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.
And combined with the fact that autumn is my favorite season, it should come as no surprise I’ve searched for the best places to see fall foliage in New York City.
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 New York City.
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
How could I make a post about where to find the best fall foliage in New York City and not start 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!
My go-to recommendation is to visit The Mall for the best fall foliage Central Park can boast. The Mall is an iconic American elm-lined promenade that leads directly to Bethesda Fountain.
Although there isn’t a wide variety of trees, if you visit during peak fall foliage in New York City the canopy created by the elm trees is nothing short of epic and magical. I love recommending it because it’s easily accessible to visitors (south-end of the park, close to the East Side) who can’t spend a whole day exploring.
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.
Located in the very heart of Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park is easily one of the most beautiful parks in New York City.
The park is perhaps best known for the grand marble arch that celebrates the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration. During the autumn though it’s one of the best places to see fall foliage in New York City.
The inviting atmosphere makes Washington Park a great NYC park for people-watching. 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.
Make an effort to see Washington Park during the autumn season. There’s an undeniable buzz in the air as both students scurry to class at nearby NYU and tourists here for the holidays snap photos of the beautiful New York City fall foliage.
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
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.
Folks tend to congregate around the top attractions, like the Long Meadow (spanning 90-acres), the Prospect Park Zoo, the charming Boathouse, Picnic House and Concert Grove.
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 a in the heart of the park and the views of the the fall color 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.
This is also one of the best spots to take in fall foliage in New York City. A 4-mile portion of the esplanade is refereed 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.
Extending from 100th to 125th Street, a beautiful wide path gives way to striking New York City fall foliage that impress visitors year after year. You’ll find Kwanzan trees alongside Crabapple trees, it’s a sight to behold!
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.
Van Cortlandt Park
If you take the 1 train all the way to the last stop you’ll find yourself at Van Cortlandt Park, one of the best places to see beautiful New York City fall foliage.
The area surrounding Van Cortlandt Lake is especially memorable. My favorite path is to take the Putnam trail from the south end of the lake until I reach the Putnam Bridge.
From there take the John Kieran trail back down along the waters edge until I’m back at my staring point.
This barely scratches the surface of the park’s 1100+ acres, but it satiates my need for fall foliage in New York City.
And since it’s far above the city, Van Cortlandt Park is a nice reprieve from the crowds that frequent the more easily accessible parks.
Where to see the best fall foliage in Van Cortlandt Park:
- North East Forest
- Tibbets Brook
- Croton Woods
- Van Cortlandt Lake
Fun Fact: The oldest house in the Bronx is in Van Cortlandt Park, which has been up since 1749. It housed both British and American troops during the Revolutionary War. It is now a museum open to the public.
Fort Tyron Park
Fort Tyron Park is located on the site of the Battle of Fort Washington, a major battle during the American Revolutionary War.
The land was eventually bought by John D. Rockefeller Jr. who began constructing it into the park it is today with the help of the Olmsted brothers (sons of one of the architects of Central Park).
Around the same time, Rockefeller Jr. also donated a collection of medieval art to the MET.
The museum opted build The Cloisters as an extension of their 5th Avenue museum in Fort Tyron Park. The landscaping around the museum provides some of the most beautiful fall foliage in New York City.
Eventually the park was donated to the City of New York and has become one of most beloved green-spaces for locals.
The park boasts amazing views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge.
At the north end of Stan Michael promenade there is an American elm with branches that cascade over the walkway just waiting for you to come and take a picture in front of it.
Fun Fact: The southern entrance to the park is named after Margaret Corbin, the first woman to fight in the Revolutionary War.
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.
Since the Brooklyn Botanical Garden really isn’t all that big I suggest making an afternoon of it. You can comfortably take it all in about three to four hours and check out other sections offering more NYC fall foliage.
Local’s Tip: Book your tickets online for faster entry, remember children under 12 are free.
Address: 990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
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. That’s right, fall foliage in New York City is not exclusive to solid land my friends.
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.
New York Botanical Garden boasts some of the best fall foliage in New York City and they offer tours during the autumn so you can see for yourself. Tour dates for 2022 have yet to be announced, but I’ll update this post when they are.
