35 Thrifty Fall Activities for Families

Fall is finally here! Make some amazing autumn memories with these affordable fall family activities.

Thrifty Fall Activities for Families

As summer fades and the leaves begin to change from green to orange, it can only mean one thing: Fall is here! The arrival of fall signals the start of apple picking season, designing Halloween costumes, and everything pumpkin-flavored. While we love fun fall activities, we know that outings can quickly become expensive, especially with large families.

But if you're stressed about breaking the bank this fall, fear not, because we've got our list of thrifty fall activities for the whole family. From classic activities like pumpkin carving to some spookily fun Halloween ideas, these activities are perfect for families who want to have a blast without spending a fortune.

These thrifty family activities include ideas your family can do at home, like fall bonfires and autumn art projects for kids, as well as a few affordable outings for the entire family, like attending your local high school's football games. Our editors have even included some rainy day and cold weather activities for those days and nights when chilly weather has set in. Make some special memories with the family and stay on budget this autumn by checking out our entire list of affordable family activities.

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Go Apple Picking

Fall signals the start of apple picking season, so choose a sunny afternoon and head out to your local orchard. It's a fantastic way to gather fresh apples for pies and other goodies, and support local farmers.

Host a Bonfire

Whether you call it a family bonfire or weenie roast, there's no doubt that this fall tradition is a great way to gather as a family. Plus, any excuse to make s'mores is a perfect activity in our book!

Go to a Corn Maze

Corn mazes are a super fun way to spend an autumn afternoon! If you're close to our hometown of Chicago, you can find some awesome corn mazes in this article from Red Tricycle.

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Nothing embodies fall more than the sight of a pumpkin patch. Find your local pumpkin patch and choose the perfect pumpkin to carve for Halloween!

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Support Your Local High School Football Team

Can't afford to make it to a pro game? Support your high school football team instead! It's a great way to support your local school district and show off your hometown pride.

Have a Family Cook-Out

If bonfires aren't your style, throw a Sunday afternoon cook-out before cold weather hits. It's a wonderful family activity and everyone can bring their own dish to share.

Go to a Local Fall Festival

The arrival of fall signals the start of festival season for small towns. Whether you're searching for a day filled with cool crafts and delicious food (like the annual Parke County Covered Bridge Festival in Indiana) or an evening spent at your local fairgrounds, be sure to check out the dates of your county's fall festival.

Build a Scarecrow

Even if you don't live on a farm, you and your family can still have fun building a scarecrow for the backyard! All you need is some straw, old clothes, and garden stakes.

Pick Persimmons

Have we mentioned how fall is our favorite season? Fall is the perfect time to pick persimmons for pies, cookies, and more. Fun Fact: According to my aunt, you can predict upcoming winter weather by looking at the inside of a persimmon. Learn more about this persimmon folklore in this article from The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Knit a Scarf

If you're looking for a thrifty fall hobby to keep yourselves and the kids busy, give knitting a try! Yarn is a super affordable craft material and it's a great activity for sunny afternoons sitting on your front porch or for rainy days. Our editor Toby even wrote a free online knitting class for beginners.

Crave a Pumpkin

Is there anything that symbolizes fall more than carving pumpkins for Halloween? This is a delightful and timeless fall family activity that never goes out of style. You can even download a free eBook of pumpkin carving stencils from our sister site, AllFreeHolidayCrafts!

Play in the Leaves

Clean up your yard (and have an awesome time doing it) with this free family activity. Even the youngest of kids can enjoy jumping in leaf piles.

Volunteer at Local Homeless Shelters

As Thanksgiving approaches, it's always wonderful to give back to your community in any way possible. Find your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen and help others who need it!

Visit a Local State or National Park

Having a fun afternoon out doesn't have to be expensive! Pack a lunch and explore your local state or national park with the kids. Not only does it support your state and national park services, but it's a great way to take in the natural beauty around you.

TP the Grandparents

Okay, full confession: I was raised in a small town and my grandparents lived out in the country, so going on a tp (toilet paper) raid was no big deal. This might not be the best idea for city dwellers but this is a super fun activity that country kids will love.

