Fall in Upstate New York: 31 Wonderful Things to Do & Places to See

Every year, travelers come from around the world to visit our beautiful autumn foliage in Upstate New York. That’s because fall is simply one of the best times to visit New York, not just for the outdoor gems like gorgeous hiking trails, but also because fall in Upstate New York brings harvest festivals, small-town celebrations, and Halloween-themed events. And no matter what New York region you want to visit, there are plenty of NY fall activities that my list will cover from Niagara Falls to the Adirondacks, for you to soak up this magical season.

Where & What is Upstate New York? 

Did you know there is no official answer to the question of what is upstate New York? The dictionary simply defines it as whatever is north of you. So it’s all relative to where you’re standing or from.

Therefore, in this article, I’m going to highlight everywhere north of NYC, from the Hudson Valley to Western NY. This includes hidden gems and the popular things to do in Upstate NY, perfect for the fall season. 

Fall in Upstate New York: 31 Cool Things to Do & Places to Visit


1. Ithaca, NY

Ithaca is a cute town/small city to visit in the fall, set on Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes region and surrounded by natural wonders. This area has some of the best waterfalls in New York State to explore– over 150 cascading over cliffs and gorges!

  • Hike through gorgeous fall foliage to the Buttermilk Falls Gorge, one of the most scenic areas of Buttermilk Falls State Park. The hike to the falls is about 1.6-mile loop and is considered moderately challenging, with some steep areas, natural pools, and unique rock formations. Reviews suggest taking the loop counterclockwise.
  • Visit the Ithaca Farmer’s Market, running Saturdays and Sundays at the Steamboat Landing Pavilion. This market has been celebrating farmers, chefs, and artisans since 1973 with a variety or seasonal baked goods, crafts, produce, wine tastings, and local street food in Ithaca.
  • Cayuga Lake Winery Cruise offers scenic rides on the Kye-OO-Gah–a 25 ft Tahoe Pontoon! This Finger Lakes wine tour cruises through the region’s heart, visiting award-winning wineries, gourmet eateries, and some of the best waterfalls in the Finger Lakes. Dinner is served onboard, and you can enjoy a stunning sunset. 
  • Stay tuned for our upcoming guide on the full list of things to do in Ithaca!

2. Watkins Glens, NY 

Set on the southern shore of Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen has a Finger Lakes adventure at every turn. Its surrounding landscape is full of natural beauty accentuated in the fall season and it’s close to several of the best things to Do in the Finger Lakes for outdoor lovers. 

  • Watkins Glen State Park is full of waterfalls and gorges, making for some of the best hikes in Upstate NY. Rainbow Bridge is the most popular spot in the park, about a mile walk from the entrance. Avoid crowds by getting to the park early, visiting during the week, or trying less visited trails such as the South Rim Trail. 
  • Taste local hard ciders at FLX Cider House, set on a scenic farm about a 35-minute drive from the village. They offer local farm-to-table food in addition to a variety of hard ciders. Take a tour of the cider-making process and pick your own fruit (apples, peaches, and strawberries.) 
  • Painted Bar Stables lets you explore the fall foliage on horseback with year-round guided horseback trail rides. The stables are less than a 10-minute drive from Watkins Glen. All rides are by appointment only, and group sizes are on average 3-4 riders. 
  • The Seneca Lake Wine Tasting Tour lets you try some of the region’s most popular wines grown and made right in the Finger Lakes. Riesling varieties are prevalent in this region. Schedule a tour, book a fall excursion, or attend a special event. If you plan to arrive by bus or limo, ensure the wineries allow them before booking. 

3. Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park is one of the most magical places in the Finger Lakes in the fall, nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the East.” You can see three of best waterfalls in the Fingerlakes here (some as high as 600 feet!), all flowing from the Genesee River into the gorge and between stunning cliffs.

You can spend an entire day here. Driving from one point to another. Stopping in parking lots and then walking the different trails to get all sorts of views. You can go hiking here or take it easy (which is perfect for kids and grandparents).

