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Fall in love with fall on a day cruise

Take to the water and experience the best of the season, from fall foliage cruises to Oktoberfest day trips and even a Chinese harvest moon festival.
Sail NYC has several options for seeing upstate New York's fall foliage, from a brunch cruise to a trip to Poughkeepsie. Credit: Facebook

Cooler weather has blown in right on schedule, and with it the particular delights of fall. Make the most of the season’s golden sunshine with leaf peeping, hiking, Oktoberfest, mooncakes and sightseeing day cruises. Alas, New York Water Taxi isn’t running its usual trips to Tarrytown for easy access to Sleepy Hollow, but there are plenty of other fun to be had on the water.

Leaf peeping for non-drivers

Getting on the road isn’t the only way to see the leaves change. Take a trip up the Hudson River on the Spirit of New York’s yacht on a Fall Foliage Lunch Cruise. The three-hour sightseeing trip includes a three-course lunch buffet, entertainment like a DJ and games like shuffleboard on the rooftop deck, and all the gorgeous scenery along the river putting on its fall finery. Oct. 14 & 28, boarding at 11:30 a.m., $63.90 adults, $37.95 kids, Pier 61, West 22nd and 11th Ave., spiritcruises.com

Sail NYC’s Fall Foliage Cruises offer several options for foliage seekers every weekend through Nov. 5. Ride in cozy, retro style aboard the Manhattan for a brunch cruise ($108) or have an onboard picnic-style lunch with hot cocoa on the Kingston ($78), both with heated and enclosed observation areas. For the more cold-resistant, hop aboard the classic schooner Adirondack for a scenic sail up the Hudson River to the Palisades ($86). 

For a serious taste of fall’s splendor, take a day food and foliage day cruise from Poughkeepsie to Chelsea Piers on Sunday, Oct. 22 with Sail NYC. Start with the 20-minute Amtrak or Metro North ride to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, where your day begins with the Sheep and Wool Festival. Then at 3 p.m., you’ll sail to NYC over a leisurely four hours, including a four-course Hudson Valley dinner paired with local wines. (Sunday, Oct. 22, $116). 

Hail the harvest moon

Take a glamorous evening sail down the Hudson all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge to celebrate the full harvest moon in retro style. Hornblower Cruises’ three-hour Grand Shanghai Dinner Cruise transports guests back to the 1920s for a dinner dance party, beginning with a full Asian buffet of special foods for the holiday, a premium open bar and dessert of traditional Chinese mooncake. The smooth sounds of a jazz band and DJ will keep the night going. Dress Code: Think Shanghai Lily meets Cole Porter. Friday, Oct. 6, boarding: 6:30 p.m., $125, Pier 40, West and Clarkson sts., hornblowernewyork.com

Make Oktoberfest last all day

Don’t insult Germany’s largest folk festival by dropping in on a beer hall for happy hour. Celebrate Oktoberfest on Circle Line Sightseeing’s Bear Mountain Cruise, an eight-hour trip to southern Westchester Country and Bear Mountain State Park. Enjoy two and a half hours each way of Warsteiner beer specials and traditional German foods like bratwurst with sauerkraut and pork schnitzel, with traditional live oompah and polka bands. Once at Bear Mountain, you’ve got three hours to explore the park’s 50 hiking and biking trails and paddle its scenic lake to create the perfect album of autumn selfies. Weekends through Nov. 12; also Columbus Day, Oct. 9. Boarding at 8:30 a.m., $65 (doesn’t include food and drinks), Pier 83, West 42nd St. and 12th Ave., circleline42.com

Beer lovers looking for a fall-themed cruise can also take a shorter two-hour trip aboard the three-story yacht Hudson's for its Oktoberfest Open Bar Cruise (the title says it all, really). Swing around the Statue of Liberty while exercising your freedom to indulge in an open beer bar featuring Oktoberfest brews and seasonal newcomers like Harpoon Pumpkin Cider and Schlafly Pumpkin Ale. Other drinks are available a la carte, as is food, either bar snacks or a three-course dinner. Tues-Sun through Oct. 29, boarding: 6 p.m., $40, Pier 81, W. 41st and 12th Ave., hudsonsnyc.com