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New York in October Travel Guide: best things to do and see in the city

October in the Big Apple is a very special month whose agenda is marked by Halloween. I'll tell you everything you need to know... to have a great time!

Nuria Rozas

Nuria Rozas

10 min read

New York in October Travel Guide: best things to do and see in the city

The colors of Central Park in October | ©Pierre Blache

October in New York is one of the most magical times of the year. The thousands of orange and reddish leaves in Central Park, spooky Halloween pumpkins and trick-or-treaters turn the Big Apple into an enchanted city at this time of year. Sounds great, doesn't it?

On the other hand, with the beginning of autumn in New York, temperatures drop, the off-season for tourism begins and the city is not crowded with visitors, which is appreciated. In this article I tell you the 10 best things to do in the city of skyscrapers in October, so don't miss any of them!

1. Enjoy the start of the NBA season

Inside Madison Square Garden| ©Emmanuel Milou
Inside Madison Square Garden| ©Emmanuel Milou

What basketball fan hasn't dreamed of seeing their idols live? It's the American dream come true. Whether you're a fan of the sport or not, you can't miss the passion for the sport in the U.S. at the stadium: the show is guaranteed.

October is a key month because the official season starts, so you can experience the madness and the atmosphere of a live game after the summer break, and the players are back with more enthusiasm than ever! Here I tell you in detail how the basketball season works and how to get NBA tickets.

In addition, in New York you have a double chance to enjoy a game, as the Nets play there at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets Stadium, and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

How to buy NBA tickets

Here's an important fact! The demand to go to an NBA game is extremely high and tickets are sold out months in advance. So that you don't get caught by the bull, I recommend that you buy your tickets as soon as possible. However, they can only be purchased online. All tickets are digital.

Useful information about NBA tickets

Price: from 50 € (the average price for good seats in high demand matches is usually around 150 €).

Dates: the regular season runs from mid-October to early April.

Recommended if... you want to live a unique experience and a lot of adrenaline.

Book your NBA tickets

2. Stroll through Central Park and marvel at its autumn colors

Autumn in Central Park| ©Marie-Lan Nguyen
Autumn in Central Park| ©Marie-Lan Nguyen

Admiring nature and the changing seasons is one of my favorite activities anywhere in the world, but especially in Central Park, the green lung of New York. In October, the leaves begin to fall and the landscape is more beautiful than ever: it is tinged with reds, oranges, browns... If you like photography, you'll get your boots on!

If you are also traveling with children to New York, at this time in Central Park often offer different tours ideal for a family day out, such as the turtle tour, in which you will visit a pond that houses five types of this species. In addition, you only pay a symbolic price of 4.50 euros per family (which includes two adults and two children). It's worth it!

Here are some other autumn activities you can do in the Big Apple, with or without children, to make the most of one of the most photogenic seasons and also one of the most pleasant in terms of plans and temperature.

Book a tour of Central Park

3. Enjoy Halloween in New York: live a scary day... in a haunted house!

Haunted Merchant's House Museum:| ©Ajay Suresh
Haunted Merchant's House Museum:| ©Ajay Suresh

If as a kid you were one of those who enjoyed riding the witch's train at fairs or immersing yourself in the Mansion of Terror where they gave you a little scare, now you'll get them in a big way! The haunted houses of New York are a classic and will make you live the eve of Halloween with fear and... hair standing on end!

There are haunted houses for all tastes: gothic, with ghosts, with a light show... those with dark stories behind them and where there were murders. But real! They all have their own legend, but during the month of October they open their doors to surprise New Yorkers and strange visitors. Welcome!

And above all, a word of advice: don't underestimate the Americans, remember that they are the masters of the suspense and horror genre. By the way, did you know that night cemetery tours are also organized for Halloween in this month in New York?

Discover the best horror mansions in New York City

Take note of the best haunted houses in the Big Apple for Halloween.

  • Merchant's House Museum: in addition to being a historic and architecturally beautiful place, in October this museum usually offers tours to discover the ghosts past and present, in which they explain the paranormal events (real) that have occurred in this strange place.

