Onondaga County celebrates all four seasons with a variety of weather. There’s something here about the Fall, it’s the beginning of a magical time where the temperatures cool down, but the leaves light up. Come early in the season, you’ll likely still feel some summer heat hanging on. Come late in the season and you may see the first snowflakes. In the middle is the perfect sweater weather. There’s nice weather for anyone’s definition of “nice”.
The leaves burst with every classic Autumn color you can think of. New York’s official tree, the sugar maple, is prominent here, you’ll notice it by the bright yellow and orange combination. The white ash tree is a beautiful burgundy. American sycamore’s turn a yellowish orange and the the butternut hickory boasts a bright yellow.
The Big Apple isn’t just a New York City reference… in the Greater Syracuse area, the most common Fall culture that we celebrate is the apple culture. New York is the second-largest apple producing state in the country. Pick your own or select pre-picked, there’s a variety of kinds of apples to try too!
You get the picture; Onondaga County is an experience you need to try this Fall. Here are a few suggestions of specific areas to go for a day, a weekend, or a week!
This area has rolling hills of what seems like endless colorful leaves. It also has The LaFayette Apple Festival in early October (October 8-9, 2022). If you love apples, you’ll love the signature apple pies, hand pressed apple cider, apple turnovers, cider donuts and apple dumplings, just to name a few. While the apple is the star, there is plenty of non-apple items to choose from too. It’s family friendly with rides, contests, crafts, and horse & wagon rides.
Drive a little way up scenic Route 20 and you’ll find the #1 Apple Orchard in the U.S. according to USA Today, Beak and Skiff Apple Orchards. It's family owned and family friendly too. Hop on a wagon and pick apples till your heart is content. Take the kids to the treehouse and let them slide, jump, and climb. The 1911 Tasting Room & Tavern has delicious food and award-winning spirits, wines and hard ciders.
Continue your drive on Route 20 and you’ll see signs for another family-owned business- Tim’s Pumpkin Patch. Here there’s pumpkin picking, a homestyle bakery, a brew barn, and a farm experience. Pumpkin funnel cakes? Yes, please.
Burrell’s Navarino Orchard is yet another option to stop and pick some apples, grab and apple pie and visit with the farm animals. Their new Barn on the Farm is located at one of the highest points in Onondaga County and it gives you 360-dregree views of the rolling countryside.
Let’s keep driving on scenic Route 20, because it’s a beautiful fall trail, but also because it will take us right into the quaint Village of Skaneateles. Imagine trees filled with bright yellow leaves lining a clear, bright blue lake. If you love fall, you need to see it for yourself.
This village sits next to the easternmost Finger Lake, Skaneateles Lake, which is one of the cleanest lakes in the country. There’s a beautiful white gazebo to sit in and soak in the views. Walk out on the pier to get a closer look at the water or go on a boat tour (available in September) to learn more about the historic town all while taking in the vibrant scenery.
The downtown area is filled with unique shops and restaurants to give you a one-of-a-kind experience. There is a local brewery and distillery next to a popular hiking trail where you can be one with the leaves.
Anyela’s Vineyards is a place with warm sophistication, and it sits on the hillside above Skaneateles Lake. If it’s not too chilly, sit outside on the large patio and savor another view of this stunning area while sipping a red, white, or rosé estate-crafted wine.
Fall is for colors, and you’ll find more of them at Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville, NY. This is a New York State Park but after Labor Day, admission is free. There are several hiking trails that are easy and dog friendly. There’s also an 18-hole golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, that tests all abilities.
The two lakes, Round and Green Lakes, are glacial, meromictic lakes. This means that they were formed thousands of years ago, and the water doesn’t mix. If you look closely, you might find fossils. If you’re more about the view, this won’t disappoint. The lakes are a beautiful blue-green color. On a sunny day especially, it provides a picture-perfect foreground to the fall foliage.
Highland Forest, in Fabius, NY, is known as the “Adirondacks of Central New York”. This is the spot for someone looking to be amongst the trees. There are more than 20 miles of year-round trails and it’s the oldest park in Onondaga County.
Cabins are available to rent, dogs are allowed, and there’s horseback riding available through October. Discover the unique history of Highland Forest and Fabius at the Pioneer Museum.