The Great Haunts of Central New York

Pumpkins stacked on scaffolding

Autumn in the Central New York Region is synonymous with pick-your-own pumpkins and apples, corn mazes, scenic drives and haunted places.

Sure, the Central New York Region offers a little of everything New York state-esque all year round, but one season the area is really known and loved for is fall. It’s the season for picking apples and pumpkins, taking hayrides, getting lost in corn mazes, leaf-peeping and encountering haunted areas, both staged and real …

Critz Farms in Madison County draws in droves of families with its Fall Harvest Celebration every year showcasing special events and festival activities every weekend. These include a giant corn maze, live music and entertainment, hayrides to the apple orchard and pumpkin field, pick-your-own apples or pumpkins, the kiddie corral and Slide Mountain Playground, the Cow Train Ride for Kids and the new hard cider for parents. At Our Farm, there’s a petting zoo, horse rides, a corn maze, hayrides and a large pumpkin-throwing catapult – the infamous trebuchet, “Boris!”

Regarding actual paranormal activity in the region, there have been sightings along Gulf Road in Chittenango, a very steep and twisted street in the middle of a dense forest where gangly trees come right up to the side of the road. These sightings from a drive down the eerie path at night include a burning cross in the woods and headlights forming the shadow of a woman standing on the side of the road (without anyone there to actually make the shadow).

Visitors come from far and wide to see the authentic, working cider mill in Greater Binghamton, aptly named, The Cider Mill and located in Endicott. The Farm Stand features fresh-from-the-garden fruits and vegetables, while The Cider Mill Press Room is where the magic happens – where their famous Cider Mill cider is made, the perfect beverage to accompany one of The Cider Mill Bakery’s fresh-baked donuts.

The oldest pumpkin farm in New York State, Jackson’s Farms, has in-season vegetables, New York apples, squash, gourds and Indian corn for sale. Kids adore the petting zoo, haunted house, climbing wall and crafts.

Tripple’s Countryside Produce in Frankfort, Herkimer County, features seasonal produce picked fresh daily, annual flowers, vegetable bedding and herbs. Brick House Acres follows organic methods and offers you-pick blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and other pre-picked produce. There is a wide variety of annuals, perennials, herbs, hanging baskets and planters for sale in their greenhouse, as well.

A historic, water-powered cider mill on the banks of Fly Creek in Otsego County, Fly Creek Cider Mill has been pressing fresh, sweet cider for 153 years. The Mill Marketplace offers daily tastings of over 40 specialty foods including fresh mill-made fudge, cave-aged cheddar cheese, apple wines and hard ciders.

Speaking of wine and cheese, Oneonta hosts the American Music and Arts Festival each October with wine, cheese, hiking and biking tours, fine arts and an art auction plus live performances by the likes of Blue Oyster Cult, Arlo Guthrie, Mark O’Connor and Chris Robinson (of Black Crowes).

For something paranormal: The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, Otsego County, is said to be home to the spirit of famed baseball player “Shoeless” Joe Jackson who roams the halls during the night. Some have even said they have heard crowds cheering when no one is around.

At “Pick a Pumpkin” Pumpkin Patch in Schoharie County, kids and adults alike are invited to crawl through a hay tunnel, climb a three-story tree house, cozy up to farm animals, hop on a hayride and pick pumpkins, gourds and ornamental corn. For a ghostly encounter that’s more fun than frightening, the Howe Caverns Haunted Cave is a must-see. Some of the special attractions include a mob of zombies walking through the Halloween-themed scenes in the caves, making the 156-foot descent an adventure to remember, special appearances by famous characters such as Batman and Robin and lit-up Jack-o-Lanterns, adding a festive glow throughout Howe Caverns.

In Chenango County, the Annual Norwich Pumpkin Festival, held in Norwich’s East and West Parks, runs in late October. The event started with the hope of breaking the Guinness Book of World Records for the most lit pumpkins in one place, an honor held by Boston with a count of more than 30,000. Although Norwich has never gone over the 10,000 mark, it has become less of a competition and more of a showcase for families and the community-at-large to express their creativity through one of America’s most beloved fall traditions: carving jack-o-lanterns. The event also features live music, dancers, street performers, caricature artists, face painting, balloon artists, a costume contest, a pumpkin bake-off, wagon rides, a petting zoo and numerous children’s activities. It’s a festival for all ages.

For paranormal activity in the area, the Eaton Center in Chenango County is what some have described as utterly unexplainable. The place has been said to be laden with paranormal activity, ranging from fierce growling noises from the spirits of dogs who were tested on in the old laboratories of the building during the 1940s and 50s, to roaming spirits of construction workers who perished laying the building brick by brick many decades ago. There is said to be the eerie sense that you are simply not alone when you are on the premise.

The Clinton Cider Mill in Oneida County sells fresh apple cider, hot cider donuts, apples, pies, soup and many other fresh and delicious treats. Guests at North Star Orchards can choose from an expansive selection of plants in the greenhouse, visit the bakery for delicious pies, breads and pastries, and pick their own farm-fresh apples and blueberries in the orchards. They can even cut their own fragrant Christmas trees from the farm as the fall season comes to a close.

Autumn is awesome in the Central New York Region. From hand-picking fresh-from-the-fields produce like apples and pumpkins, to strolling through corn mazes, hopping on hayrides and experiencing haunted historical places, the region surpasses all expectations for those taking a drive to New York State during the fall.