After a day of traveling, checking in to your accommodations and getting situated, the first question is: “Where to eat?” Indulging in fare that is unique to a new destination is one of the most delicious parts of any vacation’s itinerary. This fall, reward hard work and a commitment to keeping your carbon footprint light by savoring an eco culinary getaway at one of these eight fall food festivals near NYC—be it outdoors in the Hudson Valley, on a farm in the Finger Lakes, in the streets of downtown D.C., or a historic mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.
(If you can’t skip town, make sure to attend Food Network’s NYC Wine & Food Festival, October 13-16, which sends 100% of the event’s net proceeds to two great charities, Food Bank for New York City and No Kid Hungry).
20th Annual Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival | Lee Park
When: September 24
A Forkful: Munch on something healthy, humane and best of all, free, as the Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival returns for their fifteenth year. In addition to live, local bands, free samples of tasty vegan treats and “fun-raising” activities for children, pet adoptions are also present at the festival, leaving visitors with a new outlook on eating, and a new furry friend. Head down to Virginia, and dig into some compassionate food for thought at one of the longest-running vegetarian festivals in the country.
How to get there: Take Amtrak Northeast Regional line to Charlottesville, Virginia
Taste of DC | Historic Pennsylvania Ave., NW, between 9th and 14th Streets
When: October 8-9
Cost: Prices will be released closer to the festival, but expect a good deal from event partner Groupon
A Forkful: For two days, Pennsylvania Avenue becomes such a delicious, tent-filled mecca, you’d almost forget the infamous building that the street is known for. Enter the Amstel light biergarden, watch exhibitions of DC’s up-and-coming chefs on the culinary stage and sample cuisine based in the Capitol at over 80 of the city’s best restaurants. With the scents of the city’s finest eateries wafting in the air, it may be hard for the city’s famous family to resist stopping in for a bite.
How to get there: Take Amtrak Northeast Regional line to Washington D.C. Union Station.
Harvest on the Harbor | Ocean Gateway
When: October 20-23
Cost: $45 – $75 for individual events or all access weekend pass for $285.
A Forkful: Maine’s most talented chefs craft locally-sourced creations specially made for hungry stomachs at the annual Harvest on the Harbor. Portland’s community of artists is on display, with local musicians, vendors, farm owners, restaurateurs and more in attendance and keeping visitors entertained. Stop by the grilling stage, for a taste of local and national barbecue, and be sure to taste Maine’s local brews with over 400 beer, wine, ales and spirits.
How to get there: Take Amtrak Northeast Regional line to Boston South Station. Self transfer to the Downeaster and ride until Portland.
Boston Local Food Festival | Boston Waterfront in Fort Point Channel
When: September 18
Cost: Free admission, $5 plates, $25 for a craft beer tasting session
A Forkful: This young festival comes back for round two in the name of all things green, local and delicious. Boasting free entry, a zero waste policy, and dishes priced no higher than $5, sampling a local brew and munching on some produce is too affordable to resist. Grab a tomato or two from your own garden and participate in the festival’s Crop Share, with the food distributed to families in need at the end of the festival. Support local farms, local families and everything Boston at the second annual Boston Local Food Festival.
How to get there: Take Megabus to Boston South Station.
Hudson Valley Wine and Food Fest | Dutchess County Fairgrounds
When: September 10 and 11
Cost: General admission is from $5, or $60 including wine tasting
A Forkful: Support Hudson Valley farmers and chefs and celebrate the festival’s 11th anniversary. From food and wine pairing seminars to a taco tasting to local restaurant samples for as low as $1 a meal, the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck will house a feast and a half for hungry visitors.
How to get there: Take the Metro-North or Amtrak to Rhinebeck and then hop into a quick taxi to the grounds.
Finger Lakes Cork and Fork | Rodman Lott & Son Farms
When: September 20 and 21
Cost: $20 – $50
A Forkful: Local, sustainable, raw and more will enter your lexicon in an entirely new way after two days at the Finger Lakes Cork and Fork 2011. Farmers and chefs come together to demonstrate innovative methods to utilize locally-produced fare paired with Seneca Fall’s finest wines. Raw Chef Becky Rice will introduce visitors to her take on the classic Italian dish: lasagna. After learning the recipes of dishes produced at the festival, pick up the ingredients on site, and head home to create your own Cork and Fork spread.
How to get there: The Shortline Bus and Greyhound offer daily scheduled service to Ithaca and Geneva. The journey may take five to six hours from New York Penn Station. Buses stop at Ithaca town center where a variety of accommodations are available. From Geneva, you can take a taxi 11 miles (roughly 20 minutes or less) to the event in Seneca Falls, where Greens Taxi (315.539.211) is a good economical option. Or Pat’s Taxi in Geneva (315.789.1811) is another service recommended by the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce.
The 6th Annual Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival | Rosecliff & Marble House
When: September 23
Cost: Begins at $110 for the Grand Tasting
A forkful: Set in the historic Rosecliff & Marble House, the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival overwhelms the senses with the exquisite sights, sounds and tastes of the picturesque Newport Cliff Walk and the stately properties it parallels. On Friday night, slip into some cocktail attire; the Rosecliff will be hosting a festival of over 100 of the world’s top vintners. A leisurely brunch is on the agenda for Sunday, with chef Lidia Bastianich preping a feast to remind you how fitting the expression “Lazy Sunday” really is.
How to get there: Take Amtrak Northeast Regional Line to Kingston. Walk to the Kingstown Railroad Station. Catch the 64 bus to Second Near Side Poplar.
Photo: Laurin Stoler for Boston Local Food Festival, NY Wine & Food Festival