Hello and welcome to the first official full week of fall, West Chester. Last Friday, Sept. 22, the season of crisp leaves and pumpkin-spice lattes officially began. It’s almost hard for me to express to you just how excited I am. Every bone of my body absolutely loves this time of year. Between apple and pumpkin flavored everything (and I do mean everything, including but not limited to pumpkin-spice Peeps. Who let that happen?), cooler weather and fall break, there’s not much to complain about (except maybe midterms). That being said, think of me as your autumn tour guide and allow me to introduce to you the five best things to do in or around West Chester as we get into the fall spirit.
1. Attend the Fall Festival at Highland Orchards
Only a 20 minute drive outside of West Chester, Highland Orchards is too fun and cute to pass up on your quest for fall fun. Their fall festival started Sept. 15. During the fall festival, you can pick apples or pumpkins, go on hayrides and purchase baked goods like muffins, pies, apple cider donuts and more inside the farm market. Also, Philadelphia Magazine voted their apple cider donuts “Philly’s Best.”
Remember how I said you can pick pumpkins? It might not be October yet, but I would not judge you if you got some here as well because they look amazing (but if you do, buy a couple extra ones for me because I can never have too many)! By the way, pro tip: bathe your festive fellow in one teaspoon of bleach and one gallon of water to make him last.
2. Get a Pumpkin or Apple Chai at Fenn’s Coffee
Fenn’s might not take ram bucks, but their prices are better than Starbuck’s and you won’t need to waste a whole meal swipe for a cup of coffee. Their little coffee truck is conveniently located right next to the Lunchbox Cafe food truck. If you miss them during the week or are looking for them on Saturday or Sunday, they’re only a 15 minute walk off campus—which, by the way, is a perfect opportunity to listen to your perfectly curated fall playlist. You know Penn’s Table? They’re on the same street: go straight past Penn’s Table and you’ll see Fenn’s on your right. You can’t miss it.
Once you’re there, order anything. Fenn’s is amazing. However, to fit with our fall theme, I highly recommend an apple or pumpkin chai. If you tell them I sent you, do you think I’ll get a second drink for free? Just saying, it’s really hard to choose between an apple chai or a pumpkin chai. Close your eyes and make your friends pick.
3. Go to “Terror Behind the Walls” at Eastern State Penitentiary
Do you check your email? If you do, you would have seen an email from the people at WCU’s Campus Information for Students. Their email outlines a whole bunch of fall-related things to do in the Philadelphia area. One of them, “Terror Behind the Walls,” seemed familiar to me. After Googling it, I remembered that my friend from home actually traveled to the Eastern State Penitentiary to go to this “Terror Behind the Walls” event.
Now, before I go on, I have to confess something: I’m a scaredy cat. I did a haunted hayride once and hid in my best friend’s mom’s lap (one of my favorite memories, but that’s not the point). My friend, however, is the bravest individual I have ever met in my life. With that in mind, please understand this terrified her. This haunted prison has been rated one of the best haunted attractions in the nation for years now and is only an hour drive away from campus. This year, they have a new attraction called “the Blood Yard.” Tickets go for $25-$50 (it depends on how late into the night you want to stay, they’re open until 12 a.m.) at the door so make sure to buy online for much cheaper prices ranging from $19-$45. If you’re feeling intrepid, get your tickets, call some friends and take an Uber, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
4. Try the Pumpkin Flavored Products Around Town
Now, you could try one new pumpkin flavored item from the places to eat in town, but why pace yourself? The West Chester Coffee and Ice Cream Bar already has pumpkin flavored ice cream. The weather hasn’t cooled down just yet, so this is a perfect way to introduce yourself to fall while the hotter days of our clingy summer slowly draw to a close. I know for a fact other places are going to be re-introducing our town to their pumpkin flavored products, so make sure to be on the lookout. I’ll see you there.
5. Don’t Miss West Chester’s Halloween Parade!
You almost don’t have an excuse not to go to this one. We’re way too close to the event to pass it up! The West Chester Halloween Parade is on Wednesday, Oct. 25 (the rain date is Thursday, Oct. 26), starting at 7 p.m. on Market Street between Church and Darlington Streets. Our marching band is scheduled to perform along with two of the local high schools’ marching bands, East Henderson and Rustin. Cheerleaders from Bishop Shanahan, East, Henderson and Rustin High Schools are also scheduled to perform. The Dance Teams from East, Henderson and Rustin High Schools will be performing there as well. Not only should you go in order to support the community, but the restaurants and stores in town get into the spirit as well. I remember Gemelli Gelato & Dessert Café actually had a “Haunted Graveyard” flavor just for the Halloween parade. It was dirt made from chocolate gelato and chocolate cake, blood made from their homemade strawberry sauce and bones made from candied peanuts.
Gemelli isn’t the only store that participates in the Halloween Parade fun. The West Chester Coffee & Ice Cream Bar had a special promotion on Instagram that when you showed their barista a specific photo, you received a double shot for free. Throw on a costume (this is optional, but why not?) to get into the spirit with your friends while taking advantage of the deals in town while the Halloween Parade is going on this year.
That’s about it for me! I encourage you to try everything listed above and let me know your thoughts (my email is down below). Spoiler alert: you’ll love everything on this list, I know it. I’m wishing you the happiest, most festive fall, WCU.
Casey Meyer is a second-year English major with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at CM873291@wcupa.edu.