Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year. With vibrant autumn colors, cooler temperatures and a new season of apple and pumpkin spice goodies it only makes sense to get out there and take in everything fall has to offer before the snow flies.
It can be costly though, with all of the festivities, foods, and diversions. Can you relate?
If there is one thing I love to do though it’s finding cheaper ways to do things that otherwise might be costly. It is possible to enjoy fall activities without breaking the bank!
I’ll share with you 5 family-friendly free/cheap activities so you can take full advantage of the season.
How Are Fall Activities Expensive?
This time of year is a big money maker for farms, as well as it should be since they’ve been hard at work all summer growing their produce. I love to patronize our local orchards and pumpkin patches, as do my kids. Helping them harvest their crops by picking apples and pumpkins is a yearly pastime for my family.
I don’t mind spending money on seasonal picks since we enjoy the harvest all year long by freezing homemade applesauce and pumpkin puree.
The thing I struggle with while going to these farms are the extra fees for hayrides, corn mazes and petting zoos. My kids love these fall-time activities and I hate to deprive them of a fun time, however paying for a ticket times 3 adds up!
In our area entrance to these attractions range between $5-$12 for kids and $10-$15 for adults. For my family of 3 kids and 2 adults that would come out to be $35-$56! That is more than we care to spend for a few hours of fun.
Other fall past-times that can be hard on the wallet include costume or Halloween parties or fall festivals. By the time you add up the cost for costumes, cover charges, tickets for games and rides and treats it gets expensive.
To keep our kids happy it’s understandable to want to say yes to everything, but if you want money for Christmas it’s probably best to have some restraint.
It doesn’t mean you can’t do anything though. You can create memories and save money with these 5 family-friendly free/cheap fall activities.
Free/Cheap Fall Activities
While it’s easy to head out to the popular hot-spots that are widely advertised and charge a lot of money try looking up these ideas by perusing your local events calendar or entertainment guide:
1. Community Sponsored Fall Fests
My hometown just had a Fall Fest that was put on by the chamber of commerce. They offered free pumpkin painting, hay-rides, petting zoo, apple bobbing, and an outdoor movie with popcorn. There was plenty of fun to be had by all of the kids without parents having to shell out money.
If your town doesn’t offer anything like this look at neighboring cities, libraries or schools. I know our Fall Fest isn’t the only one in our area. In fact looking at the events calendar I could take my kids to one of these every weekend for the month of Oct.! These fests may be smaller in comparison to commercial places or county fairs but they give kids a taste of fall fun. We all know kids will be happy with something over nothing. Going to a smaller venue also helps them learn to appreciate the smaller things in life.
2. Library Events
Your local library is a fantastic resource for free family entertainment.
At this time of year, libraries tend to offer costume story times with fall or Halloween crafts, costume parties or dances or Halloween movies.
Give your little one an opportunity to wear their costume for more than just Oct. 31st.
3. Orchards or Pumpkin Patches Further Away
Last fall my family and I wanted to go to a pumpkin patch that was further away from the city so we didn’t have to deal with crowds. Turned out it also was a lot cheaper!
This particular farm offered free hayrides out to the pumpkin patch where we could pick our pumpkin and then back to the parking lot. There was also a free mini corn maze and sheep and goats the kids could see.
We did not have to drive that far either. Rather than go to a place that was 10 minutes outside the city limits, we only went about 30 minutes away. Take a look at the websites of farms that are a bit further out from your city center and see how their prices compare to ones closer to the city.
If fall color is at its peak it’s also the perfect time to go for a fall drive on your way out!
4. Fall Hike
There’s more to fall activities than festivals and farms! Soak in the autumnal beauty with a hike.
Check out local parks with hiking trails and plan out your trip. Some trails are free while other state or county parks charge a low fee for a day pass.
While trekking around you can explore how nature settles in for the winter, hear the leaves crunch and smell that wonderful sweet leaf aroma.
You’ll probably be hungry after hiking so refuel and continue to enjoy the outdoors with a picnic lunch!
With the crisp air and darker nights, bonfires are a great way to spend time outdoors at night without getting chilly.
Add to the fun by inviting friends over for a bonfire, make a campfire dinner or let kids run around with glow sticks and necklaces.
My family loves to have backyard bonfires ever since we got a fire ring. You can pick up a metal pit or fire bowl off of Craiglist or end of summer clearance at a store.
Some area parks also have fire pits you can use if you don’t have access to your own pit.
Don’t forget the marshmallows!
Other Ideas To Keep Activities Free Or Cheap
The list above is compiled from the most popular fall activities but there’s more you can do to have fun on a budget like:
- Host your own Halloween party! Instead of going out to have fun, bring it into your own home! Having a party is a perfect way to dress in theme costumes. Check out this great post on costume ideas for couples and groups!
- Want to attend some of the more expensive attractions but not pay full price? Look to see what’s available on Groupon!
- Don’t let bad weather put a damper on your plans. If your outdoor activities do get rained out you can still have a fun family night with these great ideas!
- Planning to make your home an autumnal oasis? Dollar Tree has great finds for really cheap! Check out this post for some Halloween inspiration.
- If you’d like to have a fall get-away but don’t have the funds consider a stay-cation! For some ideas on how to get a travel experience without going far check out this post!
- Thanksgiving is a part of fall too! Are you hosting a gathering this year? Here are some great tips on how to entertain for Thanksgiving!
I hope these family-friendly ideas will help you have a fantastic fall season. Now you can take full advantage of all that autumn has to offer and enjoy it carefree knowing you can find fun for free or cheap!
About the Author
Elizabeth has loved to read and write since learning how as a child. She’s been an avid reader and minored in Creative Writing in college, and wrote for the school newspaper.
After becoming a mom Elizabeth began to read blogs to learn from other wives and mamas. While she loves different blogger’s perspectives a lot of the tips she read were for things that were out of her budget. Thus began personal quest on taking expensive ideas and learning to do them for free or cheap all while balancing the ability to still have a full(filling) life.
In her spare time run Elizabeth likes to run half marathons, paint furniture, sing at church and buy and sell things online.