Visitors can also explore over 60 miles of trails, take a hot air balloon ride over the sights, go whitewater rafting, or even catch a performing arts program at the park. For a weekend getaway, book an Upstate New York cabin rental near Letchworth.

4. Corning, NY 

Corning is a beautiful Finger Lakes town on the Chemung River known as the “Crystal City.” It became famous as the headquarters for Corning Incorporated (formally Corning Glass Works), which you may know as the manufacturer of the famous CorningWare, Pyrex, and other popular glass and ceramic products. The town is rich with history celebrated among several museums, galleries, and historic tours of the area. 

  • It’s only natural to visit the Museum of Glass in a town famous for its glass products! This is the world’s largest space dedicated to the celebration of glass and contemporary art and glass design, making it one of the most unique museums & cultural spaces in Upstate NY. You can even make your own glass with experienced glassworkers!
  • Rockwell Museum is a popular small museum in the Finger Lakes housed in the stunning 19th-century restored Corning city hall. The museum highlight the evolving story of America through the eyes of various artists in the form of rotating exhibitions, concerts, public art initiatives, and more. For younger visitors, pair your museum visit with the Kids Rockwell Art Lab on Market Street!
  • Downtown Corning is charming and historic, with beautiful streetscapes, award-winning eateries, and fantastic shops. There is always a full schedule of events, art shows, and live music filling the streets. You can book a historic walking tour, find a treat on the Chocolate Trail, or just stroll along Market Street to see what catches your eye! 

Where to Stay in the Finger Lakes 

  • Glamping in Firelight Camps will put you near Buttermilk Falls State Park. These sites have wonderful fall views, free breakfast, a full-service spa, and pet-friendly!
  • Geneva on the Lake is a boutique resort in the heart of wine country. They offer farm-to-table dining and stunning rooms spread out in a historic Italian-style villa on 10 acres located near Seneca Lake State Park and the historic town of Geneva. 
  • Inns of Aurora is a premier lake resort built inside a Federal-style 1833 building and a popular place to stay in the Finger Lake to be near Cayuga Lake. The hotel has luxury rooms with fireplaces and balconies with lake views.
  • Moonshadow B&B is nestled in Hammondsport with lake views of Keuka Lake. They offer a full breakfast, an outdoor fireplace, a terrace, and a game room to socialize with other guests. Popular for romantic fall getaways. 


5. Beacon, NY 

This amazing small town in the Hudson Valley comes alive in autumn and offers so many seasonal activities to enjoy the scenery. Beacon is a quick getaway, only 65 miles from New York City up the Metro North Line, but it feels like a world away. The town is nestled into the highest point of the Hudson Highlands, with some of the best autumn views of the valley. 

  • Hiking Mt. Beacon is a must if you like a little challenge with your fall scenery. This moderately difficult (and very rocky) hike allows you to see all the way to NYC on a clear day! Book a guided hike for hidden gems and handpicked routes. You could also join a 2-day hiking and winery tour.
  • Spend the day at the DIA Beacon, perusing a unique collection of 1960s art. This curated collection is built in the in the former Nabisco box-printing factory, giving it a unique vibe. One of the best things to do in Beacon, NY for artists and art enthusiasts. 

6. Cold Spring, NY 

Set only 45 minutes south of Beacon, Cold Spring is another quaint Hudson Valley town that looks even more beautiful with fall colors. The downtown is right on the Hudson River, full of shops, historic buildings, cafes, and green parks that illuminate in the changing season. 

