MM Travels : Autumn Family Fun in Upstate New York
As we bid adieu to summer and start preparing for the cold winter months ahead of us in North America, my family and I were getting the itch to hit the road and celebrate the autumn season. When we researched short drives from the Toronto area, Upstate New York came up as a clear winner for those families looking for colourful foliage changes and plenty of family friendly farms and attractions. As we crossed over the border into Upstate New York, our car filled with snacks for the two kids and the iPads fully charged, the air was crisp and the blue skies stood in contrast to the lovely hues of greens, reds, yellows and oranges.
October and November is the perfect time for nature lovers to explore this area of New York and kids will love spotting (and learning!) about the seasonal changes.
Upstate New York is fairly spread out and filled with many autumn activities. To avoid any long drives we based ourselves in Rochester and split our four days between The Stathallan Hotel and the Del Monte Lodge Hotel & Spa. With two kids under the age of 4, we focused on activities and attractions that cater to the very young whilst taking care of their parents. Upstate New York really is a welcome surprise when it comes to pleasing families of all ages and sizes!
Autumn fun begins and ends at the many farms peppered throughout the state. Those with very young kids will enjoy visiting Long Acre Farms where husband and wife duo has the full support of their extended family when it comes to running a farm that caters to the very young and their parents! Kids will enjoy the kiddie maze whilst the parents will be challenged by the “Amazing Maize Maze” which is the second oldest maze in the world! There are hayrides, cow trains, fabulous play structures and a fun bouncing pillow. Parents will also enjoy the family run wine cellar featuring wines that have a personal family connection. On your way out be sure to grab some fudge and a pumpkin from the patch!
Even with very little ones you can easily pick your own raspberries, apples and tomatoes during the autumn months. The state of New York is home to many varieties of apples and is amongst the top producing apple states east of the Mississippi. Lagoners Farm not only has a play structure for the young ones, but also lets you pick your own apples and even offers some amazing baked treats. It’s also a great spot to sample and learn about the many apple varieties on offer. This fifth generation run farm also offer craft ciders and farm to table eats at their café.
No matter how well you plan your trip, there’s always a day that warrants being indoors. Sure crowd pleasers include the Strong National Museum of Play and the Rochester Museum and Science Centre. An entire day can easily be spent at each of these spots. The Museum of Play not only has an interactive Sesame Street section but also has a Wegmans supermarket to get the kids shopping for groceries (for a change). The Science Centre has many play structures that require physical skill in addition to the educational displays that speak to history, science and geography. Don’t worry, it’s not just the kids who will be entertained and educated at these spots, the parents might be pleasantly surprised by what they learn as well!
The changing colours are sure to razzle and dazzle even non nature lovers. A scenic drive through Upstate New York is the perfect backdrop for family photos. The shades of reds, greens, yellows and oranges will take your breath away. A drive to Bristol Mountain is not only scenic but also relaxing. Taking a Sky Ride up to spot the colours from up above is not a bad idea at all!
Letchworth State Park (known as the Grand Canyon of the East) is one of the top spots to view the changing autumn colors. One can drive through the park and those more adventurous can hike it or even soar above it. If you’re looking for pictures, the Gorge Overlook and the High, Middle, and Lower Falls Overlooks are your best bets.
Ontario area families looking to sneak in a quick road trip will not only enjoy the proximity of the Rochester and Upstate New York areas but will also enjoy the wonders of nature and the many family friendly attractions and events that are prominent throughout the year and especially in the autumn months. It most definitely is a Welcome Surprise!
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