September has begun. The air is getting crisper, leaves are starting to change color and pumpkin spice is on the menu again. This can only mean one thing: Fall is here. Many first-years might be experiencing their very first New England fall, and with so many great ways to enjoy the season, it may begin to feel a bit overwhelming. Here’s a list of great fall activities for students to embrace the season, including recommendations from fellow Middlebury students.
Apple picking was a popular response from students when they were asked their favorite fall activity. And luckily enough, Happy Valley Orchard is located right in Middlebury, making it a popular choice for students to visit on an afternoon or weekend. Visitors can spend the day picking fresh apples before stopping at the orchard’s store for apple cider donuts. For those who find themselves having picked too many apples for one person to reasonably eat, baking an apple pie or an apple crisp is a great way to make use of your extra fruit and bond with others.
There are a plethora of farms and lush, rolling fields within near-walking distance of the college. And with farms come the inevitable fall corn mazes, which can be a fun activity for groups. One might associate corn mazes with families and small children, but there are ways to update the experience for groups of all ages. For example, Hathaway Farm in Rutland offers a twist on the classic corn maze with a nighttime glow-in-the-dark maze.
Maple View Alpaca Farm is just 20 minutes away from campus in Brandon, Vermont, and many Middlebury students might not know that they can sign up for a free visit to pet the alpacas. Visits can be arranged by appointment over email. This is a great activity for first years who might be missing a pet at home and want to de-stress and pet some new, very soft friends.
Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour
Arguably one of the most quintessentially “Vermont” activities there is, taking a tour of the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Waterbury is fun any season of the year and includes ice cream samples.
Take a hike!
There are so many incredible hikes near Middlebury, and the spectacular Vermont foliage makes fall one of the best seasons to try them.
One of the top student recommendations in the fall? Hiking the Snow Bowl at sunrise. The Snow Bowl is just 20 minutes from campus and a relatively short hike, making it a more attainable hike for sunrise.
There are also several hikes like the Snow Bowl that are just a short drive away from campus that make great day hikes with stunning views. Snake Mountain is a classic, but Mount Abraham, Mount Philo and several trailheads near Lake Dunmore are all close by and popular among students. And if driving is not an option, there are options to hike that are accessible from campus, like a stroll along the TAM or up Chipman Hill.
Fall farmers’ market
Farmers’ markets in Vermont continue into the fall and are a great way to connect with the community, sample some local produce and goodies, and pick up clothing, jewelry and more that is unique and locally sourced. Middlebury hosts a farmers’ market every Sunday on Exchange Street. There are also great farmers’ markets in Burlington and Shelburne on Saturdays and Winooski on Sundays — nofavt.org is a great resource with a map of all farmers’ markets in Vermont organized by town and day.
Hot chocolate and a foliage drive is Ella Bode ’24’s pick for getting in the spirit of the season. A classic combination of a cozy beverage and views of changing leaves offers a more impromptu option when fall-excitement hits unexpectedly. In place of going for a leaf-peeping car ride, getting comfy in an Adirondack chair somewhere on campus can also offer a calming atmosphere for students who don’t drive.
Explore the town and campus
Of course, everyday fall adventures can be had right on campus and in town, too.
“[I like] walking into town and getting maple lattes with friends,” Sophie Raman ’25 said. You can get your maple fix at several cafes in town: Royal Oak, Little Seed and Haymaker, just to name a few. And there’s nothing quite like the first maple latte back on campus made with real Vermont maple syrup; it’s delicious year-round, but absolutely perfect for the fall.
Olivia Mueller '24 is an Arts and Culture Editor.
Mueller intends to major in International Politics and Economics. Outside of the Campus, she is involved in the college choir, an avid trail runner and hiker, and a member of the Middlebury Mischords. Off campus, she can often be found exploring local coffee shops.