Address: 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458-5126
If you want to take in fall foliage in New York City peacefully and with fewer crowds than do I have the perfect spot for you.
Forest Park is a hidden gem located in Queens that doesn’t get as many visitors as other spots on our list, making the 500 acre park more enjoyable to explore. In fact, it’s so large it is the 10th largest park in New York City.
Of those 500 acres, 165 of them are just trees, so you can only imagine the amount of fall color bursting throughout the entire park.
Some of the trees found in Forest Park are over 150 years old! Forest Park is home to the largest continuous oak forest in Queens.
There are plenty of trails perfect for walking, biking and running all while taking in the New York City fall foliage.
Fun fact: In the winter months when the trees are bare, folks can see panoramic views of Southeast Brooklyn, JFK and Rockaway Beach (a whole 10 miles away!)
Address: Myrtle Avenue, Union Tpke, Park Ln S, 11421
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.
Hear me out on this one. I know some folks might consider the mention of a cemetery as one of the best spots for fall foliage in NYC morbid, or even immoral, but it’s true.
Green-Wood Cemetery spans 478 acres and fall color simply can’t be beat. The grounds come alive (pun not intended) with fall color around every turn and the quiet ambience is a nice reprieve from the city noise.
Oh, and I should mention a fascinating 25-year creative installation located at the cemetery.
The installation, called Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery, is a grave designed specifically for secrets. Visitors can write their most intimate secrets on a sheet of paper and finally lay them to rest.
Address: 500 25th St, Brooklyn, NY 11232
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.
Now hear me out, I know I already mentioned Central Park as one of the best places to see fall foliage in New York City, and I know the Conservatory Garden is in Central Park, but I felt it needed a special shout-out.
The Conservatory Garden is one of my favorite spots in Central Park for fall color simply because it’s located in the north end of the park and doesn’t get as busy as the south end.
This is the only formal garden in Central Park and is home to three beautiful gardens — the French north, Italian middle and the English south.
You’ll find some of the best fall foliage in New York City here, from the orange crabapple allées, marvelous chrysanthemums, star vibrant magnolia trees and the red-purple Stewartia.
What’s more, the Conservatory Garden is a designated Quiet Zone, ensuring a peaceful autumn experience in beloved Central Park.
Address: 1233 5th Ave, New York, NY 10029
Father Demo Square
Father Demo Square is one of my personal favorite spots to take in the fall foliage in New York City. This tiny triangular park is 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
Fort Washington Park
Located in Washington Heights, this 160 acre public park makes for one of the best spots to take in stunning fall foliage in New York City.
The park was named after Fort Washington, a major site of the Revolutionary War (the fort itself is actually in nearby Bennett Park).
Today, Fort Washington Park is known for the Little Red Lighthouse, which is nestled under the George Washington Bridge. The lighthouse stands 40 feet tall and is decommissioned. However since it’s been designated as a New York City Landmark it shouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
I personally love coming here to see the epic fall foliage New York City has to offer. With stunning views of the New Jersey Palisades, the paths bordering the Hudson River are perfect for aimlessly strolling.
The Bronx Zoo (The Monorail)
I bet when you were looking into where to see the best fall foliage in New York City you didn’t expect to see a zoo on your list. But alas, The Bronx Zoo is a great place to take in the fall foliage in NYC.
More specifically, the Wild Asia Monorail. The Bronx Zoo spans over 265 acres, so it can be difficult seeing everything by foot.
The Wild Asia Monorail is a seasonal attraction that covers about two miles of 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 and 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
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.
You’ll be cozily inside a glass enclosure that’s warm and completely decked out in festive decor. And to make it more charming there is festive music playing in the background.
Beer, wine, and Champagne are for sale on board. However my preferred way to partake in this joyful NYC fall experience is with a hot chocolate in hand.
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
Best Places to See New York City Fall Foliage (Post Summary)
- Central Park
- Washington Square Park
- Prospect Park
- Riverside Park
- Van Cortlandt Park
- Fort Tyron Park
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Hudson River Park
- New York Botanical Garden
- Forest Park
- Roosevelt Island
- Green-Wood Cemetery
- Union Square Park
- Conservatory Garden
- Father Demo Square
- Fort Washington Park
- 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!