The last two years we’ve spent our fall season roaming around New England searching out the best apple orchards in Vermont, strolling the streets of Boston, hiking through Acadia, drinking pumpkin flavored lattes in Portland, Maine, and just about any other cliche fall activity you can think of.
While I love the scents, colors, and flavors that come with Autumn, there’s always a large part of me that’s sad to see summer go. The long days filled with beaches, mountain tops, and swimming holes are my favorite, but varying seasons only makes the return of summer that much more special.
Maybe it’s just us, but our favorite things about fall are the sentimental feelings that come with change as well as the smells and tastes that instantly transport you back home. To help you make the most of your 2023 fall season, we’ve put together a list of all of our favorite fall activities as well as specific recipes, movies, and books to help you get started.
Catch a foggy fall sunrise
No matter where you are, there’s just something different about the way a fall sunrise hits. The light seems thinner but brighter, and there always seems to be the perfect amount of fog across the fall colored leaves. Grab a cozy blanket and a thermos full of coffee and head out in search of the perfect place to watch the start of another new day.
Fall is the perfect season for camping and the perfect fall bucket list item! Those cold nights are made for campfires and snuggling in a cozy sleeping bag. If you’re a first time camper, don’t let the stress of the unknown keep you from getting out there and giving it a try! No matter if you’re a seasoned camper or it’s your first time out there, we recommend using The Dyrt to find new places to explore both near and far from home.
Rent a cabin in the woods
If camping isn’t your thing (or you want an easier getaway), consider renting a cabin in the woods when planning your fall bucket list. You wouldn’t believe all the cool cabins on Airbnb! We’ve been sticking close to home since the pandemic began and we could really use an overnight getaway. We’re thinking of heading up to Asheville in the not so distant future to get some R&R in a cozy cabin in the mountains.
Visit a pumpkin patch
This might be a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Contrary to what you might be thinking, visiting a pumpkin patch is more than getting a picture for your Instagram. If you’ve never been, I’d recommend going with friends or family to pick out a pumpkin to bring home and make your home a little more festive this fall season.
Pumpkin patch options might be different where you live, but the ones we’ve visited usually have fun farm-like activities like corn mazes, petting zoos, and more. Do a little Google researching to see what the options are in your area.
Carve a pumpkin
I know I mentioned this above, but it sort of deserves its own little spot here on the fall bucket list because even if you don’t want to visit a pumpkin patch (and likely way overpay) for a pumpkin, you can still grab one at your local grocery store. Grab a couple of pumpkins and a pumpkin carving kit and enjoy a bit of time outside with your family or friends enjoying this classic fall activity. We recommend combining this activity with apple cider + either a fall movie (keep reading for suggestions) or a good fall playlist.
Attend (or host) a bonfire
The days are shorter and the nights are cooler making it the perfect time to invite a few friends over for a bonfire. If you don’t have a place to host a bonfire at your house, consider booking a group camping site and hosting a bonfire there. Don’t forget the s’mores ingredients!
Go for a hike
One of the best ways to take in the fall colors is hiking the woods. This doesn’t mean you have to go for a 20 mile hike in the backcountry either! If hiking isn’t your thing or you’re newer to the sport, know that you can stretch your legs close to home and give hiking a try no matter where your skill level or physical abilities. To find a good hike in your area we’d recommend checking out The Outbound and Alltrails.
Make pumpkin bread
Is it really a fall bucket list if there’s not at least 3 pumpkin related items on it? Pumpkin bread is a must for us this time of year! My mom has been making this pumpkin bread recipe since I was a kid and it’s the same one I like to break out every fall, too. Little known fact about Chris: he doesn’t like pumpkin flavored food or drinks. Pretty much every time I make a pumpkin recipe I end up eating off it for weeks because he doesn’t want any part of it.
While plain old pumpkin bread is delicious all on its own, I like to mix it up and throw in chocolate chips and/or walnuts to the loaf. If you’re more of a raisin kind of person (to each his own) those would probably work pretty well here, too!
Find your way through a corn maze
While corn mazes may have been designed with kids in mind, I don’t think that it’s just me that enjoys them at the ripe old age of 28. If you’re looking for something different to do with your friends this fall, consider hitting up a corn maze. Bonus: many corn mazes include hayrides and corn mazes are social distancing friendly.
