Take 10: Fall Fun on Lake Erie
From corn mazes and pumpkin patches to apple orchards, distilleries and more, discover the many reasons we’re all about autumn around Lake Erie.
There’s no doubt Lake Erie is the ideal destination for those looking to make the most of a summer day. But we’ll let you in on a little secret: Our magnificent shores are chock-full of fun during any season — especially autumn. So nestle into your favorite sweater and comfy cool weather boots and join us for a season filled with spiced cider, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, apple orchards, winery tours and more. “Fall is just a continuation of summer around here,” says Melanie Mason, customer experience manager at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery, adding that she appreciates the Lake Erie region most for its peaceful, quiet atmosphere and friendly, down-to-earth people. “Fall is the perfect time to enjoy a glass of one of our award-winning VQA wines and watch the marvel of the bird migration overhead.”
Here, we take you around the coast to showcase 10 ways to spend a fall day along Lake Erie.
Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery
Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery may have award-winning wines, but their recipe for success lies in an unparalleled atmosphere that’s perfect for those looking to make the most of the great outdoors during cooler weather. “We are Ontario’s only winery with our very own sandy beach,” Mason says, noting the availability of the popular picnic baskets that include craft meats, artisan cheeses, antipasto, hummus, carrots, a brownie, apple and fresh French bread. “We still have our picnic baskets until the end of October, and we have several new wine releases that you can enjoy on our park-like property.” On Saturdays and Sundays, mingle with the estate’s experts to learn more about the wine-making process during a Wine Tasting Talk and Tour or Wine, Chocolate and Cheese Pairing and Tour.
For those who think they can fly through any corn maze, we challenge you to master the walkable puzzles at Wheeler Farms. With options for three skill levels, find all 18 checkpoints among the destination’s nearly 5 miles of intricate mazes. Open Fridays from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m., this outdoor adventure also offers bonfire pits to enjoy amid the backdrop of beautiful scenery. For those coming after dark, don’t forget to bring a flashlight.
Jason’s Pumpkin Patch
Oak Harbor, Ohio
If you can’t find the perfect pumpkin here, you won’t find it anywhere. At Jason’s Pumpkin Patch, choose from more than 100 varieties of pumpkins, gourds and squash. Grab a white, peanut, fairytale or kaki pumpkin, all of which have seeds that are great for roasting. Or, impress your friends and neighbors with massive, 300-pound pumpkin available in orange, green, white or pink. Find all of your decorative seaonsal favorites, including corn stalks, straw bales, Amish mums and more before grabbing a glass of apple cider and enjoying a range of activities, from a corn maze and hayride to pedal go carts. Excitement for the little ones includes a pony cart ride, straw maze, corn box, tower of slides and pedal tractor track.
Hounds of Erie Winery
Clear Creek, Ontario
There’s no leaving your four-legged best friend at home during a trip to Hounds of Erie Winery. Here, pups of all sizes will appreciate the opportunity to hang with their humans and other dog lovers during a relaxing afternoon on the patio or stroll through the grounds. Kick back and relax in a casual atmosphere and choose from a selection of award-winning, new-age hybrid wines and hard ciders. “One of our favorite ways to spend fall along Lake Erie is with a glass of our Fox and the Hound red wine in hand while we walk along our dog-friendly walking trail that borders our 23 acre farm,” says Mat Vaughan, co-owner and wine maker, adding that the Hounds of Erie Winery is bordered by a beautiful Carolinian forest, making it the perfect location to enjoy a glass of wine or hard cider while watching the leaves change. “The cool days and beautiful fall colors are the perfect match for enjoying the fan-favorite Marquette blend.”
