For many Americans, and especially those with school-age children, summer is the only time they can visit the historical and cultural megacities of the Northeast. So they do. But for those whose kids are too young, too old, or nonexistent, summer crowds, high prices, and frequently oppressive heat are more than they care to deal with. So they don’t.
But come October, crowds, prices, and temperatures all recede to tolerable levels, thereby encouraging Long Islanders to venture out again and see what’s new — or still old — in their own part of the country. (No need to include New York City, as they already live there.) You won’t exactly have it to yourself, but neither will you be sharing it with 10,000 like-minded tourists, most of them with school-age children in tow.
So if you haven’t been to Philadelphia, Boston, or Albany in a while, this fall would be a delightful time to renew the acquaintance.
In summer, Philadelphia’s compact, historical core is as much liability as asset. But come fall, it’s tremendously convenient. You can actually find a place to park, and there is no danger of wilting as you walk from site to site or wait in what are now mercifully short lines at Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Center, and the 6-year-old Benjamin Franklin Museum, all of which, by the way, are free.
Something new: If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to visit the 2-year old Museum of the American Revolution ($21 adults, $13 ages 6-17) Among the many compelling exhibits are Gen. Washington’s Headquarters tent and the “you are there” Battlefield Theater.
Something theatrical: “Hamilton” will be playing at the Forrest Theater on Walnut Street through Nov. 17, and yes, tickets are available. The Philadelphia Film Festival (various locations) runs from Oct. 17-27.
Something seasonal: Kids will enjoy Jack’s Pumpkin Glow in Fairmount Park through Nov. 3. More hardened Halloween offenders should consider the highly ranked — and highly interactive — Terror Behind the Walls (haunted house) at the historic Eastern State Penitentiary. ($24-44, selected dates through Nov. 9). Or come celebrate Oktoberfest at the 23rd Street Armory Oct. 18 and 19.
Something sporty: The Flyers have already started skating at the Wells Fargo Center with the Islanders coming to town Nov. 16. The 76ers begin their 2019 campaign there on Oct. 23, and will be hosting the Knicks on Nov. 20. At adjacent Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles suit up against the Jets on Oct. 6 and the Giants on Dec. 9. On Dec. 14, the 119th Army-Navy game kicks off, also at Lincoln Financial Field.
Deals: Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Packages include free parking and complimentary tickets to both the Museum of the American Revolution and the National Constitution Center (through Nov. 30.)
With even more history than Philadelphia — and ocean views to boot — Boston was this year’s No. 1 summertime destination according to US News and World Report. Autumnal visitors have the same overwhelming lineup, without the hordes of tourists and with the added benefit of the area’s many colleges, particularly Harvard and MIT, being back in session. Garnish that with some spectacular New England fall foliage, and you’ve got truly “greater” Boston. Just avoid the weekend of Oct. 19-20 and the annual Head of the Charles (rowing) Regatta.
Something new: Like Philadelphia, Boston’s tourist trail is both well established and well trodden. Among the few new exhibits are: “Boston Made Arts and Crafts Jewelry and Metalwork” at the Museum of Fine Arts (through March 29), “In the Company of Artists” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (through Jan. 20), and “JFK 100: Milestones and Mementos” at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (through Nov. 28).
Something theatrical: Come fall, Boston’s Theater District shifts back into high gear, the Boston Symphony Orchestra returns to Symphony Hall, and headliners queue up at various venues around town. Check listings to see what’s playing.
Something sporty: The Bruins, who skate at TD Garden, will be hosting the Rangers on Nov. 29 and the Islanders on Dec. 19. The Celtics, who also play there, will hold court against the Knicks on Nov. 1 and the Nets on Nov. 27.
Something seasonal: Boston proper has its own lineup of Halloween activities, but the really big show is “Haunted Happenings” in nearby Salem (through Oct. 31.) Come November, the action shifts south to Plymouth and especially Plimouth Plantation (plimoth.org), the re-created home of the first Thanksgiving. Deals: Many individual hotels offer multiple night fall packages, just not as part of a coordinated promotion.
While Albany isn’t exactly overrun with tourists in summer, getting there can be compromised by all the through traffic to Saratoga Springs and the Adirondacks. Come fall, not only are the roads clear, the colors en route up the Hudson River Valley make the trip positively enjoyable. And with the legislature not reconvening until January, the Empire State Plaza won’t be awash in politicians and lobbyists. Need another reason? All official state attractions, including the Corning Tower Observation Deck, are free.
Something new: Downtown Albany’s attractions are well established; what’s new are the rotating exhibits. This fall’s lineup includes the “1969” exhibit at the Vietnam Memorial Gallery in the Robert Abrams Building for Law and Justice; exhibits on Fort Orange (Albany’s original settlement), the Woodstock Art Colony, and the Erie Canal at the New York State Museum (closed Mondays); and the entire Hudson River School landscape collection at the Albany Institute of History and Art ($10 adults, $6 ages 6-12).
Something capitol: Regardless of season, no trip to Albany is complete without touring the ornate, Victorian state capitol. (Four times daily, Monday — Friday.) Afterward, take in the People of New York Exhibition (through Dec. 31). And if you feel so inclined, drop by your assembly person or state senator’s office. He or she probably won’t be there, but their staff will welcome you and hear constituent concerns.
Something theatrical: The lineup is constantly changing at The Egg Performing Arts Center’s two theaters, where the building itself is part of the show, or at the elegantly renovated 1930 Palace Theatre.
Something seasonal: Commercial ghost walks take on added appeal in October. But there are also free Capitol Hauntings Tours (through Nov. 1), and an historically accurate Murder at Cherry Hill walking tour at the Historic Cherry Hill mansion. ($20, though Oct. 26)