5 things to do in New York City this fall

It’s fall in New York City. And though it may not be as pretty as places where there are actually trees to watch change, there’s a lot happening in the post sweltering summer, pre frozen tundra days of NYC.

I have to admit, growing up in California I never really had a feel for fall. In LA, fall is just late summer or early slightly-colder-summer. But in the Northeast, there are leaves changing (never mind that you have to visit a park to see them), there’s apple picking (never mind you have to find a friend with a car to take you Upstate to do it) and there’s pumpkin spice everything (never mind that this one has no appeal if you don’t like pumpkin). The point is, fall can be fun and cozy and cute if you do it right.

Here are five things to do for fall in NYC.

1. Sip cider at the Bryant Park Winter Village

OK, I know this is a fall guide and we’re talking about a Winter Village, but one of the best parts about fall is getting ready for the holiday season in the city, because it’s so good here. At the Bryant Park Winter Village, the ice skating rink is already set up, the holiday pop up shops are already selling all manner of stuff and the vibe already feels festive. Grab a friend and a hot apple cider and stroll the market. Also, go hungry because there’s lots of good treats to try. Bonus: Doughnuttery is on hand this year. They’re the ones who make fresh hot mini doughnuts and sprinkle them in different delicious flavors of sugar. Get the apple cider flavor to go with your actual apple cider and you’ll feel almost like you’re on a farm Upstate picking apples or strolling through a pumpkin patch.

*Note: The world’s most famous Christmas tree will be lit at Rockefeller Center on Nov. 30. I’m not actually recommending it because as cool as it is, it’s overpacked for the actual tree lighting, so I’d go on pretty much any other day than that one. But, if you do decide to go, get yourself some banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery to enjoy while you navigate the tourists and watch people tumble on the ice skating rink.

2. Go see Kusama

After getting into the holiday spirit, go get your immersive art on. Famed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s polka dot installations and mirrored rooms have made their way to NYC at the David Zwirner Gallery. Heads up Instagram fans: these art exhibits are the backdrops of your dreams. From an all-white room with red polka dots to fully mirrored rooms inspired by the hallucinations Kusama says she has experienced all her life. The exhibit runs through Dec. 16. Expect a queue. And a 30-second selfie rule in some rooms to prevent congestion.

3. Get crafty at Renegade

Think bazaar meets flea market meets Etsy come to life and you’ve got the Renegade Craft Fair. If I’ve already lost you, you’re welcome to move on to No. 4. Taking place Nov. 18-19 at the Metropolitan Pavillion, Renegade is the world’s largest curated showcase of independent craft and design, with goodies created by makers from all over. You’ll find anything from one-off jewelry to hand-painted pottery to hibiscus lavender syrup and bespoke curated coffee sets. Definitely a perfect place to find holiday gifts you can guarantee the person doesn’t already have.

4. Have a laugh

Sometimes we have to laugh. I think it’s impossible to be laughing and thinking about sadness or stress or any other negative thing at the same time, so I’m sure we could all stand to laugh a little more. Which is precisely what the New York Comedy Festival is designed for. Running from Nov. 7-12, acts will perform in venues all around the city. Tracy Morgan and Cedric the Entertainer will do a talk after new comics do their sets and Bill Mahr will be at Madison Square Garden, to name just two. Think of it as a bar crawl with a side of chuckles.

5. Go on a grilled cheese crawl

Grilled cheese sandwiches are a perfect fall comfort food, and this month there’s a contest for tastiest in the city at the Grilled Cheese Meltdown on Nov. 12. (Yes, for real). Basically, the best of the best when it comes the melty masterpiece are challenged to come up with creative takes on the grilled cheese, and it’s your job to taste them. Don’t say I never gave you anything.