Crisp air, stunning foliage, leaves crunching underfoot — nothing compares to the beauty and splendor of fall. But as we head into flu season and the third coronavirus wave, you might be wondering what fall activities are considered safe during COVID-19. While many beloved outings like harvest festivals and sporting events remain out of reach, there are still some pandemic-proof options for fall family fun. Here are some of our favorite lower risk autumnal activities. As always, please remember to wear a face covering, practice safe distancing, and wash hands often to minimize your family’s risk.
Visit an apple orchard
Apple picking is one of those quintessential fall activities that tops our bucket list every year. Peak picking season lasts through mid-November in many parts of the country. If you miss the window for u-pick apples, many orchards still offer cider pressing and fresh apple treats (hello, apple cider doughnuts and apple pie!) at their private farm stands. Check in with your local orchard to see if they’re taking appropriate COVID-19 precautions before planning your visit. If they’re limiting participation and requiring reservations, that’s your best bet. And if you do make it in time for the current harvest, be sure to wash your hands before and after picking your apples.
Go on a hayride (but there’s a catch)
Currently, the CDC considers hayrides a higher risk activity, despite taking place outdoors. This is due to the obvious lack of social distancing, plus the potential of mixing multiple households. If you visit a pumpkin patch or farm, you can still safely go on a hayride – as long as you limit it to immediate family members or people in your pandemic pod. You can take steps to make outdoor activities like farm visits safer by adhering to guidelines like wearing masks, keeping your distance, and staying exclusively with your pack.
Take foliage walks
Nature is both an artist and muse – and its explosion of gorgeous fall colors is proof. Breathing in crisp fall air on a family hike or nature walk is a safe and refreshing way to appreciate fall. Take it a step further and turn it into a scavenger hunt! Bundle up and get the kids outside for a special foliage walk. For little ones, collecting colorful leaves is a fun and exciting fall activity. Give each child his own plastic or reusable bag, then see how many different leaf shapes and colors they can find. If you’re feeling extra creative, you can even try your hand at making fall foliage art. Check out @facethefoliage on Instagram for major inspiration – you won’t believe how beautiful the flower and leaf portraits are!
Make broccoli stamped tree art
Do you have some slimy broccoli in the fridge? Don’t throw it out – turn it into a tool for cruciferous art! We love this idea from Glued to My Crafts. All you need is construction paper, fall color paints (think brown, black, yellow, orange and red), and pieces of raw broccoli (cauliflower could also work). First, draw a tree with branches on your construction paper. If you’re not artistic, feel free to search for tree printables without leaves to print one out. Next, squirt the paint onto a paper plate. Using the broccoli head like a craft sponge, gently swirl the paint and stamp over the branches. Keep going until your fall tree looks complete!
Bake fall treats with the kids
Certain warm flavors and aromas are synonymous with fall. Baking seasonal treats is always at the top of our list! Whether it’s pumpkin bread, apple crisp, sweet potato pie or carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, there are kid-friendly fall baked goods for every palate. You can always throw in some chocolate chips to entice your picky eater (pumpkin + chocolate is always a winner!). Who doesn’t love a sweet fall treat?
Go to a drive in
Bundle up and head out for a screening under the stars, because drive-in movies are back! Chances are, you’ve noticed the drive-in movie trend in your town. In 2020, lots of malls, zoos, and vacant parking lots started pulling double duty as drive in movie theater locations. There’s nothing more fun than finding a family friendly flick, getting your favorite takeout or treats, and settling in for a cozy night out – in the car. Bonus points for the chance to wear pajamas and snuggle up under blankets for movie night with the kids.
Despite a uniquely challenging year, all is not lost. With some creativity, you can still preserve the traditions of fall — and maybe start a few new ones of your own. Family time is the best time after all.