With each step along the sidewalk an energy surges through me, each block entices my senses. The air is filled with a melody of high heels clicking, various languages being spoken, the rattling of the subway and a chorus of cabs honking. With each turning of a corner, a new discovery – this is New York City, a place where even the concrete comes alive and each neighborhood has its own personality.
Fall in the city brings a host of new activities and new reasons to visit the Big Apple. The crisp air fills your lungs as your feet pound the pavement, the leaves are changing in Central Park – winter is coming but in the interim it is the perfect time to enjoy being outdoors in the big city.
There are few things in this world more beautiful and romantic than a walk through Central Park in the fall. The leaves are changing and crunching beneath your boots while the sounds of the city fade away as you walk further into the park. There are so many activities to enjoy most of which do not cost you a dime.
Conservatory Garden – The Conservatory Garden is a beautiful display of blooms and foliage offering the ideal setting for a quiet walk or place to snuggle up and read. The 6-acre formal garden is divided into three smaller gardens, each with a distinct style: Italian, French, and English. The Garden’s main entrance is through the Vanderbilt Gate, on Fifth Avenue between 104th and 105th Streets. This magnificent iron gate, made in Paris in 1894, originally stood before the Vanderbilt mansion at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street. Located East Side from 104th-106th Streets. Enter at Fifth Avenue and 105th Street, or 106th Street gate inside the Park.
Loeb Boathouse – As if the food at the lakeside restaurant wasn’t reason enough to visit, the Loeb boathouse also offers row boat rentals weather permitting through November for only $15 an hour along with Venetian gondola tours for up to 6 people for $45 half an hour. This is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy fall’s beautiful scenery that is great for couples, families, or girlfriends.
Conservatory Water – This area is popular with families and children because of the famous climbing sculptures, the story-telling programs, the model boats, the cafe, and the site in the children’s classic Stuart Little. An ornamental pond was constructed as a reflecting pool for a glass conservatory, but when the plan for a structure was abandoned, the water body became the popular model boat pond, inspired by those in Parisian parks. Located East Side from 72nd to 75th Street.
Belvedere Castle Discovery Walks – Belvedere Castle is one of Central Park’s five visitor centers. Calvert Vaux, co-designer of the Park, created the miniature castle in 1869 as a whimsical structure looking out on the reservoir to the north (now the Great Lawn) and the Ramble to the south. Belvedere provides the highest and best views of the Park and the adjacent cityscape. The castle’s name is fitting, because it translates to “beautiful view” in Italian. On Saturdays enjoy Weekend Walks for the family leaving from Belvedere Castle. Learn about what makes Central Park a sanctuary for plants, animals and humans alike. Borrow a Discovery Kit – a rugged backpack filled with kid-friendly binoculars, field guides, and other discovery tool. This is a free activity, however Pre-registration is required as space is limited Ages 5+. Families only; maximum of three children per parent or guardian; no groups. Please arrive 15 minutes before the start of the Discovery Walk to allow time to check in and to pick up Discovery Kits.
Central Park Zoo – Snow leopards, sea lions, penguins, and a children’s petting zoo make the Central Park Zoo a must. Easy to navigate and filled with daily activities like penguin and sea lion feedings, the zoo will delight adults and children alike. You can also purchase your tickets online in advance and save on admission.
Where To Stay
The Surrey – Nestled in Manhattan’s Upper East Side near Central Park, The Surrey hotel is both a familiar destination and an unexpected delight. Whether you prefer basking in the sun in the private roof garden, indulging in a relaxing massage at Cornelia Spa or dining at your favorite table at Café Boulud, your personality and personal preferences are part of The Surrey’s service to you. Built in 1926 as a residence hotel, the original Surrey was home to many of New York’s most eccentric celebrities over the years, JFK, Bette Davis, Claudette Colbert. For a very fun experience try the in room mixologist who can come to your room and make yummy concoctions, we opted for one of my favorite drinks the Moscow Mule. The Surrey is an ideal location for Central Park, Museum Row, and Madison Avenue shopping.
Where To Eat
The Loeb Boathouse Central Park – Discover the ultimate urban oasis, just a short stroll into New York City’s cherished Central Park. A haven for romantics and nature lovers, this understated icon offers a rare tranquility within the ever-eclectic energy that defines Manhattan. True to its name, rowboats drift about the adjacent lake, as they have for over 150 years. The menu features items like Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Green Papaya and Jicama salad in a Caper Remoulade sauce, Seared Sea Scallops with Black Garlic, French Lentils, Escarole, Blood Orange Sauce, and drinks like fresh made mojitos.
Amali – Serving everything from fresh fish mediterranean style to handcrafted cocktails, this is a restaurant you will want to visit time and time again. Absolutely mouthwatering – try the PEI mussels, farro salad, and the whole fish of the day for the table is melt-in-your-mouth phenomenal plus it is so good for you! Locate dat East 60th.
The Bar Room – Imagine yourself in a romantic, dimly lit Parisian cafe – this relaxed hot spot is also impeccably decorated and boasts unbelievable craft cocktails and yummy fare. Located at Eats 60th.
