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Saturday 30 September 2023

30+ Must Do Fall Activities

It may not feel like it in much of the country, but Fall is officially here!

If you're anything like me, then Fall just might be your favorite season of all. For me, Fall has the best weather (once it actually starts cooling down, that is), the best festivals and events, and it has Halloween, which just happens to be my favorite holiday. Plus there are lots of yummy seasonal foods, fruit picking, pretty leaves, the best decorations, and lots of opportunities for crafting.

No matter where you live, there are so many fun "must do" activities in the Fall, so today I'm sharing my top things to do during Fall. Read on for the full list as well as a printable check list!  

Ok, let's get onto that list...

Visit a local pumpkin patch

Visiting a local pumpkin patch is a Fall staple. Even if you plan to buy your pumpkins from a local supermarket, visiting a pumpkin patch is a must. Some are pretty basic with just the pumpkins themselves, while others are a full day of activities with corn or hay bale mazes, petting zoos, tractor rides, seasonal foods, bounce houses, corn kernel pits and so much more. We've even been to a few with haunted houses and pumpkin canons! 

Get lost in a corn maze or hay bale maze

Who doesn't love a good corn maze? Or a hay bale maze for that matter. A staple of pumpkin patches across the country, corn and hay bale mazes are a must do for Fall. My kids love getting lost in them and there's always a sense of achievement when you finally make your way to the exit. Some of the big mazes feature a special design to be viewed from above, so if you visit one of these make sure to climb the viewing tower (often found in the center) to take it all in.

Go for a hay ride

There's something about boarding a trailer and taking a ride behind a tractor around a farm that just feels so much like Fall. Whether it takes you around a farm, through a pumpkin patch or even out to a corn maze, hay rides are always a must do in the Fall.

Bury yourself in corn kernels

Have you ever been in a corn pit? Is that even what they're called? I have no idea what they're actually called, but they're so much fun! My kids love to bury themselves (or each other) in the corn kernels, throw the kernels in the air, or just run their hands through them. They're so smooth. If your local pumpkin patch has a corn pit, jump in it now! Just be prepared to find corn everywhere afterwards. Think of it as the Fall version of going to the beach and finding sand in all your clothes! 

Carve jack-o'lanterns

Ok, you've got your pumpkins from the pumpkin patch (or the supermarket), now it's time to carve them. What could be a more iconic Fall activity than carving jack-o'lanterns for Halloween? We usually save this activity for a few days before Halloween so our jack-o'lanterns look their best for the big day. When we lived in Berkeley we'd always meet up with friends to carve our pumpkins in the park together on Halloween Eve and it was such a fun activity to do together.

Roast pumpkin seeds

If you've ever carved a pumpkin, you'll know that they're packed full of seeds. Seeds and stringy pumpkin guts! The stringy parts are no good and go straight into our compost, but the seeds are delicious when roasted so I always make sure to keep those. Roasting pumpkin seeds is really easy and they make the perfect Fall snack. Once you've cleaned all the pumpkin guts off the seeds soak them in salted water overnight. Dry the seeds, lay them on a lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and/or your favorite seasonings, and roast at 350F for about 12 - 15 minutes. 

Climb hay bales

You know it's Fall when hay bales start appearing everywhere! Every pumpkin patch we've ever visited has had hay bales piled up for climbing, and they've always been a hit with the kids. Even the most simple pile of hay bales is sure to catch their attention and must be climbed and jumped on - or off of!

Get spooked at a Haunted house

For those of us who delight in the spookier side of the season, visiting a haunted house is a must do. In fact, we visit a haunted house to kick off the season this past weekend. You can see it over on Instagram here. With scare actors in creepy costumes, animatronics, jump scares, flashing lights, scary sounds and LOTS of darkness, haunted houses are full of fun for those that love a good scare.

Go Apple picking

Apple picking is a Fall favorite, for sure. Who doesn't love dressing in their snuggliest Fall clothes and visiting a local orchard to pick more apples than you could possibly eat? Ok, so we've always lived in places that are far too warm for the Fall attire during apple picking season, but it's a fun activity none the less. Produce always tastes so much better when you pick it yourself!

Bake a fruit pie

Ok, so you've been apple picking and now have more apples than you know what to do with. Time to bake a pie! My kids eat a lot of apples, so we do tend to go through a lot of those that we pick, but no matter how many they eat we always seem to still have too many. Baking them into a pie is my favorite way to use them up. Plus, there's nothing better than a warm slice of pie with ice cream for dessert on a cool evening.

Take in the all the color of the Fall foliage

They call it "leaf peeping" here in Colorado, and LOTS of people get into their cars and head up to the mountains to see the peak of the seasons colors on weekends, but if you ask me, checking out the fall color in your local neighborhood is just as good. You may not get the full experience that driving into the countryside brings, but you also avoid the traffic! It's always such a lovely surprise to turn a corner and see yellow, orange or red leaves on a tree. I'm always collecting colorful leaves to bring home and make crafts with.  Of course, a trip to the countryside to see the Fall color is definitely worth it too.

