Upstate New York is one of the best places to experience fall foliage in North America. A short drive from a handful of major cities and airports, upstate New York is full of natural beauty. With a variety of outdoor activities and unique experiences available, there are so many fun things to do in New York in Fall.
Fun Things to Do in Upstate New York in Fall
New York is the perfect place for a fall visit. Take a scenic drive, visit some state parks, and snag a few farmer’s market goodies for an absolutely perfect time north of New York City.
Best Things to Do in the Adirondack Mountains in Fall
With breathtaking views at almost every turn, quaint towns, and perfect fall foliage, the Adirondacks are some of the most popular regions for a fall visit. Take a hike, ride a bike, or enjoy a scenic chair lift ride for breathtaking views!
One of the best ways to see the Adirondacks is on a hike. With hikes for beginners, experts, and everyone in between, there’s truly a hike for everyone. We encourage you to do your research!
A great place to begin is with Adirondack Hiking Challenges. Beginners should look into the Fulton Chain Trifecta and Tupper Lake Triad for easier hikes with stunning views. Experts might look to take on the Adirondack 46; a hiking challenge that includes all 46 of New York’s 4,000-foot mountains. The Saranac Lake 6er and Lake George 12ster include mountains of varying difficulty.
Indian Head, the very popular, arguably famous, Adirondack fall hike, requires a permit to park and access the trail. You can find that information here.
Whether you’re new to riding or a singletrack veteran, the Adirondacks is home to numerous biking areas. The lower Adirondacks is home to my three favorite areas to ride, McCauley Mountain. Wheelerville, and Gurney Lane.
Check out our full list of mountain biking opportunities in the Adirondack Mountains. It’s important to note, that in many areas, local businesses do have bike rentals you can look into so you can experience these amazing trails for yourself.
Mt Van Hoevenberg
The Legacy of Lake Placid lives on through Mt Van Hoevenberg. Discover a variety of outdoor activities with the help of Mt Van Hoevenberg’s knowledgeable staff. Try biathlon, biking, climbing, and luge among other Olympic favorites.
Also home to the longest alpine coaster in North America, the cliffside coaster will provide the whole family impeccable views of the fall color. Control your speed as you zip down the 1980 Olympic sliding track before embarking on a Legacy Tour to learn about the three sliding sports that call the Winter Olympics home.
Visit the Lake Placid Olympic Museum in town for more history!
Scenic Chair Lift
Throughout the Adirondacks, visitors can enjoy a variety of scenic chair lift and gondola rides. Scenic chair lifts at McCauley Mountain and West Mountain and gondola rides at Gore and Whiteface mean you can enjoy a birds-eye view of New York’s fall foliage from all four regions of the Adirondack mountains.
Chair lift and gondola rides are great for families looking to gain some altitude. With chair lift rides hovering around $10 per person and gondola rides around $20, this is an affordable way to gain some new perspective!
The Adirondack Mountains are full of stunning scenic drives. Cars, motorcycles, and road bikes can enjoy miles of lush forests, picturesque lakes, winding rivers, and towering mountains. There isn’t a road in the park that you won’t provide fall color!
The High Peaks byways, route 73, is a classic option. Connecting the Northway to Lake Placid, route 73 drives right through the heart of the high peaks region. Route 28 from Old Forge to Blue Mountain Lake is another incredible drive. This route continues south of the High Peaks region and can loop back to Blue Mountain Lake for an incredible drive.
Small Towns in the Mountains
The Adirondack Park is full of incredible small mountain towns with big personalities. With delicious restaurants and breweries, incredible shops, and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, paying these towns a visit is perfect during the fall season.
Meander around Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, enjoy the views from the sidewalks of Lake George and experience Fourth Lake from the town of Old Forge. Support local businesses, from delicious bakeries and coffee shops to souvenir shops and cool crafts!
The Wild Center
Plan a day at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake! This interactive natural history center is both educational and fun. Meet the resident otters and other North East native species, allow littles to explore the Wild Play Area, and enjoy the forest music exhibit under a canopy of fall foliage.
