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Guide to New York City in the Fall

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NYC is a wonderful city to visit in the fall. There is no shortage of seasonal activities in addition to all the good stuff NYC has to offer all year round!

This guide highlights some of the many great things to do in NYC in the fall. 

 

New York City in the Fall

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN NYC IN FALL

Below is our list of the top 10 things to do in the fall in NYC. Click on links for more detail on any items listed and related items. 

Be sure to check our monthly posts for the autumn months

TIP: In the fall, ticket prices on some tourist attractions -- but not all -- drop slightly. By getting a tourist discount passes, you can save on all attractions on your list of places to visit.

 


1.  Take a Sightseeing Tour!

fall is an excellent time to take a sightseeing tour, be it by foot, bike, bus or boat. Fewer tourists are in town which means smaller tour groups and a more personalized experience.

Free Tours by Foot offers walking tours of NYC of many neighborhoods and places. Our pay-what-you-wish Central Park tours will take you to see the fall foliage.

 

 

In addition to our daytime tours, we have night tours, specialty tours like our evening Ghost Tour (see below) and food tours.

See our full list of tour offerings here.

If you’re not up for walking, or the weather a bit nippy for you, you can take a bus tour. There are so many options to choose from. See our post about the best bus tours in NYC.

You can also see the city from the water on a Boat Tour or Cruise.  Also, consider a bike tour along NYC's bike-friendly streets and greenways.


2. See a Sports Event

The fall months offer you the opportunity to see just about every sport there is in NYC! 

Sports events are a great way to spend an evening. They are also a family-friendly activity.

For baseball fans, you can not only see a game, but you can also take a tour of famous Yankee Stadium.

 

 

Baseball (April - September)

Basketball (October - April)

Football  (September - January)

Soccer (March - October)

Ice Hockey (October through April)

Tennis


3. Catch a Concert

There are too many fantastic bands coming to NYC this fall. We list some highlights below.

But for even more concerts during the fall, be sure to check our posts on SeptemberOctober, and November.

TIP: Check out the Madison Square Garden All-Access Tours to see how this iconic arena has become a world landmark.

For more ideas on what to do after dark this fall, check out our post on things to do at night in NYC.


4. Visit the 9/11 Memorial + Museum

On September 11, or any other day, you can honor those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

Visiting the Memorial is a moving experience and one that is we encourage visitors to see the beautiful Memorial fountains. The memorial is free to visit.
 

 
Next to the Memorial is the National September 11th Museum.

Here you can see objects and artifacts recovered from the World Trade Center site. The museum also educates the public through documents and videos.

There is a fee to enter the museum, but you can enter for free on Tuesday nights or by choosing it as an attraction choice in a tourist pass, should you buy one.


5. See the Sunset from the High Line

The High Line is an elevated park on the West side of Manhattan that runs along the Hudson River from West 14th Street to West 33rd Street.

As the sun sets over the river, you can stop at many points along the High Line and take in the dramatic colors. 

The High Line also offers views of some architecturally eye-catching buildings that are beautiful as dusk sets in.

 

 

The High Line can be visited without a guide, but if you would like to know hear stories of the High Line’s fascinating history, a guided tour is best.

Consider joining us for a pay-what-you-wish Sunset on the High Line tours. We also have a GPS-Enhanced audio tour you can use day or night.


6. Take a Ghost Tour 

The Halloween spirit is all around NYC in October. If you want to get some goosebumps, take a ghost tour. New York City has centuries worth of ghost stories.

On our pay-what-you-wish ghost tour, (offered throughout the year), you'll stand above what was the burial ground for over 20,000 people who fell victim to Yellow Fever over three hundred years ago. 

You'll visit Mark Twain's house, and while he is long gone from this life, some people say they see him all the time! 

 

 

Your guide will take you through haunted streets of Greenwich Village and Chelsea, telling you chilling stories of past tragedies and current hauntings.

If hauntings and ghosts are your thing, you might also enjoy our pay-what-you-wish Dark Side of the High Line Tour.


7. Walk Over the Brooklyn Bridge  

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most popular sites in all of NYC. It can be very crowded in the Spring and Summer.

If you are here in the fall, take advantage of having more space to leisurely cross this NYC icon.

 

 

 

You can walk over the Bridge day or night, and please enjoy our guide to walking the Brooklyn Bridge

We also offer pay-what-you-wish Brooklyn Bridge Tours and have a GPS-enhanced audio guide.


 8. Broadway Week 2-for-1 tickets

Broadway Week is a two-week period during the year when you can get two-for-the-price of one tickets to many Broadway shows.

The next Broadway Week is September 3-16, 2019. (It occurs again late-January to early February).

 

 

The great thing about Broadway shows in NYC, is that if you know how you can get great discounts all year round!

Read our post on how to get discount Broadway tickets. You will be pleasantly surprised!


9. Go to a Top Tourist Attraction Without the Crowds

Take advantage of the off-peak season to visit one or more popular attractions. Lines are shorter so you won’t have to wait long (if at all) to get into the attraction. 

