It’s fall! That means gorgeous autumn colors, pumpkin spice, and toasty winter sweaters. It also means winter is coming, so it’s the last chance to get out of the house and have some fun before it gets too cold to go outside. So, with that in mind, here are 18 great ideas for cheap fall fun that won’t break the budget!
Ideas for Cheap Fall Fun
Hike the Fall Forest
My favorite thing about fall is the gorgeous fall scenery. And the best way to view the myriad of fall colors is out in the middle of the wilderness. So take a hike through the forest, watch as the leaves change and fall to the ground, be a part of the changing seasons. Autumn really is the best part of the year for hiking.
Get Scared at a Haunted House
My second favorite thing about the fall is Halloween! Pretty much every town has its own small haunted house (when I was in high school, my class put on the town’s haunted house). Big companies also have their own haunted mazes – Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror nights is one of the best there is. It was my Halloween tradition to go every October when I lived in California.
However, Halloween Horror Nights is not cheap. Instead, go to a local spook-house. They are way cheaper and support your small town. There are probably fewer people too, so it’s safer (COVID is still a problem folks). Wear your mask and stay socially distanced as you go through.
Ride the Hay
Autumn is harvest season and what better way to celebrate that than with tractors and hay? Okay, so I personally think hayrides are a bit -unexceptional. But you know who tends to love them? Children. It was the most exciting thing ever to ride in the back of a tractor with a big ole’ pile of hay when I was little!
So let your children experience the magic of a hayride. It’s outdoors. It’s cheap. And it’s a wonderful way to ring in the fall season.
Lose Yourself in a Corn Maze
Giant stalks of corn create the perfect maze, don’t they? Running through cornfields, getting lost, running back, and finally, that moment of triumph when you discover the exit is like a rite of passage for the ending year.
It’s also outside and usually not very crowded, so it’s the perfect option for cheap fall fun in the times of COVID.
Embrace the Halloween Spirit
Halloween is my favorite holiday. The ghosts, the ghouls, the costumes, the eerie feeling in the air. It’s such a wonderful atmosphere. So embrace it!
Check out Spirit Halloween store and browse all the freaky, scary, and fun decorations and costumes available. Listen to scary music and watch horror films. Tis the season for spooky fun!
Find the Perfect Pumpkin
When I was little, our family Halloween tradition was to go to Bengtson’s Farms, a giant pumpkin patch. It had a petting zoo, hayrides, corn mazes, and a bunch of small activities for the little ones.
One of the best things about Bengtson’s Farm is that they let you stroll out through the huge pumpkin patch to find that perfect pumpkin. One year, I found a menacing pumpkin with a giant scar across his head hidden deep within the vines. Although I was only 8 or 9, the memories of finding that amazing pumpkin in the vast patch will last forever.
Another fun-filled pumpkin activity! A few days after we brought good ole’ scar face home from the pumpkin patch, we carved him into the scariest Jack-O-Lantern that any of us had ever seen!
As a bonus, when you gut the pumpkin you can also pull out all the seeds and a have a tasty, salty snack. You get jack-o-lanterns and roasted pumpkin seeds all in one night! Pumpkin carving is the quintessential Halloween activity – and fun for the entire family.
Pick your Own Apples
Fall is the season when all the apples in the orchards are ripening on the trees. What better cheap fall fun can you find than strolling through an orchard, filling your bags with the best apples of the bunch?
Picking apples is a fun fall activity for the whole family, and you can use the apples for autumn’s greatest sport – bobbing for apples. They also might come in handy if you indulge in cheap fall fun activity number 14 as well!
Rake Some Leaves
Racking leaves sounds like a chore – but it doesn’t have to be! It was one of my favorite things to do when I was little. I’d rake the leaves into a giant pile then take a running leap and thud! Right onto the freshly made pile. The only rule was that I had to clean it all up afterward, but strangely, I was okay with that.
Create Fall Crafts
So much cool stuff comes out in the fall! Corncobs and colorful leaves, gourds and pumpkins – there are so many fun crafting materials to chose from! So collect some of those things up. Make a Thanksgiving diorama. Trace leaves onto paper. Make a fall collage. The opportunities for expressing your creativity with the bountiful fall harvest are endless! Your creations will make the perfect fall decorations.
Decorate the House
Getting into the Halloween spirit includes decorating the house with spiders and ghosts. Create your own haunted house and be the thrill of the neighborhood this Halloween!
But also remember that there are two amazing fall holidays worthy of decorations. Halloween gets all glory, but Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Have two great nights decorating the house for each holiday.
Build a Scarecrow
When I was little, it was my genius idea to build a scarecrow with dried leaves. I brought out an old sweater and an old pair of pants, and shoved them full of leaves! They stuffed the clothing fairly well, but unfortunately, it was impossible to bind the two pieces of clothing together, because the leaves were to small.
Obviously straw is the better choice, but trying to build a scarecrow with whatever materials you have on hand is great fun!
Read Ghost Stories by Firelight
Fall is the spookiest time of the year. And what better way to embrace the spooky than with ghost stories? The great thing about this idea is that you can do it even without an entertainment budget.
It’s easy to find scary stories online (try Reddit’s “Don’t sleep” subreddit). You can light a candle, turn the lights down, and read the stories by candlelight. Play shadow puppets on the wall to enhance the creepy factor! Since you probably have all these things hanging around the house, it’s a great idea for cheap fall fun.
Bake Home-Made Fall Goodies
Pumpkin pies, candied apples, Halloween cookies -the possibilities for fall treats are endless! Spend some time learning how to make some fall favorites this year, whether it be as simple as roll-out cookies or complex as homemade pumpkin pie. You may create a kitchen disaster, but you may also learn that you’re better at baking than you thought!
Host a Halloween Movie Marathon
Halloween movies are the best! Whether you want some good ole nostalgic fun with movies like Hocus Pocus, or want a traditional Halloween thrill, your local streaming service has you covered! Log in and scroll through their haunted Halloween offerings, and find movies the entire family can enjoy. This is a great activity for the colder winter months as well!
Root for your Favorite Football Team
Another great thing about fall is that it’s the start of football season! Sorry European readers -I mean American football, with the touchdowns and field goals. My favorite team is the Chicago Bears, and I never miss a chance to root them on!
Learn Some New Crock Pot Recipes
Fall is the season of crockpot cooking. That’s because stews, soups, and chilis are the perfect meals for colder weather. The great thing about cooking with a crockpot is that it’s pretty easy – just throw a bunch of stuff into a crockpot.
But how do you know it will taste good? Well, that’s where the learning comes in. Pick up a recipe book or look at your favorite cooking blog. Find some awesome recipes and tweak them to your liking to create a new family favorite.
Although the traditional German Oktoberfest takes place near the end of September, Americans like to spread it out all October long. Regardless of where you live, you are bound to find some type of Oktoberfest celebration near you. So embrace your German side! Eat sausages, drink beer, and do the chicken dance! Enjoy the outdoor festivities before we can no longer go outside!
What’s Your Favorite Activity for Cheap Fall Fun?
Have you tried everything on this list? If so, check out these 25 fall bucket list ideas too! What are your favorite fall activities to do with your family? Let me know in the comment
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.