TODAY'S PAPER

Fall bucket list: 12 things to do in NYC

Summer is pretty much over, let's face it.

Soon, the leaves will change, there will be a chill in the air, and before you know it, the cold will force us indoors.

But there's fun to be had, so we've gathered some ideas for the best ways to spend these brightly colored days. Festivals are coming up in the next few weeks and nature is calling — plus more:

Be a mermaid one last time

Join the Rockaway Mermaid Brigade in Poseidon's Parade on Sept. 22, when mermaids, schools of fish and fanciful-finned people are expected to march down the boardwalk at Beach 106, some pulling floats and riding bikes. It kicks off at noon and ends with an after-party at the Under the Sea Lounge at Beach 95. Not a bad way to flip out of the summer.

Take part in the first High Line opera

"The Mile-Long Opera," an unprecedented performance by 1,000 singers along the High Line's 1 1⁄2 -mile stretch, will be free and open to the public from Oct. 3 to 7. The show, "a biography of 7 o'clock," is the story of what 7 p.m. means to New Yorkers from different backgrounds across the five boroughs. You'll walk through them as if they were sculptures. Read more about it in our behind-the-scenes feature.

Start planning your Halloween

Spooky, scary skeletons are just around the corner. It wouldn't hurt to start prepping your costume and planning out where you'll get frightened this year, whether it's at "The Angel's Share," a series that offers access to top musical acts inside Green-Wood Cemetery's catacombs (pictured), or at the Merchant's House Museum. For those who don't know, the museum holds lectures like "A Good Death: 19th Century Lessons in Dying Well."

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Restock your closet with cool vintage threads

As cooler weather moves in, it may be time to consider your wardrobe. Instead of draining your bank account buying new clothing, why not stop at any one of the city's thrift or vintage shops? Chances are, you'll find some cool styles for a fraction of the price. Here's our list of some great shopping around town.

Go to new venues instead of the same ones

There are a lot of new places opening this fall, including Bushwick's Bunton's World Famous in September and The Arc in Long Island City, which opened this summer.

Take a short trip to New England

Be a daytripper or a weekend warrior and head north this fall. There's nothing nicer than hearing the sweet crunch of the leaves beneath your feet as you walk around century-old villages and small towns -- far enough away from hectic New York City. Check out New Haven, Conn. or Westerly, Rhode Island.

Go on a walking tour while you still can

Fall is probably the most perfect season to spend time outdoors and explore the city we all love. You won't have to worry about temperatures in the 90s getting you down, overheating subway stations or getting sunburn. Check out the new Walk on the Wild Side music- and nightlife-themed tours (learn about where Public Enemy recorded their biggest album) or the off-the-beaten-path Hidden New York Tours, for starters.

Pick fresh apples from a nearby orchard

There's no better way to celebrate the harvest than picking crisp apples right off the trees they grew on. There are several farms just outside of the city that are only a day trip away, including Wright's Farm in Gardiner. Or if you just want to taste some hard cider, you can make a trip to Angry Orchards' barrel room in Walden.

Take a bike tour of the city

This is your last chance to see the city and its amber-colored foliage before it's too cold to keep your hands on the handlebars. If you don't want to go it alone, there are several tours you can take, including Bike New York, which does local tours and a holiday lights excursion, Get Up and Ride that hits the Brooklyn waterfront and lower Manhattan and Central Park's own bike tour.

Buy tickets to a festival

When it gets colder, it may be more difficult to brave the weather, but right now there are festivals to head to, including Hot Jazz Festival in September and the New York Pizza Festival in November. Don't miss out.

Catch beautiful leaves along Staten Island's Greenbelt

In mid- to late October, fall colors are at their best along the Greenbelt. Put on your hiking boots and take a calming jaunt through one of the city's rare, undisturbed forests, with tree species that include maple, tulip, beech, oak and hickory. Find it at Richmond and Brielle avenues.

Go ice skating

Ice skating is technically a winter sport, but before too long, it will be just too cold to enjoy it. Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park and Prospect Park open up before the winter comes, so they're good places to start.