Best Fall Foliage Spots in New York City


by Michelle Hainer, Time Out New York contributor , 09/26/2012

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Time Out New York KidsWhether your children pick them up from the sidewalk on the way to school or plunge into a pile of them at a nearby park, brightly hued, crunchy leaves can provide hours of amusement for kids. Most trees in New York City will begin to turn this month, when the decrease in daylight hours causes them to stop producing chlorophyll, says Richard Simon, Deputy Director for the Urban Park Rangers. At that point, he says, “the other colors in the leaves, like yellow and red, begin to emerge.” So tuck a heavy tome in your bag (the phone book works well) for preserving your offspring’s treasures. Then set out for one of the parks below.

Fort Greene Park
Home to nearly 40 different species—including ginkgo, green ash and London plane—this former stomping ground of Walt Whitman’s is an ideal place for leaf lifting. Head to the visitors’ center and then follow the Tree Trail, a marked pathway with helpful descriptions of each species. Enter from Washington Park at Willoughby Ave, Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Alley Pond Park
The Tulip Tree Trail will lead you past one of NYC’s tallest such specimens, but Alley Pond Park is also dotted with sassafras trees, which are a very pretty peep: you’ll find three leaf shapes (oval, mitten and three-pronged) that might have dropped from the exact same branch. They come in a spectrum of colors from yellow to deep red. Enter from Winchester Blvd at Grand Central Pkwy, Douglaston, Queens.

Central Park
At the end of October, go to the open meadow below Belvedere Castle. That’s where you’ll find red sailing down from the black tupelo trees. The Ramble is another place to play, especially during the first week of November, when the ginkgo trees seem to shed their leaves all at once. “It forms a carpet of gingko leaves that’s one of the best sights in Central Park,” says Neil Calvanese, vice president for operations. Midpark at 79th St.

Prospect Park
The sugar maples along the south shore of the lake are the first trees to change, to a brilliant orange. But if you want more of a woodsy feeling, head for the ravine trails, located between the Nethermead and the Long Meadow. Bonus: The trees—ash, tulip and others—are reflected in ponds, doubling the stunning spectacle. Enter from Prospect Park West at 3rd, 9th or 15th St, Brooklyn.

Clove Lakes Park
Visit the northwest section of the green space, where you’ll find a 300-year-old, 107-foot-tall tulip tree, Staten Island’s largest living thing. The park is also home to white pine, maple, beech and oak trees. Enter from Victory Blvd at Clove Rd, Staten Island.

For more kid-friendly activities, visit Time Out New York Kids.


related venues/(5)

  1. 1
    Fort Greene Park
    Myrtle Ave and Cumberland St
    Multiple Locations
    NY 11205
  2. 2
    Alley Pond Park
    22806 Northern Blvd
    NY 11363
  3. 3
    Central Park
    Between Fifth Ave. and Central Park West
    Manhattan – Central Park
    NY 10024
  1. 4
    Prospect Park
    95 Prospect Park West
    Multiple Locations
    NY 11215
  2. 5
    Clove Lakes Park
    1150 Clove Rd
    Staten Island

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