Ask any student in the Northeast what it’s like to live and go to school here in upstate New York, and chances are good they’ll reference one of the four seasons. And that’s because we get ‘em all, and we love ‘em all. (Yes, even the winters.)

If we haaad to pick a favorite though, it’s really hard to beat the fall. 

Siena postcard-perfect this time of year, and the Capital Region and our surrounding areas are constantly buzzing with something to do. Harvest festivals. Pumpkin picking. Halloween parties.

Here are five of our favorite things to do around here this time of year.

Cider Donuts and apples

1) Apple picking

Our campus is within driving distance to SO MANY local farms that open themselves up to the public for apple picking and pumpkin picking. It not only gives us good exercise and a batch of fresh Fujis to nosh on around campus, hitting up farms gives us a good excuse to sample an upstate NY specialty: cider donuts*, usually sold right there, too. 

Visiting soon? Indian Ladder Farms, Goold Orchards and Altamont Orchards are popular options, if you want a literal taste of life at Siena.

2) Outdoor events

The last Friday of every month, the nearby city of Troy hosts events where stores stay open late, food trucks pull in, art galleries display new collections and offer free refreshments, and live bands play. In October, the theme is Mysteries & Mayhem and it is a m a z i n g. 

There are other popular events every fall, too, including Larkfest on Albany’s vibrant Lark Street and Troy Chowderfest (yes, so much chowder), and all those local farms we mentioned often host their own harvest fest with more than enough entertainment for college students. 

3) Hiking

The Capital District has beautiful fall foliage and trails for hikers of all ability levels to get the best views of the exploding colors. Thatcher Park offers both trails and a paved scenic overlook (an option for those who want the view but don’t want to leave the car and muddy their boots). Peebles Island has pleasant walking paths and Vroman’s Nose is a slightly more challenging but worthwhile hike.

4) Haunted tours and hayrides

Think our Capitol Building might be haunted? Take one of the ghost tours that are open to the public and find out. For those who didn’t get their fill of the farms during apple picking, many have after-hours haunted hayrides and haunted corn mazes. And, if you’re up for about an hour drive, you can get to Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses—as seen on The Today Show.

5) Awesome 5ks and 10ks 

Runner or spectator, it doesn’t matter—our local races are honestly so much fun for everyone who comes, whether you’re lacing up your sneakers or holding a sign. There’s Oktogafest or The Great Pumpkin Challenge in Saratoga in October, and the Troy Turkey Trot is a big one if you’re here on Thanksgiving morning. The Albany Running Exchange lists them all

*So, wondering what a cider donut is? It’s time to make the drive here, ASAP.