It’s Fall, y’all! With the onset of cooler weather comes an abundance of super fun fall activities to enjoy in the US. The northern parts of the country, in particular, draw thousands of people each autumn to take part in classic fall activities. Whether you live in northern climes or are just visiting, these ten fall activities will set the mood for one of nature’s most scenic seasons.
Fall Festivals Are the Best Fall Activities
One of the most popular fall activities in the US is attending a fall festival. While some last only a weekend, others span several days or weeks. All of them, however, have a fall theme. Fall festivals in the United States celebrate the changing seasons and the fun activities that accompany a change in seasons. They also pay homage to everything autumn, from pumpkins and apples to scarecrows and fall foliage. No matter which fall festival you choose to attend, it’ll be a great time for the entire family!
Some of our favorite festivals include the Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze in New York, which features over 7,000 hand-carved and lighted jack-o'-lanterns at the historic Van Cortlandt Manor; the Natchez Balloon Festival in Mississippi with a week-long lineup of balloon races and live music; the National Apple Harvest Festival in Pennsylvania, which celebrates fall with handmade crafts, delicious food (and not just apples!), and tons of entertainment; and Autumn at the Arboretum in Texas, which features over 100,000 pumpkins in themed displays.
Apple Picking and Making Caramel Apples
Fall season also equals apple season. While we often think of apples as coming from Washington state, many of the northern states grow delicious apples at this time of year. When they ripen, grab the family or a car full of friends and go apple picking. Make a daylong event with lunch and apple cider at a nearby restaurant or head straight back home to make caramel apples. (Try these Caramel Apple Slices!)
In Pennsylvania, pair an apple-picking outing with a fabulous fall festival at the National Apple Harvest Festival in Biglerville. Another great place to go apple picking is at a local orchard. Some even have onsite restaurants or cideries. Try one of these 19 great orchards for apple picking.
See the Fall Foliage, a Classic Fall Activity
Leaves changing colors from summer’s green to yellow, orange, and red signals that fall is here. For many people, seeing the leaves turn is a bucket list trip. Thousands plan road trips and weekend getaways every year to New England and beyond to experience one of nature’s most awe-inducing spectacles.
Northern states aren’t the only ones which show off glorious fall colors. Many Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern states do as well. This fall foliage map from American Forests shows when the leaf colors will be at their peak. And where those colors will be patchy at best. (Looking at you, Florida!) Not sure which state is your best bet? Check out these 20 stunning places to see fall foliage.
Corn Mazes: A Fun Fall Activity in the US
One of the most fun fall activities in the US is the corn maze. These agricultural masterpieces provide endless hours of entertainment to adults and children alike. While many corn mazes cover only a few acres, the most epic corn mazes in the US span acreage into the double digits. They are also formed into intricate designs which can only be seen from the air.
Take, for example, Treworgy Orchards’ award-winning maze. In 2022, Treworgy shaped into Winnie the Pooh with Piglet and a giant honeycomb. It’s the longest continually running corn maze in Maine. Others, such as Treinen Farms in Wisconsin and Exploration Acres in Indiana, offer equally large and challenging mazes. Denver Downs Farm in South Carolina offers one of the oldest mazes in the country. It’s been owned and operated by the same family since 1869.
Visit a Pumpkin Patch and Carve a Pumpkin
Pumpkin patches pop up all over the United States in October each year. From small church-run patches to pumpkin patch festivals, the local pumpkin patch offers a variety of pumpkins in all shapes and sizes. It’s the perfect place to pick up the perfect pumpkin for Halloween. A favorite fall activity, families head to pumpkin patches in the hundreds of thousands each year to browse the offerings. Many pumpkin patches even offer special settings to take fall photos.
Once the perfect pumpkin has been found, it’s time to scoop it and carve it. Though pumpkin carving has turned more into pumpkin decorating in recent years, designing the right amount of scary (or silly) for the pumpkin draws families and friends together into a day or evening of fun.
Experience Tailgating at a Football Game
Fall in the United States marks the return of football season. Whether you prefer college football or professional sports, both have one thing in common - tailgating. If you only watch the game, you’re missing half the experience. Football without tailgating is just another sports game.
Tailgating involves many traditions and activities. Some tailgaters go the simple route with a couple of camp chairs and a cooler full of drinks. People watching is, after all, one of the best activities while tailgating. Other tailgaters go out all with tents, grills, games, and a full experience in itself. To tailgate, simply arrive at the stadium a few hours before the start of the game. Many experienced tailgaters arrive early in the morning to set up. The earlier one arrives, the more you can walk around, meet people, and get into the tailgating spirit.
Get Scared at a Haunted House or Haunted Trail
Haunted houses, haunted trails, and other scary experiences start opening in September for the Halloween season. Haunted houses range from kid-friendly (aka, not frightening at all) to extremely frightening. Sometimes, haunted house operators require participants to sign a waiver of liability. Just in case the attraction scares them to death.
While many haunted house attractions pop up for the season in empty store fronts or old warehouses, many take place in existing abandoned (and haunted) facilities, such as Eastern State Penitentiary which hosts Halloween Nights every year from September to November. Other attractions use outdoor space to create haunted trails, such as San Diego’s Haunted Trail Balboa Park, a mile-long trail through twisted pines and gnarled oaks.
Go On a Hayride for a Fun Fall Activity
Another popular fall activity in the US is taking a hayride. Many festivals, corn mazes, and other fall attractions also offer hayrides. Once upon a time, these rides took place in hay-covered wagons pulled by tractors. While some may still use hay on the ride, many others use wagons with regular seats and hay bales in the middle of the wagon. This kind of setup allows those people can’t tolerate touching hay to still experience this fall activity while those people who can tolerate it have the option to sit on the hay bales. Expect a hay ride to pass through fields, around farm buildings, and usually to educate riders about the farm and its importance in the local community. It’s also a great way to explore more of an attraction and to take a seated break for twenty or thirty minutes. If the thought of going for a hayride sounds intriguing, check out these great hayrides in the US.
Shop at a Farmers' Market
In many parts of the country, fall represents the end of the growing season and the last few months of fresh local produce. In the southern parts of the US, like Florida, it means the beginning of the growing season and a return of fresh local produce. And a local farmers’ market is a great way to connect with nearby farms and support them by purchasing their produce. Weekly farmers’ markets offer a fantastic way to support the local economy and also fill the fridge with the highest quality food.
Farmers’ markets offer more than fruits and vegetables, too. Most markets have expanded to include artisanal crafts, jewelry, locally made baked goods and dairy products, flowers, and much more. Food trucks provide ready-to-eat items, and some farmers’ markets even have live music. No matter what the need, one or more of the vendors at the farmers’ market probably sells it.
Enjoy Making One of These Fall-Themed Crafts
Making autumn-themed crafts is a great way for a family to spend time together doing a fun fall activity. The internet offers an endless supply of great crafts to try, though a few classics always lead to a fun afternoon. These include:
A search for fall crafts yields 235,000,000 results! Choose one or more for your budget and skill level. Supplies as simple as colored craft paper, glue, paper plates, and popsicle sticks can be made into many crafts and provide hours of fun for the entire family.
Fall activities in the US are a great way to celebrate autumn and enjoy the magnificent fall colors found in much of the country. At their heart, these fall activities bring families and friends together to spend quality time doing something fun. Make a plan this fall to spend a few weekends enjoying one or more of these fall activities.
© 2022 Cristina Vanthul