After watching the mercury climb for months, it's no wonder people await the end of summer so eagerly. We may not exactly be excited for the dark and cold winter months on the horizon, but it's OK. We have the opportunity to enjoy the excellent autumn weather first. The arrival of fall every year is heralded by both the changing colors of the foliage and the annual rebirth of the pumpkin spice craze. Where the heat and humidity of summer can often keep people indoors, fall is the time to get out, enjoy the crisp fresh air, and enjoy yourself with autumn activities.
As the thermometer drops to a comfortable level, New York City becomes much more enjoyable. Whether you're new to the Big Apple or just in town for the right period, there are a ton of excellent activities with which to occupy your downtime. From annual traditions to seasonal treats, there's something for every kind of person to enjoy. So grab your favorite sweater, dig out the jeans, and head out to try one of these eleven can't-miss autumn activities in New York City.
- Go exploring in Central Park.
First things first: who doesn't love looking at the colors of autumn on full display throughout the city? To get the best views of the oranges, reds, and yellows, head on down to Central Park. There's no better time to lose yourself in a long stroll than during the fall. With tons to see and plenty of places to stop and people watch, it's an excellent way to spend a lazy Sunday. Grab yourself a nice hot cup of coffee, lace up your walking shoes, and see what there is to see. Feeling a little more adventurous? There are plenty of other parks around the city with incredible autumn views, too.
- Take part in the traditional Feast of San Gennaro
When it comes to soaking in the culture of New York City, there are no autumn activities that are more appropriate than a visit to a nearly century-old festival. The Feast of San Gennaro, which takes place in Little Italy, has been held for ninety years running. The feast celebrates the legacy of the Italian immigrants who came from across the Atlantic, and you’ll find a booming street fair full of food and drink. Sample local Italian specialties or peruse shop stalls for an interesting souvenir to take home. Held near the end of September, it's a great opportunity to enjoy the first inklings of cooler weather.
- Cheer on one of New York's many sports teams
The end of summer means an absolute explosion in the number of sporting events one can see in and around New York City. With baseball reaching the postseason, football in full swing, and basketball and hockey heating up, fall is a perfect time to grab a ticket. Participate in the quintessential American pastime and take in a Yankees game — or the Mets, of course, if you’re a diehard fan. Prefer the tension and adrenaline of competition on the gridiron? Take your friends to see a Jets or Giants home game. Looking to stay indoors? Catch a Knicks or a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. Want to stay in Brooklyn? Watch the Nets or the Islanders play at the Barclays Center. For New York’s sports fans, autumn's the best time of the year.
- Surprise your stomach at the New York Food & Wine Festival
If you love to satisfy your stomach during the fall, there's no better time to do so than during the four-day long gastronomic celebration that is the New York City Food & Wine Festival. With related events popping up all over the city and endless opportunities to sample some of the best food in the city, this is a "can't miss" event. Food Network now backs the festival, so if you've always wanted a chance to meet your favorite TV chef — this might finally be your chance! If you miss them, though, there's at least something delicious to eat.
- Sample some of the many artisanal brews in the city
Maybe when you think "fall," you think "Oktoberfest." If so, New York City won't let you down. With opportunities to enjoy all the beer and pretzels you want, getting into the spirit of Oktoberfest is easy. Prefer something a little slower paced? Plenty of bars and breweries around the city will have seasonal brews on tap. Gather a group of friends or just prepare to make some new ones. There are other opportunities for fun like the Queens Beer Festival as well. If Oktoberfest isn't enough for you, you won't need to look far for similar events.
- Have a blast at the Queens County Farm Museum
Now here's a way to get yourself into the fall spirit — and it's a great choice a if you have a family, too. Visiting the Queens County Farm Museum affords you the opportunity to spend an afternoon getting lost in a corn maze or taking a tour around the museum. The addition of a pumpkin patch and the museum's spin on fall festivals makes for plenty of autumn activities to do while you're there. And with a jam-packed roster of events, you and your family will want to come back for more.
- Visit new worlds at the New York Film Festival
Sometimes it's not what you can discover outside that makes autumn activities exciting, but what you can uncover in the dark of a movie theater. For cinema lovers, there's no better chance to sample the the year's best films than by visiting the New York Film Festival. With selections representing the cream of the crop from other festivals around the world, it's a shot of culture you won't find elsewhere. In addition to the chance of seeing many interesting films, you could score the opportunity to listen to a talk by a director or other industry professional.
- Scare up your Halloween spirit at the Great Jack-O-Lantern Blaze
When October 1 rolls around, out come the cobwebs, witch hats, and skeletons. Just a short jaunt out of the city can bring you face to face with one of the most impressive Halloween displays in the nation. Known as the Great Jack O Lantern Blaze, you can have an otherworldly, spooky walk-through experience as you take in the sight of thousands of hand-carved pumpkins. This unique event is a fall fixture in the area and something for which you'll want to bring a friend along.
- Head over to the High Line and go stargazing
When the fall skies are clear and the temperature is perfect, it's time to head on over to the linear park known as the High Line. Why? In October, you have the perfect opportunity to go stargazing. Tuesday nights become opportunities for the cosmos to open up before your very eyes. As long as the visibility is good, expect to be able to get a peek at the moon, Mars, or maybe even Jupiter!
- Go barhopping and celebrate Cider Week
So maybe beer isn't your thing, and Oktoberfest isn't your style. That's OK. How about enjoying the refreshing bounty of the apple harvest instead? If you love the competing tart and sweet notes of cider, Cider Week was made just for you. Similar to the Food & Wine Festival, this week-long event takes place at many different venues around the city. You'll get to try new things, sample some great tasting cider, and maybe find a new favorite hangout.
- Head out to the Hudson Valley for a day of sightseeing
The city isn't everything, of course. Looking for a great day trip? The Hudson Valley not only has even more of that lovely fall foliage but plenty of autumn activities to do as well. Look for out of the way museums, or try a restaurant you've never heard of before. You could even just let yourself get lost on a long, scenic drive. It's all about how you enjoy spending your autumn!
Whether you're an apple cider connoisseur or a pumpkin spice fiend, a nature lover or a cinema buff, New York City has something for everyone during the autumn. With the vivid cultural tapestry of the city, you won't need to go far in any direction to find someone celebrating the fall in their own unique way. These 11 autumn activities in New York City are just a scratch on the surface of all you can do in the Big Apple during the fall. Once you've exhausted our list, why not head out of your furnished rental and do a little exploring yourself, too? After all, "Winter is coming."