Fall Microadventure Ideas for Families

Adventures for fall near home

Autumn is here! And we’re ready to get outside for some fall family microadventures.

After a hot, hot summer, we’re all itching to hit that perfect window of warm afternoons and cool evenings, golden sunlight and golden leaves. But after we’ve hit the pumpkin patch and posed in front of our favorite fall tree, we might be wondering what else to do. And time is short, especially as families return to school and offices.

So how can you make the most of fall? With easy, fun fall microadventures you can do with kids.

fall micro adventure ideas

But first, what is a microadventure?

Okay, we’ve all seen the epic Instagram pictures of peak-bagging, long backpacking trips, and beautiful views. A microadventure is a (simpler, easier) way to enjoy the outdoors. You can do them by stepping outside your door, or in your own city.

For a microadventure, the attitude matters far more than the destination. And at Tales of a Mountain Mama, we are here for all kinds of adventure, big or small.

Autumn is a fantastic time to get out, so these fall microadventure ideas can be used wherever you have just a little bit of time to get out!

fall microadventure ideas

So here are some of our favorite ideas for fall microadventures.

1. Watch the sunset in the fall

Fall is one of my favorite seasons to watch the sunset. In the summer, it stays out too late, and winter evenings are often too cold. But in the fall, the sun sets right around my kids’ bedtime, making it a perfect time to watch the sunset.

fall microadventure ideas for families

Make a fall microadventure out of it

Hike or drive up to the highest hill you can find with a good view towards the west. Pack a picnic dinner. You can keep it simple with cheese, deli meat and crackers, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Or go for something more fall-themed – tomato soup and grilled cheese packed in containers, for example. Eat and admire the view.

If you’ve hiked to watch the sunset, don’t forget to pack flashlights or headlamps for the way back. And if you want to make life even easier, throw pajamas and toothbrushes into a backpack. Have the kids get ready for bed before you drive home. With any luck, they’ll be asleep by the time you pull in the driveway.

2. Take a hike in cooler weather

While summer might give us the most time to get outside, fall is one of the best seasons for hiking. Not only do we get to enjoy crisp, clear skies – it’s a great time to revisit your favorite summer spots.

fall microadventure ideas to do with kids

Make a fall microadventure out of it

Did you struggle on any trails this summer? Maybe they were too long, too hard, and left you with some miserable, whiny kids. Trust me, we’ve all been there! Fall is the perfect time to try again. Not only are your kids a few months older (which can make all the difference when they’re young!) cooler temps can make a hard hike fly by.

Pack some fall-themed trail mix

If you want to encourage kids down the trail a little easier, some fall-themed trail mix might do the trick. Try these recipes:

Harvest trail mix: Cranberries, dried apples, almonds, pretzels, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Want to kick it up a notch? Drizzle raw almonds with maple syrup, sprinkle on some salt and pumpkin spice, and roast at 350 for 3-5 minutes.

Fall fun trail mix: Chex cereal or Cheerios, almonds or peanuts, raisins, candy corn and/or candy pumpkins

Looking for more trail-mix ideas? Check out Amelia’s book, Camping with Kids Cookbook for some great ideas!

3. Enjoy the changing of the seasons

Fall is a time of transition. Not only do older children head off the school and put us in a new routine, but the routines of the natural world undergo huge changes as well. Fall is perfect time to reflect on the rhythm in our lives and how it’s influenced by nature.

fall microadventure ideas to enjoy the season

Make a fall microadventure out of it

On your next hike, day trip to the lake, or trip to a local park, make a point to look for signs of change. Sure, we all know about geese flying south and leaves changing colors. But here are a few other ideas for signs of fall:

  • Seed pods. As flowers go to seed, how many different types of seed pods can you identify? The variety can be exciting for kids (and adults!) to realize.
  • Abandoned nests. As leaves fall from trees, do you see any nests leftover from the spring mating season? Be sure to leave them alone – some birds return to their nests year after year, even though others do not.
  • Angle and time of the sunset. Have your kids roughly note the location and time of the sunset. A few days, or weeks later, have them do it again. The days are getting shorter, and the angle of the sun is getting shorter as well.
  • Animal behavior. Observe the animals around you. Are the squirrels busier in their preparation? Do you see any deer out rutting? Can you find any birds you haven’t seen all summer?
  • Look for fungus. Check out rootting logs and fallen leaves for newly sprouted mushrooms.
  • Celebrate the equinox. Check out this post for plenty of ideas to celebrate the autumn equinox and changing of the seasons.
fall microadventure ideas

4. Walk or bike more in the fall

With the cooler weather, fall is the perfect time to enjoy walking or biking with your kids. We’ve written everything you need on biking with your kids to get you started, but keep reading for some ideas to make the most out of this season.