  • Hiking trails: The Old Cornish Estate trail is a 1.8-mile hike to the ruins of an old, ivy-covered mansion hidden in the woods. A really sepcatucalr scene when the colors change. Bull Hill offers a short loop (2-3 hours) and a long loop (3-4 hours) that both overlook the Hudson River and several other scenic viewpoints. It’s part of the Hudson Highlands State Park Reserve and includes passing the Old Cornish Easte. 
  • Visit the impressive collection of contemporary and postwar Italian art at Magazzino Italian Art Museum for free! Only 5-minutes from the center of Cold Spring, this museum has a permanent exhibit of artists associated with the Arte Povera movement and several rotating exhibits. The museum also shares its grounds with a group of Sardinian donkeys
  • Go shopping at the antique and boutique shops in Downtown Cold Spring! Fall weather is perfect for strolling down Main Street, where most of the shops reside. Cold Spring Antiques Center and Once Upon a Time Antiques are perfect for vintage finds, while Archipelago at home has some unique new gifts and decor. 
  • Cold Spring is surrounded by opportunities for kayaking and paddle boarding. Hudson River Expeditions offers tours and rentals until October 15. Popular tour options include the Waterfall Tour through the Constitution Marsh, the Nature Tour, and the Bannerman Castle Loop. 
  • The Fall Foliage Cruise from Pier 11 will give you a one-of-a-kind view of the changing season from the waters of the Hudson River. These tours take place at the peak of the fall season, beginning at Pier 11 in Highlands. The cruises include narration by professional guides, a stop in Cold Spring to explore the town, and a sunset before returning. You can also book a one-way trip!

7. Saratoga Springs, NY 

Known as a hub for horse racing and mineral baths, Saratoga Springs is one of the most interesting cities in NY State to visit in the fall. This area is rich in history and full of restaurants and shopping. It’s the perfect fall destination if you’re looking for cultural experiences surrounded by the natural beauty of Upstate. 

  • Book a Haunted Saratoga Ghost Tour to discover the spookier side of Saratoga Springs. The tours last about 90 minutes ($22/tour) starting in May through mid-November on Fridays and Saturdays. Visitors will walk less than a mile searching for ghosts and exploring haunted sites. 
  • Relax at the Roosevelt Baths & Spa located in Saratoga Spa State Park. This natural spa features the infamous mineral bath and hydrotherapy using the natural effervescent water of Saratoga Springs. With the natural backdrop of the state park, guests have an opportunity to appreciate the fall beauty while they unwind. 
  • You could easily spend the entire day in Downtown Saratoga Springs with it’s variety of local shops, art galleries, restaurants, and entertainment. There’s a lively nightlife here, with fun options, including Saratoga Paint and Sip Studio and live music at Caffé Lena.  
  • Hit the Saratoga Farmer’s Market outdoors from May to October or indoors from November to April. Find anything from local cheeses, baked goods, plants, pottery, fall produce, and local cuisine. It’s located in High Rock Park, within walking distance of the town center. 
  • Lake Saratoga is full of fun activities that allow you to soak in the beauty of the changing season. Take a unique boat tour with Original Tiki Tours or a cruise with Adirondack Cruise and Charter Co. You can also rent paddle boats, picnic at Waterfront Park, or try your hand at fishing for smallmouth bass, northern pike, and more. 

8. Soul Fire Farm (Petersburg, NY)

Soul Fire Farm stands out from most other farms in Upstate New York. This one-of-a-kind community is a spearhead for combatting racism and injustice in America’s food system. The farm is an Afro-Indigenous-centered community that changes the way we think about food while educating the public on topics like ancestral farming techniques and food sovereignty. You must register for a program prior to visiting to take a tour, even help harvest. 

9. WalktoberFest Makers & Farmers Market 

This farmer’s market is high above the Hudson River on the Walkway Over the Hudson! The WalktoberFest Makers & Farmers Market celebrates the season’s bounty by, gathering vendors from across the Hudson Valley in the first weekend of October. A tasting area for local spirits, beers, and wine requires a special ticket. Otherwise, this event is free to the public with access to the market from Highland side of the river. The view from the walking bridge is fantastic and worth walking across to the Poughkeepsie side and back before or after you shop. 

10. Howes Caverns + Secret Caverns

Howes Caves is home to some beautiful caverns and some pretty awesome boat tours underground. This town is perfect for pairing with a visit to Secret Caves (just 3 minutes away) and also Sharon Springs, only a 22-minute drive away.

