If I could marry fall I would.
Seriously, I look forward to this time of year EVERY YEAR. It’s the best time of year and I think it’s a great time to travel. Growing up I always heard my mom talk about how spectacular the leaves were on the East Coast this time of year. She used to take a lot of business trips to New York and got quite familiar with the scenery.
A few years ago we took a fall road trip up through Canada and down to Vermont, Massachusetts (Of course we stopped in Salem) and then headed home. I can’t begin to tell you how beautiful it was. The leaves were at their peak color and there were so many cute fall things to do along the way.
I knew I had to plan another trip out east in autumn. It’s terrible to admit, but I haven’t been to New York City since I was a Sophomore in High School… Crazy right? So when I found a flight for $140 I was sold. I stayed at my good friend Rachel Bunting’s place (she has a travel blog too, you should check it out!) and we tried to do as many fall things as we could while I was there.
I put together a little video of the 5 things you need to do in NYC this fall. Check it out if you love #PSL and frolicking around pumpkin patches.
5 things to do in NYC this fall
Wander around the West Village
The West Village is hands down my favorite area in the city. I know that’s a bold statement because there’s so many cool areas in the city but this one takes the cake. I love all of the amazingly beautiful brownstones in this neighborhood. They give me serious home envy but they’re also so cute and perfect that you can’t help but love them even though you know you can’t afford them.
This time of year the Halloween decor is on full display. You’ll find cute pumpkins perfectly positioned on each staircase which makes for a great photo opp. Some homes go all out with their Halloween decor. This skeleton family was my favorite.
My advice, start out at Magnolia Bakery. You can indulge in one of the infamous sweet treats the shop makes and then walk off the calories wandering around. There’s lots of unique shops on Bleecker Street for you to check out (unfortunately most of them were out of my price range but it’s fun to window shop). And if you’re into Sex and the City (of course you are) you can check out Carrie’s apartment at 66 Perry Street.
If you happen to find yourself wandering around in the evening and you’re looking for an awesome dinner spot I highly suggest Palma. It’s this cute little Italian restaurant with this beautiful outdoor dining courtyard. The pasta is to die for.
Indulge in some spooky bagels in Brooklyn
By now you’ve probably seen or heard of foods that go viral. The rainbow bagels at The Bagel Store are no exception. The shop has been making these bagels for decades but only recently have they broken the internet. That’s in part thanks to one of those Insider Food videos that fill your Facebook feed.
The process is a long one but the finished product is totally worth the effort and the price (almost $7!). What makes this sweet treat a must during fall is their unique creations made just for the season. I had the Uni-ghoul bagel (Unicorn + Ghoul) and to make it even more fall flavored I added pumpkin flavored cream cheese (go big or go home right?). There’s tons of other Halloween inspired bagel creations at the store. I suggest getting there early to make sure they don’t run out before you get there.
Follow the store on Instagram to see all the latest creations. And if you don’t live in NYC, don’t fear, The Bagel Store ships nationwide!
Get out of the city and peep the leaves
This was one of the most memorable days on my recent trip to New York. I know this post is titled 5 things to do in NYC this fall, but I truly think that both tourists and locals forget to visit places outside of the immediate city. While it might take a bit more planning and you will have to rent a car, I say it’s so worth it.
We jam packed a lot into one day and truthfully if I could do it over again I would have booked a hotel room and stayed the night so we didn’t need to drive back.
HEADS UP: HOTELS AND B&BS BOOK UP FAST DURING THE FALL IN THE HUDSON VALLEY AND OTHER PLACES. MAKE SURE TO BOOK YOUR HOTEL EARLY (MONTHS IN ADVANCE) TO SECURE YOUR SPOT.
We started with a trip to Storm King Art Center. This place is seriously incredible. It’s a 500 acre outdoor museum that plays home to more than 100 sculptures spread across the property. Visiting Storm King anytime of year is an experience, but I have to say the fall leaves act as a spectacular backdrop for these amazing pieces of work. Storm King is about an hour and a half drive from the city and costs $18 to get in. You can ride your bike inside or opt for a ride on their Tram. You could easily spend hours wandering the property but we felt 2 hours was plenty of time for us to get a feel for the center.
Once we got our culture of the day it was time to indulge in some sweets. We drove about an hour further north to the quaint town of New Paltz. There’s tons of cute shops and great places to eat in this little town. We opted for some afternoon tea at the Village Tea Room. I highly suggest their Afternoon tea service which comes with finger sandwiches, scones and sweets.
From there we ventured to the historic Westwind Orchard. The orchard dates back to the 1930s and is in the heart of the Hudson River Valley. This place screams fall. Right when you pull up your greeted by an open field, filled with fire pits, crates of pumpkins and picnic benches filled with people sipping flights of cider made on property.
You could honestly spend a whole afternoon at Westwind and have the time of your life. The main attraction is the cidery. You can try any of the ciders they make or if you can’t decide do a flight. You can also order tapas Thursday - Sunday and wood fired pizzas friday - Sunday. But that’s not all folks. The Orchard of course has tons of amazing produce for you to pick yourself or purchase in their store on site. You can pick your own apples, pumpkins and raspberries on property if you’re into that sort of thing. Or you can peruse the cute store on site that sells everything from apples and squash to beauty products and honey.
