While I wait for the warmth of summer every spring, by the time summer is over, I am ready for the crisp fall air and the beautiful fall foliage. Fall is the perfect time to relax a bit, slow down and enjoy time with the family. Between autumn harvests and Halloween, fall offers families plenty of fun, frugal activities.
Try some of these activities in upcoming weekends:
- Visit an apple orchard. Most apple orchards are free or just charge a nominal fee. The whole family will enjoy being out in the crisp fall air surrounded by the gorgeous scenery of changing leaves. Unlike berries, apples are easier for little ones to pick. Once you pick your apples, have fun as a family making some delicious dishes like apple butter, crockpot applesauce or apple pie.
- Visit a pumpkin farm. A pumpkin farm may offer hay rides and other types of fall fun. In addition, smaller children like picking out the pumpkins. When you are back home, have fun carving them together as a family. (For both apple orchard and pumpkin farm locations, you can search pickyourown.org .)
- Visit a corn maze. These may be a bit hard to come by if you live in the Midwest thanks to the drought this year, but if you can find a corn maze, they can offer you a few hours of fun as you wander around trying to find your way out. Make sure to bring water and snacks for small children who get hungry frequently.
- Read some fall themed books. If you have young children, reading them books about the seasons is always educational and fun. Some of our favorite fall books are Fall Leaves Fall , The Beast Who Couldn’t Say Boo , and Little Witch’s Big Night .
- Make a fall craft. Young kids as well as older ones will enjoy making fall crafts. There are plenty of good ideas on the Internet, but some places to start your search are All Kids Network  and Family Fun . Our kids range in age from 8 to 2, so it can be hard to find a craft that all of them enjoy making. However, something like the Bean Leaf craft  would be a great way to accommodate kids of varying ages.
- Make a Halloween themed meal. My daughter’s birthday is just a few days before Halloween, so we usually serve fun Halloween themed food for her birthday. Some of our favorites include Crescent Mummy Dogs  and Carrot Finger Food .
- Play in the leaves. Do you remember how much fun it was as a kid to make a huge pile of leaves and jump in them? This year, don’t let the kids have all of the fun—jump in with them. Your kids will have even more fun when you join them.
- Enjoy an evening cookout. For much of the country, this summer was just too hot to enjoy a roaring camp fire. However, fall’s crisp weather is the perfect time to have a meal over the camp fire and then to relax with some warm apple cider and talking. Make it easy on the cook and try a tin foil dinner . Kids will enjoy this new way of cooking.
- Take a scenic drive. There may be no more beautiful scene in nature than a large hill or mountain covered in a gorgeous array of fall colors. We often get too busy during the fall with sports and school activities, but take the time to drive through the country and enjoy the beautiful fall colors.
- Have a Harry Potter movie marathon. If you have kids 8 to 10 or older, have a Harry Potter movie marathon. Most kids enjoy Harry Potter books and movies, and the fall is the perfect time to watch the movies filled with darkness, wizardry and friendship.
What are your favorite fall family activities?
(Photo: dexxus )