Making the Most of Autumn in Lancaster

Top Activities for the

Perfect Fall Day

Top Activities for the Perfect Fall Day

Lancaster is always gorgeous, but local scenery takes on a whole new dynamic during the autumn months, when scarlet, golden, and blazing orange leaves dominate. Suddenly, every park and every overlook is ablaze with color — and while the temperatures drop slightly, the weather remains perfectly comfortable for a scenic hike — followed, perhaps, by curling up with a book and a cup of hot cider.

Hiking certainly isn't the only option for embracing the weather and the colors when fall arrives in Lancaster — although there is no denying the appeal of a scenic trek. Beyond this, there are all the usual favorites: apple orchards, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and more.

Lancaster also offers several unique autumn attractions that you won't encounter just anywhere. We cover all the essentials below — so keep reading to discover the best fall activities in Lancaster PA.

Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad: Pumpkin Patch Train

Extending along the lovely Swatara Creek, the Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad provides the ultimate vintage ride via Delaware, Lackawanna & Western coaches, which can be boarded at a historic freight station in Middletown. These rides are amazing year-round, but fall brings something new to the experience: the opportunity to ride to an exclusive pumpkin patch and select a pumpkin to bring home. Along the way, the fall colors are downright spectacular. 

Strasburg Railroad

If you're all about trains and not ready to end your adventure with the Middleton and Hummelstown Railroad, you're in luck: there is more than one historic railroad in the area. The Strasburg Railroad also runs in the fall and, while its autumn-exclusive events are more spooky and less harvest-oriented, it is also worth checking out.

Try the Dinner on the Rails experience if you get the chance; you'll enjoy a sophisticated meal aboard the elegant Lee E. Brenner Dining Car while you gaze at the fall colors. The Wine and Cheese experience is one of the railroad's most popular offerings and will need to be booked early, but starting at 5 pm, there is plenty of time to see the fall foliage before the sun sets. During the day, the open-air cars provide even better views and plenty of fresh air.

Lancaster Central Market's Harvest Breakfast

Breakfast lovers will definitely want to wake up early for this much-anticipated autumn event, which brings hearty and flavorful dishes to Lancaster's Central Market. Enjoy French toast, breakfast burritos, and all your other favorite dishes.

Sampling is always a delight, but that's not where the fun ends. This event provides plenty of other fun fall things to do in Lancaster PA, such as pumpkin painting and face painting. Live music can also be expected, making this breakfast a feast for all the senses.

Apple Picking and Pumpkin Patches Cherry Hill Orchards

As Lancaster's largest pick-your-own fruit farm and garden center, Cherry Hill Orchards provides all the apples you could possibly want, not to mention pumpkins in October. Every Saturday, hayrides bring visitors to the pumpkin patch, adding a fun dynamic to an already appealing activity.

The market is arguably even more impressive, with fall goodies like spiced apple cider and classic Montgomery pie promising to put a smile on anybody's face. Stock up on seasonal items and fresh-baked goods before heading out for a full day of fall fun.

Kid-Friendly Fun at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm

Not to be confused with Cherry Hill Orchards, Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is situated in Ronks and, arguably, is a lot more appealing to a younger crowd. This kid-friendly destination has everything farm-loving youngsters could possibly want: a corn maze, a tractor pull, sliding on burlap sacks, and so much more.

While this amazing attraction opens in the spring, there is no denying the appeal of its iconic activities during the harvest season. Adults enjoy the farm's nostalgic appeal but will likely be even more impressed by the wineries and breweries onsite during select events in the fall.

Wagon Rides and Animal Encounters at Barnyard Kingdom

Enjoy down-home farm adventures at Lancaster's Barnyard Kingdom, which offers a variety of activities to suit autumn enthusiasts of all ages. Favorites include farm tours, animal encounters, and giant bouncy pumpkins. There is also a sizable pick-your-own pumpkin area.

Stop by near the end of the season, and you can take part in the highly anticipated Pumpkin Demolition Day. Chock full of delightfully destructive pumpkin games, this event culminates in a huge supply of smashed pumpkins for the farm's cattle to enjoy.

U-Pick Fruits at Bird in Hand

Head to Bird in Hand for sun-ripened fruit, which you can pick at your leisure. Many delectable options are available throughout the summer and fall seasons, but apples and pumpkins are the big hit in the fall — and pears are available in September.

When you need a break, you're welcome to hand-shell a corn cob so you can feed the chickens, pigs, or goats. Take a stab at the corn maze, which is open on Fridays and Saturdays but can be surprisingly difficult to navigate. Keep an eye out for Kauffman products at markets in Bird in Hand and Lancaster.


