'Fall' into York, Pennsylvania


The changing of the seasons is always a breath of fresh air. And there's nothing like that overnight period when the Autumn crispness decides to come in and interrupt a long, humid summer. All that Autumn brings: the cool air, the vibrant colors, the anticipation of the upcoming holidays makes it our favorite time of the year. And we agree that - although New York City knows how to celebrate the majority of seasons and holidays best - it's actually our Pennsylvania hometown that does Fall in a way that can’t be beat. Pennsylvania's autumn landscape of corn fields, sunflower fields, and colorful foliage is truly a sight to see. And with the season coming up quickly, Daniel and I wanted to put together a list of our four favorite "PA Fall Activities" in order to help you plan a festive weekend in this beautiful location.

1. The York Fair

This is a town favorite. Spend time in York County and ask what the locals think about their county fair, and you'll hear them raving. The York Fair is the oldest county fair in America; oral history says that it was started by Benjamin Franklin (though none can necessarily prove it.) And when it comes to ‘fair food,’ the York Fair has some of the best. Whether you're looking to get something deep fried (deep fried oreos, gummy bears, pickles, chocolate-covered-bacon, cheesecake or snickers bars) or you want to try your hand at a giant turkey leg or a 'Memphis BBQ Sundae' (layers of mashed potatoes, BBQ pulled pork and cole slaw) there's something for you.

Aside from the food, there are the typical fair activities - rides, games and circus performances - and other activities very specific to Pennsylvanian culture, like the cows, sheep and horses that compete for 'best of show,' the building full of crafts and knickknacks made by York locals, and the 'Horticulture Hall' full of various fruits, veggies and flowers also submitted to the competition. This year, there was "Goat Mountain" - a pen of goats you could watch climb around on a playground made of hay, a parade of York's police, firefighter and medical teams, and a variety of locals playing their country music at the free stage. The York Fair's Grand Stand has seen visits from Carrie Underwood, Andy Grammar, Lady Antebellum, etc, which proves - as many locals will proudly tell you - it's not a small-scale fair! Take a visit to the York Fair at the beginning of the season and the pumpkin funnel cake, decorated pumpkin patch and apple cider samples are guaranteed to put you in the mood.

2. Brown’s Orchard

We both agree that visiting Brown’s Orchard is one of our very favorite fall-time activities. For the 65 years that it has been in business, Brown’s has always been ‘a little bit market, and a little bit mom-and-pop.' It has shelves full of fall-themed knickknacks and décor hugged by its over-abundant supply of freshly-grown fruits, vegetables, homemade desserts, and other Pennsylvania Dutch favorites. Shop through their colorful array of pumpkins, gourds and indian corn outside before entering into the rustic, cinnamon-scented shop. When we visit and we’re only feeling snack-y, we grab their outrageously delicious ‘sugar cookie cakes’ and apple cider—a match made in heaven. But if we’re looking for dinner, I personally always search for their homemade chicken corn soup.

Before leaving Brown’s, make sure to taste their free apple cider samples and grab a free orchard-grown apple! (As an important side note: we would confidently bet money that their cider would win the ‘world’s best apple cider’ contest if there was such a thing.)

3. The Rail Trail

The Rail Trail, a tree-lined path on top of railroads tracks no longer being used, takes its travelers on a journey through Pennsylvania’s beautiful landscape. Whether you’re on foot, a bicycle or horseback, it’s the perfect way to unwind and enjoy nature. The trail was established in 1992 and it covers 176 acres—in other words, it’s a chance to see 176 acres of Pennsylvania’s fall foliage! When the leaves are at their peak, the mix of vibrant yellow, orange, red and purple will make your heart (and your instragram) happy.

4. Apple Picking

Who doesn’t love picking apples? Yes, you are essentially paying an orchard to do their work for them—but it’s the experience that counts! Climbing the trees to the tippy-top in order to get the juiciest apples are some of my favorite childhood memories. And even as an adult, apple picking is always on my ‘Must Do Because It’s Autumn Now’ list. Daniel and I always go to Forge Hill Orchard in Mount Wolf, Pennsylvania. They have strawberry, cherry and peach picking during the rest of the year—but my favorite is picking those apples! When you arrive at the orchard, you find yourself in (essentially) a ‘bushel drive-through.’ Their employees will come to your car window and hand you the number of bushels you ask for, as well as a map of their orchard highlighting where you can find the various apple types. Whether you’re looking for Gaia, Honeycrisp, Jonathan, Granny Smith or Red Delicious (my mouth is watering as I write this) – you will find it all! Make sure to sample a few before you fill your bushels with your favorite flavors. It makes for some wonderful, simplistic memories—and it’s just so satisfying to walk through the orchard, climb those trees, and find the biggest, roundest apple. And that’s not to mention the apple crisp, apple pies, and caramel apples that come afterward. A fantastic 'must-do’ fall activity!