The best fall foliage close to New York City

As Summer becomes a faded memory, so do the leaves on the trees of the Hudson Valley as the fall folliage comes ablaze near New York City.

Fall foliage day trips, also known as ‘leaf peeping’, is a popular mid-fall activity for residents of the northeast including New York City and its surrounding state. The best displays actually occur earlier and further north, in Vermont and New Hampshire. That’s where the covered wooden bridges and maple farms are and at this time of the year, hotels and bed and breakfast places are over-subscribed with big city tourists. For those with less time and who live or are visiting New York City, there’s still plenty to see and enjoy within a couple of hours – accessible by train.

A Cool Change

From the end of September you’ll start to see a turn in coloration, from rich greens to oranges, yellows and eventually browns. All happen at different rates depending on species, creating rainbows of autumnal tones.

While Central Park is spectacular (particularly around The Rambles), the best places to experience fall foliage near Manhattan are up the Hudson River. There are a range of day trips on boats up the river, often partnered with live jazz or themed to Oktoberfest.

Take a Hike

For the more active types, go hiking at Bear Mountain on the Jersey side of the river, or at our preferred tracks at Cold Spring. Here you can catch the train with a couple of miles of the trail head and bushwhack through the undergrowth and up Bull Hill (an old driveway) into the grounds of Northgate, the Old Cornish Estate. Built in 1907, the 650-acre estate was bought by Edward Cornish from a Chicago diamond merchant. The opulent, multi-story home had an in ground pool, greenhouse, well and pump room. Cornish and his wife died weeks apart in 1938 and while his nephew inherited the estate, a fire destroyed in in 1956.

From the Ashes

Today, its fireplace remains stacked like a piece of art, while the greenhouse and well are in a ruined state. The pool is partially filled with rubble and vines. Beyond, the trees are a fire of color, making for picturesque shots and memories. If you’re inspired to walk further, take the scramble up to Breakneck Ridge, or casually stroll back to the town for a celebratory Octoberfest beer at the Cold Spring Depot.


Escape to the Hudson Valley for some of the best fall/autumn foliage within two hours from New York.


The best places to explore are Bear Mountain and Cold Spring. If you have a car, venture further out to the Catskills or Pokonos.


Take the Metro North Hudson Line from Grand Central Terminal and get off at Cold Spring.

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