New York City offers something for everyone, year round. Here's a small sampling of fun ways to explore NYC-in four hours or less-this fall or visit www.nycgo.com for more ideas.
New York City is a great walking city, with lots of self-led and specialized tours in all five boroughs. The more unusual include (1) Cultural Tours of Chassidic New York, which delves into Jewish communities in Brooklyn; (2) Joyce Gold History Tours, who leads small groups on fascinating history tours; (3) Wall Street Experience, where inside traders share entertaining tales; and (4) Yankee Stadium Tour, where you‘ll get behind-the scene tours of the famed Bronx Bombers' new home. If it's a rainy day, consider traveling underground with (5) NYC Subway Art Tour, where beautiful artwork is discovered in the City's mass transit system.
People around the world love New York's autumn foliage. You have a chance to revel in the seasonal colors from on high with (6) Helicopter Flight Services (½ to 1 hour), (7) Liberty Helicopters (½ to 1 hour), (8) Manhattan Helicopters (½ to 1 hour), and (9) New York Helicopter (½ to 1 hour). All offer daily flights over NYC, from sunup to sunset, plus Statue of Liberty flyovers. You'll also have wonderful sweeping views from the (10) East River Tram (20 minutes)-NYC's $2.50 cable car-as well as from the (11) Empire State Building (2 hours) and (12) Top of the Rock (2 hours). Both observation decks open early, close late, seven days .
Combine two great activities for one great experience: take in the amazing fall colors while enjoying a relaxing cruise on one of the City's waterways. Board the (13) Staten Island Ferry (20 minutes)-one of the best free attractions in America-which travels past (14) Governors Island, the (15)Statue of Liberty - celebrating its 125th anniversary this fall, and (16) Ellis Island. Also ride the new (17) NY Waterway East River Ferry (20 to 40 minutes), which connects Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. See (18) Governors Island Ferry (15 minutes) and (19) Statue Cruises (20 to 30 minutes) for direct access information to these sites. New York City's five boroughs have many boat touring companies. Click here for more information.
In addition to refurbished parks and bikeways throughout the five boroughs, there are more than 90 miles of greenways-linear, open spaces linking existing NYC parks and communities-and more green continues to be added. The City's many parks welcome hiking, row boating, jogging, in-line skating and bicycling, in addition to ranger-led tours of flora and historic sites. Here is a sampling:
Bronx: The (20) New York Botanical Garden celebrates its 120th anniversary, (21) Van Cortlandt Park and (22) Pelham Bay Park, 2,700-plus acres along Long Island Sound, popular with birders. Allow a minimum of 2 hours for each of these activities.
Brooklyn: (23-A) Prospect Park has pedal boating on weekends as well as the city's last surviving forest. The adjacent (23-B) Brooklyn Botanic Garden offers over 12,000 plant varieties on 52 acres. Allow a minimum of 2 hours for each of these activities.
In Manhattan: (24) The High Line (20 minutes to 1 hour), a former elevated railroad line converted into a green promenade, extends from Gansevoort St to 20th St in Chelsea. (25) Hudson River Park (20 minutes to 3 hours), which starts from the southern-most tip of Manhattan near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and follows the Hudson River, connects with Riverside Park in midtown. (26) Central Park (30 minutes to 3 hours), offers horse-drawn carriage rides (59th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves), rent a bicycle or paddleboat or rowboat for a relaxing afternoon (through mid-October), or ice skate (mid-October to mid-April) at one of two Central Park ice rinks, Wollman and Laskers.
Queens: (27) The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is a Gateway National Recreation Area with more than 300 species of migratory birds and diamondback terrapin turtle hatchings in early fall. (28) Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, home to the New York Mets' new stadium, Citi Field, offers boating at the Flushing Meadows Lake Boathouse. Allow 2 to 4 hours for each of these activities.
Staten Island: (29) The Greenbelt is comprised of nearly 3,000 acres dedicated to recreational activities, ranging from golf and bird watching to hiking, row boating, model airplane flying and much more. Allow 2 to 4 hours for each of these activities.
Nothing beats a clear, crisp day at a fall craft fair. You'll find autumn fairs at (30) Grand Central Terminal, (31) Union Square-14th St, and the (32)Shops at Bryant Park. Artists sell their wares on the streets of (33) SoHo every weekend year-round.
Farms in New York City? You can get farm-fresh produce through the many Greenmarket Farmers Markets, found at various sites citywide.
Journey back in time on Staten Island, with a stop at the Victorian (35) Alice Austen House Museum, where one of America's first and most prolific female photographers lived, and (36) Historic Richmond Town, a living-history museum that is a sprawling complex of colonial-period homes, shops and buildings with guides in period dress.
In Queens, discover 19th-century inventions of African-American (37) Lewis Latimer at his home now turned museum. Kids love (38) The Queens County Farm Museum, which dates to 1697 and is the largest remaining tract of farmland in New York City. Its 47 acres still include an orchard, herb garden, farm animals for petting, weekend hayrides, and wreath-making workshops. Farm-fresh produce, eggs and honey are available in the gift shop.
Celebrate Oktoberfest at several citywide beer gardens. Visit www.nycgo.com for the latest offerings. And, in addition to tastings and tours, (39) The Brooklyn Brewery features live music and pumpkin ale. (40) City Winery has concerts, classes and events, and (41) Heartland Brewery provides specialty brews, food and "pub crawls." Allow a minimum of 30 minutes for each of these activities.