Crisp autumn days, colorful foliage and ripening pumpkins means it's time for fun fall family activities. Fall means classic activities like hay rides, sipping apple cider, jumping in leaf piles and attending fall festivals, but we've got a huge list of fall activities that are worth putting on your family's bucket list.
To help you plan your fall fun, this list is organized into several categories. On a blustery, rainy day choose an cozy indoor fall activity or craft; when the weather is fine head outdoors to the backyard or journey further afield. Finally, don't forget how delicious it is to get cooking with all the fresh fall produce!
We even have a printable check list so you can keep track of all the fall fun you are having. As a bonus, the check list includes a fall fun bingo card to gamify your fall fun.
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Table of contents
Indoor Fall Activities
When the weather is cold and stormy, or if you're stuck inside on a fall evening with the kids, cozy up and enjoy one of these indoor fall activities.
Watch a silent movie
Family movie nights are a fail-proof way to spend time together, provided you pick the right movie. Have you ever tried watching a silent movie together? You'll be surprised how enjoyable they are. An added bonus is that no one misses the dialogue when one of the kids starts talking through the movie!
See our favorite silent movies for families.
Write an ode to fall
What is an ode? It's a short, lyric poem of praise. Although formal odes follow specific poetic structures, you have no obligation to stick to the rules! Write a poem in praise of fall as a family, or individually, and then recite them around the dinner table.
Memorize a fall-themed poem
Set up a thankful wall or tree
Use index cards, leaf-shaped paper, post-it notes, or real leaves to record a daily gratitude. Attach to a branch or hang on the wall for a visual reminder of everything your family has to be grateful for.
Planting paperwhite bulbs is an easy way to bring nature inside during the cooler months. This fall gardening activity teaches kids about plant biology and they will love watching the plants grow over several weeks. We have detailed instructions for a soil-less method of planting them so there is little-to-no mess for you to clean up.
Play with fall scented play dough
Parents! It may surprise you how fun it is to squeeze and roll play dough, even as an oh-so-sophisticated grown-up. So, make a batch of apple or pumpkin pie scented play dough and spend family time at the table getting in touch with your inner child.
Put together a puzzle
Confession: I am addicted to the 1000 piece Charles Wysocki puzzles from Buffalo Games. Every fall we set up our folding game table, and go through a stack of puzzles with fun fall images. I highly recommend you add puzzles to your fall plans!
Make finger puppets
Is there a better fall family game than charades? It doesn't cost a penny, everyone can play, and it is bound to make everyone smile and laugh. If you need some help with charade topics, you can print out our Thanksgiving charade cards.
Create a falling leaf window
A fall leaf window is my absolute favorite way to decorate for fall. Cut leaf shapes from cellophane in different colors. Then, use a paint brush to apply a solution of dish soap and water to the leaves and they will stick to the windows! See how we created a beautiful "stained glass" autumn leaf window.
Family game night
Sometimes we forget to have family game night during long summer evenings, but with the earlier sunsets and darker evenings, autumn is the perfect time to resurrect family game night. Choose a family favorite, or try one of these award-winning games for all ages.
Keep calm and color on
Fall and Halloween coloring pages are excellent calming activities when kids are stuck inside. They also make good quiet time activities during story time. Check out our collection of Halloween coloring pages.
Fall Cooking Favorites
Fall is a great time to spend time in the kitchen with your kids. They can do small jobs or cook a favorite recipes.
Pop popcorn on the cob
Did you know you can make popcorn while the corn is still on the cob? You can! And kid LOVE it. You'll need a special popcorn cob. It takes just two minutes and you can still use your microwave. Be sure to put on your favorite movie based on a children's book while you snack.
Create a new fall-themed trail mix
Trail mix is a great snack to temp kids who'd rather be eating potato chips and cookies. Good trail mix ingredients include roasted chickpeas, roasted pumpkin seeds (make your own!), sunflower seeds, and for an extra treat, add candy corn or fall-colored chocolate candy gems.
Make baked apple cider muffins
Tempt kids into helping in the kitchen with a delicious treat. When you don't have a donut pan, this baked apple cider muffin recipe is an easy substitute for apple cider donuts.
Make a pie
Apple? Pumpkin? Pecan? What's your family's favorite pie? If you buy a ready-made pie crust, dessert will be ready in no time.
Roast pumpkin seeds
After you've carved your jack-o'-lantern, save, wash and dry the seeds. Spread them out on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and roast for about 20 minutes at 325 degrees, tossing every 5 minutes or so.
Make caramel popcorn
Who doesn't solve the salty sweetness of caramel popcorn? Try out this recipe if you need one. I always like to cut the amount of sugar but that's up to you!
Bake autumn leaf cookies
Turn your favorite sugar cookie recipe into a tray of delicious autumn treats. It's easy to make your cookies look like multicolored fall leaves with a leaf-shaped cookie cutter and the addition of some natural food dye.
