For those of us in Toronto, Montreal and the Maritimes, a road trip to New York City makes for an easy extended weekend getaway. And there’s no better season to visit the Big Apple than fall. It’s not disgustingly hot and humid, and the always vibrant city is full of beauty as the leaves change colour. Because the summer tourists are gone, you can also cover a lot of ground over a weekend on a tight budget, even if you’re travelling with kids.
Here are four things we recommend doing in NYC if you’re heading down this fall.
Go up the Empire State Building
From the elevator ride to the 86th floor, to the amazing 360-degree view of the city you get, the Empire State Building is one of the best destinations for tourists in NYC. If you’ve never bothered to venture to the top, fall is the perfect opportunity as it lets you absorb all the wonder NYC has to offer (it’s also very kid-friendly).
The building is open daily from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., but if you plan to go during peak times (11 a.m. – 4 p.m.) you should expect to spend at least two hours to get through security and to the top. If you go later at night, the lines aren’t as bad and you get a great view of the city lights (but miss out on the view of the colourful leaves throughout the city). If you want the best of both worlds, for $100US (all ages) you can get the “sunrise experience” which lets you watch over the city like a superhero as it wakes up.
WATCH BELOW: Get a unique perspective with a ride through New York City on a jetpack.
Regular ticket prices to the main deck (86th floor) run $32US for adults, $26US for children six and up (children under six are free) and $29 for seniors (62+). Those who cherish their time more than money should opt for the VIP Express Pass, which bypasses all the long lines to the top at a cost of $60US per visitor. It’s highly recommended you purchase your tickets online in advance at esbnyc.com.
Walk the High Line
The High Line is a 2.3-kilometre stretch of an old elevated freight train line that has been converted into a public park. It’s a true hidden gem of NYC and is a great place to sit and people watch or take a stroll. The landscape is also unique and gardening enthusiasts will appreciate the grasses and flowers on display.
Running from 34th Street and 12th Avenue to Gansevoort and Washington Street in the Chelsea area, there are multiple points to access the park along with wonderful shopping and food choices below (you can get into the Chelsea Market from 10th Avenue between W 15th Street and W. 16 Street) and there are even areas on the High Line where you can purchase gifts, souvenirs and ice cream.
The High Line is open daily 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30. It can get crowded during the afternoon so an early morning or evening visit is recommended.
Take a ferry to the Statue of the Liberty
Like the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty is another major NYC tourist attraction you may never have considered that is well worth a visit. But it’s not the Statue so much as it is the ferry ride over to Liberty Island that makes the experience a must (and unless you book months in advance, forget about going up to the top of the crown anyway).
Tickets for the ferry to the Liberty Island grounds run $18US for adults, $9US for children nine to 12, and $14US for seniors (62+). It’s highly advised you book and pre-order your tickets online and give yourself at least an hour to get through the airport-style security to board the ferry (there are multiple departure times throughout the day). Booking your trip earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon will help avoid the huge peak crowds as well.
The ferry ride from Battery Park to Liberty Island takes about 20 minutes. Depending which end of the ferry you sit on, you’ll get a great view of the city or a great view of the Statue as you head towards it (my personal preference is seeing the Statue as you approach and the city on the way back). Once there, there are many excellent spots on the grounds to get photos and take in the awe of Lady Liberty. There’s also a souvenir shop and cafeteria on the grounds.
Because the temperature on the water is usually cooler than the city, it’s advised you wear a hat and warmer clothes if heading to the Statue of the Liberty during the fall months.
For more information and to book tickets to the Statue of Liberty, visit statuecruises.com.
Spend a day in Central Park
You could spend an entire week in Central Park and still not see it all. And if you’re going to NYC on a budget with kids, it’s one of the best places to visit multiple times during your trip as you don’t need to spend money if you don’t want to.
Entering at the bottom of the park near 5th Avenue and W 59th Street you can comfortably walk to the pond and over to the amazing Heckscher Playground (where there are also bathrooms). From there you can climb on the massive Umpire Rock and then continue to the carousel ($3US per person to ride). If you’re not exhausted after that jaunt, the Central Park Zoo is nearby (prices at the gate are $18US for adults, $13US for children three to 12 and $15US for seniors over 65).
If you just want to walk around aimlessly, it’s highly recommended you load a map on your phone before heading into the park and to pack your own snacks and drinks (maps, food and drinks are available at vendors throughout the park but at a premium price).
To plan your visit to Central Park, visit centralpark.com.
SOUND OFF: Are you planning on visiting NYC this fall? Do you have a favourite spot or attraction to visit while there? Let us know in the comments below or at facebook.com/globalnews.