With the weather cooling down, scents of pumpkin spice, and fall foliage popping up everywhere, I don’t want to miss out on fall activities. I already know that entertainment and outings with family can often come with a hefty price tag. But enjoying the season doesn’t have to be a strain on your wallet.
If you’re stumped on what to do, I came up with 60 budget-friendly fall activities that offer a welcome respite. From pumpkin picking and DIY craft projects to baking and scenic hikes, you’re bound to find something for even the pickiest person in your family. And the best part? Most of these fall activities won’t cost you a dime.
When there are fall activities where you need to hand over some cash, it will typically be a food item, entry fee, or ingredients for a recipe. Regardless, fall is a great time to revive traditions or start new ones, so use this list for inspiration.
60 Fun (and Mostly Free) Fall Activities
1. Visit a Farmers Market
To truly experience the flavors of fall, head to your local farmers market. Markets during this time have all of the fall favorites — crisp apples, fresh pumpkins, and apple cider. Not only will you enjoy supporting your local farmers, but in my experience the produce is cheaper than grocery stores.
For instance, my local farm sells honey crisp apples for $1.99 per pound, which is a Godsend compared to $1.75 each at my local Albertsons grocery stores. The USDA has a handy local food directory to make finding your local farmers market easy.
2. Collect Canned Goods to Donate to a Food Bank
Spread some seasonal cheer by getting the family involved in giving back. Inventory your kitchen cabinets and collect canned goods to donate to your local food bank. It’s a heartwarming way to help those in need while being mindful of your budget.
3. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
Fall activities where you give your time can be just as rewarding as planned social outings. Make a difference this fall by volunteering at a soup kitchen. Whether you’re sharing a meal or making it, you (and your family) can make a difference in the lives of others. It doesn’t cost a thing (except some time), and the warmth you provide to those less fortunate is truly priceless.
4. Have a Fall Picnic
Sign me up for fall activities that involve food. How about a fall picnic that doesn’t break the bank? A restaurant dinner for a family of four can easily be $100. For an affordable picnic, make homemade deli sandwiches, grab some fruit, and add some cheap snacks. Don’t forget a thermos of hot cider for an affordable outing.
My local Dollar Tree has all kinds of snacks like chips, popcorn, granola bars, nuts, and candy for $1.25 each. Better yet, how about getting snacks for free at Walgreens? That’s right, occasionally, you can get free snacks by pairing sale prices with rebate offers. Nice.
5. Roast Pumpkin Seeds
After you’re done carving your pumpkin, turn a simple, budget-friendly snack into a gourmet delight by roasting your own pumpkin seeds. It’s not only a tasty treat but also a great way to minimize food waste. Don’t worry, KCL already has the steps to roasting pumpkin seeds.
6. Bake a Pie
Fall activities that involve baking are a big hit in my house. Making your own pie lets you enjoy a delicious dessert and save money in the process. Pick your favorite homemade recipe to channel your inner baker and whip up a delicious fall pie.
For instance, I love a good apple pie without the bakery price tag, which can range from $6-$15 for a single 10-inch pie. If you have most of the essentials (i.e. spices, butter, flour) on hand, you’d just need to buy the apples, which is just a few bucks.
7. Enjoy a Fall-Themed Menu Item
I don’t know about you, but once October hits I’m on the lookout for pumpkin spice everything. While you’re enjoying your fall activities, treat yourself to the flavors of fall with a special menu item from your favorite eateries like Dairy Queen, Starbucks, or Dunkin’.
And there is a way to satisfy your seasonal cravings without splurging. Look out for limited-time fall-themed menu items from your favorite restaurants. Bookmark our food deals near me and food holiday pages.
8. Take a Family Bike Ride or Walk
Swap costly entertainment for a budget-friendly family adventure. Enjoy the cool air, watch the beautiful leaves on a bike ride or leisurely walk, taking in both health and savings.
