Smell the crisp air, hear the crunch of leaves underfoot, and get out there and embrace all things autumn in Western New York. Whether you have young kids who prefer meandering through the pumpkin patch or want a leaf-peeping weekend away in Ellicottville, there are activities for all ages, often at the same venue.
The Great Pumpkin Farm Fall Festival
Weekends through October (also open Mon., Oct. 8)
11199 Main St., Clarence
This place pulls out all the stops for the season. From hayrides and homemade donuts to pie-eating contests and a pumpkin cannon, there’s plenty to get your family fired up this fall. New this year: an American Gothic-themed corn maze with zombies, giant pumpkin park, mechanical bull ride and live music. Visit website for list of activity highlights and dates. Open 10 a.m. to dusk, with plenty of free, onsite parking. (759-8483; Greatpumpkinfarm.com)
Admission: $8; children 2 and under, free. $6.50 discounted tickets available at all Buffalo and Rochester Wegmans locations.
Buffalo’s Own Oktoberfest
Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 14
44 Prime St., Buffalo
Summer may be over, but Canalside is still one of the hottest destinations in town. Featured autumn activities include a Buffalo hay maze, traditional beer hall, pumpkin patch and pop-up vendors from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with waterfront hayrides running from noon to 4 p.m. (436-7100; Canalsidebuffalo.com)
Admission: Free (small fee for some activities)
Oct. 6-7: Ellicottville Fall Festival
Monroe Street, Ellicottville
The hills are alive, with the sound of…live entertainment, carnival rides and people milling about the arts and crafts show. This family-friendly festival, the oldest and largest in the area, also features great food and birds-eye views of the fall colors via Holiday Valley chairlifts. Don’t miss the fun and foliage from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (699-5046; Ellicottvilleny.com)
Oct. 13: BOOtanical Celebration
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo
Gather your little ghosts and goblins to celebrate all things creepy and crawly at the Botanical Gardens. Learn about spooky plants, take part in hands-on activities, make some fun crafts to take home, visit the ducks, sheep and bunnies at the 4-H Farm, and more. Costumes encouraged, and there will be a parade throughout the Botanical Gardens. Event is peanut allergy friendly and runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (827-1584 ext. 204; Buffalogardens.com)
Admission: Included with admission to Botanical Gardens; $11 adults, $10 seniors, $9 students, $6 kids 3-12, free for members and kids 2 and under. No additional fee for activities and parade.
Oct. 19 and 26: Haunted Happy Hour
998 Lovejoy St., Buffalo
Formerly featured on Ghost Hunters, the “inhabited” Iron Island Museum is the perfect backdrop for a spectacularly spooky happy hour. Tickets include commemorative glass (presale only), wine and beer, haunted tours, treats and eats. Psychic readings available for a small fee. Get into the spirit from 6-9 p.m. Must be 21 or older to attend. (892-3084; Ironislandmuseum.com)
Oct. 28: Pumpkin Run 5k and Family Fun Walk
Gateway-Longview, 6350 Main St., Williamsville
Speedy Star Wars characters and pace-setting princesses welcome at this annual run/walk in support of services at Gateway-Longview. Costumes encouraged with awards for fastest runners, top fundraisers and largest groups. Post-race party includes family-friendly wellness activities, basket raffle and food trucks. Registration for rain or shine event opens at 12:30 p.m., with run/walk starting at 1:30 p.m. (783-3100 ext. 3218; Buffalopumpkinrun.com)
Registration: $20 online pre-registration, or $25 day-of at the event. Walker registration: $12 online pre-registration or $15 day-of at the event.