Autumn in New York - The Ultimate Fall Bucketlist
I hope you read that title in Billie Holiday's velvet voice... if you did, mission accomplished!
If you've ever been in New York during the fall, you know what a magical place it can be. Everything is a little crisper - the cool air, the colors, the sounds. Everything slows down just a bit. Walks become ~strolls~, chugging morning coffee becomes ~sipping~, the sunlight seems to reach a bit further despite the days becoming shorter. It's just beautiful and magical and is the perfect dichotomized elixir of wonder and contentment.
If you find yourself in need of some inspiration when brainstorming those quintessential fall activities to fill your sunny days, look no further than my ULTIMATE NYC FALL BUCKET LIST below! From free and spontaneous to exclusive and pricey, there's something for everyone included. Enjoy!
ULTIMATE NYC FALL BUCKET LIST
Take my RomCom Walking Tour through the Upper West Side
I'm sorry, I had to kick it off with a shameless plug - plus we all know Autumn is THE most romantic season! This 4 mile walk will take you up and down the Upper West Side, stopping to marvel at some of the most magical moments in the history of RomCom cinema (well, at least from the 90s on).
Photo: Untapped New York
Get a cup of coffee to-go and walk through the foliage in Central Park
Whether you're a Starbucks loyalist or a small business supporter, you'll be sure to find the perfect kick of piping hot caffeine at one of the hundreds of coffee shops that surround Central Park. Take an aimless stroll and see where the paths take you! Pro tip: you can use the street lamps to guide you (TikTok taught me)! The first two numbers will tell you what cross-street you're even with, the last two numbers will tell you if you're on the East or West Side (East = Even, West = Odd).
Photo: Time Out New York
Drink down the Rabbit Hole at The Alice
An immersive cocktail experience pop-up, The Alice is described as the "tea party to end all tea parties," and is a theatrical, interactive, indulgent 90-minute journey into Wonderland that features create-your-own cocktails (overseen by the Mad Hatter), "Eat Me" cake, and the chance to solve riddles to avoid getting beheaded by the Queen of Hearts. Admission is around $50 a person and it's open through November at Pekarna on the Upper West Side.
Be a spectator (or run) the New York City Marathon
While one of these is certainly more impressive than the other, both are huge bucket-list items, and super inspiring to be a part of (though I can only speak for the spectator experience). The New York City marathon DOMINATES the city for a day - closing roads and pathways in Central Park - as tens of thousands of runners vie to complete the 26.2 mile trek in one piece. The event will take place this year on November 7, and will boast about 33,000 runners (significantly less than the 55,000 the city usually sees for the race).
Spot Manhattan fall foliage from a 1920s-style yacht on the Hudson
That's right - river cruises aren't just reserved for summer anymore! Step aboard one of two vintage yachts (don't worry, the interiors are heated) and set sail along the Hudson River, marveling at the changing colors of the trees along the West side of Manhattan. Guests get one complimentary drink, and additional beverages are available for person. Admission starts at $88/person.
Photo: MET MUSEUM
Visit the MET Cloisters
Located in Washington Heights uptown, the MET Cloisters covers four acres in Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park. It overlooks the Hudson River and boasts art, architecture, and gorgeous gardens of medieval Europe. Take time on a gorgeous fall Saturday to stroll through the scenic, historic, sights of the museum.
Photo: Thirsty Mag
Have a date night at a haunted bar.
With New York being such an old city with so much history, obviously there's bound to be some paranormal activity abounding as well - it's only natural. Pictured above is One If by Land, Two if By Sea down in the Village. Hamilton fans will get a kick out of the fact that it's said that Aaron Burr and his daughter, Theodosia are known to flicker the lights, throw plates, and tug the earrings of ladies who perch at the bar. Rumor has it one server even got shoved down a flight of stairs! Check out these other haunted bars in NYC.
Photo: Rachel Martinio
Take the Ultimate Halloween Pic at The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze
Located just about 35 miles North of the city in Hudson (accessible by the Metro North) is the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze - a massive, illuminated pumpkin display/art installation. Walk around the grounds and marvel at the artistry - this year there's even a treatment of the NYC skyline. Snap that ultimate festive, spooky pic for the 'gram!
Photo: Time Out New York
Drink the day away at OktoberFest at the Watermark Bar
Down in Fidi is the waterfront oasis, Watermark Bar, that hosts the ultimate OktoberFest celebration. The festival takes place daily through October 24, and features bouts of German beer and traditional Oktoberfest food (pass the brats and pretzels, please)!
Photo: Tompkins Square Dog Run NYC
Attend the Tompkins Square Dog Costume Parade
If you didn't know about the Tompkins Square Dog Costume Parade, now you do! Taking place at the East River Park Amphitheater in lower Manhattan, this festive celebration hosts hundreds of dogs/owners, and thousands of spectators in a massive parade, featuring some of the cutest and most creative canine alter-egos you ever did see. This year's parade will be on October 23, from noon-3pm. If you can't make it in-person, you can stalk the internet for photos thereafter, as press outlets always cover a great deal of the participants. Who needs the MET gala?
Photo: Time Out New York
This one requires we go off-campus either upstate, to Long Island, or Jersey, but I promise it's worth it for THE ultimate fall activity, APPLE PICKING! You can do research to see which orchard or farm you want to travel to - you could always rent a car from the city and drive a quick hour, but most are just a train ride (on either the Metro North, NJ Transit, or LIRR respectively) and a quick taxi from the train station. A lot of these places also feature other fall favs like pumpkin patches, hayrides, and cider tastings. Make a day out of it or get an airbnb overnight!
I hope this list jump-starts your fall activity planning sessions! Feeling the seasons change is truly my favorite part about living in the city - each one is so distinctly magical in its own way.
What are you favorite autumnal activities to partake in at this time of the year? Leave a comment or DM me on Instagram @kelgurk to let me know!
Until next time!