As if cider wasn’t enough we wanted to see what New York wine tasted like. So we ventured back to the New Paltz area to visit Whitecliff Vineyard. It’s an artisanal family run winery which is one of the largest in the Hudson Valley and grows 20 different varieties of grapes. Beyond the delicious wine, Whitecliff has stunning views and a cute tasting room. We went for the dry red tasting and it didn’t disappoint. There’s a number of tasting options to choose from and they are all under $20. Just make sure to arrive before 5:30 p.m. because that’s when tastings stop.
Last but certainly not least we drove about an hour further to the town of Rhinebeck for dinner. I was a little bummed that we got there when the sun had already set because I’ve heard the town is super cute. (Guess I’ll just have to plan a trip back!) We had a reservation at The Amsterdam and OH MY GOD YOU GUYS… this place was to die for. No joke I could have cried this meal was so good. We met the husband and wife who own the restaurant when Chris and I bonded over my super cozy coat I was wearing. Chris and her husband Howard opened the restaurant in 2017 and they focus on serving contemporary farm to table fare in their charming restaurant space.
Before sitting down to dinner we enjoyed a glass of wine outside around a fire pit in the restaurants outdoor dining area. The ambiance and warm welcoming vibes were exactly what we were looking for after a long day of driving and exploring. Once it was time to tuck in to dinner we didn’t hold back. We started with the most magnificent cheese and charcuterie board I had ever seen. Honestly, if you arrange meats and cheeses on a board in an artful way you pretty much have won my affection from now until eternity. What’s crazy is that the cheese board wasn’t even the best part of the meal! Nope. We decided to order a bunch of dishes to share (always my prefered method of dining).
Here’s the rundown of what we ordered:
SHEEP'S MILK RICOTTA
Duck Prosciutto, Honeycomb, Thyme, Bread
Arugula Pesto, Chives, Parmesan
Squash, Mushrooms, Chestnuts, Parmesan
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
Brioche Croutons, Sage, Garam Masala
Poached Egg, Chives, Grilled Baguette
Honestly, my mouth is watering as we speak. My favorite of all the things we ordered had to be the Gnocchi. Chef Alex Burger hand makes the gnocchi, or as I like to call them “Carb Pillows”, in house. Then you get all the delicious fall flavors from the squash and chestnuts. I can’t say enough about this flavorful, decadent dish.
With full bellies and full hearts it was time to head back to the city. The drive from Rhinebeck to NYC is a little over 2 hours. Not terrible but you might want to consider staying the night if you can find a hotel.
Frolic around Central Park
I know this one seems pretty obvious but it’s obvious for a reason. Central Park is iconic and there’s no better place to enjoy the fall colors in NYC than right here. In my opinion it’s best to pick a starting location (I chose to start on the south corner) and wander through until you’re ready to head out. There’s something so fun about discovering hidden areas of the park or simply just lounging on a bench.
Depending on if you’re into photoshoots, this is a great spot to snag some iconic shots. I booked a shoot with Laurel Creative and I’m so happy I did. It was fun to shoot in different areas of the park and have some pictures to remember the trip by.
Plus, you by no means need to be a blogger to justify a photoshoot. I highly suggest booking a professional photographer when you travel. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon or morning and you wind up with some great photos to remember the trip by.
Dine at Park Avenue Autumn
This restaurant concept is so cool! Basically it’s a restaurant that changes with the seasons. And I don’t mean they hang a few leaves and change some seasonal items on the menu. No, the restaurant completely shuts down before each new season and totally changes their decor, menu, even the clothes the servers wear. I LOVE this concept and it takes seasonal dining to a whole new level.
When you walk in your greeted by a screen with a bright orange tree at the center. The video plays out as a timelapse of the leaves changing and eventually falling off the tree. Immediately, I’m hooked. The rest of the space is filled with rustic touches and dim lighting. The dinner begins with two starters. First an apple served on a skewer sticking out of a log. The presentation is what captivates you, but the crisp apple is what gets you in the mood for some hearty fall fare. But the little loaf of pumpkin bread is what stole the show for me. There’s nothing quite like a delicious loaf of warm pumpkin bread.
We decided to start the meal by sharing the Squash and Ricotta dish with pears and honey. It was a delicious combination of sweet and savory that started our dinner out on the right foot. For my main course I went for the duck breast with squash, pomegranate and pistachios. The flavors were incredible and the duck was perfectly prepared. But one of my favorite things on the menu was the broccoli and Cheetos side dish. It’s pretty much exactly like it sounds but there’s yummy melted cheese that ties the whole dish together.
Well folks there you have it, my five things to do in NYC this fall. There’s honestly so many things to do in the city that deciding what to do can feel overwhelming. But truly you really can’t go wrong. I’ll be putting together a full New York City destination guide soon. But for now, I hope these fall time activities hold you over!