How to Have the Perfect Fall Day in New York City
From dining al fresco to picking apples just outside the city, Travel + Leisure editors know how to embrace the changing seasons in New York. Read on for itineraries from 13 staffers celebrating sweater weather with plans for a perfect fall day.
"Autumn is absolutely my favorite time of year in New York City. Growing up in California, I didn't get to experience true season changes, so I love seeing the foliage transition. My ideal fall day includes walking through the Central Park Mall, stepping on all the crunchy leaves, and smelling the beautiful crisp air.” —Katie Fish, Fashion Assistant
“The perfect fall day in NYC should make the most of the city’s richly diverse attractions and perfect weather. I’d spend the first part of mine outside, running the loop in Prospect Park and hitting up the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket. I’d take my dog for a walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park, which has unparalleled views of lower Manhattan and some seriously impressive new landscaping, walking and biking paths, and outdoor sculptures. Later, I might meet up with girlfriends for a bottle or two at Black Mountain Winehouse—it’s a tiny Carroll Gardens bar that looks, from the exterior, like a cabin in the Adirondacks. Or, I'd head uptown to catch some jazz. The Village Vanguard is a favorite; nearby, there’s Via Carota, an excellent neighborhood trattoria. If I'm really feeling ambitious there’s nothing quite like seeing Wynton Marsalis lead the magnificent Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. I'd complete the night with dinner before at Danji, a fantastic Korean spot in Hell’s Kitchen, and a nightcap and cheese plate afterwards at Bar Boulud.” —Sarah Firshein, Digital Director
“I’d start with a green tea latte at Bibble & Sip—their baristas make amazing latte art, and the shop itself is a gem in Midtown West. Then, I'd head into Brooklyn for brunch at Wilma Jean. Their fried chicken is amazing, and if you’re feeling (somewhat) healthy, you can get it over a salad—I like the one with raw collards and peanuts. A few blocks away is 61 Local, my favorite café-slash-bar. They’ve got a huge skylight, so whether you’re there with a laptop or a great book, you can feel like you’re outdoors without feeling the chilly breeze. Finally, trek up to Long Island City for dinner at the incomparable M. Wells. Their whole roast chicken is my favorite in the city, and easily feeds four people. Do not skip the potatoes aligot or the incredible Paris-Brest from their dessert cart. If a nightcap is necessary, head back into the city to the NoMad Bar, where the large-format cocktails are a great way to end the night.” —Stephane Wu, Senior Editor
“I’m madly in love with my neighborhood, Williamsburg, where I’ve lived for seven years. Fall, to me, signals slowing down, staying close to home, and getting outside more; I dig the cooler temperatures. The day starts by 8 a.m., when I beeline for Margo Patisserie, my secret coffee-and-pastry spot (they know from a croissant and café au lait). Then I head to the McCarren Park Greenmarket, where I stock up on produce from Garden of Eve, cheese from Consider Bardwell, and spiced apple cider from Red Jacket Orchards before the crowds come. I’ll grab a late brunch with friends at Café Colette, then invent an excuse to shop on Grand Street for a while. That puts me in pole position for an early cocktail hour at Spuyten Duyvil, where I’ll order whatever the bartenders recommend and savor it on the patio outside, taking my time deciding what to do next." —Corina Quinn, Digital Travel Editor
“If Central Park is New York’s manicured front yard, then Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is its family-friendly backyard, where the kids play ball and Dad grills the burgers. The largest park in Queens is home to the iconic Unisphere from the 1964-65 World’s Fair, the first headquarters of the United Nations (now the Queens Museum), and thousands of stately trees that turn a crisp autumn afternoon into a spectacle of brilliant foliage.” —Mark Orwoll, International Editor
at McNally Jackson on August 1, 2012 in New York City.
“This fall, I’m all about the pampering—because how better to prepare for another bitter-cold winter? On my perfect autumn day, I’d start getting ready for the deep freeze with a hot stone massage at La Prairie at The Ritz-Carlton Spa. Once I was sufficiently spoiled there, I’d hop across the street to Central Park for a stroll through Sheep’s Meadow, and perhaps some hot chocolate from a street vendor. The rest of the day would be devoted to getting a jump on holiday shopping—McNally Jackson bookstore is always my first stop—and I’d finish up with a viewing of the hottest show in town: Hamilton, on Broadway."—Caroline Hallemann, Associate Digital Editor
on October 2, 2009 in New York, New York.
"One of my favorite fall activities involves heading to the Union Square Farmer’s Market with friends, picking a pumpkin to decorate, bedazzling said squash, and finishing the day off in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with lots of snacks and wine. A temperature drop means a less-crowded park—just don’t forget a sweater! A close second intinerary: spending the afternoon making mulled wine, an olfactory experience otherwise known as the official scent of fall."—Erika Owen, Audience Engagement Editor
on January 7, 2014 in New York, United States.
“This would be the dreamiest of possible New York fall days: 7 a.m. A bike ride over the Brooklyn Bridge, up the West Side, over the George Washington Bridge, and through the New Jersey Palisades to the end of River Road, then back, with views of resplendent autumn foliage and the Hudson all the way. 1 p.m. Lobster rolls and beer at Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook. 4 p.m. Kite flying with my family in Prospect Park. 7 p.m. October baseball at Citi Field.” —Jesse Ashlock, Features Director
“It’s a great season to roam the Upper West Side with my husband and two kids. On our perfect fall day, we spend the morning at the American Museum of Natural History. The 94-foot blue whale model is a must-see, but we also try to check out lesser-known exhibits of the museum, like the Samoan artifacts in the Hall of Pacific Peoples. I always learn something on these visits. Afterwards, we browse the nearby farmer’s market held on Sundays, and pick up some Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, duck prosciutto. Lunch is curried-chicken dosas (Indian crepes) and mango lassis at Hampton Chutney. In the afternoon, we hit a puppet show at the Swedish Cottage in Central Park, followed by naptime (and a little grownup time). We cap it off with an early dinner at the upscale, greenmarket-influenced Chinese restaurant RedFarm—this one is an outpost of the downtown original, but just as delicious.” —Sara Clemence, News Director
“The perfect fall day for me starts with a dirty chai at Lenox Coffee in Harlem, where, if I'm hungry, I can get a 'Mayfowler' sandwich, with turkey and cranberry sauce. Then, I put back on my beanie and make for the top of Central Park, where one can coo over all the turtles in and around Harlem Meer. Next, I make my way down to the park's Untermyer Fountain, which is basically a bronze of three rollicksome ladies. If I want to brave the subway, I'll head down to the big public library on 42nd Street, and set up shop in the Arts & Architecture room, which is as cold and soundless as a tomb. It's a good place to journal.” —Amy Schellenbaum, Digital Editor
“We have a long-running tradition in the Ekstein household: Every year, we load up our car with our massive Bernese Mountain Dog and as many friends as we can squeeze into the back seat, and drive upstate for a day of apple picking. We'll hit up a pet-friendly orchard, snack on honeycrisps, and gorge on freshly fried cider donuts before heading back home for an evening of baking and board games. They're simple pleasures that go a long way.” —Nikki Ekstein, Associate Editor
“When you can snag one of the coveted few seats at Little Zelda, and sit down with your cinnamon-topped cappuccino, you know it's a perfect fall day in Brooklyn. After we've fueled up, my boyfriend and I will load up the car and head out of the city: apple-picking at the 200-year-old Stone Ridge Orchard, or marveling at Storm King’s sculptures before it closes for the season.” —Melanie Lieberman, Assistant Digital