  • Howe Caverns will take you on a 1.25 mile hike and short underground boat tour through limestone corridors, massive boulders, and caverns. The boats run through a subterranean riverbed formed after millions of years! Be prepared for a few stairs.
  • Secret Caverns: I LOVED this place. It’s totally different but well worth the trip. Tours here are 45-60 minutes long through a prehistoric passageway with an opportunity to see cool rock formations and a famous 100 ft underground waterfall! 

The latter cave is more “natural” while the former is “fancier” loved them both. They are run by two different owners.

11. Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

Attention, garlic lovers! The Hudson Valley Garlic Festival is a two-day annual fall event where you can enjoy all garlic-related foods and activities. With hundreds of stalls present, you can explore different types of garlic dishes from various vendors, ranging from soups to icecream! There are also chef demonstrations and lectures to attend, live music to enjoy, and crafts available for purchase.

12. Hudson Valley Foliage Cruise to Bear Mountain

This cruise to Bear Mountain leaves from Manhattan and takes you along the Hudson Valley’s beautiful fall foliage. It’s such a special way to get out of the city, and on the boat ride up, you can listen to live German Polka music and enjoy some Oktoberfest-themed food and beer. But the biggest highlight is exploring the beautiful nature at Bear Mountain State Park. Here, you can rent a peddle boat, hike one of the many trails (Popolopen Creek Trail is open), dine at the 1915 Restaurant, and much more. 

For this cruise, I recommend getting the VIP tickets. This will grant you access to other parts of the boat and include your food and beverage. Or, you can wait until you get to the Bear Mountain State Park and eat at the on-site restaurant. However, this may eat at your time in the park, which is limited to 3 hours. 

Accommodations in the Hudson Valley & Capital Area

  • Union Gables B&B in Saratoga Springs is within walking distance of the Saratoga Race Course and Springs City Center. It’s set in a beautiful Victorian home with a large front porch for enjoying the fall weather. Free breakfast and pet-friendly accommodations! 
  • Adelphi Hotel is a grand hotel on Main Street in the center of all the action in Saratoga. The hotel includes an intimate restaurant, terraces, and luxury suites near the train station and art district on Beekman Street. 


13. Lake George, NY

Lake George is by far one of the most well-known places to visit in Upstate NY for a weekend getaway. In the fall, the lake is surrounded by glowing orange, red, and yellow mountain scapes. If you’ve always wanted to visit but wanted to miss the summer crowd, this is the perfect opportunity, with several ways to travel from NYC to Lake George.

  • The Adirondack Brewery Oktoberfest takes place in mid-October, celebrating all the fall season has to offer. A host of Upstate guest breweries provide their best fall creations to share. There’s a Bier Garden to gather in, polka music, authentic German food, and fun games. 
  • The Adirondack Balloon Festival is a fall highlight in the Lake George area hosted towards the end of September in Glens Galls. Over four days, guests can enjoy a parade, live music, over 70+ balloons on display, and tons of other activities Want to take your own balloon ride? Book a hot air balloon ride through Sunkiss Ballooning in Queensbury to see a fall landscape like never before!
  • Glenfalls Farmer’s Market has been bringing together local farmers and artisans since 1976. The outdoor market takes place on Saturdays in Downtown Glens Falls from May to October. The indoor market goes from November to April in Queensbury. 
  • Lake George Oktoberfest & Fall Festival takes place on Columbus Day weekends across from Shepard Park. Browse a Bavarian-style street fair to welcome fall with German food, carnival rides, and special events. 
  • Enjoy a free weekend of jazz music on Lake George with the Jazz at the Lake Festival! This exciting weekend takes place in mid-September and celebrates the vibrant season with diverse groups of jazz musicians in the open-air Shepard Park Amphitheater.
  • Stop by the Adirondack Film Festival in mid-October to view over 70 films taking place across screens in downtown Glen Falls. You must purchase passes online to attend.  

