Welcome back from your long weekend! While Labor Day unofficially marks the end of summer, it also means that cooler weather, foliage season and some of our favorite activities are just around the corner. Here’s a rundown to get you ready for fall: 

39th Annual Queens County Fair

Carnival rides, midway games, and pie-eating contests — it’s that time of year. Visit the Queens County Fair, which runs from this Friday, Sept. 9 to Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Queens Farm Museum. There will be a corn maze, hayrides, local food and drink, live music and much more. Check out the complete schedule here. Tickets ($14-45) are recommended in advance

The Feast of San Gennaro

Feast of San Gennaro 2021. Photo: Andrea Pineda-Salgado / Epicenter NYC

The Feast of San Gennaro will be back this September, and so are the vendors selling pizzas, cannolis, gelato and more. And of course there are the famous eating contests. This year the Feast runs from Thursday, Sept. 15 through Sunday, Sept. 25. Entrance is free, check out our guide from last year. 

Haunt O’ Ween

Just an hour’s drive from New York City, Los Angeles’ Haunt O’ Ween will open up in Holmdel, New Jersey. At Haunt O’ Ween, you’ll feel as if you’ve entered a Halloween town — the pop up will feature a carnival with rides, face painting and a walk-through tunnel of glowing jack-o’-lanterns. The carnival will run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 31. Ticket prices start at $40 and can be bought online

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

New Yorkers will be able to enjoy two Great Jack O’Lantern Blazes, one located in Long Island and the other in the Hudson Valley. Each will feature sculptures with 7,000 glowing, intricately carved pumpkins. Hudson Valley’s Jack O’Lantern Blaze will run from Sept. 16 to Nov. 20. The Long Island event will run from Sept. 30 to Nov. 6. Tickets for each range from $24 to $32 and can be bought online.

Leaf Peeping in NYC

Foliage at Central Park. Photo: Andrea Pineda-Salgado / Epicenter NYC

If you want to stay within the five boroughs to see the leaves change color, look no further than Central Park and Prospect Park. In Central Park, visit Conservatory Water, where the colorful trees will adorn the famous model-boat pond; the Ramble or North Woods where you’ll feel as if you’re in a forest; or Great Hill, where you can picnic on its hilly meadow surrounded by the bright-colored foliage. Be sure to visit the Ravine, referred to as Brooklyn’s only forest, in Prospect Park. 

Quogue Wildlife Refuge

If you’re looking to explore more of Long Island in the fall, be sure to visit the Quogue Wildlife Refuge. The 305-acre nonprofit nature preserve is about an hour and a half drive from NYC. The preserve offers seven miles of trails to explore and is open every day from sunrise to sunset. The Quogue Wildlife Refuge is also free to the public, see more information on trails here and rules here

Caleb Smith State Park Preserve

This state park preserve is also located on Long Island and is about an hour drive from the city. It offers hiking trails where you can witness the leaves change color, it also has a nature museum. Bird watching is available from April 1 to Oct. 31 and you can go fishing on the preserve’s Willow Pond. The only cost to visit Caleb Smith State Park Preserve is an $8 parking fee.

Storm King Art Center

Located in the Hudson Valley, the Storm King Art Center is an open-air museum with one of the largest collections of contemporary outdoor sculptures in the United States. While the museum has a unique sculpture collection, its open-air concept allows visitors to see the foliage that surrounds it, making it a great place to see the autumn colors change. Ticket prices vary depending on the amount of people per car and can be bought online

Mohonk Mountain House

If you’d like to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a few days while you watch the colors change on the leaves, be sure to stay at the Mohonk Mountain House in Hudson Valley. The Mohonk Mountain House is a Victorian castle resort located about a two-hour drive from the city. It’s surrounded by 40,000 acres of pristine forest — so you will be surrounded by color. Book your stay or get more information on its website.

Where to go pumpkin picking

Elwood Pumpkin Farm

At Elwood you can pick your own pumpkins throughout the fall, and in the winter cut your own Christmas tree. Unlike other farms in the area, pumpkins at Elwood are grown in its fields and you are invited to pick yours off the vine itself. Pricing for pumpkins varies depending on size. The first day you can pick your own pumpkin is Sept. 24, so be sure to mark your calendar. Get more information on its website

Brightwaters Farms

Brightwaters Farms is the oldest operating farm on the south shore of Long Island. It’s currently closed but will be opening back up in October for its annual Fall Harvest Festival. At the farm, you can pick your own pumpkin — priced at $0.85 per pound — and eat some fresh apple cider donuts. Its market also offers homemade baked pies and cookies, roasted corn on the cob and fresh squeezed lemonade. Find more information on its website.

Ochs Orchard

At Ochs Orchard you can pick both pumpkins and apples. Pumpkins vary in price, while apple picking costs $19 for 10-12 lbs. of apples or $34 for 20-22 lbs. Apart from these two activities, you can also visit a petting zoo with goats, donkeys and peacocks, a pick-your-own flower garden and a working beehive. The Orchard is about an hour drive from the city. Find more information on its website.

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