Ah Fall, arguably my favorite time of year. The leaves are turning, the air is crisp, and pumpkin is infused into just about every form of food and beverage in existence. The first week of fall is usually my favorite, because we know all of the fun ~autumnal~ things the season has to offer are ahead of us but the sun is still shining like it’s summertime. Fortunately for me, mother nature was in a good mood this first week of the new season. Sunny and 75, just the way I like it, and right on time for my trip.
This year I was fortunate enough to be visiting one of my best friends in the always beautiful, always interesting city of New York for the first week of fall, and what a perfect week it was. Having a handful of friends who call the city their home has proven to be very helpful, and so I was able to save a pretty penny by staying with my friend from college as opposed to paying for a hotel room. Just like every visit, there was so much to do and see in a short amount of time, but I have to say that of my now six trips in to the city that never sleep, this one was by far my favorite.
I am not an expert by any means, but typically when traveling people come up with laundry lists of locations and activities that they want to see while visiting. I have found that the very best way to explore a new place (or one you’ve already been to) is to truly wonder. No set plans, no itineraries, just a go with the flow attitude. That is precisely what my friends and I did this time around, and the result was a couple of amazing days full of food, fun, lots and lots of walking, and plenty of adventure. Here are some of the boxes you need to check on your next visit, and why fall is the ideal time to visit the city.
Central Park in Fall
I recall, Central Park in fall…that scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off will always be one of my favorites. Every time I visit New York I am quickly reminded of just how big Central Park actually is. This time around I found myself by The Lake and the Bow Arch Bridge, where the beautiful Central Park West apartments serve as the perfect backdrop behind the row boats and trees. We entered the park up by The Lake and made our way across to Cherry Hill. Central Park is one of the highlights of the city no matter what time of year you visit, but with the trees just starting to turn, it was truly a beautiful sight to see.
Now I wasn’t here for peak foliage, but I highly suggest that you try to be! Some of the most beautiful photographs of Central Park in existence are taken in October. This spot right here is one of my favorites in the park. Just across from Cherry Hill, The Mall and Literary Walk is one of the most photogenic spots in my opinion. Lined with American Elm trees that form a perfect archway from above, it is a must when visiting!
With so many events and festivities happening every day in New York, it can be difficult to decide on just one to attend. This time around I was lucky enough to catch Dumpling Fest, hosted in Roosevelt Park by Chef One and the Food Bank for NYC. Apparently everyone else in the city had the same idea as us, because the lines for dumplings were out and around the corner. By the time we arrived the event had seemingly sold out, but we were fortunate enough to be gifted tickets by a man who was leaving, score! We only stayed for the veggie dumplings (the lines for the buffalo chicken dumplings were taking nearly 2 hours!), but after getting 4 servings of fresh spinach, edamame, and chick pea dumplings for free we couldn’t complain.
When visiting the city be on the lookout for pop ups like these! Often times you can get a great meal for a lot less than going out to eat for lunch or dinner, plus it’s a fun environment to be in! Try to look ahead of your trip for any Facebook events and make a point to fit them in on your trip.
For all my visits to the city, I had never made my way over to the Brooklyn Bridge. It was fairly high on my check list this time around, so after stuffing my face with dumplings my friends and I made our way through Soho and walked nearly 6,000 steps (gotta burn off all the food!) to the Brooklyn Bridge just in time to catch the sunset. While it was much, much more crowded than I would have liked, the view was more than worth it. Highlights for me included the view of the Statue of Liberty with a perfect orange sunset serving as the backdrop.
Be warned, there are no clear signs that direct you to the entrance of the pedestrian walkway! We ended up wandering around in a great big loop in search of the entrance but eventually figured out that it is best to follow the signs for the bike lanes (a no-brainer in retrospect). I highly recommend going at sunset though, the light reflects off the glass of the buildings and the view overlooking the East River and Brooklyn across the way is so beautiful.
Top of the Rock
This was another must see in New York that I had yet to experience for myself, and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to see that view. There was not a cloud in the sky, a perfect 360 of the city that never sleeps stretching out beneath us. I suggest visiting the Top of the Rock over the Empire State Building so to avoid the long wait, but also for the opportunity to see Central Park from above. Tickets were $32, but there are three different observation decks and the option for a tour of the famous Rockefeller Center as well. Rockefeller Plaza is also a great place to grab lunch and shop!
We went at 2:30pm and found that it wasn’t too crowded, but it could certainly be hit or miss. I have heard the view from the top is even more amazing at sunset and at night. Booking my tickets ahead of time online so that we could just walk right on through which was definitely worth it, so I suggest you do plan ahead for this activity (but you can always purchase tickets upon arrival).
What are some of your favorite spots to check out while in New York? Share them with me below in the comments section!