It’s starting to smell like fall and the very first leaves are beginning to turn brown.
The days are getting shorter, the harvest season is upon us, and soon the last of summer’s lingering heat will give way to chilly nights.
Autumn is officially here as of Sept. 22 and we’re excited to enjoy all it brings — the long shadows, delicious food, spooky jack-o’-lanterns, and vibrant reds and yellows of nature.
It’s the perfect time for family fun. Here are some terrific Lorain County activities and locales to check out (note that many are businesses and may require admission or other costs):
• Hillcrest Orchards
50336 Telegraph Rd., Henrietta Township
Pick crunchy apples right off of trees, select a pumpkin to carve, or get lost in a four-acre corn maze. Open on weekends only from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Miller Orchards
8690 Vermilion Rd., Brownhelm Township
A pick-your-own apple orchard with jams, jellies, local honey, cider, pumpkins, and Indian corn available for purchase. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
• Pickering Hill Farms
35669 Detroit Rd., Avon
Wander through the farm’s one-acre corn maze or ride a wagon to the two-acre pumpkin patch. Sip hot or cold cider and enjoy popcorn and fresh apple fritters.
• Red Wagon Farm
16081 East River Rd., Columbia Township
Purchase a wide variety of local fruits and vegetables or enjoy seasonal activities including a corn maze, wagon ride, hay maze, and kids play area.
19066 East River Rd., Columbia Township
Enjoy pony rides, a family fun house, a kids super slide, a petting zoo, face painting, free prizes, pumpkin painting, straw mountain, costume characters, and more. Open from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
• Brasee’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch
18421 State Rt. 58, Pittsfield Township
Search an eight-acre corn maze to find hidden stamps for a candy prize or try something a little scarier in the pitch black straw maze. Visit the pumpkin patch, enjoy hayrides, a petting zoo, bounce house, straw slide, and corn pit.
• Fall in Love with Wellington
115 Willard Memorial Sq., Wellington
In front of town hall, help usher in autumn with scarecrow and pumpkin decorating contests, soup, bread, apple, and pumpkin bake-offs, a kids coloring contest, and a pumpkin pie eating contest. The two-day festival will be held from 11 a.m.to 9 p.m. on Sept. 29 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 30.
• Horse-Drawn Wagon Rides and Corn Maze
13630 Diagonal Rd., Carlisle Township
At the Carlisle Reservation Equestrian Center, enjoy a 30-minute horse-drawn hay wagon ride or test your navigation skills through a six-acre corn maze from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 7.
• Lorain County Metro Parks Halloween Fair
12882 Diagonal Rd., Carlisle Township
At the Carlisle Reservation, enjoy games, live entertainment, and wagon rides Fridays and Saturdays starting Oct. 12. A non-spooky family-friendly trail will be open from 4:30-6:30 pm. The trail turns scary from 7-10 p.m. with actors and mechanical props.
• Family Fun Fest at Schuster’s Pumpkin Patch
8638 Murray Ridge Rd., Elyria Township
Activities include an antique gas engine display, apple butter making, bouncy house, a maze, face painting, a storybook-themed train ride, hayrides, a petting zoo, and crafts. The festival run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 13 to 14.
• By My Lantern’s Light
763 Milan Ave., Amherst
Step back in time for tales of spooky history at the Amherst Sandstone Village on Oct. 27 and 28. Tours begin at 5 p.m. and continue at 15 minute intervals until 8 p.m. All volunteers will wear period costume and carry a lantern.
• Spooky Ranch at the Rockin’ R Ranch
19066 East River Rd., Columbia Township
The Extreme Nightmares Haunted House features gore, blood, guts, and lots of scares. This haunted house is not recommended for children. The Haunted Hayride combines humor and scary surprises with the use of live actors, pyrotechnics, and 30-foot-tall animated creatures. The 25-minute ride is open to people of all ages. A haunted barn, haunted 19th-century old west saloon, three-dimensional haunted zombie clown house, and a zombie paintball experience are also available from 7-9:30 p.m. on Thursdays, 7-11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 7-9:30 p.m. on Sundays.
• Hauntville Haunted Houses
1579 West River Rd North, Elyria
Five separately-themed haunted attractions — “CellBlock 13,” “The Butcher Barn,” “Psycho Manor,” “Wicked Clowns in 4-D,” and “The Unknown” — transport visitors to another place in time. Hauntville is open from 7-10 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays and 7 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
• Haunted Forest of Carousel
1451 Lake Breeze Rd., Sheffield Village
Wander along a half-mile trail through a dark forest filled with eerie scenes and jump-scares from 7:30 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
• Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls Workshop
39 South Main St., Oberlin
This Firelands Association for the Visual Arts workshop from 1-3 p.m. on Oct. 20 will start with a pictorial review of the Mexican festival Dia de los Muertos. Participants will pipe colorful royal frosting on two pre-made sugar skulls. Call 440-774-7158 to register.
• Trick-Or-Treat on Your Feet
47160 Hollstein Dr., Amherst
At the Mercy Health and Recreation Center, kids ages 12 and under can participate in a fun run Oct. 21. Dress up and run the half-mile course, stopping at six stations to receive a trick (fitness exercise) or treat (candy). Race-day registration begins at 11 a.m. and age group races begin at 12:10 p.m.
• Halloween Fun 5K
6195 Otten Rd., North Ridgeville
Take a three-mile hike from 1-2:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 at the Sandy Ridge Reservation. Wear a costume and receive a prize.
95 West Hamilton St., Oberlin
Splash Zone will host a family-friendly Halloween party from 5:30-8 p.m. on Oct. 28 with swimming, crafts, trick-or-treating, and a costume contest. Call 440-774-5059 to register.
• Amherst Halloween parade
480 Park Ave., Amherst
Costume contest registration will start at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28. Judging will start at 4 p.m. In the event of rain, the contest will be held at the Amherst fire station, 414 Church St. The parade will start shortly after judging is completed.
• South Amherst Halloween parade
152 West Main St., South Amherst
The event will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28 and is sponsored by the village fire department and South Amherst Firemen’s Association.
• Scary Critters Hike for Halloween
2739 Center Rd., Avon
Look for spiders, snakes, and skunks from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on an Oct. 31 hike at the Miller Nature Preserve.
• Halloween Scavenger Hunt
51211 North Ridge Rd., Vermilion Township
Set off on a spooky Halloween adventure with prizes and candy from 10-11:30 a.m. on Oct. 31 at the Carriage Barn at the Vermilion River Reservation.
SEASONAL TRAIN RIDES
• Lorain and West Virginia Railway
46485 State Rt. 18, Wellington
See beautiful fall foliage on a one- or two-hour ride on the Lorain and West Virginia Railway. The train leaves the station at 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays for the first three weeks in October. On Oct. 7, the train will stop at a pumpkin patch so passengers can pick the perfect pumpkin to take home with them. On Oct. 23 and 24, starting at 8 p.m., the locomotive will stop in the woods, where passengers can walk a haunted hobo path. Upon reaching a bonfire, they can toast their good fortune with cider. Costumes are optional but no flashlights are allowed.
• Little Shop of Horrors
4530 Colorado Ave., Sheffield Village
Watch a performance of the 1986 American rock musical comedy horror film presented by Lorain County Metro Parks’ French Creek Theatre. Show times include 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays from Oct. 12 to 28.
• The Crucible
1005 North Abbe Rd., Elyria
Arthur Miller’s play, inspired by the the Salem witch trials that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, will be performed at 10 a.m. on Oct. 29 at the Stocker Arts Center, Lorain County Community College. The National Players is the longest-running classical touring company in the U.S.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.