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6 cheapo reasons to visit New York in the fall

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autumn in new york
You really can experience autumn in New York for a song (or nearly). Photo: Chris Ford

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—with the added bonus that the weather is far preferable. 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. A recent search for Thursday to Sunday airfares from San Francisco to New York yielded tickets hovering around $550 at the end of August and then dropping below $400 in September. Other cities showed similar trends, with airfare dropping anywhere from $20 to $150 between the end of August and the middle of November. Note, though,that your window is small: Fares will spike again at Thanksgiving and remain high through the holidays.

Comfortable climes make fall great for enjoying New York's many parks. Photo: artolog.

Comfortable climes make fall great for enjoying New York’s many parks. Photo: artolog

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 make it a joy to explore, whether you’re leaf-peeping in Central Park or strolling through 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.

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.

new york farmer's market

Fall is the perfect time to enjoy all things apple in the Big Apple. Photo: Tom Lin

5. 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 between 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 can’t be beat. And everything from Central Park to the Union Square farmer’s market catches the fever.

About the author

Suzanne Russo

About the author: Suzanne Russo thinks of herself as equal parts California Girl and New Yorker. She moved from San Francisco to New York four years ago to pursue her MA in English, and her obsession with all things New York life and history hasn’t dwindled yet. She is a freelance writer, director of the San Francisco-sponsored, New York literary pub crawl, Lit Crawl, and constant wanderer.

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