Though pumpkin spice queens (such as myself) have been observing fall since Starbucks debuted its famous PSL in late August, it hasn’t technically been fall until today. Now that the autumnal equinox has passed, colorful leaves, cool weather and cups of warm cider are undeniable. Looking for festive ways to celebrate the season? We’ve got a few suggestions for things to do around the region and at home.
Bike or hike through the foliage
I bought a bike rack for my car in June with the intention of hitting the trails nearby. It’s still sitting in the box in my living room – 85 degrees is too hot for a bike ride if you ask me. But as we all know, it doesn’t start getting truly cold in Pittsburgh until the end of October. Autumn is the perfect time to spend time in nature, both because of the mild temperatures and the stunning views.
Head to Ohiopyle and hop on the Great Allegheny Passage, or stay a little closer to home — the city’s interactive guide to parks and trails is super handy. Fall Run Park in Shaler may be just your speed if you’re looking for a chill oasis to walk through with your dogs or kids. Sally Quinn’s article about 10 great nature trails in and around Pittsburgh is a great place to start if you’re new to being an outdoorsy type (like me). If you’re feeling extra brave, a walk through Allegheny Cemetery as the sun goes down is lovely this time of year.
Get in the spirit with a movie
Movies are crucial to setting the vibe of the season. There are plenty of choices to stream, of course, but you can also find a few places to see fall flicks in theaters if you do feel like leaving your couch. Here are some of the ones I can’t wait to watch.
Tomorrow, Sept. 23, through Sept.29, Lawrenceville’s Row House Cinema will show four quintessentially autumn movies for its Pumpkin Spice Latte week: “Clue” (1985 version), “Good Will Hunting,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and, best of all, “When Harry Met Sally.” You can’t miss the changing leaves and cozy sweaters in these films. It’ll be even better if Bierport has pumpkin beer available.
The Oaks in Oakmont also has fall/Halloween plans on the calendar. Catch the beloved (by millennials) Disney Channel movie “Halloweentown,” along with “Beetlejuice,” “Practical Magic,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Addams Family,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Shining,” all at various times through the end of October.
You can also watch “Casper” and “Cabin Fever” for free on Oct. 15 at the Schenley Park Visitor Center. The Rangos Giant Cinema at the Carnegie Science Center is playing George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) on Oct. 28 and Oct. 29.
Bake with the season (for fun only)
Baking before Thanksgiving (and the holiday cookie season) begins allows you to truly take your time and be creative. Since there’s no pressure to impress anyone with the perfect pie or hundreds of holiday cookies, you can experiment with new recipes and flavors. Have you ever tried pumpkin focaccia? As a self-proclaimed pop culture nerd, I love to get out my “Harry Potter,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Eat What You Watch” cookbooks and whip up recipes from my favorite shows and movies.
Many of Pittsburgh’s farmers’ markets run through the end of October, and some through November. Visit Pittsburgh has a roundup of all the city markets that is really handy for planning, and Phipps offers a downloadable “what’s in season in Pittsburgh” guide for produce.
Visit Kennywood for Phantom Fall Fest
A trip to Kennywood for what was formerly known as Phantom Fright Nights is a Pittsburgh Halloween season staple. Phantom Fall Fest lets visitors who aren’t interested in being scared spend time with friendly fall characters in a “unique autumn atmosphere” during the day. At 6 p.m., the park transforms into a thrilling haunt-fest with mazes, haunted houses and “evil inhabitants.” All of the best parts of Kennywood — the rides and the food — are open as usual. Try the new “mAlice in Wonderland” maze this year … if you dare. (I’ll be hitting the road promptly at 6 p.m.).
Pick pumpkins and more in our guide to the best fall festivals
I saved the best for last. Fall festivals contain all the greatest parts of the autumn season. You’ve got the fresh country air, hayrides, pumpkin patches, seasonal beverages like cider and hot chocolate, caramel apples and maybe a corn maze or two. What could be better? There seem to be more festivals this year than ever before, and they’re happening all over the Pittsburgh region.
- Cheeseman Farm Pumpkin Festival – 147 Kennedy Road, Portersville
- Sept. 23, 24, and 30, and weekends in October
- Evans City Pumpkin Fest – Downtown Evans City
- Sept. 24-25
- Triple B Farms Fall Family Fun – 823 Berry Lane, Monongahela
- Sept. 24-25 and weekends in October
- Trax Farms Fall Festival – 528 Trax Road, Finleyville
- Saturdays and Sundays Sept. 24-Oct. 23.
- Cecil Township Fall Festival – 3599 Millers Run Road, Cecil
- Sept. 24-25
- Crafton Borough Fall Fest – Crafton Park, 117 W. Steuben St., Crafton
- Sept. 24.
- Heidelberg VFD Fall Fest – 456 1st St., Carnegie
- Sept. 24
- Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival Mini-Fall Festival – Twin Lakes Park, Greensburg
- Sept. 24
- Freedom Farms Fall Festival – 434 Overbrook Road, Valencia
- Every weekend in October.
- Delmont Apple’n Arts Festival – Shields Farm, Contact Place, Delmont
- Oct. 1-2
- Hickory Apple Festival – 106 Main St., Hickory
- Oct. 1-2
- 39th Annual Houston Pumpkin Festival – 124 W. Pike St., Houston
- Oct, 7-9
- Fall Fest at the Woodlands – 134 Shenot Road, Wexford
- Oct. 8
- Baldwin Fall Fest – 3344 Churchview Ave., Baldwin
- Oct. 8
- 5th Annual Braddock Farms Fall Festival – 1000 Braddock Ave., Braddock
- Oct. 8
- Seven Springs Autumnfest – 777 Water Wheel Dr., Champion
- The 2nd, 3rd and 4th weekends of October
- Workshop Fall Fest – 311-321 Pennwood, Wilkinsburg
- Oct. 9
- Pittsburgh Monster Pumpkins Festival – 2875 Railroad St., Strip District
- Oct. 15-16
- Hopewell Fall Fest – 2500 Laird Dr., Aliquippa
- Oct. 15
- Halloween Hooplah Urban Pumpkin Patch – 6425 Penn Ave., Bakery Square
- Oct. 15
- Fort Ligonier Days – 200 S Market St., Ligonier
- Oct.14- 16