The Mid-Atlantic is at its prettiest in the fall, when a kaleidoscope of colors pops up throughout the region. And the region’s many fall vacation ideas offer a roster of unique autumnal events and offerings you won’t find anywhere else in the country, too—think Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow in the Hudson River Valley and the National Apple Harvest Festival in Adams County.
Best Mid-Atlantic Fall Getaways
From apple picking and horseback riding to hiking and hayrides, here are the best things about Mid-Atlantic fall getaways and where to enjoy them.
1. Hudson River Valley, New York
There’s nothing quite like New York’s Hudson River Valley in the fall. Go for a hike at Minnewaska State Preserve (free access with paid parking) or on the grounds of the Mohonk Mountain House, one of the best all-inclusive resorts in the U.S. (you can buy day passes for hiking online) before sipping cider at a local cidery such as Angry Orchard or Westwind Orchard, or tasting craft beer along the Hudson River Valley Beer Trail.
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You can also visit Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, said to be the inspiration for Washington Irving’s famous short story and the Tim Burton movie, and the Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze that runs every September to November in Croton-on-Hudson, where thousands of carved pumpkins are lit up for a spooky nighttime display.
Recommended Hotel: Starlite Motel
2. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
The best time to visit Gettysburg is most definitely the fall. The site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, Gettysburg is a notoriously haunted town, with nightly ghost tours offered by several operators. If ghouls and goblins are a little too scary for your crew, frolic in the area’s abundant apple orchards instead.
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Adams County (where Gettysburg is situated) is so synonymous with apples that it has more than 20,000 acres of apple orchards and hosts the National Apple Harvest Festival every October. Kids (and kids at heart) will also love Fields of Adventure, where a corn maze, hayrides, pumpkin picking, and other fall favorites await.
Recommended Hotel: The Lodges at Gettysburg
3. Winchester, Virginia
There’s no limit to the fall fun in Winchester, Virginia, where you can go apple picking, horseback riding, fly-fishing, and hiking. You also can leaf peep the fall foliage via an off-road Jeep tour, or drive your own vehicle following one of the country’s best family road trip routes along Skyline Trail in Shenandoah National Park. Be sure to stop for a bite to eat in Old Town Winchester, where you dine al fresco on a cool and crisp afternoon.
Recommended Hotel: The George Washington, A Wyndham Grand Hotel
4. Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley, Delaware
Train or hayride? Enjoy both at the same time in Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley. The Wilmington and Western Railroad offers the Hayride Express, a historic first-generation diesel locomotive that takes riders through the Red Clay Valley on an original railroad flatcar converted just for hayrides; rides are available every Friday in October.
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Before you visit the area, check what’s on the schedule at the Mt. Cuba Center botanic garden, a 630-acre estate where family-friendly fall events include Nature Play Days, Hayrides and Hikes, and Sunset and S’mores.
Recommended Hotel: Rocky Gap Casino Resort
5. Allegany County, Maryland
Head to “The Mountain Side of Maryland,” where one of the fall highlights is the Green Ridge State Forest’s Scenic Overlook Driving Tour, a 44-mile route with stunning vistas, five overlook stops, and plenty of opportunities to sprawl out with a picnic lunch amidst the crunchy leaves.
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You can also explore the region via the Pumpkin Patch Train on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, a 1.5-hour excursion; or Tracks and Yaks, a unique rail bike excursion.
Recommended Hotel: Homewood Suites by Hilton Wilmington-Brandywine Valley