Autumn in New York really is as magical as the song makes it out to be. When the sweat of summer washes away, the air is crisp, the leaves are spectacular and there’s a sort of leisurely feel to the shortening days. All this makes fall the most coveted (and expensive) time to visit, right?
Wrong. While January through March is the cheapest season for hotel rates and flights, things are still downright affordable in the fall. Throw in the added bonus that the weather is almost perfect, and you will be ready to fall in love with New York — in fall!
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Visiting New York City in fall
Before the holiday season kicks into high gear, New York can be surprisingly affordable for travelers. Here are 6 reasons to visit New York in the fall.
1. Airfares are lower
As the temperature drops in New York, so do the airfares. For example, while summer fares from San Francisco to New York hover around $500, they drop below $400 in September. Other cities showed similar trends, with airfare dropping anywhere from $20 to $150 between the middle of September and the middle of November. Note, though, that your window is small: Fares will spike again at Thanksgiving and remain high through the holidays.
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2. The weather is fine
Because so many of New York’s major attractions are best seen while strolling through the city, pleasant weather can make a huge difference in a trip. Fall is that sweet spot sandwiched between summer’s mugginess and winter’s bitter chill, and its moderate weather makes it a joy to explore, whether you’re leaf-peeping in Central Park or strolling through the gorgeous streets of the West Village.
Related: Which neighborhood is right for your New York City trip?
3. The hotel rates drop
Like airfares, hotel rates also take a dip after the summer rush. A recent search found that a double room at the stylish Ameritania Hotel near Time Square costs $404 a night at the end of August, and throughout the fall runs between $300 and $350, dropping as low as $221 in mid-November.
Keep in mind, though, that there will be a shocking spike during Fashion Week (in early September) and again over Thanksgiving weekend, although there are some deals for Turkey Day.
Related: How to save on your hotel in New York City
4. The crowds are smaller
After the summer throngs had returned to school and work and real life, New York suddenly feels a whole lot calmer. True, the streets are still crowded, but somehow it feels like you have a lot more space. Plus, crowds at the most famous attractions will be smaller too.
Related: 6 Under-the-Radar (and free) parks to explore in NYC
5. Explore free sights abound
The number of free sights in New York does not necessarily expand in the fall, but the viability of hitting them all is proportional to the weather: The more comfortable the temps are, the easier it is to be outside. Thus, while in summer and winter you may be more inclined to seek air conditioning or heat indoors (quests that often involve paying for a drink or museum ticket), during the fall you can save on food, entertainment and transportation since it’s easier to wander around attractions and taking in the city’s myriad beautiful parks.
Related: 5 haunted (and free!) haunted New York City spots
6. It’s a festive time of year
Between pumpkins, technicolor leaves and all things apple, fall has a cozy yet vibrant feeling that is hard to beat. And everything from Central Park to the Union Square farmer’s market catches the fever.
Finding cheap hotels in New York City
Ready to visit New York? Browse all of our budget hotel picks to find the perfect place to stay and check out all of our NYC articles for more advice on finding a hotel.
What’s your favorite part of visiting New York in the fall? Tell us in the comments below!