Make apple cider
Heat up that jug of apple cider you bought at the farmer's market. Add in a few extra spices like star anise seed pods and cinnamon sticks. Serve with your favorite fall desert or sip during family game night.
Fall crafts are a great way to celebrate the changing of the season. We've shared our 9 favorite fall crafts, but here are some more!
My kids never wanted to scoop out pumpkin guts, but we still decorated pumpkins with paint. Spread out newspaper, get out the paint and brushes and allow the kids to decorate their pumpkins however they want, whether it's to give them spooky faces or cover them with polka dots.
Make jack-o'-lanterns from turnips
Get in touch with the Irish origins of the jack-o'-lantern by carving faces in large turnips, rutabagas or parsnips. Truthfully, they are a lot creepier than a pumpkin jack-o'-lantern! The smaller tools in a pumpkin carving kit should work just fine when carving root vegetables.
Make a fall leaf wreath
We've made fall leaf wreaths for many years. Have your kids gather a basket of beautiful fall leaves. Cut out a wreath shape from a piece of cardboard or large paper plate. Glue on the leaves, add a ribbon and hang in a sheltered porch or inside.
Make leaf people
First, read Lois Ehlert's book, Leaf Man, for inspiration. Next gather leaves and twigs and other natural materials. Arrange the materials into creatures and glue down to a large piece of construction paper.
Make a fall leaf sun catcher
Take advantage of the beautiful autumnal sunlight. Use our leaf sun catcher template to make fall art to hang in the window. It's such an easy craft that everyone in the family can make one.
Make place cards
Make milk carton candles
Autumn is the time to start creating a beautiful indoor atmosphere by lighting candles. You can beef up your supply of candles and spend an afternoon crafting with the kids at the same time by making these old-school milk carton candles.
Roll beeswax candles
If melting and pouring wax into a milk carton is still too much work (I hear you!), make simple beeswax candles. A beeswax candle rolling kit makes it even simpler!
Make leaf spinner art
If you have a salad spinner, it's easy to make unique spinner art. Use our easy instructions for making salad spinner art but modify it for autumn by pre-cutting the paper into leaf shapes and using orange, red, yellow, and brown paint colors.
Create fall leaf luminaries
Making luminaries from tissue paper and mason jars is a classic children's craft that will add a subtle glow to any bookshelf. Rhythms of Play shows you how to make luminaries using real leaves.
Hang a diy fall leaf banner
Decorate the house with a fall leaf banner. Gather together fall leaves while they are still soft. Pass a needle and thread through the base of each leaf until you have the length of banner you wish.
Make napkin rings
Along with the aforementioned homemade place cards, kids can make napkin rings. Cut up the cardboard paper towel roll into two inch sections. Set out decorative paper, glue, stickers, ribbon, anything else you can think of and see what fancy napkin rings your kids create!
Make your own Halloween costumes
Halloween costumes don't have to be complicated. Challenge your kids to make their own costumes. If necessary, visit a local thrift store for inexpensive clothing items and costume jewelry.
Craft a Harvest Moon
Learn about the phases of the moon, read Long Night Moon by Cynthia Rylant to learn the names of all the special monthly moons, then spend family time together making a Harvest Moon craft. Don't forget to read more picture books about the moon!
Take leaf rubbings
Leaf rubbings is a fun art project for a nature journal. Place leaves under a sheet of paper or journal page and rub over it with a crayon. Watch the leaf outline magically appear. Be sure to make leaf rubbings from different tree species.
Backyard Fall Fun
Sometimes the most fun can be had in your own backyard, especially if pumpkins are involved!
Quick! Before kids realize that raking leaves is a chore, give them a pint-sized rake and enjoy some exercise in the crisp fall air.
Jump in a leaf pile
Leaf jumping is a classic fall activity! Just try not to completely undo all your hard work.
Everyone associates s'mores with summer but it's also a fall fun activity. Take a tray of skewers, chocolate bars, marshmallows and graham crackers outside. You can either fire up the grill, or light a bonfire in a fire pit, if you have one. If you don't have the facilities to make s'mores outside, you can make them in the microwave.
Sleep under the stars
Fewer mosquitos and less humidity means a much more comfortable open-air sleeping environment than a sweltering summer night. Take advantage of the autumnal weather by setting out sleeping bags on a clear night. Even if your kids only want to hang out for a little bit, and decide to spend the rest of the night indoors, that's okay. Laying under the stars even for a little while is a grand experience.
Make bird feeders
As the flora dies back and food becomes scarce, feathered friends will appreciate dining locally in your backyard. Here are four ways to make a bird feeder. My favorite is the halved-out orange.
Build a scarecrow
Gather some old clothes to make a scarecrow. Draw a face on a pillow case to use for the head, and use gloves for hands. Country living has detailed instructions, as well as some creative ideas to make your scarecrow unique. Place your scarecrow on your porch or in your garden when you decorate for fall.
