Fall is one of the best times of year to get out and enjoy nature. It offers clear blue days, crisp cool nights, the V formations and sounds of geese migrating south, shorter days, longer nights, and sweaters, finally! So instead of being passive, hanging inside and watching the days and nights through your window, go out and smell the burning wood smoke! Here are a few fun things to do in the fall if you’re having difficulty deciding how to appreciate this glorious season.
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Things to do With Family and Children
I. BYOP Party
Have a BYOP Party! BYOP stands for Bring Your Own Pumpkin!
Invite neighbors and friends to your backyard and ask them to bring their own pumpkins. Supply carving utensils and stencils, along with some pizza and mulled apple cider for refreshments. The young kids will love it!
Recipe for Mulled Apple Cider
- 1 gallon apple cider from a farm stand or supermarket
- 5 to 6 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp of nutmeg
- 1 tsp of ground cloves
- Add all ingredients into a large pot over an open fire pit or on a stove.
- Steep for at least one hour.
- Sift the brew.
- Serve with a cinnamon stick as is, or add a splash of rum for a little kick. (Adults only if you add rum!)
After the carving is complete and the belly’s are full, start a fog machine under the array of illuminated jack-o-lanterns. Hang around an open fire and roast s’mores.
II. Make a Scarecrow
You can create a scarecrow with young children, either your own or your grandkids, or just kids from the neighborhood.
Build your scarecrow by stuffing an old flannel shirt and some scruffy jeans with either fallen leaves, dry cornstalks, or hay. Tie the waist of the pants and shirt with rope. Then tie the ends of the sleeves and legs with rope, allowing some hay or the cornstalks to stick out.
Place the two parts on a step or chair. Draw a cool face on a pumpkin or a round ball and place it on top of the scarecrow. Top it off with an old hat and a handkerchief around the neck. Think the Wizard of Oz!!
III. Have a Scarecrow Contest
Send out a flyer or email to friends and family regarding an upcoming scarecrow contest at your home. Prizes could include:
1. a gourd with directions on how to make it into a bird’s house
2. a large pumpkin
3. gift card to a local coffee shop for a pumpkin latte
4. a chrysanthemum
5. tickets to a haunted hayride
IV. Have a Scary Story Night
Gather friends and family in your backyard on a cool moonless (or any moon phase) night and tell scary stories around the firepit. As the host/hostess, start off the scary story by setting the scene and then pass it off to the person to the right. Continue around the circle until the story has concluded.
This can be a fun part of your BYOP party.
V. Go on a Bike Ride Through the Country
What better way to go leaf peeping than by viewing it on a bicycle!
VI. Go on a Hike Through the Country
Hiking is very therapeutic. It also provides wonderful cardiovascular exercise.
VII. Go Leaf Peeping
Search fall foliage maps near you and explore the best routes for a ride through the country. Stop along the way at local farm stands for fresh apples, apple cider, honey, or autumn vegetables. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey!
VIII. Visit a Living Farm
The Howell Living History Farm is very close to where I live in the northeastern part of the United States.
It was a working farm for 285 years and is now a 267 acre history farm that educates people on what life was like back around 1900. They raise crops and livestock the way our ancestors did. “Dozens of horse powered field and transportation operations are used to farm the 50 tillable acres where corn, oats, wheat and hay are raised using equipment representative of the period.” (Howell Living Farm)
The farm exposes visitors to rural history and heritage by allowing them to participate in hands-on experiences.
Many living farms are scattered through the United States and beyond.
Search living farms close to you and I’m sure you’ll find something similar to the Howell Living Farm.
IX. Go On A Hayride
There are many varieties of hayrides available for your enjoyment. They range from a leisurely stroll to a pumpkin patch to a haunted hayride filled with spooks, chain saws, and ghouls.
Search hayrides close to me.
X. Visit a Haunted House and/or Other Attraction
You can always find haunted houses, museums, prisons or other sites cropping up this time of year. Again, search for locations near you.
XI. Visit a Cranberry Bog
If you live in the northeastern parts of the United States, how about visiting a cranberry bog? This is the time of year when cranberries are harvested, from mid-September through mid-November.
After learning about cranberries and purchasing some freshly harvested ones, try the Cranberry Bread recipe below from Parents’ Magazine.
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 2/3 cup chopped walnuts (or replace with 1 1/2 cups light raisins)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, (if used) and baking soda into a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add egg, orange peel, and orange juice all at once; stir just until mixture is evenly moist Fold in nuts (or raisins) and cranberries.
Spoon into a greased 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.
XII. Go Apple Picking
One of our favorite activities is to explore an orchard on a crisp fall day and pick apples. We have done this with our children since they were able to walk and they continue to do it with my husband and me when they are back home!
You can make a day of it by picking in the morning and baking in the afternoon. Try the Jewish Apple Cake recipe below. It is one of our favorites.
Mix the three ingredients below and set aside.
- 4 apples, peeled and sliced
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
Mix the following ingredients together in a large pot with a spoon to make the batter.
- 3 cups flower sifted
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 cup oil
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Grease and flower a tube cake pan (Bundt Pan). Put 1/2 the batter in the tube pan, add half the apples, sugar, and cinnamon mixture on top of the batter. Add the rest of the batter then cover the batter with the remaining apples, sugar, and cinnamon mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Check with a toothpick after 50 minutes.
XIII. Take a Chance in a Corn Maze
Corn mazes can be long and involved. They are not for the faint of heart. I have gotten very frustrated in corn mazes before when I could not find my way out. But they can be so much fun! Search corn mazes in your area and enjoy the challenge.
XIV. Plant Bulbs In Your Garden For Next Spring
For complete instructions on how and when to plant bulbs for a lovely spring, check out What Flower Bulbs to Plant in the Fall.
XV. Go Stargazing in Your Own Backyard
Autumn is usually full of astological events, and 2021 is no exception. There was the Draconids Meteor Shower October 6 – 10, the Orionids Meteor Shower October 2 through November 7, the Taurids Meteor Shower November 4th and 5th, the Leonids Meteor Shower November 17th and 18th, and a partial lunar eclipse on November 19th. There will be a total solar eclipse on December 4, and the Geminids Meteor Shower on December 13 and 14.
Some of these events will be seen from anywhere on earth like the Orionids, Taurids and Leonids meteor showers. However, the partial lunar eclipse will only be visible in Eastern Russia, Japan, the Pacific Ocean, North America, Mexico, Central America, and parts of western South America.
The total solar eclipse will only be seen in Antarctica and the southern Atlantic Ocean. If you are fortunate enough to view the total eclipse, be sure to wear solar equipped glasses to protect your eyes.
The Geminids meteor shower will be visible in the northern hemisphere and possibly in the southern hemisphere.
Even if you’re not in the correct area to view the showers, just go outside with a hot toddy in hand along with a warm cozy blanket and your favorite person and enjoy the show. You may even witness a falling star!
Regardless of what you decide to do this fall, just get outside. The air is pure, the temperatures are crisp and the sky is beautiful. Enjoy nature at its best and perhaps you’ll learn a thing or two by observing patterns of birds, activities of squirrels and chipmunks and the sights and sounds of the night and day.
Please leave a comment below and share with others through social media or word of mouth. I’d love to hear how you explored nature during this most wonderful time of year.