Free (or Nearly Free) Fall Activities for Couples and Families

I am an unapologetic list maker and planner. Some people mark their lives doing journal entries or collecting awards but I have lists. That all began when I was seventeen and I made a bucket list of “50 Things I Want to Do Before I Die.” On the list were things I’ve now accomplished “run a marathon,” and “meet a celebrity”; things I realize now that I can’t do “skydive” and “bungee jump”; and things I have yet to do “retire to a foreign country” and “speak a second language fluently.”

I’m not sure what possessed me to get rid of the list. I’ll blame the angst of my teenage years. I would have liked to review it from time to time and compare it with my current lists. Every once in a while I flip through the pages of a forgotten notebook to find an old list of 10 or so items that I had wanted to accomplish within the coming year and then realize that I have already checked off most of the items. If you haven’t read my post about setting goals, feel free to check it out after this post.

It’s just a fact for me: lists make things happen. So I’m scribbling out a few more. My first favorite activity of late is closing out my summer wish list. We have three activities to go: making it to the Island Park Show to get my husband’s favorite flavored pancake syrups, going to the last Streets Alive event in downtown Fargo, and partaking in the tandem canoe race for Race the Red. I realize these aren’t lofty goals but seasonal lists don’t allow time for the big achievements.

I might be jumping the gun but I am making my fall wish list. The act seems more crucial because as the school year starts, I am less likely to take the time to plan activities for the kids and myself. So get your notebook ready and stick the results up on your fridge. I’m about to eliminate any excuse for a boring autumn.

(Nearly) Free Fall Activities for Families

The Perseid Meteor Shower

This one is good for couples too! Pack up your blankets, snacks, and mosquito spray for the best late night show of the season. This Perseids usually peak between August 9th and 13th. You should definitely check the weather forecast for those days to avoid going on an overcast night. Check out the link TimeAndDate to access information on when to view the meteor shower from your city.

Backyard Camping

This sounds like work but it really isn’t. If you’ve already camped out once this summer, think of this as an opportunity to do a timed trial for how quick you can set up the tent or get a campfire burning. And just think, there are hot showers and good food just steps away.

Picked Apples Bakeoff

If you know of anyone who has more than one apple tree, chances are if you offer to rake up some leaves (at a later date if necessary), they will gladly reward you with some apples. If not, find a local apple orchard through Google Maps by typing “apple picking near me.” Once you have a bushel in hand, break into teams and search some recipes. Maybe you’ll want to make a signature version of a candied apple. The taste test is the best part.

A Fall Colors Frolic

Since you are probably already in Google Maps, find a nearby state park or a bike trail within easy driving distance. When the fall colors hit, make a plan to pack up some sandwiches and a thermos of apple cider. Bring your dog, if possible. Collect some fallen leaves to identify such as oak, maple, birch, and elm.

Take Your Family Photos

Find a friend who has to take family photos too and plan a date so that you can double up for a photo day. In our age, phones take great photos and there are apps that offer great Photoshop-type details and filters. Make a playdate of it and tell the kids that if they can make it through photos, then it is off to the park for playtime.

Classic (Sort-of-Scary) Movie Night

Get together some popcorn, peanuts, and candy corn to mix and put in a classic creepy movie from your childhood. ET, Goonies, Ghostbusters, or Monster Squad are all great choices.

(Nearly) Free Activities for Couples

Pasta and Mob Movie Night

My husband hasn’t seen The Godfather and this to me is a crime unto itself. It’s at the top of our list this fall. If you have seen The Godfather already, there are so many mob movies out there to be had for this activity but homemade pasta and cannoli are a must.

Pre-Decorate Your Ugly Christmas Sweaters

It seems to be a mandatory work or social gathering event. Chances are, you have one in the closet right now. It’s time to give that ugly sweater an update and suffer through it with someone you love. Add some garland, a gaudy pin or two you inherited from Grandma, and an obscene amount of bows and you’ll be a shoe-in for Facebook likes. Here are some ideas to spark your creativity.

Trivia Night

Your useless pop culture knowledge night not be so useless after all! Find a local trivia night and make a date to get out and get competitive. If you haven’t used the app GoDo, try it out to find local events and especially trivia nights.


You can do one of two things here: you can organize a co-ed football game with friends or you can attend a local high school, college, or minor league game. For attending, go on a day where there is sure to be some tailgating.

Scary Movie Bingo

Scary movies are formulaic. That certainly doesn’t mean that they aren’t entertaining. Plan a night with friends or your significant other and get ready for some scary movie BINGO (cards found in link). Get some white elephant gifts or a have guests bring $5-10 gift cards. If watching with your partner only…set the terms up front for what the winner gets.

For More Free Events: Check Your Community Calendar

There is no way that your city doesn’t have something free planned for fall. Between corn mazes, pumpkin patches, horse-drawn carriage rides, haunted houses, and pumpkin-spiced everything there has got to be something for you to do. Get your calendar ready because it’s going to be a great autumn.

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