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NYS Fall Bucket List: The Ultimate Guide for Families

With the coming of fall in New York State comes a plethora of family friendly fall activities, a gorgeous blend of colors, apple picking, pumpkin patches, crisp autumn breezes, apple cider, donuts, and plenty of other treats! Explore the variety of fun fall activities in NYS with this NYS fall bucket list and discover many of the great destinations in New York State to celebrate the festivities below.

***Note that availability and activities may be limited due to COVID***

Go Apple Picking

Apple picking is a classic family fun fall activity and should be on your NYS fall bucket list. The options are limitless in New York State. Whether you are looking for already picked fresh apples or U-pick apples, you can find them scattered across the state.

Apple picking
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Image by Constanze Beyer from Pixabay

Take a Scenic Drive

Taking a scenic drive through parts of New York State is a great way to take in views of the all foliage as well as the opportunity to stop at some of New York’s quaint towns, restaurants, and shops. A scenic drive should be on your NYS fall bucket list!

  • Highway 9-Hudson River Valley
    • A road trip from Hyde Park to Saratoga Springs, including stops at the Vanderbilt Estate, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home, restaurants and shops along the Hudson, and the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Along the way you will be delighted with fall foliage.
  • Harriman State Park
    • A 46,613 acres state park with routes that take you around the western side of the park or through the center of the park. There are plenty of areas to stop, including at the park’s many lakes: Sebago Lake, Lake Kanawauke, Lake Skannatati, Lake Askoti, Lake Tiorati, Lake Nauwahunta, Silver Mine Lake. Opportunities for fall foliage viewing are endless.
  • Upper Delaware Scenic Byway
    • A drive along route 97 along the Delaware River on the border of NY and Pennsylvania. Along the drive you can find many areas to stop, including hiking trails, museums, restaurants, and opportunities to get on the water including canoeing and kayaking.
  • Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway
    • A 58 mile drive along the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the Niagara River, and Lake Erie. You can also stop in Alexandria Bay and view the 1,000 Islands.
  • Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway
    • Drive the scenic route to the top of one of New York’s tallest mountains-Whiteface Mountain-in Lake Placid, NY.
  • Lakes to Locks Passage
    • A 200 mile drive from the Capitol region to the Adirondacks, featuring views of the Hudson River, Lake George, the Champlain Canal, and Lake Champlain.
  • The Adirondack Trail
    • A 188 mile drive through the Adirondack Park of New York, with an abundance of fall foliage viewing opportunities. The trail goes from Fonda to Malone, just outside the Canadian border.
Fall drive
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Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Go For a Fall Foliage Train Ride

A scenic train ride will take you through the wooded areas of New York State that are blooming with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. Enjoy the autumn breeze as you cruise along and explore some of New York State’s quaint towns.

Fall train ride
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Image by Peter Mayer from Pixabay.

Visit a Haunted House

The coming of fall signals the coming of Halloween, and what better to celebrate Halloween than by attending a haunted house? New York State has a plethora of options, find some of the most popular below. Note that these may not be suitable for younger children.

haunted house
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Image by Anja🤗#helpinghands #solidarity#stays healthy🙏 from Pixabay

Go For a Hike

There is no better way to experience the fall foliage of New York State than by getting close to nature and taking in the fresh autumn breezes and stunning 360 views. Take a hike through the woods and stop for a picnic at the summit while taking in the autumn colors that surround you in sometimes 360 degree views with this must do on your NYS fall bucket list.

  • Overlook Mountain
    • A 4.6 mile out and back hike featuring 360 views of the Catskills, a fire tower, and ruins of an old hotel
  • Panther Mountain
    • A 0.9 mile out and back trail with mountain and lake views
  • Bald Mountain– Old Forge, NY
    • A 2 mile out and back trail along mostly rocky terrain featuring a fire tower and 180 views of the surrounding lakes and mountains
  • Stewart’s Ledge– Lake George, NY
    • A 1.4 mile out and back trail of easy terrain featuring views of Lake George.
  • Cascade Mountain
    • A 6.5 mile out and back trail featuring a river, waterfall, and stunning summit views.
  • Mount Jo
    • A 1.8 mile out and back trail featuring lake views and high peak views  
  • Eternal Flame Falls
    • A 1.4 mile out and back trail along a small stream and to a small waterfall. Behind the falls sits an eternal flame, kept alit by gases emitted from underground.
  • Black Mountain
    • A 7.7 mile out and back trail that is relatively easy and offers a fire tower and stunning views.
  • Ausable Chasm
    • The Ausable Chasm has over 5 miles of hiking trails, including hikes through the woods and along the Ausable River.
fall colors
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Visit a Cider Mill

If you want to enjoy some fresh apples but are not up for apple picking, visiting a cider mill is the perfect alternative. Scattered throughout New York State you can find cider mills offering cider and wine tastings, lots of tasty treats, family activities, and in some cases tours of the working mill.