  • Blood Manor: this mansion of terror is located on Broadway. Here you will be immersed in a terrifying journey through a labyrinth of rooms where the actors attack you when you least expect it. In one room you will meet a diabolical doll and in another a killer clown in the style of the Joker, among other surprises.

  • The haunted farm in Queens County Farm: this large house in the middle of the countryside organizes a lighter Halloween for the whole family. There are also activities to learn about the process of cider making and pumpkin planting - this farm has more than 300 years of history!

Book a night tour of Manhattan by bus

4. Dazzle at the Hudson Valley Pumpkin Festival

At the Jack O'Lantern Festival| ©Getty Images
At the Jack O'Lantern Festival| ©Getty Images

As you have seen, New York's October programming is undoubtedly focused on the scariest event of the year: Halloween. One of the traditions that caught my attention was decorating New York homes with pumpkins. But I was in for a bigger surprise... The Jack O'Lantern Festival!

The town of Croton-on-Hudson hosts every year at this time the Jack O'Lantern Festival, which recreates an 18th century landscape and displays more than 7,000 pumpkins designed and hand-carved by a team of craftsmen. All of them are illuminated!

Did you know that with these pumpkins they recreate all kinds of figures and scenery such as the famous Statue of Liberty, a dragon or the stars of a planetarium? The spectacle is breathtaking - you've never seen anything like it!

Nuria's Traveller Tip

The exhibition usually opens between 17h and 21h, it is best to visit it when it is completely dark, book your tickets as soon as possible because they are usually sold out!

5. Watch the migratory birds... They travel to New York too!

Bryant Park in New York| ©Alexander Spatari
Bryant Park in New York| ©Alexander Spatari

Wouldn't you have guessed that dozens of birds migrate to New York every year? The city of skyscrapers is home to a large number of bird species - they too live the American dream in Bryant Park! On the other hand, I, too, would love to live here.

If you are traveling in October, you are in luck! Because this park hosts a free (yes, free!) bird watching tour in September and October. On it, you'll discover the amazing diversity of species that live in Bryant Park during the migratory season.

The guided tour takes place on Mondays and Thursdays with an environmental educator and no pre-registration is required. Did you know that more than 130 different species of birds have passed through this enclave? Oh, New York, New York... What can you expect.

Useful information on the bird watching tour:

  • Date: September 6 to October 14, 2021.

  • Hours: Mondays, 8 am to 9 am and Thursdays from 5 pm to 6 pm.

  • Meeting point: Heiskell Plaza, near the corner of 6th Avenue and 42nd Street.

6. And while you're at it... Learn to juggle in Bryant Park!

Juggling in Bryant Park| ©Diane Greene Lent
Juggling in Bryant Park| ©Diane Greene Lent

If in summer Byrant Park hosts music festivals and brings the books to the street for everyone to enjoy them, in November and December it preparesan ice rink within the Winter Festival for people to skate... For free!

And in October, in addition to the bird watching, there are outdoor juggling classes taking advantage of the good weather. If you don't want to learn, you can also attend the shows they organize. Cool idea, isn't it?

If you're a bit of a klutz (like me) and have always envied those who know how to do stunts, take advantage of your trip to Bryant Park to attend a free juggling class. You can join a quick lesson, stay for the whole class, or just enjoy watching them test their skills - the instructors are super friendly! You'll see.

Also, throughout the year (weather permitting) there are free walking tours of Bryant Park led by park staff. Tours are held every other Wednesday and last approximately 45 minutes.

On this guided tour you will discover some of the secrets of this iconic park, which is considered one of the oldest in New York. You will know that for some years it became the epicenter of crime and drugs in Manhattan or that in winter it is filled with igloos in which to have a cup of chocolate or a good cider, making it one of the best parks in New York.

Nuria's Traveller Tip

At the end of October, the open-air market opens and welcomes artisans from New York and all over the world. If you can, come along, because there are some really cute things!

7. Explore the Botanical Garden and... its curious scarecrows

Botanical Garden| ©Hellotickets
Botanical Garden| ©Hellotickets

Until October 31, visitors can enjoy the New York Botanical Garden, located in the Bronx, which changes its decoration and gets into the spirit of Halloween. There you will discover a garden adorned with pumpkins, scarecrows, friendly skeletons and other traditional characters.