For example, the fall is a great time to visit one of the observation decks. 

 

 

Choose from the Empire State Building, One World Observatory (Freedom Tower) or Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. 

TIP:  See our post on the long list of NYC's attractions


10. Look into a Tourist Discount Pass

tourist discount pass affords you discounted entry into most of NYC’s most popular attractions.

While the passes themselves certainly aren’t free, if you plan your itineraries well, you will end up getting one or two attractions for free each day.

 

 

There are several different types of passes, so be sure to read our comparison post to learn about how you can save the most money on your trip.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO IN THE FALL

There are free things to do in NYC every single day of the year!

In the fall months, there are some free activities that only occur in this season. 

 

 

For hundreds of other activities that won't cost you a dime,  check out our post on free things to do in NYC and our post on free museums and other attractions


Enjoy a Festival or Parade

There are countless festivals of all kinds in the fall. Some have an entry fee but most are free to attend. 

Here are some highlights you should not miss! 

Below we list many more of the major festivals and holiday parades by month.


Ride the Free Staten Island Ferry 

All year round, 24 hours a day, you can take a free ferry ride from Manhattan to Staten Island and back again.

This commuter ferry can fill up with tourists in the summer, and while the ride is still amazing, you will be able to grab a seat and take in the amazing views. 

 

 

 

Whether you ride it during the day or at night, you will get spectacular views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

For other ways to get out on the water, see our post about all of NYC’s boat tour options.


Go to a Museum for Free

On September 21, 2019, many Smithsonian museums in NYC offer free admission. 

The engaging Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is included. It normally costs $25 so take advantage of the chance to go for free. 

Not here on this date? See our post on how to get discount tickets to the Intrepid.

Some other excellent NYC museums included in the event are:

  • Museum of Chinese in America 
  • New York City Fire Museum
  • Museum of Arts and Design
  • Cooper Hewitt Design Museum

You can visit just about every museum in NYC for free if you know which museums offer free days and free hours.

See our extensive list of free or almost free NYC museums here

 


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FAMILY-FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO IN THE FALL

Some of the events listed above are family-friendly, such as the Halloween Parade, going to a Sports Event or taking a sightseeing tour.

Below we list a few top activities that will keep the kids and adults amused in the fall. 

 

 
 

You can find even more information about visiting New York with kids by reading our post on things to do with kids in New York City as well as our 3-day itinerary for families


Go to Governor's Island

This small, vehicle-free recreational island is just a 7-minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan.

The island is free to visit and is open until October 31st. Once there you can enjoy a range of family-friendly activities. 

You can climb the man-made “Hills” that offer different activities.  The best is Outlook Hill which has awesome views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

There is also bike riding, kayaking, and loads of playgrounds for kids of all ages.

Read our post about visiting Governors Island for all the information you need to have a great time there.


Autumn Events for Kids

It might surprise you that in NY, there are loads of activities celebrating the 'harvest' season.

Your kids can participate in Halloween events, carve pumpkins, even take a hayride! 

Here are just a few events: 

  • Halloween Harvest Festival
  • Pumpkin Picking at Decker Farm
  • Halloween Pumpkin Flotilla
  • Village Halloween Parade

Read more about them in our post on things to do in October.


Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 

On November 28, 2019, giant floating cartoon characters will take over the skies above 5th Avenue!

This is one of the very best things to do with kids in November. Adults love it too!

See our post on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for all the details.

 


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PACKING GUIDE FOR FALL IN NYC

Here we suggest generally clothes you should bring if you visit in the fall.

Early September can sometimes be hot! By the end of the month, temperatures begin to cool down, so pack clothes for layering.

In October you will need long pants and shirts of medium-weight materials. Bring a jacket. An umbrella won’t hurt either!

November is generally long pants, shirt and sweater weather. You will definitely need a mid-weight jacket at the start of the month. By month's end, a wool coat or light down jackets will be a good choice.

For more details on temperatures and weather conditions, see the individual weather posts for each month:

 


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FESTIVALS AND HOLIDAYS

September

  • Brooklyn Book Festival 
  • Oktoberfest
  • Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit 
  •  African-American Day Parade
  • Brazilian Independence Day 
  • San Gennaro Festival
  • PhotoVille in DUMBO
  • West Carribean Parade
  • Atlantic Antic
  • Autumn Moon Festival 

October

  • Village Halloween Parade 
  • Columbus Day Parade   
  • Lower East Side Pickle Day
  • Flux Takeover!
  • Comic Con  
  • Clio Contemporary Art Fair
  • Parade of Boats
  • Diwali in Times Square
  • New York Film Festival

November

  • Thanksgiving Day Parade
  • Veterans Day Parade
  • New York Comedy Festival
  • Latin American Cultural Week 
  • White Light Festival at Lincoln Center
  • Holiday Train Show at New York Botanical Garden
  • New York Television Festival (NYTVF) 

 


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About The Author

Courtney

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: October 3rd, 2021
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