Embrace the fall drinks (pumpkin beer to pumpkin lattes)
Nothing screams “basic” quite like a PSL (pumpkin spice latte). Judge me all you want, but I love all the flavors that come with fall: pumpkin beer to s’mores latte (it’s a thing) to hot apple cider. These comforting flavors are only available for a few short weeks so get them while you can! If you need me I’ll be at my neighborhood coffee shot sipping all the different fall flavored goodies.
Watch a fall movie
I know fall is the time of year when most people watch scary movies and/or Halloween themed movies. I’m going to be honest here and say that Halloween isn’t really my jam. There are plenty of movies out there that are perfect for Halloween scares, but I’m going to give you a few recommendations that aren’t of the Halloween or horror genre.
During fall we frequently find ourselves driving down scenic by-ways in search of fall colors while our favorite fall playlist echos through the car. While there are a few routes that seem to be paved specifically for taking in the fall colors (I’m talking about you Blue Ridge Parkway), when the leaves are in peak you really can’t go wrong with any road. Hop in the car and just drive until you get lost.
Ride your bike
Now that the weather is cool enough to get outside and ride a bike without breaking a sweat, pump up your tires and hit a bike trail. Depending on where you live you may have a lot of options or be pretty limited. For us this looks like hopping over to a park in town run by the National Park Service with quiet roads, or hopping over to the local greenway along the river. No matter where you ride, don’t forget to wear a helmet!
Read a good book
There’s nothing more relaxing with a good book on a comfy couch or on a porch swing bundled up in a blanket on a fall day. Everyone has their own taste in books, but for me I love breaking out my favorite childhood book, Anne of Green Gables while I curl up on the couch next to my favorite fall candle.
Go apple picking
Like visiting a pumpkin patch for a pumpkin, when you visit an apple orchard you’ll likely overpay for the same thing you can pick up at your local grocery store. But it’s not the apples you’re paying for, it’s the experience (and you’re supporting local farmers!). One of our favorite memories in New England was visiting an apple orchard where we picked our own apples, ate apple cider donuts, and drank hot apple cider while sitting on a hillside overlooking Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. We then used our freshly picked apples to bake a pie in our little van oven and it was so good!
This year the baking process will be a whole lot easier since we have a normal size oven, but the experience will be just as fun picking the apples and enjoying the sweet treats. Visiting an apple orchard makes our fall bucket list year after year!
Find the perfect chili recipe
It’s hard to beat a good pot of chili on a cold fall day. Whether you’re eating chili while watching a football game (do dawgs!) or enjoying it over a campfire with friends, chili is 1) hearty and 2) safe for just about every dietary restriction.
While most traditional chili recipes include meat, you can easily make it vegan by subtracting the meat for extra beans or quinoa. I’ve tried a lot of chili recipes but this one is the one I keep returning to again and again.
Bonus: Chili freezes really well so make a double batch and enjoy the extras later on when you don’t have time to cook.
Pack a picnic
If you’re like us and you’re still social distancing, a picnic is a great option to safely hangout with friends. While we recommend packing your own meal, picking up a meal to go from a local restaurant is an easier option (and a great way to support local businesses). Keep it simple by bringing just a blanket to your local park to hangout for the day. Maybe bring a book and/or a hammock too if you plan to stay for a while.
Take advantage of the shorter days
The days are getting shorter which for me means I’m working extra hard to prioritize my time so that I’m not spending the only light hours of the day indoors on my computer. Instead I’m allowing myself the space to get up and enjoy sunrises and sunsets outside and prioritizing exercise to keep mentally healthy. While losing hours of daylight can be difficult, there are some perks to the extra hours of dark including extra time for catching up on sleep. Now more than ever I’m setting an alarm not just to wake up in the morning, but also to go to bed at night so that I’m getting a full 8-9 hours of sleep (yes, I need lots of sleep).
Final fall bucket list thoughts…
Winter is coming quickly so enjoy these days of mild weather and brightly colored trees. I don’t know about you, but 2020 has been loud and fast and I’m incredibly thankful for a season that seems to favor memory making and being present.
Do you have a favorite fall activity? Let me know if the comments down below!
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We're Chris and Sara
A creative husband and wife duo from a small-town in Tennessee with passion for all things travel. Checkout the links below to join us on our past, present, and future adventures!