Making the Most of Autumn Weekends

Making the Most of Autumn Weekends

Don’t go into winter-hibernation mode yet! There’s plenty of family fun to be had during the clear, crisp days of fall.

If you’ve spent the majority of your summer weekends outdoors, chances are you’re not so thrilled about heading inside just because autumn is here. But hold on—you can stretch the joys of summer deep into the fall depending on where you live. The season is filled with activities that’ll help you celebrate the crisp air and changing hues. “Our family loves the fall. The weather starts to cool down for nature walks, and the leaves start to bring in such fun colors,” says Marie LeBaron, a craft book author and the founder of Make and Takes, a parenting website.

Here are some of our favorite ideas for celebrating autumn weekends.

Find (and get lost in) a corn maze. If wandering around a bunch of cornstalks doesn’t sound like such a good time, you’ve probably never been inside one of the intricate, creative mazes that have been popping up from Maine to California. Whether they’re “haunted” or designed around a theme such as dinosaurs, football, or airplanes, these mazes are truly works of art and offer a challenging, fun way for a family to get “lost”—and found—together. Check out cornmazesamerica.com to find one near you.

Bring the outside in. Autumn is a perfect opportunity to let the changing colors inspire some seasonal crafts, LeBaron suggests. Try a simple leaf rubbing (where you rub a crayon over paper layered on top of a leaf to make an artistic impression of the leaf). Pop it into a frame for seasonal decorating.

Play ball! (Or watch somebody else do it.) A cool, sunny fall afternoon is the perfect time for a little backyard football, but if you prefer being a spectator, you have plenty of opportunities to watch in the open air. Check out your local high school or college for a chance to watch soccer, tennis, cross-country, or golf events, in addition to that autumn standby, football.

Seek a cider tasting. Taking the kids apple picking is a quintessential autumn activity that never loses its appeal. But these days, when you make your annual visit to the local apple orchard or family farm, you might be lucky to share a new experience: tastings of specialty ciders—including hard ciders for grown-ups. Even nonalcoholic ciders are getting an upgrade thanks to this beverage trend, so after a day of picking apples, you and the kids can sip and sample new flavors along with those traditional cider doughnuts. 

Fall into festivals. If you live in or reasonably near an agricultural area, your region’s most bountiful crops are no doubt celebrated with some kind of harvest festival or fair. Outdoor music festivals and art fairs are also popular this time of year, as are county and state fairs. To find an event near you, go on your town or county’s website or Facebook page. You can also check out pumpkinpatchesandmore.org for listings of fall activities by state, or click on the Events link at localharvest.org.

Pick up that pumpkin. No need to wait until Halloween to think about pumpkins: These giant squash make great porch decorations all month long and will last if you wait a bit to cut them into jack-o’-lanterns. “Even though our autumn tends to start as the warmest, sunniest season, it’s still all about pumpkins!” says Heather Flett, author of The Rookie Mom’s Handbook. “I make sure to get a commemorative pumpkin picture with the kids each October, and we bake lots of pumpkin muffins.” No time to bake? Stop by Panera Bread® for a Pumpkin Muffin and Pumpkin Spice Latte on your way home from the patch.