18 Festive and Budget-Friendly Fall Activities to Enjoy as a Family

Looking for things to do this fall season that won’t break the budget? Here are 18 fresh ideas.
Updated May 1, 2024
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With a new season comes new opportunities. And despite how your spring and summer may have gone, there are still a lot of ways to celebrate the fall season while sticking to your budget. So if you’re looking for fresh ways to thrive between paychecks this fall, here are 18 of our absolute favorite cheap fun activities. Time to get out and enjoy that crisp autumn weather without spending a ton of money.

Take a drive to see the foliage

Pernelle Voyage/Adobe mountains and the fall foliage of Mont Megantic National park

If hiking isn’t your thing, that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and admire the foliage. Rather than traipsing around the forest, opt instead for a drive through some of the most scenic parts of your state. Bring a camera and some blankets and stage a family photoshoot, or just drive around until you find the perfect place for a fall picnic.

Money-saving tip: Pack your own picnic basket rather than stopping to eat. You might be spending on gas, but you don’t need to dish out cash for takeout too.

Visit a pumpkin patch

Profotokris/Adobe Pumpkins

Another great way to celebrate the season? By visiting a pumpkin patch of course! Treat your family or friends to a day outside picking the best pumpkins from the patch. Grab some white and green pumpkins to decorate your front porch and be sure to snag a few orange ones for carving come Halloween.

Money-saving tip: Check to see if your local pumpkin patch has any family discount days at the end of its season.

Go for a hike

rh2010/Adobe senior couple hiking with trekking sticks and backpacks at the young pine forest

There’s no better way to enjoy the changing seasons than by getting outdoors for a hike. Sites like AllTrails can help you find the perfect hike in your area and will let you know how heavily trafficked (aka busy), your intended route is. Get outside to admire the foliage and all these sunny fall days have to offer.

Money-saving tip: Choose trails outside of state parks to avoid paying entry fees.

Go all-out with Halloween decorations

KikoStock/Adobe Dog in halloween costume

Speaking of Halloween, it's time to decorate. Deck out your house for the best Halloween yet!

Money-saving tip: Rather than heading to the store for decorations, get creative with items you have around the house. Make some creepy cut-outs with construction paper for your windows, cut some pumpkins out of felt, and pull apart some cotton balls to make cobwebs. You don’t have to spend a ton to create a spooky Halloween display.

Carve pumpkins in your backyard

alexkich/Adobe carving a pumpkin

Remember those orange pumpkins we told you to get? Well now’s the time to put them to use. Keep a few pumpkins whole for after the spookiest holiday of the year, then spend an afternoon carving up the rest. Save the seeds and try your hand at some amazing pumpkin recipes, then snag a few electric candles to light up your best jack-o’-lanterns.

Money-saving tip: Set aside some seeds for next spring and try your hand at growing your own pumpkins. Come next fall, you can just head out to your garden and pick your own pumpkins.

Do a fall-themed scavenger hunt

leekris/Adobe decorative pumpkins filled with assorted Halloween chocolate candy made by Mars

Why not have your own holiday fun right in your backyard? Take a note from the Easter Bunny here and hide a few candies and small treats around the yard. Then let your kids dress up in their costumes and run wild hunting down all the prizes.

Money-saving tip: Challenge your kids to help you in making this year the one of DIY costumes.

Have a fall recipe bake-off with your family

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe Dad and daughters pulling baked goods out of oven

We all have our favorite fall dessert, so why not challenge your family or friends to a fall-themed bake-off? Tell them to bring their A-game for the ultimate spread of apple crisps, pumpkin pies, and cider donuts. Then brew up some coffee or tea and enjoy the feast! 

Make up a fall-themed game

InsideCreativeHouse/Adobe happy caucasian senior couple petting their dog in autumn park

There are so many fun fall games you and yours can play this season that you might even be tempted to make up your own. Make a fun fall twist on some of your favorite board games or even get your hands dirty building a pumpkin-themed bean bag court. If you have a lot of leaves in your yard, make a game out of it by having a leaf race.

Learn how to make your own pumpkin latte

chayathon2000/Adobe coffee latte in coffee shop cafe

If you’re struggling with how to manage your money after a recent job loss, as many Americans are right now, don’t spend another buck on pumpkin lattes. You’d be shocked at how much a daily caffeine fix from a coffee shop can cost over the long term. Learn how to make them at home instead, and you can enjoy them year-round.

