Post Overview: Roundup of the best places to see fall foliage in New York City
Just because it’s the Concrete Jungle doesn’t mean there aren’t any good spots to see beautiful fall foliage in New York City. In fact, there’s plenty!
The Northeast has a wide variety of native color-changing trees. Not to mention New York City boasts a plethora of gardens and green-spaces with curated collections. This is why there is no shortage of colorful arrays of red, orange and yellow leaves.
I know we’re all excited to get to the meat of the matter, so without further ado let’s dive in to the best spots to see fall foliage in NYC.
Best time to visit New York City for fall color
Peak fall color in New York City varies from year to year, but a safe bet is to plan your visit around the first or second week of November to see the best fall color in New York City.
And yes, I know that mid-November sounds late, but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had folks visit in October expecting to get fall color only to leave surprised by how green the trees are during that month.
Best Fall Foliage in New York City
Washington Square Park
Located in the very heart of Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park is easily one of the most beautiful parks in New York City, especially during fall. The energetic mood is contagious and you’ll notice park visitors from all corners of the world congregate on the various benches.
The park isn’t a big one, less than 10 acres, but it’s nonetheless home to some of the best fall foliage in New York City. The pathways leading to the fountain in the middle of the park are lined with trees that turn to beautiful shades or orange, red and yellow.
Fun Fact: The American elm in the northwest corner of park is more than 300 years old and is one of the oldest trees in Manhattan. It was also site of the (rumored) hangings of traitors during the American Revolutionary War.
Address: Washington Square, New York, NY 10012
Hudson River Park
Where Battery Park ends, Hudson River Park begins and stretches all the way to 59th Street. Not only does this lively NYC park span 550 acres, but it hugs the Hudson River and offers spectacular views of New York City fall foliage.
The wide paved paths are well-kept, making them popular with runners and walkers. You can people-watch to your heart’s content with a cup of good coffee in hand under the canopy of New York City’s fall foliage.
Perhaps the most famous section of the park is the recently-opened Little Island, one of the most unique parks in New York City. The views are spectacular and the experience feels like being on an adult playground. In fact, more than 400 acres of Hudson River Park is located on piers that stretch over the water.
Prospect Park was designed by Frederick Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the architects responsible for designing Central Park, so you know this park is a masterpiece. Boasting more than 30,000 trees across 200+ species, some of the best fall foliage in New York City can be seen at Prospect Park.
But if you’re visiting to see some of the best fall foliage in New York City and are short on time, you’ll want to focus on the Ravine!It’s in the heart of the park and views of the the autumn colors are hard to beat.
Follow the Ravine down to the Prospect Park Boathouse and you might see a wedding or event being held there, perfectly framed by pristine New York City fall foliage.
Where to see the best fall foliage in Prospect Park:
- Neathermead – Middle of the park
- White Levy Esplanade – West side of the lake
- Vale of Cashmere – North end of the park
- The Ravine – Middle of the Park
Situated along the Hudson River in the Upper West Side, Riverside Park is often regarded Manhattan’s most scenic waterfront park and I can’t say I disagree.
Stretching from west 59th Street to 181st Street, the park spans 400 acres. It’s full of healthy trees, plenty of park benches, and even has some charming gardens to explore. You can easily spend a morning basking in the beautiful New York City fall foliage here.
There’s a four-mile portion of the esplanade referred to as the Cherry Walk thanks to the cherry trees that line it. During the fall they burst into a colorful display that can leave you speechless.
Fun Fact: During your tour of Riverside Park you might notice a unique Japanese lantern in the northern tip of the park. The lantern is a gift to NYC by the City of Tokyo to celebrate the Tokyo-New York city sister affiliation.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Founded in 1910 and hosting nearly a million visitors annually, Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a spot you can’t afford to miss when searching for the best fall foliage in New York City.
The 39 acre green-space is like a museum in that the garden has different collections and exhibits showcasing a unique collection of plants. In terms of what to check out when you’re looking for fall foliage in New York City I suggest visiting the Japanese Hill & Pond Garden.
There are three Japanese maples that turn to a fiery red during peak colors that I make an effort to visit every year.
Local’s Tip: Book your tickets online for faster entry, remember children under 12 are free.
Address: 990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
New York Botanical Garden
Home to more than one million living plants, the New York Botanical Garden is a sight to be seen during the autumn. The NYC fall foliage is on full display for a naturally-occurring annual art show. The garden is located within Bronx Park on a 250 plot of land, giving ample space for it to spread its roots (pun-intended).
Indeed, during peak fall color the New York Botanical Garden takes on a fairy-tale appearance. Between the prolific maples and breathtaking oak trees, you won’t know which way to look.
Address: 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458-5126
Roosevelt Island is sandwiched in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, and is home to one of the best places to see fall foliage in New York City.