There is also an autumn puppet show, a workshop to create your own scarecrows, and one weekend in October there is an exhibition of some of the world's largest pumpkins - a real treat! In addition, you can take the opportunity to contemplate its ancient forest, the Bronx River and its spectacular gardens.

One of the attractions that surprised me the most was the free little train that makes a tour of the park and with which you can stop at the points of interest you want to know in depth. Very comfortable!

What you will see at the Botanical Garden

  • Enid A. Haupt Conservatory: a greenhouse that houses tropical plants and cacti, as well as some very interesting temporary exhibits.
  • Mertz Library: one of the largest botanical libraries in the world.
  • Leon Levy Visitor Center: a center where you can find seeds and plants and home decor accessories - ideal for the 'handyman'!
  • Ponds: full of water lilies, water lilies and lotuses.

Reserve your tickets for the Botanical Garden

8. Enjoy Hollywood stars at New York Film Festival

Celebrities at the premiere of The Social Network at the New York Film Festival| ©Raffi Asdourian
Celebrities at the premiere of The Social Network at the New York Film Festival| ©Raffi Asdourian

Can you imagine traveling to New York and seeing the likes of Denzel Washington, Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar? In October it's possible thanks to the New York Film Festival, which takes place between the end of September and the beginning of this month.

If you are a lover of the seventh art, you will love this event because it hosts some of the most anticipated world premieres, a red carpet full of Hollywood stars, talks and free film presentations.

In 2021, for example, it surprised with the world premiere of 'The Tragedy of Macbeth', a black and white film by Joel Cohen starring Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand and Corey Hawkin, based on the tragedy of the same name by William Shakespeare. So, put on your best clothes and come and see the actors!

9. Get lost in impossible buildings.... with the doors open!

Entrance to the Museum of China in America| ©Jim.henderson
Entrance to the Museum of China in America| ©Jim.henderson

For one weekend in October, more than 300 of New York's iconic buildings open their doors for free as part of the Open House New York event - institutions that are normally closed to the public! Mind you, for some of them, you will have to book your ticketin advance.

The event offers a unique opportunity to discover the best examples of New York's architecture, design, engineering and cultural heritage - I was fascinated! You can enjoy live music in the bookstores, free talks, guided tours and enter a myriad of curious buildings, such as the Museum of China in America, the Islamic Cultural Center or contemplate how the Brooklyn neighborhood has transformed the Gowanus Canal, one of the most polluted spots in the U.S., in Sponge Park.

Tickets to New York Museums

10. Dine and drink, life is short (and more in New York!)

New York City Wine and Food Festival| ©nantuck3t
New York City Wine and Food Festival| ©nantuck3t

Hello, foodies! In October also takes place in the Big Apple the New York City Wine and Food Festival, the largest food and wine festival in the city, where you can do tastings, attend evenings with TV chefs (the Arguiñanos of America), attend parties, hands-on cooking classes and wine tastings. Who gives more?

On the other hand, if you are a caffeine lover, you have a very special date with coffee at the New York Coffee Festival, a shot that will give you the energy you need to travel and make a thousand plans in the Big Apple.

Nuria's Traveller Tip

Enjoy one of the best sunsets on the Staten Island boat that connects the southern tip of Manhattan with Staten Island. The best part? It's free!


October temperatures in New York

Autumn in Central Park| ©Levon Avdoyan
Autumn in Central Park| ©Levon Avdoyan

As the saying goes "crazy October weather, it pours a little bit of everything". Therefore, I recommend you to be prepared for what may come - better too much than too little! The average temperature this month in New York is between 10 degrees minimum and 18 degrees maximum. The good thing? Normally, according to statistics it only rains 6 days a month, so you won't need an umbrella, but you will need a good coat.

Ideally, you should bring warm clothes, sweaters and long pants, I always pack a scarf in my suitcase! And some comfortable sneakers or boots because even if you do not realize you will end up doing a good number of kilometers. And now, let's enjoy!