Collect some natural fall decor

logoboom/Adobe autumn leaves in fall park

Another great activity you can do with your kids this season? See who can collect the most pine cones and acorns in 10 minutes. Gather them all in a basket to display on your kitchen table, stash a few by trees for the squirrels, or try your hand at some unique fall-themed crafts — like an easy DIY pine cone wreath for your front door. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money to create something beautiful.

Get crafty with pine cones, acorns, and pumpkins

Maria Sbytova/Adobe boy in mask in pumpkin field

Once you’ve collected as many pinecones, acorns, and pumpkins as you possibly can, it’s time to have a craft day! Make natural arrangements for your kitchen table and front porch, and even make a few extras as fun fall gifts for your neighbors. 

Have a movie marathon

JenkoAtaman/Adobe Couple watching movie

There’s nothing quite like a crisp fall day to remind us how much fun it can be to stay cozied up indoors. With most movie theaters remaining closed, why not host your very own at-home movie marathon? Throw some pillows and blankets on the floor, make some popcorn, and buy your favorite candy snacks. Then start rewatching your favorite series (“Lord of the Rings,” anyone?) or make it a holiday special with a few Halloween classics like “Hocus Pocus” and “Halloweentown.”

Have a pajama party

gpointstudio/Adobe Family in pajamas

Although many of us may have been wearing PJs more than we’d like to admit this year, there’s still something to be said for making it official with a family-wide PJ party. Spend the day in your pajamas, throw a log in the fire, then cook up a batch of your favorite fall soup with some comfort-food sides. Spend the night curled up on the couch with a good book before hitting the hay.

Jump in a leaf pile

logoboom/Adobe autumn leaves in fall park

If you haven’t jumped in a leaf pile, is it really even fall? The answer is no. Suit up in your favorite leaf-jumping gear (superhero capes encouraged), don a bit of tick spray, and then get to leaf jumping! 

Have a backyard tailgate

Ratthaphon Bunmi/Adobe Happy Group of friends toasting and drinking beer at bbq party

Play some tunes on your best speakers, grill up some food, and enjoy some of the season’s last warm days from the comfort of your backyard. Set up some lawn chairs and invite a few friends for a potluck style get together — bonus points if you set up near the driveway where people can actually, you know, sit on their tailgates.

Plant bulbs for next spring

DisobeyArt/Adobe african senior woman preparing seedlings in a box with soil

One of the best garden activities you can get up to this fall? Planting bulbs for next spring. Gather up some bulbs for your favorite spring flowers, such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths, then get to work planting them around the yard. If you don’t have dedicated flower beds, use a few stones to make enclosed spaces where your flowers can bloom — safe from the hustle and bustle of future yard work.

Make fall-inspired art

Nata Bene/Adobe Woman painting bowl

There are so many fun fall-themed arts and crafts projects out there, so why not try your hand at a few of them? From drying and pressing leaves, making your own garland, or even making your own candle-holders. Get the kids involved with some fall finger paintings, and other fun pieces you can hang up all over the house to enjoy this season. You don’t need costly materials to make something cute and festive.

Go apple picking

kamaz007/Adobe Child picking apples

We saved the fall-iest activity for last. Much like leaf jumping, apple picking is a must when it comes to fall activities. Often cheap and sometimes free, this one will get you out of the house, keep you and your family at a COVID-safe distance from others, keep your budgeting plans in check, and have you heading back home with some fresh apples to bake all your favorite fall dishes.

Bottom line

maryviolet/Adobe Senior couple sitting by lake

It’s been a weird year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy some family fun this fall season. Hopefully, these inexpensive ideas will help you get started and stay on budget while you enjoy some normalcy during these bizarre times.

Author Details

Larissa Runkle Larissa writes for FinanceBuzz and divides her time between a cabin in the San Juan Mountains and traveling in a van. She enjoys writing about travel, debt relief, personal loans, and mortgages. Her work has been featured on MagnifyMoney, LendingTree, and Realtor.com. Outside of finance and real estate writing, she’s also at work on several fiction projects. When away from the computer, you’ll find her reading, exploring local trails, and climbing rocks.

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