By Melissa Brewer
The months between the end of summer and the start of the hectic holiday season are ripe with opportunities to create wonderful memories with your friends and family. While the autumn weather gives you plenty of sunny days and the changing leaves create a beautiful backdrop, you can spend your weekends doing all of the things that make fall in upstate New York so special.
There are plenty of important things to do before winter hits — especially when it comes to preparing your vehicle for the snowy roadways. On average, there’s a rear end collision on U.S. roads every eight seconds. And we’ve all seen how dangerous 490 can be during a snowstorm.
Although we’re well into the fall season, you still have plenty of time to indulge in some fall fun before winter settles in. Professional services firm Ernst & Young conducted an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation time employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8%. Whether you’re taking a nice fall vacation back home or you currently live in Rochester, there are plenty of fun things to do around here! Save the gutter cleaning you need to do twice a year for another weekend and take the family out for a day full of activities. Let’s dive into seven activities in the Rochester area you need to check out while fall is still in full swing.
Admire the Fall Foliage
One of our region’s most striking features at this time of year is the fall foliage. As the leaves change out of their summer greens, we get to see swathes of brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows take over the landscape. A great way to see the changing colors is by riding aboard the foliage trolley, which is an attraction at the New York Museum of Transportation in Rush.
This 1920s-era trolley goes along its two-mile route every Sunday until Oct. 27. Along the route, you’ll see rural scenes with wells — which were first constructed over 8,000 years ago — and pastures with farm animals. And, of course, plenty of trees with those brilliant leaves. On Saturday, Oct. 19, the trolley will take on the role of the “Halloween Express” and bring riders to a nearby pumpkin patch where they can pick a pumpkin to decorate back at the museum.
Take a Hike
If you’d rather see the fall foliage more actively, try hiking along trails in Rochester’s parks. There are plenty of family-friendly options with fewer hills, such as Corbett’s Nature Park in Brighton and Oatka Creek Park in Wheatland. For a bit more of a hiking challenge, you could try Washington Grove in Rochester’s Cobbs Hill Park or Mendon Ponds Park in Pittsford and Mendon. As just one mile of hiking burns an average of about500 calories, you’ll be getting plenty of exercise while you revel in the beauty of the changing leaves on whichever trail you choose.
You could also take a day trip to a nearby state park to see some stunning scenery. Letchworth State Park is a favorite of New York nature lovers and Watkins Glen State Park offers breathtaking views of waterfalls as well as the fall foliage. To catch the leaves in their times of peak color change, check New York’s weekly fall foliage report. With this report, you’ll know where you should go each weekend. For instance, you would know that driving out to the Ithaca gorges this weekend would allow you to see the area’s near-peak foliage, with about 75% of the leaves transitioning to their fall shades.
Plucking apples straight from the tree is an activity that people of all ages can enjoy. There are many orchards and U-pick farms in the Rochester area that allow visitors to pick fruit from their hardwood trees, which can take twenty years or more to reach full maturity. These welcoming orchards and farms include LaMora Farms in Ontario, The Apple Farm in Victor, Whittier Fruit Farm in Ogden, and many more.
Pumpkin Patches, Corn Mazes, and Apple Cannons, Oh My!
Larger farms in the Rochester area have been transforming their usual fields into centers for fall fun over the years and this autumn you’ll find plenty of places offering a variety of activities. Typically, these farms feature corn mazes, hayrides, pumpkin patches, apple cannons, and more. They usually have areas where visitors can grab a warm bite to eat and hot apple cider as well as autumn treats like fried cakes and pumpkin goodies.
Wherever you live in Rochester, there is probably a fun-filled farm near you. Some of the most popular spots include Stokoe Farms in Scottsville, Long Acre Farms in Macedon, Schutt’s Apple Mill and Wickham Farms in Penfield, Ford Farm Market in Chili, and Zarpentine Farms in Hilton. Whichever farm you choose to spend the day at, remember to bundle up to avoid catching one of the one billion colds Americans get every year. Temperatures tend to dip and rise wildly in the fall, but wearing layers and having a pair of gloves in your pocket can help keep you toasty during your day of fall fun.
Go To A Haunted House
We couldn’t end this list without including at least one Halloween activity. If you’re into the spookier side of fall, be sure to make it to a haunted house before the season’s over.
While this may not be the best place for every family, it’s the perfect activity for a group of friends who want to feel the fright. Even the chipper friend of the group who’s among the 30% of people who smile more than 20 times per day won’t be able to hold back a few screams and looks of distress as you traverse a haunted house. Keep in mind that haunted houses tend to get busier as Halloween approaches. Try to go sooner rather than later, or else you’ll face long lines outside the house that might be spookier than what’s lurking inside.
Whether you spend the remaining autumn weekends exploring a local pumpkin patch or gathering the courage to face a spooky haunted house, you’ll be taking advantage of all that fall has to offer. If you can’t fit everything in before the temperatures plummet and snowflakes start to fall, don’t worry. Autumn will come again next year and bring all of its fun festivities with it.