51 Awesome Things to Do This Fall in New York City
Pull your sweaters out of storage and pour yourself a cider: It’s almost fall—our favorite time of year. Why? Because between the food fests, cutting-edge performances and immersive art, there’s something awesome to do every day from now until December. (Also: dogs in costumes.)
1. Order a ‘Friends’-inspired shake at Black TapThe Friends pop-up (honoring the 25th anniversary of the show) sold out faster than you can say “Pivot!” but you can still partake in the ’90s nostalgia at Black Tap Soho through October 6, where you can order a special coffee-flavored shake (served in a giant mug, natch) topped with an ice-cream sandwich made with Phoebe’s grandma’s “Nestlé Toulouse” cookies.
2. Take a mini vacation on Governors Island
Treat yourself to a fall getaway—sans the traffic—by booking one of the glampsites at Collective Governors Island. Along with luxe-as-hell tents (and one stand-alone hotel room), you’ll find seasonal activities like pumpkin painting and campfire ghost stories.
3. Fill up on cannolis at the Feast of San Gennaro
Little Italy’s Feast of San Gennaro is in full swing through September 22, so stop by to grab a cannoli—and if you’re feeling ambitious, enter the meatball-eating contest on September 21.
4. Pick up some new reads at the Brooklyn Book Festival
Head to downtown Brooklyn this weekend for the Brooklyn Book Festival, which includes a children’s day on September 21 and a giant literary marketplace on September 22 with more than 300 authors, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get your books signed.
5. Dine amid the flowers at Il FioristaPart flower shop, part sun-dappled restaurant, the newly opened Il Fiorista in NoMad is like an IRL Pinterest board. Stop by for food and cocktails featuring edible flowers, a bouquet (made with locally picked blooms) from the boutique and, starting in October, classes on all things floral.
6. Say goodbye at the last-ever Vendy Awards
After 15 years, the pioneering Vendy Awards is closing things out with a final street-food extravaganza (September 21). In addition to categories like Best Dessert and Best Freshman, there will be a special All-Star Vendy Cup, where past winners and finalists (including NY Dosa and the Arepa Lady) compete for the ultimate bragging rights.
7. Laugh your butt off at the Harlem Comedy Festival
Catch some of the funniest acts in the biz at the fourth annual Harlem Comedy Festival (September 23 to 30), which celebrates hilarious comedians of color (who are all too often underrepresented elsewhere) in the historic nabe.
8. Catch Lizzo at Radio City Music HallDon’t be the only person who misses seeing the inimitable Lizzo at Radio City Music Hall (September 22 and 24) and then has to hear her friends talking about it for the rest of the year.
9. Hit up the vendors at Urbanspace Garment District
Outdoor market season isn’t over yet: Dine alfresco on empanadas or vegan barbecue at Urbanspace Garment District, which returns September 23 through October 28.
10. Have a spa night in Brooklyn
Head to Clinton Hill bathhouse CityWell for a guided meditation workshop with Vanessa Lianne Jewelry on September 25. Afterward, you’ll get to use the onsite hydrotherapy (cedar sauna, soaking tub, aromatherapy steam room) and take home a custom-engraved signet ring.
11. Eat all the oysters during Oyster Week
If your version of happiness includes a dozen Montauk Pearls on the half shell, you’re going to love Oyster Week (now through September 29), a series of events dedicated to the briny, delicious little bivalves, including an oyster-and-cocktail pairing and shucking championship.
12. Check out Everlane’s massive new Brooklyn storeBrowse the mostly online brand’s denim, tees and sweaters IRL at its brand-new, two-story location in Williamsburg. (And if you know any stylish dudes, let them know there’s an entire floor dedicated to the men’s collection.)
13. Pick up some new wall decor at the Affordable Art Fair
Upgrade your gallery wall with some new pieces from the Affordable Art Fair (September 26 to 29).
14. Expand your cinematic horizons at the New York Film Festival
The New York Film Festival returns to Lincoln Center from September 28 to October 14. We’re looking forward to Marriage Story (which centers around a divorcing couple played by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver), Atlantics (a supernatural romance set in Senegal) and The Booksellers (a deep dive into NYC’s bookstores and book collectors).
15. Toast to fall at Serra D’AutunnoThere’s an exact halfway point between summer patios and holiday-themed pop-up bars—and it’s the current incarnation of Eataly’s rooftop bar, Serra d’Autunno. (Think a canopy of leaves, a build-your-own cider menu and a cocktail served in a pumpkin.)