  • Fly Creek Cider Mill -Fly Creek, NY
    • A historic cider mill just outside of Cooperstown that features cider mill tours, a bakery, marketplace, ducks, and duck racing
  • Burrville Cider Mill-Watertown, NY
    • Fresh pressed apples, apple cider, self guided pressing tours, and shop
  • Castile Cider Mill-Castile, NY
    • Fresh apples and fresh pressed cider, treats, and shop
  • Endicott Cider Mill-Endicott, NY
    • Fresh apples, cider, and apple slushies, self guided mill tours, and a shop
  • Clinton Cider Mill-Clinton, NY
    • fresh apple cider, apple slushies, treats, and a shop
  • Jericho Cider Mill-Jericho, NY
    • fresh apples, cider, and a shop
Fly Creek Cider Mill, NYS fall bucket list
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Visit a State Park

New York is full of gorgeous state parks and in the fall the addition of the fall foliage makes it even more stunning. Get close to nature by visiting one of the many state parks for some hiking and leef peeping.

  • Letchworth State Park -Castile, NY
    • Known as the grand canyon of the east, Letchworth State Park is one of New York’s most scenic state parks and the fall foliage only adds to that beauty. Spend some time hiking the many trails, viewing the waterfalls, or stopping at the many overlooks.
  • Watkins Glen State Park -Watkins Glen, NY
    • A 2 mile gorge trail featuring 19 waterfalls
  • Green Lakes State Park -Fayetteville, NY
    • A state park featuring walking trails along two glacier carved lakes with turquoise waters
  • Taughannock Falls State Park -Trumansburg, NY
    • Gorge and rim trails along a 200 ft. waterfall
Letchworth State Park, NYS fall bucket list
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Attend a Fall Festival

Fall time in New York State brings about many annual festivals. From the hot air balloon festival in the Adirondacks that sees the launching of an array of colorful balloons to a wine tasting festival in Naples, there is something for everyone! Be sure to add one (or more!) of these great festivals to your NYS fall bucket list.

  • Adirondack Balloon Festival -Queensbury, NY
    • Watch as colorful hot air balloons take off into the sky, food vendors, craft vendors, kids activities, live performances
  • Oktoberfest at Hunter Mountain
    • Cider and wine tastings, stunt shows, derbies, and live entertainment
  • Festival of Witches– Sleepy Hollow, NY
    • Featuring classes, a marketplace, and psychic readings
  • Naples Grape Festival- Naples, NY
    • Festival featuring artisans, wine, food, art, crafts, live entertainment, and a grape pie contest
  • Ellicottville Fall Festival -Ellicottville, NY
    • A festival featuring food vendors, arts and crafts, carnival rides, and live entertainment
  • Warwick Applefest -Warwick, NY
    • fresh apples, food vendors, craft vendors, and live entertainment
  • The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze -Hudson Valley, NY
    • A walk through of over 7,000 lighted, carved pumpkins in stunning displays
hot air balloons, NYS fall bucket list
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Image by Frauke Riether from Pixabay

Enjoy a Gondola Ride or Skyride

Fall in New York State is the perfect time for viewing from the summit of a mountain. The autumn colors add to the stunning beauty that is found throughout the year. But not everyone enjoys hiking. For those who prefer a more relaxed adventure, there are plenty of gondola and sky rides available throughout the state to see some of New York’s prettiest views.

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Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay

Tour a Winery

Okay, so this one is not so much for the kiddos. But what adult doesn’t love a good wine tasting? Explore these wine trails throughout the state while also taking in the picture perfect autumn backdrops.

  • Long Island Wine Country -Long Island, NY
    • Over 30 wineries located on Long Island where you can enjoy tastings, tours, and scenery
  • Cayuga Lake Wine Trail -Finger Lakes Region of NY
    • Known as the oldest wine trail in America, the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail sits in the Finger Lakes region of New York. There are 14 wineries along the trail along with plenty of other attractions in the Finger Lakes.
  • Shawangunk Wine Trail-Ulster County, NY
    • The Shawangunk Wine Trail begins in Ulster County, NY and includes stops to 15 wineries.
  • Cooperstown Beverage Trail – Cooperstown, NY
    • Seven stops along the Cooperstown beverage trail bring you unique, regional drinks, scenery, tours and specialty shops
wineries, NYS fall bucket list
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Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Along with apple picking, going to a pumpkin farm and choosing your own pumpkin for carving or decorating is one of the joys of childhood in New York and a must do on any NYS fall bucket list. Littered across the state are plenty of pumpkin farms that give you and the family the chance to not only choose a pumpkin but also enjoy a number of other fall fun activities.

