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…
Foliage Hot Spots
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.
Fall Activities in Westchester
If your family loves the great outdoors, Westchester won’t disappoint. Head to Tarrytown Lakes Park—you can even bring your dog to this pet-friendly hiking and biking hotspot.
While you’re here, take a hike around the lake, hop in a kayak (rentals are available) or bring your bike and explore. Another option: Westmoreland Sanctuary in Mount Kisco. Hike, bike, stroll, picnic—you can even see a quartz rock outcropping. In either spot you’re just minutes from Tarrytown and Mt. Kisco, respectively, as well as neighboring towns such as Sleepy Hollow, Irvington, Pound Ridge and Bedford.
Many city families head to The Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze in Croton-on-Hudson. Expect 7,000 expertly carved jack-o-lanterns including a 25-foot high Statue of Liberty, a pumpkin carousel and tons of spooky and not-so-spooky carvings your kids will love. Buy tickets early though—this event sells out fast. And, of course, pre- or post-Blaze, be sure to check out the Rivertowns or other towns you’ll pass along the way—Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Briarcliff Manor and Ossining, just to name a few.
Petting Zoos, Produce and Pumpkin-Picking on Long Island
Exploring Long Island? Get ready for some serious pumpkin-picking, complete with petting zoos, corn mazes and more. For families checking out Suffolk, Schmitt Family Farm in Dix Hills (nearby: Commack, Melville and Huntington) is great for not just pumpkins but also offers, animal train rides, duck races and a local farm stand packed with produce and baked goods. The farm is open on weekends through Halloween.
Elwood Pumpkins and Christmas Tree Farm in Huntington is another fall/winter essential. Perfect for kids 10 and under, you can grab a pumpkin right from the vine, then ride back to the main farm via tractor. After that, wander through the corn maze and see how long it takes your family to “escape.”
After leaving Elwood, be sure to explore downtown Huntington as well as any of the nine beaches in town. Then, consider swinging through neighboring communities like Northport, Cold Spring Harbor and Oyster Bay—they’re definitely worth the trip.
Grab Local Goodies—and See the Animals!—in New Jersey
No Demarest town tour is complete without a trip to Demarest Farms. Open year-round, at Demarest Farms visitors can pick apples and pumpkins, or browse the massive farm store for local produce, baked goods, cider and other seasonal favorites. This fall, reservations are required, so if you’re heading this way, be sure to book online in advance. And while you’re heading to Demarest, be sure to check out neighboring suburbs—Cresskill, Closter, Haworth and Tenafly are a short drive away.
South Mountain Reservation is also a fall must and includes everything your family needs to enjoy a day in the ‘burbs. Not only is there ample space for hiking and fishing, there’s also a dog park, swan boat rentals and even waterfalls. And if that isn’t enough, check out the fairy trail to see where the fairies make their homes in the trees before hopping on the train around the Turtleback Zoo to go see the animals (reservations are required).
Connecticut is for the Birds (and the Apples!)
Part of the Connecticut Audubon Society, the Roy and Margot Larsen Wildlife Sanctuary in Fairfield is a great spot to kick off your Connecticut exploration. All programming has been moved outdoors, ensuring your crew can still explore nature and check out local birds and wildlife. Then, after exploring Fairfield, consider heading to New Canaan, Norwalk or Rowayton—they’re just minutes away.
While a bit farther from the city (about 80 minutes by car), Silverman’s Farm in Easton is a great choice for both apple picking, cider-sipping and interacting with some cute farm animals. Stock up on local produce and baked goods, then hop in the car and explore Easton as well as nearby towns—Redding, Weston, Wilton and Ridgefield.
Best Farmers Markets in the NYC Suburbs
New Jersey Farmers Markets
Adma’s Farm (Wyckoff, NJ) Open daily starting at 8am, Adma’s Farm has been run by the same family for five generations. Today the 32-acre farm—Bergen County’s only produce and poultry farm—is a go-to for fresh meat, eggs, plants and baked goods. Also onsite: a 200-year-old barn that, now, houses a “from scratch” bakery and gourmet kitchen. The farm is open every day except Sunday. In addition to the pick-your-own options, bakery and market, visitors can check out the barnyard animals and the onsite winery. In the fall, Adma’s also hosts hayrides, scarecrow-making and more.
Terhune Orchards (Princeton, NJ) Spread across 200 acres, Terhune Orchards offers some of the most diverse pick-your-own options in the ‘burbs. During fall, visitors can pick apples, pumpkins, strawberries, blueberries and more. In addition, this sustainable farm grows 46 different crops, all for sale in Terhune’s onsite market. And in that market? Expect a true taste of fall—pies, doughnuts, cookies and other freshly-baked goods, all made onsite with local and farm-produced ingredients. After grabbing a bite, kids can meet the barnyard animals, jump on a tractor or hit the Farm Trail, a half-mile loop through woods and pastures (yes, it’s wide enough for strollers). Terhune is also known for its wine and its seasonal events. Running now through November 1, Terhune Orchards has fully transformed into a fall playscape, perfect for families. In addition to apple and pumpkin picking, kids can come face-to-face with barnyard animals, hop on a pony ride or pedal tractor then, together, you can all conquer the hay bale maze. There will also be live music and a chance to tour the Adventure Barn—this year’s barn theme is “Life on the Farm.”
