Fall is officially here, and while this fleetingly golden season graces our presence for a few short months, I want to make the most of it. So far on my autumn bucket list, I’ve already picked apples, walked through a pumpkin patch, watched a sunset over a harvest field, and even gone on a rabbit hunt with Dave. We didn’t get anything on the hunt, but he’s pretty dedicated this year so it won’t be long before he brings home some small game.
I’m in a list kind of mood, so here are 35 free (or almost free) things to do in the fall:
Take a long walk in the woods
Especially in the early morning or late afternoon. Don’t have woods nearby? Find a park with trees, or an arboretum. Don’t miss those trees and colors when they reach their peak!
Make hot cocoa or cider and sit outside
…with a blanket and a good book, or a friend you love.
Carve a pumpkin
If I’m not blessed with a free pumpkin in the fall, I wait until the grocery store pumpkins go on sale, usually mid-late October, and buy them CHEAP. Even cheaper if you wait until early November.
Spend an afternoon in the country.
It helps if you know someone with land somewhere—ask if you can come explore it!
Do fall cleaning and get rid of clutter
What better way to cozy down for the winter than to prepare your living space to be a place of comfort? For me, clutter = stress. So cleaning and purging unwanted “stuff” is cathartic, and often leads to a little extra cash via selling the stuff on craigslist, consignment shops, etc.
Have a garage sale
Better yet, have a huge sale and really purge your stuff! Whatever doesn’t sell by the end of the sale, donate to a thrift store.
Go to local high school football games
This is a fun—usually cheap but not free—way to get out into your community, enjoy the weather, and see a game. Invite your friends, it’s way more fun than hitting the mall.
This CAN be a free activity! Ask around, you probably know someone with a tree overloaded with fruit they can’t eat all by themselves, and they would gladly let you come take some off their hands.
…apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan, apple cranberry, mincemeat, quiche, pot pie, you name it.
Have a fire and make s'mores
Fires are the best. You can sit around a fire with good people around you and talk and laugh for hours. And eat s’mores, of course.
Gather pine cones for Christmas decor
I love fresh pine cones every year for simple Christmas decorating. Fall is the time to grab them from under those trees!
Gather leaves to hang in a window or make leaf-rubbing art
The child in me still loves to collect big, vibrant leaves when I’m on a walk and save them for as long as they retain their color. Often they dry quickly and turn brown, but I am determined to find a way to preserve them for a slightly longer time.
Hunt and forage
There is plenty of good eating for free, provided by the almighty. If you're not a hunter yet, ask someone who is to take you along and you may find that you like it. And fall is one of the best times to forage--just be sure you use an edible plant guide and be cautious as you begin this hobby.
Take a bike ride
Choose a warm fall day and bike a trail, if you have one nearby. You feel so good after a long bike ride.
Borrow a kayak and enjoy a lake before the freeze
Just don’t fall into the chilly water.
Seriously, there are some incredible soup recipes out there on the web. This is a big one on my list this year; I’m going to make a different soup every week, and freeze leftovers for later in the winter—if there are any leftovers!
Have a fall picnic
Cozier than a summer picnic, with fewer bugs! Pack hot pot pies or soup in a thermos!
Process all those apples!
If you did find a free source of apples, you probably have a lot. Make apple sauce, mincemeat, or apple butter to be canned, or apple crisp or pie to freeze for a quick dessert to throw in the oven later.
It has it's own special quality this time of year.
Take a brisk walk on the first morning with frost or fog!
Maybe this is a repeat on the list, but seriously, early morning + frost + fog = stunningly beautiful.
Jump in fall rain puddles
I hope you have some waterproof boots, but if not, do it anyway.
My favorite way to cook anything is roasting, and when the weather gets cool again, I go all out and roast absolutely everything. Try any mix of root veggies roasted in olive oil/coconut oil, salt, and pepper, with herbs of your choice.
Roast a turkey, even if it’s not thanksgiving
. . . especially if like us, you've had one in the freezer for several months. One turkey feeds two people for a week or more!
Sort your clothes, getting rid of anything not worn since before last fall, and storing summer clothes away for next year.
Even if you’re not donating or selling unwanted clothes, it’s still such a nice refresher to sort out seasonal clothes and remind yourself of the items you’re excited to wear again this fall and winter.
As cheesy as it may seem, autumn is a time of inspiration for many. Maybe it's not poetry, it's short stories, or a novel. Just write.
Bake to warm up your kitchen!
It doesn’t really matter what’s in your oven, just so that it’s baking and your abode is becoming the warmest, best smelling place on earth. I’d recommend apple crisp.
Cook cinnamon sticks, vanilla, and citrus on your stove top to make your house smell incredible.
A pot of water simmering on the stovetop with any number of delicious-smelling, aromatic foods/spices, can literally lift your mood. Scent is a powerful thing.
Turn off your ac and open up those windows!
Fall air smells incredible.
All this slowing down to enjoy the fall may help you also to reflect on what's important.
Go to fall farmers markets for the last of the year's harvest
. . .like winter squash and yams!
Eat cranberries, dry cranberries, bake with cranberries, decorate with cranberries. . . just don’t go fake with cranberries! Ever!
Visit national parks
Try to go with friends who have a year pass on their vehicle.
Maybe at a national park! They’re usually very inexpensive. Or really go free and find public land on which you could pitch a tent! Just be sure you know the laws for the area.
Hayrides at fall festivals
Usually churches will throw a free fall event, and even if you don’t have a church, you will be welcome at most church’s fall festivals. Check your local paper or community bulletin board for info. Our church does their fall fest at a farmer’s place just out of town, with real hayrides and everything. Awesome.
See a sunrise and sunset at the peak of the season
Because you could always use another reason to see the sun rise and set.
I'm sure I didn' get everything to do for free in the fall. But that's what's so great about my favorite season-- it's full of potential.