How are we so easily coaxed into thinking fall is the best time to visit NYC?
Inspired by the change of season from summer to fall, New York City is revitalized and inspired. The hot, lazy days of summer are gone and the city’s pulse is reinvigorated.
NYC has an endless number of things to do and somehow autumn arrives and hooks us into believing it’s possible to take advantage of them all.
We think anytime is a great time to visit NYC but in this guide, we’ll give you 5 reasons why the fall is the best time to visit NYC!
5 Reasons Why Fall is the Best Time to Visit NYC
Is it possible the summer heat has smoked our brains and left us all a bit crazed? Or maybe after a summer of eating BBQ foods, the first bite of NYC pizza leaves us lightheaded and swooning…
Could there actually be something more tangible about why flipping the calendar from August to September and onward makes for an excellent time to visit NYC?
1. Summer’s stifling heat disappears.
Frigid scenes of New York City in winter leave potential visitors shaking their heads in disapproval. Who would want to walk around when it’s so cold?!
However, once you’ve lived or spent a length of time in NYC during the brutally hot months of summer, your feelings about cooler temperatures soften, and even, outright change.
The summer heat from the sun, the traffic, and the sheer number of bodies builds during the day and stays trapped among the tall buildings at night. Mixed up in this heat and humidity are the city’s oh so lovely smells.
Trust me, the NYC oven is not filling the streets with wafts of cinnamon and sugar. Fall’s arrival brings dryer fresher air and pleasant temperatures.
It’s once again enjoyable to stroll through Lower Manhattan or to ride bikes along the Hudson River instead of sweating with our noses pinched while moving from one air-conditioned location to the next.
2. The crowds are gone.
New Yorkers know there is a (brief) period of time between the beginning of the new school year in September and the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony right after Thanksgiving.
This is when the crowds in Times Square thin out, tickets to Broadway shows and the city’s many events are easier to come by, and shopping in Soho & Chelsea is actually pleasurable again. First-time visitors to NYC will also navigate their way around the city much easier during this time.
Not sure of all the NYC do’s and don’ts? No worries. New York lets out a giant exhale with the exit of the summer tourism load.
Lighter, more buoyant, you can navigate the sidewalks without feeling as if you’re the one holding the football with everyone around you trying to tackle you to the pavement.
3. Fall ushers in a new season of festivals, events, and celebrations.
Regardless of the season, New York City is an epicenter for events, street fairs, and a plethora of other goings-on. Autumn, though, brings with it culture and sports.
September is the proper start of the new Broadway season. It’s the best time to see new plays and musicals before any TONY buzz drives seat prices higher.
The New York Film Festival shows movies and documentaries of all kinds, some of which land squarely in the Academy Award’s spotlight. OktoberFest kicks off downtown at South Street Seaport and fall is a perfect time to try out pumpkin brews and apple ales.
Wear your craziest costume for Greenwich Village’s annual Halloween parade. Or how about catching a baseball, basketball, hockey, or football game or even cheering on runners in the New York City Marathon?
Finally, in grand fashion, the Thanksgiving Day Parade marches from the Upper West Side to Herald Square with balloons swaying and announcing the arrival of Santa and the winter season.
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4. City parks, walkways, and gardens are ablaze with the colors of autumn.
Want to know how to create your own movie-worthy New York City moment?
Just stroll through Central Park among the red, orange, and yellow leaves wearing a comfy scarf, holding your favorite hot beverage, arm in arm with that someone special.
As much as the city’s parks come alive with blossoms in the spring, the colors of autumn pop against a brilliant blue fall sky creating the quintessential romantic setting.
Central Park walking tours are also available if you’d like some interesting info & history about this fabulous park.
Head to the Brooklyn or New York Botanical Gardens for an absolute show of fall color! Or perhaps, you’d prefer a river view instead.
If you do head over to Brooklyn, there is some amazing street art on display.
Visit the Cloisters in Fort Tyron Park for fall foliage and a sweeping panorama of the Hudson River, not to mention the fantastic medieval art and architecture.
Pro Tip – Looking to bundle tours & save $$? The New York CityPASS might be a nice option!
5. New York City is perfect for your fall wardrobe.
Let’s face it. Flipflops and strappy sandals are perfect for summer, but not really summer in NYC. Who really wants to expose their toes to the grimy city streets?
