Outdoor Fall Activities: 12 Fun Ideas for Getting Outside This Autumn
During summer, so many of us are constantly outdoors partaking in activities from hiking and camping to gardening and yard work. But as we all settle into the cozy comforts of autumn, with the daylight hours creeping ever-shorter, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of hunkering down indoors. With the holidays right around the corner, an added hustle-and-bustle might worm its way into our schedules this time of year, too. That’s why during this season I try to be especially conscientious about fitting outdoor time into my life. Being out in the fresh, crisp air and incorporating some form of daily movement a stress-reducer—good for both the body and mind. Are you looking for more ways to enjoy the outdoors this fall? We hope you find a bit of inspiration in this roundup of ideas. Whether you’re seeking a family adventure or a solo outing, there’s something here for you!
1. Attend a Harvest Festival at a Local Farm
When small-scale farmers wrap up peak growing season and transition into autumn, it’s a great time to throw a party. Such events may include apple cider pressing, hay rides, fall produce sales (a great chance to stock up on storage staples, such as winter squash, sweet potatoes and garlic), farm tours and more. Check your town’s event website and local newspaper, plus ask around at your nearest farmers’ market, to find a harvest festival near you.
2. Try a Photo Shoot in the Park
There’s nothing quite like the spectacular display of colors nature shows off in fall. This creates a rich backdrop for photography. Take a walk to your favorite park with your family or a few friends and snap photos using different elements of the natural scenery around you. Be playful, have some fun, and jump in some leaves! Who knows—perhaps you’ll capture a special shot that will grace the front of your holiday cards this year. Check out these fall photography tips for more ideas.
3. Run or Walk a Fall-Themed 5K
From Pumpkin Runs to Thanksgiving-themed “Turkey Trots,” there are an abundance of spirited 5K and 10K races during fall. Generally walkers and runners of all ages and fitness levels are welcome, and the proceeds often support a local charity or organization. You can browse the Running in the USA database of events to find a race or fun run coming up in your area. Choose your location and the running distance and month you’re interest in to narrow your search.
4. Participate in State and National Park Events
If you live near a state or national park—or can take a day trip to one—you’ll have access to all kinds of cool events that will help you enjoy the season. You can select a particular park or state when browsing the National Parks Events Calendar to see what’s coming up in your area this fall.
5. Go on a Nature Walk to Collect Items for Seasonal Décor
If you attune your eyes, walking through parks, on trails, or even just down the streets of your neighborhood can lead to discoveries of all sorts of treasures. Try going on a nature walk to find elements to create a beautiful autumn wreath, bouquet or table centerpiece. Grab a basket before you head out the door, and pick up pine cones, leaves of every shape and hue, acorns, twisty twigs, small evergreen branches, seedheads and anything else that would add pops of color or texture to your project. This can be an especially fun pursuit for the whole family. Browse these examples of natural fall wreaths for inspiration and tips.
6. Plant Flower Bulbs
Fall is the time to plant perennial flower bulbs in your yard or garden. This is a great activity for getting outside and getting your hands dirty on a nice fall day. Try classics such as daffodils and tulips, or go for something a bit more exotic like spider lilies or starflowers. Invest a bit of time now and you’ll get to enjoy the blooms’ spectacular colors come springtime.
7. Set a Walking Goal
If you’re someone who is motivated by concrete goals, try setting a walking goal this season. For instance, set a goal to walk 30 minutes a day outside on at least five days a week from now until the winter solstice. Or, base your goal on mileage. You might try to get in 60 miles of walking during the month of November (an average of 2 miles per day). You can use a phone app or fitness tracking device to help you with your goal, or set up a little calendar or journal to track your progress. This kind of goal is especially helpful to me if I’m trying to motivate myself to bundle up and get outdoors even if it’s a chilly or rainy day.
8. Go Apple Picking
Many orchards offer u-pick apple picking during the fall harvest season. Getting your hands on a glut of fall apples means you could pack your pantry with jars of homemade applesauce or make some rich apple butter to give away as holiday gifts. Or, try drying some apple rings of making apple cider. Check the website PickYourOwn to find u-pick farms and orchards around you.
9. Find a Fall Volunteer Opportunity
Organizations that rely on volunteer help could use a hand in every season, including fall—and many such opportunities will get you outdoors and moving. Perhaps your local parks and rec department needs volunteers for fall park cleanup or your local Habitat for Humanity branch could use a hand on their next building project. If you’re a dog lover, you could try volunteering once a week walking dogs at your local pet shelter or humane society. That’s a win-win: You and some sweet pups waiting to find a home could get outside to enjoy some fresh air.
10. Visit a Vineyard
Fall is the main harvest season for wine grapes, and many vineyards host special events to cap off their year. If you live in a wine-growing region, it’s a wonderful time to go wine tasting and take a vineyard tour. Some winery events even include grape stomps visitors can participate in!
11. Shop Local Businesses by Bike
Picture this: You’ve waited until the last minute to do some of your holiday shopping. It’s the busiest time of the year and it takes you 20 minutes to find a parking spot at a packed mall or shopping center. You reluctantly buy gifts at major outlets and big-box stores because you only have time for one-stop shopping. As much as I’m committed to shopping local and handmade, I have to admit I’ve found myself in that stressful situation a time or two. To avoid anything like that, I had the idea this year to shop early and do it all locally and by bike. Any gifts I’m not handmaking, I’m planning to get at small, locally owned businesses. I’ll plot out my favorite stores on a little map and take a gift-searching “bike tour” of them. This will get me outside riding my bike and support local businesses at the same time.
12. Participate in an “Opt Outside” Event
In 2015, outdoorsy co-op REI made a big splash with its Black Friday “Opt Outside” campaign. The retailer closed stores and gave all employees a paid day off on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and encouraged people to spend the day outdoors with friends and family. The hashtag #OptOutside was popular for sharing outdoor adventures on social media, and the trend really caught on. Now all kinds of parks and organizations host events to encourage outdoor activity the day after Thanksgiving.
What outdoor activities and adventures do you enjoy in fall? Leave a comment below to share your ideas!