Sissons’ Pumpkin Patch
Nestle next to a fire, hop on a hayride, challenge a friend to a pedal cart race and more during a weekend trip to this destination that boasts a great time for the entire family. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 30, Sissons’ Pumpkin Patch also offers pumpkin sling shots, straw forts, obstacle courses, a logic maze and corn maze. “Our simple, old-fashioned, hands-on attractions are great fun enjoyed by all ages,” says Larry and Wendy Sisson, owners, adding that a unique attraction is the pumpkin smash. “We’ve created our version of a sledgehammer out of the trunk of a small tree and attached a handle. This creation allows visitors to hammer on pumpkins or gourds … anything we can find to provide a fun filled, stress reliever.”
Luminary Distillery & Eatery
Raise a glass to the irresistible flavors of the season at Luminary Distillery & Eatery, a cocktail bar and gastropub featuring in-house spirits and specialty drinks, including mules and martinis, as well as select Pennsylvania craft beers and wines. It’s a local hot spot for Sunday Brunch, where guests drool over the heavily garnished Bloody Mary. During fall, try the distillery’s Apple Pie Moonshine, a neutral spirit distilled from grain infused with local cider, cinnamon and vanilla. As the owners of Fuhrman’s Apple Cider, Luminary Distilling carries on the 125-year tradition of offering locals their favorite locally made apple cider by the gallon or infused into the distillery and eatery’s drinks and dining options.
Brant’s Apple Orchard
Open from August to November, Brant’s Apple Orchard offers 27 varieties of apples and is famous for its apple cider doughnuts and slushies. This pet-friendly destination also features walking trails through the orchard, hayrides during the weekends and Halloween events, including Haunted Woods (Oct. 12, 19 and 26). “The scenery at our orchard is beautiful with all of the rolling apple trees and fall color backdrop from the changing maple trees with the dark blue autumn skies. It’s so nice to sit by our pond or walk our trails and take in the beauty and smell of the crisp air,” says Jenn Diehl, owner, who purchased the orchard with her husband to keep this local gem available to the community. “We used to go on dates to the orchard and take our kids here for fall events. When it was up for sale, it was an opportunity that we could not pass up. We wanted to continue to have this fall destination in the Ashtabula County area.”
Arsenal Cider House
Pioneering the craft hard cider industry, Arsenal Cider House offers an award-winning lineup of modern hard ciders, meads and fruit wines ranging from bone-dry to semi-sweet. The destination’s original location in western Pennsylvania was so popular with Clevelanders, who were traveling more than two hours on a regular basis to visit the cider house, that the owners decided to open a location in Ohio City. Here, those visiting this Northeast Ohio neighborhood that’s home to more than 250 businesses can choose from 15 drinks on tap. Pair a pint of hard cider with a pressed sandwich or soft pretzel made with cider cheese sauce and mustard.
Mayer Brothers Cider Mill and Bakery
West Seneca, New York
One of the oldest family-owned businesses in New York, Mayer Brothers Cider Mill has a long history of providing the region with delicious flavors that can only be found during fall. Each week, more than 10,000 visitors flock to the mill and bakery to enjoy an array of palate-pleasing products that are 170 years in the making, from fresh pressed apple cider, homestyle baked goods and candied apples to all-natural apple cider slushies, doughnuts and fresh baked apple strudel. The destination also is home to an array of other locally made goods, including apple butters, jams and jellies, maple syrup and maple sugar candy, artisan cheeses and more.
Trabbic Family Pumpkin Farm
Enjoy the season’s atmosphere in a family- and faith-filled environment at Trabbic Family Pumpkin Farm, which is celebrating its 32nd season in business. The farm, which has been in the family for more than 100 years, offers a 40-acre pumpkin patch, as well as a ton of other autumn decorations, including gourds, squash, corn stalks, bales of straw and mums. Those looking for autumn offerings to please their taste buds will appreciate the apple cider slushies, hot apple cider, caramel apples, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies and fresh-baked pies on the weekends. Bring your friends and family of all ages and enjoy the 4-acre corn maze, wagon ride around the farm and petting zoo that includes barn animals ranging from goats and pigs to sheep and donkeys.
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