Fall is perhaps the most popular season to visit the Finger Lakes. With its beautiful changing colors, crisp weather, and countless fun & unique activities, fall is the best time to experience the many wonders the Finger Lakes have to offer. Here are our favorite must-do activities to add to your itinerary this autumn.
1. Grape Harvesting
Fall is the perfect time to visit the many excellent, family-owned wineries sprinkled throughout the region. Grape harvesting in the Finger Lakes starts mid-August and can last well into November. The Finger Lakes specialize in aromatic white varieties like Riesling and Gewurztraminer as well as cool-climate reds like Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. During the harvesting months, you have the opportunity to watch the grapes being harvested and then crushed both by hand and by machine. After you see the harvest, swing by a tasting room to taste some delicious Finger Lakes wines for a small fee, usually $2-5 per person. View the full list of Finger Lakes wineries.
Another great way to celebrate harvest season is the Naples Grape Festival. The festival has been held every September since 1961 and features local artists and artisans, wine makers, local and regional music, and delicious cuisine. It also hosts the annual Greatest Grape Pie Contest, where local bakers compete with their tastiest best grape pies.
2. Pick Your Own Apples
If you prefer apples to wine, you can also take advantage of the region’s abundant apple orchards. Many farms throughout the Finger Lakes offer u-pick options where you can go out into the orchards and pick the apples yourself. The Victor Apple Farm is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 7 pm and is currently overflowing with delicious Paulared’s, McIntosh, Spata, Cortland, and Macoun apples. They also sell their own cider, made onsite from 100% apple juice, and mouth watering donuts, pies, tarts, and turnovers in their bakery.
There are many other wonderful options located less than an hour’s drive away from Canandaigua. At the Fulkerson Winery in Dundee, you’ll find a variety of u-pick fruits and vegetables as well as 25+ varieties of wine, 30+ varieties of grape juice, and select brewing and wine making supplies. In addition to offering delicious u-pick apples, Reisinger’s Apple Country sells Bartlett pears, plums, pumpkins, squash, and homemade jams and jellies.
3. The Great Glass Harvest
Come to the Corning Museum of Glass for a colorful and unique alternative to traditional pumpkin carving. The Corning Museum is widely considered one of the finest museums of glass in the entire world. On October 18th, they host the annual Great Glass Harvest, where you can watch their Hot Glass Show team make a harvest of pumpkins and apples out of beautiful blown glass. This free events also includes music by the Horse Flies and the Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra as well as complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks.
4. Bristol Mountain Fall Festival
The Bristol Mountain Fall Festival is another free event featuring local bands, wine and beer tastings, food trucks, hiking, and a variety of fun craft vendors. However, the main draw of the event is the Sky Ride, where you can take a chairlift to the summit of Bristol Mountain. This tranquil 15-20 minute ride is the perfect way to view the region’s magnificent fall foliage from above.
5. Corn Maze
Nothing says fall like a corn maze and Wickham’s Pick‘n Patch has one of the best in the region. Boasting more than 2-miles of mind boggling twists, turns, and dead-ends, the maze at Wickham’s is a delightful way to get lost while supporting a good cause. Wickham’s has partnered with Foodlink, a local food resource center supporting families throughout Upstate New York. After you conquer the maze, visit their pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin for your jack-o-lantern. On September 28th and October 5th, check out the Moonlight Maze, where you can navigate the maze after dark, with nothing more than the light from your flashlight and the stars to help you.
6. Haunted History Ghost Walk
October is the spookiest season of the year and the Finger Lakes is one of the spookiest corners of the United States. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, fall is the perfect time to take a haunted ghost, cemetery, or history tour. There is even an entire Haunted History Trail stretching through 22 different stops in the Finger Lakes. In Canandaigua, Haunted History Ghost Walks takes you through a delightful Finger Lakes village and regales you with Native legends, historic ghost stories, occult conspiracies, and paranormal mysteries. Tours start just before 7 pm on October 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th. Meet at the Commons on the corner of Coach and Main Street in Canandaigua.
Planning a trip to the Finger Lakes this fall? Book a stay at the award winning Sutherland House Victorian Bed & Breakfast in Canandaigua, New York.