Fall is a particularly beautiful time of the year: trees explode in shades of red and gold, complimented by crisp air and amicable weather. Though it’s possible to catch sight of some of the autumn splendor from within New York City, fall is best enjoyed outside city limits, whether hiking, apple picking, or biking through colorful valleys. To help you experience the beauty of fall foliage, we’ve put together some of our favorite seasonal suggestions, all easily accessible without the use of a car.
1. Pick Seasonal Fruit
Apple picking is an easy and entertaining way to see fall foliage, with the additional reward of fresh fruit to take home. Most farms offer delicious food and a variety of activities ranging from pie-eating contests to live music, all with a backdrop of resplendent changing leaves.
Pumpkin picking is another excellent option and lets you get ahead on Halloween decorating. Depending on the farm,you’ll find not just pumpkins but other fruits and vegetables to pick, hayrides, and spooky haunted houses to explore.
2. Take a Hike
Autumn is the perfect time to take in the colors of the season by foot or pedal. There are a plethora of hiking trails, suitable for beginners through expert level. Whether winding through the Adirondacks or along the Palisades, hitting the trail is a chance to get some exercise while reconnecting with nature.
Long Island is a particularly good bet for hiking during the fall season. With chillier air driving visitors away from the beaches, it’s possible you’ll have the whole trail to yourself. Even if you’re uninterested in the seashore, Long Island has a hike for you: the island is also rich with dunes, salt marshes, and copses thick with vines and wildlife.
3. Hop on a Bike
If you prefer to see the seasonal changes on wheels, you’re in luck: there are scores of great places to bike just outside of the city. Before you go too far, consult our public transit guide to make sure you can bring your bicycle on board. Montauk is easy to reach via the Long Island Railroad and offers a variety of routes for cyclists. While you tour the town, take a break for seafood or stop by the beach for a break between strides.
If you’re looking to journey a bit further, the Pioneer Valley in Northampton, Massachusetts is a beautiful bet just beyond the realm of a day trip. The bike- and pedestrian-only Norwottuck Rail Trail traces the tracks of a former railroad past shady farmland, quaint towns, and gently bowing leafy trees. If you still crave nature, check out the arboretum at Smith College or catch the sunset in garden-rich Paradise Park.
4. Get Away
Take advantage of the shoulder season and get out of town for a weekend. A fall retreat to a picturesque village is the perfect contrast to fast-paced city living. Decompress at a spa, stroll through seasonal gardens, or get active via bike, hike, or horseback ride. If you’re more relaxed by the water, take the train or rent a hybrid car and visit one of our favorite East Coast lakeside retreats.
Like to sleep outdoors? You don’t have to look too far beyond the five boroughs to find a place to pitch your tent. There are plenty of campsites to explore, whether along the river, near the beach, or surrounded by woods.
Charlotte Leszinske is a writer newly arrived in NYC after a short stint in Paris (but is still a Californian at heart). When not searching for half-priced plane tickets she likes to explore bookshops and breweries in the outer boroughs.