A Complete Guide on How to Enjoy Central Park in the Fall

Central Park is truly an oasis in the heart of the concrete jungle that is New York City. During the fall, as the leaves change color and the air gets crisper, Central Park truly becomes the most stunning version of itself. From amazing views of the foliage to programs, tours and events for the whole family, don’t miss out on everything the Park has to offer this time of year.

Looking for more ideas for fall fun with the family? Check out our 2019 Fall Bucketlist.

The Best Ways to Experience the Fall Foliage

The changing of the leaves is the best part of the fall season, and Central Park’s trees truly rise to the occasion. If you want to bask in the glory of the breathtaking oranges, yellows and reds of the Park’s nearly 18,000 trees, you’ll want to take a stroll to these spots.

The North Woods

One of the park’s three woodland areas, The North Woods is a great spot to take in all of the nature in the middle of New York City. Take in the views of the North Woods’ watercourse, the Loch and a score of rustic features, all with a stunning backdrop of autumn colors.

Conservatory Garden

Enjoy the vibrant reds and oranges of the crab apple trees and the sight of the North Garden’s chrysanthemum display in full-fall bloom. The Conservatory Garden is always a must-see during this time of year.

The Bethesda Fountain during Fall
Photo courtesy of The Central Park Conservancy

The Pool

The Pool is a great spot for a fall photo-op and wildlife watch all in one. Admire the changing leaves of the red maple, hickory, tupelo, bald cypress and sugar maple and be on the lookout for a variety of birds, fish, turtles and other wildlife. Explore a little further and you’ll find a rustic bridge and waterfall.

North Meadow and the Reservoir

Take a break from all the action-packed sporting events at the North Meadow and stroll along the bridle path around the Reservoir to catch all the vivacious colors of the hickory, sugar maple and flowering dogwood. As you peer out to the west side of the water you’ll see the bronze and red of the Kwanzan cherry, and along the east, the bright yellows of the Yoshino cherry.

The Ramble

Come check out Central Park’s biggest explosion of fall colors over at The Ramble. The woodland area includes the red oak, sweetgum, red maple, pin oak, sassafras, and black cherry. In The Ramble, you’ll find Tupelo Meadow, an iconic Central Park spot for autumn foliage. Take in the views of a magnificent three-trunked black tupelo, along with serviceberry, London plane and American elm trees.

The Mall

Enjoy a divine display of bright yellows under one of the largest and last remaining stands of American elm trees in North America. The stunning and overarching canopy is sure to give you an iconic fall experience in Central Park.

The Pond and the Hallett Nature Sanctuary

Take a pause from the New York hustle and bustle and take in the beauty of black cherries, sawtooth oaks, gray birches, pin oaks and tupelos from inside the peaceful Hallet Nature Sanctuary. Look out over the Pond and take in the scenic views and rustic features.

Fall Foliage Walk

Want some guidance as you admire the changing colors around the Park? Join in on a Fall Foliage Walk from the Pool to the Ravine in the North Woods. Along the way, learn about tree identification and more about the landscapes throughout Central Park. Walks are scheduled for October 24 and October 27 from 2 pm to 3 pm and October 29 from 12 pm to 1 pm. Tickets are $15.

Want to learn more about Central Park’s Trees? Check out the Tree Guide here.

The Mall during Fall
The Mall during Fall. Photo courtesy of Central Park Conservancy

Fall Programs and Events

Take advantage of everything Central Park has to offer and maybe learn something new along the way with these great fall tours and events.

Iconic Views of Central Park Tour

Learn more about the humble beginnings of the “living work of art” that Central Park is today. Along the way, you’ll get to see the best skyline views, walk under the glorious canopy of American elm trees in the Mall and gaze at the amazing Milton tile ceiling at Bethesda Terrace. Enjoy the most iconic spots the Park has to offer and learn something new along the way. Tickets are $15.

