drives available throughout the state for enjoying the colors of fall, with the Adirondacks one of the best places to embark on this journey. The Olympic Trail traversing 170 miles linking Lake Ontario near Watertown and Lake Champlain is particularly ideal.

Why Do It? This route features maple, oak, beech, and birch trees that will be exploding with golden yellows, fiery reds, and brilliant orange hues. The color peaks during the last week of September through the first week of October.

Good to Know: Along the Olympic Trail, there are a variety of recreational activities available, with the village of Lake Placid boasting a charming alpine-inspired downtown with outstanding restaurants highlighting seasonal flavors. Some remarkably scenic hikes and walks showcasing the colors can be enjoyed nearby, like the Heaven Hill Old Orchard Loop.

Head to Sleepy Hollow for Some Ghostly Fun - Sleepy Hollow Small mausoleum at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery surrounded by autumnal fall foliage, Upstate New York, NY, USA
Credit: Small mausoleum at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery surrounded by autumnal fall foliage, Upstate New York, NY, USA by © CasualT | Dreamstime.com

Head to Sleepy Hollow for Some Ghostly Fun - Sleepy Hollow

What Is It? Sleepy Hollow is, of course, the setting of one of the most iconic American ghost stories, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” by Washington Irving. It’s a very real town, located about 30 miles north of New York City along the eastern bank of the Hudson River and home to one of the country’s oldest cemeteries, the Old Dutch Burying Ground. Irving’s grave can be found at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Why Do It? The village is one of the best places in the U.S. for fall, particularly Halloween. Throughout the month of October, the Philipsburg Manor, a restored 18th-century trading and milling living-history museum will be transformed into an eerie landscape that’s said to be ruled by ghosts, ghouls, undead soldiers, vampires, and witches that all serve the Headless Horseman.

Good to Know: If you’re into the paranormal, don’t miss the chance to take a tour of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, with both daytime and nighttime “lantern” tours available. It’s very popular so you’ll want to book well in advance.

Pick a Pumpkin at The Great Pumpkin Farm - Clarence The Great Pumpkin Farm
Credit: The Great Pumpkin Farm by The Great Pumpkin Farm

Pick a Pumpkin at The Great Pumpkin Farm - Clarence

What Is It? The Great Pumpkin Farm is the largest family event in the Buffalo region, located 20 miles northeast of the city of Clarence. It’s not only a pumpkin patch where you can pick your pumpkins but a fun family festival celebrating the harvest.

Why Do It? The festival includes numerous attractions and activities, including a petting zoo, the Cackling Hen Revue Show, a pumpkin cannon, face painting, paintball, and a craft area for the kids. A corn maze, hayrides, and various competitions like the World Pumpkin Weigh-Off, a costume contest, and a BBQ cook-off are hosted too.

Good to Know: The festival events take part on weekends from mid-September through Halloween.

Navigate the Amazing Maize Maze at Queens County Farm Museum - New York City The Queens County Farm Museum
Credit: The Queens County Farm Museum by The Queens County Farm Museum

Navigate the Amazing Maize Maze at Queens County Farm Museum - New York City

What Is It? The 47-acre Queens County Farm Museum has been around since the late 17th century and it’s located right in New York City, spread over the neighborhoods of Floral Park and Glen Oaks in Queens. During the fall, it’s best known for hosting the Amazing Maize Maze.

Why Do It? The famous maze is the only corn maze in the city and starts with a “Stalk Talk” that will get you prepared to take on the challenge of finding clues, solving puzzles, and mazing your way to Victory Bridge. That’s where you’ll find a fantastic view of the 3-acre living labyrinth, considered a must-experience in the Big Apple.

Good to Know: The maze is open Fridays through Sundays from September 15 through October 28, as well as on Monday, October 9.

Check Out Pumpkin Nights at the Bronx Zoo - New York City Boo at the Zoo at Bronx Zoo
Credit: Boo at the Zoo at Bronx Zoo by Bronx Zoo

Check Out Pumpkin Nights at the Bronx Zoo - New York City

What Is It? Pumpkin Nights is a special event at the Bronx Zoo that features over 5,000 carved, animal-themed pumpkins along a jack-o’-lantern trail that stretches more than a half-mile. There will also be live pumpkin carving demonstrations, festive fall treats food trucks, and games.

Why Do It? It’s expected to be an epic celebration of pumpkins with the chance to take advantage of fabulous photo ops and enjoy a first-of-its-kind for the zoo.

Good to Know: The event runs on Thursdays through Sundays, September 28 until October 29. The Bronx Zoo also hosts Boo at the Zoo on weekends, September 30 through October 29, plus October 9.