9. Decorate for Halloween
My kids always get excited when it’s time to decorate our indoor and outdoor space for Halloween. The activities are endless, so let your creativity shine. And it’s totally possible to transform your space into a spooky paradise on a budget. DIY Halloween decorations and repurposed items can add a touch of Halloween magic without emptying your wallet.
10. Pick Sunflowers
Sunflowers are staples in the fall, so head to a sunflower field and pick your own vibrant blooms. You’re also supporting local farmers. Some farms charge an admission fee (I’ve seen as low as $3 per person), while others will let you pay per flower (i.e., $2 per stem). In some instances, farms and orchards will give you a free flower with admission.
11. Attend a Free Fall Festival
Almost every town has a free fall festival each year. This is a great place to be intentional about embracing all the best parts of autumn. There are usually vendors, activities, rides, and more. Some elements of the fall fest might come with a fee like special rides and food.
12. DIY Some Fall and Holiday Home Decor
Nothing beats a cozy home with hints of fall decor. Look through old decorations from previous years and see how you can put a new spin on some of your pieces or add autumnal elements. Maybe you can create a new wreath for your door with pine cones (see the next tip!) or imitation flowers.
13. Free Fall Activities Idea: Use Fall Foliage to Make Crafts
When leaves start hitting the ground, gather some for DIY craft projects before you start raking them up. If you have kids, see if they’d like to trace the leaves, then cut them out and color them. You can also make garlands with the cutouts or make door decorations.
14. Attend Free Workshops at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Michaels
Home improvement stores often offer free and creative workshops for children year-round, with different themes each month. The Home Depot has free workshops the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and Lowe’s free workshops are every other Saturday morning.
Not to be outdone, check out Michaels for free kids craft classes every Sunday. The best part is that you don’t have to pre register. Just show up in person from 2-4 p.m., local time. You and the kiddos could make crafts like ornaments or holiday cards.
15. Watch Hot-Air Balloons Take Flight
Who doesn’t stop to watch a big hot-air balloon in the sky? With near-perfect weather, autumn is an awesome time to check out HotAirBalloon.com. It lists hot-air balloon festivals all over the world. Just head to the website and search for your location.
If you’re afraid of heights like me, you might want to try a grounded balloon experiment by inflating balloons with baking soda and vinegar. Fill a plastic water bottle about 1/3 of the way full with vinegar, and fill the balloon up halfway with baking soda. Cover the top of the bottle with your baking-soda balloon, lift the balloon, and let the baking soda fall into the vinegar.
16. Discover Nature at Outdoor Museums and Preserves
Fall brings all sorts of cool changes in nature that can be experienced at outdoor nature preserves and museums. Hudson Highlands Nature Museum in New York, for instance, offers a unique (and cheap) opportunity for the entire family to help catch and tag Monarch Butterflies before they begin their migration to Mexico. Depending on the event, the entry fee is $5, but members are free.
Dawes Arboretum in Ohio, and other outdoor preserves, often offer free admission to their grounds for “strolling” and sometimes offer guided tours to showcase seasonal changes. Otherwise, admission is $5 for kids and $10 for adults.
17. Have an Adventure at a Pick-Your-Own Apple Farm
Visit PickYourOwn.org to find a farm near you and grab a bushel of fresh apples that are prime (and cheap!) for the picking. The website also has a list of other crops per state. For instance, if you’re looking for figs, crabapples, or pears, you can find an orchard near you.
Some orchards charge an admission fee. I’ve seen prices range from $2 to $11 for admission. If they don’t charge one, you’ll need to purchase a bag and just pay for what you pick. Depending on the location, you may pay per pound or a flat fee for an all-you-can-fill bag. Prices vary by location, but I’ve seen prices fluctuate from $2 per pound to $25 per peck (which is ten pounds).
18. Free Fall Activities Alert: Go Corn Picking
If you’ve never picked corn before, it’s a really fun experience. Some people actually get paid to pick corn, since farmers can grow so much of it. Unfortunately, if a farmer grows too much corn and has no one to pick it or distribute it to, the corn can go wasted.
