Stay regional yet get out of town with these nearby autumn escapes
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Enjoy the crisp autumn air of harvest time with a long weekend within a couple hours’ drive of Rochester. It still feels like a getaway without the time and expense of traveling for days. Plus, Upstate has plenty of venues with incredible views and autumn experiences.
Ellicottville is known for its ski resort. However, before the snow flies, visitors can enjoy the mountain vistas for their foliage as well. Stay at The Inn at Holiday Valley (www.holidayvalley.com), where luxury rooms include a fireplace and jetted tub. The on-site Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster and Sky High Aerial Adventure Park offer exciting ways to leaf peep among the treetops. Or for a more laid back fall experience, check out the hiking trails and birding opportunities at Allegany State Park (parks.ny.gov) in Salamanca and peruse the wares and activities at Pumpkinville Farm (https://pumpkinville.com) in Great Valley. During October, the Ellicottville Fall Festival includes a huge artisan craft show. Shoppers should also check out the mom-and-pop shops on Washington and Monroe streets.
Known for its gorges, Ithaca’s foliage-flanked waterfalls feel meant for autumnal hiking, including Robert H. Treman State Park, Taughannock Falls State Park, Buttermilk Falls State Park and Watkins Glen State Park (all at parks.ny.gov). The Cayuga Lakefront Inn (www.lakefrontinn.com) provides lodgers with sweeping bucolic views boasting plenty of fall color. The rooms have a private balcony, hot tub and a sumptuous ambiance that blends Mediterranean with Tuscany influences. If 1880s décor is more to your taste, stay at the William Henry Miller Inn (https://millerinn.com) and enjoy a whirlpool tub in the room, proximity to restaurants, shops, Ithaca Falls and Cascadilla Falls (www.visitithaca.com). Indian Creek Farm (https://indiancreekithaca.com) offers U-pick apples and pumpkins, doughnuts, freshly pressed juice and more on its 40 acres. In your trip is Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, enjoy Ithaca’s Apple Harvest Festival (www.downtownithaca.com/apple-harvest-festival) downtown, with apple goodies, live entertainment, vendors, and food trucks.
Lewiston’s Niagara Crossing Hotel and Spa (www.niagaracrossinghotelandspa.com) provides spectacular views of the Niagara River, along with suites equipped with a soaking tub and for a chilly evening, a fireplace. To get back to nature, enjoy hiking at Artpark (www.artpark.net) or Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org) in Youngstown, which offers Lantern and Lore Tours each Friday evening in October. Becker Farms (www.beckerfarms.com) in Gasport offers you-pick apples and pumpkins, along with a farm store, vineyard tours and its own beer and cider. You can also stay onsite in cabins or at the luxe 1830s brick farmhouse. Of course, Niagara Falls (www.niagarafallsstatepark.com) is a must-do when in the area; but in fall, the stunning foliage framing the world-renowned wonder adds a special touch. Experience Cave of the Winds, Aquarium of Niagara, Maid of the Mist, Niagara Scenic Trolley, Niagara Gorge Trails and Schoellkopf Elevator, and Niagara Falls Observation Tower. To experience the best sites of the region, the Discover Niagara Shuttle (https://www.discoverniagarashuttle.com) offers a tour from “the Falls to the Fort” and other routes so you can relax to enjoy the foliage and stop where you want to explore.
What better way to buy the season’s bounty than to pick your own apples on a local farm? The area abounds with farms that provide U-pick opportunities.
Some also offer activities for children, gift shops and markets with regional goods.
• Bauman’s Farm Market & Cider Mill also offers The Scary Pumpkin Room, hay maze and other fun for the grandkids. Pick up a jug of fresh farm cider to take home.
1340 Five Mile Line Road
• Schutt’s Apple Mill grows 16 varieties and offers a farm store, including its own hard cider. Check the website for special events all season long.
1063 Plank Road
Fisher Farms grows with organic practices but is not certified organic.
467 Euler Road
Robb Farms uses integrated pest management practices to minimize pesticide application to its 19 varieties of apples. Pick up freshly pressed cider and fry cake style doughnuts made onsite.
800 Gallup Road
Whittier Fruit Farm (219 Whittier Road. 585-594-9054. www.whittierfruitfarm.com) sells snacks and provides a picnic area. Take a wagon ride to the orchard to pick from among 32 varieties of apples.
Wickham Farms offers a concession stand, farm market with local goods, corn maze games and activities for the grandkids, mini golf, and farm animal petting zoo. Plan to spend the day.
1821 Fairport Nine Mile Point Road
Long Acre Farms is also a good place to take the grandchildren picking for the day, with a huge children’s play area, corn maze, gift shop and farm market store. Wood-fired pizza, grilled items, ice cream and doughnuts are available on-site. Don’t miss taking home homemade fudge. Check the website for “Grandparent tickets.” The farm’s on-site winery, JC Wine Cellars, offers wine tasting and local beer and hard cider for sale.
1342 Eddy Road
The Apple Shed offers a gift shop, fresh fudge and doughnuts, snacks and sandwiches, a picnic area, goats and a few other farm animals. Bring along the grandkids to enjoy the playground. Guests of any age can try the apple cannon, explore the haunted barn or take a hayride to the orchard. The Apple Shed charges no admission, but some activities have a nominal fee. The Old Goat Cidery in the farm market serves a variety of hard ciders on tap.
3391 Fairville Maple Ridge Road
Keep in mind that working farms may have uneven ground, wet conditions, and no public restroom facilities. Wear suitable footwear, clothing and sunscreen. Respect the rules of the orchard as they’re in place for your safety and to protect the trees and farm equipment. Check the farm’s social media page or call before heading out, as weather and other factors can affect U-pick activities. Some farms accept cash only. Farms with many activities often charge admission. If you just want apples, go to a farm with fewer activities.