Make a fall microadventure out of it

Can you challenge yourself to try biking or walking to school, work, or a playdate? While mornings are honestly pretty hectic at my house, I like to pick my kids up from school on foot. Coming well-armed with snacks and fresh water bottles (and another family to walk with) helps keep whining at bay.

And parents, don’t forget that fall can be a great time to take on your own yourself. Depending on what stage of life you’re in, you might find yourself with a tad more time if your kids headed off to school. Check out this post if you are looking for more tips and motivation for biking to school.

Have you always wanted to try a 5k? Hike a trail that was just a bit too hard for your kids? I’ll be the first to concede sometimes it can be near impossible to find time for yourself. If that’s the case, here are 7 tips to help busy moms take a sanity break.

5. Watch the fall migration

Okay, yes, I already mentioned the changing of the seasons and animal behavior. But because our family is big into birding, I wanted to make a special mention of the fall migration.

It’s more than geese that fly south for the winter, and although they are the easiest to see, it’s worth putting in effort to find some other birds you might only see this time of year. To get you started, read this post on birding with kids.

fall microadventure ideas go birding

Make a fall microadventure of it

To be a birder, you don’t need to do much more than glance outside your window. But if you want to make a microadventure of the fall migration, it could be easier than you think.

Check out eBird to find local hot spots (or Google “your location” and “birding hot spots” for more ideas). You might be surprised at how easy some are to access. One of our best local hot spots is right beside a golf course in the middle of town!

Early in the morning, or right after it stops raining, can be the best time to look for new birds. Don’t worry too much if you can’t identify what you see. Appreciating the variety is fun enough.

6. Enjoy the harvest

It’s time for pumpkin spice and everything nice in the kitchen. Or maybe you’re not a fan of pumpkin spice, and your fall menu looks more like chili and stew. either way, fall is a great time to enjoy the bounty the world offers us. It’s also a great time to get your kids in the kitchen, in the hopes they’ll eat something new

Make a fall microadventure out of it

Of course, in this post, we’re here for the adventure! (Or at least the microadventure.) So let’s step away from the kitchen for a moment and head outside. Here are some ideas to enjoy this yummy season outside.

eat outside in the fall
  • Head to the farmer’s market. Find the weirdest looking squash you can and learn to cook it.
  • Tour a garden. Not a gardener? (I’m certainly not). Ask a friend if you can tour their garden at it’s peak, and maybe again after the harvest is over to note the differences.
  • Go apple picking. There are no orchards near where we live (even though we are lucky to have an occasionally producing apple tree in our yard!) If you don’t have either, read this sweet book, Apple Batter, on perseverence.
  • Look for nature’s berries. Of course, do not eat what you find in the woods unless you’re 100% sure what it is. But it’s still fun to look for ripe berries and tell your kids about how they will make delicious meals for birds, bears, and deer.
  • Cook by the fire. Food always tastes better outside, and even better if it’s made outside. Check out this cookbook for easy campfire recipes.
fall microadventure ideas

7. Go camping in the fall

Just because summer vacation is over doesn’t mean the vacations have to stop. Yes, days are shorter and nights are colder. But you can still have a fun microadventure camping in fall weather.

go camping in the fall

Make a fall microadventure out of it

If you’re new to camping, be sure to check out car camping for beginners guide. You may want to head out early in the season, while the temperatures are still mild. If you aren’t sure about camping in a tent in cool weather, you might look into cabin camping.

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  • Jackie is a coffee-lover, writer and a mom of three young children living in Helena, MT. She thought that hiking might help tame her children’s wild spirits, and co-leads a Hike it Baby branch. All that hiking only made her crew wilder, but in a good way. Before kids she enjoyed reading, knitting and baking, but now she enjoys making it to bedtime.

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