Via Quadronno – Just a short walk from 5th Ave located on Madison at 73rd St, this is the perfect little cafe for a cappuccino (or prosecco) and a panini.
Cafe Boulud – Café Boulud has become an Upper East Side staple, whose menu is inspired by Daniel Boulud’s four culinary muses: la tradition, classic French cuisine; la saison, seasonal delicacies; le potager, the vegetable garden; and le voyage, flavors of world cuisines. Having earned three stars in the New York Times as well as a star in the Michelin Guide, Café Boulud is both a destination and a neighborhood gem for casually elegant dining. The restaurant’s adjacent Bar Pleiades serves some of the neighborhoods finest cocktails and is perfect for a group gathering or intimate get together.
A tree grows in Brooklyn – yes it does. Not only is Brooklyn just plain cool, it is beautiful, especially in the fall. Its parks present a display of fall colors and the fall sunsets at Brooklyn Bridge Park with the bridge to your right and downtown Manhattan in full view are mesmerizing. Plus the myriad of hipster things to do, from local designer shops to sustainable restaurants to homegrown festivals, will keep you captivated for days.
Brooklyn Bridge Park – Some of the most gorgeous panoramic views of the city you will find at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Enjoy a Lobster Roll from Luke’s, walk along the water at sunset, and ride Jane’s carousel. Take the kids or go for a ride yourself on this beautiful, antique carousel. Built in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, the carousel was lovingly restored and donated to the park by Jane and David Walentas. Located in the Empire Fulton Ferry section of Brooklyn Bridge Park, Jane’s Carousel is housed in a gorgeous glass pavilion, designed by Pritzker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvel. You are also likely to stumble across a festival of some sort like the annual Harvest Festival. Get there by subway, bus, or ferry – click here for more information.
Brooklyn Botanical Gardens – 52-acres of beauty in Brooklyn, the botanical gardens is one of the grandest in the world. Enjoy kid’s discovery stations every weekend, special art exhibits, and seasonal events like Ghouls and Gourds. Admission is free for members and children under 12, $12 for adults, and $6 for students.
Brooklyn Flea – A flea market every weekend of the year? Oh yes with vintage clothing, furniture, and antiques plus a cast of characters that makes for some of the best people watching ever. Plus enjoy every food imaginable from an Asian hot dog to a lobster roll. The market moves around and is outdoors April-November when it takes shelter from the cold indoors. For information on the latest market click here.
Where To Stay
Wythe Hotel – Since staying in NYC can cost the equivalent of a Gucci bag at some hotels, if you plan to explore Brooklyn and lower Manhattan save $$$ and stay in the hipster capital of the world, Brooklyn, it certainly lives up to its ultra cool reputation. Located on the waterfront, the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg boasts 7 boutique style rooms with beds made from the building’s reclaimed ceiling pine – can you say sustainable? Speaking of sustainable the hotel’s restaurant Reynard is a must eat featuring a delicious menu of seasonal food and Brooklyn crafted beers. But perhaps one of the best features – the price with average nightly rates starting in the 200s.
Where To Eat
Dirty French – Located in the Ludlow Hotel on Ludlow St in lower Manhattan, Dirty French is an out of this world dining experience. From the first course of tuna tartar with a the crispiest crepe you can image served on top to the last course of brook trout served with dried apricots, you will be immersed in food heaven. Exceptional and a must eat the next time you visit New York.
Superfine DUMBO – With a name like Superfine who wouldn’t want to try it?! When I walked into this hot spot nestled in DUMBO, I knew I wanted to stay, there was a woman on stage singing French songs mixed with Patsy Cline. They serve up pizzettas, burgers, and more and around the bar you will find a mixture of local characters of all ages. Great for date night, girls night out, and family friendly too.
Luke’s Lobster – With locations all over New York City including Brooklyn Bridge Park, Luke’s is a must boasting the best lobster roll in the world – that should be all the reason you need to try it.
Reynard – (see above in Wythe Hotel)
Atrium DUMBO – Atrium Dumbo is a restaurant located just off of Brooklyn Bridge park in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, serving fresh. market driven cuisine.
Other fun fall things to do in the city:
Roosevelt Tram – Ride the tram over to Roosevelt Island and discover a little city all on its own. Walk along the bank of the East River under a canopy of fall leaves to Roosevelt 4 Freedoms Park and enjoy a delicious meal at Katchkie Food Truck at the beginning of the park.
The island is small enough you could walk around it in its entirety in no time. A trip around the island you will discover the ’emoji famous’ red and white smoke stacks, a community garden filled with vegetables, flowers, and pollinators, and also a lighthouse at the opposite end of Roosevelt 4 Freedoms Park. Stop off for coffee or ice cream on Main Street.
The HighLine – The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues. The HighLine offers great exercise or a leisurely day of discovering the city from above. Make a day of it and plan stops along the way through Chelsea Piers and Hell’s Kitchen.
So now that you know how to enjoy the outdoors in New York City, what are you waiting for? Breathe in that crisp air and soak in the fall sun against your skin as you explore the Big Apple.