What’s your favorite season in NYC? For many of us, it’s Autumn and Fall Foliage season, when NYC parks and gardens turn technicolor shades of yellow, red and orange.
Here are the best places in Central Park and elsewhere in Manhattan to see fall foliage, including virtual guided walks, fall color cams and more.
And since these are NYC parks, it is FREE to enjoy. Just remember social distancing, please.
Best fall foliage in Central Park
Great places to start are Central Park’s Literary Walk and the Bow Bridge.
Here are more suggestions from The Central Park Conservancy, the organization which oversees the maintenance of the park:
Featuring a quadruple row of American elms, the Mall is home to one of the largest and last remaining stands of these trees in North America.
Did you know the Mall is also the Park’s only intentional straight path?
American elms form a cathedral-like canopy above this wide pedestrian pathway, and this time of year, that canopy is bright yellow.
Be sure to stop to visit the adjoining Literary Walk, and stop at the Women’s Suffrage statue, alongside such fictional women as Alice in Wonderland and Mother Goose.
It depicts Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth. All three are from Upstate New York, where they launched the Women’s Suffrage movement
The Pool serves as a stunning location to admire the foliage turn of trees like red oak, hickory, tupelo, bald cypress, and sugar maple. It also doubles as a great spot to see turtles, birds, fish, and other wildlife.
Be sure to admire the rustic bridge just east of the Pool — continuing east from here, you’ll enter the North Woods.
The North Woods
It’s hard to miss the reds, oranges, and yellows in the North Woods this time of year. As one of the Park’s three woodlands, it offers people and wildlife an oasis of nature in the middle of New York City.
Recently, the Central Park Conservancy completed a restoration of the Ravine, a smaller landscape within the North Woods. This means you can take in amazing views of the restored Loch (Scottish for “lake”) against a backdrop of fall colors.
You may associate Conservatory Garden’s crabapple allees with springtime, but these trees also turn reddish-orange in the fall.
Combined with the Garden’s glorious chrysanthemum display that is in full bloom around the time of peak fall foliage, this part of the Park is a must-see destination this season.
Conservatory Garden’s chrysanthemum display is in full bloom around the time of peak fall foliage.
North Meadow and the Reservoir
From certain vantage points, the North Meadow feels limitless. Take in the combination of colorful leaves from the hickory, sugar maple, and flowering dogwood, while admiring this area’s rocky outcrops and hilltops.
From here, it’s a short walk to the Reservoir. On the Reservoir’s west side, you’ll find the Kwanzan cherry, which turns bronze and red in the fall. On the east side, you’ll see the yoshino cherry, which becomes yellow and features sharply contrasting bark.
The Reservoir has been renamed for former First Lady Jackie Kennedy, who lived nearby. It is one of several NYC parks and park features named for famous New York Women.
Make your way to the Ramble for a dense explosion of color. The Park’s most popular woodland features colors of the red oak, sweet gum, pin oak, sassafras, and more.
Don’t forget to visit the beautiful three-stemmed black tupelo in Tupelo Meadow, which is north of Azalea Pond.
Throughout the Ramble, you’ll find several rebuilt rustic features, including bridges, benches, and an overlook with a rustic rail along the length of the Gill.
The Ramble also features a recently reconstructed stone crossing that previously existed above the watercourse before it was replaced by a concrete bridge in the 1930s.
The Pond and the Hallett Nature Sanctuary
Hallett is the the smallest of the Park’s woodlands. Enjoy its rustic features, such as a scenic overlook, railings, and benches that provide meditation spots and emphasize never-before-seen views of the Pond and south end of the Park.
Download a Central Park fall foliage map
Best fall foliage elsewhere in Manhattan
Inwood Hill Park
One recommended route is along the blue trail, a marked trail that picks up at the Gaelic Field in the northern side of the park and leads up to the Overlook, which will give you a gorgeous view of the Hudson River and the Palisades.
Trees to see include oak, hickory and tulip poplars.
Fort Tryon Park
This park is at the highest point of Manhattan, and includes the Met Cloisters, built by the Rockefellers to house their Medieval art collection.
In addition to panoramic views of the Hudson River, George Washington Bridge and the Cloisters, there also are multiple shaded paths.
Especially the Promenade between 79th and 95th Streets, and Cherry Walk, between 97th and 125th Streets, including for views of the Palisades across the Hudson River, also dressed for fall in reds and oranges.
You can also choose to walk along the Hudson River promenade path, and enjoy the fall colors across the river in New Jersey.
Have we missed anything? What’s your favorite spot for fall foliage?
This article is updated and re-published annually at the start of fall foliage season.