16. Feel the heat at the Chile Pepper Festival
Not happy unless your mouth is on fire? Head to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden for its annual Chile Pepper Festival (September 28), which features peppery talks and tastings, cooking demos, live music and, if you really want to test your limits on the Scoville scale, a hot-pepper-eating contest.
17. Eat crullers at Daily Provisions UWS
What’s better than an apple cider doughnut? A caramel apple cruller, available at the new Daily Provisions Upper West Side location (opening in late September). While you’re there, grab one of the superb breakfast sandwiches.
18. Help fight extreme poverty at the Global Citizen Festival
The annual activism-driven Global Citizen Festival returns to Central Park on September 28, bringing a lineup that includes Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keys, Carole King and Ben Platt.
19. Check out Lucy Sparrow’s ‘Delicatessen’Remember the all-felt bodega that popped up at the Standard a few years ago? The artist returns with more hand-sewn anthropomorphic foods at Lucy Sparrow’s Delicatessen at Rockefeller Center, October 1 to 20.
20. Grab a dollar slice for a good cause
Slice Out Hunger’s $1 Pizza Party (October 3) brings together the city’s best pies (including not-usually-by-the-slice spots like Di Fara, Emmy Squared and Lucali), with 100% of proceeds supporting Citymeals on Wheels.
21. Celebrate Oktoberfest in Dumbo
Can’t swing a trip to Munich? Head to the Dumbo archway, which will be transformed into a German beer hall complete with Bavarian brews, oompah bands, pretzels and brats on October 4 and 5.
22. Attend the first ‘New York Times’ Food Festival
The inaugural edition of the New York Times Food Festival (October 5 and 6) promises plenty of treats, like talks with renowned chefs and food journalists, a Bryant Park marketplace with some of the city’s best restaurants and even a “New York Times ice cream flavor.” (We don’t know what that means, but they had us at “ice cream.”)
23. Get witchy at Nitehawk CinemaNitehawk Cinema always goes big for Halloween month, and this year doesn’t disappoint with “All of Them Witches,” a cinematic celebration of spellbinding women, including screenings of The Witches of Eastwick, Hocus Pocus and The Craft.
24. See crazy pumpkin art at the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
Admire pumpkin-carving handiwork that puts your basic triangle-eyed smiley face to shame at the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in the Hudson Valley (select dates September 20 through November 30).
25. Sample pies from all over at the New York Pizza Festival
The New York Pizza Festival returns to the Bronx’s Little Italy on October 5 and 6 with an all-star lineup of pizzerias from NYC, other cities across the country (yes, some of them have good pizza) and even Naples, Italy.
26. Bring your favorite mini New Yorker to Kidsfest
Bring your kid/niece/babysitting charge to Kidsfest for a day of creativity-fueled activities, including face painting, a dance party and hands-on art workshops. Best of all, proceeds support Free Arts NYC’s efforts empower underserved youth through art and mentoring programs.
27. Sip local brews at the Queens Beer Festival
Drink some of the best suds the outer boroughs have to offer at the Queens Beer Festival (October 5 and 6), hosted by one of our favorite outdoor markets, LIC Flea & Food.
28. See illuminating talks at the New Yorker FestivalPut some coins in your brain bank at the 20th New Yorker Festival (October 11 to 13). This year’s lineup includes Dua Lipa, Patti Smith, Alison Bechdel, Pete Buttigieg, Terry Gross, Zadie Smith, Teju Cole and a look back at the life and works of Toni Morrison.
29. Take a road trip to see peak fall foliage
We’re not saying you should do it for the ’Gram, but we’re not not saying it. (We do know some of the best vantage points, though.)
30. Indulge your inner gastronome at the New York City Wine & Food Festival
Tacos? Dumplings? Rosé? You’ll find events dedicated to all three, plus pretty much every other food imaginable, at the New York City Wine & Food Festival (October 10 to 13).
31. Take a new kind of boot camp at Rowgatta
All these food fests have us in need of some cardio. New studio Rowgatta is just what the doctor ordered with a hybrid workout that’s similar to Barry’s, only it combines rowing and resistance training (and it’s low-impact).
32. Explore the environmental crisis at Arcadia EarthThere’s a new Instagrammable pop-up in town, but this one’s different: Arcadia Earth, open now through January, uses its immersive installations and augmented reality to draw attention to the devastating impact of humans on the environment—and what we can do to change our ways.
33. Fuel up on caffeine at the New York Coffee Festival
Live and die by your morning java? At the New York Coffee Festival (October 11 to 13), you can learn all about the magic beans, watch latte art throwdowns, sip cold-brew cocktails and even nominate your favorite barista to be put in the running for New York’s best.