To avoid this and create a fun family outing, call local farmers to see if they’d allow your family to pick a few ears of corn. You can add fresh corn to your dinner for the night and freeze the rest of your haul. Otherwise, local farms can charge anywhere from $4 for a dozen to $5 each for Indian corn.
19. Make Corn Husk Dolls
Before you toss out your corn husks, try this fun and easy craft. All you need are directions and a few rubber bands. You can get as creative as you’d like and even paint the dolls or add fabric for clothes.
20. Make a Fall-Themed Treat
I think one of the best parts of fall is the treats. Pumpkin recipes, apple cider donuts, and apple fritters are all delicious fall treats that taste even better when they’re homemade. You may have the basic items to prepare some of these things already in your pantry.
Generally, all you need is flour, sugar, cinnamon, butter, and some canned pumpkin to get started. Make it a group activity and let the family join in on making fall treats. Save on recipe staples with the latest coupons.
21. Surprise Your Furry Friend(s) With Pumpkin-Flavored Dog Treats
Don’t forget your pets when whipping up tasty fall treats. Many dogs love pumpkin, and it’s safe for them to eat. This means you can easily create dog treats with just some flour, eggs, and fresh or canned pumpkin. Look for easy recipes that use fall ingredients, and you may be able to create a new tradition with your pets each year. Here’s one to use:
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (make sure it’s plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or oat flour (you can grind rolled oats to make oat flour)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup water (or more, if needed)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the canned pumpkin, egg, and unsweetened applesauce.
- Gradually add the whole wheat flour or oat flour to the wet ingredients, mixing until a dough forms. You may need to add a bit of water if the dough is too dry. The dough should be firm but not overly sticky.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. You can use a rolling pin for this.
- Use dog bone-shaped cookie cutters or any other fun shapes to cut out the treats from the dough.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crisp. Baking time may vary depending on the thickness of your treats. Cool completely on a wire rack. They will become firmer as they cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. If you make a large batch, you can also freeze some for later use.
22. Attend a Free Event at the Library
If you’re looking to get out of the house for a while, see what events are occurring at your local library. Either check their website or stop in. There may be free craft activities for the kids, storytime, or other workshops, like creative writing or poetry for adults. Some of the events will be based on the current season, which is nice.
Libraries also tend to break up events based on age group, so there’s something for everyone to do, whether it’s movie afternoons with popcorn for teens or finger painting for young kids. Here’s a handy list of all of the public libraries in the country – https://librarytechnology.org/libraries/uspublic/.
23. Take the Kids on a Fall Scavenger Hunt
Most kids like to head outside for various fall activities, whether it’s to play with friends or for extracurricular sports. Add some spice to their outing with a scavenger hunt. Pack some hike-friendly snacks, print off a great fall scavenger hunt list, and have a fun discovery day. If you’re up for it, take a look through National Geographic’s list of the 10 Best Family-Friendly Trails.
24. Tell Stories By the Fire Pit
Gather around the fire pit outside in the evenings and tell stories and catch up with loved ones. You can also roast pumpkin seeds, hot dogs, marshmallows, and watch the sun set.
25. Jump in a Pile of Leaves
When leaves start falling, don’t miss the opportunity to rake up a pile to jump in. This is also a great way to get the kids to help with raking on weekends because it won’t seem like a chore at all.
26. Embrace Nature and Hike Through a Beautiful State Park
Many national and state parks are free to visit and offer breathtaking views. From hiking trails and hills to bridges and waterfalls, there’s so much to see, so plan a trip to your nearest state or national park this fall. Some parks even offer free guided tours, along with maps and other resources, to help you make the most of your visit.
While some well-known parks do have an entrance fee, visit NPS.gov to find free entry days for specific state parks so you can save money.
