Looking for some fall family fun ideas? From apple picking to fall festivals and community events, there are dozens of ways to keep busy as the seasons change. Many of these are low cost or free as well, so you can stay on budget and keep the whole family entertained. See some of the most popular things to do and tips on getting the most out of your experience below.
The delicious scent of fresh, ripe apples is something that is special about fall, and there are many reasons why apple picking is a great family activity. Not only can it be fun for all ages, but it gets kids out of the house and into the fresh fall air. Walking through an orchard and picking the apples is also a great way to sneak in a little extra exercise, so you can feel good about this activity. When planning an apple picking excursion, you’ll want to keep in mind a few tips to keep it fun for everyone.
Plan ahead and check the weather. Check with your local orchards to see what their hours are, what the cost is, if there is a substantial amount of walking involved (if you have younger children and are worried about them getting tired), what varieties of apples can be picked, and if they offer public restrooms, snack shops, etc. Check the weather to make sure it won’t be rainy on your outing and so you know how to dress the family (although you can’t go wrong with layers!). If you need help finding an orchard near you, many states have websites that have directories of the state’s apple orchards, or try a national locator like Orange Pippen. Don’t forget to wear comfortable footwear—places like Finish Line and Foot Locker often have fall sales if someone is ready for new sneakers before the outing.
Pack snacks or a picnic lunch. The fresh air and exercise will inevitably make your crew hungry and thirsty, so plan on bringing snacks or a picnic lunch, as well as water to keep them hydrated. Depending on the location, snacks, cider, or apple-based treats may be available, so you may want to have some extra cash on hand.
Discuss the different types of apples. This can be especially good for younger children as an educational experience to learn more about the different types of apples, how they differ in appearance, taste, etc. Get books from your local library or check the U.S. Apple Association website for fun activities and educational resources to learn more.
Talk about how to pick the apples. You don’t want to walk away from a family apple picking outing with inedible fruit, so discuss a little bit about selecting and picking apples with your kids first. The apples on the outer area of the tree ripen first, so those will be more ripe. Look for unbruised, unblemished fruit. When picking the apples, use the palm of your hand and gently twist the apple’s stem away from the tree rather than yanking or pulling. Remind children to set the apples down gently in the bag or basket so they don’t bruise.
Once you have picked your apples, you can enjoy them alone or have fun as a family making your own foods like applesauce, apple pie, and more!
Visit a Pumpkin Patch
Another family fun favorite is to visit a pumpkin patch and allow kids to select pumpkins for fall recipes, decoration, or pumpkin carving. The bright, beautiful pumpkins and being outside can be fun for everyone. Follow these tips to make it the best experience.
Find out about any extras in advance. While some places may combine pumpkin sales with fall festivals, others may or may not offer extra fun and activities. Find out ahead of time what your local patch offers, including costs and what forms of payment they accept so you’re prepared. You may also want to see if pumpkins are pre-picked or can actually be chosen off the vine to meet your preferences.
Consider a wagon. Depending on how many pumpkins you will get and how large they are, you may want to consider bringing a wagon to help lighten the load. You may also need to walk a fair distance from the parking lot or main entrance, and it could be difficult to haul pumpkins on the way back. You can find handy collapsible wagons at places like Walmart and Target as well as sporting goods stores.
Get the right pumpkins. You’ll want to choose the right type of pumpkin for what you plan to use it for. If you are choosing a carving pumpkin, look for those with intact stems and firm flesh to help them last longer. For cooking and baking pumpkins, look for one that is heavy because it will contain more flesh.
Visit a Fall Festival
Fall festivals are packed with things to do. You may find hayrides, corn mazes, face painting, arts and crafts shows, train rides, food and drinks for sale, carnival games, and much more. While many of these offer free admission, the activities and items may cost extra. To save money when visiting a local fall festival, look in advance to see if they offer a kids day that has activities for a lower cost,
Fall Fun Run or 5K
Another idea for fall fun is to sign up to attend a fall family walk or run. Fall is great running weather, and many places sponsor events like fun runs and 5K runs in autumn. While these often have entry fees, the funds are usually put towards a good cause such as nonprofit foundations, community groups, or even animal shelters. Shorter one-mile fun runs and longer 5K walks or runs can be the perfect activity if you have kids of different ages. Often entrants will receive a free t-shirt, coupons, and other freebies for participating. Look for notices in your local paper, or check a national calendar like Running In the USA to find family-friendly runs and walks near you.
Go on an Autumn Nature Hike or Scenic Drive
Another way to celebrate fall in the great outdoors? Go on a nature hike and view all the colors of the fall leaves. This is also great for all ages, and kids can find beautiful leaves to take home and preserve or use for craft projects. Challenge the whole family to identify different leaves, and find out who’s right with an app like LeafSnap. If you have young children or want something a bit more relaxing, take a scenic drive through a local countryside to check out the beautiful fall colors.
Visit Themed Events at Local Attractions
Many places feature fall-themed events and happenings to get families out and involved even when there is a chill in the air. You can find everything from free fall arts fairs and cook-offs sponsored by churches, libraries, and community groups to special events at zoos, museums, and theme parks. To save money on places that require tickets, look for special discounts on their websites for the fall season, or choose evening-only tickets that are available for a lower price. Don’t forget to look for other attraction or events discounts like military, student, teacher, AAA, or even college alumni discounts to help you save too.