October in New York City: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

The Mall in Central Park in New York City, NY

TripSavvy / Brakethrough Media

There is never a shortage of things to do in the City That Never Sleeps, but fall in New York City is especially enchanting. During October, Central Park becomes awash with brilliant red and gold leaves as restaurants around town serve up all pumpkin everything. With temperatures staying mostly between the 50s and high 70s Fahrenheit all month long, you can step out in a cozy sweater without having to worry about getting too chilly or too hot.

October is considered the shoulder season—it's much quieter than in the summer and over the holidays—but there's plenty going on regardless. The month kicks off with a "Columbus Day" parade and a city-wide open house, and ends with the biggest Halloween parade in the country.

New York City in October

New York City Weather in October

Although it can get a little chilly toward the end of the month—especially around Halloween—the average high is 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Celsius) and lows linger around 50 Fahrenheit (10 Celsius). With warm days, chilly nights, and usually fewer than seven days of the month experiencing rainfall, October is perhaps the most comfortable time to visit the Big Apple. Being the driest month of the year, it's also one of the least humid, perfect for surveying the rooftop bar scene, attending an outdoor concert venue, or strolling through Central Park.

What to Pack

October visitors may still be able to get away with short-sleeved shirts during the day; however, sweaters or medium-weight jackets may be necessary in the evenings, especially as the month goes on. Footwear can make or break a trip, so make sure yours is comfortable enough for walking expansive city blocks. Although New York is the U.S. capital of fashion, the locals pair almost every outfit with sneakers (pack a nicer pair of shoes in your bag if you have to). Closed-toed and water-resistant shoes are ideal.

October Events in New York City

With "Columbus Day" celebrations opening the month and Halloween parties closing it out, October is packed with fun happenings. However, you don't have to visit during these (crowded) holiday weekends to enjoy some unique events.

  • "Columbus Day" Parade: Containing all the necessary elements of a great parade—marching bands, minor celebrities, floats, etc.—without the crowds and chaos, this "Columbus Day" extravaganza is centered around the city's Italian-American culture. In 2020, the parade will take place virtually on WABC October 12.
  • New Yorker Festival: Celebrate all things NYC with workshops, roundtable discussions, readings, and performances led by experts in politics, arts, and culture. Hosted by The New Yorker, the festival will feature Dr. Anthony Fauci, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, author Margaret Atwood, and more virtually October 5 to 11, 2020.
  • Open House New York: Every year, this city-wide open house event allows participants to explore spots of architectural significance which aren't usually open to the public. According to the organizers, 2020's event will be a "hybrid of virtual experiences and outdoor self-guided explorations" taking place October 17 and 18.
  • New York Wine & Food Festival: This indulgent weekend features more than 80 events, including regional wine tastings, dinners hosted by celebrity chefs, mixology workshops, and more. This year's event will be held mostly virtually (with digital cooking classes by Martha Stewart, Giada De Laurentiis, and Rachael Ray) from October 2 to 11.
  • Halloween Extravaganza and Procession of the Ghouls: Watch (or join into) this participatory parade held every October at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. The event usually includes a screening of an old-school horror movie, sometimes accompanied by a local organist. In 2020, the event has been postponed.

October Travel Tips

  • Whether you take a sightseeing cruise to enjoy the changing leaves or just go for a walk in one of New York City's many parks, the sights and scents of autumn are a true pleasure. NYC is within a few hours' drive of some of the best locations in New England to see fall foliage: Long Island, the Poconos, or the Berkshires in Massachusetts.
  • The "Columbus Day" holiday—which always falls on the second Monday of the month—allows a three-day weekend for some. On the downside, this also means higher flights and hotel prices.
  • Try to wrap up your trip before the annual New York City Marathon takes place. This race attracts more than 53,000 runners and the course covers all five boroughs, making transportation virtually impossible the first weekend in November.