Being an East Coast girl at heart, as well as a fan of all things spooky, no autumn will ever compare to that of home. Here is a list of my favorite things to do during October in the Southern Tier.
Photo Source: Stoughton Farm
The MAiZE at Stoughton Farm - Newark Valley, NY
My favorite way to celebrate fall is getting lost in my hometown of Newark Valley at Stoughton Farm, a family run community staple that has been around for over one-hundred years. The Stoughton Farm Corn MAiZE is hosting its 17th season this year with my personal favorite design yet - a giant spider web complete with arachnids. These rows of corn are the ones I ran through as a child, where I had my first kiss as a teen, and have acted as a landmark when I describe to people where I am from (yes, they are known across the country). I will be jealous and living vicariously through all 2021 season attendees, especially those who opt for the night maze. But the farm has more to offer than just stalking through stalks. You can purchase tickets for many of their family friendly farm games, pick the perfect pumpkin from the patch, and score some scrumptious sweets. Not only does Stoughton’s provide entertainment to fill a whole day, they do it at affordable prices. Tickets to the maze are $10.95 for those over 10, $6.95 for those aged 4-9, and free for 3 and under. Check out their website linked here for activity combo pass information and a coupon.
The 2021 season is running now through October 31st. Maze hours are: 9am-6pm Monday-Thursday (last admission 5:30pm), 9am-10pm Friday and Saturday (last admission 9pm), and 9am-5pm on Sundays (last admission 4:30pm)
Apple Festival at Bement-Billings Farmstead - Newark Valley, NY
This weekend, October 2nd-3rd, Bement-Billings will be hosting the annual Apple Festival on its historic farmstead. The main house on the farmstead was built in the 1790’s by one of the first settlers of the town and now acts as a living history museum. On the grounds, there is also a reconstructed blacksmith shop, a threshing barn, a wood shop, a carriage shed, and welcome center. At the festival, you will be treated to homestead tours, characters acting out 18th century skills, live music, kid’s activities, horse and wagon rides, access to nature trails, artisanal vendors, and some of the best apple treats you will ever consume (though I have to admit the salt potatoes might be my favorite part). Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $4 for students and NVHS members, and $20 for a family (2 adults with 3+ kids).
The 2021 Apple Festival will take place October 2&3 from 10am-5pm.
Apple Harvest Festival - Ithaca, NY
It’s a busy October opening weekend for the Southern Tier. October 1st-3rd Ithaca will be hosting its own Apple Festival on the Ithaca Commons. The Commons are worth a visit anytime of year, with pedestrian streets allowing you to walk freely between shops and restaurants, my favorite food option being Waffle Frolic. Visiting during AppleFest is even better, with endless savory and dessert options from vendors, local winery and cidery tastings, a craft fair, and carnival rides and games for kids. Throughout the weekend, there will be live music pouring from the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Commons.
The 2021 festival will be running Friday, October 1st from 12pm-6pm, Saturday, October 2nd and Sunday, October 3rd from 10am-6pm.
No matter where I am in the world, when I tell people I’m from Southern Tier New York, the comment is always “wow the foliage is lovely there.” In my opinion, this statement is never more true than when we are greeted with the mind blowing colors of autumn. Here are some of my favorite places to take in the shades of my favorite natural color palette.
If you are already in town for the Apple Festival, be sure to visit one of Ithaca’s famous waterfalls to learn why it has coined the phrase ‘Ithaca is gorgeous.’ With over 150 waterfalls within ten miles, the beautiful grounds of Cornell University, and plenty of hikes, there isn’t a single bad place to see the leaves falling.
Watkins Glen, NY
Also known for its waterfalls is the nearby town of Watkins Glen which sits on the bottom of Seneca Lake. Head to Watkins Glen State Park to view the best foliage before experiencing sunset on the lake.
Allegany State Park, NY
A personal favorite for my family is Allegany State Park. The park offers much to do, with camping, giant rocks to climb, hikes to both fire and stone towers, and even bear caves to explore - don’t worry, there aren’t furry friends actually living in the caves, but you might see some around the park. Head to either Thomas L. Kelly Covered Bridge or Red House Lake to see the colors of fall.
Cider Mill Donuts - Endicott, NY
Cider, donuts, candy apples, and a place to buy pumpkins?! The Cider Mill gives you your much needed taste of fall. Large glass windows show the process of the donut making and after one bite of their donuts, you’ll understand why locals anticipate their opening every year.
Hours of operation: 7am-6pm
Iron Kettle Farms - Candor, NY
Iron Kettle has it all. From feeding farm animals, pursuing their gift shop for local pantry stockers and decor, to the pumpkin patch, your family is sure to be entertained. On top of all of that, they have silly cut out photo opportunities and activities available via purchased tickets. These include but aren’t limited to a hayride, a corn maze, a pumpkin slingshot, and spookbarn.
