Now is the time for all things pumpkin, apple, and cinnamon, so enjoy!
The first fall morning when I open my door and am greeted with a rush of crisp, cool air is pure bliss. The leaves are beginning to change color, the chill in the air refreshing, perfect for enjoying a nice hot pumpkin spice latte. I can't help but shout with utter joy, "It's fall, y'all!"
I am in the south, so we will unfairly experience a few flirtations with fall before our season ( and weather) finally make the change. But that doesn't stop us from embracing all things fall. We celebrate labor day by putting away our white wardrobe and bringing out the warm browns, chunky sweaters, booties, and scarves. We might be sweating, but we sure do look cute in our oversized poncho, lined leggings, and matching hat and glove set.
As much as I love the cooler temperatures, fall is more than just the ability to sit on your porch without having to go back in and take a shower. I love the food, decorations, activities, and my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.
Are you a lover of all things fall? Are you anxiously waiting to flip the calendar and jump into fall like you would a big pile of leaves (another great thing about the season)? Then try out these ten outdoor fall ideas:
1. Venture to the Apple Orchards
I thought the Carolinas had the market cornered for apple picking, but it turns out almost every state has the opportunity to sink your teeth in a crisp apple. The varieties differ depending on your location, but the benefits of a farm-fresh apple are universal. Look for places that offer "you-pick," but be sure to check the weather report before heading out the door. Apples are a fall fruit, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the weather received the memo to drop a few degrees.
Many orchards offer a variety of family-friendly activities, from hay rides, to playgrounds, and petting zoos. But, the best part is the variety of sensational apple goodies. Grab an apple turnover or donut and a big cup of apple cider or freshly squeezed apple juice. Pack a lunch and make a day of relaxing and spending time with friends and family, enjoying the view of the orchards.
2. Take a Hike
No, I am not talking about what you tell your kids to do when you are trying to cook dinner. Hitting the trails is a family-friendly event; most of the time, it's completely free! Check out the national forest service and discover all the best hiking trails in the area. Consult the guide to ensure the terrain is appropriate for your group members. Go for a few hours, or spend the day exploring the great outdoors.
3. Visit a National Monument
Fall is the perfect time to visit some of our nation's monuments and parks with the cooler temperatures. Many of these national treasures are in our backyards or a few hours away. Depending on the location, visits are free or just a small fee. Grab a park passport and see how many places you can check off your bucket list. Many parks offer discounts for children or senior citizens, so don't forget to bring some identification. Kids can sign up as junior rangers and receive special coupons and information throughout the year.
4. Randomly Rake a Neighbor's Yard
Random acts of kindness are always in season, but this one is especially good for fall. Ask your kids to think of some people who could use help with their fall yard work. Please encourage them to remember shut-ins, widows, and people who have physical limitations. For September, October, and November, plan to rake one person's yard– bonus points for other fall maintenance such as cleaning the gutters and trimming the bushes. Remember, it doesn't have to be all work; let the kids jump into the leaves a few times or have a leaf fight!
5. Transform Your Porch
Have an old shirt and pair of jeans? Great! Make a scarecrow to greet guests this fall. Grab an old button-down plaid shirt and pair of jeans, stuff them with hay, molding them into a person's shape. Make a creepy head by sitting a pumpkin on top, and personalize it with a hat, sunglasses, or scarf. A few days before Halloween, carve out a face and plop a candle inside for a spooky scarecrow.
Mums are the flower of fall and come in multiple colors. Look for mums in different sizes and colors, but be sure to grab the ones that are just starting to bloom. Mums like well-watered soil and lots of sunshine; taken care of, they can provide blooms for up to eight weeks! After the first frost, bring the mums to the garage and plant again next year!
Look through the grocery stores ads starting around mid-September for deals on heirloom pumpkins. The different shapes, sizes, and colors scream, "it's fall, y'all!" and add a special fall touch to any porch.
6. Plant a Fall Garden
For many areas, it's not too late to plant vegetables and flowers in early fall that will produce in just a few weeks. Lettuce, brussel sprouts, radishes, broccoli, and carrots are perfect for fall planting. Make sure you take extra measures to keep deer and other animals out of your garden.
7. Have a Bonfire
Hosting a bonfire is a great way to eliminate leaves and clippings. Be sure to check the weather and consult your local fire department to ensure you take the necessary precautions. Invite your friends and family over for a hot dog roast. A straightened metal clothes hanger is a great roaster, but you can also purchase steel roasting sticks from your local hardware store. Don't forget to grab the ingredients for s'mores: marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars. Don't love s'mores? Heat some hot chocolate or apple cider for a tasty treat by the fire. Get to know each other better by playing "two truths and a lie." Each person tells two true things about themselves and one untrue thing. Guests take turns trying to figure out the lie.
8. Dinner Under the Stars
With shorter nights but temperatures still comfortable for eating outside, grab a blanket and take your dinner outdoors. Enjoy discovering planets or stars, taking in your meal by moonlight. Need a post-meal workout? Play a round or two of flashlight tag.
9. Take in the Fall Foilage
There aren't many landscapes that can compete with the changing colors of fall. The good news is that you can see these beautiful transformations right from your front porch. Have the opportunity to go to the mountains? Even better! Enjoy watching the greens fade into orange, yellow, and red right before your eyes!
10. Enjoy a Slow Saturday Morning
Take your coffee or hot tea and spend the morning outside. Enjoy the cooler temperatures and (hopefully) fresh, crisp air. Now is the time for all things pumpkin, apple, and cinnamon, so enjoy! Invite a friend over to catch up on the week, and take time to read your Bible and be with the Lord. Rest and relax as you prepare for upcoming fall festivals and family functions. Resist the urge to tackle your to-do list and linger on the porch enjoying the benefits of autumn.
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