Play in piles of fallen leaves

All those colorful leaves are beautiful when they're still on the tree, but once they fall off they make quite the mess. That said, what can seem a nuisance for adults can be a wonderland for kids. So grab your rake or leaf blower, scoop all those crunchy leaves into a big pile and let the fun begin! My kids love a good leaf pile for jumping in, burying each other and for leaf fights. It's a great way to get the kids cleaning up leaves too as the sooner they pile them up the sooner they can get playing! 

Create Fall crafts

If you're anything like me or my kids, Fall comes with a collection a colorful leaves that you can't help but collect when out and about. To be honest, most of those leaves end up in the compost bin after a few days, but the very best ones get pressed between the pages of heavy recipe books for future crafting. There are so many cute crafts that you can make with dried leaves. I like to use them in wreaths, garlands and as tails for paper turkeys. You can even use Fall leaves as a template for clay leaves. For DIYs click those bold and underlined links. 

Check out neighborhood Halloween decorations

One of my favorite things about Halloween (and also Christmas) is seeing the houses in our neighborhood decorated for the holiday. There's always so much variety and I love seeing how creative people get. Skeletons, gravestones, giant spiders and webs, witches, pumpkins and so much more can be found all over our neighborhood along with lots of spooky lights and giant inflatables.    

Attend a Halloween lights event

This time of year brings so many fun night time events for the whole family. One of my favorite things to do in the Fall is visiting Halloween light displays. Now, I already mentioned checking out neighborhood decorations above, but if you want to see lights and decorations on a whole new level check out your local Botanic Gardens, Zoo or city park for Halloween light events. There are so many to be found all around the country. My favorites here in Colorado are Glow at the Gardens and Magic of the Jack-o'lanterns, both of which feature amazing sculptures made of pumpkins, stunning light displays and the most intricate jack-o'lanterns you can imagine. 

Drive through a Halloween lights display

If you've got young kids, going out to evening Halloween events that coincide with bed time can sometimes be a little tricky. The same goes for when the weather is not so great - hello snowy Halloween of 2019! A great way to experience all the fun of a lighted Halloween display is to attend a drive through display! Everyone can rug up in their favorite spooky pajamas and enjoy the display from the comfort of the car. It's a great option for all ages. 

Read a spooky book

We're big fans of all things spooky over here, so the kids' book collection features quite a few ghost stories. While we read many of these books year round, I made sure to put them all out in the lead up to Halloween. You can find all of my favorite spooky books for kids of all ages on the blog here and in my Amazon storefront here.

Wear spooky pajamas

Hands up if you're a sucker for themed holiday pajamas. I've got my hand up! There are so many cute and spooky pajamas around at this time of year - for kids AND adults. You can never go wrong with the classic skeleton PJs (even better if they glow in the dark) or a fun mummy design. 

Watch scary (or not so scary) movies

Not all Fall activities require going out and about. What could be better on a cold Fall day or evening than snuggling up on the couch (in your favorite Halloween pajamas, of course) with a big bowl of popcorn to watch a scary movie? Or a not so scary movie, if you prefer. There are so many fabulous family friendly Halloween themed movies out there. Favorites in our house include Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Coraline, Hocus Pocus, Ghostbusters, The Addams Family, Hotel Transylvania, and Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit. There are lots of great spooky tv shows that we love too including Wednesday, Over the Garden Wall, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lemony Snickets, Stranger Things, Gravity Falls, and The Owl House.    

Dance to spooky music

Had enough of being a couch potato with all those Halloween movies and tv shows?  Time to get up and boogie! There are so many great spooky themed songs out there that are perfect for a Halloween party or just dancing at home. Monster Mash, Timewarp, Thriller, Spooky Scary Skeletons, Ghostbusters, I put a Spell on You... You can find lots of great playlists on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music etc.

Create Halloween crafts

I know I've already mentioned Fall crafts above, but there are so many fun spooky crafts to make too! I personally love to decorate with Halloween candy, so making wreaths and garlands with marshmallow ghosts is one of my favorites. Candy corn is great for crafting too. Some might even say it's better for crafting than eating! You can find a few Halloween craft DIYs here, here and here.

Decorate your house and yard for Halloween

One thing I really looked forward to when we moved from our old apartment into a house was being 
able to decorate our yard for Halloween. We always decorated our apartment front door for the holidays but it was only seen by other residents on our floor. I love that our entire neighborhood can see our decorations now. I can never chose one theme to stick with so our decorations are fairly eclectic and maybe a little over the top, but the kids love seeing our front yard become a graveyard, seeing the pumpkins, jack-o'lanterns, skeletons and candles by our front door, and they can never get enough of our inflatable sandworm from Beetlejuice. I love that it gives me an opportunity to get creative too, like with the googly eye wreath that I made for our front door. You can find the DIY here

Enjoy all the pumpkin spice flavored treats of the season

Now, I must admit, I'm not a fan of pumpkin spice. Don't come at me! I am a fan of pumpkin, but as an Aussie I see pumpkin as a savory food and I love to eat it roasted or in soup. Twelve years in the US and I still can't get my head around sweet pumpkin flavored foods. Of course, most of the pumpkin treats around at this time of year are actually "pumpkin spice" flavored, not really pumpkin flavored. Unlike me, my kids do like pumpkin spice so they're excited for all the (coffee free) pumpkin spice drinks that can be found in pretty much every cafe at the moment.   

