October 12, 2019

Celebrating Fall in NJ & NY

Nowadays, I warmly call Lynchburg my second home, but even as a senior college student, I still struggle with bouts of homesickness. The longer I am away from New Jersey, the more appealing I find the idea of going back to set down my roots for the long-term. I always thought I would want to move out for good, but temporarily detaching myself from the familiar blessings of my hometown have made me miss and appreciate New Jersey more than I thought possible.

home sweet home
Aren't my mother's hydrangeas gorgeous?

One of the things I cherish about my home up north is the beautiful fall transformation that takes place. An awesome advantage to living in New Jersey, especially during the fall season, is being within close proximity to so many local farms and historic shopping centers. Not to mention, the quick hour-long drive to Tarrytown, New York, where there are plenty of fall-related activities and events to be enjoyed.

Ever since my Liberty University classes started mid-August, I have been patiently waiting for and eagerly anticipating my college fall break at the beginning of October. By the time last Wednesday rolled around, I was ready to brave the long 7-hour drive home and enjoy a relaxing, eventful four-day weekend with my family and friends. Our first adventure was Thursday afternoon when my mom and sister joined me for a fun shopping spree in Chester Township.

As a history-lover, I admire how Chester’s shopping center reflects the appearance of America’s old-time mercantile district. Next to their brick sidewalks are unique specialty shops selling antiques, artwork, furniture, yarn, skincare, and more. There is this one particular gardening center that blew me away with their very autumnal floral display. The multitude of flowers in yellow, orange, red, pink, and purple were like eye candy, and the whole garden seemed to shout “Hey! Fall is finally here, so let’s celebrate it’s beauty!” (At least, that’s what they were communicating to me lol)!

This is my face after my mom said "Ya look like a scarecrow!"

I remember the first time I tasted pure maple sugar candy. I was a young Girl Scout and our troop was visiting a maple sugar farm to learn about how the maple sugar was extracted and processed. Now, every time I go to Chester, I’m always excited to buy pure maple sugar candy at one of their candy stores, but this time we happened across an actual Maple Shop! Along with maple sugar snowflakes and hard maple leaf candies, we also bought some maple sugar scrubs.

The rest of our shopping spree was primarily walking outside, simply admiring all the beautiful fall foliage. It was very windy which made it feel like the fall season was truly taking over. I don’t know how the weather has been where you live over the past few weeks, but it took quite a while for the temperature to drop below the 70s and 80s on the east coast! I wonder if that means the start of the winter season will also be delayed. I keep hearing rumors of this year’s winter being colder and dragging out longer than usual, but I sincerely hope that will not be the case!

Our next fun activity was Friday evening in Tarrytown, New York. For dinner, we ate at the Sweet Grass Grill, a restaurant with many vegan options. I ordered jackfruit “carnitas” tacos which had guacamole, chipotle aioli, ancho chili refried beans, pepita, and house made tortilla chips. It was a vegan and gluten free meal, and very fulfilling!


After dinner, we went to Washington Irving’s Sunnyside for the Sleepy Hollow Experience. The actors had gray makeup on to look ghoulish because they were essentially portraying their former lives in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The small cast consisted of two unnamed narrators, Brom Bones, Katrina Van Tassel, Ichabod Crane, and the headless horseman featured at the very end.

The most defining moment of the theatrical experience was at the very end when Ichabod was crossing the bridge and finding himself face to face with the infamous headless horseman. The narrators had instructed us to stand behind either side of the bridge as the last scene took place. We were outside for the entirety of the musical which made the mood more dark and mysterious as the sun set (which I’m sure is what was intended). There were lanterns with actual candles lit lining both sides of pathway which brought the story’s post-Revolutionary war setting to life (because, of course, artificial light didn’t exist at the time).


Nearby speakers were playing spooky music as the headless horseman called out to Ichabod. Ichabod frightfully hurried in the opposite direction, and then the horseman cantered across the bridge with a maniacal laugh followed by the slash of his sword, also produced by the music speakers. Everyone in the audience held their breath because none of us had ever watched the infamous scene reenacted before our eyes until now. It was a theatrical experience that I’m sure none of us will forget anytime soon!

The next destination on our NY itinerary was the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. This is the third time my family has visited the spectacular event at the Van Cortlandt Manor. Running from September through November, the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is an opportunity to see the best artistic jack o’lantern displays all in one walk-through setting. My favorite displays this year included “The Scream” painting (with the Legend of Sleepy of Hollow headless horseman incorporated into the painting for some humor!), Lady Liberty, the merry-go-round, and the sunflowers.

I highly recommend going to this event, friends! Each time my family visits, we have the same level of wonder and excitement. Not to mention the caramel apples and hot apple cider they sell which make for the perfect fall treats!

As you can see, it was worth the long 7 hour drive home and back to enjoy so many fun fall activities with my friends and family this past weekend. I’d love to hear about the fun activities and events you’ve experienced so far this October. Or, the places and entertainment you'd still like to experience before the fall season is officially over. Please feel free to share in the comments below! :)

Check out my Sleepy Hollow, NY vlog from two years ago if you'd like to see more of my fall adventures! Thanks for visiting my blog!


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