Entrance to Illumination for Conservation Festival at Ross Park Zoo
Upstate New York

5 Things to Do in Binghamton This Fall

Last updated on October 20, 2023.

Binghamton, New York is full of amazing activities all year long. Home to lots of history, haunted stories, amazing artists, and great restaurants, it’s easy to see why people love to visit. But there are a few things to do in Binghamton that are seasonal in the late summer/early fall. So go check out these activities in Binghamton this weekend – or you’ll have to wait until next year.

A special thank you to the folks at Visit Binghamton for inviting me to visit the seasonal attractions.

Illumination for Conservation Lantern Festival at Ross Park Zoo

If you’ve ever wanted to visit a zoo after dark, this is the perfect activity for you. The Ross Park Zoo is currently hosting the Illumination for Conservation Lantern Festival through October 16. Yes – you can visit the zoo at night AND support wildlife foundations at the same time.

The festival runs nightly, Wednesdays through Sundays from 7pm to last admission at 9pm. During the festival, a large portion of the zoo is decorated with larger-than-life lanterns of animals and plants. Featuring both those found at the zoo and other exotic choices.

With over 40 different displays, there are plenty of photo opportunities along the loop through the zoo. In between various lanterns, you may catch a peek at some of the animals in residence at the zoo. The trail for the festival passes the wolves, sand cats, red pandas, and more. See which ones you can spot in the dark!

Stay in a Covered Wagon at Binghamton Bear Campground

If you’re anything like me, you spent your childhood fighting off dysentery along the Oregon Trail… on the computer of course! (And you may also own multiple Oregon Trail board games as an adult.) Well I have great news for you – you can stay overnight in a covered wagon. And the best part? No dysentery!

That’s right, at the Binghamton Bear Campground – now Binghamton Jellystone – you can stay in a covered wagon. Each of their wagons is furnished with a king-size bed, twin bunkbeds, a small table. And yes, there is electricity and even air conditioning for those hot summer nights. The covered wagons do not include linens, so be sure to bring your own or prepare to rent some from the office.

In addition to the covered wagons, there are yurts, rentable RVs, and glamping tents for other elevated camping experiences. Plus there are basic RV hook-up and tenting sites available.

Activities at Binghamton Jellystone

If you’re looking for the perfect, all-inclusive type of family vacation, Binghamton Bear has you covered. Overnight campers get access to all of the activities on the property – and that is no small thing. The campground is situated around a large pond, ideal for swimming, paddling, kayaking, and a floating obstacle course. Around the pond you’ll find mini golf, a gaga pit, pedal carts, giant slides, and so much more. Inside the rec room are all your favorite table games: foosball, ping pong, shuffleboard, air hockey, and pool.

If that’s not enough to convince you, each weekend has a special theme with unique activities.

Drive Through the Preserve at Animal Adventure Park

Animal Adventure Park has become one of the most popular zoos in the state – and for good reason. I first visited the park a few years ago, and quickly fell in love with the layout, the animals, and the dedication from the staff. This year, the park has expanding into a second, neighboring location. Known as The Preserve, the new addition is drive-through.

I love a good drive-through safari. The animals have so much more room to wander, and it feels much more natural. Plus, you often get some unique up-close encounters! On our drive through the park we had alpacas, donkeys, emus, and even a bison sticking their heads through our car windows. (Yes, you can always leave your windows rolled up if you don’t want that level of interaction. Just don’t leave your windows halfway, because the animals could potentially break them!)

The Preserve features 3 miles of driving, and reservations are encouraged. Anticipate spending 1-2 hours at the park, as the speed limit is 3 mph and animals always have the right-of-way. When you book your tickets, you can add-on food buckets if you want to feed the animals during your visit. You can also purchase feed at the entrance and halfway through the drive.

Hundreds of animals live throughout the 100 acres of The Preserve. The drive is separated into geographic regions: Aussie Eurasia, The Americas, Africa, & Giants of Africa. Each has their own collection of animals waiting to say hello.

If you’re going to do nothing else in Binghamton, do this. The Preserve is a truly unique experience and a must for any animal lover.

Learn about Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone

Did you know that Rod Serling is from Binghamton, New York? Yep, the creator behind the eerie series The Twilight Zone is a fellow Upstate New Yorker. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that a lot of places around Binghamton were actually featured in the tv series, or inspired some of the stories. So while you are looking for things to do in Binghamton, check out the Bundy Museum.

Okay, technically you can do this one year-round. But. Can’t we all agree that haunted and creepy things are just better in September and October? I think so.

The Bundy Museum is the former home of the Bundy brothers (inventors of the punch clock). The home itself is said to be haunted, but more on that later… Inside the museum you’ll find period-appropriate furniture along with art galleries.

But the most unique part? The Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone exhibit in the back building. There you will find original tapes and memorabilia from both The Twilight Zone and The Night Gallery, two of his most famous projects.

When you finish exploring the exhibit, take a peek at the 1930s barbershop that was transplanted into the museum.

Walk through the Flowers of Cutler Botanic Garden

Most people assume gardens are best to visit in the spring and summer. And they’re not necessarily wrong, but don’t count out the beauty you can find in the fall! The Cutler Botanic Garden is one of those spots that shines through every season. As part of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, the garden serves as both a beautiful and educational place to visit.

Throughout the garden you’ll find a wide variety of plants, including those that peak at different times throughout the year. There are 13 different types of gardens within the property. Roses, herbs, shade plants, vegetables, ornamental grasses and more are on display. You can even learn about propagation, rain barrel systems, and composting. One of my favorite parts? The Shakespeare Garden Trail. Small signs denote all of the plants and herbs that were featured in Shakespeare’s works. It’s very interesting to explore!

After you visit the garden, be sure to check out the Taste NY building and Broome County Farmers Market right next door. You’re sure to find some food, plants, drinks, and artisan treasures to take home.

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