10 Inexpensive Fall Activities for the Family

fall_traditionsWhere I’m located (Chicago), there are 4 distinct seasons.   While admittedly January through March can be a challenge, the rest of the year is easy to celebrate what nature gives us.

When the weather has started to cool down, but hasn’t quite shifted to winter weather yet, it can be great time of year to be outside.  Depending on where you are in the Northern Hemisphere, this can be a time to enjoy the middle ground between summer heat and winter cold.  Along with that, it’s a time to enjoy the unique aspects of fall.

I was thinking of some ways that we’ve had fun during the autumn season in the past, as well as some other possibilities for doing new things as well.  The idea was to figure out ways that the season can be enjoyed, while spending very little.  Here are 10 low-cost, frugal activities that people and families can enjoy the fall.

  1. Take a drive to see fall colors.  The changing colors of the leaves is actually big business in a lot of places, with people taking weekend drives to experience the often spectacular colors that only occur for a very short time of the year.  While I think that’s actually pretty cool, I’ll try to enjoy it a little bit more frugally.  In this case, sometimes you can go for a nice drive close to where you live (depending on locale, of course) and take in the colors.  For the cost of gas and putting a few miles on the car, it can be a nice relaxing way to spend a few hours.
  2. Go apple picking.  This has developed into a tradition for us, going each year to pick apples.  While it isn’t free, you can always eat the apples you pick! Apples are a healthy snack, and better alternative than a lot of things we might otherwise choose to eat.  So, you could have a fun day outdoors, while having something good to show for it later.
  3. Go hiking.  Now, one could do this in the summer too.  However, when temperatures have dropped from summer highs, it often becomes much more pleasant and manageable outside.  Actually, at least around this part of the country, some fall weather can be truly great for the outdoors.  Throwing on a sweatshirt for layering and enjoying a good walk outside provides a great way to get fresh air and exercise.
  4. Visit the pumpkin patch.  It can be fun to start a tradition of going to the pumpkin patch to find the perfect pumpkin.  Then, you can bring it home to carve it and make a jack-o-lantern.  Fun for people of all ages.
  5. Make seasonal food.  Hot apple cider sounds good on a cool fall day!  Or, perhaps one could bake some apple or pumpkin bread.  I enjoy pumpkin pudding, which is actually nutritious and tasty.  Yes, this fits into the whole pumpkin mania theme I wrote about it a prior post!
  6. Build a bonfire.  I have a memory of sitting outside on a very cool fall night over 10 years ago, catching up with some old friends over a bonfire.  Yes, there were marshmallows there, as well as a few beverages of the grown-up variety.  Good times.
  7. Enjoy Halloween – without excess commercialism.  Okay, it’s hard to go without spending money on Halloween.  If you have kids, you’ll be getting them a costume that they’ll enjoy.  You could always make one, but my kids haven’t had a homemade one – the costumes were purchased.  That said, they don’t have to be expensive.  The good old days of putting on simple yet fun costume for trick-or-treating can still be had by kids.  For grown-ups, it’s fun to go with the kids and chaperone them while seeing how much fun they have.  If you’re not with kids, you can always have a Halloween gathering with friends that involves food and drink without breaking the bank!
  8. Have a movie night.  We recently had one of those.  Rented 2 movies from the rental kiosk for $2.40 in total.  Plus had snacks at home.  This was a fun way to enjoy a night at home, staying warm and saving a lot of money compared to going out to see a movie.
  9. Make something!  Now, I’ll admit that I’m not an arts and crafts kind of person.  I’d rather spend that time doing just about anything else.  But if you’re into crafts and the like, this can a fun time of year for such activities.  For me, the “make” something part might be taking pictures outside.  The fall offers some unique opportunities for great photos
  10. Go on a hay ride.  This can be a fun activity to enjoy the season outside, and enjoy the company of others who accompany you.   I’ve gone each of the last few years.

My Questions for You

Do you take part in any of these fun fall activities?

Are there any others not mentioned that you would like to share with everyone?

What do you enjoy most about the fall?



  1. says

    With 3 children we definitely take part. We usually hit a pumpkin patch and carve them. Making an event of Halloween is the best. Making costumes, fun food, tons of recipes ideas on line.

  2. says

    Fall is one of my favorite times to go hiking. There are lots of trails in the surrounding mountains with spectacular views. Fall brings the color change to many leaves as well as many interesting cloud formations to look at while hiking. Plus the temperature is just good for hiking. I am still trying to drag my wife and son out for a hike. Perhaps this weekend…

    • Squirrelers says

      This time of year can be great for hiking, as temps generally aren’t cold but aren’t as blazing hot as a few months prior. Hope you got a chance to go.

  3. says

    One fall thing on my list is to overnight close to a ‘dark sky’ area and do so stargazing.
    When I was a kid in Arizona, our church group went up in the Superstition mountains for an event and the black of the sky was almost hidden by all the stars you could see – a stupendous sight.

    We are losing our dark skies, but since I live close to Kansas, and not too far from Iowa, I think I can find some good spots within a days drive.

    • Squirrelers says

      Inexpensive is always good, and hiking generally allows for that. Great to enjoy those nice views for free, which people sometimes pay big money for if they buy a home with such views.

    • Squirrelers says

      Have to admit, that sounds pretty good too. Of the 50 states, there are only 3 that I haven’t visited….and Hawaii is one of them. Hopefully sometime I will!

  4. says

    I couldn’t get past your first line: “I live in Chicago.” This is one of my favorite cities.
    My favorite fall activities include enjoying the outdoors. And we play tennis year round here in N. CA.

    • Squirrelers says

      Northern California offers great opportunities for year-round outdoor fun, and you can drive a relatively short distance for the seasons. You’re in a great place for the outdoors.

  5. says

    It isn’t an inexpensive thing to do at the beginning, but it pays off big. Buy a lot of local, crisp, sweet and tart apples and make apple sauce and apple butter. I can a lot of it and my brothers love it as one of their Christmas gifts. I also tie a big bow on the jars and give them as token hostess and teacher gifts. In the long run you save money….but it does cost up front.

    • Squirrelers says

      This is also a way to eat healthy, natural food. It helps to know the source and if we pick the apples that’s the case. I agree that there might be an up front cost, yet still worth it.

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