Go chestnut picking
Apples and pumpkins aren't the only produce in season during Fall. While there are plenty of other fruits and veggies to pick at this time of year, my favorite is chestnuts. Partly because I love roasted chestnuts (they take me right back to living in Switzerland) and partly because they grow in such odd looking shells! Have you ever seen how chestnuts grow on trees? Check out that picture below. Let me just say, there's a reason for those heavy duty gloves! You can see our visit to a chestnut orchard in the Bay Area here.

Attend a harvest festival

Not all festivals at this time of year focus on Halloween and spooky things. There are also plenty of harvest festivals that celebrate the end of the harvest season. In California our favorite harvest festival was the Hoes Down in Yolo County. This weekend long festival included plenty of farm fun with crafts, petting zoos, entertainment, traditional games like bobbing for apples, hay bale mazes, tractor rides and so much more.

Check out a local Halloween store

The end of Summer break is always bittersweet. The long lazy days with no school have come to and end, but on the upside, the kids know that it's only a matter of time before the Spirit Halloween stores that pop up in abandoned retail locations will open. And open they are! Even though I usually make our costumes myself, I can't go past a visit to Spirit Halloween several times throughout the season. The kids love checking out the yard decoration displays and it's always fun to see all of the costumes and accessories.

Dress up in a family costume

We've only pulled this one off once as a whole family when we dressed up as characters from Gravity Falls, but we've also done almost the whole family in a themed costume in the past when the girls dressed as the Powerpuff Girls and I dressed as their enemies the Amoeba Boys. My kids are usually keen to come up with their own individual costume ideas, but there's something fun about a whole family costume. Have you done it before?

Trick or treat at local stores

While neighborhood trick or treating is saved for the big day, many retail areas offer trick or treating in store the weekend before Halloween. It's a great option for little kids who may struggle to stay awake for the regular night time trick or treating and it's also great for indecisive kids who have more than one costume they really want to wear. Wear one costume for the earlier trick or treating in stores and another on Halloween!

Attend a trunk or treat

We've actually never been to a trunk or treat before so it's totally new to me, but I know that they're popular in many suburban places so I'm including it in my list. Have you been to a trunk or treat? From what I can tell it's basically trick or treating in a parking lot with the cars decorated. Kind of like a mini version of trick or treating. 

Go trick or treating

The main event of the season! All that spooky Fall fun leads up to the big day, and the best part of Halloween for most kids is the trick or treating. Ok, for plenty of us adults too! Growing up in Australia, Halloween is still a fairly new holiday for me, but it's definitely one that I've fully embraced and I can't get enough of it. I mean, I do have 30 odd years of Halloween celebrations to catch up on, right? 

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos

Halloween isn't the only holiday that occurs during Fall. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, falls right after Halloween and is a wonderful Mexican celebration that honors those who have gone before us. When we lived in California the kids celebrated Dia de los Muertos at school each year by making classroom Ofrendas (altars) and calaveras (sugar skulls). We'd join a candle lit procession in the evening. If you can find a Day of the Dead celebration in your area I really recommend joining in. Sugar skulls are easy to make and fun to decorate. You can find the molds here

Visit spooky locations

Are there any spooky locations where you live? Maybe a real life haunted house, a historic cemetery or a ghost town within an easy drive? There are so many historic places across the country that are either considered haunted or have a bit of a spooky history, and this is the perfect time of year to visit them. We've visited quite a few spooky places over the years, like the Witch House in Salem pictured below.  You can see them all in a dedicated post here.

Bake a pumpkin pie

What's your favorite pie of the season? Is it apple? Maybe pumpkin? I'm an apple pie girl for sure, but as Thanksgiving approaches each year I'm happy to switch things up and go for pumpkin pie. Even if it's just for one day of the year. Pumpkin pies are super easy to make (especially if you cheat with a premade pie crust and canned pumpkin!) so this is one recipe that kids of all ages can definitely help with. 

Celebrate Thanksgiving

I must admit that Thanksgiving is a holiday that I have mixed feelings about. Much like Australia Day, there is a lot of whitewashing when it comes to the history behind the holiday, and I don't feel comfortable celebrating. But I do like the food that is associated with the holiday, so we still have the turkey dinner with pumpkin pie for dessert. Or, in the case of the kids, they have a "Snoopy dinner" as we like to call it. We watch the Peanuts Thanksgiving movie and then I serve the kids the same meal that Snoopy serves to the Peanuts gang: popcorn, toast, jelly beans and ice cream!

Phew... that list ended up being much longer than I expected!

If you'd like a printable copy of the bucket list below, click here to download a PDF copy.

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