Fall Foliage in New York: The Best Parks and Open Spaces in Autumn

Autumn is often considered one of the least popular seasons.  It not only signals the end of summer, it also serves to usher in the winter.  The days shorten, the mornings and evenings grow darker and the temperature drop makes us pack away our shorts and t-shirts and dig out our scarves and hats.

However, on the East coast of the US it is actually one of the most beautiful seasons, so much so that it has actually spawned a new kind of vacation, leaf peeping. Whether you plan on visiting New York for an extended stay during the autumn months or have just enough time for a short trip to the big apple when the temperature starts to drop, the changing leaves are a sight to behold.

The most famous places to see this phenomenon are of course New England and New York State, but it’s also possible to see the changing foliage right in the middle of New York, as well as other areas that are much closer to the city itself.

Central Park

The most obvious place, of course.  There are many areas of the park where you can enjoy different types of foliage.  Conservatory Water, near Fifth Avenue, has hawthorn trees covered in red berries whereas the Ravine boasts elm trees, maples oaks and cherry trees, all displaying their own vibrant colours.

Central Park New York

One thing not to miss is the large tupelo tree at the end of Tupelo Meadow.  Visit this tree throughout the fall to see spectacular changing purples, reds and yellows on its leaves.

Prospect Park

The first trees to turn come fall are sugar and red maples and these can be found in abundance in Prospect Park.  After the beginning of October the park’s other trees begin to change, these include sassafras, sour gums and elms.

Prospect Park New York

Once you’ve seen the fall colours there’s also a wildlife garden here where all sorts of exotic plants can be found, some of which have leaves and berries which also transform at this time of year.

The New York Botanical Garden

This is one of New York’s most popular attractions throughout the year.  It has 250 acres of woodland including a 50 acre forest which is one of the oldest in New York, some of the trees date back to the nineteenth century.


The species of tree are wide ranging and varied, so the colours are vibrant and changing throughout the whole of the fall period.  Foliage tours are available to book in advance if you want to know more information on your visit.

Van Cortlandt Park

This huge 1,000 acre park is the fourth largest in the city and is known for various leisure activities such as horse riding, swimming, walking, as well as live events such as music concerts.

Aside from that it also has approximately 80,000 trees which makes it an ideal place for a bit of leaf peeping.  The orange and rust colours are provided by the oak and sweet gum trees whilst the golden and red colours come from the various maple trees.  There are numerous nature walks through the park which will allow you to see the varying colours in all their glory.


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