The Wild Walk, The Wild Center’s signature attraction, leaves visitors in awe. This trail among the trees includes a human-sized spider web, bridges, treehouses, and a massive nest for epic foliage views.
Outdoor Activities in the Capital Region
The area surrounding Albany, the capital of New York State, is known as the Capital Region. From spooky fall findings to more traditional farm activities, the Capital Region is full of fun autumn activities for your next getaway!
Adirondack Balloon Festival
Head on over to Queensbury New York for the Adirondack Balloon Festival. Thousands of people attend the third largest balloon festival in the United States for the views, vendors, and even rides. Book your hot air balloon ride through the participating pilots area of the website.
It’s important to note that flights occur just after sunrise or just after sunset. Flights are also weather dependent and will not fly in the rain or in heavy wind. Remember that this is a free event ran by volunteers so it’s important to be considerate.
Ellms Family Farm
Located in Saratoga Springs, Ellms Family Farm offers acres of fall family fun. With over 40 attractions for kids of all ages, Elms Family Frm is the perfect way to spend a fall day.
Take a scenic trolley ride, pick your own pumpkins, make your way through the corn maze, navigate the low ropes course, and more! This incredible place is truly perfect for a fall visit and is sure to provide autumn memories that will last a lifetime.
Harrowing Historic Walk
Relive the night of the notorious murder at Cherry Hill that resulted in two sensational trials and Albany’s last public hanging. Located in historic Cherry Hill, walk in the footsteps of a murderer and learn about this harrowing event.
This experience is recommended to guests 12 and older. It includes a lot of walking both inside and outside so comfortable shoes are a must.
Indian Ladder Farms
Indian Ladder Farms is a family-owned and operated farm in Altamon New York that offers a variety of fun fall activties. Pick your own fruit, walk the nature trail, and try their sweet or hard cider. Don’t forget to visit the farm store for a bakery treat, dinner ingredients, and merchandise.
If you’re looking to learn about and experience the farm in detail, book a tour. Tours are offered to groups of people, such as day cares, senior citizen groups, and group homes. Additionally, Indian Ladder Farms has a summer school for children who are interested in learning about agriculture and developing farm skills.
Double M Haunted Hayrides
This is the perfect event for those who see fall as the gateway to spooky season. Start your experience weave through the haunted forest on a tractor drawn wagon before exting your ride and continuing on foot through a variety of different spooky attractions.
Attractions here are not reccommended to anyone under 12 years of age. Additionally, anyone
Offering a wide variety of outdoor activities less than three hours away from New York City and Long Island, the Catskill Mountains are a popular destination. From famous concert venues and autumn-themed train rides to more adventurous activities like zip lining and hiking, the Catskills are fun for everyone!
Try and catch a concert at the National Register Historic Site of the 1969 Woodstock festival. The 16,000-seat amphitheater is known for its woodsy setting, making it an incredible location for a fall concert!
Make sure to pay a visit to the Museum at Bethel Woods while you’re there. This experience touches on Woodstock and other art and music news of the early 1960s.
With over 300 miles of hiking trails over 700,000 acres, you’re bound to find some incredible fall views! Choose from easy forest strolls to strenuous mountain climbs and everything in between.
Kaaterskill Falls is an easy Catskill classic, albeit incredibly busy all year round. Those looking for a strenuous hike or a backpacking route should look into the Devil’s Path trail, a 24.5-mile long trail boasting over 8,000 feet of elevation gain. If something more in the moderate range if more your style, check out Giants Ledge and Panther Mountain.
Any road through a mountainous area such as the Catskills is considered beautiful. There are a variety of amazing Catskill Drives, but here are two scenic drives you need to add to your list.
Catskills Scenic Route 30 is a 61-mile-long road that travels the East Branch of the Deleware River. The Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway is a bit shorter at 41 miles. The stunning vistas provided by Routes 23A, 214, and County Routes 18, 23C and 25 are unforgettable.