  • The Great Pumpkin Farm -Clarence, NY
    • Pumpkins, magic shows, pumpkin canons, corn maze, petting zoo
  • Pumpkinville -Great Valley, NY
    • pumpkins, kiddie spookum barn, animals, pumpkin races, corn maze, hayrides cow train
  • Tim’s Pumpkin Patch– Marietta, NY
    • pumpkins, squash, petting zoo, hay maze, treats
  • Rulfs Orchard-Peru, NY
    • pumpkins, corn maze
  • Old McDonald’s Farm-Sacket’s Harbor, NY
    • pumpkins, corn maze, petting zoo, bounce houses, treats
  • Cunningham Family Farm-Swan Lake, NY
    • pumpkins, corn maze, hayride, obstacle course
  • Elmms Family Farm-Ballston Spa, NY
    • pumpkins, corn maze, bouncing pad
  • Stokoe Farms-Scotsville, NY
    • pumpkins, gift shop, wagon rides, corn maze, apple canon, pumpkin launcher
  • DuBois Farms– Highland, NY
    • pumpkins, face painting, wagon rides, corn maze, animals
  • Engelke Farm-Troy, NY
    • pumpkins, zipline, haunted corn maze, hayrides
  • Penny’s Country Farm-Union Springs, NY
    • pumpkins, hayrides, Spook woods, corn maze, air canon, playground
  • Breezy Maple Farms-Massena, NY
    • pumpkins, wagon rides, spooky trail, corn maze, obstacle course
  • Tucker Farms– Gabriels, NY
    • pumpkins, corn maze, potatoes, bonfires
  • Our Farm– Malius, NY
    • pumpkins, pumpkin catapult, petting zoo, horse rides, corn maze
  • Liberty Ridge Farm– Schaghticoke, NY
    • pumpkins, corn maze, giant gerbil wheels, jumping pillows, corn cob express, flinger swing, animals, pedal carts, duck races, play areas, trolley rides, paintball gallery
Pumpkins, NYS fall bucket list
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Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

Try Some Seasonal Treats


Food Festivals:

  • Lewiston Harvest & Hops Festival -Lewiston, NY
    • A festival featuring food vendors, crafts, artisans, craft beers, and a farmer’s market.
  • Taste of the North Country Food Festival-Lake George, NY
    • Wine and beer tastings, children’s activities, live entertainment, culinary demos, and food vendors.
  • Walktoberfest-Hudson Highlands, NY
    • Event on the Walkway Over the Hudson featuring Hudson Valley food, drink, artisans, and products. The event includes tastings and cooking/cocktail demonstrations, children’s activities, and art.

Must Try Snacks:

  • Apple Cider Slushies
  • Apple Cider Donuts
  • Apple Cider Sundaes
  • Apple Butter
  • Pumpkin Butter
  • Apple Pierogis
  • Maple Popcorn
  • Maple Sugar Candy
  • Maple Sugar Cotton Candy
Fall treats
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Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Go on a Ghost Tour

Take a ghost tour though one of the many historic sites in New York State that are believed to be haunted. If you are a lover of all things spooky this is a must do on a NYS fall bucket list. **These may not be suitable for younger children. **

  • Visit Some Sites on the Haunted History Trail of New York
    • The Haunted History Trail of New York features over 90 locations that are believed to be haunted, including museums, an asylum, hotels, and historic sites.
  • Get locked in at the Rolling Hills Asylum -East Bethany, NY
    • Explore an abandoned asylum that is believed to be haunted with a combination of guided and self guided tours
  • Fort William Henry Ghost Tour-Lake George, NY
    • Explore the historical Fort William Henry on a guided ghost tour featuring stories of the past and personal experiences of the guides
  • Haunted Saratoga Ghost Tours -Saratoga, NY
    • A walking tour of haunted locations throughout Saratoga
  • Things That Go Bump in the Night Ghost Tours -Cooperstown, NY
    • Walking ghost tour of Cooperstown’s living history museum -The Farmer’s Museum
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There is an endless number of family friendly fall activities in New York. Discover them all with this NYS fall bucket list.
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