Go on a Scavenger Hunt Outside

Can't make the hike to your local state park? Take your kids on a scavenger hunt in their own backyard. You can print out a free outdoor scavenger hunt sheet here!

Craft with Pinecones

Sick of stepping on pine cones in your yard? Turn them into fun crafts for kids! Our sister site, FaveCrafts, has a list of pinecone crafts that are great for children of all ages.

Flag Football

If you're wondering how to keep the kids entertained after Thanksgiving dinner, why not play a fun game of flag football in the backyard? It's a classic American activity for the whole family.

Make Homemade Halloween Costumes

Choosing your yearly Halloween costume is one of the best parts of being a kid! Don't spend money on expensive costumes and use your own creativity to DIY your Halloween costumes this year. AllFreeSewing has a great selection of DIY Halloween costumes for kids!

Host a Trunk-or-Treat for Local Kids

A safer alternative to door-to-door trick-or-treating is throwing your own neighborhood trunk-or-treat! It's an organized and safe way to celebrate Halloween and you can even have a car decorating competition.

Create Some Spooky Halloween Crafts and Decorations

A super fun weekend activity? Creating your own Halloween decorations! From pumpkin carving to making fake headstones for the yard, save money and make some thrifty DIY decorations.

Make Candy Apples

Kick off Halloween season by making this classic fall treat. You can use this easy candy apple recipe and top your candy apples with chopped nuts, candy corn, or sprinkles.

Set Up a Haunted House

Don't want to spend time or money driving to a haunted house. Turn your garage or backyard into a spooky haunted house for the neighborhood. All you need is your creativity and a spooky soundtrack.

Put Up Your Halloween Decorations

Even if you don't make your own decorations, you can still raid your attic or basement for all of your Halloween decorations that have been gathering dust since last year. Have fun with what you find! Those old sheets = DIY ghosts! Grandma's old porcelain dolls? They're perfect for super creepy decorations.

Volunteer at Your Local School's Halloween Carnival

Most grade schools and middle schools throw annual Halloween carnivals or fall festivals. Volunteer to help out by running game booths or baking yummy Halloween treats.

Have a Not-So-Scary Movie Night

Halloween doesn't have to mean gory horror movies. Spend a weeknight in by watching family-friendly Halloween movies like Casper, Halloweentown, or The Addams Family. Our office favorite? Hocus Pocus!

Make Leaf Rubbings

Gather leaves on warm fall afternoons and spend rainy days inside making fall leaf rubbings. All you need is some paper, leaves, and crayons!

Take Your Family Christmas Photo Early

Stuck inside because of bad weather? Break out your Christmas decorations and stage your family Christmas card. You can check it off your to-do list early!

Have a Family Bowling Night

Rainy weather doesn't mean you have to stay indoors at home. Head out to your local bowling alley and spend a fun night with the kids.

Have a Family Game Night at Home

When's the last time you broke out the Monopoly board? Spend weeknights in by throwing a fun family game night after supper.

Visit Your Local Library

If you're looking for a free activity for rainy afternoons, head to your local library and let the kids find a new favorite book! You can also check out any upcoming events your library is hosting.

Make Hot Chocolate

The good thing about rainy weather is that it's a great time to drink some hot chocolate. Setting up a hot chocolate bar lets you lay out lots of fun toppings like whipped cream, marshmallows, and sprinkles. These 4 hot chocolate recipes from AllFreeHolidayCrafts are perfect for nights in.

Tell Ghost Stories Around the Fireplace

Spending a stormy night in? Light the fireplace and gather around it with some blankets and flashlights and have each person tell their favorite story. Want some more kid-friendly ghost stories? Check out these spooky tales from KOA Camping Blog.

Get a Head Start on Thanksgiving Decorations

Not sure what to do after Halloween ends? Get a head start on some Thanksgiving decorations! You can never go wrong with an old-school hand turkey drawing.

Build a Blanket Fort

The cheapest way to spend a day indoors? Gather as many blankets, pillows, and sheets as you can to make your own blanket fort. See if you can get it to stretch all the way across the house!

What's your family's favorite fall activity? Let us know below in the comments!

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