11 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in New York

By Kiera Hufford

11 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in New York

New York State is undeniably big (not Texas-sized big, but big). If you’ve ever visited the state, you know how much there is to do in every big city and small town—and that hustle and bustle doesn’t stop come autumn! With its many farms, apple orchards, state parks, and local events, New York has a variety of different experiences to offer travelers during the fall season. Here are just a few of our favorites. 

Hiking at Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in New York, and it’s right in the heart of the Finger Lakes! Nestled in a small town right next to Cayuga Lake, you can enjoy a scenic fall hike through the colorful foliage or head on up to the overlook and see the Falls in all its glory. There’s a gorge trail and a rim trail—perfect for whatever hiking mood you’re in—and you can enjoy a nice meal after your workout at the local Falls Restaurant and Tavern (just a short drive into town). And if you’re in the mood for some Italian, stop in at Little Venice, a locally-owned restaurant serving all your pizza and pasta desires.

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Camping at Buttermilk Falls State Park

Buttermilk Falls is only a short 20-minute drive from Taughannock, if you feel like exploring more than one local gorge in a day! You can camp at Buttermilk’s lower park, where there’s a natural swimming area (that’s more for summer weather) and playing fields. Just beyond the fields is a nature trail, winding directly through the Larch Meadows wetland. Buttermilk also has gorge and rim trails available, as well as a small lake and picnic area at its upper park.

Apple picking at Littletree Orchards

What would a camping/hiking excursion be without a trip to a local orchard? Located less than 10 miles away from Buttermilk, campers are able to head on down and pick up some fresh fruit for their weekend in the Finger Lakes! As a pick-your-own orchard, you’ll have the experience of plucking only your desired apples from the trees—and who can say no to some fresh apple cider and doughnuts? And if you’re like most and can’t resist a good wine tasting, be sure to check out the wine trail along Cayuga Lake (or Seneca Lake, or any Finger Lake if you don’t mind a bit of a drive)!

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, Hudson, NY

Head on east to Hudson, New York, and you’ll find the greatest jack o’-lantern event in the tri-state area. The display of jack o’-lanterns is set up along the historic, 18th century riverside and features displays like the Pumpkin Carousel and the Pumpkin Zee Bridge (shout-out to New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge). Dates for this year span from the end of September to the end of November, so there’s no risk of missing out on the 7,000 illuminated gourds!

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Troy Farmer’s Market, Troy, NY

The Troy Waterfront Farmer’s Market is located in the heart of downtown Troy, right in the streets. Every Saturday from May through October, the roads around Monument Square are closed off for vendors and visitors to explore all the produce, coffee, baked goods, etc. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can enjoy everything the city of Troy has to offer. And while prime time is in the fall, don’t worry if you miss out! The market moves inside to the Troy Atrium from November to April, so you can still come check it out!

Hiking at Letchworth State Park

Hiking, hiking, and more hiking. Letchworth State Park is yet another beautiful location to view a lower, middle, and upper waterfall—one of which can create its own rainbow! Located in the Genesee Region, this park is often regarded as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” There are 66 miles worth of trails in the area that are available for hiking, biking, and even horseback riding!

Biking on the Eerie Canalway Trail

This unique trail goes from Buffalo to Albany—perfect for a bike ride at peak foliage season! You can choose how far you decide to roam, and by watching New York’s foliage report, you can plan your trip around when the trees will be most colorful (giving your ride a magnificent fall atmosphere).

Iron Kettle Farm, Candor, NY

Starting in mid-September, Iron Kettle Farm becomes a perfect place for fall family activity! In addition to their spooktacular Halloween pumpkin display, they have a corn maze, hay ride, wagon ride, spook barn, pumpkin express train, pumpkin sling shot, and more! Plus, they even have a nice selection of small to gigantic pumpkins; so while you’re out enjoying a day of family bonding, you can pick some up to carve later at home!

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Harbes PumkpinLand, Jamesport, NY

During the fall at Harbes Family Farm, you can find their interactive corn maze and pumpkin patch. Actors bring the 1.5-acre maze to life with a story of how PumpkinLand’s King lost his crown, and you have to help him find all the pieces. There are riddles to solve throughout the maze, which you need to successfully navigate, along with winning a climactic sword fight. Good luck!

Hayride at Night Terrors Haunted Farm

On this haunted hayride, you can cross a toxic swamp, meet the tortured souls of previous patients from Orchard Asylum, and feel like you’re part of the disturbed family that runs the butcher shop. Be careful, though, because you could end up being the next up for slaughter. Check out their site for more creepy attractions!

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Bonus: Leaf peeping in NY

Visit any of the gorgeous parks New York has to offer (Central Park included!) during prime foliage season to do a bit of leaf peeping. If you don’t like biking, no sweat! You can go on scenic drives through the local region, go for a walk/hike, or even take a boat out onto a lake—but make sure you’re close enough to shore to still see the trees! The foliage is beautiful throughout the state, so make sure you don’t miss out.

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