ORLANDO | Autumn is here, whether it feels like it or not. The season conjures up images of colorful leaves, taking hay rides in the country, and letting the kids pick out their own pumpkin at a pumpkin patch. For those of us in Florida, fall can be a little harder to find, especially with temperatures in the 90s. But if you know where to go, autumn isn’t as elusive as you might think.
What’s better than getting lost in a giant corn maze? Scott’s Maze Adventures at Long & Scott Farms in Zellwood is open for adventurous families October through mid-December. Each year, the design gets bigger and more elaborate with plenty of twisting pathways to keep you guessing (and questioning your own sanity).
The small Panhandle town of Havana knows how to do fall. Shop keepers decorate the outside of their stores with corn stalks, bales of hay and pumpkins. You might even be lucky enough to see some fall color on the trees. On October 10, the whole community celebrates Pumpkin Fest with talented artists, a pancake breakfast, storytelling, and a stroller parade with toddlers dressed in full costume.
You don’t need to be a guest at Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness to enjoy a good, old-fashioned, horse-drawn hay ride. Departing nightly at 7pm and 9:30pm from Pioneer Hall, the hay rides offer a scenic tour around Fort Wilderness Campground. The rides are on a first-come, first-served basis.
This private, family-owned equestrian facility on the Econ River opens its gates to the general public October 10 and offers a huge pumpkin patch, pony and hay rides, and all kinds of fun activities for kids of all ages. On October 24 & 25, Painted Oaks Academy hosts the Pumpkins and Ponies Festival featuring pumpkin crafts, carnival games, bounce houses, food, live music and much more.
If you’re determined to see fall color, Torreya State Park in the Panhandle might be your best bet. This nearly 14,000-acre natural wonder features large bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River. Forests of hardwood trees provide the finest display of fall color found in Florida.