Fall is one of our favorite times to visit New York City. The blaze of red, orange and yellow leaves and brisk air set a striking scene for exploring the maze of streets.
To find out what we should pencil into our itinerary this autumn, we consulted Helen Chiang, concierge of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The New York Edition, one of the hottest hotels in the city. The born-and-raised New Yorker shared tips on how to get into private architectural gems this month and where to find a top-notch negroni.
What are the best fall activities in New York City?
Here is a list of my favorites:
Eat a zeppole — an Italian pastry consisting of a deep-fried ball of dough rolled in powdered sugar — at Feast of San Gennaro [or, if you missed the festival, in Little Italy].
Watch the leaves change color in Central Park from the Met Roof.
Get scared silly in one of the plethora of haunted houses.
Visit private architectural venues during Open House New York Weekend.
Get into a costume and walk through the Village Halloween Parade.
Ice skating in the rink at Rockefeller Center.
See the balloon inflation the day before the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
What is the best way to spend one day in New York City?
I always believe the best way to get to know NYC intimately is to roam her streets. And now with Citi Bikes [bike-share program, the largest in the nation], it is even easier.
What is new in the city?
Pilot is the new addition to the family that runs Grand Banks. It is a floating bar located on Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
[Set upon a historic wooden schooner that was made in 1924, Pilot serves seafood. Go there for oysters, Maine lobster rolls, soft-shell crab po’boys and more.]
What are your city’s most underrated attractions?
Battery Park City and the bike path along the west side.
Give us your favorite insider tip for NYC first-timers.
I like helping my guests get acclimated with the city by explaining walking distances. North to south are called streets or blocks, and it will take one to two minutes to walk one. And from east to west, it’s called avenues — we have 12 of them — and it’ll take three to five minutes of walking.
This way they can estimate their travel time without needing to consult someone.
If we only had two days in New York City, which neighborhoods should we explore?
For day one, go downtown to Little Italy, Chinatown, the Financial District, Soho, Meatpacking, Battery Park City and the Lower East Side. Then spend day two in Brooklyn — Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Dumbo.