Fall Activities for the Whole Family

by Lauren Verini

As sad as it is to see summer come to an end, there are plenty of fun things to look forward to in the fall season ahead. The changing leaves, crisp autumn air, apple picking, Halloween and Pumpkin Spiced Lattes are just some of the many things I love most about fall. If you are looking for fun and cheap fall activities to do with your loved ones, your best bet is to head outdoors and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite fall activities to keep you busy in the next few months and some highlights in cities across the country that you won’t want to miss.

Visit an Organic Apple Orchard

Apple pie, apple cider, apple crisp, applesauce, and the list goes on! Load up on apples this fall by heading to a local orchard. It’s a fun activity that you can make a day of spending quality time with family and friends enjoying the beautiful autumn weather. Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, NY is about an hour and half outside of Manhattan and is a pick your own orchard that grows low-spray fruit. It’s one of the only orchards in the Tri-State area to offer pick-your own apples according to organic standards and is Eco Apple Program certified, a non-profit marketing program for small-medium sized farms in the North East. Another is Bear Swamp Orchard in Ashfield, MA, which is certified organic and has beautiful views of Vermont and New Hampshire and is a great place to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the scenery.

Head to the Farmers Market

Spending your weekend at your local farmer’s market is always a good idea to find fresh produce in season and to help support local farmers, but it’s an especially fun activity in the fall. It’s that time of year when you can load up on your favorite fall produce like apples, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, winter squash and butternut squash to make your favorite fall recipes. The original Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles, CA was founded in 1934 and is still going strong as one of the most poplar farmer’s markets around. They will be hosting their annual Fall Festival October 19 & 20 where family and friends gather to celebrate the harvest with live music, pumpkin carving, a petting zoo and carnival games. There are now famers markets in nearly every city so it’s easy to find one in your neighborhood. A few notables are the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market in San Francisco, Union Square Greenmarket in New York and Green City Market in Chicago. Find your closest farmers market by visit FarmersMarket.com or the USDA National Farmers Market Directory.

Find Your Way Through a Corn Maze

Many farmers earn extra money in the fall with added attractions like a corn maze or hayride, so these attractions are another way to help support your local farmers and have some fun at the same time. The worlds largest corn maze – Cool Patch Pumpkins  in Dixon, CA – comes in at 53 acres and opens for the season on September 15. New Yorkers can also enjoy a corn maze at the Amazing Maize Maze at the Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park, NY. This 3 acre corn maze opens September 21 every Saturday and is open late on October 5 and 12 for the special Maze by Moonlight. For those looking for a good scare, Hawes Farm in Anderson, CA offers a special Field of Screams, Hawes Haunted Acres Corn Maze.

Enjoy the Fall Foliage

The change in season and changing of the leaves creates one of a kind views you will only see this time of the year. It’s the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and explore the beautiful scenery with a nice hike or bike ride. A few notable trails with fantastic fall views are the White Mountains in New Hampshire, Catskill Mountains in New York and my personal favorite is Kent Falls in Connecticut. Also when you are raking up the leaves in your yard this year, instead of just throwing them away to go to the dump or burning them you can compost them instead! Leaves decompose slowly so be sure to shred up the leaves and layer with other materials in your compost. Many towns also accept bagged leaves that they will use to compost in a communal center so this is another option if you don’t want to compost the leaves yourself.

Enjoy All Things Pumpkin

Nothing screams fall more than the pumpkin and activities like pumpkin picking, pumpkin carving. Just like apple picking, a great fall family activity is spending your day at the pumpkin patch picking out the perfect pumpkin for your jack o’ lantern. Other fun pumpkin themed activities include the Haunted Pumpkin Garden exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens. This exhibit features carved pumpkins as well as pumpkin carving demos. Another fun pumpkin activity is the Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze where 5,000 handmade jack o’ lanterns are lite up in a walk through exhibit starting October 5. This annual event takes place at the Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. You can also be a part of the 2013 World Record for the most lit jack o’ lanterns by participating in the annual Pumpkin Festival in Keene, NH on October 19. To get involved, just carve a pumpkin and donate to the cause. Kids and other groups are also eligible for a free pumpkin if they carve and return the pumpkin to be a part of the event. Learn more about how to get involved in this event at PumpkinFestival2013.org.

Have you ever participated in any of these fall events? What’s your favorite fall activity?

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