Hooray – we can finally say fall is here! Though not everyone gets to bundle up in sweaters and scarves just yet, most of us are experiencing cooler evenings and shortened daylight hours. There’s a faint crispness to the air and 3 of our major holidays are just around the corner. What’s not to love?

One of my favorite parts of fall is the abundance of frugal fall family activities. After the dog days of summer, fall’s weather starts tempting us back outside again. Fall brings us back in line with our budget goals too since many events are either free or very inexpensive. As are a lot of other fun family things to do.

So, here 5 of our favorite frugal fall family activities:

Visit a family farm

family farm

Family farms are a fantastic option in the fall. Many have set-ups specific for frugal fall family activities such as corn mazes, animal petting, and hay rides. For very little money a family can spend an entire day in the fall entertained at a family farm. Bonus budget tip: grab the camera and get ready for the perfect Christmas card picture. Family farms make an incredible backdrop for family photos too! Check out these examples on Pinterest for inspiration.

Not sure how to find a family farm near you? Try searching here to get started.

Pick a pumpkin or an apple

apple orchard

Apples and pumpkins arrive in truckloads in the fall. Fall is the harvest time for both, which is why these two flavors are staples for the season. Sometimes older kids (teens) are less than enthusiastic about pony rides at the family farm. However, picking fresh apples from an orchard never seems to get old. Neither does seeking out the most perfect pumpkins in a pumpkin patch.

Live in a large city? No problem, the pumpkin patches come to you. Though you can’t pick one right off the vine, the magical effect of being surrounded by hundreds of pumpkins remains the same.

Of course, the best part after selecting perfect apples and pumpkins is what you get to do with them later. Plan another afternoon with a pumpkin-decorating party (try one of these options to be sure you win) or try a new recipe with your apples.

Find the leaves


For those in the suburbs, fall leaves may feel like more of a chore than a source of inspiration. Kids, however, love fall leaves. Take advantage of that fascination and put them to work raking them up into a giant leaf pile. Then, sit back and sip on cider while your kids spend hours jumping in the leaves and re-raking them over again.

Another possibility is to take a drive through areas where the leaves are the focal point. This round-up from Travel+Leisure has some amazing scenic routes to try.

Chili cook off

chili cookoff

Nothing seems to hit the spot more in cooler weather than a hot bowl of chili. Find a local chili cook off and for the price of admission the whole family gets a meal! Keep an eye out for local church and organizational fundraisers who often host chili cook offs for free with donations accepted instead. If nothing else, call some neighbors and host your own chili cook-off. Here are some recipes that may be worth trying too.

Find a campfire


Ask people describe fall and they are bound to talk about the smells that go with it: apples, pumpkins, and campfires. Camping has to be one of the best frugal fall family activities available. If the bare bones set up of camping doesn’t appeal to you, try the more luxurious glamping, which seems to be a hit with all ages. At the bare minimum, make a campfire in the backyard though because roasting hot dogs and s’mores and smelling like a campfire are memories in the making.

If getting outdoors is just too difficult, try these ideas for making indoor camping work instead.

These are just a smattering of the frugal fall family activities we plan on trying. We’d love to hear more options so share your ideas with us on Twitter or FaceBook and let us know what you have planned!

  “Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” – William Cullen Bryant