New York state has fantastic destinations to visit year-round. But certainly, autumn is one of the best times to explore what the state has to offer – especially because nature provides a beautiful spectacle with changing colors. In almost 9 years of living in New York City, I have always taken the opportunity to discover new destinations in the state – and I think most people have no idea on how there are many places to explore, especially if you live here. Here are some suggestions.
How to get to the places: Some of the suggested things are accessible by public transportation – and I will indicate this option if it exists. You can also rent a car, which gives you more flexibility.
- Click here to rent a car from a rental company.
- Get $20 off your first rental via Getaround – it’s like an Airbnb for cars. After signing up, you can search for vehicles near you. Everything is through the app – including unlocking the car. No lines and no paperwork.
1. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
It is the tristate area’s most fabulous Halloween event with more than 7,000 glowing pumpkins. You will see a lot of sculptures, all made of pumpkins. The lights and the sound effects help to provide an exciting experience. The event takes place at Van Cortlandt Manor. It is simple: you get there at the scheduled time and follow the path. The sculptures are arranged so that you walk and check everything until you take a complete tour and leave the place. In addition, before the official entrance, there are vendors selling food and a store with souvenirs, Halloween-themed products, and pumpkin-based foods. Plus, it’s a great place to go with kids! Check out the official website.
How to get there? By Metro-North trains. Trains depart from Grand Central and also from 125th St, Harlem. The destination is Croton-Harmon. Prices may vary depending on peak and off-peak. The trip lasts about 45 minutes. Once you arrive in Croton-Harmon, there are several taxis at the parking. From the train station to the event are about 5 minutes, and the ride costs from $8 to $10.
2. Rail Explorers Tour
This is a Rail Bike tour through the historic Ulster & Delaware Railroad as you travel alongside Esopus Creek through the beautiful woods of the Catskill Mountains, in Phoenicia. Guys, IT IS SO COOL – because it is so unique and different. You pedal these vehicles along the railroad tracks while you enjoy beautiful views. Make your reservation in advance – they sell out quickly – and tours run from May to November. You have to reserve 2 hours and a half for the experience. All the rail explorers leave simultaneously, with a tour guide in the lead and a tour guide in the last explorer. The group spreads out along the track so that there are up to 500ft between you and the explorers ahead and behind. This allows each group to enjoy the freedom of the outdoors and the magic of the railroad at their own pace and in their own space.
- Price: $40 on average per person.
- Maybe you should plan to do this with other activities in the area – check my post about Woodstock!
3. Mohonk Mountain House
This is one of the best resorts in the country, with incredible scenery with a lake in front and Victorian architecture. It feels like you’re in Europe. It is an excellent getaway for any time of the year. There are several ways to visit the place:
- The first, of course, is staying there. It is an all-inclusive resort with meals and everything. You can check the details here.
- Another way is to buy a Spa package – there are several treatment options available and you can check prices and details here.
- You can also make a reservation for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. By clicking here, you can check more details, such as the menu and also times.
- The other option to visit Mohonk is through a Hiking Pass – which costs $30. The pass does not give access to the resort premises, and you have to bring water and something to eat. In addition, anyone who buys the Hiking pass must leave the car parked at the first entrance of the mountain. From there to the resort, you will walk almost an hour (it is far). So, keep this in mind. With the Hiking Pass, you are free to explore the area around the resort, which has a beautiful view! There are also public restrooms. There are over 100 miles of trails in the resort area!
Remember: Bus service is available on Adirondack Trailways from Port Authority to the New Paltz Bus Station. The Guest Services staff can provide transportation from the bus station in New Paltz to the resort. Train Service is available via Metro North and Amtrak trains to the Poughkeepsie Train Station. Taxi and rideshare services from Poughkeepsie train station to the resort are available. Check the FAQ page.
4. Storm King Art Center
It is one of the most significant references in the world in terms of sculptures and modern facilities outdoors, and it is located in New Windsor, in upstate New York, about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Manhattan. It is a beautiful place to visit – especially during fall, when the colors in contrast to the sculptures create a fantastic landscape. This is an easy getaway from the city. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and clothing – because the place is huge and you will walk a lot. I suggest that you first get the train that makes a tour throughout the park. After taking the tour, you can explore the areas that you like.
How to get there: Coach Usa/ Short Line provides bus tours to Storm King, departing from Porth Authority Bus Terminal (42th St and 8 Av.). You should buy a ticket online – print the voucher – and exchange it for a ticket at the company’s booth (second floor of Porth Authority). The bus leaves from the fourth floor and lets you inside the park. This package costs $50 and already includes the entrance to the park.
This is the Rockefeller family residence, located in Sleepy Hollow. The hilltop paradise was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family, beginning with the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. His business acumen made him, in his day, the richest man in America. The residence – as well as its gardens – are part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and has been maintained for over 100 years. You can visit Kykuit through one of the offered tours. Classic Tour is great for those visiting the place for the first time. It costs $30 and I recommend buying your ticket in advance on the website.
How to get there? By Metro-North trains. Trains depart from Grand Central and also from 125th St, Harlem. You can buy your ticket on the machines, and you choose Round trip, destination Tarrytown. Prices may vary depending if you choose peak or off-peak. Check the screens with information about the train to know the track of your train. Keep your ticket. Once you arrive in Tarrytown, several taxis are waiting in the area. From the train station to the Visitor Center is about 5 minutes, and the ride costs from $8 to $10.
6. Cliffside Coaster
The Cliffside Coaster is located in Lake Placid and it is the longest roller coaster in North America and was opened in 2020 and it follows the alignment of the 1932 & 1980 Olympic Bobsled tracks as it descends the mountain. It runs for 1.4 miles. Tickets are $55! Honestly, I’m not the biggest roller coaster enthusiast – I’m scared to death. But I wanted to go there for two reasons – the tracks pass through the mountain vegetation – and seeing the fall foliage from there is amazing! Also, at the Cliffside Coaster, you are the one who controls the speed, so it’s a lot more relaxed, you know?
New York state has many wineries – and the three regions that stand out are Long Island, Hudson Valley, and Finger Lakes. I’ve already been to a few, and I’ll highlight three here:
- Millbrook Vineyards & Winery (Hudson Valley)– it is one of the most famous wineries in the Hudson Valley. They have a huge outdoor space with picnic tables. The winery has a shop, tables for tasting, and space for events. You can have a tasting and also have a cheese menu. Open all year!
- Benmarl Winery (Hudson Valley) – this is a beautiful winery! It is located close to the Hudson River, with gorgeous views. At weekends, they offer pizzas. There is also a bakery with a few pastries. Check the website for days and times.
- Wölffer Estate Vineyard(Long island)– this winery was founded in 1988 by Christian Wölffer, a man with a great creative vision and a huge passion for life. The estate spans approximately 470 acres, including the acclaimed 55 acres sustainably-farmed estate vineyard located in Sagaponack, NY, 52 acres on the North Fork of Long Island, 200 acres in Mendoza, Argentina, 2.5 acres in Mallorca, Spain, and 160 acres managed in collaboration with North Fork growers. At the winery, you can buy wines and also drink – and they have cheese boards as well.
Did you like my recommendations? Don’t forget to check my other posts with things to do in NY State!
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!