Most local nurseries sell seasonal mum plants at reasonable prices. If you purchase them in small containers and then replant them at home in larger pots, it's cheaper and the plants will last longer than if you buy already large specimens. It's a very easy way to decorate and your kids will love choosing the colors.
Plant bulbs for spring color
Since they won't see the results of their efforts until spring, planting bulbs in the fall teaches kids about patience. I recommend daffodils, not just because they are my personal favorite flower, but because they are nearly bulletproof. Unlike tulips, animals won't eat them and they will come back year after year.
Have a picnic
It's not winter yet! There's still time to eat al fresco, especially on an unseasonably warm autumn day. Spend time with your kids planning and prepping the meal. Then let them set up the picnic blanket and cutlery while you bring out the picnic food. As a bonus, read these picnic picture books while you eat!
Decorate the front porch
Did you make a scarecrow? Paint pumpkins? Carve turnips? Plant mums? Gather all those fall crafts you made with your kids and decorate the front of the house.
Press late season flowers
Late season flowers like native asters, goldenrod, hydrangea and rudbeckia are wonderful to preserve through pressing. Your kids can press them in a nature journal for posterity or use pressed flowers to decorate homemade bookmarks or greeting cards.
Play pumpkin bowling
Fall family fun should always include outdoor games. Use liter bottles as bowling pins, and a large pumpkin as a bowling ball and see how many pins you can knock down!
Set up a family photo shoot
Take advantage of fall leaves as a colorful backdrop for a family photo. Be sure to have a camera handy during all of the activities on this list and by December you'll have a photo album of memories.
Set up a mini pumpkin hunt
Think of this fall activity as an Easter Egg Hunt, but with mini pumpkins and gourds. Buy a big bag of mini pumpkins or decorative gourds and hide them around the yard. Be sure to have prizes for who collects the most gourds, who finds the weirdest-looking one, and who finds the biggest one.
When the hunt is over, your kids can use the mini pumpkins for a printing art project.
Out and About
Fall is for field trips. Bundle up the family and go on a fall adventure!
Fall is migration season for many bird species. Our winter birding with kids tips are relevant, even in autumn.
Visit a pumpkin patch
Choosing a pumpkin from a local pumpkin patch is one thousand times more fun than picking one up from the grocery store.
Go apple picking
Visiting a local u-pick farm for apples is a time-honored tradition. Sure, it's easier to buy them at the store, but do they really taste as good? Set up an scientific apple taste test like we did and find out!
Visit the farmer's market
Just in case you can't make your own apple cider donuts and pumpkin pies, fall is the perfect time to visit the farmer's market. You'll find all kinds of seasonal treats plus plenty of gourds and dried flower arrangements to decorate the home. Try these 5 farmer's market activities for kids.
Visit a historic house
We love visiting historic sites! Most historic houses, no matter where you live will host special fall themed events. Check the calendars of sites near you to find out what's on offer and then mark the date for a fun family fall outing.
Find a fall festival
Maybe the fall festival is at a historic house, maybe it's at a u-pick farm, pumpkin patch or a farmer's market! Learn about fall equinox festivals from different cultures. Some communities host a Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival. The Buddhist celebration of Ohigan is held during the equinox, and Hindus celebrate Navaratri.
Go on a neighborhood scavenger hunt
It's not difficult to put together a scavenger hunt for your kids, but it's even easier to use this free printable from KC Edventures.
Visit the library
Stuck inside on a rainy afternoon? Visit your local library. It's free and the shelves of books means there is endless entertainment. I bet the children's librarian will love to try one of your freshly made apple cider donuts.
Get lost in a corn maze
If there wasn't a corn maze at the fall festival you went to, search for a maze near you and get lost in one!
Volunteer at a food bank
Call your local food bank to find out what's the best way for your family to volunteer. Perhaps they would like you to host a food drive, pack boxes or serve meals. Getting the kids involved in volunteering at a young age will help them grow up to be productive members of the community.
Go for a hike
Ooh and aah at the fall foliage by going for a scenic hike (or two, or three).
Visit a local botanical garden
See what's in bloom, what leaves are changing colors and go for a calming stroll at the botanical gardens. Most communities have a botanical garden within driving distance. If you've never been, you are missing out!
Walk across a long bridge
If you live near a long, scenic pedestrian bridge, autumn is a lovely time to take a stroll. We like to head over to the Walkway Over the Hudson to take in the gorgeous view. Turn it into a day trip, stop for ice cream (or apple cider) or bring a picnic. Don't forget your kids' nature walk field bag full of fun gadgets!
Collect seeds for a seed collection
Seeds and seed pods are fascinating detritus from Mother Nature. Your kids can make their own seed collecting container from an egg carton. Then, fill each section with a different type of seed. They can search for maple seed spinners, chestnuts, sweet gum pods and acorns, among many others!
Go on a Historic Walking Tour
Families sometimes forget to do the "touristy" things in their own neighborhood! Does your town or city have a walking tour? They may even have a special fall themed ghost walking tour that gives away the local haunts and secrets.