It’s time to break out the sweaters. Part time, of course, until the temperature decides to fail you during the daytime too. Then, inevitably, the sandals will all disappear, the bathing suits will be taken out of regular rotation one by one, pumpkins will begin appearing on every house’s doorsteps, and eventually even the sprinklers will get a long hiatus. Autumn has made her gradual entrance as always. There is simply no rushing her. She knows she will never be hurried.
This last point is, of course, due to the fact that rushing is optional when you hold such a lofty and indisputable position among the very best the seasons have to offer. Fall’s near-universal adoration is all but assured year after year as her crowning glories can never be usurped or even imitated. Not even close. Apple picking and fall festivals? Yes. Fall classes at Benner’s Farm and the autumn play area at Pantaleons Farms? Why yes and yes! Also, pumpkin carving, cozy boots and sweaters, hot apple cider, hats, scarves, the smell of firewood burning in the air, and that’s just naming a few.
I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this [near obsession]. A scroll through memory lane in iPhoto recently led me to realize that I’ve cultivated the same adoration of all things autumn in my cubs too! That same love that made me binge watch Hocus Pocus and listen to The Monster Mash on repeat as a kid is now percolating through their veins as well. So, in an effort to help foster this same level of fervor among other little Long Islanders, I’ve rounded up some of the choicest options for fall fun around this wonderful island of ours. Some invite you to stay and play, others to just drop by for a quick visit, but all are worth their salt as far as autumn fun for Long Island families is concerned!
Fall Family Festival Weekend at Planting Fields Arboretum
October 8th and 9th
Enjoy a family-friendly day on the beautiful grounds of the arboretum featuring a Halloween trick-or-treat and costume parade, live musical entertainmet, jumbo garden games, pumpkins for sale, pony rides, potato sack races, watercolor demonstrations, a bounce house, food and beer tastings, and much more!
Fall Family Freshwater Fishing Festival in Hempstead Lake State Park
This annual fishing festival includes fall activities for good measure! The event features a casting for pumpkins contest in addition to fly fishing instruction, demonstrations, and outdoor exhibits. Children can also enjoy pumpkin decorating, an exotic animal show, face painting, and a magic show.
Village Day Fall Festival at Sands Point Preserve
Enjoy the grounds of this lovely estate for the day to enjoy plenty of outdoor fall activities including a petting zoo, hayrides around the beautiful Great Lawn to take in the surrounding fall foliage, pony rides overlooking the beautiful Long Island sound, pumpkin painting, artisanal foods and vendors, honey from the Guggenheim Estate’s very own hives, a variety of refreshments, and entertainment from students of Bach to Rock throughout the day.
33rd Annual Oyster Festival in Oyster Bay
October 15th and 16th
This iconic annual event is held rain or shine in the quaint village of Oyster Bay. Naturally, the festival features plenty of fresh seafood delicacies prepared fresh in dozens of different interpretations by professional and volunteer chefs alike. Other highlights include the annual oyster shucking and eating contest, pirate shows, artisans, midway rides, and live music, all with the backdrop of tall ships on the water.
Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns at the Old Westbury Gardens
Definitely among the more unique events of the fall season, the Rise consists of a walk along a well-lit 1/3 mile scenic trail, set to a musical score created just for the event, as you make your way through the gardens to see the more than 5,000 hand-carved jack o’lanterns on display around you. New and exciting creations await you every year, but in years past we’ve seen recreations of popular television and movie stars, sports teams, animals, and city skylines. A live carving station allows you to watch the artists work their magic up close.
Halloween Boat Burning at The Long Island Maritime Museum
This annual tradition in the idyllic town of Sayville is based loosely on the Norse tradition of a funeral pyre, one in which you will see only the fire department setting ablaze to a large donated wooden ship instead of vikings! This event also holds a raffle where one lucky winner wins a one of a kind handcrafted boat by LI Maritime Museum volunteers, light refreshments, live entertainment for the families and halloween costumes are encouraged!
Bats, Barnacles & Broomsticks at Long Island Aquarium
The aquarium joins in on the Halloween fun with an adorable penguin costume parade, games and crafts, haunted house, trick or treating, raffles, giveaways, author reading and signing, and so much more! Who doesn’t love a trip to the aquarium? Don’t forget to dress up your little ones in costume, they will get half off admission with a paying adult!
Great Jack ‘o Lantern Sail at Belmont Lake State Park
Pumpkins sailing around a lake is one event you don’t want to miss. The first 50 carved pumpkins from patrons will be set up with candles inside, and set to float around bringing halloween fun to the state park. More fun is to be had at the petting zoo, games, crafts, trick or treat stations, and visiting the “spooky den” is a must!
Owl Prowl 5K at Scully Estate in Islip
Set on the beautiful grounds of Scully Estate, the whole family can get dressed up in costumes and run/walk this 5K race the day before Halloween! We ran it last year, and fell in love with all the family fun that was had! There is even a Monster Mash Dash for the little ones! After the race, stay and enjoy the Spooky Soiree of children’s activities in and throughout the estate.