17 Fun Fall Family Activities

Parks are fun, but there are so many ways to enjoy autumn. Bundle up, pick up a warm drink, and relish time outside with these fun fall family activities

Fall = fun.

After a long, hot summer we look forward to fall and its beautiful colours, crisp, clean breezes and some hard-earned time to spend with our littles. What is your favourite fall family activity?

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

pumpkin-patch

If your kids think your soon-to-be jack-o’-lanterns come from the grocery store or garden centre, it might be time for a visit to a pumpkin patch. Most of the you-pick farms also have hayrides, corn mazes, “boo” barns and more. Laura Hughes, who along with her husband, John, owns Springridge Farm in Milton, Ont., gives these tips for picking the perfect pumpkin.

Pick The Perfect Pumpkin:

  1. Pick a firm, heavy pumpkin. Pass on any with any soft spots.
  2. Never pick it up by its peduncle (that’s the name for the stem). It breaks off easily and you might lose your grip—and your pumpkin.
  3. Pumpkins grow on their sides, so they are likely to have a flat spot. But if the rest is perfect, just turn that side away from trick-or-treaters.
  4. Never store your pumpkin in the house. It needs to stay nice and cold to last.
  5. Don’t carve a pumpkin more than 10 days in advance of Halloween.
  6. To find a pumpkin farm location near you, visit: pumpkinpatchesandmore.org

Cook with Pumpkin

Pumpkin-Praline-Trifle-600

Make sure you use up every last little bit of those pumpkins you bring home from the farm (or the supermarket!) and indulge in some seriously delicious pumpkin recipes (25 recipes, to be exact).

Watch Some World Class Baseball

baseball

Support (and watch) Canada’s Boys of Summer while they take the world by storm once again. With a team like this, how can we lose? Seriously, the Jays are fun to watch. Check out these awesome team high fives!

Make A Fall Craft

birdfeeder

The change of season means an abundance of natural crafting materials – perfect for making this bird feeder.

Sunflower Bird Feeder:

  1. Allow a sunflower that has bloomed to dry out in a cool, ventilated area.
  2. Once the head has turned black and the back is yellow, it is ready. Place face up in a small woven-branch wreath (purchased at a craft or dollar store) as your base. The sunflower should not fall through.
  3. Separate and braid a bundle of straw about 1/2-inch thick and three feet long (or use rope). Repeat two more times.
  4. Attach each braid to the wreath with a knot, making sure they are evenly spaced around the wreath.
  5. Bring the loose ends of the braids up above the bird feeder and tie them together.
  6. Hang from a tree.

Attend a Fall Fair

fall-fair

Fall fairs that celebrate the harvest are a Canadian tradition. Here are three fun picks:

Markham Fall Fair, Markham, ON.

This agricultural fair is one of the country’s oldest, with more than 3,000 exhibitors entering 12,000 agriculture and horticulture items for judging and display. Events include a truck and tractor pull, talent and music shows, a midway and more.

markhamfair.ca

Great White North Pumpkin Fair & Weigh-Off, Smoky Lake, AB.

Celebrating its 25th year, the Smoky Lake Pumpkin Growers Association holds a competition for the largest pumpkins, watermelons, squash and long gourds. In 2012, a new site record was set with a monster pumpkin weighing in more than 1,275 pounds! The event also features a car show and farmers’ market and old times dance.

smokylake.ca

Maritime Fall Fair, Halifax

Favourites at this family event are the light horse and draft horse competitions, barrel racing, petting zoo, dog show and midway.
maritimefallfair.com

Make Preserves

preserves

You might remember your own parents or grandparents taking part in this harvest tradition, but maybe you gave it a pass thinking it might be too hard. “If you can boil water, you can preserve food,” says Joel MacCharles, one half of the Toronto couple behind food blog, wellpreserved.ca.

“Preserving food allows a family to be in control of what they eat and to spend a few hours preparing food in the summer and fall to save time in the winter.”

Some of the best foods to preserve or pickle are cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, lemons and carrots.

Among MacCharles’ Tips to Get Started:

Wash your veggies and keep your work surface clean and tidy, and follow recipes from books or online preserving sites. The U.S.-based National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great food safety source.

Beware of Grandma and Grandpa’s recipes. Food has changed a lot in the last 20 years, and so have safety standards.

Know that it’s a lot of fun and the learning curve is small. By the time you’ve canned three or four batches, you’ll be really comfortable with the process.

Preserve a little extra—they make great gifts and there are swaps where you can take a few extra jars and trade with others to bring more variety to your pantry.

