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Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan NYC and New York City Fall Foliage and Colors Tours

Things to do / Travel Guide

Click for Fall, 2010 foliage report and map, updated every three days.

New York City Fall Foliage Tours and Routes

Stop any New Yorker and say “fall foliage” - and he or she will probably respond with “Vermont” or “New England,” or even “Upstate.” But for both tourists enjoying fall in New York City and locals who like staying home, there are some surprisingly good fall color displays within the city limits. Don't expect snow-capped mountains, scenic turn-of-the-century railroads (no, not the IRT!) or quaint village greens. In the city, it's all about the trees and the strolls in the crisp air. You can reach every location by public transportation.

The choice of natural wilderness areas (there are quite a few left) and man-made landscapes makes New York City one of the top destinations in the United States for urban “leaf-peeping” and general autumn tourism. Fall comes late to New York City, after the season is past its peak further north. The peak foliage season is late October and early November.

Be aware that it is not recommended to visit some of these parks in the evening or night.

The following locations are ideal for strolling, biking and enjoying the seasonal colors, borough by borough:

New York City - Manhattan, NY Fall Foliage Tours and Guide

Manhattan's Central Park was designed so that the residents of New York would have access to nature right in their own backyard. The designers clearly had the fall colors in mind, with the large mature trees laid out just right. Stroll or bike the miles of winding paths to find your favorite spot, or scout out the whole view from the Top of the Rock observation deck, a 15 minute walk south of the park. Another good spot is the sculpture court of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, right on the east side of the park. The Cloisters at the northern end of Manhattan Island, and the adjacent Inwood Hill Park, are located in the only native forest in Manhattan. Enjoy the views of the Hudson River, and beyond, the changing colors of the New Jersey Palisades. Just for fun, stop a rushing businessman at the Columbus Circle subway station and ask him - “Which train to the ancient forest?” The correct answer is - “the A train to the last stop”

Bronx, NY Fall Foliage Tours and Routes

Van Cortlandt Park, in the Bronx, is a nice place for hiking, biking, and strolling. Crunch leaves as you walk along the Old Putnam trail. Although you are sharing the park with a few highways and a golf course, the park also has some real forests - the best area for fall color being the Northwest Forest. If you venture beyond there, you have left New York City, but don't worry, you are still quite close to the subway.

Brooklyn, NY Fall Foliage Tours and Guide

Prospect Park in Brooklyn, another planned urban park, was designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, of Central Park fame. Many consider Prospect Park the better of the two and all agree that it is less crowded. The idea is similar - varied vistas, lots of trees and open spaces and paths designed for maximum enjoyment. Nearby, the historic brownstones and tree-lined streets of Park Slope are particularly attractive this time of year.

Queens, NY Fall Foliage Tours and Routes

Forest Park and Alley Pond Park are both in Queens. Alley Pond Park has been described as “pristine.” It is a large tract of parkland, formed by the retreating glaciers of the last ice age. You will see oak and beech trees, some small kettle ponds, and lots of tree-lined paths. The park is accessible by bus from nearby subways.

Forest Park, closer to Manhattan and accessible by subway, has a nice network of bridle paths, a two-mile bike path, and several hiking paths. The red and white oak forest, with trees dating back more than 150 years, provides the fall color.

Staten Island, NY Fall Foliage Tours and Guide

Last but not least, Staten Island is almost rural compared to the other boroughs, and the best season to experience its near-rural character may be the fall. There are hikes of interest for casual to serious hikers in the 28 miles of trails that are part of the Staten Island Greenbelt. A highlight of the Staten Island Greenbelt is High Rock Park, with its ponds, bird-watching, and ranger-led hikes. Several trails through native hardwood forests lead to the “summit” of High Rock Park.

Todt Hill, also in the Greenbelt, is the highest point on the Atlantic coast south of Maine. It's 410 feet tall (folks in Denver - no laughing, please). The walk to the top is partially on city streets, with well situated mansions in view.

Don't forget - half the fun is getting there - the Staten Island Ferry provides a free tour of New York Harbor. Enjoy the crisp autumn air at sea!

As you set out, in whichever borough you choose, thank the two main forces that have provided you with your autumn show - a) the last Ice Age, for ending just in time and depositing the terminal moraine smack in the middle of the future site of New York City; and b) Fredrick Law Olmsted, Calvert Vaux, and the 19th century urban planners for understanding the need to create planned natural landscapes in the middle of the big city. Thanks.

Fall Foliage Spots in Manhattan and New York City

Sort By: Rating | Name
Alley Pond Park
Central Park
Forest Park, NY
High Rock Park
Inwood Hill Park
Prospect Park
Staten Island Greenbelt
The Cloisters
Todt Hill
Van Cortland Park