Best Spots for Leaf Peeping!
New York has gorgeous spots to see fall foliage both upstate and in the city. While every year is different, the leaves usually start to change anytime from mid-September to the end of October in the city. We love this map (smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map) for reference on where to see the stunning changes. Plan your day and use our picks to guide you on where to take the kids to enjoy the leaf-peeping in NYC!
Psst… Check out Free Things To Do In NYC!
Alley Pond Park
Little Neck Bay, L.I.E., Union Tpk, bet. Springfield Blvd, Douglaston Pkwy, Hanford St, Queens
Located in Queens, this park is unique in its colonial history and is home to freshwater and saltwater wetlands. It also boasts a forest which means there are many birds and trees. An enormous tulip tree known as the Queens Giant is around 134 feet and is often touted as being our city’s oldest tree. Venture to this incredible park for some serious leaf peeping and check out one of the playgrounds if your little ones still have some energy to unleash!
Brooklyn Bridge Park
334 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Mix city and nature by visiting the Brooklyn Bridge Park for some autumn leaf-peeping. Key areas to look for fall foliage are Pier 1, which has the Harbor View with its breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan and the harbor. You can find walkways at Pier 1, which feels like you’re in the woodlands rather than a park in our enormous city. Also worth checking out is Pier 3’s Greenway Terrace and Pier 6’s Flower Field. You can also find fall foliage at the many playgrounds in this scenic park.
Inwood Hill Park
Payson Ave. &, Seaman Ave, New York, NY 10034
NYC Parks describes this park as old New York. With prehistoric roots (so cool!) that boast caves, valleys, and ridges- this park hosts the only forest in Manhattan and the last salt marsh in NYC. For leaf peepers, you’ll discover tulip, oak, and maple trees. Inwood Hill Park is a great spot to get a view of all that fall’s palette has to offer, along with a bonus view of Hudson River.
New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458
No need to head upstate when NYC has one of the best woodsy walk leaf-peeping spots located at the New York Botanical Garden. The garden consists of 250 acres situated in the Bronx, which for many is no more than an hour-ish train ride away. Fall Foliage tours start in November, and we suggest keeping an eye on their site for more information once the tours start to be listed. Dress warmly as most of the fun stuff at this garden is outside.
Prospect Park W, Parkside Ave. between Flatbush Ave., Ocean Ave. and Prospect Park SW
This gem of a park consists of 526 acres, making it a perfect spot to enjoy the fall foliage. To catch the earliest signs of leaves changing, start at Lullwater Bridge, following the shoreline toward the Nethermead. You’ll find tall maples and London Plane trees that are the first to change color and drop leaves. One of the best spots, according to the Prospect Park Alliance, is around the Meadowport Arch. You’ll find gingko, nyssa and Japanese Maple. When caught at the right time during fall, these trees are stunningly gorgeous.
East River and Harlem River, Manhattan
For a charming view of fall foliage head over to Randall’s Island. Randall’s Island Park is an island in the East River, between East Harlem, the South Bronx, and Astoria, Queens. The waterfront pathways not only have beautiful views but fall hues in their walkways and garden. Randall’s Island Park Alliance hosts an annual Fall Foliage Walk.
Queens Botanical Garden
43-50 Main St, Flushing, NY 11355
A New York Family favorite – this garden located within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is a quick train ride away for an autumn Saturday of leaf-peeping. Make sure you check out what events are happening the day you visit, as you may find a storytime or Audobon walk for an added fee that you can add to your family day of fall fun.
4900 Independence Ave, Bronx, NY 10471
A botanical garden that surrounds the Wave Hill House The house dates back to the mid-19th century; this spot in the Bronx offers views overlooking the Hudson River. If you’re looking to take a Fall Foliage walk with an expert, Charles Day Senior Horticultural Interpreter usually hosts a walk- thru in November that is free with paid admission.
New York, NY
According to the Central Park Conservancy, the leaves in Central Park turn later than in other parts of NYC. Because Central Park is such a large green oasis, the light and temperatures decrease a bit differently than the rest of the city, which means the trees sort of play catch up on the seasons. When they do change, WOW. Bring your camera, plan that holiday card, or walk through the famous spots of the park for the fall foliage and enjoy.
New York Family Tip: Plan your walks and picnic spots with this Fall Foliage Map that has a breakdown of the trees and areas where you can find the best views of fall trees. If the kids can handle a bit of a hike book a Fall Foliage Walk for $15 a person with Central Park Conservancy. This walk starts from the Pool through the North Woods Ravine where you can view some of the park’s most colorful trees.
Van Cortlandt Park
NYC – Westchester County Line, Van Cortlandt Park S. bet. Broadway and Jerome Ave. Bronx
The best part about this park, besides being free, is that it is massive. At 1,146 acres, this park is located in the Bronx and is NYC’s third-largest park. Common Horse chestnut trees are located on the east lawn. In the Northwest Forest is an oak-hickory forest as well as tulip trees and century-old oaks. White Ash trees are located at the entrance of the cross country trail. Look for events on the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance website.