14. Lake Placid, NY + Saranac Lake, NY

Lake Placid and Saranac Lake are two of the most visited towns and lakes in Upstate NY. Surrounded by mountains and wild wilderness, these towns collectively offer some of the most beautiful hikes in the Adirondacks and attractions to enjoy the fall foliage. 

  • Hiking: Baker Mountain is a short (but steep) up-and-down hike located just outside of Saranac Lake, with outstanding views of the High Peaks and a 900-feet elevation gain. Mt. Ban Hoevenberg in Lake Placid extends 4.7 miles round trip with a 2,940 summit (difficult, not for beginners). Also in Lake Placid is Mt. Marcy, the tallest mountain in NY state, with four trails to reach the summit for epic views. 
  • The John Brown Farm State Historic Site ★ is one of the best ways to enjoy the fall foliage and immerse yourself in local history. Home to the abolitionist John Brown, this attraction features hiking, re-enactments, tours, and a picnic area to enjoy in between.
  • Adirondack breweries and wineries are especially fun to enjoy surrounded by fall mountainscapes. Ray Brook Brewhouse is in the middle of Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. This highly favorite place to eat in Lake Placid serves wild and unique seasonal beers and cider and a full menu of appetizers, flatbreads, burgers, and more.   

15. Keeseville, NY

Keeseville is a hamlet in the Adirondack Preserve that straddles the infamous Ausable River. Settled in 1808, it’s one of the most popular Adirondack towns for exploring the wilderness, outdoor sports, and fishing. 

  • Ausable Chasm is an outdoor sports lovers’ dream, offering hiking trails, white water rafting, rock climbing, a riverwalk, rappelling, and winter tours when the weather takes a turn. If you’re looking for cabin rentals in Upstate NY, they have lodging onsite. 
  • Tucked way in the woods, Ausable Brewing Company is a farm and brewery built inside a 1880s renovated barn. Try their hand-crafted beers from homegrown hops and order from a host food trucks. Live music every night, Thursday to Saturday. 
  • Asgaard Farm & Dairy in Au Sable Forks is only 11 minutes from Keensville and produces artisan goat cheese, free-range eggs, and pastured meats. You can visit the farm creamery and shop or stay the night by booking an Airbnb at the farm
  • Visit Highlands Vineyard, a family-owned winery producing wines from locally grown NY grapes! The grounds of the winery are gorgeous, with views of Lake Champlain. 

16. Wilmington, NY 

The tight-knit town of Wilmington is known best as the home of Whiteface Mountain and other natural beauties surrounding the AuSable River. This area is simply stunning in the fall, with unparalleled views to enjoy during outdoor activities. 

  • Whiteface Mountain Memorial Highway leads straight to the summit of Whiteface Mountain standing at 4,837 feet! The 360-degree views stretch for miles into Vermont and Canada, perfect for admiring fall colors until early October. 
  • Find a sweet treat at Whitebrook Dairy Bar before or after a hike. They serve Hershey’s ice cream and soft-serve and also have a menu of burgers, hot dogs and fries. Cash only!
  • High Falls Gorge is a 22-acre private nature park where visitors can take a 30-minute walk over the stunning gorge. The park is open May to October, and it’s $15.95 to enter. 
  • Hike Cobble Lookout to a perfect view of the Ausable Valley and the surrounding mountain ranges. It’s only 1.3 miles each way, requiring little effort for rewarding views of Whiteface, Esther, Giant Mountain, and the other High Peaks. 

Where to Stay in the Adirondacks

  • Whiteface Lodge is an all-suite resort off the shores of Lake Placid with beautiful views of Whiteface Mountains. A very Adiriondack-inspired aesthetic, with balconies, fireplaces, and access to exciting outdoor things to do in Upstate New York
  • Stay in this rustic 16th-century property just a few miles from Johns Brown Farm State Historic Site and Mirror Lake. Lake Placid Stagecoach Inn has warm rooms, hiking trails, an outdoor fire pit perfect for fall weather, and a vintage horse trailer bar.  
  • The Inn at Erlowest is on a magnificent 15-acre estate on the shores of Lake George. There are only 10 available rooms are in a Queen Anne mansion, making for a private stay.


