New York is a city that is defined by the seasons. As soon as the calendar clicks over, life changes immediately, and this year, as soon as 23 September hit, the festival of Autumn began.
I think it might be this city’s favourite season of all. The humidity drops (yay!), scarves some out (sometimes when they are truly not warranted by the weather but FASHION) and everything is suddenly pumpkin flavoured (and I mean everything).
Apple cider hits the shops, Halloween decorations appear and everyone starts talking about ‘leaf peeping’.
Hang on, what?
Leaf Peeping. It’s a thing. When I googled it, I found it was “an informal term for people who travel to view and photograph the fall foliage in areas where foliage changes colors”.
Well, this was something new.
In Melbourne, we largely just complain about the piles of leaves that build up and make our front paths and footpaths slippery.
But here, it is an experience. And not just one that we could quickly slip into Central Park to have. We needed to travel.
So, we chose to combine this new venture with another new experience, ‘pumpkin picking’. Having been asked countless times by locals when we were going to take our 2 year old daughter to pick pumpkins, we finally decided it was obviously worth doing so I combined a weekend getaway Upstate (where we were assured we would be inundated with leaf peeping opportunities) with a visit to a farm in the Hudson Valley where we could go pumpkin picking.
I love new cultural activities, especially in places where I don’t exactly expect to find them.
So, with good reason, here are 21 photos to show you why it is totally worth making a little road trip to Upstate New York in Autumn.
The Catskills are full of little towns like this one, Margaretville, where we stayed. Surrounded by hills and valleys in incredible shades of autumn, these villages are full of quaint galleries, food stores, antique shops and more, all with that unmistakable American flavour.
Airbnb offers a tonne of little cottages to rent like this one, our home for the weekend. It is the perfect way to ‘live like a local’ for a weekend, experience what the townsfolk do every day and have perfect privacy.
You will see American flags in everyones yards.
And everyone is in the spirit of Halloween with pumpkins sitting happily alongside their flags.
Even Mr Pumpkin Head seemed to be enjoying a few cold ones as he kept watch out the front of his house.
Simply looking up into the trees (yes, leaf peeping!) was an eyeful of incredible colour. Everywhere you looked.
Locals seemed to be taking their pumpkin carving pretty seriously.
And the local butcher shop wasn’t shy about getting into the more gruesome side to Halloween….
Autumn is a celebration of the harvest, with scarecrows, hay bales, and corn stalks frequently decorating many of the buildings (along with pumpkins of course).
Once you get in the car to explore the region, you are greeted with this. Around every bend and turn. Our car was full of gasps and ‘look! look!’.
Even in the middle of ‘nowhere’ you can find amazing food. Phoenecia Diner, with a history since 1962, is serving up some of the best food I have found in the state (including Manhattan).
A modern take on the classic Rueben sandwich, this is classic American food, done amazingly well.
And outside, the view was just as delicious.
Further down the road, we couldn’t go past a mirror lake. The colours reflecting so perfectly in the still waters, it was like a painting.
But we finally ended up at Du Bois Farms, in the Hudson Valley (around an hour and a half out of Manhattan). I finally saw what ‘pumpkin picking’ was all about and this was a celebration of Autumn at it’s finest.
There were tractor rides…..
Farm animals to meet….
Apples to pick and eat…..
And try to take some home….
An apple cider doughnut eating competition… (of course)
And a very cool method of transportation for the little ones, their apples and their pumpkins (and a 12-pack of apple cider doughnuts).
So do yourself a favour, if you are planning a trip to the city that never sleeps, include a couple of days in upstate New York in Autumn if you can – it’s a whole other world full of great American culture that is just waiting to be explored.