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Christina in Central Park in the autumn | Where to See Fall Foliage In and Around New York City
Christina in Central Park in the autumn | Where to See Fall Foliage In and Around New York City
Where to See Fall Foliage In and Around New York City

October 8, 2020

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As we transition from tanks to sweaters, iced lattes to pumpkin spice, summer to fall — New Yorkers are on the lookout for the best fall foliage in and around the city. While sweater weather does symbolize the beginning of the season, nothing announces autumn’s arrival quite like fire-hued foliage. If you’re on the hunt for the ultimate fall vibe, here are a few places where you can see fall foliage in and around New York City

Christina in Central Park during autumn | Where to See Fall Foliage In and Around New York City

Where to See Fall Foliage In and Around New York City

One of the downsides to living in New York City is the lack of grandiose displays of autumn in nature. While there are a few spots located in the city, chasing picturesque fall foliage is something a quick car ride can fix. So without further ado, here’s where you can see fall foliage within 5 hours (or less) from New York City.

Mohonk Mountain House

The Mohonk Mountain House is an hour and a half away from Manhattan. Not only is it a great option for a quick getaway, but it is also one of the best places to see fall foliage not too far away from the city. The property is one of the Hudson Valley’s most iconic resorts and peak season hits around the second week of October. So book ahead of time if you plan on spending a weekend there. Since the Hudson Valley is known for its lush forests, you can count on being surrounded by some of the best fall foliage the state has to offer. Just be sure to pack your hiking shoes and explore a portion of the 85-miles of trails in the area.

Address: 1000 Mountain Rest Rd, New Paltz, NY 12561, United States

Book your stay

Walkway Over the Hudson

This 1.28 mile long bridge serves visitors stunning fall foliage set against the Hudson River. For the most intense and dazzling views, be sure to visit during peak season in mid-October to early November. This Highline-like bridge connects Poughkeepsie to Highland, while offering gorgeous views of the changing leaves from every corner. The Walkway Over the Hudson is an hour and a half drive away from Manhattan. You can also take public transportation which will take about 3 hours from the city. But since you’ve made it all the way there, spend some time exploring the two connected towns.

Address: 61 Parker Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY (Poughkeepsie entrance ) and 87 Haviland Rd., Highland, NY (Highland entrance)

Central Park

If you live in the city and don’t want to travel far, Central Park is always a safe bet. However, if you want to catch the best fall foliage Central Park has to offer, start at the Conservatory Water at 72nd and 5th Avenue. Then, head to The Ramble in the heart of the park up by 77th street.  Here, you’ll see leaves in gradient shades of yellow to deep red. And if you find yourself at the 100th st entrance, make your way to North Meadow and The Ravine.

Greenbelt Nature Center lake in fall

Greenbelt Nature Center

Photo Credit: Greenbelt Nature Center

Fall foliage is a great reason to take a trip to Staten Island. The Greenbelt Nature Center offers such amazing fall views, and it’s only a 40 minute-long drive from Manhattan or an hour and a half via ferry and bus. This nature preserve offers visitors 35 miles of woodland trails for hikers and bikers to explore. Go on the Nature Center loop trail or the Blue and White trails which are both easily accessible. The Nature Center also provides “Into the Outdoors” programs that include art workshops, author lectures, and guided hikes.

Address: 700 Rockland Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10314

Hours: April – November: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM | November – March: Wednesday – Sunday 11 AM – 5 PM

Plan your visit

Storm King Art Center

This open-air museum got its name because of its close proximity to the Storm King Mountain. Although the Art Center makes for a great summer escape, this outdoor sculpture gallery is dotted with various shades of fall foliage. Just a little over an hour’s drive away, visitors will be treated to leaves of various shades from green, yellow, orange, and bright red. If you want to time your visit just right for the maximum fall foliage experience, stay up-to-date with Storm King Art Center’s social media pages to keep up with the area’s color change progression.

Address: 1 Museum Rd, New Windsor, NY 12553

Hours: Wednesday – Monday from 10 AM to 6:30 PM

Storm King Art Center’s fall foliage updates (watch on stories every Friday)

Bear Mountain State Park

If you’re craving red-hued mountain views, Bear Mountain State Park is a great option for city dwellers. For those who wish to take public transportation, Bear Mountain is only an hour away from the city via the Metro-North. And if you’re driving, it’ll take New Yorkers less than an hour to reach these stunning views of fiery-red mountain tops. One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re taking the train, the hike up to the top of the mountain is rather strenuous and some rock scrambling may or may not be involved. But driving to the top is also an option if you’re hoping to catch the best panoramic views of the changing leaves. Be sure to mark your calendars for mid-October (the week of October 19th, to be exact) as that would be the time to catch the fall foliage at its peak.

Address: 3006 Seven Lakes Dr., Tomkins Cove, NY

Hours: Daily from 10:30 AM – 4 PM (last entrance at 3:30 PM)

New York Botanical Garden

For the best fall foliage spotting not too far away from Manhattan, head to the Thain Family Forest at the New York Botanical Garden. Some of the trees in this 250-acre area date back to the 19th century. Visitors must purchase tickets ahead of time at the New York Botanical Garden’s website since visits are limited and timed. Additionally, the Botanical Garden will be festively decorated for autumn. Getting to the New York Botanical Garden takes less than 30 minutes by car, and an hour and a half via public transportation from the city. Want to plan your visit to make sure the fall foliage is intense enough for your liking? Check out the NYBG Fall Color Cam before your visit.

