With the chill in the air, it’s finally beginning to feel like autumn in NYC! It’s tempting to take one long look at the leaves changing colors and then huddle in my apartment for the next six months but there’s so much more to autumn than that. So in the spirit of having one last hurrah before winter, I’ve put together a bucket list of my top things to do to make the most of fall in NYC.
▢ Spend the day at City Island
This is usually considered a summertime thing to do, but if there’s anything more charming than a New England-esque fishing village in the summer, it’s a New England-esque fishing village in the autumn. The ideal afternoon would be strolling down the mile-long island, checking out everything from the classic Victorian houses to the dreamy Long Island Sound. When you’re done, dine at any one of the myriad seafood joints. I hear Sammy’s Fish Box is a local favorite.
▢ Marvel at architectural wonders during Open House New York Weekend
Open House New York is the one weekend a year where the beautiful, but usually off-limits, buildings we walk by daily are opened up, so we, the masses, can gaze upon their beauty. In past years, you could see inside the Andrew Freedman Home; the Hall of Fame of Great Americans; and inside the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park, as well as so many other gorgeous places.
▢ Take Madame Morbid’s Trolley Tour
This is something I did a couple of years back, but it was so much fun that I have to do it again. If a vintage trolley car and eerie stories of local murder and mayhem told by a Victorian-era guide don’t get you into the spooky spirit, then nothing will. Madame Morbid’s Trolley Tour mixes macabre with humor as you drive around Brooklyn’s creepiest sites. Prepare yourself to be thoroughly amused.
▢ Visit a rooftop farm
Autumn is the season for farms to shine, but since I can’t make it out to the farms of New Jersey or New England, I’ll get my harvest on NYC-style, at a rooftop farm. Brooklyn Grange has been the go-to place to experience rooftop farming, but I’m also intrigued by Gotham Greens in Gowanus and Eagle Street Farm, which may or may not be the OG of NYC rooftop farms.
▢ Or visit the Queens County Farm Museum
Rooftop farms are great, but did you know that we also have a fully functional farm in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Queens! And it’s been around since the 1600s, making it the oldest continuously farmed land left in the city. This place is fun and family-friendly. Make sure to feed the goats and take a hayride while you’re there.
▢ Find the best apple cider donuts in the city
While some people go pumpkin-spice-crazy during the fall, I jump off the deep end for apple cider donuts, so it bothers me to no end that these donuts aren’t typically found at bakeries around the city. So far I’ve been pacified with Trader Joe’s apple cider donuts, but if you know of anywhere else that sells them, pass that knowledge on!
▢ Partake in the pumpkinpalooza that is the New York Botanical Garden’s Pumpkin Parade Weekend.
Every October, the NYBG puts the biggest pumpkins on display. I’m talking about pumpkins that weigh a literal ton. While you’re guessing how many pumpkin pies that’ll make, you can meet the people who grew these massive gourds, and watch artists carve designs into other pumpkins.
▢ Step foot into one of NYC’s supposedly haunted houses
Confession time: I scare easily. I don’t like thinking about ghosts. I don’t like talking about ghosts. Heck, I even avoid reading history books at night so I don’t come across any of those black and white photos from the late 1800s where people only knew how to give menacing looks that pierce deep into your soul. So if there’s one thing on this list that’ll require real effort to accomplish, it’s this. Luckily, or perhaps unluckily for me, there’s no shortage of potential haunted places in NYC. For starters, there’s the Merchant’s House Museum, Renwick Smallpox Hospital, St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, and the Morris-Jumel Mansion (I’d list more but I’m already too creeped out). Visit at your own risk.
▢ Spend the day in Green-Wood Cemetery
For a person who squirms at the mention of ghosts, it seems strange that I’d want to spend the day at a cemetery, but Green-Wood Cemetery isn’t your run-of-mill cemetery. When it opened in 1838, New Yorkers took to it as a kind of park, strolling through it, admiring the view from Battle Hill, and picnicking. I reckon that today it’s still just as pleasant a place to spend an afternoon, and with all the fall foliage, it might be one of the best leaf peeping spots in the city.
What’s on your list of things to do during this NYC fall? Any recommendations on where I can find a decent apple cider donut? Let me know in the comments!