27. Pick Up Leaves for a Neighbor
Giving back to others is fun, and you can make a difference in small ways by simply donating an afternoon of your time. Consider asking a friend or neighbor if you can pick up their leaves this fall, especially if it’s harder for them to get out.
28. Volunteer to Lead a Scouts Group
Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts are great organizations to be part of. Scouting helps kids gain valuable skills, make friends, and create memorable experiences. For adults, the experience can be just as rewarding. This can also be a fun way to bond with your kids and try new things.
Scouting groups tend to start up in the fall, and if you have the availability, you can volunteer to lead a troop or pack. See if your local school has scouting programs and inquire about how you can get involved.
29. Craft a Cozy No-Sew Blanket Together
This is a great, cheap, simple, and fun fall project to do with the kids. Let them pick their own fluffy patterned fleece, and after you cut the strips for them, let them help tie the ends. Perfect for snuggling during a cold movie night. Easy-to-follow directions are available on this YouTube video.
Looking for more crafts? Check out our list of farmhouse projects.
30. Fly a Kite on a Windy Fall Day
Fall weather brings a cool breeze that can be perfect for kite flying. Help your kids create a homemade kite by sewing old bedsheets together. Then let the kids decorate their kites with stickers and color them with markers. Find a place with plenty of unobstructed open sky, and let it fly.
31. Run a 5K Race
5K races are a great way to support an important cause while staying active and embracing your competitive side. Check local event sites to find upcoming 5K races in your area. You don’t have to be a professional runner, and even kids can join a 5K too.
Some races may have an admission fee, while others take a donation based on an amount you feel comfortable with. One way to join a 5K for free is to see if your employer will sponsor your entry fee. You can even wear a T-shirt with the company’s name on it to promote them during the race.
32. Visit a Pumpkin Patch With Corn Mazes and Free Hay Rides
Kids and adults alike love trying to find the biggest pumpkin in the patch. Pumpkin patches are free to enter and walk around in. Be sure to soak in all the sights, smells, and colors. Many farmers also offer free tractor-pulled hayrides and corn mazes this time of year.
Remember to grab some cornstalks and corn while you’re there for fall decorating projects. Search for local pumpkin patches near you and see which freebies they offer.
33. Start a Sunday Football Tradition
Football Sunday is already a tradition in most households. If you haven’t already, start learning more about the game, make some snacks, and encourage everyone to root for their favorite team on game Sundays. You can even invite friends over and make it a potluck.
34. Go Tailgating With Friends
If you really enjoy watching football games or have a favorite college team, go tailgating at least once this fall season with friends to experience the action live and in person. You can all bring a food or snack item to contribute along with some lawn chairs and games to play before the game starts.
35. Play Corn Hole
Cornhole (or sometimes called “Bags” depending on where you live) is a fun outdoor game that doesn’t require any practice. All you need is a Cornhole set and a few bean bags to play. You can even create your own rules and divide into teams to beef up the competition. Bookmark our game deals page to save on your next purchase.
36. Design a No-Cut “Mod Podge” Pumpkin With the Kids
Don’t let your kids sit on the sidelines while you carve pumpkins for them. Give them their own pumpkins to decorate with different colored leaves and some Mod Podge (sparkly version, please).
Let your kids dip their leaves in a small saucer full of glue and then smooth them out on the pumpkin’s surface. Add some festive foam stickers for flair. Then let them draw faces on their pumpkins with puffy paint bottles or paint markers.
37. Unplug and Go Camping
Depending on the fall day, the weather can be just right for camping. If you already have supplies, like a tent, sleeping bags, and a camping stove, you can find a free campground and enjoy a night away. Realize that you don’t have to go far to camp, even if it’s just to your backyard. Getting outdoors, slowing down, and enjoying nature will always be worth it.
38. Visit a Frisbee Park for Free Fall Activities
Frisbee disc golf is a sport where players try to toss a disc into a basket or hit a target. The rules of the game are actually similar to golf and parks, and there are usually nine holes or more. Frisbee parks are located all over, and anyone can walk up and start playing.
