The Ultimate Leaf-Peeping Destinations to Visit This Fall in NYC

fall foliage at The Pond in New York's Central Park Unsplash
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The best spots within New York City to see the fall foliage change color, plus a few day trips worthy of an all-day autumnal adventure

There’s no better place to be for fall foliage than right here in New York City. Sprinkles of burnt orange, warm yellow, and dark green tones pop up in the most unexpected places within the cracks of this urban oasis. There’s nothing quite like feeling the fresh crisp air as you walk down the streets of the city and witnessing the transformation right in front of your eyes.

Time is of the essence, so don’t miss your chance to see these fall colors for yourself, right here within New York’s city limits. And for those wishing to venture a bit farther, you’re in luck. Nearby farms and parks offer acres of foliage—plus some pumpkins to be picked! Whether you decide to bike nearby trails, hike, walk, or climb, the visual representation of the changing season is waiting for your family to enjoy.

central park ny fall foliage

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Central Park

You’re a subway stop away from one of the world’s greatest urban parks, and the park truly comes alive during this colorful season. Visit the museum, ride a bike, or swing and slide at one of the many original wood-styled playgrounds. And for the very best views, stroll over to one of the many ponds—”The Pond” and the Gapstow Bridge are both ideal options for nature lovers and those wanting to snap frame-worthy photos.

Distance from NYC: 20 minutes, depending on your location

59th St. to 110th St., Central Park West to 5th Ave.
Manhattan
Online: centralpark.com

Fort Tryon Park

Being at the northern-most point in Manhattan offers stunning views across the entire city and to the New Jersey Palisades just across the river. Grab a spot and witness the natural beauty of autumn. Grab a picnic spot along the 8-mile long path. Bonus: The Cloisters is nearby, where you can enjoy more than 5,000 medieval art pieces.

Distance from NYC: 20 minutes, depending on your location

Riverside Dr. to Broadway, W. 192nd St. to Dyckman St.
Manhattan
Online: nycgovparks.org

Related: 60+ Free Things to Do with Kids in NYC All September Long

2 deers in the woods fort hill palisades interstate park nj
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Fort Lee Historic Park in Palisades Interstate Park

Visit a historical national landmark made even more spectacular with a clifftop riverfront view just over the George Washington Bridge. Hike along the Scenic Byway, which stretches between the Palisades Interstate Parkway and Henry Hudson Drive. Last but not least, the breathtaking view is truly a gift for all that come to visit.

Distance from NYC: 30 minutes

Hudson Terrace
Fort Lee, NJ
Online: njpalisades.org

fall foliage leaves tree park
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Owl’s Head Park

Meander through the pathways that lead you to a panoramic view of the New York skyline and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the United States. It’s the perfect location to get in touch with nature.

Distance from NYC: 40 minutes

Colonial Rd. & 68th St.
Brooklyn
Online: nycgovparks.org

fall foliage autumn lake
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Prospect Park

Looking to peep the leaves of a Norway maple, London plane, white oak, or Camperdown Elm tree? Well, these and many more tree varieties are located within Brooklyn’s favorite park. Kids will love to run and jump into the huge piles of leaves that form, but you can also make it fun with a scavenger list to see how many nature finds they can discover. Want a bird’s eye view of the entire park? Head to Lookout Point.

Distance from NYC: 40 minutes

Prospect Park W., Flatbush, Parkside, Ocean Ave.
Brooklyn
Online: nycgovparks.org

Greenbelt Nature Center

The Greenbelt Conservatory has been serving the community since 1989, and this expansive green space is a pristine view of the changing seasons. It offers 2,800 of acres of pure nature and a welcome reprieve from city life with 35 miles of marked hiking trails. Little tots will enjoy the carousel on site or a guided tour of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour

700 Rockland Ave.
Staten Island
Online: nycgovparks.org

pumpkin smile carved face fall foliage
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Thain Family Forest

Want to visit a true forest that’s only a train ride away? The Thain Family Forest in the New York Botanical Garden has been protected since 1895. What makes this New York landscape unique? The expansive forest has been uncut and retains its original shape. So, go ahead: walk along the Native American hunting trails, and—considering a glacier used to be in this area—see if you can find glacial remnants that have been left behind.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour

Bronx Park Rd.
Bronx
Online: nybg.org

Clove Lakes Park

Visit the 300-year-old tulip tree in addition to the lakes, ponds, and ample fall foliage. This tiny gem isn’t very large but worth the visit. Feel the energy of this natural setting come alive as you witness the vibrant fall leaves. Plus, the Staten Island Zoo is right next door! Enjoy a picnic, keep your eyes peeled for the wildlife that lives here, and see if you can find the hidden waterfall. Hint: It’s near a white bridge.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour

Victory Blvd. between Clove Rd. and Brookside Ave.
Staten Island
Online: nycgovparks.org

fall foliage hudson river panoramic boat view
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Bear Mountain

A family day up in Bear Mountain is wonderful any season of the year but particularly in the fall when the gorgeous foliage comes alive. Take a hike for breathtaking views either up top or down below around the lake. Although you’ll want to soak in the colors in autumn, the park is open year round with different seasonal activities to enjoy.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour 5 minutes

Palisades Pkwy.
Bear Mountain

Online: parks.ny.gov

Alstede Farms

Another farm that tops the chart for kid-friendly activities is in New Jersey. Visit your favorite animal friends, enjoy fresh cider from the mill, get lost in the corn maze, sample some wine tasting, and grab some fresh apples or cut your own pumpkin The views here are not to be missed, either.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour 5 minutes

1 Alstede Farms Ln.
Chester, NJ
Online: alstedefarms.com

wood structure playground hudson valley view apple orchard
Wai Sze Zara

Apple Ridge Orchards

‘Tis the season to indulge in you autumn favorites like freshly picked apples, pie, and cider donuts. What makes this orchard a fall must-see? It offers a fantastic panoramic view of the Hudson Valley, which, according to Apple Ridge, is “Hudson Valley’s most scenic and rustic orchard.” We wholeheartedly agree. The wooden play structures are not to be missed either, and there are live animals to see, too.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour 30 minutes

101 Jessup Rd.
Warwick
Online: appleridgeorchards.com

Related: There’s Still Time to Take One of These Weekend Escapes From NYC

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Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Sometimes you do need to step away to appreciate all the beauty that surrounds us, and a trip to the Delaware Water Gap would make the perfect fall weekend trip away from the city. There’s nothing like stepping into a forest of trees to both smell and see the changing of the leaves, and families can hike, canoe, or kayak their way around the Delaware River.

Distance from NYC: 1 hour 30 minutes

River Rd.
Delaware Water Gap, PA
Online: nps.gov

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