Take the tram from the Upper East Side to Roosevelt Island for the price of a subway ride ($2.75) and spend the morning hanging out in Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park. There’s plenty of seating and you can soak in some of the best skyline views of New York City.
The mature cherry trees burst with color in the fall and the island swells with tourists like moths to a flame. Roosevelt Island is home to both Yoshino trees and Kwanzan trees — giving visitors plenty of fall foliage to enjoy.
The trees along the waterfront create a breathtaking canopy. Take a stroll down the esplanade or park yourself on a bench and people watch for a while.
Fun fact: The state park on Roosevelt Island is named after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address, where he expressed four fundamental freedoms that every one should benefit from.
Union Square Park
Union Square Park was originally designed as a town square in 1839. The large pedestrian plaza and connected park serves as a safe haven for street artists, professionals on lunch breaks, busy students and eager tourists.
One of my favorite things about Union Square Park is the breathtaking display New York City fall foliage. The park is home to several Kwanzan cherry trees that create the most beautiful canopy of color. There’s plenty of benches to park yourself on.
But take note, Union Square Park gets very busy during the weekends. If you’d like some semblance of solitude I suggest visiting during the weekday, preferably early in the morning.
P.S. Union Square Park has a great year-round greenmarket. You’ll find everything from local honey to fresh baked bread and original artwork. Check it out while you’re in the area.
Father Demo Square
Father Demo Square is a tiny triangular park that’s only a quarter of an acre. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in stunning fall foliage.
The small park was named after Father Antonio Demo, a priest and civic activist from the early 1900’s who served at the neighboring church Our Lady of Pompeii Church. In the Northwest corner of the square, you’ll see the church still stands and makes for a remarkable background.
In the middle of the square there is a fountain that serves as the principle attraction and offers a peaceful reprieve while folks sit on the surrounding benches to rest their feet. Engulfed by bursting tree’s of red, it’s easy to get lost in the enchantment when enjoying the New York City fall foliage.
Address: 220 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014
Wild Asia Monorail at The Bronx Zoo
The Wild Asia Monorail is a seasonal attraction that covers about two miles (of the otherwise 256 acres that makes up the zoo) from up above. The monorail works from May through October, and the best part? It’s included with the standard Bronx Zoo Admission ticket or an additional $7 if you have the limited admission ticket.
I suggest making a visit at the end of October. This way you’ll get to see the most fall foliage before the monorail goes out of commission for the winter.
The monorail makes for a unique experience when checking out fall foliage in New York City, and one of the best with kids. You just sit back and relax while the tracks take you past breathtaking, colorful foliage and zoo animals.
Visitors can expect to see Asian wildlife like elephants and red pandas along with epic NYC fall foliage. Visitors get a view into the animals own space without the separation of a walls, glass or bars.
Address: 2300 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10460
Fall Foliage Cruise
What better way to soak in New York City fall foliage than aboard a 1920s-style yacht? Thanks to the Classic Harbor Line this unique experience is now at your fingertips.
Rides are either 2.5 or 3.5 hours, depending on the package selected. Expect to see gorgeous New York City fall foliage as well as famous landmarks. The George Washington Bridge and the New Jersey Palisades are some of what you’ll see as you work your way up the Hudson Valley.
Get your tickets here and get ready to enjoy some New York City fall foliage.
Address: 62 Chelsea Piers, Pier 62, New York, NY 10011
How could I make a post about where to find the best fall foliage in New York City and not end with our crown jewel, Central Park?
During autumn Central Park is ablaze in the rich colors of New York City fall foliage. You’ll see mature oaks, maples and elms transform from cheery green to vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow.
Home to more than 18,000 trees, the fall foliage in Central Park is a sight to behold. And to walk through the the postcard-like autumn setting with New York City’s skyline as further backdrop makes an unforgettable experience.
But Central Park spans 843 acres and it’s hard to know exactly where see the best fall color. Good news my friend, I start every morning with a walk through the park (I live a mere two blocks away) and am here to tell you exactly where to look!
Where to see the best fall foliage in Central Park:
- The Pond: South end of the Park near 5th Avenue
- Kennedy Onassis Reservoir: 85th Street to 96th Street
- The North Woods: West Side from 101st to 110th Street
- The Mall: South end of the Park on the East Side
The Central Park Conservancy has an official fall foliage map that’s a useful tool for navigating the park and knowing what trees to look for and where.
Further Reading: Check out 12+ Epic Spots to See Fall Foliage in Central Park for more recommendations.
Best Places to See New York City Fall Foliage (Post Summary)
- Central Park
- Washington Square Park
- Prospect Park
- Riverside Park
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Hudson River Park
- New York Botanical Garden
- Roosevelt Island
- Union Square Park
- Father Demo Square
- The Bronx Zoo
- Fall Cruise
Map of the Best Places to find Fall Foliage in New York City
And there it is my friends, my suggestions on where to find the best fall foliage in New York City.
I hope you found it useful, cheers!