We love to eat at any time of year, but when apples and squash start falling off the branch and vine, we find ourselves especially hungry. Seafood, too, finds its peak in the fall; when coastal water temperatures begin to drop, oysters, clams, and other seafood is at its best. Truthfully, of course, we could probably find an excuse in any season to get together with a group of friends to explore the finer points of culinary trends. But great seafood, craft beer, international chefs, and fine wine seem like an exceptional reason to partake right now.
Apple Harvest Festival
Location: Biglerville, Pennsylvania
Date: October 14–15
Deep in the heart of Pennsylvania, not far from Gettysburg, The National Apple Harvest Festival celebrates one of America’s finest harvests. What better way to celebrate fall than with fresh-picked, crisp fruit straight from the tree? The event also includes an antique car exhibit, more than 300 arts and crafts vendors, hay rides, a petting zoo, and all the foods you can make from apples. This is country living at its best.
Location: Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Date: October 14–15
Here in New England, we take our oysters seriously, and assign them profiles based on “merroir.” (That’s like terroir, but based on where something’s grown in the sea.) Located toward the northern tip of Cape Cod, Wellfleet is well known for its delicious bivalves. The cold, salty waters off its shores yield oysters that are decidedly creamy, sweet, and briny – which has made them famous all over the world. For two days every fall, the town’s streets come alive when the Wellfleet OysterFest brings locals and visitors together to celebrate the region’s famous shellfish with food, art, music, and family fun.
Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival
Location: Newport, Rhode Island
Date: October 18–19
Even though summer’s crowds have dwindled, Newport, Rhode Island continues to stay lively, and the Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival celebrates the best the season has to offer. The free event brings entertainment, family activities, and world-famous cuisine from top Rhode Island restaurants together beside the city’s wharves and surrounding yachts. Honoring the “harvest of the sea,” the festival offers seafood specialties – such as clam chowder, stuffed quahogs, clam cakes, fish tacos, and raw oysters – all hauled from Rhode Island’s local waters.
Harvest on the Harbor
Location: Portland, Maine
Date: October 16–22
Among foodies, Portland, Maine has become a true dining and drinking destination, and its Harvest on the Harbor event brings some of the city’s favorite chefs together for dining and tasting events with a focus on sustainable and locally-sourced food. The week-long event, now in its tenth year, also highlights Portland’s dozens of awesome, local breweries. Added bonus: Harvest on the Harbor benefits Full Plates, Full Potential, a non-profit organization that works toward ending childhood hunger in Maine.
Epcot Food and Wine Festival
Location: Disney World, Florida
Date: November 13
Even if you’re not a “Disney person,” you can still enjoy Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, which runs from the end of August through mid-November each year. Epcot offers more than 35 international food kiosks, plus its themed dining halls, all of which are staffed by people from the countries each restaurant represents, making the food (perhaps surprisingly) authentic. The Food and Wine Festival also brings tasting events, celebrity chefs, cheese and wine seminars, and culinary demonstrations to the park. Whether you go adults-only or take the kids, it’ll be a delicious experience.
Fall Food Festival Dates
- Apple Harvest Festival -Biglerville, PA; Oct. 14-15
- WellFleet Oysterfest -MA; Oct. 14-15
- Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival -Newport, RI; Oct. 18-19
- Harvest on the Harbor -Portland, ME; Oct. 16-22
- Epcot Food and Wine Festival -Orlando, FL; through Nov. 13
With its pretty coastline, Galway is often thought of as a popular destination for summer. But with its Bohemian vibe, arts scene, and buzzing nightlife, this city on Ireland’s west coast is a great stop at any time of year. It’s especially tantalizing during the last weekend of September when, every year since 1954, the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival brings foodies galore to town (This year’s event will be held September 22–24.) Oyster shucking contests, talks, and tasting events are all on the menu – as are champagne and stout beers, of course.
If you’re heading to the festivities, you’ll want to partake in the local culture, too. Which, of course, means heading to the pub for a pint (or two). Beloved by tourists and locals alike, here are five pubs worth bellying up to:
It’s all about the music at this charming spot, located in the heart of the city’s Latin Quarter. Here at Tig Coili, where many of the area’s best players are drawn, you’re likely to catch a lively session of traditional tunes. Fancy a seat outside? You’ll still be in luck; excellent regular buskers tend to play just outside the front door.
Open fireplaces, live music, and an artsy, intellectual vibe can be found between the walls at Tigh Neachtain, also located in the Galway’s Latin Quarter. If beer’s not always your thing, don’t worry – whiskey is theirs. Choose from more than 130 varieties to sip on. Since 1894, this traditional pub has been a gathering place for eclectic crowds, and to this day it attracts actors, musicians, artists, business people, and tourists alike.
Popular with a younger crowd, Bierhaus supplies an outstanding selection of regional and international craft brews that would surely get any American beer snob excited. But you don’t have to don a manicured beard to feel at home here – the diverse crowd is friendly and warm. Tucked into Galway’s West End neighborhood, Bierhaus has a fresh take on music and food – offering gourmet sandwiches like Banh Mi in place of traditional fish and chips.
Yes, it’s listed in every tourist guide, but there’s a definite reason why. For almost 400 years, The Quays has served the good people of Galway and it’s happy to serve you, too. A beautiful stage and pipe organ serve as backdrop for the lively bands that play at Galway’s most famous and historic drinking establishment.
Housed in a historic building, this three-story bar is large, but its interior spaces are inviting and cozy. On the ground floor of Monroe’s Tavern, you’ll encounter traditional Irish dancing and song, along with hearty pub fare. Head upstairs later in the evening, where the crowd favors more contemporary bands and a club-like scene seven nights a week. A Galway institution, Monroe’s has been family-owned for decades.