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Contrary to popular opinion, fall is definitely NOT my favorite season. I love the heat, the beach, the pool, shorts, flip-flops, and tanning – all things summer related! I can deal with spring, especially late spring, when it’s almost summer. I legit hate the winter. I hate the cold, dealing with coats, the snow, ice, and when it gets dark early – I really am one of those people that runs on Vitamin D and the winter just bums me out.
So I think it a bit crazy how people go gaga over fall (which doesn’t officially start until September 21 despite what Starbucks says). And if I have my way, shorts and flip flop weather will linger into October as well! I think its supposed to be in the high 70s here in New York this week! Yay!
But even I will admit there are a few things about fall I look forward to doing each year with my family. Activities that are tucked between sweaty beach weather, and the bundled up/indoor fun of the winter. Some of the specific places I am about to mention are in my area (Long Island, New York), but the ideas can translate to any town! So here is my list of four family fall activities that even I, a summer girl, can love.
Four Family Fall Activities
Okay, okay, I know I said FALL activities, but going to the beach is one of my favorite fall activities. First of all, in early fall, it’s often still just as warm as summer (or close enough) but the crowds and summer craziness have faded. I even love heading to the beach in sweatshirts or sweat pants to just sit and relax, build some sand castles, and hear the ocean.
Where I live, after Labor Day local beach admission is either free or costs less than during the summer season. If you want to travel to the shore for a night or a little getaway, the fall will offer you decent weather, with reduced priced accommodations and less crowds at the boardwalks and restaurants!
Check out this post: My best Beach Essentials
When my son was 5 months old and then when he was one and a half, we rented houses on the Outer banks of North Carolina and in Virginia Beach at a seriously reduced rate. This was back when my friends, myself included weren’t tied to traveling during school breaks and we snagged such great deals by beach vacationing in September!
When looking for a beach (or vacation rental) be sure to read my “Tips for Booking a Vacation Rental” article (or pin for later)
Depending on where you head, as you get later and later into the fall, I would call and check that restaurants and activities will be open. For example, we go to Belfast, Maine (coastal town) to visit my mother in law each winter, and although you can get a cheap hotel, most of the seafood restaurants are closed up for the season.
Depending on how far north you live (or are vacationing), the transition from swimsuit to sweat suit may come at different times. In New York, once its too cold to really lay out summer-style, I will spend many weeks enjoying the boardwalks and biking trails at our local beaches. If you live on Long Island, or are visiting, the Long Beach boardwalk is an amazing four-mile (2 each way) stretch on which to walk, run or bike. It was just rebuilt after being destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. My family will take advantage of strolling and riding on the boardwalk until there is snow on the ground! Just bundle up a little, as it gets windy down by the water.
Again, I know this is often thought of as a July and August activity, but over the years, I have found that the fall is the best time to frequent amusement parks. Of course this is not including parks that are made up primarily of water rides. Water parks I would plan to visit only in the summer months (most close with the changing of the season anyway).
Consider Sesame Place for a fall trip – read my best tips here.
Every fall my family takes a trip to Coney Island. I would not dare go near that place in the summer, for fear of major crowds. But in the fall, you can have the same experience with a lot less people (and it is much easier to find parking). Some amusement parks will even offer better values in the off-season. For example, we were able to buy a Pay-One-Price 4-hour bracelet at Luna Park in Coney Island during a holiday in October, where in the summer you can only get that great deal during the week before 6pm (and not during holidays).
Many amusement parks also offer special Halloween themed activities in the fall (or Christmas depending on how warm it is in your area come December). This is a great way to get outside, get into the seasonal spirit, and ride a ton of rides because you are not spending hours waiting in lines!
Okay, so this is a quintessentially fall activity and one I do look forward to each autumn. Around here, apple picking does not open until after Labor Day. Depending on how far north you live, peak apple picking is usually early October, but you should always call your individual farm first to check on Pick Your Own availability.
When we lived in Queens, we would go to the town of Warwick to pick apples. We were never loyal to one orchard and have tried a few. Since moving to Long Island, we have decided to stay local and have been consistently picking at Lewin’s Farms the last few years.
Lewin’s offers “dwarf” trees, which are shorter trees, making it easier for kids to reach the apples. I highly suggest trying to find an orchard with smaller trees. Much more fun for everyone!
It’s also important to know if you can bring your own bags, or if you have to buy them at the farm. Some places charge a minimum per person. It’s worth noting that apple picking can get pricy. At Lewin’s they charge $1.75/pound. After my mom, the kids and I quickly filled three bags, we had over 30 pounds of apples- that was $54! The apples were large so you do not get many per pound. For us it was fine because my kids love apples and will eat them everyday. Plus apples stay fresh in the fridge and I have an extra fridge. But I will warn you that it is easy to over pick, and over spend.
A visit to the Pumpkin Farm
No matter where you live, there seems to be nothing more All-American than a visit to the local pumpkin farm. Over the next few weekends, I know the cute kid(s)-with-pumpkin-pics will be blowing up my Facebook feed . Okay – I’m guilty of this too!
Long Island is littered with great pumpkin farms to visit this time of year. Starting when Little Man was 7 months old, our family favorite has been White Post Farm. And yes, it is many families’ favorite spot, as it gets very crowded during the fall festival. I highly recommend going early in the day to your local pumpkin farm (we learned that the hard way one year).
We like White Post’s Fall Festival because in addition to purchasing our pumpkins, it’s a fun, all-day, fall activity. This farm offers animal feeding, playgrounds, a train ride, hayrides, bouncers and various shows (magic show, barn animals, etc.). We can go in the morning, hit all of the various activities, have a nice picnic lunch and then sort through the huge field of pumpkins to find that perfect one!
Click here to sign up for White Post Farm Fall Festival coupons. And I highly recommend looking online for discounts to your favorite pumpkin farm. Sometimes fall fun is expensive!
Okay so maybe the fall isn’t so bad, with all these great outdoor activities to enjoy! It’s just the season that comes after fall that has me dreaming of tropical getaways!
What are your family’s favorite fall activities?
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