Autumn in New York
By Armando Nicolas PJ

Summer in New York City can be a real pain, and it's mostly because of the heat. While temperatures from June to August usually range from the high 70s to mid 80s °F (25-30°C), some days can come close to boiling point in particular locations. If you've ever gotten on the subway platform in the middle of July, you'd know pretty much how it feels working around a pizza oven all day. It's not anywhere near the New York state record high of 108°F (42°C) in Troy (1926), thankfully — definitely far from California state's 134°F (57°C) in Greenland Ranch (1913) — but it can feel torturous just the same.

It's not a surprise then that when friends or acquaintances broach the subject of coming to the northeastern coast of the United States for a visit, a kind of mental protocol always makes sure that I conjure the imagery of New York's cooler, more colorful season as the premise, if not the whole point of my friendly recommendation. The Empire State and the Big Apple are, without a doubt, a feast to the senses to locals and visitors alike no matter the time of year. Autumn in New York (not the insipid film shot entirely in Manhattan), however, just may be more than a sensory experience — it may well be a firework to the soul.

Central Park in the fall is especially enchanting. As the daylight hours lessen and the temperature drops (true in this minute speck of North America as it is in the whole of the Northern Hemisphere and everywhere else where deciduous forests thrive), the leaves stop making food, the green leaf pigments break down, their color changes from yellow to orange to red to brown — giving them their final bow in all of their autumn splendor before withering away as the winter nears.

Around this time, it's usually mild outdoors, even pleasant for wandering around the city (not that it isn't during any other season, save for maybe a snowstorm in January), so long as you come prepared with a scarf and sweater when it's more chilly than usual, or for when sunset comes and afterward.

Willing wanderers will definitely have a field day in NYC on any good autumn day.

The Financial District in Lower Manhattan would be a good place to start. I'd begin my walk at the solemn National September 11 Memorial grounds amidst the flame-colored foliage of hundreds of swamp white oak trees, all glowing bright in the sun — soaking up the drowning sound and breathtaking sight of the largest man-made waterfalls in the United States rushing down into a pair of one-acre (4,000-square-meter) pools where once the Twin Towers stood. I'd take it all in as long as necessary, linger and enjoy a few moments of silence perhaps, maybe even say a prayer or two, then proceed west to Brookfield Place for more sightseeing, a cup of coffee, and some light bites.

There are numerous walking routes (too many to list here, in fact) that you can do on your own in New York City. They're all easy and manageable, and the fall season makes it even more delightful. Check out's smartphone walking guide apps/maps to get started on mapping out your walks within the city with the help of whatever app that catches your fancy as your personal travel guide.

The grand Macy's Thanksgiving Parade also happens to take place during the autumn season, so you might want to add that to your future NYC Fall itinerary if you get around to it. Also, do check out TimeOut's Best Things to Do in NYC This Fall tips to add more color to your trip. Don't forget to say hello to Spidey!

Outside the city, more options can be had to enjoy the colors of autumn. Travel and Leisure lists Hudson Valley, New York in its 15-destination Breathtaking Fall Leaves Around the World roster (2017), recommending that "for admiring the fall foliage... Adventurous travelers can enjoy aerial views of the changing scenery from a hot air balloon or private helicopter tour." Similarly, Huffington Post lists Lake Placid, New York as one of 8 Destinations to Enjoy... Fall Foliage Around the World (2017). "Lake Placid offers a beautiful autumn lakeside scene with autumnal shades. Enjoy a cup of coffee as you admire the red and gold colors reflecting on the calm waters," the features adds.

Back to New York's Hudson Valley, the Mohonk Preserve is the state's largest visitor and member-supported nature preserve, with 8,000 acres (32 km2) of cliffs, forests, fields, ponds, and streams. Located on the Shawangunk Ridge, a part of the Appalachian Mountains 90 miles (140 km) north of NYC in Ulster County (shown in red), the preserve maintains 40 miles (60 km) of trails for hiking, cycling, running, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and horseback riding, and has over 1,000 climbing routes for rock climbers. In the fall, watching from a hilltop hut, you'd see the forest canopy glow like embers under a setting sun. We doubt anyone would be unmoved by all that.

Also in the Hudson Valley, Storm King Art Center (middle and lower photos), named after its proximity to Storm King Mountain, is an open-air museum located in Mountainville in Orange County (shown in red), about an hour's drive north of Manhattan. Spanning approximately 500 acres (200 hectares), the site showcases probably the United States' biggest collection of contemporary outdoor sculptures — man-made works of art strategically scattered among nature's lush vegetation and forest patches, which, in the fall, take on a soul-soothing, heart-warming shimmer.

First published on 24 September 2018.


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