While there's nothing like summer in New York City, fall is definitely the Big Apple's best season. The hot, sticky air has been lifted and a crisp, cool breeze puts a little more pep in our step. Fallen leaves crunch under our boot-clad feet, hot spiced apple cider replaces our iced coffee, and pumpkins and squash take over our Greenmarkets. With Halloween a little over two weeks away, we're in full fall-swing, and we've compiled a list of a few festivities that showcase the best fall fun that New York City has to offer. From a haunted museum to delicious autumn food, we've got something for everyone!
Enjoy the Fall Foliage
As the leaves change colors and fall to the ground, the best way to enjoy the warm hues is to head to the park. But do you have any idea what trees those leaves came from? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that. Leafsnap, created through a collaboration between Columbia University, the University of Maryland, the Smithsonian Institute, and FindingSpecies.org, repurposes facial recognition algorithms to identify fallen floral instead. Just snap a photo of a leaf on your phone, and the app tells you whether it’s a sycamore or elm, along with providing high-res pictures of the tree’s flowers and other characteristics. To put your app to work, the city’s parks host a variety of events to enjoy the leaves, like the Fall Foliage Cruise on November 5. Or you can simply stroll through the world-class Central Park or Prospect Park at your leisure.
Go Pumpkin Picking
Sure, you could buy your pumpkins at the Greenmarket, but wouldn’t it be more fun to pick them from the farm yourself? There are dozens of farms just a short train ride away Upstate or on Long Island that let you traverse the pumpkin patch to pick your own, but if you don’t want to leave the five boroughs, you can head to Decker Farm on Staten Island. Every Saturday and Sunday until Halloween, the historic farm lets you pick out your own pumpkins and you can take a guided tour of the 1800s farmhouse. Located in Historic Richmond Town, the land is the oldest continually farmed site in NYC.
Take a trip to the historic Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum in The Bronx, where two paranormal investigations recently took place. On October 29, the lead investigator, Dan Sturges, will discuss their findings and share the history of the mystery. You can also visit the Merchants House Museum in Greenwich Village. Called “Manhattan’s most haunted house” by the New York Times, the museum is hosting a slew of spooky fright nights until Halloween. The last family to live in the house, built in 1832, was the Tredwells, and many believe that the family’s ghosts still occupy the residence. Scare yourself silly with ghost stories, a funeral reenactment, candlelight tours, and more.
Indulge in Local Fall Delights
Pumpkins, squash, and beets, oh my! The city Greenmarkets are simply bursting with fall harvest, and now is the time to enjoy these seasonal vegetables at their best. The weather is getting cooler, so it’s time to turn on the oven and roast away. Pumpkins, butternut squash, and acorn squash, along with root vegetables like beets and carrots, completely transform in the oven. If you want to learn some new ways to dress up these fall delights, the Brooklyn Kitchen is offering a variety of seasonal classes, like Cooking From the Pumpkin Patch, Fall Soups and Stews, and Cider Making.
Go Down on the Farm
From scarecrows to jack-o-lanterns, just about every aspect of fall fun starts in the same place: the farm. There are dozens of farms and animal sanctuaries you can visit in the Hudson Valley and Long Island, but our personal favorite place to get back to nature is the Queens County Farm Museum. Located within the city limits, the 47-acre parcel of land is the only working historical farm in the city. They have a massive corn maze, a pick-your-own pumpkin patch, and dozens of friendly farm animals. The farm practices sustainable agriculture in all of its planting fields, plus its vineyard, orchard, and herb garden. During Halloween weekend, the farm will host hayrides, a haunted house, and a market full of tasty fall treats like apple pie and mulled cider.
Have a Happy Halloween!
The Village Halloween Parade is the be all, end all of Halloween celebrations in New York City, but for those who would like to avoid the crowded and chaotic event, there are plenty of other festivities. The Museum of Natural History is hosting its 16th annual Halloween celebration for kids, and Prospect Park will play host to a haunted carnival. The New York Botanic Gardens is hosting a special creepy-crawly dinner for adults, where you can nosh on insect delicacies and artisanal brews. Our four-legged friends can join in the holiday fun at the 21st annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade. You can find more Halloween events on the Parks Department calendar and on dozens of travel websites.