Summer may be seen as the outdoor season, but autumn also offers lots of opportunities for outdoor bonding fun. Try some of these activities, and fill yours and your grandkids’ senses with delight.
Enjoy a color tour. National parks and forests are the places to be in the fall. Contact your nearest National Park, and find out when fall colors will be at their peak and recommended routes for picturesque views.
Pure Michigan offers a comprehensive guide to the best Fall Color Tours, maps of the locations and the best time of fall to visit. View the guide here.
Host a campfire cookout. If outdoor fires are permitted in your area, have the kids round up neighborhood friends for a cookout. Hot dogs, hot chocolate, marshmallows, and s’mores are a traditional way to top off the season. Have everyone take turns telling stories around the fire. If you have little ones, check-out library books with autumn themes to read to the youngsters.
Kackleberry Farms offers the ability to rent out your own private bonfire site, complete with available additions of fresh cider, donuts, hot chocolate or cappuccino, all available for pre-order with your reservation. More information here.
Attend a football game. Gather your blankets and head to the stadium. High school, college, and pro football games are great fun for kids and grandparents alike. Take along a bag of popcorn and thermos of hot cocoa, then snuggle up and get ready to cheer on your team.
Visit an apple orchard. Take your grandkids apple picking, and top off the day with cider and doughnuts, a hayride, and end-of-the-year picnic.
Erie Orchard and Cider Mill operates from late summer throughout October. Bring friends and family for weekly events, apple-picking, delicious cider and treats and local craft vendors. More information available here.
Make a scarecrow. What’s fall without a scarecrow on your porch? It is easy to make. Just buy a couple of bails of straw, then have each family member gather some old clothes and hats. Stuff it using string to tie off the hands, feet, and head.
The Trenton Scarecrow Festival is one of the best of its kind in the Southeast Michigan area. The annual event features scarecrow making, carnival games, a pet costume contest and more! More information available here.
Walk in the woods. As flies and mosquitoes retreat, it’s the perfect time of year for a walk in the woods. Look for animals scurrying about gathering for the long, cold months ahead, and don’t forget your binoculars. Contact state and local parks for wooded trails near you.
Leaf fun. Do you remember diving into the crisp fall leaves when you were a kid? Grab some rakes, and have your youngsters pitch in. Pile up the leaves to jump in, build a fort, and even have a leaf fight.
Find a festival. Apple, pumpkin, fall harvest, and many more festivals are found this time of year featuring food, arts and crafts, kids’ games, pony and wagon rides, and more. Visit your local event’s website online to see what’s coming up.
Funtober offers a comprehensive list of fun fall festivals in Michigan. Includes Cider Fests, Harvest Fests, OktoberFests, Pumpkin Fests and more! Check out the list here.
Visit a pumpkin patch. Begin a family tradition of picking your pumpkins from a patch. After cleaning out the pumpkins, make roasted pumpkin seeds, a yummy treat that kids love. Rinse the seeds, pat them dry, and coat with melted butter. Spread the seeds on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 350 until golden brown. Be sure and stir them occasionally.
Gust Brothers Pumpkin Farm offers plenty of pumpkin picking options, a petting zoo, fresh cider and donuts and more fun fall activities. They’re open from September through October daily from 9:00AM-7:00PM.
Bird migration watch. As fall fills the air, many birds begin to head south.
Contact State and National parks or your Department of Natural Resources for recommended birding locations as well as bird festivals.
Erie Marsh Preserve prides itself on being a migratory bird stop for rest and refueling all year round. Birds that pay a visit to Erie Marsh include bald eagles, great egrets, great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, trumpeter swans and more! Visit Erie Marsh Preserves website for more information.
Shift through a cornfield maze. Kids delight in finding their way through cornfield mazes. To find a maze near you, visit www.cornmazesamerica.com/ Also, watch the entertainment section of your newspaper.
Debuck’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch offers a fun and challenging activity for the whole family! The 15-acre corn maze offers three different difficulty levels and help is available if needed. FInd out more about DeBuck’s fall activities here.
Plant perennials and bulbs. Let your grandkids try out their green thumbs. After all, fall is the time of year to plant perennials and flower bulbs. Allow your grandkids to choose some plants from the gardening store, and allow them to help design the garden. A hand-painted rock or two adds color until the spring blossoms bloom.
The Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network offers the Go Beyond Beauty program that works with local plant nurseries and landscapers to encourage the education and use of non-invasive plant species throughout Michigan. A list of participating propagators can be found here.
Take a railroad excursion. With the colors of fall blazing under bright blue skies, a scenic railroad excursion is a sure bet. Check your local travel agency for tours nearby
Huckleberry Railroads at Crossroads Village offer a historic train ride through the village with scenic views of Lake Mott and down the famous Pere Marquette roadbed. More information and tour booking is available here.
Hold a pumpkin sale. If you have little entrepreneurs, have them set up a pumpkin stand in your front yard. Find an orchard where pumpkins are cheap, then have your grandkids purchase a small stock to sell for a higher price. Hot cocoa, baked pumpkin seeds, or doughnuts are profitable additions.
Horseback rides. Head to the stables and enjoy the fall colors on horseback. For horse rental listings by state visit http://www.horserentals.com/index.html, or look in the yellow pages under ‘stables.’
Flying Change Horse Farm offers a lesson program and riding camps for the general public. For more information, visit their website here!
Make a bird feeder or house. Kids will enjoy the carpentry experience and marvel at watching birds make use of the kids’ creations. Kits are available in hobby stores and online for making bird feeders. To make one from scratch, visit your library and check out a book on how to build a birdhouse, or find free instructions on the Internet.
Parades and marching bands. Find out when your local college or high school will hold its homecoming parade. Be sure to take a blanket and snacks, and enjoy the colorful floats, majorettes, cheerleaders, and marching band. Also, don’t forget the spectacular Thanksgiving Day parades.