The summer always flies by. One minute you’re drinking piña coladas by the pool, the next minute camp is over, "Back to School" merch is appearing in stores and your kids are telling you what they want to be for Halloween.
Then September hits and the temps are still high and the calendar still says it's summer, but you're also seeing apple picking and Pumpkin Spice Lattes in the mix. It's all so confusing!
Never fear! I’m here to help. Here are 5 cute ways to ring in early fall!
Stone Barns Center Harvest Fest
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York is one of my favorite places on earth. To start, it's home to the world renowned fine dining restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns. (Spend a special occasion here if you haven’t yet - it is so worth the splurge! And if you do visit, be sure to come early enough to walk around the farm before dinner.)
The farm is gorgeous and offers all kinds of child friendly farm activities and adult friendly food, beverage and farming programming. Stone Barns is a treat for anyone interested in agriculture and the “farm to table” movement - blah, I hate that phrase.
Unfortunately, Stone Barns is about 45 minutes from my house and annual membership can get pricey. So our visits have mostly been limited to their annual festivals. Their biggest festival, Harvest Fest, is happening soon on Saturday, October 6th. For that day, Stone Barns comes alive with farming and cooking demonstrations, introductions to the many animals of the farm, hayrides, crafts, live music and delicious food options. It’s a wonderful fall day.
Tickets for Harvest Fest usually go fast (buy tickets here), and at $60 an adult and $25 per kid age 2-15, it’s an expensive day. But the farm is truly beautiful and Harvest Fest is a special activity to do at least once. If planning to go, definitely arrive early to beat crowds and plan to spend most of the day at Harvest Fest.
Audubon Greenwich Fall Festival and Hawk Watch
Greenwich Audubon's Hawk Watch and Fall Festival is such a sweet little family event. I still remember my last visit to this festival because (a) the Live Raptor Show included all kinds of scary birds of prey that still haunt my dreams and (b) I saw a huge turtle there that walked way too briskly for my liking.
Happening this year the weekend of September 15 and 16 from 11am - 5pm daily, the Hawk Watch Fall Festival includes cute fall themed activities like carnival games, face painting, a petting zoo and hayrides. There's also food trucks, a daily Rehabilitated Hawk Release and the aforementioned Must See/Super Creepy Live Raptor Show (happening at 12pm, 1:30pm and 3pm daily).
Tickets for the festival are only $15 per person ($10 for members) at the door or 10% less if you order in advance online. It's an adorable family friendly event. I already bought our tickets for this year!
The SoNo Half/5K/Fun Run
There are tons of races happening locally every weekend and I am by no means one who stays updated on that stuff (yup, I’m lazy). For what it's worth, we love the SoNo Half, 5K and Fun Run. Whether it’s the time of year or all the cool extras and energy at this race, we always have a great time.
Taking place on Saturday, October 20th, the SoNo race includes a bunch of super cute extras for kids (face painting, crafts, bouncy castles, live music). And each kid who participates in the Fun Run gets an awesome medal and goodie bag to bring home. For adult runners, the race courses go through the streets of South Norwalk. Post-race there are yummy treats by Colony Pizza and Mr. Frosty and some complimentary booze.
Storm King Art Center
Storm King Art Center is an enormous outdoor sculpture garden in Cornwall, New York open from April through early December. The grounds of Storm King are vast (500 acres!) and completely outdoors. While there are trams, a visit to Storm King includes a lot of walking, some of it up hills. So it's great to save a visit for when the temperatures dip a bit in the fall.
Even a casual fan of art will be blown away by the sheer size and grandness of the sculptures at Storm King. Kids will love running around and spotting new art on top of hills and in the distance. Many pieces are part of Storm King's permanent collection, but many others come and go. Before you visit, spend some time with the grounds map to figure out what sculptures you most want to see - among other things, the map indicates which sculptures are interactive/able to be touched.
New York City
Yup - the entirety of New York City. Just get in your car (if you live in the suburbs) or step out of your apartment (if you live in the city) and enjoy all that New York has to offer. Manhattan is glorious in fall. The weather is perfect for walking while sipping on a coffee or chai tea, of course; and those horrific August garbage smells have finally abated.
Take your kids to the very recently reopened and gorgeously renovated Chelsea Waterside Play Area, and then afterwards, walk about ten blocks down to the Chelsea Market for, among other delish things, the best tacos in Manhattan. Or check out Battery Park's equally awesome (and also highly accessible from the 'burbs) Nelson A. Rockefeller Park Playground and then head right over to Brookfield Place for some shopping and dining.
If you’re more of an east side family, show the kids a great time at the David Rockwell designed Imagination Playground in South Street Seaport. While the Seaport has had its share of downturns in the past, a lot of new and excuting stuff has come or is coming to the area and it’s worth checking out.
If you prefer uptown, the Central Park Zoo is adorable and very easy to do in just a couple of hours.
As it gets closer to October, I’ll fill you in on some of my Halloween specific favorites! Happy Fall!