Fall just might be the best season in New York. The weather is crisp but not cold, the scent of pumpkin spice is in the air and there is plenty to do. Here are some of our favorite fall activities for travelers heading to the Big Apple this autumn.
Sample the bounty of fall
Enjoy seasonal food and cocktails at one of the many fall food festivals. The New York City Wine and Food Festival (October 13 to 16) brings together entertainment icons (Whoopi Goldberg), celebrity chefs (Hugh Acheson, David Bouley) and mouthwatering events. With demonstrations, classes and all-you-can-eat tastings, you can’t go wrong. Plus, the festival has teamed up again with No Kid Hungry and the Food Bank for New York City to help fight hunger. For the eighth year in a row, 100 percent of the net proceeds will go to these worthy causes.
Get in the mood for the crisp weather with a hard cider at Cider Week NYC (October 21 to 30). Take a break from pumpkin-spice everything and enjoy the many varieties of cider, which is currently experiencing a major moment. Sign up for a tasting, a workshop or hit up Lower East Cider Fest (Oct. 24) for a family-friendly soiree. Come for the autumn-flavored cotton candy, shrunken apple-head carving, live music and even a make-your-own-caramel-apple station.
For an intimate, indoor experience, indulge in the new fall punch bowls at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Plaza, A Fairmont Managed Hotel’s The Rose Club. Sip in style at the jazz lounge with your closest friends as you ladle these extravagant tonics from luxurious, cut-glass serving pieces. Treat yourself to one (or all three) of the fall options: Traditional Brandy Punch (Hennessy cognac, black tea, citrus fruits, and angostura and Regan’s bitters); Champagne Punch (fresh lemon and strawberries, Nolet gin and Moet & Chandon brut champagne); or a classic Rum Punch (tropical fruits and juices, Ron Zacapa rum, Appleton rum and Fee Brother’s peach and orange bitters). Bottoms up!
Winter is coming, so you should finally try one of those crazy milkshakes at Black Tap while the weather is mild. Covered in cookies, candy, frosting, whipped cream and basically anything the geniuses behind these Instagram-ready concoctions can dream up, we guarantee you won’t leave disappointed (even after a two-hour wait). The burgers are out of this world as well, so come hungry!
Enjoy fall foliage from an unexpected perspective
A stroll through Central Park is a good way to appreciate the rainbow of autumn colors, but when you’re finished, take leaf peeping to new heights with the Meals in the Sky program at the Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel New York. Guests who book a Terrace Deluxe Room, Terrace Park-View Executive Suite or Specialty Suite will be invited to take part in this exclusive dining experience on their own private terrace — and trust us, the hotel boasts some of the most memorable views in town (terraces can clock up to 500 feet high!) Meals in the Sky menus offer guests customizable and seasonally inspired, five-course menus paired with sweeping views of Midtown Manhattan.
Warm up with a spot of tea
Take the afternoon to explore some of the world’s best luxury boutiques, and then, when you’ve shopped to your heart’s content, take a load off and unwind at Five-Star The St. Regis New York, one of Manhattan’s most storied hotels. Sign up for the Historic Afternoon Tea & Tour experience for a taste of old New York during the Gilded Age. You’ll learn about the hotel’s history, famous clientele and its most treasured inventions like the Red Snapper (the original Bloody Mary). At the end of the tour, guests can indulge in an extravagant spread of teas and treats (freshly baked scones and pastries) at Astor Court.
Get spooky in Sleepy Hollow
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze (weekend runs go from late September to mid November) is certainly worth a trip to the Hudson Valley. This spooky extravaganza features over 7,000 hand- carved jack o’lanterns. This year’s highlights include a Pumpkin Promenade, a star show at the Pumpkin Planetarium and even a Jurassic Park with dinosaurs made entirely of jack o’lanterns. While you’re in the area, check out Horseman’s Hollow and Irving’s Legend (select dates in October) to delve deeper into the Halloween spirit. Get your tickets early because these events sell out quickly.
Spend the weekend at Four-Star Castle Hotel & Spa, a charming inn inside a century-old historic castle. Be sure to reserve a table in advance at its Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant, Equus. The best seat in the house is in the garden room, which boasts stunning views of the sunset and the fiery foliage.
Embrace the season with a drink from the restaurant’s fall cocktail list. We recommend the Spiced Pumpkin (Bulleit bourbon, pumpkin purée, fresh lemon, simple syrup, ginger beer and a cinnamon stick). Also, don’t miss the lobster corn dogs (they’re sticking around from the summer menu). We guarantee they’ll be one of the best things about the trip.
Go apple picking
Orchard visits are an autumn tradition that’s fun for the whole family. Enjoy hayrides, corn mazes, apple cider, donuts and even harvest your own apples (and maybe a pumpkin or two). We recommend Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm, which is only about an hour from the city and accessible by Metro North (take to the Croton-Harmon or Peekskill station and then take the 15-minute taxi ride). Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard (two minutes from Croton Falls train station) and Stuart’s Fruit Farm (15 minutes from Peekskill station) are also popular choices.
Embrace the fresh air and extend your stay with a night or two at Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester. Kick off your visit by the fireplace in the lobby with a dram of apple cider bourbon featuring local Hudson Baby Bourbon. Top your suburban retreat off with the Fall Equinox treatment at the Four-Star spa. The experience begins with dry skin brushing, followed by a warming marine wrap and a hot stone massage. This extravagant service will restore your skin’s balance before the drying winter weather creeps in.