The Pumpkin Express
All aboard the Catskills Mountain Railroad for a fall foliage adventure! Take a spectacular journey on the former Ulster & Delaware Railroad corridor and experience a unique perspective of the Catskill’s unique beauty.
Ride the Pumpkin Express train for an added bonus! All passengers will be able to select a pumpkin from the flat cars to remember their journey. Bring it home and set it on the porch for autumn or carve it spooky for the holiday.
Head to Hunter Mountain to experience the highest, longest, and fastest zip line in North America. On this zipline adventure, you’ll cruise for a total of 4 miles along the Catskill canopy. Reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour on this 3 to 4-hour tour.
If this is too extreme for anyone in your party, Hunter Mountain is home to a handful of other amazing activities as well. Colors in the Catskills Fall Festival includes food, drink, and live music on weekends in October. The Scenic Skyride also runs on weekends at Hunter Mountain.
Central New York
Geographically centered in Upstate New York, Central New York is home to a variety of fun things to do on a fall visit! From apple orchards and hiking trails to zoo visits and adventure resort stays, Central New York is a great option for your Upstate New York fall getaway.
Beak and Skiff
Voted among the top 10 best orchards in America, you won’t want to miss one of the most fun things to do in upstate New York in fall. What’s better than apple picking? Selecting apples grown to perfection after 100 years and 5 generations’ worth of experience
A whole lot more than apple picking, Beak and Skiff offers UTV tours, a treehouse play area, a bakery, a general store, and their very own 1911 distillery! Enjoy a great meal alongside their latest hard ciders, spirits, and wines in the 1911 tasting room and tavern. Be sure to try one of the CBD product offerings for a delicious and relaxing treat.
Unique State Parks
The Central New York area is home to a handful of unique state parks where fall colors really know how to pop. Stop by Chittenango Falls State Park for an easy loop that features a cascading 167-foot waterfall. Nearby Pratt’s Falls Park includes a 137-foot ribbon waterfall that you can enjoy on a 1.2-mile loop.
Head on over to Green Lakes State Park and hike the 2.8-mile gorgeous green lake path. You can also rent canoes to take out on the pristine water or play a round of disc golf among the foliage. With a variety of activities available to you at this park, you can plan to spend a day exploring these glacial lakes and the surrounding landscape.
Fenimore Art Museum
Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown is home to hundreds of beautiful art pieces and equally beautiful grounds. Enjoy American stories told through folk art,fine art, photography and more. With collections featuring Arnold Lobel (Frog & Toad), Callahan and Whitten, and Hall of Fame Pitcher, Randy Johnson, you’re bound to learn something new!
While you’re in town, check out the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Glimmerglass State Park, and enjoy the views while sipping a delicious cold one at Ommegang Brewery. You’ll likely find live music when you visit as well!
Greek Peak Mountain Resort
As one of the largest ski resorts in New York State, Greek Peak is an incredible four-season destination. Visit the outdoor adventure center in the fall season for tons of family-friendly fun.
A gravity-fed mountain coaster, guided zip line tour, high ropes course, and mountain bike trails appeal to the adventure-seeker in all of us. With on-site accommodations at Hope Lake Lodge, delicious dining opportunities, live entertainment, and other fun events, a weekend spent at Greek Peak would be one for the memory books.
Wild Animal Park
This 14-acre park is home to a wide range of domestic and exotic animals from all over the world. In this unique space, animals, adventure, and education come together to create a memorable experience. Each animal’s custom habitat resembles their natural setting and allows for maximum visitor viewing. You’ll never see a zoo quite as beautiful as this one!
The Wild Animal Park hosts a variety of events throughout the year. In the fall months, you can attend their flashlight safari. This allows you to see the animals at night which is when they tend to be most active! If late nights aren’t for you, you can plan for daytime trick or treating instead.
Extending 150 miles north of Manhattan, the Hudson River Valley is full of history and culture, natural beauty, and an incredible farmers market scene. It’s no wonder the Hudson Valley is the perfect pumpkin and apple picking destination with a local farm scene strong enough to support New York City fall visitors and beyond.
