Where to See Fall Foliage Without Leaving the City
"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree." - Emily Brontë
Although I love my share of summer fun in the sun (especially swimming in the ocean), there’s a lot to love about the fall season — the crisp air, cozy sweaters, juicy apples and of course, the foliage! (And for some, everything pumpkin spice).
Living on the West Coast for a long time, I didn’t even know what a “leaf peeper” meant. Until I moved to NYC and, well, sort of became one. When every tree turns into an impressive work of art with colors so vibrant it takes your breath away, one might become a bit obsessed.
And while crowds may flock upstate earlier in the season, there is a lot of foliage to enjoy within the city limits — all without a car. Generally, New York City gets its peak foliage in late October - early November (depending on the year) when the upstate is nearly done. So put your good walking (or hiking) shoes on and let’s explore!
Van Cortlandt Park
One of the city’s best kept secrets, this urban forest is located in the Bronx and is absolutely majestic! With several picturesque hiking and biking trails, a swan lake, and even a historic mansion you could visit for a few dollars, it’s well worth a subway trip. You can get there on #1 subway on the West side or #4 on the East side, heading uptown to the last stop then walk over to the park.
Everyone’s favorite park is gorgeous in every season and fall is arguably the best one. Check out the Gapstow bridge in the South end of the park, take in the famous Bow bridge near Bethesda fountain, then walk over to the Ramble (a forested maze of walking paths). If you’d like to be farther away from the popular spots, head to the northern part of the park, and see if you can find the waterfall (a clue: it’s in the Loch!)
This other not so central but grand nonetheless park, designed by the same guys Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux that brought us Central Park, is located in Brooklyn and is accessible by multiple subway lines. There are many paved paths, designed in the typical Olmsted and Vaux fashion of getting you “lost” in the beauty of nature, so take your time and enjoy!
I hope you enjoyed this overview of the city's fall foliage and will have a chance to check it out soon! For more of my city adventures, please follow me on Instagram!
Stay curious. Love the city.