By Emmel El-Fiky
New York City is beautiful any time of year, but there’s something particularly special about the city in the fall. The sticky heat of summer has finally started to dull, but it’s not yet so cold that you don’t want to venture outside. The leaves are turning, and every street corner is ablaze with color. There are never-ending opportunities for things to do, see, and experience — the following are some recommendations for making the most of the fall season in New York.
Page-Turners and Pumpkin Spice Lattes
There is no better way to spend a crisp fall afternoon than exploring independent bookstores with a warm cup of coffee in hand. There are plenty of places in the city to do just that, including a few close to Teachers College! I recommend checking out Book Culture on Broadway (and their larger location on 112th St) for a wonderful curation of new releases and soon-to-be favorites. I love checking out the staff recommendations posted throughout the shop — they’re so funny and insightful, and I end up coming home with books I never would have expected based on their suggestions. Teachers College students are also eligible for discounts if they sign up for a store membership!
Nearby Book Culture, there are a few coffee shops, cafes, and food trucks to stop by if you’re in need of a pick-me-up. Blue Bottle has a great selection of coffee (I recommend the sweet latte with oat milk), and Pret A Manger is perfect for a quick bite, especially their fall seasonal offerings like the white chicken chili or pumpkin pie latte. And, of course, the food trucks around Morningside Heights are fantastic and, once the weather allows, make for great picnic options!
Strolls in the Park and Other Fantastic Views
It is an objective fact that the best time to go for a stroll in New York City is in the fall. If you’ve not yet explored the city’s abundance of parks and pockets of natural beauty, now is a great time to do so! Central Park is a widely known favorite spot to explore and see a variety of views, including the surrounding cityscape. Near Teachers College, we can explore both Morningside Park, which connects the Upper West Side to Harlem, and Riverside Park, a waterfront park offering beautiful views of the Hudson River and neighboring New Jersey skyline. These are great places to walk, talk with friends, picnic, or read in the sunshine.
You can also get an even more expansive view of the surrounding area in all its natural beauty by taking short train rides out of the city. There are a plethora of train options, including the Metro North, Long Island Rail Road, and Amtrak trains, which can take you to any number of neighboring destinations and allow for sightseeing of the fall foliage along the way.
Soundtrack Your Life!
There is almost nothing I love more than experiencing live music, and no city is better for fueling that affinity. Between work and school obligations, I try to see as many of my favorite artists as possible if they happen to be touring through New York — artists seem to flock here in the fall! This desire to see live shows has taken me on many adventures throughout the city, visiting places I’ve never been to before and seeing artists I never thought I would have the opportunity to see. New York has a lot of historically significant venues, like Madison Square Garden and the Bowery Ballroom, and it’s so cool to be in spaces that have hosted so many important moments in music history. Even going to shows alone is fun because it’s so easy to make friends with other fans and experience the collective joy of seeing an artist you like perform live.
If live music is not your thing, there are still plenty of musical ways to enhance the season. Ambient music is constantly happening throughout the city — from buskers in the subway stations, passing cars with their windows down, and even people walking by with personal speakers. I love to add a festive flair to my morning walk to campus by putting on my headphones and listening to my favorite autumnal tunes. The following songs are just a few of my favorites for the season:
- “Autumn in New York” by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
- “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison
- “Blues Run the Game” by Jackson C. Frank
- “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra
- “Where You Lead” by Carole King
- “A Sunday Kind of Love” by Etta James
- “Witchcraft” by Frank Sinatra
- “Sarah’s Place” by Zach Bryan feat. Noah Kahan
- “Soldier, Poet, King” by Jacob Cook
- “It Takes Me Back” by Ray LaMontagne
- “Queen of New York City” by Matchbox Twenty
- “Jackie and Wilson” by Hozier
- “I Wish You Love” by Laufey & the Iceland Symphony Orchestra
- “Poison and Wine” by The Civil Wars
- “Huckleberry Love” by Caamp