Fall is when New York City really shines. The tourists have gone home; a comfortable crispness has returned to the mornings; plays, dance performances, author readings and other cultural events abound. It’s also a great time to explore the charm of nearby small towns and destinations outside the city limits and to actually catch a glimpse of those changing trees. Below a short, easy-to-manage list of things that make the season.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
There’s a very expensive, destination-worthy restaurant at this sustainable farm in Pocantico Hills, about 30 minutes north of the Bronx. It’s ideal for weddings, special occasion dinners and the like. If you’re not in the mood to drop half-a-month’s rent on dinner, there’s also a café stocked with fresh salads and delectable pastries. The best parts of Stone Barns, though, are the farm and beautiful grounds. Walk amongst the grazing sheep and trotting chickens. Admire the galloping turkeys as they run toward you in packs. Further back, toward the woods, are the oversized, nearly half-ton Berkshire pigs. They’re really quite adorable…in an ugly sort of way. If you’re a vegetarian or would rather not see your food happily alive (no matter how well treated), stick to the vegetable garden, the greenhouse and the hiking paths snaking around the back of the grounds. They’re covered by canopies of trees in a kaleidoscope of colors. You can’t get more “fall” than that.
Roosters at Stone Barns
A Day in North Fork, Long Island
New Yorkers tend to travel to this low-key Long Island wine growing region in summer, as a way to escape the chaos of the Hamptons. It’s even calmer in the fall, when roadside stands turn into pumpkin patches and visitors can enjoy cool evenings with a wine tasting flight, overlooking local vineyards. Last year, my friends and I piled into a car and made a day of it. We stopped into the recently relocated North Fork Oyster Company (now dubbed The Square) for a lunch of oysters and seafood and then grabbed a beer tasting (you get to take home the pint glass) at Greenport Harbor Brewing. Alternatively, you can check out the much-loved North Fork Inn lunch truck, behind the North Fork Inn & Table, for salads and sandwiches to-go. We walked around picturesque downtown Greenport and over to the waterfront. From there we made our way to Orient Beach State Park for a breathtaking view of the sound. Then it was on to a sparkling wine tasting on the deck of Sparkling Pointe, surrounding by pretty magic hour light. (A list of Long Island wineries can be found here.) We finished the day in perfect fashion, with apple cider donuts from a local stand.
Sparkling Pointe at dusk
I get a bit obsessed with pumpkin-flavored things in fall. A little too obsessed, sometimes. I once spent the entire month of October seeking out pumpkin-flavored treats in the city, determined to try every one. I don’t suggest you do the same as it’s much too time consuming, but here’s a sampling of treats you may want to, you know, casually come across: pumpkin gelato at Il Laboratrio del Gelato, pumpkin trifle pudding at Sugar Sweet Sunshine, a pumpkin whoopie pie at One Girl Cookies, pumpkin pie custard at Shake Shack, a pumpkin donut (both cake and yeast varieties) at Doughnut Plant.
Pumpkin doughnut at the venerable Doughnut Plant; image courtesy of Doughnut Plant
Cheer on Runners at the NYC Marathon
I love the New York City Marathon and not because I’m an avid or even recreational runner. It’s that I love seeing runners from all over the world come to our fair city to complete a life goal. Yes, the elite athletes are impressive, but it’s the stragglers I admire, the ones determined enough to finish a 26.2 mile race against the odds, to prove something about their bodies and themselves. Most marathoners have their countries as well as their names written on their jerseys so you can call out: “You’re looking great, Doug!” and “Nice job, Marianna!” Many smile when they hear their name called. It’s heartwarming and uplifting and just plain fun.
(Image via Edwin Martinez1, Flickr.com; made available under Creative Commons license)