With a coastline perspective on one side and beautiful fall foliage on the other, it is no wonder that fall is festival season on Long Island.
“We have attractions, historic icons, award-winning wineries and bountiful farm stands. And we can’t forget the shopping,” said SJC Long Island Director of the Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Management Tina Ferro.
Long Island tourism is a $5.3 billion industry and local tourism in Suffolk County alone attracts more than 9.1 million overnight visitors, generating nearly $2.9 billion in revenues for the region each year, says the Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Ferro characterizes Eastern Suffolk as the prominent location on Long Island for fall activities, such as pumpkin and apple picking, wine tours, weddings and a galore of festivals. For SJC Long Island students looking to a temporary escape from the rigors of school and work, there are plenty of options across Suffolk and Nassau counties. Here are six worthy ideas – all just a short car drive from St. Joseph’s College – to consider when venturing out this season:
Located in Watermill, N.Y., a hamlet of the Town of Southampton, Hank’s Pumpkintown is the destination for everything and anything fall. Living up to its name, this family-owned and operated farm provides visitors with the ultimate autumn experience during their fall festival season. The farm offers pumpkin picking, wagon rides, a corn maize, apple picking, pedal carts, tractor train rides, pig races, cow milking and playgrounds. Additionally, the farm market at Hank’s is sure to satisfy taste buds all season long. Some of the many fall favorites range from the farm’s fresh baked pies, apple cider donuts, turnovers, candy apples, coffee and the corn shack’s locally grown sweet corn — roasted to perfection. Fall festival season at Pumpkintown is open seven days a week, now through late October, including Columbus Day.
2. Martha Clara Vineyards
The North Fork has quickly become one of the top destinations for high quality wine. What makes the Long Island wine region so unique is the diversity of wines and experiences that producers like Martha Clara offer to visitors. Lying on 200 acres in Riverhead, Martha Clara is one of the original and most gorgeous wineries on the Island. Aside from the vineyard’s award-winning Northville and Chardonnay, this family-owned winery is famous for homemade baked goods. The winery’s property features a family and canine friendly atmosphere and includes a petting zoo, carriage rides, private tastings, concerts and a rose garden. It also hosts private parties. There are numerous events open to the public this fall, including a grape stomp party, the vineyard’s annual Halloween costume party and a wine glass paint and sips event.
Long Island’s premier arboretum and historic state park located in Oyster Bay is the top spot to explore fall foliage this season. A former Gold Coast estate, the arboretum’s landscape stretches over 400 acres and is dotted with greenhouses, historic buildings, rolling lawns, formal gardens, woodland trails and outstanding plant collections. The arboretum has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. Guided tours around the grounds are offered, as well as tours through the original historic estate buildings. The arboretum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be hosting a Fall Family Festival Oct. 8 and 9.
The first and finest craft brewery on Long Island has called Patchogue its hometown since 1988. Located right off Main Street at 161 River Ave., the brewery has become an enduring landmark on the Long Island beer scene. The brewery has a tasting room with free samples, free tours, a warm crowd and atmosphere, and affordable, award-winning beer. The tasting room is open Wednesday to Friday, from 3 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays noon to 9 p.m. Additionally, tours are offered Saturdays at 1 and 4 p.m. Blue Point Brewing Company releases two fall seasonal flavors each year, the Blue Point Pumpkin Ale, brewed with pumpkin and spices, and the reemerged Oktoberfest. All SJC students are eligible for 10 percent off merchandise with proper ID and student ID.
Wander around, get lost in or navigate through Fairview Farm’s eight-acre corn maize at Mecox LLC in Bridgehampton. The course encompasses two miles of paths, two bridges, and corn stalks over 10-feet-tall. The maize’s bridges give visitors remarkable views of nearby farmland, Mecox Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The farm also has a corn cannon; pick your own pumpkin, gourd or squash; and a country store with homemade jams pies, challah, multigrain bread and granola. The MAiZE is open Friday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Voyage across Long Island’s North Shore for a 90-minute sightseeing tour to experience Long Island’s beauty, animal life and plant life up-close. The 27-passenger pontoon boat cruises through the majestic waters of Stony Brook Harbor to the wetlands at West Meadow Creek, providing a tour that educates passengers on the importance and fragility of a wetlands ecosystem. It engages tourists to embrace ecology, geology and history of the area. All cruises leave from Stony Yacht Club Marina and run through late October.