12 Things to Do in New York in October

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

11 min read

12 Things to Do in New York in October

The colours 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 onset of autumn in New York, temperatures drop, the off-season for tourism begins and the city isn't overcrowded with visitors, which is welcome. In this article I'll tell you the 10 best things to do in the city of skyscrapers in October. 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 are a fan of the sport or not, you can't miss the passion for the sport in the USA 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. The players are back with more enthusiasm than ever!

Moreover, in New York you have a double chance to enjoy a game, as the Nets play at the Barclays Center, the home stadium of the Brooklyn Nets, and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

How to buy NBA tickets

The demand to go to an NBA game is extremely high and tickets sell out months in advance. So that you don't get caught out, I recommend that you buy your tickets as soon as possible. However, all tickets are digital and can only be purchased online.

Useful information about NBA tickets

  • Price: from €50 (the average price for good seats at high-demand games is usually around €150).
  • Dates: The regular season runs from mid-October to early April.
  • Recommended if... you want a unique experience and a lot of adrenaline.
  • To find out more: visit the article How to buy NBA tickets in New York.

Book your NBA ticket

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

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

Admiring nature and the changing seasons is one of my favourite things to do anywhere in the world, but especially in Central Park, New York's green lung. 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're also travelling to New York with children, Central Park usually offers different tours at this time of year that are ideal for a family day out, such as the turtle tour, where you'll visit a pond that houses five types of turtles. What's more, you only pay a symbolic price of 4.50 euros per family (which includes two adults and two children), and it's well worth it!

But have you ever thought about renting a bike in Central Park to get around it comfortably and completely? It's one of my favourite ways to get to know the area. This way you won't get exhausted, you'll have enough energy to continue your route and you'll make sure you have time to see it all.

Rent a bike in Central Park

3. Have a scary day out... in a haunted house!

Merchant's House Museum haunted house:| ©Ajay Suresh
Merchant's House Museum haunted house:| ©Ajay Suresh

If as a kid you enjoyed riding the witch train at fairs or diving into the Mansion of Terror where you'd get 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 is something for everyone: gothic, with ghosts, with a light show, those that have dark stories behind them and in which there were murders... But real! They all have their own legend and during the month of October they open their doors to surprise New Yorkers and strange visitors alike.

By the way, did you know that they also organise cemetery tours at night for Halloween and a candlelit tour of the catacombs?

Discover the best spooky mansions in New York City

  • Merchant's House Museum: In addition to being a beautiful and historic landmark, in October this museum often hosts ghost tours of the past and present, explaining the (real) paranormal happenings that have occurred in this eerie place.
  • Blood Manor: This mansion of terror is located on Broadway. You will be immersed in a terrifying journey through a labyrinth of rooms where actors attack you when you least expect it.
  • The Haunted Farm at Queens County Farm: This 300 year old farmhouse in the middle of the countryside offers a lighter Halloween for the whole family. There are also activities to learn about the cider-making process and pumpkin planting.

Book a tour through the catacombs of NY

4. 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 in the Bronx, which is changing its decor and getting into the Halloween spirit. There you will discover a garden decorated with pumpkins, scarecrows, friendly skeletons and other traditional characters.

There's also an autumn puppet show, a workshop to create your own scarecrows, and one weekend in October there's an exhibition of some of the world's largest pumpkins. You can also take the opportunity to see the ancient forest, the Bronx River and the spectacular gardens.

One of the attractions that surprised me the most was the free little train that takes you on a tour of the park and you can stop at the points of interest you want to see in depth. Very convenient!

What you will see in the Botanical Gardens

  • Enid A. Haupt Conservatory: a greenhouse that houses tropical plants and cacti, as well as some very interesting temporary displays.
  • Mertz Library: one of the largest botanical libraries in the world.
  • Leon Levy Visitor Center: a centre where you can find seeds, plants and decorative accessories for your home.
  • Ponds: filled with water lilies, water lilies and lotuses.

Book your tickets for the Botanical Garden

5. See the amazing Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls|©caraban25
Niagara Falls|©caraban25

Although summer is undoubtedly the best time to see Niagara Falls because of the good weather and because all the attractions are open to the public, as you can imagine, the downside of these dates is that they are full of people. That's why taking advantage of your trip to New York in October is a good time to enjoy this wonder without the crowds.

Besides that, in October hotel rooms are cheaper and it's not too cold yet, so you'll enjoy it comfortably. Oh, and it's the most romantic month of the year, so the surrounding environment will be charming.

It's very common to take advantage of your visit to New York to see Niagara Falls and the most comfortable way to do it is by hiring a tour. There are one-day, two-day and even four-day tours. So it's up to you.

Book a tour of Niagara Falls

6. Be an American for a day at the New York Rangers

people in the streets|©Zan's World
people in the streets|©Zan's World

Ice hockey is one of the most popular sports in the United States, so going to see a game is a great way to get a taste of American culture and be an insider.

The ice hockey season starts in October, so that's perfect. Besides, the New York Rangers are one of the most important and well-known teams in the country. You can go to see them, as they play at Madison Square Garden in NY. Are you up for it?

However, I recommend you to book your New York Rangers tickets in advance because they sell out very quickly.

Book your New York Rangers tickets

7. Hang yourself in impossible buildings

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. These are institutions that are normally closed to the public, but for some of them you will have to book in 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 host of curious buildings, such as the Museum of China in America, the Islamic Cultural Center or see how the borough of Brooklyn has transformed the Gowanus Canal, one of the most polluted spots in the US, into Sponge Park.

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

Every year around this time, the town of Croton-on-Hudson hosts the Jack O'Lantern Festival, which recreates an 18th century landscape and exhibits more than 7,000 pumpkins designed and hand-carved by a team of craftsmen. They are all illuminated!

Did you know that these pumpkins are used to recreate all kinds of figures and scenes, such as the famous Statue of Liberty, a dragon or the stars of a planetarium? You've never seen anything like it before!

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!

9. 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, and they too live the American dream in Bryant Park! On the other hand, as usual, I'd love to live here too.

If you're travelling in October, you're in luck! Because this park hosts a free (yes, free!) bird watching tour in September and October. 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 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: 6 September to 14 October 2021.
  • Hours: Mondays, 8 am to 9 am, and Thursdays, 5 pm to 6 pm.
  • Meeting point: Heiskell Plaza, near the corner of 6th Avenue and 42nd Street.

10. 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 out into the street so that everyone can enjoy them, in October, as well as bird watching, there are open-air juggling classes to take advantage of the good weather. If you don't want to learn, you can also attend the shows they organise.

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

On this guided tour you'll discover some of the secrets of this iconic park, which is considered one of the oldest in New York. You'll learn that for a few years it became the epicentre of crime and drugs in Manhattan and that in winter it fills up with igloos where you can 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 is open to artisans from New York and all over the world. If you can, come along, because there are some really cute things!

11. See Hollywood stars at the 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 travelling 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 love the seventh art, you'll 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!

12. Dine and drink, life is short (especially in New York!)

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

Hello, foodies! October also sees the New York City Wine and Food Festival, the city's biggest food and wine festival, where you can enjoy tastings, evenings with TV chefs (the Arguiñanos of America), parties, hands-on cooking classes and wine tastings. Who's more?

On the other hand, if you're 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 a low of 10 degrees and a high of 18 degrees. The good thing? According to statistics, it usually only rains 6 days a month, so you won't need an umbrella, but you will need a good coat.

Ideally, you should take warm clothes, jumpers and long trousers - I always pack a scarf in my suitcase! And some comfortable trainers or boots, because even if you don't realise it, you'll end up covering a lot of kilometres. And now, let's enjoy it!