During the spring and summer, getting outside feels easy breezy: there’s always something going on en plein air. Once September rolls around, we find ourselves slowly shifting to indoor activities, which is a shame considering how invigorating and refreshing the months are between the summer heat waves and the winter freeze. We’ve picked out 15 ways to get in some quality time in the great outdoors, some of which can be done simply by exploring where you live with new eyes or by revisiting some of your favorite seasonal activities as a kid. From going geocaching to getting lost in a corn maze, you’ll soak up the freshness of fall and find a renewed love of nature while in a spectacular and colorful seasonal evolution.
pick fall fruits and pumpkins.
We recommend putting this activity on repeat. Whether you visit the same orchard or farm or scope out different spots every weekend, taking multiple visits ensures that you will get to pick your own apples, peaches, pumpkins, and other ripe seasonal goodies. Making more than one trip also lets you take advantage of numerous specific varieties of each fruit since they may ripen a few weeks apart.
Fall is our favorite time of the year to go on a hike. Leaves crunching beneath our feet, the perfect in-between temperature, the hint of smoke in the air from a nearby campfire; it’s seasonal splendor. Go camping to turn it into an all-weekend outdoor activity (just make sure you pack warm clothes and a sleeping bag).
watch the leaves change.
Take a ride with the top down to see leaves changing. If you are a city dweller, rent a convertible for the day and head out to some of the beautiful views in your area. While you are on the road, hit up a fall festival or farm to enhance your alfresco autumn day.
Geocaching is basically an ongoing treasure hunt for kids and adults. Geocaches are hidden all over the place (there are literally millions around the world), and you find them by using a GPS or navigational device. Once you find the geocache, you open it, sign your name in the logbook, trade trinkets (if you like), and then move on to the next geocache. You can also try geocaching’s older sister, letterboxing.
Dust off your old 10-speed (and maybe take it in for a tune-up if it’s been a while since your last ride). Seeing the world on two wheels is a fun way to travel around and through your town. You’ll likely go further than on foot, so you can plot out a fun path to must-see museums or restaurants. Going biking is a getaway that can last all day or just a few hours. And one major bonus of going on a bike in busy cities: no need to stress about finding parking.
Raking leaves was not on our all-time favorite childhood chore list, but now we know that it is great for strengthening our arms and for giving us some meditative and repetitive motions in the open air. Our favorite part, of course, is letting the kid in us take a running leap into the first pile we gather.
walk a dog.
No one enjoys a good walk like a dog. You’ll see your whole world in a new and exciting way with your canine companion, making frequent stops to sniff around (your dog, not you, presumably). If you aren’t ready to make the lifelong commitment to a pooch, offer to join a dog parent when he or she takes her fur-friend out for a jaunt.
find your way in a corn maze.
Get lost in a corn maze at a local farm. Kiddos won’t be able to get over how tall the stalks actually grow! Corn mazes have gotten pretty high tech, with corn maze artists creating mazes in the shapes of animals or other configurations to keep visitors entertained. Not sure where the nearest corn maze to you is located? Check out this handy dandy map. Corn mazes are often doubled up with fruit or pumpkin farms or events, so you can plan a whole day’s activities.
hop from one fall festival to the next.
Fall is the time of plenty with regards to festivals. Whether you participate in jousting at a Renaissance Festival, dance til you drop at any number of music festivals, take an antiquing treasure hunt, or celebrate the harvest and warm local hospitality at a community festival gathering, you can meander your way through all the sights, smells, and sounds. Or throw one in your own backyard!
canoe or kayak.
One of the best ways to experience the fall is offshore; you get the calming experience of being on the water, and you have the perfect vantage point for watching the changing season. Both kayaking and canoeing are excellent for fitting in an upper body workout while the world glides past you.
tidy up your garden and prepare for next year.
For many of us across the country, now is the time that our bountiful garden plots start to power down. Harvest the last of your cool weather crops, then make next year’s work easier on yourself by cleaning up your plot, and weeding, and sowing cover crops. You can also plant bulbs like daffodils, garlic, and tulips now that will bloom in the spring.
go bird watching.
Urban dwellers might be surprised to discover how many bird species are within a few blocks. Stash a pair of binoculars wherever you go and pull them out whenever you are waiting (or whenever your little one needs something to keep them occupied). Check out this list to see if your city made the urban birding hotspot list.
visit a vineyard.
With a glass in your hand, the world takes on a beautiful hue. The grounds of vineyards are often inspiring to walk around, and vineyards host everything from cocktail parties to educational classes to intrigue both wine newbies and seasoned oenophiles. Vineyards in classic spots like Napa and Sonoma include sweeping views, but don’t forget about the burgeoning East Coast wineries, including those throughout New York (including Long Island) and Virginia. Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll even get to stomp some grapes.
take your yoga practice outside.
On the steps of an art museum, on the roof of a library, on the beach: wherever you find an outdoor yoga option, take it! Practicing your poses in the open air is invigorating and goes a long way in demonstrating that peace of mind and urban living can go hand in hand.
Why watch a game on the couch with glazed-over eyes when you can get in on the blood-pumping action? Football is a fun sport for families and friends; after a few hours of running, throwing, and tagging each other in the brisk fall air, everyone will be ready to settle down and watch the pros take their turn. Contact sports not your thing? Cheerlead on the sideline or consider touch or flag football.