17. Glamping in Bellfire Farm 

Take a weekend to go glamping in NY and rent an off-grid retreat at Bellfire Farm. Only 3-hours from New York City, this glamping village is spread across 10-acres with maple forests that glow in the autumn months. The property is owned by an artist family with four different sites: two tiny cabins and two canvas camps. There are specific occupancy requirements for each site, so check before you book. Guests are also close to shopping and dining in the cute town of Roxbury.

18. Taste of the Catskills Festival

Take some time to visit the Taste of the Catskills Festival, one of many exciting fall festivals in Upstate New York. This family-friendly event highlights the plethora of food, wine, crafts, and beers from some of the most popular breweries in Upstate NY. Visitors can participate in workshops, see a puppet show, and learn all about the fall bounties of the Catskills. It’s open, rain or shine, at the beginning of October!

19. New Paltz, NY 

New Paltz is one of my favorite charming small towns in Upstate NY for its eclectic, artistic vibe and proximity to the Shawangunk Ridge. People come from around the world to hike these mountains, and they look even more beautiful when fall hits. New Paltz is a perfect day trip from NYC, only 2.5 hours by bus from Manhattan. 

  • Minnewaska State Park has one-of-a-kind views of the valley making a favorite among New York State Parks. There are three crystalline Sky Lakes, hiking trails, and stunning waterfalls. Awosting Falls is popular and easy to hike, only 0.25 from the northern lot. Lake Minnewaska has boat rentals and a trail around the entire lake to explore it’s unique ecosystem. 
  • The Mohonk Preserve and Mohonk Mountain House are two of the highest-rated attractions in the area. Mohonk Preserve is the largest private nature preserve in the state, with hiking trails, old carriage roads and rock climbing. The Mohonk Mountain House is located on the preserve and offers lodging, outdoor activities, a spa and other inclusive resort accommodations. You need a day pass to access the preserve.
  • Art: Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in SUNY New Paltz features well-known artists from the Hudson Valley and worldwide. There’s also several galleries in the village, including DM Weil Gallery right off Main Street and Roost Studios and Art Gallery featuring contemporary works. 
  • Sam’s Point Overlook has spectacular views of the Shawangunk Mountains. You can access it through Minnewaska, pairing with Verkeerderkill Falls. There is a separate fee for this part of the park; open April to November. 

20. Woodstock, NY 

This small community in the northern Catskills has a lot to offer fall visitors. While it’s named after the famous festival, Woodstock is better known for its charm and appeal to artists and musicians who have created quite an oasis in the wilderness. 

  • Find endless gifts and treasures on Tinker Street Downtown. There are shops and eateries of all varieties and it’s so much fun to window shop among falling coloring leaves. Try a taco at Tinker Taco Lab!
  • Visit the viewing platform at Kaaterskill Falls. This is the highest cascading waterfall in New York, dropping over 260 feet in two tiers, and considered the resting place of the creator by the native Mohican tribes of the area. 
  • Green Heron offers horseback riding in Woodstock for riders of all experiences. It’s only 3 miles from the town with a variety of lessons and pony rides!
  • Explore The Ashokan Center nestled on 385 acres of meadows, forests, and streams. You can purchase day passes for outdoor recreation and hiking from August to November. 

Where to Stay in the Catskills

  • Wildflower Farms (Auberge Resorts) has free-standing cabins with views of the Shawangunk Ridge. There are tons of onsite and offsite resort activities, such as flying fishing, hiking, wine tasting, yoga, and reiki treatments. 
  • Set in New Paltz, Watergrasshill Bed & Breakfast has panoramic mountain views and charming guestrooms with private baths. It’s within walking distance of hiking and biking and near several fall farms in the area. 
  • Urban Cowboy Lodge has 28 boutique hotel rooms, an Estonian sauna and award-winning Public House. You can relax by the fire in your room or explore the grounds of the Big Indian Wilderness and the surrounding Catskills National Park.