Games typically last about 1.5 hours, so this could be a relaxing activity for a fall Saturday. Find your nearest park by doing a quick Google search or using the Park Finder website through the National Park Service.
39. Family Fall Photoshoot
Take advantage of the natural fall scenery and have a family photoshoot outside. Coordinate outfit colors with your family and grab a few props if you want. Then drive around to find the best spot with a great background view.
Or if you’ve set out some stellar fall decorations, simply take pictures right outside your house. Use your phone’s camera timer to create quality pictures that capture the moment.
40. Have a Pumpkin Carving Competition
This is a fun activity for a group or friend or if you have older kids. Grab a few pumpkins and have fun carving. Then, look up videos on YouTube for tips and tricks. And don’t forget to roast the pumpkin seeds after cleaning out your pumpkin.
Here are some ways to keep your carved pumpkin looking good.
41. Make Your Own Halloween Costume
Some Halloween costumes can be expensive. So why not make your own this year? If you’re up for the challenge, get creative and use what you already have at home to make a fun costume. Follow our DIY Halloween costumes from Dollar Tree guide for tips under $10.
42. Watch an Animated Halloween-themed Movie
Have a spooky Halloween movie night at home. There are tons of animated family-friendly movies to consider, like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Monster House, and Coraline, just to name a few.
43. Go Trick-or-Treating
Trick-or-treating always presents itself for a fun night out, especially if you have kids. It’s nice to see all the different creative costumes and receive free treats. What’s better than going around to your neighbors houses and asking for candy? Find a trick-or-treat event near you.
44. Host or Attend a Local Trunk-or-Treat
Another way to make good use of your Halloween costumes is to attend a free trunk-or-treat event. Many churches and organizations host trunk-or-treats in a parking lot where each member opens their trunk and provides either some candy, a fun activity or game to play, or both.
45. Window Shop at an Antique Fair
Slow fall mornings call for coffee and antique shopping. Visit a local antique fair and browse through the items to get inspiration and new decoration ideas. Or buy something cheap to feed your inner shopaholic.
46. Host a Fall Soup Potluck
Do you have a favorite fall soup? Gather the ingredients in your home to make something tasty to share with your friends. Invite others over to share their favorite soup as well, whether it’s chili, broccoli and cheddar, or tomato and parmesan soup. Soup not your thing? We have some one pot recipes that are just as delicious.
47. Savor Fall Flavors by Making Edible Play Dough
Edible playdough is fun to make with kids, and if they feel tempted to eat some, they can. Plus, if you have all of the ingredients, it will only cost you time. This pumpkin edible play dough recipe only has a few ingredients, and it’s a great sensory activity for your little ones.
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 cups cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional, for sweetness)
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves)
- Food coloring (optional, for a vibrant orange color)
- Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch and pumpkin pie spice. If you want to add a vibrant orange color to your playdough, add a few drops of food coloring at this stage.
- Add Wet Ingredients: Gradually add the canned pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and honey or maple syrup (if using) to the dry ingredients. Start mixing with a spoon, and then knead the mixture with your hands.
- Knead and Adjust: Continue to knead the playdough mixture until it reaches a smooth, pliable consistency. If it’s too sticky, you can add a little more cornstarch. If it’s too dry, add a touch more pumpkin puree.
Store any unused portions of the playdough in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should last for several days.
48. Square Dance in Your Backyard
Swing your partner into fall with a square dancing party in your backyard. September is actually National Square Dancing Month, and it’s an easy group dance or dance routine. Or you can try line dancing if you have a smaller group. Check out YouTube for easy square dancing and line dancing routines. Then hook up your Bluetooth speaker and get moving.
49. Cozy Up and Read a Book
Nothing beats a warm cup of coffee or tea, a comfy throw blanket, and a good book. Grab a book from your collection to start this fall or rent one from the library. You can even have quiet reading time at your home for 30 minutes or so a few nights per week.
