It’s a complicated relationship we have with fall. The cooler temps and changing colors are a welcome sight. However, the scary Halloween visuals and images everywhere…. are not! With one glance into any store window, it can seem like Halloween is the only activity fall has to offer. Finding fall activities for the family who doesn’t celebrate Halloween is actually easier than you think. By taking away the expectations and pomp that accompany that one day, a whole world of fall wonder opens up!
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For all the years we’ve spent fall without Halloween, our family has made some amazing memories. I want to share my favorites with you because what I’ve discovered is this: When you force fall to break up with Halloween, it’s your family who gets all the love!
If your kids are anything like mine, they love to be outside. Sweltering summer temps make it difficult to enjoy the sunshine. Once those cool fall mornings hit though… it’s like a literal (and metaphorical) breath of fresh air!
Therefore, most all of these ideas are going to be outdoor fall activities for families. I’m a firm believer in getting, while the getting is good. So, while the days are hovering around comfortable temps you should get outside!
The outdoor beauty, delightful scents, and comfortable temps make fall the perfect backdrop for memory making with your family. So let’s do it!
15 Fall Activities for the Family Who Doesn’t Celebrate Halloween.
First, The Free Fall Activities.
#1. Take Family Pictures.
Do you know someone who takes good pictures? Perhaps he or she is trying to get a photography business going. Young photographers need practice. Often times you can get pictures taken of your family for free by agreeing to be guinea pigs for new poses and props.
Fall is the perfect time to take outdoor family pictures! The colors and clothing options make a perfect combination.
Don’t know a free photographer? Another option is to find a family to swap out picture taking with. Dress yourself and the kids in cute and comfy fall colors, head to the park with your favorite family friends and trade out taking pictures of one another.
Both families get photographs and everyone has a blast! Make a memory book here.
#2. Short Nature Hike.
Kids don’t just like to explore… they need to explore! A child’s budding mind is a sponge for information, absorbing more than we can imagine.
Fall hikes don’t have to be long and exhaustive. Most cities have well-carved hiking trails that can take as few as 15 minutes or as long as a few hours.
Decide what you can handle and go for a fall hike. The smells, sounds, and sights of nature in fall will stimulate your child’s brain, all while creating memories of family togetherness. The sensory stimulation while being together as a family will create a closeness that helps your child feel tethered to you.
That’s a parenting win!
#3. Fall Scavenger Hunt.
Scavenger hunts are the best. Although, I almost missed out on how great they are. I tend to place overly-high expectations on myself. So when my oldest began walking and someone suggested a scavenger hunt, I got a little panicked.
I was afraid my scavenger hunt wouldn’t be cool or complex enough. So I almost didn’t do one. Fortunately, I decided just to keep it simple and come up with a few things he could look for in nature.
It was so fun and he had such a blast that scavenger hunts have become a regular part of our family activities.
Kids have no problem hunting for the same things over and over. And the great thing about fall is that you can add simple objects such as “something orange” to your list. Nuts, seeds, and an array of colored leaves are great additions as well.
When my firstborn was a toddler we’d meet my husband for lunch at work to have a picnic outside under a tree. It was a cheap and easy way to do something fun!
Now that my husband travels and we are busy with schooling during the day, we have to be more intentional about picnics.
Kids have to eat anyway. It’s easy-peezy to toss sandwiches in a bag real quick and find a patch of grass to eat on.
Children think eating outside is the best! Let them take their food outside and sit on the grass. Or pack it up and drive to a nearby park. The kids can eat and play. Fall picnics are sure to be some of their best memories.
#5. Bon Fires.
This. Right. Here. Bonfires are my favorite. Which is funny, because I despise the smoke and the smell that has to be washed out my clothes and hair after a bonfire!
Still… we try to have a bonfire a few times a month during the fall season. There is something exciting to a child about a fire burning in the backyard!
Make it a marshmallow roast. Or leave the marshmallows at the store. Either way, your kiddo will get all excited at the mention of a bonfire.
Make your fire as small as you’d like. Don’t overthink it. It’s the time spent with you and the excitement of it all that your child really cares about.
#6. Leaf Pile Jumping.
No fall activities list would be complete without the mention of a leaf pile! And I just have to be honest… this makes me a little fussy. Why? Because we don’t have any leaves to jump in!
Our home is built in the middle of a 7-acre field. There are no mature trees close to our home. Although we have planted some, they won’t be producing jump-worthy leaves for years.
So if you have a backyard full of trees, don’t take them for granted. Rake up those leaves this fall and let your kids play the day away.
This is another one of those don’t-over-think-it activities. Even if your trees only produce enough leaves for a small pile, your kids are going to love it!
#7. Play Dress Up.
Make-believe is important for a young child’s brain development. Playing dress up is a great way to make-believe. And fall is the perfect time to do it.
My children find themselves wanting to dress up in July and sweating to death underneath all their clothes. Fall is the perfect time for extra layers, making it the perfect dress up occasion.
An added bonus is that kids everywhere are all geeked up about costumes and dress up because of Halloween. So whether your family celebrates Halloween or not (our family doesn’t) your kiddo will love seeing others dressed up too. Find dress-up clothes here.
#8. Read Aloud Outside.
Alright, so you have your child dressed up in a Captain America costume, and eating a picnic lunch outside. All that’s missing now is a story!