Touring and Tasting in Finger Lakes Wine Country - Montour Falls Seneca Lake, in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country, New York
Credit: Seneca Lake, in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country, New York by © Beautynature | Dreamstime.com

Touring and Tasting in Finger Lakes Wine Country - Montour Falls

What Is It? Finger Lakes Wine Country is one of the top wine-producing regions in New York. It’s also filled with magnificent natural beauty that includes the over 10 lakes that make up the “fingers.”

Why Do It? There are picturesque waterfalls, a wealth of vineyards, and over 100 wineries in the area. Nearly every wine variety is available here, with four wine trails making it easy to navigate them. Harvest season typically starts with the crushing of grapes in late summer, but it continues through at least October, when you’ll see an explosion of color along the lake’s forested shores and when driving the scenic country roads.

Good to Know: On October 7, Montour Falls hosts a family-friendly harvest festival that includes live entertainment, food, and local craft vendors, plus a community bonfire and fireworks in the evening. The display takes place right over 156-foot-high Shequaga Falls in the historic district.

Row Across Central Park - New York City rowing a boat, fall at Central Park, New York City
Credit: rowing a boat, fall at Central Park, New York City by © Magalie Ascoop - Dreamstime.com

Row Across Central Park - New York City

What Is It? Enjoy nature and spectacular fall colors right in the city at Central Park. You can stroll the meandering lanes while enjoying the views or pedal around to cover more of the sprawling grounds, stopping at the Loeb Boathouse to rent a rowboat.

Why Do It? Rowing around Central Park Lake is one of the most iconic things to do, providing the chance to explore the sights from the water, including the beautiful foliage. It’s the perfect romantic activity for couples, but enjoyable for solos and friends too.

Good to Know: The Loeb Boathouse is located at the eastern edge of the lake, offering rowboats that seat up to four.

Embark on a Fall Foliage Cruise - Lake George Lake George Steamboat Company
Credit: Lake George Steamboat Company by Lake George Steamboat Company

Embark on a Fall Foliage Cruise - Lake George

What Is It? A cruise aboard the Minne-Ha-Ha hosted by the Lake George Steamboat Company.

Why Do It? The Minne-Ha-Ha is one of the country’s last steam paddle wheel ships, providing a unique way to view the striking autumn hues the Adirondacks are known for from the water.

Good to Know: The best time to go is the first two weeks of October when foliage reaches its peak in the Lake George Region. Cruises on the Minne-Ha-Ha tour the Southern Basin of Lake George, bringing dazzling views of the mountains and homes along the water’s edge.

Enjoy Apple Everything at New York City's Farmers Markets - New York City Greenmarket Union Square New York City
Credit: Greenmarket Union Square New York City by wallyg via Flickr

Enjoy Apple Everything at New York City's Farmers Markets - New York City

What Is It? New York City hosts some fabulous farmers’ markets that always have seasonal items, including apple everything. The Union Square Greenmarket is often named the favorite, but Chelseas’s Down to Earth Farmers Market and the Tompkins Square Park Greenmarket are popular too.

Why Do It? Apple cider donuts. Need I say more? This is the time of year to enjoy one of the best sugary treats and stock up on apple cider too.

Good to Know: The Union Square Greenmarket is open year-round, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Attend the Long Island Oyster Festival - Oyster Bay The Long Island Oyster Festival
Credit: The Long Island Oyster Festival by The Long Island Oyster Festival

Attend the Long Island Oyster Festival - Oyster Bay

What Is It? The Long Island Oyster Festival is one of the largest waterfront festivals on the East Coast.

Why Do It? While slurping down some oysters may not be a quintessential fall activity, the Oyster Festival is one of the best, taking place during the season and featuring pirate shows, live music, carnival games, street vendors, and lots of oyster shucking and seafood. Sample oysters fried, stewed, and raw.

Good to Know: The festival takes place over the weekend of October 14-15 in 2023.

Explore the Storm King Art Center - New Windsor fall at the Storm King Art Center
Credit: fall at the Storm King Art Center by Storm King Art Center

Explore the Storm King Art Center - New Windsor

What Is It? The Storm King Art Center near Storm King Mountain is a 500-acre outdoor museum in the Hudson Valley that provides the opportunity to enjoy the amazing colors of fall and the gallery.

Why Do It? You’ll see some rather eye-popping large-scale sculptures while being transported to a place filled with gorgeous colors. The Hudson Valley is a great place to enjoy seasonal goodies like apple cider and pick pumpkins straight from the source too.

Good to Know: The Storm King Art Center is open Wednesdays through Mondays, 10 a.m. through 5:30 p.m., with final entry at 4 p.m. Reserve in advance with timed-entry tickets to ensure entry at your preferred time.

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