Pumpkins, ghosts and hayrides – oh my! There’s so much to do during the month of October – from the bonanza of cool-weather festivals to a leaf-peeping road trip to admire the flaming oranges and reds of the changing leaves. We’ve rounded up a few fun outings in the Capital District – or within a short drive – that the whole family can enjoy.
A haunting we will go
Explore the legends, folklore, and tales of unexplained occurrences connected to the historic State Capitol on a free guided tour Wednesdays-Fridays at 5 or 6 p.m. (Tours will be held Monday-Friday, Oct. 23-31)
Brave visitors will make their way through the Capitol to the exact spot where a night watchman died in a 1911 fire before exploring the legend of the “Secret Demon” near the Great Western Staircase. Discover which two presidents visited the Capitol after they died and learn about the state Assembly Chamber’s hidden murals and the tormented artist who created them. The tour lasts about an hour, but the chilling tales might haunt you forever. The tour is free, but reservations are required. Visit empirestateplaza.ny.gov/tours/capitol-hauntings-tours for details.
Warm up with chowder
Mark your calendar for the return of Troy ChowderFest on Sunday, Oct. 8, in downtown Troy. During ChowderFest, participating restaurants and businesses will serve out of their storefronts and offer $2 four-ounce samples.
Your chance for great soup and a vendor’s chance to break away from their menu to exhibit their unique creations. Explore the walkable district sampling chowder, soup and other delicious treats from a diverse group of restaurants and purveyors.
Businesses in Downtown Troy serve out of their storefronts, while cooks from outside the downtown area will serve in partnership with downtown businesses.
Spam is the plan
Indian Ladder Farms will be holding its unique take on a beloved October festival with their Hawaiian Oktoberfest Oct. 14 and 15. Adults can enjoy their beverages in a cored out pineapple while all ages will enjoy the island vibes from the Swingin’ Palms, a Hawaiian-style band who will perform both days. Oh, and did we mention that the whole thing takes place from noon-6 p.m. in Indian Ladder’s new Pizza Garden? Who doesn’t love pizza? Visit www.indianladderfarms.com for more information.
There will be pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere at The Incredible Naumkeag Pumpkin Show just a short drive away in Stockbridge, Mass.
The show runs through Oct. 29 and features more than 1,500 jack-o’-lanterns, hundreds of mums, pumpkins and countless gourds, most of which were grown at Naumkeag. Hot cider and treats will be available to purchase on site. Timed entry tickets are required for this event and must be purchased in advance. Admission is available Wednesdays through Sundays from 5 to 8:30 p.m. There is also an early hour option from 4 to 5 p.m., which is ideal for those with sensory-friendly needs.
Tickets start at $25 for adults and $12 for children 2-12. Purchasing information can be found at www.thetrustees.org/program/halloween.
Returning for its fourth year, the Hollowed Harvest is a jack-o’-lantern spectacle designed for audiences of all ages. This year’s Hollowed Harvest: Wicked Labyrinth includes a jack-o’-lantern tunnel, stories and songs of re-animated jack-o’-lanterns and ghosts, and a gallery of sculpted pumpkins. Also new this year, attendees can carve their own pumpkins.
Attendees can expect to take about 35-40 minutes to explore the labyrinth with an additional hour dedicated to pumpkin carving sessions. In addition, older guests can check out The Castle of Terror, a haunted house attraction running in tandem with the Hollowed Harvest.
The Hollowed Harvest is located at the Armory Studios in Schenectady. Tickets are on sale at HollowedHarvest.com and must be purchased in advance. General admission, which requires a time specific reservation, is $20 for adults, $16 for children, kids under 3 are free.
A haunted hayride
The Double M Haunted Hayrides in Ballston Spa have been creating fear for over 25 years in Upstate New York. This one isn’t for the faint of heart, and younger children should probably sit this one out. Get ready to scream as the Haunted Hayride weaves through the woods. Each wagon has a narrator on board to guide the way through the darkness. Around each and every corner there’s a frightful scene and behind each and every tree lurks an uninvited guest waiting for you. The woods are filled with terror and surprise, an atmosphere sure to make you scream.
At the conclusion of the hayride, your journey will continue on foot into Brutality, a post-apocalyptic compound. Then, you’ll come to Blood Moon Farm (see what lurks among the rows). Next up is The Last Inn, a residence that is known for a disappearing guest or two and a vicious staff. Then enter the twisted Fear All Year where every holiday is cursed. Your final destination is Slaughter Swamp, a dangerous environment straight out of the bayou. The screams continue in the midway area with our interactive Feartainment. Hayrides take place Oct. 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, and 26-29 and tickets start at $39.95. Visit doublemhauntedhayrides.com for details.
Family scavenger hunt
Moving back to the tamer side of the season, families and children can enjoy a Fall Finds: Family Scavenger Hunt at Albany’s Ten Broeck Mansion Saturday, Oct. 21, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. What better way to spend a fall day than to discover the trees and critters (fuzzy and feathered) who live in the Ten Broeck gardens. Enjoy garden exploration and art-making activities and some Halloween treats. There will be two levels of activities: for ages 3-7 and ages 8-14. Prizes include art and school supplies, snacks and free take-home art discovery kits. The event is free. Visit tenbroeckmansion.org for more information.
Celebrate Autumn in the Arboretum at the Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
There will be pumpkin painting, photo station, nature crafts, live music, cider an donuts, guided tours, birds of prey exhibit by Whispering Willow Wild Care and more. Remember to wear clothing and shoes suitable for the outdoors. Dogs are welcome and encouraged, but they just must remain on leashes.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 2 and up, or $25 for a group of four. Tickets are non-refundable. If you are unable to attend the event, your ticket will be considered a donation to the Pine Hollow Arboretum.
The Arboretum will also be holding a slightly spooky lantern-lit walk of the grounds Friday, Oct. 27. Learn about some of the nocturnal animals, like bats and owls, that are a part of the Halloween season. All ages are welcome, and the cost is $5 per person. For more information. Visit pinehollowarboretum.org.
-compiled by Kristen Roberts