How to Make the Most Out of COVID-friendly Fall Activities

Apple orchards are one of many COVID-friendly activities for the fall. In New Paltz, one can visit Apple Hill farms or Dressel Farms for pick-your-own apples of many varieties.

For many of us, the fall season can give a sense of comfort and new beginnings. School is in full swing once again, while the leaves are changing color, bringing to life visions of apple orchards and crunchy red and orange leaves fluttering through the sky. But while the season may look the same as previous years, it definitely doesn’t feel that way. 

COVID-19 is beckoning in a “new normal” for us all, and that unfortunately means some favorite fall traditions are on the chopping block this year. However hope is not all lost, and The Oracle has found some activities that are sure to make the fall season memorable and safe. 

First on the list is a fan-favorite: apple picking. The good news is that apple orchards are pretty much the perfect place to socially distance while enjoying a sweet Macintosh or Cortland apple (or two). 

The only aspect that may be uncomfortable is the farm store, where masks are required and you could potentially be less than six feet from another group. Some orchards only have a tiny indoor space for selling local products, so skip the honey if you’d prefer to stick to outdoor, open space fun. 

Next up is a farmer’s market, which can vary depending on the location. Some are taking safety measures by spreading out each booth and requiring masks all across the market, while others simply ask that masks are worn when near the vendors. Check the specific market’s Facebook page or website for details before heading out.  

Something that I have found to be quite fun during this isolating time is decorating my car to fit the theme of the season. Find some cheap garland and lights and go to town decorating in the backseat with some friends! We are all finding our “COVID-19 bubbles” and small groups, which are totally okay if that’s something you feel comfortable with. If not, it could be a great activity to do alone for self-care. 

That brings us to another fun tradition: hiking. Whether by yourself or with a small group, mask up and hit the trails for a beautiful walk filled with foliage and some quality outdoor time. Follow up with some fresh apple cider to reward yourselves for the steep climbing. Some great options around the New Paltz area include Minnewaska State Park and the River-to-Ridge Trail. 

A fall favorite this year has been the drive-in movie theater. Locally there is Overlook Drive-In near Poughkeepsie. Pack some blankets in the car, and you’re good to go as there is no need to interact with others aside from buying the ticket, making it a perfect COVID-friendly night out. 

As we start getting into Halloween season, there are some other activities that might not make the cut. Haunted mazes are not too socially distanced, nor are haunted houses. But a haunted drive through like the Headless Horseman is doing this year to stay safe might just be a good compromise. Another great activity that doesn’t require enclosed spaces is visiting a pumpkin patch. As long as you visit on a day that isn’t too busy, the patches are usually spread out enough that people can easily stay six feet apart and have fun in your own group. 

Of course, there are more opportunities to make new traditions than what was mentioned. But this is not a comprehensive list, just something to think about as we move into a different season. Fall traditions might look a little unique this year, but we can still find ways to keep our sanity and have stability. And if all else fails, at least we still have apple cider donuts.