Put on your coziest sweater, grab a blanket scarf, and get ready to buy every pumpkin in the patch, because it’s finally fall. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, fall doesn’t officially begin until the first day of the autumnal equinox (this year it happens on September 23), but we’ve been ready for sweater weather and fall foliage for months.
Now that the season is actually here, we’re sharing our ultimate fall bucket list. It’s full of all the quintessential fall activities you can’t miss—like hayrides through the pumpkin patch—as well as ideas for new fall traditions to start, like helping a local food bank prepare for winter. You can even download our free fall bingo card to check off each item as you go.
1. Go to a Pumpkin Patch
Gourds, apple cider, and hayrides—it just wouldn’t be fall without a trip to the pumpkin patch! Whether you’re there for the memories or to pick the best pumpkin for carving, this is one fall tradition you just can’t miss. If you’re looking for something even more extravagant to do with the family this year, check out one of the most amazing pumpkin displays around the country.
2. Drink a Pumpkin Spice Latte
Now that Starbucks’ classic Pumpkin Spice Latte is back in stores, it officially feels like fall. A hot spiced drink is completely necessary this time of year (whether the leaves have started falling or not!) and we can never say no to a splash of pumpkin. Hit the local coffee shop for your daily dose of pumpkin spice or make your own PSL at home!
3. Get Lost in a Corn Maze
Gather your crew of family and friends and team up to see who can make it through the corn maze the fastest. Some pumpkin patches offer miniature mazes (which are great for kids!) but look for local farms or larger mazes in your area to get the full experience.
4. Roast Marshmallows
There’s something about crisp fall evenings that makes us want to gather around a warm fire and roast marshmallows. You don’t need a fancy fire pit or a big bonfire—just invite a few friends and fire up the backyard grill! Of course, you’ll want to stock up on all kinds of chocolate and graham crackers too so your guests can make their own delicious s’mores desserts.
Related: Make an Easy Fire Pit in a Weekend
5. Eat a Caramel Apple
There’s not a better combination than warm, gooey caramel and crisp, crunchy apples—and this fall treat is almost as fun to decorate as it is to eat! Make one of these 13 scrumptious caramel apple recipes or try these marbled caramel apples.
6. Donate the Summer Clothes You Never Wore
As you transition your closet from sundresses to sweaters, take stock of what you have. Any spring and summer clothes you didn’t wear this year can go right into the donate pile—that way, they can be worn by someone else rather than taking up extra storage space. Before you plan a dropoff, review these 5 helpful tips for donating to Goodwill.
7. Pick Apples
Going to the pumpkin patch is about as "fall" as you can get, but a trip to a local apple orchard is also a must-do. Before you go, read up on the types of apples so you know exactly which ones to pick for all the irresistible apple desserts you’ll be making this season. Plus, orchards are usually a great place to snap a family pic so you can get the Christmas card photo checked off your list.
8. Plant Spring Bulbs
When the leaves begin to change, planting spring flowers is probably the last thing you’re thinking about—but you should be! For spring flowers like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth, fall is the best time to get the bulbs in the ground. If you’re not sure how to plant spring bulbs, we can walk you through the entire process (it’s easy!).
9. Carve a Pumpkin
While we can’t wait to don our coziest blanket sweaters and jump into a pile of leaves, the arrival of fall means Halloween is just around the corner—and if you needed an excuse to start making jack-o’-lanterns, this is it! Whether you use cookie cutters to carve your pumpkins or do it the old-fashioned way, our hundreds of free printable pumpkin stencils will help you get started. Once you’ve carved the perfect design, use one of our best tips to make your Halloween pumpkins last longer.
10. Go on a Nature Walk
Taking a stroll around the neighborhood has health benefits any time of year, but it’s extra enjoyable when you can admire colorful fall foliage as you walk. Take the dog around the block or plan a time to grab to-go coffee with your girlfriends and take a long stroll through the park.
11. Volunteer at a Food Bank
Many families volunteer with local shelters or food banks around the holidays, but they need support year-round. As the weather begins to cool down, head to your local food bank to drop off extra canned goods or offer to help prepare a meal. Call to check in with them to see what their needs are before you go.