Apple Picking and Pumpkin Patch Fun
What’s the fall season without apple and pumpkin picking? One of the most fun things to do in upstate New York in fall is hit up the local farms and farmers markets for fresh produce, apple cider, and donuts! Here are three of the Hudson Valley’s top farm experiences.
Known as the Hudson Valley’s most scenic and rustic orchard, Apple Ridge Orchards in Warwick has Upick apples and pumpkins, a petting zoo full of friendly farm animals, and a produce market. Greig Farm in Red Hook is a family-owned pick-your-own farm offering apples, pumpkins, gourds, and raspberries in the fall season. Pick your own fruit and meander the 100 beautiful acres at Mead Orchards where they guarantee an authentic Hudson Valley experience.
Hudson River Cruise
Circle Line Cruises will help you fall in love with the Hudson with their Bear Mountain Cruise. This 8-hour trip departs from New York City and travels 50 miles up the Hudson River to Bear Mountain. An Oktoberfest-themed experience combined with autumn views and live music will make it tough to leave the boat for your two hours of exploring at Bear Mountain before the return trip!
You can also leave from the Kingston area on a Hudson River Cruise where you’ll experience the more northern end of the Hudson Valley by boat. With live music, sunset, and daytime options, this is a great option for anyone who isn’t located in New York City or Long Island.
Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
Attend the tristate area’s most electrifying fall event! More than 7,000 jack o’ lanterns are hand carved on site, lit up, and synchronized with music for a one-of-a-kind event that you simply cannot miss.
Tickets can only be purchased in advance; there are none available on-site. The experience is self-paced and is about a half-mile-long walk. Allot for between 45 and 90 minutes to explore the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze.
Visit the New Paltz area for seemingly endless natural beauty, a quaint main street area, and historical sites. Minnewaska State Park is an incredible Hudson Valley location with breathtaking views. The main hike is a popular 2-mile loop that includes stunning cliffs and lush forests.
Main Street New Paltz is the perfect place to grab a coffee and do some window shopping, In early October the changing leaves and local businesses make this a great spot to explore in the fall season. If you have the chance, visit the Mohonk Mountain House. Historical sites such as this one include natural beauty and a rich and storied history.
This village in New York’s Hudson Valley is known as the setting for a popular horror story written by Washington Irving. Sleepy Hollow has really is the ultimate Halloween town!
There is a little bit of everything for everyone in Sleepy Hollow. Haunted hayrides, amazing gothic architecture, farmers markets, street fairs, and parades equipped with live music and themed activities make Sleepy Hollow an incredible fall getaway for Halloween lovers!
Finger Lakes Region
Spanning from the Pennsylvania border to the shore of Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes Region is known for its long, narrow lakes. Carved by glaciers, this incredible landscape is home to stunning State Parks, picturesque towns, and many delicious cideries, wineries, and breweries! Stay in Ithaca for easy access to all of the Finger Lake’s beauty.
Beautiful State Parks
The Finger Lakes Region is the mecca for outdoor enthusiasts who love waterfalls. Taughannock State Park is home to the tallest free-falling waterfall east of the Mississippi, Letchworth State Park is known as the Grand Canyon of the East featuring three picturesque waterfalls, and the other Finger Lakes Region parks all feature waterfalls as well.
Visit the famous Watkins Glen to experience 19 waterfalls along a trail that traverses the 400-foot-deep gorge. Check out Buttermilk Falls and Robert H. Treman State Parks in Ithaca for even more gorge views featuring incredible waterfalls.
Cideries are growing in popularity throughout the Finger Lakes Region. Not only do these cideries provide delicious hard ciders, they also have incredible views.
Check out South Hill Cidery for amazing cider, delicious lunch, wildflower bouquets, and stunning views of the Finger Lakes. Located just around the corner from Buttermilk Falls and Robert Treman State Park, it’s the perfect post-hike stop!
Indian Creek Farm
Forty acres of fresh picking fun await! You can expect pumpkins, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and beautiful flowers. The farm is open Tuesday through Sunday for picking and delicious cider donuts are served Thursday through Sunday.
