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Explore the ultimate fall day

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Fall might be basic, but we think it’s the best.
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – The second the Pumpkin Spice Latte hit my mouth on a crisp October morning, I knew fall was finally here.

Unseasonably warm temperatures kept the season at bay across the country, but there’s little denying it now as yellow and red leaves appear and Halloween fast approaches. Fall, particularly in the Northeast USA, is ripe for many tasty, outdoorsy and family-friendly seasonal activities. I set out to experience all of it in a day – which, in retrospect, was ambitious – and found that any combination of traditional fall activities will get you in a seasonal mood faster than you can say “hocus pocus.”

Whether you like apple picking, taking in fall foliage or simply wearing flannel, here’s everything you need to do to have the perfect fall day. 

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Apple picking

Plucking a perfect, ripe apple off a tree is one of the most quintessential fall activities. Make sure your apples are indeed ripe before you pick them. A way to tell, per PickYourOwn.org: If you notice several healthy apples on the ground (i.e. not rotten or diseased), the apples still on the tree are ready to go. Once you’ve got your picking out of the way, make an apple pie or apple crumble (and tell everyone you picked the apples yourself).

Where to go: Any apple orchard near you will suffice (we went to Hollin Farms in Delaplane, Virginia)  but if you can’t pick them yourself, be sure to stop by your local farmer’s market to sweeten up your hum-drum supermarket routine.

Pumpkin picking

To clarify, we’re not talking just about pumpkins. Stopping by a pumpkin patch is the perfect place to find all kinds of gourds, plus pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns, decorating your front yard or trying out a pie recipe before Thanksgiving.

Where to go: In lieu of stealing a pumpkin off your neighbor’s lawn (which we don’t recommend), see if that apple orchard you chose also has a pumpkin patch, so you can make it a one-stop shop. 

Go through a corn maze

I didn’t get to do this one this go-round, but corn mazes – particularly themed ones, such as this one in Illinois honoring the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 – are ideal for getting into the fall spirit. There’s no truer test of any relationship than getting stuck in a corn maze together, so you might as well find out now!

Where to go: Corn mazes can be found all over the country (click this link for a handy directory).

Visit a vineyard

Imagine sipping a glass of your favorite red wine – or mulled wine, if it gets too chilly – and checking out beautiful fall foliage. You won’t be alone: According to a Turo (billed as the Airbnb for cars) survey of 2,000 Americans, 38.8% go on road trips just for leaf-peeping.

Where to go: I went to Cana Winery and Chrysalis Vineyards in Virginia, both optimal locations for sipping and scenery. Though you can do this anywhere and anytime in the fall, it’s best to wait for the leaves to really start changing for the full fall effect. 

What else should I do?

It wouldn’t be an ultimate fall day story without a mention of spooky season. Whether you visit a haunted house or opt for a scary theme park excursion, you can do more than sit at home and watch scary movies. That said, if you don’t watch “Hocus Pocus” during the fall, did fall even happen?

Yes please: TripAdvisor’s 25 most-popular fall destinations for US travelers

You’re welcome: Fall airfare is cheap – very cheap – and other reasons for a quick autumn getaway

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Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/experience/america/2019/10/22/apple-picking-corn-mazes-explore-ultimate-fall-day/3986290002/


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