When visiting Long Island, New York, in the fall, you'll encounter mild temperatures ideal for getting outside to enjoy the fall colors, pick out a pumpkin or a bushel of apples at a local farm, and have a little Halloween fun, too.
With cooler weather, you'll want to dress in layers and bring walking or hiking shoes when going for a hike or visiting a botanical garden. And after a day, exploring on foot, consider checking out one of Long Island's farm-to-table or sea-to-table restaurants for a relaxing meal of seasonal fare.
Hike Through the Autumn Landscape
If you're looking to get out and take a hike, Long Island is home to several hiking trails, such as the ones in Garvies Point Preserve that lead down to a quiet beach, and has wonderful wildlife refuges, including Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge, where you can explore the shoreline and discover a large variety of waterfowl who gather there starting in September and October.
At the Nature Conservancy’s Uplands Farm Sanctuary, which retains the look and feel of the old farm, you can hike a double-loop trail surrounded by red cedar, oak, hickory, and other tall trees that put on a colorful display in the fall.
Pick Your Own Apples
Long Island is a great place to go apple picking in the fall. A glorious day in the orchard can yield a bounty of apples right at their peak, great for eating raw or using in homemade apple pie, apple crisp, applesauce, muffins, or fritters. Long Island has a variety of farms for pumpkin and apple picking. Lewin Farms, the first pick-your-own farm on Long Island, offers apples, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, and Christmas trees, depending on the season. The apple-picking season usually goes from late August to October and if you don't have time to pick your own, they have a farm stand.
Over at the Milk Pail, you can enjoy apple cider, fresh apples, and apple pie at the farm stand or pick your own in the orchards.
Find Your Own Pumpkin
Many Long Island pumpkin farms also offer fall fun such as corn mazes and Halloween events. Some sell already-picked pumpkins. In fact, there are so many Long Island farms where you can pick your own pumpkins that you'll have a hard time choosing just one.
For those seeking an organic pumpkin and a quieter experience, the three-acre Organics Today Farm is open from April 1 through November 1 and allows you to pick your own pesticide-free pumpkins right off the vine. There are tractor-pulled hayrides for a small fee per person.
Each year's harvest is different so call ahead or visit the farm websites to double-check the times and days these farms are open to the public.
Find Haunted Places for Halloween
To celebrate Halloween, visit one of Long Island's most haunted places—if you dare! For those feeling brave, you will surely get a good fright at one of these top haunted spots on Long Island. A history of paranormal sightings at places like an abandoned psychiatric hospital or the Fire Island Light House will give you goosebumps.
The Kings Park Psychiatric Center (The Psych Center) is one of the most talked-about haunted places on Long Island. People have heard screams and other ghostly noises emanating from the long-abandoned building in Suffolk County. While you can't go in, walking by may be enough for a scary experience.
The Fire Island Lighthouse, on the other hand, is open to the public. You can walk up the 157 steps and two small ladders for a view from the top of the lighthouse. This is where people have encountered mysterious shadows and heard ghostly laughs and doors mysteriously open and close.
Walk Beautiful Beaches
Fall is a great time to stroll the sands of Long Island's beaches, and you won't have to pay a daily fee or buy a season pass. The high temperatures of summer are gone, summer crowds have dwindled, and you can breathe in the salt air and listen to the soothing sounds of the surf. Long Island has a variety of beautiful beaches on both its north and south shores.
Just 33 miles from Manhattan, Jones Beach State Park has 6.5 miles of expansive sand, a 2-mile-long boardwalk, and a world-class amphitheater. At the park's west end you can go fishing, and enjoy a little solitude in the untouched areas that are great for bird watching.
Fire Island is a scenic barrier island parallel to the South Shore. No cars are allowed on this island and you arrive there by ferry. There are a range of scenic beaches on the island and the famous Fire Island lighthouse that was built in 1857.
Stroll Through Gardens
Long Island in the fall is a great place and time to take a leisurely walk through some of the area's beautiful public gardens. Explore arboretums, formal gardens, woodlands, greenhouses, and gardens on the grounds of historic homes. If you enjoy Japanese gardens, visit LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton or the John P. Humes Japanese Stroll Garden, a 7-acre Japanese garden in Mill Neck.
The Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson is a favorite. The garden is a 12-acre living museum and educational facility that holds special events and classes throughout the year.
Peruse an Outdoor Sculpture Garden
The Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor features exhibits of major artists in its Gold Coast Georgian mansion. Beyond the mansion, you can wander through 145 acres of fields, woods, ponds, and formal gardens where sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle, Fernando Botero, Tom Otterness, Alexander Calder, and other luminaries adorn the outdoor setting.
Cruise the Wetlands From Stony Brook Harbor
Sit back aboard The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s pontoon boat “Discovery” leaving from Stony Brook Harbor (across Dock Road from the Three Village Inn) for a 1.5-hour cruise through the wetlands. An onboard naturalist will entertain you with facts about the history, geology, and ecology of this 88-acre wetlands preserve.
Take Your Dog on an Outing
It's great to jog or take long walks with your dog on Long Island in the fall, but some places in Nassau and Suffolk won't allow your canine friend.
Fortunately, designated dog runs on Long Island welcome your dog to explore. Some are fenced off-leash parks and others are dog-friendly trails where you need to keep your dog with you on a leash.
Surprisingly, many beautiful parks welcome on-leash dogs, including Bailey Arboretum, which has 42 acres of gardens. Sagamore Hill National Historic Site allows leashed dogs on the 83-acre property that surrounds the home of former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt, who was a dog lover.
Escape for the Weekend
Have a Long Island getaway in grand style at places such as the award-winning Glen Cove Mansion, which was built in 1910, or the historic Oheka Castle in Huntington, which is reminiscent of a French chateau.
Other ideal fall getaways are to the Hamptons (now that the summer crowds have left) and Long Island Wine Country, where you can go wine tasting, leisurely bike to small villages, and visit the Whaling Museum in Sag Harbor.
Enjoy Great Restaurants
From seafood restaurants to vegetarian restaurants to outdoor dining and everything in between, Long Island offers a wealth of great places to eat. You'll find casual and upscale restaurants offering South Indian favorites, fresh catches of the day, and beautiful water views.
The Clam Bar in Napeague is a place where you order at the window and sit outside. It is known for fresh locally-sourced fish that make menu items like lobster macaroni and cheese, grilled swordfish, and “Montauk Pearl” oysters especially tasty. And, if you want something more upscale, try the fresh fish at the Crows Nest in Montauk.
Taking a drive and stopping for a meal can make for a fun outing. Visit a brewery or go wine tasting on Long Island's North Fork and end your day with a relaxing dinner.
Explore Long Island's Neighborhoods
Now that the weather is cooler, take a walk or drive through some of Long Island's many wonderful neighborhoods. From Oyster Bay, once home to Teddy Roosevelt's "Summer White House," to the Lloyd Neck neighborhood where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie once rented a luxurious estate, Long Island's neighborhoods offer great scenery and attractions.