Yes, it’s basic — but fall truly is the best season of all!
There’s nothing like feeling a crisp fall breeze, while cuddled in a cozy sweater and sipping on a pumpkin spice beverage to warm even a cold New Yorker’s heart.
Just like we did for summer, we’re rounding up the must-dos of the season — from the obvious (yes, pumpkin and apple picking) to the more unique (weekend away in a medieval castle, anyone?).
Without further do, here’s our ultimate fall bucket list for in & around NYC!
Though you might soon be stressing about what costume to wear this year, you won’t have to worry about where to find the most perfect pumpkins near you. From New Jersey favorites, to some within the five boroughs, check out our 10 best places to go pumpkin picking near NYC here, with a preview below:
- Queens County Farm Museum
- Demarest Farms, NJ
- Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm, Yorktown Heights
- Secor Farms, NJ
- Dykeman Farm, Pawling, NY
- Fishkill Farms, Hopewell Junction, NY
Extra SNYC pick: After you get your stash, take this DIY pumpkin class to figure out the best ways to use (and cook) them! Carve a pumpkin and create a stunning floral centerpiece, and then make some sweet spooky treats of caramel and candy apples. Get tickets here.
7. Plan a day at the circus with Circus Vazquez’s great New York debut
This renowned Mexico City circus is finally making their U.S. debut and coming right here to the Big Apple! The mesmerizing performances start up in Woodbridge, NJ Oct. 1-11, and then will continue on to Huntington Station, NY Oct. 15 – 25, The Bronx, NY Oct. 29 – Nov. 15, and Queens from Nov. 19 – Dec. 12. Children tickets are $25 & you’ll save money by purchasing online in advance. Get your tickets here and prepare to be blown away by graceful dancers, acrobats, the world’s best clown & more! ⭐️ Sponsored⭐️
Orchards have already been open for a few weeks, so make sure to head there soon to have your pick of the crispest, juiciest apples. The real question: are you a McIntosh or Granny Smith person? Find out full list of orchards near NYC here, with a sneak peek below:
- Hanks Pumpkintown: Water Mill, NY
- Harbes Orchard: Riverhead, NY
- Love Apple Farm: Ghent, NY
- Milk Pail Farm: Water Mill, NY
- Wightman Farms: Morristown, NJ
Extra SNYC pick: This day trip will take you on a bus directly from NYC to Pennings Orchard & Cidery in upstate New York. Stroll through the magnificent and plentiful orchard & then stop by their beer garden after. Grab tickets here.
A little bunny told us that the Mad Hatter is preparing to throw a spirits-fueled tea party filled with wonder in Manhattan. Join the Dormouse, March Hare, and your delightful host the Mad Hatter on an immersive, 90-minute-long cocktail crafting experience. Enjoy crazy cocktails carefully constructed from curious ingredients, and choose your own over-the-top hat! It opens October 14 — get your tickets here
15-18. Get lost in a corn maze
With October upon us, what better way to celebrate trickery than solving your way out of a corn maze?! Bring family and friends for a day of trial and error as you navigate your way through corn as far as the eye can see at mazes nearest to New York City. Find the full list here, and check out a few below:
- Queens County Farm, Queens
- Stony Hill Farms, NJ
- Argos Farm, NJ
- Barton Orchards, NY
19-22. Find the best fall foliage
Nothing says fall like witnessing the leaves change into gorgeous shades of reds, oranges, and yellows. Here are our recs for how to best enjoy it:
- Check out this map to see exactly when fall foliage is peaking across the state
- Plan a weekend away to one of the 5 Best Places To Catch The Changing Fall Foliage In New York State
- Head to these 16 Best Spots To See NYC’s Peak Fall Foliage
- View the foliage from a mountain roller coaster in upstate NY
The first-ever Illumination Light Art Festival will take place starting October 7 at the new Under the K Bridge Park, and hopes to serve as a “visual beacon of hope and inspiration as we come out from a challenging period for NYC.” Put on by Illumination NYC — whose team includes producers of the DUMBO Arts Festival and the Pines Party — you can expect immersive, multisensory installations by incredible artists as well as spellbinding performances and plenty of food and drink! Get your tickets here.
