Fall is hands-down my favorite time of year. The season is like a treat for the senses–the stunning sunsets; the gorgeous colors of the leaves; the warm browns and oranges of the hay bales, corn stalks, and pumpkins that decorate the neighborhoods; the aroma of pumpkin spice, apples, and burning leaves; the brisk air of a cool autumn evening; the sweetness of home-baked pies and fresh apple cider. And the fact that I’ll soon no longer have to mow the lawn.
Yes, fall is full of sensory excitement, but it’s also just a fun time of year. Halloween and Thanksgiving are on the horizon, football season is in full swing, and there’s plenty to see and do. Even during a pandemic. While trick-or-treating may or may not happen in 2020, there are still quite a few activities you can partake in, either at home or in a socially distant environment.
The next two blog posts will offer up some fun fall activities that you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home or somewhere nearby. So, grab a mug of hot cider, snuggle under your favorite blanket, light up the fire pit, and read on!
Take a hike!
No, I mean literally. Get in the car, drive to a local park or nature trail, and go on a nice hike with the family. This is the perfect time of year for a hike–the temperatures are cool, the nature is absolutely stunning, and exercise is always a smart reason to get outside.
If you’re not sure where the nearest park is, check out this link from the U.S. National Park Service. And if you’re just looking for a local trail, AllTrails has a database of more than 100,000 trails across the country so you can find one nearby. Remember, hikes don’t have to be on mountains…they can be simple nature explorations as well. Have the kids print out or download a nature checklist and see how much they’re able to find. However you decide to hike, don’t forget to bring a phone or camera along, because there will be tons of beautiful photo ops that you’ll want to take advantage of.
This will require some type of fire pit (obviously)…if you don’t have one, they’re not terribly difficult to make. All you need is some bricks or concrete blocks, sand or rocks, and some firewood! Once your fire pit is ready, grab some chairs and bring out the Hershey bars, graham crackers, and marshmallows for s’mores! For me, there’s nothing better than sitting around a warm fire on a cool night with friends and family (socially distanced, of course), roasting marshmallows and making melty s’mores.
To add even more fun, tell some ghost stories around the fire–after all, it’s close to Halloween. Get the kids involved by making them find the stories and even tell them. Growing up in New Jersey, I can’t tell you how many times I heard the terrifying tale of The Jersey Devil, who, according to generations of lore, haunts the state’s Pine Barrens forests. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately…oooooohhh), just about every part of the country has scary legends of local lore and ghost stories as part of their history that are fun to pass on to the next generation. Fire, marshmallows, and ghost stories–the perfect fall night.
Fall is the season for apple pie, apple cider, candy apples…anything apple, really. Let’s not forget about pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, jack-o’-lanterns…anything pumpkin. So, why not pick your own and use only the freshest ingredients? Farms and orchards and even wineries generally offer pick-your-own-anything-that’s-in-season each autumn, and it makes for a fantastic outdoor family outing. Many of these places also have animals and fresh-baked snacks like apple cider donuts and pies to add a layer of deliciousness to the experience.
Not only do kids love picking their own fruit to eat and pumpkins to carve and decorate, but you can use your fresh picks to…
Make delicious fall treats!
Remember all of those tasty apple and pumpkin treats I mentioned? Of course you do…it was like one paragraph ago. Well, now you’ve got all these apples and pumpkins, so it’s time to put them to use! There are SO MANY apple-based recipes out there, so take your haul, wash them up, and start slicing. Sure, there are the sweets–cakes, pies, cobblers, puddings, donuts, cookies, ciders, and so many more. But you may not be aware of all the savory dishes you can cook up using apples: potatoes, chicken, sausage, salads, pork, just to name a few. Then there are the pancakes, waffles, breads, and plenty of other mouthwatering carbs you can think of.
Let’s not forget the pumpkins though. Obviously you want to put a couple aside for carving…because what’s Halloween without scary (or funny) decorated pumpkins? But there are tons of ways to use pumpkins in all kinds of tasty treats and eats. Cakes, pie (of course), muffins, and pancakes are some of the better known pumpkin delicacies, but there’s also pumpkin soup, pumpkin pasta, risotto, chili, and a whole bunch more.
Fall is an amazing time to get outside and have fun as a family. And while some of these activities might require a short ride, let’s not lose sight of the fact that we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. Be sure to take the proper safety precautions and bring your hand sanitizer and face masks, since most places will require coverings. And also keep in mind that some establishments might have slightly different setups and rules to stay compliant with social distancing. But, when you think about it, these are small inconveniences that shouldn’t take away from any of the fall fun you’re going to have!
Stay tuned for more autumn activities in our next blog post!