By Lincoln McElwee
Now that the hot and heavy days of summer are mostly behind us, it’s time to enjoy the beauty and bevy of all that the fall season can offer. From bike rides and picking produce from a local farm to costumes, holiday cooking and trick or treating, there’s something for everyone to engage in! Halloween is quickly approaching, and soon it will be Thanksgiving Day. So before this season gives way to the cold of windy days of winter, let’s take a look at some family-friendly activities that will ensure this fall is a memorable one!
When you think of fall, you often think of pumpkins and pumpkin carving, right? Well the tradition of picking pumpkins is indeed nothing new. But these days, there are often more activities offered at pumpkin lots for families than your average pick-a-pumpkin-and-go event. Many pumpkin lots offer mazes and games for children to enjoy, as well as beverages, such as hot cider. Families can make a mini vacation out of the annual trip to the pumpkin lot!
Some lots, such as the popular pumpkin patch at the Cal Poly Pomona campus in Southern California, even offer a selection of assorted pumpkins to choose from, thereby turning a run-of-the-mill pumpkin patch experience into an educational—not to mention colorful—delight for the entire family!
Along with the sheer fun of choosing pumpkins with the family, many pumpkin patches also offer pumpkin carving on-site! Kids can partake in pumpkin carving activities where prizes are distributed and, after the festivities are over, the carved pumpkins can be brought home for festive fall decorations that can adorn both indoor and outdoor spaces.
Be sure to check your local community for all the different events taking place, such as pumpkin carving lessons, contests, cooking classes, etc.
Want an enjoyable activity for the family? Why not bring your pumpkins home and carve them together with the family? Put a movie in or turn on some spooky tunes, decorate the pumpkins and, for a real treat, roast the pumpkin seeds for a snack!
Though the fall season is quite famous for and synonymous with pumpkin picking, apple picking is a rewarding excursion for the family as well! Many farms open their doors for the fall season and allow their produce to be picked right of the tree.
In addition to apple picking, many farms even have small petting zoos and hayrides as well.
For an educational take on apple picking, find a farm that offers tours of its grounds. Also, if you’re in the mood for more sweet treats, try finding a farm that serves warm apple pie right on its grounds. These delicious desserts can also be purchased for the road or to take home. Many farms also offer canning or recipes for the apples you’ve just picked! There’s also always sure to be a general store or small restaurant that offers hot apple cider—perhaps even hard cider for parents—and a menu full of warm seasonal food often arranged around … you guessed it! … apples.
In addition to pumpkin and apple picking, many farms offer such exciting activities as corn mazes. These mazes allow children and parents alike the opportunity of moving through tall stalks of corn in an effort to figure out how to get to the other side, with prizes often thrown in for friendly competition. Whether it’s a family activity or a birthday bash on a local farm, corn mazes allow for both fun and problem-solving on a variety of levels!
Keep in mind that most corn mazes are not stroller-friendly, so plan ahead if traveling with younger children. Also, mazes can often be tricky and, at times, frustrating, so smaller children should always be accompanied by older children and/or adults to ensure that their experience is a pleasant one.
Family Bike Rides
One of the things I remember about fall while growing up were the family bike rides! The weather was cooler and the leaves were all changing, the streets blurring by in oranges and browns and yellows! A family bike ride in the fall is a wonderful way to spend some quality time together with the family all while getting in a bit of exercise.
In addition to bike rides, hiking and walking trails make for memorable and enjoyable experiences as well. These excursions allow families to collect fallen leaves and acorns or pine cones, to commune with nature and with each other all while conditioning the body.
Families can even turn a bike ride or hike into a mini family vacation! Bring along a packed lunch and a board game, for instance. Or books and playing cards. Have a picnic out in the crisp fall air and indulge in the beauty of the changing seasons!
When it comes to Halloween fun, part of the merriment is deciding what costume to wear! Why not make the most out of it by not only helping your child in choosing creative costumes, but in helping to decorate and accessorize the costume(s) for the occasion! With Marvel superheroes and Disney costumes as all-time favorites, why not join in on the fun. If standing out from the crowd is your child’s forte, why not help in creating an original costume from scratch (or from household items that can be put together to create a low-cost, entirely unique costume).
And with many local groups and organizations holding costume contests for different age groups, your child will be sure to not only be noticed for all of the hard work, but they will also be able to enjoy the fun of a community of individuals partaking in the spirit of a noteworthy pastime!
Trick or Treating
This is of course the single most important event of the season—getting a plethora of free candy! Though parents and dentists alike might not be so keen on Halloween evening’s sugary whirlwind of fun, it is, after all, the highlight of October and, for many, the season.
Many parents opt to accompany their children while out and about for the night. Be sure not to be too overbearing as your children interact with other kids and scurry about for their candy treasure!
There are many community events that cater to a safe and more organized from of trick or treating. Malls, for instance, offer one such reprieve from the door-to-door exercise of asking for candy. Many malls stay open and allow children to go from store to store to get candy, gifts and fun prize for creative costumes.
For parents looking for a “spook-less” type of fun that still includes candy, costumes and prizes for children, many local churches and religious institutions put on their own versions of Halloween festivities. These events allow children a safe and secure environment on say, the church ground. There are a variety of activities, contests, and themed events as well as pumpkin carving, trick or treating and other assorted activities.
This Thanksgiving, why not be thankful for all the helpful hands in the family by having the entire family help out in the kitchen. Though not every recipe allows for little ones to help out or even for more than one person to get involved, with the variety of dishes that can be made for the occasion, there’s sure to be some way to allow each and every member of the family to play a small part in making a Thanksgiving Day meal by cooking together and also making memories that will last a lifetime!