Use the comfortable fall temps and the beautiful changing landscape to create the perfect setting for read-aloud time.
Reading out loud to your child is important for proper neural development. Doing so encourages literacy, imagination, and strengthens family bonds.
Grab a fabulous read-aloud book such as this one or this one, and join your children outside. Read as much or as little as you’d like.
Depending on age, you may need to read for 10 minutes, take a break, then read some more. Be careful, however, not to falsely assume that because your child isn’t still as a statue that he’s not getting anything out of the read aloud.
Kids don’t need to be perfectly still while listening to a story. Matter of fact often times the opposite is true. Just let them be and read as long as you can manage.
This is my FAVORITE place for affordable books!
#9. Outdoor Ball Games.
Kickball, (make-shift) baseball, football, and soccer are the most fun in the fall. With 6 members of our family, we have just the right amount of people for a 3-on-3 baseball game.
This is our favorite way to spend a fall evening when Daddy isn’t traveling.
Regardless of your child’s age, you can find a way to incorporate ball games into your fall activities. Babies benefit from rolling a ball back and forth. Toddlers can play baseball in their own way.
Big kids love the opportunity to “play for real!”
Get a ball. Go outside. Throw or kick it around. Simple fall fun!
#10. Leaf Rubbings.
The first time we did a leaf rubbing, it was after we saw it on a cartoon. The kids had seen a character do a “leaf rubbing” and asked me if they could do one as well.
I had no idea what a leaf rubbing was. After the quickly explained it to me, I thought it was the greatest idea I had ever heard.
For non-craftsty folks like myself, this was a perfect craft-like activity! The work on my end was minimal, however, the kids got to have all the fun!
To do a leaf rubbing: find a leaf, set it on a flat surface, put a piece of paper on top of it, and rub the paper with the long side of a crayon.
Your child will end up with cool, sort of abstract rendering of a leaf. The really neat thing is, more than one leaf will typically fit on a sheet of paper, so your child can do it over and over!
Next, the Not-So-Free Fall Activities.
#11. Pumpkin Patch.
Although we don’t celebrate Halloween, we LOVE going to the pumpkin patch! Most pumpkin patches are full of kid-friendly activities.
Many have a petting zoo, corn maze, playhouse and more.
I do my diligence to find a pumpkin patch that doesn’t have spooky stuff. The scare factor is just not OK with us.
It’s also important to find a pumpkin patch option that fits your budget, as many of these destinations can get pricey when you have more than one child.
Pumpkin patch trips are the source for many of my children’s favorite fall memories!
If you’ve been invited to a fall party, there’ll likely be a hayride. If you decide to do #11 and venture to a pumpkin patch, there’ll likely be a hayride.
Hayrides are popular in fall, and for good reason. They are SO. MUCH. FUN.
If you find yourself without a source of hayride-fun, make your own. Hayrides can be as elaborate as a tractor and wagon loaded down with hay, or as simple as a 4-wheeler pulling a cart.
Recently for a fall birthday at our house, my husband borrowed a trailer, hooked it to his little truck and pulled party guests around our property on a couple of hay bales.
Everyone loved it! Just be sure to go slow and make sure little ones are safely held by an adult.
#13. Corn crib.
Corn cribs can usually be found at pumpkin patches and fall festivals. However, I got to thinking that this would be a great fall activity to do at home!
Sensory development is crucial for all children, and it’s easy to help them develop.
To build a corn crib at home, all you need is a container and some field corn. You can make a small corn crib with a shallow container such as this one, or a large corn crib with a cylinder barrel like this, cut in half long way.
Fill the container with corn and add some scoops and buckets. Your little one will have a blast playing in the corn, repeatedly filling and dumping the scoops and buckets! Check your local feed store for corn!
#14. Fall crafts.
OK… so for many people fall crafts wouldn’t be on the “paid” section of the fall activities list.
However, for me (the non-crafter,) I would have to purchase the materials for the crafts… so it wound up in the not-so-free portion of this post!
Since I am not one to come up with the craft ideas, but rather to look for simple craft ideas and execute them only, I’ve done a round up for you.
Listed here are 5 simple fall crafts that you can easily pull off with a variety of ages. Enjoy! Get crafts supplies here.
#15. Apple Orchard.
I grew up next door to an apple orchard in southern Michigan. Like… right next door. I could reach across the property line and pick an apple. (although I wouldn’t, cuz that’d be stealing 😉)
Many times, apple orchards will offer complimentary cider, tours, demonstrations, and treats.
A trip to an apple orchard would make a great family outing or field trip. Call around and do a little planning. Or be spontaneous and find an orchard that allows for drop-in purchases.
Take the kids, buy some apples and walk the orchard!
The Most Important Thing About Fall Activities for the Family Who Doesn’t Celebrate Halloween.
Your family is your family. That’s just that. You don’t have to feel pressured or odd or embarrassed or even single-minded when it comes to fall and Halloween.
You’ve made a decision not to participate in Halloween. Fall is so much more than trick-or-treating, scary stuff and haunted houses.
Fall is memorable scents, pleasant temps, cozy snuggles, baking treat, and the perfect time for making lasting memories. Do your thing this fall and do it confidently, with a heart full of love! CLICK HERE TO READ ANOTHER POST LIKE THIS