34. Peek inside off-limits buildings during Open House New York Weekend
Architecture buffs are already counting the days until Open House New York Weekend (October 18 to 20), when we can get a glimpse inside the city’s most stunning (and usually closed-to-the-public) spaces.
35. Head to a waterfront block party at Taste of the Seaport
Sample eats from Lower Manhattan's best restaurants—like the Fulton, Cowgirl Seahorse and 10 Corso Como—at the tenth annual Taste of the Seaport (October 19), which raises money for local public schools.
36. See dogs in costumes at the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog ParadeIt’s no longer held in Tompkins Square Park, but the canine costume showcase is thankfully still going strong (it’s now at the East River Park Amphitheater, October 19).
37. And more dogs in costumes in Brooklyn
38. Check out the new and improved MoMA
After a four-month summer hiatus, the Museum of Modern Art will finally unveil its extended revamp on October 21. Expect new galleries, a space dedicated to “performance, process and time-based art” and a focus on spotlighting more diverse voices (like assemblage artist Betye Saar, whose work will be among the opening exhibitions).
39. Commune with the spirits at Green-Wood Cemetery’s Nightfall
Skip the haunted houses in favor of an authentic ghostly experience: Nightfall at Green-Wood Cemetery (October 25 and 26), an immersive candlelit evening of music, performance, storytelling and film along the cemetery’s winding paths.
40. Dress Up for a Hitchcock Halloween Party at the McKittrick HotelDon your finest Old Hollywood glamour for the McKittrick Hotel’s Hitchcock Halloween Party (October 25, 26 and 31), which features live performances and art installations inspired by the master of suspense, plus special guests and a late-night dance party.
41. Watch groundbreaking works at BAM’s Next Wave Festival
BAM’s Next Wave Festival (October 15 to December 15) has been pushing the envelope for almost 40 years (NBD). On this year’s docket: The Second Woman, in which one actor performs the same scene 100 different times with different men; User Not Found, a site-specific play that unfolds via smartphone (really); and 32 rue Vandenbranden, a dance-theater mashup set in a trailer park.
42. Cheer on the runners in the NYC MarathonEven if the only running you do is to catch the G train, you have to admit the New York City Marathon (November 3) is one of the most inspiring days of the year. (Plus, the signs.)
43. See ‘Jagged Little Pill’ on Broadway
If you were an angsty teen in the late ’90s/early 2000s, you oughta know about Jagged Little Pill, the musical adapted from Alanis Morissette’s iconic album. (Previews start November 3.)
44. Catch big names at the New York Comedy Festival
This year’s New York Comedy Festival (November 4 to 10) packs a lot of hilarity into one week with a lineup that includes Nicole Byer, Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert and Jenny Slate.
45. See innovative performances as part of Guggenheim’s Works & ProcessOne of the most striking buildings in the city becomes a venue for cutting-edge theater, dance, opera and more during the Guggenheim’s fall performance series, Works & Process (now through December).
46. Drink an apple a day during NYC Cider Week
Drinking cider in the fall is practically a seasonal requirement. Make sure you fill your quota during New York City Cider Week (November 8 to 17).
47. Browse upcycled goods at Grand Bazaar NYC
Year-round flea market Grand Bazaar NYC hosts the ReCreate. RePurpose. ReUse. Pop-Up (November 10), a special marketplace devoted to goods made from recycled materials (like reclaimed-wood tables and Bluetooth-enabled vintage radios).
48. Join the crowds for the Macy’s Thanksgiving ParadeYou already know how we feel about the iconic annual event (November 28). Now you just have to decide whether you prefer to see the balloons at their best on the day itself or in a much more, ahem, vulnerable state at the inflation the night before.
49. Have a joke-filled night at the Janelle James Comedy Festival
Not yet familiar with the Janelle James Comedy Festival (December 5 to 7)? You should be: The comic who took over the fest formerly hosted by Eugene Mirman is a riot, and last year’s sold-out edition included guests like Amy Schumer.
50. Dress to the nines for the Great Gatsby Party
Beads, fringe and champagne abound at the Great Gatsby Party on December 6 and 7. (Consider this an opportunity to re-wear the flapper dress you bought for last summer’s Jazz Age Lawn Party.)
51. Wish Margaret Atwood a happy 80th
We’re kicking ourselves for not getting tickets to the New York Public Library’s 80th birthday celebration for Margaret Atwood (December 11, sold out), but the website says standby tickets may become available at the door. Praise be.