Open daily 9am-6pm, activities available noon to 5:30pm on weekdays, 10am-5:30pm on weekends
Previously Reisinger’s Apple Country, this orchard offers apple cider, apple cider donuts, pumpkins, honey, maple syrup, and more. Their apple varieties available to pick this October are empire, jonagold, and golden delicious.
Hours of operation: 9am-6pm daily
There are few things on this planet that I look forward to more than any opportunity to see highland cattle. Add u-pick apples and hayrides? Heaven on earth. Their current picking varieties are Mac, Cortland, Empire, Jonagold, Blondee, Gala, Crimson Crisp, and Liberty.
Hours of operation: Friday 4pm-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-7pm
Apple Hills is full of fall fun, with u-pick apples, a corn maze, tasty treats at their indoor and outdoor cafe, farm animals, kids games, and more. I’m truly disappointed that I have yet to get to experience this farm for myself but I only hear the best of things!
The cafe is open 8am-2pm on Friday and Saturdays, 9am-1pm on Sundays. The u-pick orchards and farm hours are currently 9am-6pm.
At this farm, they offer more than just u-pick apples, but u-pick pumpkins, sprouts, and sunflowers too! Be sure to try their fresh donuts and cider.
Hours of operation: 8am-7pm daily
Photo Source: Southern Tier Brewing Company
Seasonal Drinks at Southern Tier Brewing Company - Lakewood, NY
Pumpkin whiskey, pumpkin nitro cold brew coffee ale, pumpkin imperial ale, and the warlock stout. You could grab one of each of their seasonal specials or mix them with some of their year round staples. Southern Tier Brewing Company is one of my favorites on the East Coast and I hope to be able to try these new flavors. While they have grown to have taprooms in multiple states, the Lakewood location features the brewhouse and distillery, two taprooms, delicious pub fare, and an indoor/outdoor patio. If you’re in the area it is the perfect place to wind down for the evening, or you can check if your local liquor store carries them.
Taproom hours of operation: Monday 3pm-8pm, Tuesday-Thursday 3pm-9pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-10pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm
Roberson Museum - Binghamton, NY
Take a guided ghost tour of Roberson Mansion (circa 1907) by lantern light and hear stories of past encounters staff and guests have had with the souls of those who once lived here. While I have never taken this tour myself, it is definitely on my list for the next time I am home during the month of October. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students, seniors, and military. If you want to see the beauty of the museum in the brightness of day, on October 31st they are hosting a “Spooktacular”, an event which includes kid’s crafts, mansion tours, and planetarium showings. Ticket prices are the same as their haunted tour admissions and children 4 and under are free.
Book a Haunted Stay
After the past year and a half, I think it’s safe to say that we could all use a vacation. Even the dead are getting lonely, pay them a visit.
The owner of the Parkview Inn has reported hearing bells ring and objects move in this historical duel inn and restaurant. While ghost tours are offered, most guests aren’t likely to experience a haunting themselves. This stay is great for dipping your toes into the world of haunted travel and the beautiful, recently renovated rooms are reason enough to book a trip. The location is right in the heart of the cozy small town of Owego, NY.
Ok, so the name isn’t very spooky, but guests of this late 1800’s inn have chilling stories that have led to it being dubbed the Second Best Haunted Hotel in the United States by USA Today. Guests have heard footsteps, seen objects move, had eyes stare back at them from the mirror, had their sheets ripped off of them, and have even been awoken by two no-longer-living women drinking tea. Ghosts tours are available, and yes, there are goats.
This 200 year old farm house has both public and private tours available but those who feel advanced enough can book their own overnight investigation. The house has been featured several times in pop culture and was once witness an exorcism. Not for the faint of heart.
Reaper’s Revenge - Scranton, PA
Alright you caught me. Reaper’s Revenge is not in the Southern Tier but actually about an hour south in Scranton, PA. Though I am terrified of my own shadow and would much prefer to visit this city and relive my favorite episodes of The Office, I have been forced to stare my greatest fears straight in the face by friends. Well, that’s a lie, I had my eyes closed most of the time. If you do like haunted houses, nothing can beat Reaper’s Revenge. For $65 (there are also coupons available on their website), guests experience a haunted hayride, their childhood fears of clowns being justified in a lost carnival, an altered reality in delirium, a pitch black maze, and the after-effects of a nuclear attack in sector 13. I lost my voice from the amount of screaming I did, you have been warned.
Hours of operation: Friday & Saturday 5:30pm-10:30pm, Sunday 5:30pm-9:30pm