Get DIY-ing

diy-baby-costumes

Want to get a head start on your DIY Halloween costumes? We’ve got some seriously awesome ideas…and you have time to make them if you start right now!

Make Leaf Rubbings

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Go on a leaf collecting expedition and then teach the littles how to make leaf rubbings. After they’ve done that, you can make a leaf-matching game for them to play all autumn long.

 

Collect Pinecones

pinecones

Go for a long walk and collect as many pinecones as you can. Then bring them home and make decorations like a Garland or a Wreath.

 

Play Capture The Flag

fall-capture-the-flag

For the classic outdoor game Capture the Flag you’ll need eight or more participants, so gather up friends and family and head to a park, conservation area or someone’s spacious backyard. An open field isn’t going to do it—you need trees, shrubs, large rocks or other varied topography to make this work.

HOW TO PLAY:

  1. Divide into two teams, each with a coloured “flag” that’s easy to spot. (Any bright piece of fabric will do.)
  2. Designate two even-sized territories that meet each other in the middle of the playing field, as well as two “jails.”
  3. Allow a few minutes for each team to hide their flags. You can pick a tricky spot, but the flag must be visible (no burying in piles of leaves—that’s not cool).
  4. The object of the game is to sneak into “enemy” territory and steal the opposing team’s flag, returning with it to your own territory. Team members are safe when they’re on their own sides, but can be tagged and put in jail while in enemy territory looking for the flag.
  5. In order to be freed, jailed players must wait to be tagged by a teammate, at which point they are allowed to walk back to their own sides without being jailed again. (The person who frees jailbirds can still be tagged, though.)
  6. The game is won when one team’s flag is captured, or all of one team is jailed, whichever happens first. You’ll get lots of exercise dashing back and forth across the territories, and the strategizing over tactical moves is a ton of fun.

 

Go Apple Picking

Autumn-Orchard-Cake-Cream-Cheese-Icing

Pretty much every city in Canada is close or home to an apple farm and fall is the time to pick ’em Head out for a few hours or a whole day and come home with enough to satisfy making every single one of our 49 appetizing apple recipes.

Jump in the Leaves

fall-jump-in-leaves

Admit it: One of the best things about fall when you were a kid was jumping in a giant leaf pile.

It doesn’t matter how much time you had to spend raking them up (or how much time your incredibly patient parents spent raking them up), nothing was more satisfying than leaping into that pile of leaves with wild abandon and hearing them crunch beneath you.

As far as inexpensive entertainment goes, it doesn’t get much better than this! So head outdoors with your kids when the leaves fall and let ’em take that leap. Plus, all that raking burns approximately 300 calories an hour.

Bundle Up

hoodies-fall

There’s nothing quite like the cool days of fall to bundle up in a new sweater or hoodie. Check out our list of 13 Hoodies for Fall to find one for your little.

Learn to Knit

knit-travel-blanket

What better time than fall to curl up on the sofa in the evenings and knit yourself a scarf or a blanket? Pick out your favourite colour and texture of wool and make something you’ll love through the long, cold days of winter.

Take in the Fall Colours

foliage-fall

Even Mother Nature loves to show off a new fall wardrobe. Early October is considered the sweet spot—the time when colours explode into vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. Here are the top spots for viewing the fall foliage in Canada.

Take the kids on a walk to a local park to collect a few leaves or, if planning a road trip, check The Weather Network for its fall colour report, or your provincial tourism site, which will tell you when the trees in your area are at their peak for viewing.

Try Geocaching

geocaching

Geocaching should really be called “global treasure hide and seek” or “hike quests” or something equally as enticing. Knowing only the coordinates and a few clues, geocachers head off in search of caches, generally little containers with a logbook and a treasure (usually a small trinket) inside.

Take the trinket—always replacing it with a new one—if you like, and then note your find online. A quick visit to geocaching.com will tell you how many caches are hidden in your area (there are 181,000 hidden across Canada). You can also download geocaching apps for your smartphone. A GPS unit or app also comes in handy when finds are tricky.

Camp in the Backyard

backyard-camping

Are you a camper or a glamper? Do you love the woods or have you never been? Regardless of how you may feel about camping, are you thinking about getting your littles out of the house for a week, weekend or night and loving the outdoors? Worried how that first trip will turn out…? Don’t. We’re here to help.

Whether you were dying to go camping yet again this summer or haven’t gone before no need to fret. You can still go on that idyllic trip you were dreaming of. Just do it right in your own backyard! Here are our top nine tips for backyard camping.

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