Indian Creek Farm is an absolute beauty. You can spend a full afternoon picking colorful flowers, choosing delicious vegetables for dinner, and even launching pumpkins. It’s a great stop after checking out Tauhannock Falls as they’re fairly close to one another!
Strong National Museum of Play
The Strong National Museum of Play might not have an outdoor or fall-specific focus but it’s a great place to spend the day. This highly interactive, collection-based museum is devoted to all things play.
The benefit of visiting in the fall is there’s a discount! Fall Fridays from 4-8 PM will include half off museum admission. Check out their calendar for incredible events including Women in Games Celebration and other workshops.
The Finger Lakes region is probably best known for its award-winning wineries. Recently voted the top wine region in the United States, you won’t have any regrets! The natural setting combined with the growing experience makes for an unforgettable gastronomic experience.
Explore the Finger Lakes wine trail. There are three different wine trails to choose from. Each trail individually offers passport programs for discounts.
Western New York
Western New York includes the area from the Finger Lakes to Niagara Falls. The beautiful rolling hills of this area make for amazing fall foliage and provide a lot of fun things to do in Upstate New York in Fall.
East Aurora is one of the best places to live in New York State. It’s also an incredible place to visit in the fall. This quaint village provides several historical sites, boutiques, and a variety of restaurants, cafes, and a brewery.
East Aurora is also home to Knox Farm State Park. This 633-acre plot of land includes grasslands, woodlands, and ponds that only become more beautiful with the changing leaves. Stop by to hike and check out the visitor center for historical and natural information.
Ellicottville and Holiday Valley Resort
The picturesque Ellicottville and neighboring Holiday Valley Resort are Western New York weekend getaway hot spots. Ellictoville is the prime location for outdoor enthusiasts in the Western New York area. Mountain biking, hiking, paddling, and a ropes course should appeal to the adventurous side in us all.
Plan to attend their largest, most anticipated event, the Fall Festival. This weekend, the town turns into a walkable arts and crafts show complete with live music, delicious food, and chairlift rides. Sprinkle fall colors into a jam-packed weekend of amazing events and you have yourself an epic fall weekend.
Griffis Sculpture Park
Explore over 250 sculptures among 450 acres of land in Western New York. Griffis Sculpture Park holds the distinction of being one of America’s oldest and largest sculpture parks. Spend a few minutes or hours enjoying the sculptures scattered through the woods, fields, and ponds of Griffis Sculpture Park.
Thursdays through Sundays in the fall, visit at night to experience their Night Lights Event. An incredible blend of creative lighting, sculpture, sound, and nature delivers an unforgettable outdoor experience.
Known for its beauty and hydroelectric power, Niagara Falls is a popular tourist attraction. The New York side of the falls is home to the oldest state park which includes miles of hiking trails and beautiful views. Travel 10 minutes north to Devil’s Hole State Park for fewer crowds, bright blue water, and stunning fall foliage.
If you have the time, and the passport, travel over to the Canadian side of the falls. On this side, you can journey behind the falls, take a ride on the horn blower (like the Maid of the Mist), and enjoy a more built-up area with many restaurants, hotels, and attractions.
Spend the full day at Stokoe Farm! Fun for the whole family, Stokoe Farm includes pumpkin and apple picking, multiple slides and play areas, a kid-friendly low ropes course and zip line, and so much more.
For over 200 years Stokoe Farm has been providing a full-family experience. Farm animals, play areas, and fruit canons ensure fun for all. If you’re in the Western New York Region, you’re going to want to stop by for all the fun Harvest Fest can provide.
The Perfect Time to Visit Upstate New York in Fall
Late September into early October is the best time of year to experience the changing leaves in upstate New York.
The last week of September and first week of October is generally prime foliage for the Adirondack Region of the state. The Hudson Valley Area, Finger Lakes Region, and Central New York experience the brightest fall colors in the first two to three weeks of October.
Plan a day trip, a weekend getaway, or a multi-day road trip for a unique experience in the great putdoors of New York and beyinod.