Address: 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458-5126

Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM Tuesdays – Sundays

Admission: Adults $28. Students (with valid ID) $25.

Autumn trees planting fields arboretum
Photo Credit: @trisha_travel_diaries

Planting Fields Arboretum

The Planting Fields Arboretum is a little hidden gem that’s both a great spot for photography enthusiasts and those wanting to chase fall views. This Gold Coast estate features some incredible fall foliage set against rolling hills, gardens, and beautiful nature walks. Late October is the prime foliage season, so hop in a car and make the 50-minute long drive out.

Address: Planting Fields Arboretum, 1395 Planting Fields Rd, Oyster Bay, NY 11771

Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM Daily

Letchworth State Park

The Letchworth State Park is located in Castile, New York — which is about a 5 hour drive from the city. While this is probably one of the farthest destinations for prime fall foliage viewing on this list, it may be worth the long trip out. Because it takes quite some time to get there, I suggest spending at least a weekend exploring the park and taking in the beautiful autumn forest and the park’s gushing waterfalls. The Letchworth State Park is so beautiful, it has even been dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the East”. And if you’re visiting, don’t leave before you catch a view of Middle Falls surrounded by fiery-red foliage.

Address: Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY

Hours: 6 AM – 11 PM Daily

Adirondack Scenic railroad in fall | Where to See Fall Foliage In and Around New York City
Photo Credit: Adirondack Railroad

Adirondack Scenic Railroad

For a real treat, consider hopping aboard the scenic Adirondack Railroad track from Utica to Thendara. Getting to the Utica station is a 4 hour car ride from Manhattan. But this 5-hour long train ride takes you through forests covered in stunning fall foliage, over rivers and streams. Guests on the train can also visit the cafe car if you wish to take in the amazing views along with some light fare. Book a seat in coach, first, or platinum class… but be sure to make your reservations quick as spots fill up fast on this popular scenic train ride. 

Address: 321 Main Street, Utica, NY 13501

Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM Mondays – Fridays

Price: $43 – $63 depending on class selection

Make your reservations here 

Palisades Interstate Park

Just a 30-minute drive over the George Washington Bridge, you’ll find a scenic stretch covered with changing leaves. The Palisades Interstate Park, also known as the Hudson River Palisades,  is the perfect short trip for any New Yorker who wants to get their fall foliage fill. And if you’re up for a little physical activity, go on the Giant Stairs Trail hike. Or visit the State Line Lookout where you’ll find panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Address: The Palisades, Alpine, NJ 07624

Washington DC

Washington DC is a great place to see cherry blossoms in the spring, but did you know that it also boasts some of the best fall foliage within 5 hours of New York City? So hop in a car and spend a weekend in DC. Spend some time exploring the Duke Ellington Bridge, Montrose Park, and Meridian Hill Park, just to name a few. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, which will be framed by rows of yellow, orange, red, and auburn-colored leaves.

Total driving time: 4 hours from Manhattan

Essex, Connecticut

Why see Connecticut’s impressive fall foliage display from land when you can see it from both land and water? Head 2 hours (by car) out of New York to Essex, Connecticut, and hop aboard the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat for a fall experience you’ll never forget. Guests will spend 2 hours and 30 minutes on the steam train, and end the excursion with a 1 hour long riverboat ride. All along the way, you’ll be treated to some of the most intense shades of yellow, orange, and red leaves. As you’d probably imagine, this is an incredibly popular attraction so be sure to book your tickets in advance.

Make your reservation here

Total driving time: 2 hours from Manhattan

Admission: $24-35 depending on your selected day

Note: Be sure to arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled time to check-in at the ticket kiosk.

Delaware Water Gap NPS Fall
Photo Credit: @e.tague via @delwatergapnps

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is located 1.5 hours away (by car) from the city. This area in Pennsylvania is where you’ll find incredible views of the Pocono Mountains covered in a spectrum of fall foliage, ranging from yellow, orange, red, and deep purples. And it’s close proximity makes the Delaware Water Gap one of the best places for fall foliage in and around New York. This area also wraps around the Delaware River, so rent a canoe, kayak, or raft and take in these views from the water.

Address:1978 River Rd., Bushkill, PA

Hours: 6 AM – 6 PM daily

Fort Tryon Park

Last but not least, if you don’t intend on traveling far but want to explore some fall foliage outside of Central Park, visit Fort Tryon Park. Here, you’ll be treated to great autumn views set against the backdrop of the Hudson River. It is also home to the city’s largest dog run, so take your fur baby out for a little fall stroll.

Address: Riverside Dr To Broadway, W 192 St To Dyckman St

14 Best Spots for Fall Foliage In and Around New York City

There are many great things about living in New York City. And fall happens to be one of them. With a number of options both near and far, New Yorkers are treated to some of the best fall views in and around the city. Whether you’re hoping to observe the changing leaves only for a few hours, of if you’re planning a weekend escape into the red-hued mountains, one thing’s for sure — you’ll always be within reach of this quintessential autumn activity when you’re in New York.

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xo Christina

Hey, nice to see you! I'm Christina, a luxury travel & lifestyle blogger and online educator teaching women how to build businesses as influencers online. If you found this post helpful or want to start a discussion, chime in in the comments below!

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