Not Your Usual Things To Do In The Fall

I had this blog deadline due at the end of August, and I thought well, maybe I should talk about some seasonal activities. You know, like apple picking. Corn mazes. Hayrides. Pumpkin carving.

And then I thought: no, wait. INTERESTING. I said INTERESTING.

Not that I have anything against apple picking, corn mazes, hayrides or pumpkin carving.  I have done all these while my kids were little, and I enjoyed them. But I figure you guys already know about all that so I decided to cast about and find some activities that are, maybe, just a bit off the beaten path.

Here is my list.  Some of these suggestions are local, kid-friendly, and inexpensive; others, not so much. Some are directly related to the season; others just happen to be happening in the next few months.  I have tried some (marked with an asterisk) and can personally vouch for them (by that of course I mean that I enjoy them).  But there are others that are completely terra incognita, as far as I am concerned: if you try them, let me know how you like them!

And please, check the websites for small details like dates, directions, and cost.  And if there is a Schedule of Events or a Calendar link, click on it to see what else is available besides what I have listed below!

LOCAL STUFF (more or less)

The Abbott Marshlands (formerly the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh) has a calendar of guided hikes and paddles. One that looks particularly intriguing to me is the morning Photo Amble on Sunday, September 8.

Also close to home is one of the area’s best craft shows, IMO.  The 24th Annual Cranberry Festival in Bordentown is scheduled for Oct 5 and 6 this year. You will find good quality crafts, fare from local restaurants, and a laid-back block party atmosphere. Check it out.*

As Halloween approaches, there is your run-of-the-mill haunted house… and then there is TERROR BEHIND THE WALLS! at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Yes, it is actually in the old penitentiary, giving it that little added frisson of creepiness.  I have never been, but I hear it is really good. This year it runs from September 20 to November 9.

As long as we are talking about Philadelphia, take a look at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s author talks.  Some are free, some require payment; all are interesting… and be aware they can fill up FAST! *

If you do not mind me venturing back into the realm of the somewhat mundane, there is a canning demonstration at Howell Living History Farm on September 14.

Do you like to hike? Do you, like me, prefer to define “hike” not as “A strenuous invigorating trek over rocks and up and down steep hills” but as “A nice long walk outdoors”? Then this is for you:  the flat, straight, level terrain of an old railroad right-of-way makes the Union Transportation Trail in Monmouth County ideal.  The trail is open all year but is especially nice in Autumn.*

Day Trips

Bird lovers know that Cape May is THE local place to see migrating hawks and eagles. But what if you are more interested in flyers of the six-legged variety? The southward migration of monarch butterflies peaks in West Cape May from the middle of September to early October.

You think “Fall,” you think “Classic Cars,” right? Neither do I.  But if you are a Corvette aficionado you might enjoy the annual Corvette show in Ocean City, NJ on Sunday, September 22.

You can hop into the family car for a foliage trip, or even take a bus tour.  But for something a little more unusual, you can combine the beauty of autumn leaves with a passion for trains at a Fall Foliage Special steam train ride on the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad every Saturday and Sunday in October.

Spend a day at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA, taking in the art of three generations of Wyeths (pretty strong artistic genes in that family, right?).  When you are done wandering the exhibits, relax outside in the outdoor sculpture garden and watch the river flow.*

Or try nearby Longwood Gardens and take in their annual Chrysanthemum Festival, which runs from October 26 through November 24 this year. It is pretty spectacular, even if you are not particularly crazy about mums. Dine in their fancy restaurant, or save some money by eating in their café, where the food is fresh and tasty and you get to do your bit for the environment by sorting your trash into several recycling bins when you are done eating.*

Overnighters and Three-day trips

Did you know Pennsylvania has a population of wild elk? They can be found in and around… wait for it… Elk County.  No, seriously.  By the middle of the nineteenth century, the commonwealth’s original elk herd had been decimated by hunting, but between 1913 and 1926 western elk were trapped and transferred East. There are now over 800 elk in Pennsylvania, best viewed early in the morning or in the evening during the rutting season  (mid October – mid November).  I have done this twice. The first time we saw a small herd of elk from a very long way off; the second time we saw plenty of elk, including a nursing calf and a big bull that strolled across the street right in front of our car (I was holding the camera and I still missed the shot). And we heard lots of mating calls (bugling), too.  It is largely a matter of luck and timing. But definitely go to the Visitor Center.*

From the first to the third of November, you can watch Punkin Chunkin near Bridgeville, DE. Check the website. If you already know what punkin chunkin is, you do not need me to tell you.  If you do not know what it is, you probably will not believe me. So please just check the website.

I did not know there are covered bridges in Lancaster County, PA, did you? And apparently you can take a guided tour of them by scooter. No, no, not those things you stand on and push off with one leg; I mean a motorized sit-on scooter. I know absolutely nothing about these tours, but they looked like just the right amount of off-beat to be included in this blog. If you go, let me know how it was, OK?

Have fun!

- Barbara S.

Monarch Butterfly courtesy of MorgueFile.
Corvettes courtesy of MorgueFile.


  1. So well written and very informative...some laugh out loud moments while I was reading the blog which is very entertaining! I can't wait to travel to some of the suggested places!


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