10 Things to Add to Your Fall Bucket List with Kids
Fall activities with kids By Erin Gifford
Kids at Richardson Farm in front of the world's biggest corn maze. (Courtesy Richardson Adventure Farm)
Fall is here, which means it’s time for pumpkins, apple picking, corn mazes and fun fall festivals around every corner. If you’re still putting together your plans for the season, we’ve got more than a few ideas to complete your running list of fantastic fall events for families.
Take a look at our ten must-do’s to add to your fall bucket list to enjoy the season with the kids.
Spend Time with Muggles at the Harry Potter Festival
Meet your favorite Harry Potter characters at the Harry Potter Festival. (Courtesy Chestnut Hill Visitors Center)
Harry Potter fans of all ages will go mad for the family-friendly Harry Potter Festival taking place just outside Philadelphia October 21-22. There will be muggles, of course, but there will also be loads of hands-on activities, fortune tellers, face painting and the J.S. Jenks Firebolt 5K. The annual event even includes a Quidditch Tournament. Wear your robes and bring along your copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to prove you’re a true Potterhead. You’ll love all the different fall events for families during this Harry Potter weekend.
Get Lost in a Corn Maze
A kid-friendly fall activity that’s an absolute must-do is venturing out to a corn maze to spend quality family time working your way out, like the one at Richardson Farm near Chicago, Illinois. This maze is the world’s largest maze, and as a bonus, the theme celebrates this year’s 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Another great maze can be found at Temple Hall Farm in Leesburg, Virginia. Solve trivia challenges to successfully exit the maze, which is consistently ranked among the best in the Washington, DC area.
Go to an Oktoberfest Celebration
Oktoberfest in Helen, Georgia comes about as close as you can get to celebrating in Munich, Germany. Running through October 30, kids and families will love the German music, foods and dancing in Helen, which year-round looks like a traditional Alpine village. There will be plenty of oom-pah music too. If you can, go on Sundays when admission is free. Look for family-friendly Oktoberfest celebrations across the country, including the Alpine Village Oktoberfest near Los Angeles, which runs through October 29. Another good one is Leavenworth Oktoberfest in Washington.
Experience Fall Foliage on a Zipline
Zip line with Bretton Woods Canopy Tour at Omni Mount Washington Resort. (Courtesy Omni Mount Washington Resort)
A fun way to experience the colorful fall foliage of the season is on a zipline and one of New England’s longest ziplines can be found at Omni Mount Washington Resort. The Bretton Woods Canopy Tour offers unsurpassed views from high up in the trees as you take on a series of ziplines and suspension bridges. Or, head to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania to zip over the mountains for a birds-eye view of the colorful leaves. Smugglers' Notch Resort in Vermont also offers canopy tours and a treetop obstacle course in the fall.
Go Brick-or-Treating at LEGOLAND Resort
On October weekends, head to LEGOLAND Florida for Brick or Treat, a Halloween-themed celebration for the whole family. Go on a scavenger hunt at MINILAND USA, trick-or-treat along the Brick or Treat Trail and meet up with costumed LEGO characters, like the Mummy and the Mad Scientist. You can even take selfies with the world’s largest LEGO pumpkin before settling in for the evening fireworks show. Meantime, LEGOLAND California is holding Brick or Treat Party Nights on Saturdays in October. These fall events for families are perfect for kids of all ages.
Experience Howl-O-Ween at Great Wolf Lodge
Celebrate Howl-O-Ween at the Great Wolf Lodge. (Courtesy Great Wolf Lodge Garden Grove)
All 13 Great Wolf Lodge locations, including the recently opened one in Garden Grove, California, are hosting Howl-O-Ween festivities throughout October. Pack your costume and plastic pumpkin pail for a mini family vacation at the resort that includes Halloween-themed storytimes, a Monster Bash Dance Party and trick-or-treating along the Trick-or-Treat Trail. There’s even a costume parade, and of course, all you can splash time at the on-site waterpark. Don’t forget to wear your wolf ears while exploring the resort, including the mini golf course and bowling alley. Settle in for the night in one of the themed rooms, like Wolf Den Suite.
Go Fall Camping at Jellystone Park
Fall is a great time to go camping as a family. Whether you prefer to sleep in a tent or book a cabin, Jellystone Park has a lot to offer families, especially on fall weekends. Kids will love raising the flag to start the day with Yogi Bear and getting hugs from Boo Boo and Cindy Bear. In between, there are outdoor family-friendly movies, bingo, jumping pillows, face painting and horseshoe tournaments, even bingo. Many campgrounds even offer themed weekends with plenty of fall events for families. For example, Jellystone Park in Luray, Virginia has unique Halloween-themed experiences every weekend in October.
Get Picking at an Apple Festival
Fall is prime time for apple festivals and you’ll find them all across the country, like the Springville Apple Festival in Central California that runs October 15-16 and the Peddler’s Village Apple Festival near Philadelphia, which takes place November 5-6. You’ll find games, kids’ activities, face painting, and of course, apples. Many times the family-friendly festivals are located on farms so you can also pick your own apples. Drink hot apple cider or eat a warm apple cider donut, both of which are perfect on a cool fall day when you’re out enjoying various fall events for families.
Spend the Day at a Pumpkin Patch
Tom Thumb Pumpkin Patch at the Dallas Arboretum. (Courtesy Dallas Arboretum)
You can visit a small pick-your-own pumpkin patch or you can go all out and explore a larger than life pumpkin patch that boasts pumpkin pie eating competitions, hay bale mazes, pony rides and climbing walls. One look at the farm map for Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Gretna, Nebraska and you may think you’re at an amusement park rather than a pumpkin farm. There are 50+ kid-friendly attractions, including Graveyard Golf and Stalk Cars, as well as multiple live shows, like the Pigtucky Derby Pig Races. Or, head to Tom Thumb Pumpkin Patch in Dallas where 90,000 pumpkins, gourds and squash create Pumpkin Village.
Go on a Family Bike Ride
Go online and browse dozens of suggested family-friendly bike rides for enjoying the fall season. Bicycling.com features a Fall Foliage Ride Guide, touting cities like Aspen, Colorado, and Angel Fire, New Mexico, as great places for exploring fall colors by bike. It’s also fun to explore the new season from an urban perspective. Rent bikes or go on a guided bike tour with Bike and Roll, which offers bike tours in various cities, including Chicago and New York. Children’s bikes are available from Bike and Roll, as well as trailers and trailer tandems so little ones can ride no matter how small they are.