Winter in NYC is pretty when fresh snow falls, but cold and slippery if you don’t have the right gear to be out hopping icy brown puddles. As a veteran of getting around NYC in the winter, I can offer some key tips on what to wear.
But in autumn, everyone has a perfect fall wardrobe. Jeans, leggings, tee-shirts, light sweaters, boots, loafers, and my favorite, scarves are made for cozy NYC fall outings.
Pro Tip – Headed into Manhattan from each of NYC’s main airports? Here’s a detailed guide for LaGuardia, JFK, & Newark.
So, do you think fall is the best time to visit NYC? What time of the year do you recommend a visit?
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24 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Fall is the Best Time to Visit NYC”
Great tips. I haven’t been to NY yet but it seems that Fall is the best time to go. The weather is perfect not too hot and not too cold!
That’s really it, Chrysoula. If you’re not acclimated to walking in the heat or during the winter, fall is the time when you’ll enjoy NYC the most.
Totally agree- NYC is fantastic all year round, but there’s something about the colours of the leaves changing that always gets me 🙂
Agreed, Tamara! I love the leaves and how it seems the city takes on a more chill vibe.
OK, you’ve convinced me, I need to visit New York in fall. Oh, and those artichoke pizza slices :).
An artichoke slice from artichoke pizza is a must when you visit, Christina.
WOOW useful tips?? NY is my dream ??? thank you for sharing
Thanks and I hope you can visit soon!
Having been to New York in November, I have to agree with all this! The weather was still lovely and we had a great time exploring and taking in the fall colors.
Oh that must have been nice, Vanessa. Great comfy temps for walking. 🙂
Fall in NYC is beautiful! I would never recommend someone visit in the summer. As you mentioned, the heat and the crowds can make the city unbearable! I’d love to visit the botanical gardens in the fall, as I’m sure the colors are amazing!
The botanical gardens are gorgeous in the fall, Erika! That would be a great place to start.
I could not agree more. I’ve been there more than 50 times in the fall, 10 being to take my girls to the Macy’s Parade. I love that time of year, avoiding the summer heat and dreadful slushy winters. Thanks for the shot of the artichoke pizza. That looks divine!
You are an NYC fall expert, Melody! Next trip up, you must seek out an artichoke slice for Artichoke pizza.
I can definitely see why NYC would be great in the fall! Less heat and crowds would make me pick fall as well, and the fall colors in Central Park would be fantastic to see! Great list!
Thanks, Jenna. Hope you can make it for a visit!
Less crowds… I’m sold! I can’t wait for fall! It’s definitely my favorite season, especially to travel. Great post, thanks for sharing 🙂
Thanks, Carmen. Fall travel is so enjoyable.
I visited NYC over the summer and even though I had a great time, I’d so much rather visit in the fall! Thanks for sharing and happy travels 🙂
Glad you had fun in NYC, Lauren. 🙂 Happy Travels to you, too.
What kind of outerwear will I need for mid-November in NYC?
It will be full-on winter where I live (Northern Canada), so I am really perplexed about what kind of coat I’ll need.
What sort of weather can be expected?
PS – I really enjoy your posts and will be implementing many of your suggestions. Though not my first trip to NYC, it’s the first one since 1990. I’m anticipating that many things have changed.
Thanks for reading, Kendra. You’re sure to see many changes on your return trip to NYC! Mid-November in NYC is likely to be in the 40s-50s. Depending on any wind or precipitation, you could wear something like this hooded jacket. It’s lightweight but warm enough for late fall early winter. To contrast, there are times when it’s on the warmer side of that temperature and I wear a puffy vest with a sweater/fleece underneath. Bring a hat and scarf (even a stylish scarf instead of a winter scarf) to help compliment your coat or provide extra warmth if you want to go with a lighter jacket. Hope that helps! 🙂
Thanks for the great input—we will be in nyc for the marathon Nov 3. Can’t wait….
Also, Can’t decide if we will regret staying Downtown by WTC…think we will enjoy the Hudson views & bike path…and the quiet at night for good sleep…but will we tire of the ride to midtown & Central Park?? We have a points option @ Herald square…or west time square…any thoughts or is it just personal preference?
Thanks for reading, Cindy. I think it’s a matter of personal preference. The ride isn’t bad at all, especially if the hotel is within walking distance to the subway. And you’ll definitely sleep better down by WTC. 🙂