24-29. Celebrate Oktoberfest
Prost! There are many ways to celebrate Germany’s most famous beer-filled holiday here in NYC. Check out:
- This Oktoberfest celebration at Watermark Bar includes German beer like Hofbrau, Weihenstephan and Radeberger beer, brats, giant pretzels, & Oktoberfest decorations
- This cruise sails up the Hudson River to Bear Mountain for on-board Oktoberfest including German food specials, Oktoberfest beers and a German Polka band
- Drink to your heart’s content at the Jersey City Craft Brew Fest
- Or at the Long Island Craft Beer Fest out in Deer Park
- Chelsea market is hosting their own spin on Oktoberfest from Sept. 30-Oct. 3 with authentic German beer, Weisswurst with Bavarian mustard, giant pretzels & live music
- The Oktoberfest pop-up at Schaller & Weber on the Upper East Side features Oktoberfest beer from Bavarian brewery Weihenstephan, the world’s oldest brewery and a range of appetizers including an iconic Oktoberfest Jumbo Pretzel served with Liptauer in their biergarten backyard — now through the end of October
Prepare yourself for a night full of mystery and magic, paired perfectly with cocktails. This fall, you’re invited to a haunted soirée at a stylishly eerie mansion! House of Spirits is a two-hour immersive cocktail experience that weaves a disquieting and interactive storyline certain to leave guests delightfully chilled just in time for Halloween — tickets are now on sale & it opens October 8!
If you love carving pumpkins and all things Halloween, you’ll love the spectacular Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. The event takes place in Hudson Valley, featuring over 7,000 illuminated pumpkins all hand-carved with various designs to create glowing sculptures. The illuminated pumpkins are turned into things such as dinosaurs, trains, carousels, snakes, skeletons, and just about anything you can think of. Read more here.
32-36. Go on a stunning fall hike
It’s the perfect time to check out some amazing hikes that are right on NYC’s doorstep as fall kicks in. With gorgeous fall foliage set to peak early across New York, this is the time to get out and take a little adventure! Each of these hikes are accessible by public transport, perhaps with a bit of walking (or even a short cab ride if you’d prefer) to reach the trailhead…but you’re there to hike so might as well start early. Here are a few to get started, and check out the full list here:
- Franny Reese State Park
- Arden Point and Glenclyffe
- Anthony’s Nose Hike
- Camp Smith Trail
- Wanaque Ridge Trail
We wrote about Happy Day Farm in New Jersey when it was peak sunflower season, and turns out it’s still the perfect place to go come fall! The over 20-acre farm in Manalapan Township, New Jersey just launched their weekend fall festival, which includes everything you could need for a perfect fall day, including the perfect “pumpkin house” photo ops, and of course, tons of pumpkin picking opportunities. Read more here.
Fever’s wildly popular Candlelight concert series is back just in time for the spooky season! This October, let the ominous yet melodic sounds of the violin possess you as you enjoy your favorite Halloween classics from “This is Halloween” to “Thriller” surrounded by flickering candles. Get tickets here.
With spooky season almost here, it’s time to take a look at how the city has shown its spirit in years’ past. Some stoops look like the owners have been collecting decorations for at least a decade—and we love every inch of it! From mummies to massive spiders, and countless creatures in between, here are some of the best stoops New Yorkers have come upon (and tagged us in!) while wandering the city each year. Save this list of neighborhoods for when spooky season officially arrives!
- Upper West Side
- West Village
- Industry City, Brooklyn
- Astoria, Queens
- Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Every year, this Victorian Queen Anne-style house house located at the corner of Albemarle Road and Argyle Roadhe in Prospect Park South is adorned with what seems to be hundreds of Halloween decorations. Skeletons climb the exterior of the house, spider webs cover the lawn, and ghosts greet you on the porch. Gravestones peek out from the bushes as zombie children are even found swinging together from the porch roof. Read more about it here.
After 18 months, Broadway is finally back open!! Theater-lovers (and just regular New Yorkers), rejoice! Though previews have already begun, most shows reopened around September 14 — but a few are opening later in September and even October (remember: proof of vaccination and face masks are required). Find out when your favorite shows are reopening here.