Strasburg Covered Bridge Tour

Many Lancaster visitors go out of their way to find and explore covered bridges, which played an important role in community-building during the 1800s. These bridges were specially designed to hold up better against the elements, which otherwise made it difficult to get from one town to the next. More recently, however, it has been difficult to discern which bridges are authentic. This is where the Strasburg Covered Bridge Tour comes into play. Held on a scooter, this tour gets you out of your car and into the fresh air.

On the hunt for another unique way to experience the region's covered bridges during the fall season? Try a buggy ride with Amish All Around. This will take you to an authentic covered bridge, with the buggy also stopping at a stand for baked goods. While these buggy rides are available throughout the year, they take on a new level of visual spectacle when autumn arrives.


Hiking and Overlooks at Chickies Rock State Park

If you prefer to work for your autumn views, you're in luck: hiking challenges abound at the lovely Chickies Rock State Park, which boasts some of the area's most impressive overlooks. The Breezyview Overlook is a must any time of the year but becomes especially mesmerizing when peak colors arrive. A quaint gazebo lends itself perfectly to romantic moments.

While Chickies Rock is the local go-to, nearly any regional trail will be gorgeous this time of year. If you prefer more of a casual stroll, stop by Lancaster County Central Park, where you'll find a variety of short, yet enjoyable trails worth meandering.


Fall Tastings at Nissley Vineyards and Winery Estate

Enjoy a sophisticated take on the fall foliage experience at Nissley Vineyards and Winery Estate. This lovely vineyard offers excellent flights to accompany the awe-inspiring views. The archway provides plenty of ambiance, although it can also be pleasant to relax on the patio or even on the lawn. Nissley permits carry-in picnics, so pack the perfect lunch and embrace a unique experience that reveals the hidden power of the Pennsylvania wine scene.


Explore By Air With Smoketown Helicopter Tours

Take on a new perspective of Lancaster with a thrilling helicopter tour. Depending on how long you're in the air, you can spot most of the landmarks highlighted above — and then some. The fall colors are truly magnificent from this vantage point and your guide knows exactly when and where to see them at their finest. If you can set aside enough time for the River tour or the See It All tour, you will definitely want to try these, as they introduce you to several of the area's most influential and scenic spots.

Horseback Riding at Stone Gables Estate

Offering multiple ways to take in the fall foliage, the Ironstone Ranch at Stone Gables Estate provides the chance to view the autumn's best scenery on horseback. This working ranch occupies nearly 300 acres of rolling farmland and peaceful forests, which you can explore with help from a gentle, well-mannered horse and an experienced equestrian guide.

Don't care for horseback rides? Not a problem — you can also see the best of the Stone Gables Estate as you ride on a themed train. There are many different types of rides available throughout the year but one of the most charming is the annual Pumpkin Patch Express. This narrated ride involves an 1868 steam locomotive replica, which pulls various historic coaches. Young participants are welcome to pick and decorate pumpkins from the estate's patch. There are also onsite yard games, food vendors, and a friendly scarecrow to visit.

Chief Uncas River Discovery Tour

You've observed the fall colors by train, from your car, and on foot — now, it's time to conquer the Susquehanna River aboard a historic vessel like no other. The Chief Uncas River Discovery Tour sets sail from the Zimmerman Center in Wrightsville, which is an easy (and scenic) half-hour drive from Lancaster.

While it definitely feels cooler on the river, this is still a great option for a warm day, especially if you bundle up. If possible, schedule your tour for one of the fall theme weekends, when the guide will discuss special topics relevant to the area. There is no history lesson quite like a ride aboard the Chief Uncas.

Prepare for the Ultimate Lancaster Fall Adventure

On horseback, by train, or on your own two feet, there are plenty of ways to explore Lancaster during the autumn months. With so much to do and see, you will want somewhere comfortable to rest and feel pampered after a long

On horseback, by train, or on your own two feet, there are plenty of ways to explore Lancaster during the autumn months. With so much to do and see, you will want somewhere comfortable to rest and feel pampered after a long day of local adventures. Onsite dining can improve the experience, so don't hesitate to check out Bistro 2two2 or the Eden Resort's other outlets.

The Eden Resort makes for the perfect home base, providing easy access to the area's finest fall attractions. And, when you’re not out exploring, enjoy the resort’s heated indoor pool and whirlpool. Start planning your visit today — and be sure to book one of our rooms or suites.

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