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Fall in the Finger Lakes

Taughannock Falls / Photo credit: Amanda Mactas

There’s a reason why Upstate New York is so popular in the Fall. Not only is the foliage unbeatable, but the state just exudes the essence of autumn. If you don’t know where to start, we recommend taking a trip to Ithaca, home to some breathtaking waterfalls, scenic hikes, and plenty of local wineries, breweries and cideries. If you plan your trip accordingly, you can even stop by during New York Cider Week, which runs from September 29-October 9. During the week and a half-long festivities, visitors can attend exclusive tastings, dinners, pairing events, and farm tours, where you will learn all about the beloved craft of cider making.

Black Diamond Cider / Photo credit: Amanda Mactas

Aside from Cider Week, there is ample opportunity to get your hands on some of New York’s finest. South Hill Cider, Black Diamond Farm and Cider, and Finger Lakes Cider House are all local spots that offer an exciting array of ciders for you to try. The latter, Finger Lakes Cider House, is a great spot to go on a Friday night, where you can enjoy their Friday Night Farm Jams, which boasts live music from 6:30-8:30pm from May through mid-October. Head to South Hill Cider for guided tastings or Black Diamond for an orchard and cidery tour, or cozy up at their premises Cider Shack.

Luckily, there are plenty of tasty places to soak up all that cider, as well. Conveniently right on property at the Finger Lakes Cider House you can order up some real farm-to-table comfort food. From local cheese and charcuterie boards to decadent sandwiches, this is a place you definitely want to come hungry to. Make sure to track down the Silo Food Truck while you’re in town. Known for their insane fried chicken and mac ‘n cheese, this truck is one you won’t want to miss. They set up shop five days a week at Liquid State Brewery, and can be tracked down at many local events, as well. Moosewood Restaurant is an institution in Ithaca; it has been open for almost 50 years and specializes in vegetarian delights that have spawned numerous cookbooks. And no Fall trip is complete without apple cider donuts. Head to Indian Creek Farm for their fresh, bite-sized donuts and cider, and check out everything else they have to offer. Visitors can go fruit and veggie picking in their fields depending on what’s in season, or stroll among their numerous and picturesque gardens.

Indian Creek Farm / Photo credit: Amanda Mactas

Try something a little different with a visit to Honey Bee Embassy. Located nearby in Trumansburg, NY, this sweet spot is home to an apiary and honeycomb-shaped tasting room, where visitors can reserve semi-private artisan honey tastings and shop from a selection of varietal and infused honeys, soaps, lip balms, and crafts, as well as homemade drinks and treats infused with their honeys. It’s a unique and educational experience great for anyone looking to learn a little more about honey, bees, and the local area.

For those looking to get active, there are numerous hiking trails throughout the area. Buttermilk Falls State Park has hiking trails through the woods, along with a small lake, playing fields, and a natural pool. It’s easily accessible and not too strenuous. The most famous vista is Taughannock Falls, which is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rocky Mountains, clocking in at a 215 foot drop. There are multiple hiking trails throughout the Taughannock Falls Park, and the views are incredible, especially if you can time it with peak Fall foliage.

Indian Creek Farm / Photo credit: Amanda Mactas

While you’re out and about, make sure to stop by the Cornell University campus. The charming university campus gives off major Stars Hollow vibes (IYKYK), with towering stone buildings featuring semicircle archways and climbing ivy. Pop inside the famous A.D. White Library, located inside the Uris Library building – one of the world’s most beautifully designed libraries – for some peace and quiet.

When you’re all tuckered out for the day, head home to relax at La Tourelle Hotel. With a bed & breakfast quality, this snug lodging welcomes you in to its nearly 70 acres, while somehow providing an intimate setting for your stay. The bustling lobby has fireside seating and a full bar, ushering guests in with a nightly complimentary wine reception from 5-6pm. While the rooms are comfortable and lovingly filled with books, make sure to get out and explore the grounds, which feature inviting ponds and gardens, and conveniently connect with the Buttermilk Falls State Park trails. The Bistro at La Tourelle is a great place to start your day and fill your belly before your many outings.

Apple Cider Donuts at Indian Creek Farm / Photo credit: Amanda Mactas

As you head out of town (womp womp), drive by Iron Kettle Farm – you really can’t get your fill of farms up here – which is primed for the Fall season. Families will love their goofy pumpkin displays, rides, corn maze, and hay rides. Here, you can even shop for seasonal decor and fresh fall produce and treats.

While there are many places to explore in Upstate New York, Ithaca has everything you need to get your fill of Fall. Now that it’s checked off the list, we can’t wait to explore all of the other amazing towns in the Finger Lakes.

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