Autumn is my all-time favorite season. The weather begins to cool down, the leaves change color, and everything just feels cozy. Typically I celebrate this wonderful season with a embarrassingly large amount of pumpkin spice lattes, some spooky Friday night movies, and maybe a trip to the pumpkin patch. However, because this is Audrey’s first “real” fall since moving back to Pennsylvania, I wanted a bucket list that was filled with fun fall activities that pushed us to seek out new adventures.
Not only is this bucket list allowing us to explore our new home state, but it’s providing us with activity ideas that we can use to fill up our weekends with adventure and seasonal fun – which is definitely needed during current times. So, if you ever find yourself in the central Pennsylvania region during the autumn, add some of these to your bucket list – or use it as a template to create a bucket list in your own home state!
- Go apple picking
I have never been to an apple orchard, but it has always been something that has been on my to-do list. So, finding out that we live right by Paulus Mt Airy Orchard was a total win. We picked nearly 16 pounds of apples before getting lost in their 5-acre corn maze and ended our day trip with some scrumptious eats: pulled pork, apple chili, and apple cider floats. And what are we going to do with all those apples? Make some apple sauce, apple strudel, apple fritters, caramel apples…the list goes on!
2. Have lots of Hallo-fun at Knoebles
This is a yearly tradition, so it’s no surprise that it makes the bucket list for this year as well. Every weekend of October, Knoebles Amusement Park transforms into a spooktacular place for ghosts and ghouls of all ages. So I make sure to get my kiddo’s costumes ready early, and we head over to Knoebles Hallow-Fun Weekends for a haunted car ride, a spooky train, and a haunted house or two.
3. Go leaf-peeping
There’s no doubt that autumn is the most colorful time of year, and according to SmokyMountain people (a tourism service that produces a national foliage forecast map annually), parks within the state are expected to see larger leaf-peeping crowds. So, in order to avoid the possibly busy parks, we are booking a tour on the Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat (one of six authentic paddlewheel riverboats left in the country) which is offering weekend cruises through the month of October, to check out the waves of oranges, reds, scarlets, russets, and yellows from the top deck.
4. Visit a pumpkin patch
Although Paulus’ Orchard has a pumpkin patch, our day was consumed with the other activities they had going on, that we didn’t have enough time or energy to go pick up a pumpkin. Thankfully our neighbor sent a Groupon for Butcher’s Family Fun Farm that included freshly bottled apple cider and a free pumpkin with admission. So we headed over to Newport, PA where Audrey spent the afternoon sliding down barrel slides, and climbing large mounds of hay bales before getting lost in our third corn maze of the season.
5. Drink pumpkin beer
While this might not be the most family-friendly on the list, it’s something that I enjoy. Just like chefs, local brewmasters have seasonal selections on tap that’ll have you sipping away at fall. So, when I found out that Cumberland Valley had a beer trail, you best believe I jumped right on that, printed out the passport, and coerced my neighbors to go along on the journey with us. Our first stop: Desperate Times Brewery – a Carlisle brewery that has a lovely lit biergarten and a menu full of German-fare. With more than 20 locations, our weekends will be filled dining out with some good seasonal eats. However, if you still aren’t one to venture out (we are, as long as there is outside seating available), you can pick up central Pennsylvania favorites like Troegs Independent Brewing’s Master of Pumpkins, made with Pennsylvania grown pumpkins, or Rusty Rail’s Pumpkin Swirl, at your local market. Pennsylvania has plenty of craft brewers brewing up seasonal treats.
6. See a spooky film at the drive-in
The question on most people’s minds lately have been “is trick-or-treating being canceled?” and for good reason – no one knows what the heck is going on. So, while I was planning our bucket list, I kept checking out the township’s website to make sure trick-or-treating wasn’t cancelled. So far, it isn’t in our area, but the Halloween parade was. Fortunately, my website stalking was put to good use, and I saw that they were hosting a drive-in featuring Hocus Pocus at the community center. The max capacity was 100 vehicles, so I quickly registered for a fun-filled evening of pizza, ice cream, and the most iconic Halloween movie ever.
7. Stroll through the Hershey Gardens for Pumpkin Glow
I imagine this to be the autumn version of candy cane lane – except instead of Christmas lights hanging everywhere, there are pumpkins! I’ve never been to the Hershey Gardens before, so I’m excited to walk around enjoying more than a hundred carved and painted pumpkins, a scavenger hunt, live performances, puppet shows, and food trucks. Plus, we can get yet another chance to wear our costumes (because who wants to put all that time and effort into costumes to only wear once?). Bonus: All kiddos get a pre-filled bag of Hershey’s candy!
8. Indulge in autumn flavors
As soon as September hits, I’m all about the pumpkin spice, maple, and caramel apple flavors (ha, who am I kidding, I started that mid-August this year) and while I can easily drive to my nearest Dunkin’ to grab an iced pumpkin spice latte and pumpkin donut, I really wanted to experience the local flavors – especially because we live so close to The Pennsylvania Bakery. Their counters are absolutely filled with seasonal treats including my favorite: the stuffed cookies! But seasonal fare doesn’t have to just be sweets: The Valley Bistro currently has pumpkin pancakes, spiced pumpkin soup, and a seasonal buddha bowl, complete with butternut squash and red beets, as part of their weekly special (though this does change weekly). My goal? Eat local. Eat seasonal.
9. Take a hike
When we first moved to the area, I had every intention of hiking each weekend. But then summer hit. And it was a brutal freaking summer. Needless to say we didn’t spend much time outside unless it involved a water activity of some sort. But now that the temperature is cool enough, we can go hiking (you know, until it gets too cold to do so). Little Buffalo State Park, Wildwood Park, and the Appalachian Trail at Boiling Springs are all on our to-do list this season. Plus, we’ll get a little extra leaf-peeping done.
10. Go trick-or-treating
Lastly, what would an autumn bucket list be if we didn’t include trick-or-treating? Our theme this year is the Wizard of Oz – Audrey as Dorothy, Prince as Toto and I’m going to be the scarecrow. Since I’m uncertain of how many people are participating in trick-or-treating, I plan to take Audrey twice. A nearby neighborhood is having their trick-or-treating on October 29th and our township is having ours on the holiday.
I definitely think that this bucket list will be something I do each year (and maybe even each season) because I’m totally looking forward to all the family fun, foliage, farms, festivals, and fresh food! What are your seasonal plans?