NYC’s highly anticipated exhibition on the iconic (and always anonymous) British street artist Banksy has finally opened! Guiding visitors through numerous sculptures, videos, photos, original works and limited edition screen prints, you’ll get to witness over 80 genuine and certified artworks by street art legend and learn more about his inspirations and statements. Get tickets here.
47. Take a rowboat out on Central Park’s picturesque lake
There’s nothing like a lovely afternoon rowing on Central Park’s lake, especially when the leaves change! Rent rowboats now through November, from 10 a.m. until dusk (weather permitting). It costs $20 per hour (CASH ONLY) and $5 for each additional 15 minutes, with a $20 cash deposit, and each boat holds up to four people. Find out more here.
You’ve never experienced the Sistine Chapel the way you can at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibit. Imagine having the chance to stop and admire the stunning frescos the famous Italian artist painted across the historical Sistine Chapel…and then imagine being able to do so without the price point of a flight to Italy. This mesmerizing exhibit showcases the awe and wonder of arguably one of mankind’s greatest artistic achievements, while allowing its visitors to experience this art from an up-close, life-sized, and never-before-seen perspective. Get tickets here.
This weekend getaway will take you straight into the pages of a fairytale! Wings Castle is a bed and breakfast inside of a replica of a medieval castle right in the middle of the Hudson Valley in the town of Millbrook in upstate New York — only 75 miles north of NYC. Find out more about it here.
50-54. Visit NYC farmers markets
It’s harvest season! The perfect time to load up on as much fresh produce & locally baked goods as possible. Try visiting one of NYC’s many farmers markets, which you can find on GrowNYC.org. Here are a few suggestions:
- Union Square Greenmarket (the flagship): Mon., Weds., Fri., Sat. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Greenmarket at the Oculus: Tues. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- McCarren Park Greenmarket, Brooklyn: Sat. 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
- Fordham Plaza, The Bronx: Fri. 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Sunnyside Greenmarket, Queens: Sat. 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
54-58. Get scared at a haunted house
Though some haven’t announced their 2021 season plans yet, here are typically the best haunted house experiences across NYC:
- Bane Haunted House
- Blood Manor
- The Dark House: Immersive Horror Theater Experience
- The Haunted Kreischer Mansion
- Or just try your own real-life haunted house with these 15 Most Haunted Places In And Around NYC…
NYC’s 48th annual Village Halloween Parade is back on Oct. 31, 2021! Well, almost. Though the parade got permission from the city to host it (it was canceled last year due to COVID-19), they do need to help fundraising to make it happen. Find out more here.
What’s better than walking through the crisp fall air, the leaves falling down around you, with a hot bev in hand? Here are some of our favorite spots in the city for hot chocolate for ideas!
- Dominique Ansel Bakery
- Martha’s Country Bakery
- The Chocolate Room
When the weather gets cool, it’s time for comfort food. And what’s more comforting than ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness? Here are our best mac ‘n cheese dishes across NYC:
- Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Flatiron
- Sek’end Sun, Astoria
- Murray’s Cheese Bar, West Village
- The Smith, Midtown East
- Root & Bone, East Village
69. Munch on apple cider doughnuts
Do you prefer apple cider in liquid or doughnut form? Doughnut, of course! Here are some places to grab them when the time comes in NYC:
- NYC Greenmarkets (there’s usually a local baker there! See #50-54)
- Doughnuttery, Chelsea Market & Bryant Park
- Dough, Flatiron
- Peter Pan Doughnut, Greenpoint
70. Indulge your inner foodie at Taste of the Seaport
This annual downtown food festival returns for its 11th year on October 16 from 12 p.m.–3 p.m. at Piers 16 and 17. Prepare to be in foodie heaven as you sample food from over 30 of the best restaurants in Lower Manhattan, plus enjoy an array of local vendors, artisans, entertainers, and family-friendly activities. Always a fundraiser, this year’s event benefits the arts and enrichment programs at Public School 397 (The Spruce Street School) and Public School 343 (The Peck Slip School). Find out more here!
*We expect more events & activities to pop up as we get deeper into autumn, like some fabulous pumpkin displays, and the Governors Island pumpkin patch, and NYBG’s massive pumpkin display, so we will update the guide when those are announced!*