12. Decorate a Pumpkin
If it feels too early to carve a jack-o’-lantern, paint your pumpkins for fall instead. Stock up on white pumpkins and unusual gourds to decorate your mantel or front porch, and add a few coats of paint. We love the farmhouse look of a gingham pumpkin—and it’s actually easier than it looks!
13. Make a Fall Craft
On the chilliest of fall days, it can be so tempting to light your favorite candles and stay inside all day—which is the perfect excuse to break out the fall crafts! Make a pretty fall wreath, decorate your front porch for the season, or choose one of our other easy fall craft ideas.
14. Jump in a Pile of Leaves
Raking the lawn is not one of our favorite fall activities—but there’s nothing like jumping into the finished pile of crunchy orange leaves! Get the whole family together to build the ultimate leaf pile, then spend the afternoon playing in the fall foliage. This fall activity would also make a great Christmas card photo!
15. Bake Apple Pie
After you’ve hit the apple orchard and stocked up on all the Honeycrisp and red delicious apples you can eat, it’s time to start peeling and slicing because you know we’ll be making at least one apple pie this season. Opt for a classic apple pie recipe (just like grandma used to make) or turn your ingredients into bite-size apple pie pops.
16. Decorate with Fall Colors
Take inspiration from the trees outside and bring the bright colors of fall indoors. Look through our favorite fall decorating ideas to get inspiration for your own space.
17. Burn Your Favorite Fall Candle
There are so many ways to make your home smell like fall, but burning seasonal candles is one of our favorites. Bath & Body Works’ fall candle line is full of seriously swoon-worthy scents (hello, Pumpkin Pecan Waffles) and they even have a selection of spooky Halloween candles too.
No need to make your own—this budget-friendly Thanksgiving drink is worth toasting with by adding a few fall spices to a carton of apple cider.
18. Drink Warm Apple Cider
If a pumpkin spice-flavored drink isn’t your thing, opt for a hot mug of classic apple cider instead. Before your next fall gathering, make a big batch to serve directly from the stove, or spice up a grown-up party by mixing up a few apple cider cocktails.
19. Roast Pumpkin Seeds
Nobody really likes scooping guts out of a pumpkin, but one thing we do love is eating roasted pumpkin seeds. Next time you carve jack-o’-lanterns, don’t be so quick to scoop the insides straight into the trash. Seeds from carving pumpkins and pie pumpkins work best, so we recommend skipping seeds from decorative white pumpkins or gourds.
20. Make a Blanket Scarf
We’ve waited patiently all summer to be able to wear blanket scarves again, and it’s finally time. Instead of buying a new one this year, repurpose an old chunky sweater by cutting up pieces and sewing them together. Or, use our no-sew blanket scarf tutorial to turn leftover flannel material into a cozy accessory.
21. Help a Neighbor Rake Leaves
We’re all about doing acts of kindness this fall, and this is one of the easiest ways to help someone out. Raking leaves is (unfortunately) a necessity in the fall, and it can be hard work. If you’re able, take on an elderly neighbor’s yard when you rake your own. They’re sure to appreciate it!
22. Plan Your Thanksgiving Menu
It might feel like Thanksgiving is still a long time away, but it’ll be here before we know it—and you’ll definitely want to have your turkey dinner planned out. Whether you’re making all the old classics this year or making a new dish, take a few minutes this month to plan out the menu and coordinate who will cook what. If you need inspiration, choose recipes our delicious Thanksgiving menu ideas.
23. Go for a Hayride
One of the easiest ways to see the fall views is to take a hayride. Most pumpkin patches offer free rides through the pumpkins, and some apple orchards have them, too—it’s a fun way to get the family together and see the pretty fall foliage!
24. Host a Bonfire
Outdoor summer parties can be a blast, but fall might be our favorite season to host a backyard party—there are no pesky mosquitoes buzzing around, and decorations consist of cozy plaid blankets spread out around a bonfire. If you don’t have the space for a full-on bonfire, make a miniature version with a portable firepit.