21. Green Lakes State Park 

Green Lakes State Park is a scenic destination east of Syracuse. There are two glacial lakes surrounded by forests and 15 miles of hiking. Biking is popular here, and there are campsites, cabins and lodging for overnight stays. You can’t boat in the glacial lakes due to their fragile ecosystems, but they do have boat rentals for other bodies of water in the park. If you like to golf, try your hand at the 18-hold course surrounded by fall foliage. 

22. Chittenango Falls & State Park 

The main attraction at the Chittenango Falls & State Park is the 167-foot waterfall! This magical spot was created from over 400 million years of glacial sculpting. You can easily view the falls from the top or walk the trail down (for about 5 minutes) to the gorge to view them from the footbridge. There are a few other walking trails with plants and wildlife to explore. Bring your own food for a fall picnic while you enjoy the scenery! 

This is an easy stop between your Central New York adventures as it’s just 30 minutes from Syracuse. Pair this visit with the above (Green Lakes State Park) just 15 minutes away towards Syracuse.

23. Sharon Springs Harvest Festival 

Starting in mid-September, the Sharon Springs Harvest Festival kicks off the fall bounty in the historic town of Sharon. Find a variety of local produce, artisan creations, food vendors and other goods from surrounding towns. Visitors can participate in programs and demonstrations from local businesses and farms. Sharon Springs is a cute, one-stop-light town to explore before or after you visit the market. 

24. Buck Hill Farm 

Come taste homemade maple syrup on a stack of baked goodies at Buck Hill Farm in Jefferson! Established in 1960, you can visit the farm and learn about the maple sugar process. Breakfast is served on weekends from 8 am-1 pm to try the products before you buy. The retail shop is open every day, and you can watch while they make the sugar products!

25. Herkimer Diamond Mines 

Fall weather is the perfect time to dig for New York State’s prized Herkimer diamonds! These quartz crystal diamonds are not real diamonds but stunning nonetheless and can only be found in the Mohawk Valley. You can mine for these crystals at the Herkimer Diamond Mines in Herkimer, NY, and keep everything you find! Tools for mining are included in the admission cost and there are opportunities to dine, shop, or even lodge at the mines.


26. Ellicottville, NY

The village of Ellicottville is best known for its ski resorts and winter activities, but it’s also a beautiful fall destination. This town rings in the fall season with fun festivals and a natural landscape with trails covered in fall foliage. 

  • Ellicottville Fall Festival is the largest event in Ellicottville every year. The town transforms into a walkable 4-blocks of fall crafts, arts, rides, live music, and the shops and restaurants participate. You can even ride the ski chair lift for some cool views!
  • Open from mid-September to Halloween, Pumpkinville is a popular fall attraction providing iconic seasonal activities in Great Valley. Come pick pumpkins, watch the apple cider-making process, visit farm animals, or simply enjoy the fall landscape. 
  • Nannen Arboretum is a natural education center with a collection of exotic and rare trees. There’s beautiful paths to explore, a Japanese stone garden, and a picturesque footbridge overlooking a pond. 

27. Chautauqua, NY

Chautauqua is a stunning lake community committed to bringing entertainment and culture to more small towns in Western NY. You’re right in Chautaugua Wine Country, surrounded by lush  forests, peaking around early to mid-October. 

  • Take a fall walk at the Chautauqua Gorge State Forest. It’s only a short ¼ mile hike to the gorge from the bottom of the day-use area and there are miles of other well-kept hiking trails. 
  • Panama Rocks Scenic Park has big rewards with little commitment. The half-mile hike takes you to ancient rock formations, passageways, and hidden caves!
  • Search for the Barcelona Waterfalls, located on an unnamed creek that seeps into Lake Erie. You can see the falls from Lake Erie Beach, but it only flows after heavy rain. 