Heart of the Park Tour

Take a stroll from east to west, right through the center of Central Park. Along the way, you’ll get a taste of some of the scenic, cultural and architectural elements the Park has to offer. This free tour highlights the Conservatory Water, the Loeb Boathouse, Bow Bridge and much more.

Image of The Mall area in Central Park, New York City, USA at autumn.

Statues and Monuments Tour

Learn more about the 50 unique statues that have been built in Central Park over the last 160 years, what inspired them and how they reflect the diverse and mixed cultures of New York City. Tickets are $15.

Birding Basics

Learn more about how to identify the nearly 270 migrating bird species that fly into Central Park each year with this free program. Grab your pair of binoculars or borrow some from a park guide and you’ll see for yourself that New York City is home to more than just pigeons. Meet in the North Woods on October 10, 13 and 23, and The Ramble on October 19 and 31. The program is held from 10 am to 11:30 am.

Central Park’s fall-favorite Halloween Pumpkin Flotilla will take place on Wednesday, October 30. Photo via centralparknyc.org.

Halloween Pumpkin Flotilla

Celebrate Halloween with the entire family with this fun and festive Central Park event. Carve out your own unique jack-o lantern and send it out to float on the Harlem Meer at twilight. This activity is sure to create a spooky Central Park sight, just in time for Halloween. Meet at the Harlem Meer on October 30 from 4 pm to 7 pm to participate in this free event.

New York City Marathon

Spectate the historic finish of the New York City Marathon in Central Park on November 3. Cheer on the great accomplishment of nearly 50,000 runners as they pass over the finish line.

For more information on Central Park’s tours and programs, including a complete schedule with dates, times and ticket prices, click here.

Family Programs

Looking for some fun outdoor activities for the family on the weekends? Take advantage of Central Park’s free family programs and enjoy the crisp and refreshing fall weather before winter begins to creep in.

Discovery Walks

Learn more about various parts of the Park, like the Conservatory Garden, the Harlem Meer and the North Woods, to name a few. Families can appreciate Central Park as New York City’s sanctuary for birds, trees, wildlife and humans alike. Learn about ecosystems, architecture, landscapes and much more with hands-on exploration that the entire family will love.

Learn more about Discovery Walks here.

Family Volunteer Days

Give back and spend time as a family by volunteering in Central Park. Help keep the Park beautiful for the fall by spreading mulch and raking leaves. Volunteer days take place on Saturdays during October, November and December from 10 am to 11:30 am. Register in advance as space is limited.

Teen Volunteer Days

Encourage your teen to give back to their community with Teen Volunteer Days in Central Park. Teens 13 to 18 years old are welcome to join in helping maintain the grounds of the Park through an array of projects. Volunteer days take place on Saturdays during October, November, and December from 1 pm to 2:30 pm. Register in advance, space is limited.

Member Programs

Members of the Central Park Conservancy can take advantage of these exclusive members-only events, along with reduced ticket prices and discounts throughout Central Park.

For a full schedule of exclusive member events and to register, click here. Not a member but interested in becoming one? Register here.

 

Drawing Class with Jessica Daryl Winer

Learn how to capture the beauty of the Park in this drawing class. No drawing experience is necessary, just bring your own pencil and large sketchpad. Join Jessica Daryl Winer at The Mall on October 12 or The Harlem Meer on November 16. Both sessions will be held from 10:30 am to 12 pm.

Hound Hike

Members can round up their furry friends and take a tour of the Park’s most well-known features and stroll along winding paths and forest gardens. Dogs should be on leashes and attendees should bring water and disposable bags. Join Central Park guides at The Ramble on October 13 from 11:30 am to 1 pm.

Woodland Walk

Get a glimpse of the Park’s best fall foliage while escaping the noise and stress of city life. Highlights of the tour include the Lake, Bow Ridge, Ramble Arch and Azalea Pond, to name a few. Explore the landscape and learn something new from the Conservancy staff. Meet at The Ramble on November 10 from 1 pm to 3 pm.

To learn more about what the Central Park Conservancy has to offer during the fall, including maps, visitor information and additional event summaries, download the Fall Guide here.

 

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