15 fun (and mostly free!) ideas for fall activities to do with your kids 🍂

With Labor Day over, cool weather moving in and the first day of fall right around the corner, I can't help but crave all of those wonderful things that make this season so enjoyable: sweaters, fires, food, mums... the list goes on and on.

That being said, I always try to to soak up the simplicity the seasons brings and hope that my boys will someday appreciate the little things too.

Here are some fun and nearly free activities to do this fall with your little ones:

1. Bob for apples

Grab a bowl, an empty cooler or even a tub, throw a few apples in there and see who can get one the fastest. You can also tie the apples on a string, hang them up and bob get after them for some family laughs.

2. Jump in leaf piles

Rake as many leaves in your yard as you can and create fun piles to jump in—before bagging later. This is a great way to get the kiddos involved in cleanup and have a little fun! (Plus, for us task-oriented parents, it's a nice middle ground.)

3. Make popcorn balls

These are not only delicious, but so fun to make and pack to school in the lunchbox! Here's one of my favorite recipes.

4. Get lost in a corn maze

Last year we managed to get lost in a corn maze. In the moment, I never thought I would say it was fun—but now I totally do. We pulled together as a family and found our way out. We still laugh about it to this day!

5. Make leaf crowns

Jumping in leaf piles is great, but save a few of those to make a beautiful leaf crown. All you need is some craft wire to string your leaves on, mold it into a circle and wear!

6. Eat your way through an apple orchard

Picking apples is fun, but snacking on them as you do so is even better! There's nothing quite like picking an apple, fresh off the tree and taking a bite.

7. Bake up a bunch of apple recipes

When we got back from the apple orchard, I let my little guy use my old-fashioned apple peeler. It's fun to watch him turn it around and around—and it helps me out tremendously as I get to work on apple pies, applesauce and apple butter!

9. Roast pumpkin seeds 

Instead of dumping the seeds from your jack-o-lantern project, turn them into yummy treats. I like playing around with several different flavor options, such as sweet, spicy and savory.

10.  Make leaf people

Find a few of your favorite leaves and turn them into people for a fun, super cheap craft. Then branch out and make a whole leaf zoo!

11.  Make a sensory bag with pumpkin guts

If you've got a baby in the house, hold onto those leftover pumpkin insides, place them in a safe ziplock bag, tape it to the floor and let your little one squish around with it!

12.  Roast dinner over an open fire

Throw some hotdogs on the fire and enjoy and family dinner together. Easy, fun and tasty! (Just be sure to team up with your partner so someone can always keep an eye on little ones by the flames.)

13.  Draw pictures of the changing scenery

Encourage kids to think about the animals that come out this time of the year and doodle those into their nature journals.

14.  Have a face-painting party

This is a great warmup for Halloween—especially since there is no shortage of face-painting supplies at local party stores this time of year.

15.  Make bird feeders

Gather pinecones, slather some peanut butter on them and roll them into birdseed. Then hang from a tall branch and keep track of all the birds who come to visit!

There is so much beauty in the fall season—and it's all so much sweeter when spent with family. Enjoy!

Why right now is the best time for a drivable getaway

Flexible schedules mean more vacation options. 🙌

Looking back now, last winter feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, my husband and I were eagerly planning our summer vacation just as we've done in years past. You know how the next part goes: COVID-19 came into the picture and changed our plans not only for vacationing, but for so much else in life.

In the time since then, we've gained a truly valuable new perspective on what matters—and realized we don't have to look so far to make beautiful memories with our kids. By exploring getaways within driving distance of our home, we've developed a new appreciation for the ability to "pack up the car and go."

Of course, that isn't to say that travel is the carefree adventure it once was. With COVID-19 still a very big part of the equation, we've become much more diligent about planning trips that allow for social distancing and exceed cleanliness standards. That's why we've exclusively turned to Vrbo, which helps us find nearby accommodations that meet our new criteria. Better yet?

Thanks to the money we've saved by skipping air travel and our remote-friendly work schedules, we're able to continue with the trips throughout the fall.

Here are a few more reasons we believe it's a great time for drivable getaways.

Flexible schedules allow us to mix work + play.

After months of lockdown, my family was definitely itching for a change of scenery as the summer began. By looking at drivable destinations with a fresh set of eyes—and some helpful accommodation-finding filters on Vrbo—we were able to find private houses that meet our needs. (Like comfortably fitting our family of five without anyone having to sleep on a pull-out couch!)

With space to spread out and feel like a home away from home, we quickly realized that we didn't need to limit our getaways to the weekends—instead we could take a "Flexcation," a trip that allows us to mix work and play. Thanks to the ability to work remotely and our kids' distance-learning schedule for the fall, we're planning a mid-week trip next month that will allow us to explore a new destination after clocking out for the day.

We’re embracing off-season deals.

With Labor Day no longer marking the end of our vacationing season, we're able to take advantage of nearby getaways that mark down their rates during the off season. For us in the Mountain West, that means visiting ski-town destinations when the leaves are falling rather than the snow. By saving money on that front, we're able to splurge a bit with our accommodations—so you can bet I search for houses that include a private hot tub for soaking in while enjoying the mountain views!

Vacationing is a way to give back.

If we've learned one thing this year, it's that life can change pretty quickly. That's given us a new appreciation for generous cancellation policies and transparent cleaning guidelines when booking trips. By seeing both of these things front and center in Vrbo listings along with reviews from fellow travelers, I feel confident when I hit the "book now" button.

Beyond that, I know that booking a trip through Vrbo isn't only a gift to my family. On the other side of the transaction, there are vacation home owners and property managers who appreciate the income during these uncertain times. What's more, taking getaways allows us to support our local economy—even if it's just by ordering new takeout food to enjoy from our home away from home.

While "looking ahead" doesn't feel as easy as it once did, I am confident that there will be a lot of drivable getaways in our future.

This article was sponsored by Vrbo. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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