28. Niagara Falls, NY

Niagara Falls is a magical site any time of the year, but especially against a fall backdrop. There are tons of things to do in Niagara Falls, and some are even more enjoyable in cooler weather!

  • Hiking: Niagara Falls State Park is open 365 days a year with miles of hiking. The hike to Niagara Gorge will take you to the 11 km long canyon carved by the Niagara River. Queen Victoria Park offers hikes of their iconic landscaped green spaces by the Horseshoe Falls, passing rock gardens, flower gardens, and benches to rest. 
  • Watch the roaring rapids pass through fall landscapes on the White Water Walk. To get there, you’ll take an elevator down to a tunnel and a connecting boardwalk.
  • Experience the fall foliage and famous waterfalls from the air with rides from Scenic Airplane or Helicopter tour. You can catch rides from both sides of the falls. 
  • Ziplining Niagara Falls is a one-of-a-kind adventure where you can see the falls and foliage from 67 meters high! This experience is on the Canadian side, requiring a passport or ID. 

Hotels & Lodging in Western New York

  • Rent this stunning chalet home  with a barrel sauna, fire pit, hot tub, and fantastic forest views. Great for large groups, sleeping 16 with 6 bedrooms and 3+ baths! 
  • The Butler House B&B is right in Downtown Niagara and only 8 minutes from Niagara Falls State Park. Requires a two-night booking to stay. 
  • Riverbend Inn & Vineyard is perfect to pair with wine tours at Peller Estates Winery, only a 7-minute walk away. There is a beautiful terrace and garden to enjoy the views. 
  • The upscale rooms at Reikart House Buffalo put you a few miles from shops and eateries in Williamsville. The terrace overlooks a scenic pond, and you’re 15 minutes from some cool breweries in Buffalo


Is Westchester considered Upstate New York? Doesn’t really matter! It’s on the way north and has some awesome fall activities only 30-minutes from NYC. 

29. Jack-O-Lantern Blaze in Croton-On-Hudson 

This is a hard fall event to get tickets for, but worth it! The Jack-O-Lantern Blaze in Croton-On-Hudson is set on an 18th-century landscape with more than 7,000 jack-o-lanterns that illuminate the town! They are all hand-carved and designed by a local team of artisans, with synchronized lighting and music. Walking through takes about 45 minutes, but allow about 90 minutes to experience all the event has to offer. It’s only a one-way walkthrough, so take pictures!

30. Westchester Haunted Houses

Westchester has some of the best haunted experiences to explore during the fall season. Check out Westchester Haunted Houses to see what’s going on in each town. They highlight anything from haunted ghost tours, fall festivals, haunted trails, corn mazes, and more. 

31. Sleepy Hollow, NY

Yes, this is the infamous town where the Headless Horseman originated! Sleepy Hollow is a great mix of history, fall beauty, and spooky history. It’s a great weekend getaway. 

  • Lyndhurst Castle has a beautiful property and historic home. In October after dark, the house is draped in candles to up the spook factor!
  • Explore the foliage at Rockefeller State Park Preserve by hiking, biking, fishing, or bird watching. They have fun season events like a Fall Equinox Forest Therapy celebration!
  • Check out the spooky burial grounds of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, where the Headless Horseman is said to haunt. Self-guided tours are available only till 4:30 pm as this is still an active church for the community. 

Where to Stay in Westchester 

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About the Author: Michelle Peterson

Michelle Peterson lives in the Hudson Valley, NY, with her three sons. She loves exploring the New York outdoors in all seasons. In addition to travel, she enjoys writing poetry and children’s stories.

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2 thoughts on “Fall in Upstate New York: 31 Wonderful Things to Do & Places to See

  1. KJW says:

    Very informative article on places to visit in NY but Howe Caverns is listed under WNY but is actually 200+ miles from WNY, closer to Albany than Buffalo.

    • Isabelle says:

      Whew! Thank you for catching that. I accidentally switched the order with Lockport Caves in Western NY when I was numbering them. All fixed now. Appreciate the heads up! <3

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