Pack a picnic and head to these towns where you can hike, bike and get to know the community, all with stunning autumn backdrops
If your family loves to get out and explore, now is a perfect time. Not only is this prime hiking weather, but in the NYC suburbs the leaves are turning…and that makes the drives, the hikes, and the end-of-season picnics even more amazing. These eight spots are particularly stunning this time of year and (bonus!) are located in some fantastic, family-friendly communities you’ve no doubt got on your must-see list…
Old Croton Aqueduct (Dobbs Ferry & Croton-on-Hudson, NY) Spanning a 20-mile tree-lined stretch from the Bronx to Cortlandt, the Old Croton Aqueduct is a prime spot to watch the colors change. Ideal for families, most of the trail is very flat — flat enough to push kids in a stroller, even. Another perk? Dogs are welcome, so even your pup can explore suburbia with you.
Here, peak foliage time starts in late October for the Cortlandt side and extends into November as you move towards the city. Our advice: head towards Dobbs Ferry and Croton-on-Hudson for prime leaf-peeping now and for the next few weeks.
Kingsland Point Park & Eagle Hill, Rockefeller State Park Preserve (Sleepy Hollow, NY) Sleepy Hollow is home to two great spots to take in the fall foliage. First there’s Kingsland Point Park, which sits right behind the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, along the Hudson River. From here, you can see across Westchester, New York City and into Rockland County — the best foliage views are along the Rockland hills as well as the Palisades and Hook Mountains. While you’re there, hike along the Hudson Riverwalk, which is one of the best spots to take in the view.
Another Sleepy Hollow spot for foliage is Eagle Hill in Rockefeller State Park Preserve. Though the views are amazing year-round, fall is prime time — and Eagle Hill is an easy, quick hike, even for kids. Once at the top, you’ll want to settle in and take in the views of the Hudson River, Sleepy Hollow, and Tarrytown below.
Planting Fields Arboretum (Oyster Bay, NY) Located on Long Island’s Gold Coast in historic Oyster Bay, Planting Fields is a turn-of-the-century family estate transformed into a 400-acre state park. Home to W.R. Coe family’s mansion, Coe Hall, Planting Fields is a great spot to spend the afternoon. Not only does the arboretum host family-friendly events throughout the year, but there are always mansion tours and other ways to explore. The estate is filled with beautiful gardens, nature paths and trees, each labeled with names and details, ideal for young botanists.
Prime foliage time starts in late October and continues into November.
Clark Botanic Garden (Albertson, NY) Another popular weekend spot for Long Island families, Clark Botanic Garden is a 12-acre educational center and living museum, known for its rock gardens, herbs, butterfly plants, conifers, daylilies and roses — and, in October and November, its fall foliage. Admission is free (though donations are welcome) and the gates are open daily from 10am to 6pm.
South Mountain Reservation (Maplewood, Millburn & West Orange, NJ) This massive state park covers 2,110 acres across Maplewood, Millburn and West Orange, between the first and second ridges of the Watchung Mountains. Here, you and your family can take in the reds, yellows and oranges before heading into one or more of the area towns to explore.
Tulip Springs to Hemlock Falls is a good hike for families. Not only is it relatively quick and ideal even for beginner hikers but, throughout the hike, you’ll spot waterfalls, bright foliage and plenty of local plants and animals. Enter the one-mile trail in Maplewood and wander along the path, or just settle in for a picnic lunch.
Palisades Interstate Park (Alpine, NJ) Just outside of the city is Palisades Interstate Park, a 2,500-acre park spanning the Hudson River shore as well as uplands, wooded terrains, and cliffs. Swing by and hop onto a hiking trail — there are more than 30 miles of trails, ideal for all levels (though we love the Long Path and Shore Trail for kids…). Many trails overlook the water and offer spots to stop and picnic or simply snag a selfie. In addition to amazing foliage and sweeping views of the Hudson and into the city, the park also has a boat launching ramp, riverfront picnic spots, playgrounds and a nature sanctuary. Peak foliage season is now and extends into November as you head closer to the city.
Greenwich Audubon Center (Greenwich, CT) Greenwich Audubon Center encompasses Main Sanctuary, a 285-acre sanctuary with seven miles of trails — prime spots for checking out the fall colors. Within the sanctuary, you’ll find everything from open fields to vernal pools to swamps, honey bee hives, wildflower meadows, and, even, a butterfly garden, bird feeding station, and apple orchard. Head to the east side by the Byram River and you’ll also find tons of frogs, water snakes and turtles, plus a boardwalk that runs along the Lake Loop Trail. No matter where you head within the sanctuary, though, there are plenty of wooded areas and mature forests, ideal for checking out the fall leaves.
In southern Connecticut, peak foliage season runs from late October to mid-November — so right now is the perfect time to get out and take it all in.
Ready for a foliage drive? Check out these spots or, better, get in touch and map out a personalized tour of the NYC Suburbs.