Take a stroll through beautiful Central Park in fall … my favorite time of year to visit this iconic park!
Fall in New York is my favorite time of year. It’s so pretty, and the horrible summer humidity is gone for the most part, although it’s not rare to get a 70 degree day.
I especially love Central Park in fall … talk about gorgeous!
I live a couple blocks from Central Park on the Upper West Side, and I like to spend as much time there as possible, especially in autumn. Central Park fall foliage is absolutely stunning, and the park is not nearly as crowded as it is during summer.
Have I convinced you to visit yet? Just in case you can’t make it, I thought it would be fun to give you a tour of Central Park in Autumn.
A Guide to Central Park in Fall
Central Park is the best place to see fall foliage in NYC as far as I’m concerned, so you’ll want to plan your timing carefully for peak color.
The leaves generally start changing in October, but I found that the best time to see the prettiest colors was in late October and early November … which is when I took these photos. Of course, it’s a little different every year.
Shall we get started on the tour?
It’s fall, so we have to have a hot drink, right?
My husband joined me on this tour of Central Park fall foliage, and we stopped at Voila Chocolat for hot chocolates before getting started … definitely a good call!
Joel had dark chocolate, and I had the daredevil hot chocolate. It was a little spicy, and we both agreed it was the best.
After grabbing our drinks, we headed to the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, one of my favorite spots in the park. The water reflects the city, and depending on where you are standing, you can see the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, Midtown, and farther north, as well.
The building with the two towers below is the San Remo, a fancy co-op.
You can spot it throughout the park. It also makes for some great pictures by the reservoir!
After walking part way around the reservoir, we took a detour into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was decorated for fall, too!
They just closed the roof for winter, but you can view Central Park from many of the Met’s windows.
If you’re there in the evening, stop at the Balcony Bar for a drink and some snacks.
After leaving the museum, I couldn’t resist running through the leaves.
Aren’t they gorgeous?
I think my favorite place to enjoy autumn in Central Park is The Pool.
It’s located just north of the park entrance at W 100th and Central Park West.
The area around the Pool is a lot quieter than the reservoir, and it’s waters reflect the leaves so beautifully.
You can also see nearby buildings reflected in The Pool’s water.
You’ll notice that there’s still a lot of green leaves in the park. Fall tends to arrive late in New York, I’ve found!
After admiring The Pool, I headed up the Great Hill. I love this spot in Central Park!
It’s almost always quiet up there, so it feels like you’ve found a secret hideout. At the top of the hill, you’ll find a running track, plus lots of quiet spots to enjoy the outdoors.
I found a ghost leaf and couldn’t resist snapping a few pics!
No matter where you are at in Central Park, you’ll spot signs of the city all around you.
Can you spot the water tower below?
There’s also a path on the west side of the Great Hill that’s a great place to find colorful fall leaves.
It feels like a secret hideaway … you’ll probably have it to yourself.
My husband and I were the only people there … this almost never happens in NYC.
So peaceful …
It was starting to get dark, but I found a location for my next picnic … remember those 70 degree days I mentioned earlier?!?
After heading down the hill, I started walking south again.
I love the old stone steps you’ll find throughout Central Park.
I couldn’t resist one more stop at the reservoir before heading home.
It’s so beautiful in the early evening as the setting sun reflects off the buildings on the Upper East Side!
Best Places to Enjoy Central Park in Fall
Central Park is huge, and this tour is just the tip of the iceberg!
There are tons of other locations to check out in fall in Central Park. Here are some of my favorites:
- The Harlem Meer – Another pretty body of water in Central Park. If you here at mealtime, walk over to Frederick Douglass Boulevard on the northwest corner of the park, then head north for lots of great restaurants. The Harlem Tavern has a huge outdoor space for warm days, something for everyone to eat, and it’s right by the subway.
- The Conservatory Garden – This is a nice spot to get away from the crowds (it’s a designated quiet zone) on the east side of the park.
- The Ramble – This hilly area just north of the The Lake is a great place to surround yourself in nature! Stop by Belvedere Castle for great views of the city and park while you’re there.
- The Lake – Fall in Central Park is the perfect time to walk around The Lake and take lots of pictures! I like to start on the west side and eventually make my way over to Bethesda Fountain. After checking out the fountain, walk The Mall and you’ll be surrounded by beautiful, tall Elm trees.
- The Pond – Located just a few feet from Fifth Avenue, The Pond is the perfect place to enjoy a little reprieve before heading back into the city.
- Pack a Picnic – I love an autumn picnic in Central Park! Pick up supplies before heading into the park. I like to stop at Whole Foods, since they have everything from sandwiches to salads to chips to drinks. There’s one at Columbus Circle and one at Columbus/W 97th Street, then there are Midtown and Upper East Side locations (both are further from the park though). There are tons of great picnic locations in Central Park, but my favorite spots are just north of the reservoir, the Great Lawn, or the Sheep Meadow.
- Bridges – You’ll find bridges located throughout the park. They’re a great place to get a wonderful view of Central Park fall foliage … and maybe a photo or two!
Have you ever visited Central Park in fall?
P.S. For more vacation inspiration, check out all of my travel stories!