Westchester Farmers Markets
Alfred B. DelBello Muscoot Farm (Katonah, NY) A seasonal go-to for Westchester families, Muscoot Farm dates back to the early 20th century. Now, it’s a family favorite, with lots to do for the kids—think hands-on demos, access to farm animals, hayrides and maple syrup-making, plus opportunities to pick-your-own throughout the season. While, right now, the buildings at Muscoot Farm are closed, visitors can still walk the grounds and hiking trails daily from 10am to 4pm—and, while you’re there, be sure to hit up the farmer’s market onsite. Walk-ins are now welcome, though plan to arrive early (the market opens at 9:30am on Sundays) for prime picks.
Fable: From Farm to Table (Ossining, NY) This is, no doubt, a farm like you’ve never seen before. Dedicated to modern, organic, sustainable farming, at Fable you can watch live farming demos first-hand before scooping up veggies, eggs, honey and baked goods at the on-site market. Fable is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday from 11am to 3pm, all year long—though fall is, hands down, considered their peak season. On November 7 and 8 they’ll be hosting their annual Yorktown Fall Farm Weekend, a seasonal event spanning all of the local Westchester farms including Fable, Wilkens Fruit & Fir, Yorktown Farm and more.
Long Island Farmers Markets
Schmitt Family Farm Festival (Dix Hills, NY) Running Saturdays and Sundays through Halloween (and again Columbus Day weekend), the Schmitt Family Farm Festival celebrates all things fall. Here, your kids can grab a pumpkin or two, then hop on a hayride or animal train ride through the farm. From there, you’ll have plenty to choose from, including a maze, duck races, bounce house and plenty of local fruits, veggies and baked goods—don’t miss out on the roasted corn and apple cider…
Hicks Nursery Fall Festival (Westbury, NY) Every October, this popular Long Island nursery becomes a must-see fall fest, ideal for kids. Hop on a hayride around Hicks (this year it’s pirate-themed!), check out the farm animals, decorate a pumpkin or participate in a seasonal craft or gardening workshop—there are plenty for kids and adults. And, of course, be sure to fill up on fresh-picked apples and homemade apple cider. The fun is on right now through this weekend, with “Otto’s Pirate Adventure”—a new animated story/performance—running until Halloween. Admission is free—hayride tickets are $5 each. For those who want the full festival experience, snag a POP bracelet for $25. Bracelets include unlimited hayrides, a sand art workshop, pumpkin decorating, face painting, popcorn and an Otto the Ghost trick-or-treat bag.
Fall Farm Festival at White Post Farms (Melville, NY) Though this farm is a go-to year-round, during fall many families from around Long Island and NYC make the trek to White Post Farms for its annual Fall Farm Festival. Kids can explore White Post’s extensive grounds, home to tons of animals including Patches, the resident GIRAFFE! After meeting the animals, kids can jump in on a fall sing-a-long, grab a spot on the next hayride or tour the bird aviary onsite. There’s also a playground, play-in-the-hay station, bouncers and pumpkin picking. Special guests are also slated to appear through the event, including Rodeo Ricky and Nick’s Kids Show. The festival runs from 10:00am to 4:00pm, through this weekend and, again, over Columbus Day weekend.
Connecticut Farmers Markets
Sam Bridge Nurseries (Greenwich, CT) Hop on a literary- and pop culture-themed hayride through this bucolic farm, and all the way to their legendary pumpkin patch. After, hit up the farmers market (open Saturdays), which has been in operation for nearly a century. This year’s will be a hybrid indoor/outdoor market with tons of popular local farmers and food producers, including Wave Hill Breads, The Local Catch and Four Mile Rivers Farm. Then, starting November 28, the market transforms into a holiday shopping extravaganza, complete with local merchants, artisans and plenty of foodie gifts. One change this year: the 21st annual Build-A-Scarecrow Workshop is now a take-home project—families can grab their kit to-go, then share their creations via email or social media.
Castle Hill Farm (Newtown, CT) Castle Hill is all about fall. This season, families can jump into the farm’s corn maze, explore the pumpkin patch, hop on a hayride or take a quick pony ride at the onsite petting zoo. After checking out the grounds, swing through the Castle Farm market for fresh eggs, produce, baked goods and concessions. There’s ample space for a picnic, too—outside food is welcome. Once fall activities commence, Castle Hill is open for cut-your-own Christmas trees.
Silverman’s Farm (Easton, CT) Head to Silverman’s for pick-your-own apples (plus, as available, raspberries, blueberries and peaches), a pumpkin patch, hayrides and a petting zoo. Peak crops are available in October and the Silverman’s greenhouse and florist is in full swing. The Country Market is also open daily from 9am to 5pm—stock up on fruits and veggies, dairy products, jams and jellies, eggs, condiments, baked goods and fresh ice cream.
Check out these spots or, better, get in touch and map out a personalized tour of the NYC Suburbs.