When September arrives and we're getting back into the swing of the school year (or gearing up for the not-so-distant holidays), those sun-soaked afternoon naps and nightly scoops of ice cream we got used to in August seem like distant memories. We'll miss those summer activities, but we had a good run. And while this time of year may not be as lazy as a summer Sunday, fall has a way of reminding us to step back and enjoy the little things even on our busiest days.
Sweater weather, dreamy foliage, seasonal comfort foods, festive traditions, and of course, pumpkin-spiced everything: These are just a few of the reasons to love autumn and forget about summer (at least until next year). To make sure we all get the most out of it, we've come up with a bucket list of 28 fall activities to partake in over the next few months. Whether you're looking for festive things to do with kids, friends, partners, or on your own, we've made sure to include a variety of things so everyone can discover and celebrate the magic. We've also organized our ideas by how much time you have, so the seasonal festivities don't cramp your (life)style.
When You Only Have A Few Minutes
The beauty of fall makes it easy to enjoy the season without spending too much time and money, and even without breaking your routine.
- Go leaf jumping, or if that doesn't appeal to your idea of adulting, bring your kids or younger family members leaf jumping. You'll get a kick out of watching them play in the colorful fallen leaves even if you only have a few minutes.
- Indulge in a slice of pumpkin pie from your favorite local bakery.
- Take a quick evening stroll through the fall foliage instead of squeezing in gym time. Getting outside and breathing in the cool air will be refreshing.
- Fix yourself a warming cup of spiced cider or hot cocoa, whichever you enjoyed most as a kid, to bring you comfort.
- Or make yourself a fall-centric cocktail.
- Light a candle that smells like autumn. It's not as laborious as lighting a fire, but it can be just as cozy and nostalgic.
- Toast some pumpkin seeds in the oven, or just snack on some store-bought pepitas if you don't have time to make them from scratch.
When You Have a Few Hours
Make all your free time count by doing something special, enjoyable, and unique to the season.
- Head to a nearby pumpkin patch with friends or family, and then decorate your picks in chic and creative ways.
- Have an afternoon cookout in a garden, on a rooftop, or at a public park. There's nothing better than enjoying cornbread, barbeque sauce, and farm-fresh produce outside.
- Cuddle up with a scary movie marathon of all your favorite Halloween flicks.
- Speaking of Halloween, tour a haunted house, or go on a haunted hayride. If spooky experiences aren't your thing but you love experiential activities, do a corn maze instead.
- Organize a Saturday night beach bonfire.
- Now that that slice of pie from your favorite local bakery prepared your palate for sweet fall flavors, head to the kitchen, and bake an apple, pumpkin, or pecan pie.
- Make Thanksgiving cards for everyone you want to express your gratitude to.
If you send cards before the holiday rush, your notes will feel more fun and thoughtful.
When You Have a Full Day
There's no better time to break routine than when you have a full day with nothing planned.
- Spend the day at a fall festival in your area.
- Drive up to the mountains, and go to a u-pick apple orchard to pick and enjoy your own apples. When you get home, make caramel apples (that is, if you don't eat them all beforehand).
- Tour a winery. Vineyards are beautiful at this time of year, and a wine tasting is a perfect way to unwind while learning something new.
- Take a hot air balloon ride if you want to see the green rolling hills and orange leaves from greater heights.
- It's football season, so go to a homecoming game, and attend a fun tailgating event with friends before.
- Go to the farmers market in the morning to stock up on fresh produce, and then make your favorite fall recipes from your childhood. Invite your family and friends to enjoy the feast as a prelude to Thanksgiving.
- Curl up with your favorite books on a rainy day, or bring out your paints and craft supplies to get creative and work on a project you've put on hold.
When You Have a Whole Weekend
To make your favorite fall activities feel extra special, make an entire weekend out of it.
- Research themed overnights in the area, and plan a weekend around one of your choosing. You'd be surprised at how many Sleepy Hollow–themed hotels and overnights exist. It'll make for a memorable and funny experience that gets you in the fall spirit.
- Rent a cabin in the woods. Spend the days hiking and the nights chowing down on s'mores and stargazing. Just don't forget to bundle up!
- Book a few nights at a quaint inn or a bed and breakfast (preferably one with a fireplace to cuddle up by) for a homey, romantic getaway. Treat yourself to a massage and nourishing comfort food all weekend long.
- Finally, visit that city that's been lingering on your travel bucket list for years. It probably won't be as crowded this time of year, so you can experience it like a local, and the moderate temperatures won't hurt either.
- Camp out in a national park with your favorite outdoorsy friends.
- Go on a mini road trip to a town you've always wanted to see.
- Or, stay put and treat yourself to a staycation. Go ahead, you deserve it.