In the United States, the Labor Day holiday signals the start of one of the most enjoyable times of year. Fall is when the temperature cools, the leaves turn to beautiful rich colours and a series of holidays and celebrations begin. For many, it’s harvest time and the influx of farm produce gives rise to feasts and the return of favourite seasonal dishes. It can be a fascinating and entertaining time of year to visit North America, and one which offers up plenty of opportunity to get involved in local customs and festivities. So, if you can handle the long haul flight there, then you’re in for a treat!
A secret indulgence of mine when in America is the much-lauded pumpkin spiced latte. Although I’m still not quite sure which ingredients are involved in making ‘pumpkin spice’, I know that this is the flavour of fall to me. Warm, earthy and just a little bit spicy it’s the perfect hot drink to sip on a blustery afternoon’s walk through the crunchy autumn leaves. The US is famous for its fall-specific dishes, many of which are tied into celebrations like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Whereas others are just because they taste good! An American classic to try whilst travelling the US is pie. Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie, cherry pie… The list goes on but whichever filling you’re partial to, you’re guaranteed to find a delicious and satisfying slice along the way.
The Great Pumpkin
Native to North America is the infamous orange pumpkin. These gourds are often used as seasonal decoration in homes, shops and workplaces during the fall season, and a visit to the pumpkin patch is considered a great day out. Many patches have farmshops and fun activities to try during your visit as well as picking out the perfect pumpkin to take home to carve or eat. You can enjoy a hayride, sample some pumpkin-based recipes or find your way through a maze of maize! There is also often a spooky element to many pumpkin patches in anticipation of the upcoming Halloween holiday, with haunted houses becoming a staple attraction in the month of October.
Fall in America just wouldn’t be the same without football. The American football season kicks off as the leaves start to change colour, and even the most reluctant sports fan will feel excitement start to build. Nothing can beat a fresh fall day stood in the stands, wrapped up warm with a mug of coffee in hand and cheering on your favourite team. Or just any team really! The experience can be enjoyed whether you’re already a big fan or not as the atmosphere inside the stadium is guaranteed to be electric. After baseball – the Nation’s Favourite Pastime – football is maybe the biggest sport in America, with 30% of the population declaring it their favourite.
‘Tis the Season
With the darker nights, cooler days and gradual creep towards winter comes the build-up to Halloween. The holiday is celebrated enthusiastically all over America and it’s the traditions developed in the US that define Halloween today. If you’re lucky enough to be in the country on October 31st, then I would recommend finding a Halloween costume party to attend and really putting some effort into your outfit. Contrary to the English culture of dressing up as something scary, costumes in the US can range from celebrities, to fictional characters, to abstract concepts. It’s a fun opportunity to let your hair down and get involved, whilst partaking in what is by now a great American ritual.
Although fall may not immediately lend itself to the idea of travel, if you are eager to explore North America then this could be the best time of year to do so. Many areas still get plenty of sunshine along with the dip in temperature, and very little can beat the crisp, cool air of a sunny Autumn’s day in New York state.