50. Host a Board Game Night
Playing board games or card games during the week will build memories and help you bond with your loved ones this season. Take turns picking out a board game to play, and bake cookies or make popcorn to snack on during the game.
51. Creative Fall Activities: Use Up Old Paints by Having an Abstract Art Night
Have old paint and brushes lying around? Use them up by doing an abstract art project. Abstract art paintings use shapes, colors, and textures to represent different things that may or may not be reality. In other words, you can paint whatever and however you want — and it’ll still turn out to be a nice piece of art. Painting this way can help relieve stress and may even become a new hobby to enjoy.
52. Play Flag Football
When I was growing up, fall activities were all about getting out to play. Gather some friends and play a flag football tournament on the weekends. The nice thing about flag football is that there’s no tackling, and it’s a great workout.
53. Make a Scarecrow
If you’re looking for fall activities that the whole family can join in on, try making a scarecrow. Just as making a snowman is a popular winter tradition, this could be a fall tradition your family shares. Kids will have fun picking out clothes for the scarecrow. An adult will need to make the structure, and for this, you’ll need a few poles and lots of straw.
54. Whip Up Some Delicious Caramel Apples
Caramel apples are a simple treat that signifies the fall season. Get rid of any extra apples you have in your fruit bowl with this simple recipe for homemade caramel sauce. Add chopped nuts, sprinkles, or any other embellishments that you happen to have around the house.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (at room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt (optional, to enhance the flavor)
- Measure out all the ingredients and have them ready as caramel can come together quickly.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add the granulated sugar. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula. The sugar will start to melt and turn amber in color. Be patient; this process may take 5-10 minutes.
- Once the sugar has melted completely and turned amber, add the pieces of unsalted butter one at a time, stirring continuously. Be cautious as the mixture may bubble up when the butter is added. Continue stirring until the butter is fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream while stirring vigorously. Again, be cautious as the mixture may bubble up. Stir until the cream is fully combined.
- Stir in the pure vanilla extract and a pinch of salt if desired. The salt enhances the flavor of the caramel but is optional.
Let the caramel sauce cool for a few minutes in the saucepan. Then, transfer it to a heatproof jar or container. Allow it to cool to room temperature before sealing with a lid. As it cools, it will thicken.
Store any leftover caramel sauce in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop before using if it becomes too thick in the fridge.
55. Complete a Puzzle
Puzzles help you relax, clear your mind, and focus all at the same time. Plus, when it’s cold outside, fall activities like these can keep the kiddos busy. Set out to complete a puzzle over the next few weeks, and work on it whenever you and your family have spare time.
56. Take a Scenic Drive
Take advantage of the fall foliage with a scenic drive. Look up scenic roads and areas with parks and forestry and play “I Spy” during the drive.
57. Make a ‘Thankful Tree’
When preparing for Thanksgiving, make a thankful tree to serve as the table centerpiece, and encourage everyone to contribute to it. Use construction paper to cut out different shapes that resemble leaves.
Then have each person write something they’re thankful for on each one. Tape or clip it to a small branch and add the branches to a vase with a few small fall flowers to resemble a tree.
58. Watch a Thanksgiving Parade
Whether it’s online or in your local town, consider watching a Thanksgiving parade this year for fun. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is featured live on television each year.
59. Make Homemade Thanksgiving Cards
Share your gratitude with loved ones by making homemade Thanksgiving cards this year. You can send them to relatives, friends, coworkers, teachers, or anyone who has made a positive impact. This is a great activity for kids to get creative and share what and who they’re thankful for.
60. Design a Scrapbook Featuring All Your Favorite Fall Memories
Don’t let the fall season fly by too fast. Design a scrapbook or picture album featuring all your favorite fall memories and outings so you can look back on those memories. If you have an instant camera or polaroid, like an Instax camera, you can print pictures out in real time without any added cost.