5 Socially-distanced ways to get out and enjoy fall this year


Like most of 2020, autumn looks a little different this year. Here’s how you can enjoy this magical time of year with your family.

Ah, autumn. That magical time of year when nature trades stifling heat and humidity for crisp days and pleasantly chilly nights, when the trees trade boring green for all the shades of flame, and when we mortals celebrate the turning of the season by gathering together for apple cider, pumpkin spice, or that age-old tradition — the tailgate party. 

Or we used to, anyway — before 2020 threw us a COVID curveball. This year, fall is going to look a lot different. Many of the traditional fall activities we enjoy — from trick-or-treating to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — are off the table this year as we attempt to keep our families and others safe from the grips of the pandemic. It’s a bummer, of course, but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy fall in new and creative ways; we just need to think outside the box.

More comfortable thinking inside it? No worries — here are 5 outdoor, socially-distant ideas to jumpstart your family’s fall fun.

Apple Picking

Guess what’s not closed? Apple orchards! (Well, in many places anyway.) Apple picking is the perfect pandemic adventure. In the great outdoors, the risk of transmitting or catching COVID-19 is slim — even so, most orchards are playing it safe by allowing families and individuals to schedule times to visit so everyone can maintain plenty of safe space. If you’ve never been apple picking (which my family has not), this is literally the perfect year to go. Enjoy roaming the orchard with your family and then enjoy reaping the fruits of your labor – literally! 

Leaf Scavenger Hunt

Struggling to keep up with your children’s virtual schooling? You and me both. Here’s a great activity that combines a family game with education, to bring you joy and assuage your guilt at the same time — a leaf scavenger hunt! Take your family to a local park or field, or stay in your neighborhood if there are lots of trees. Give everyone 10 minutes to gather as many different leaves as they can — emphasis on different. No one can pick up 2 leaves that are the same! Then have them swap leaves with each other and challenge them to match the leaf the tree came from, using only their powers of observation. Pro tip: If botany isn’t your thing,make sure you have a leaf and tree identification site up on your phone—with pictures! 

Color Hike

Maybe you and your kids are killing it with the distance learning, but not so much with pandemic PE. Here’s a great way to get a little outdoor activity into your lives and have fun at the same time — take a color hike! Swing by the hardware store and grab plenty of paint swatches, then head to your local hiking trails. Give everyone 5-6 color swatches before you start hiking, and challenge them to find an object that matches each (the closer the match, the better). To level up the competition, give 1 point for exact matches. Then let the winner choose dessert for the evening! (It’s okay, y’all earned it.) 

Phases of the Moon Journal

Another great feature of fall is earlier sunsets, which means your kids can feel like they’re staying up later without actually staying up later. Take advantage of this by doing a family phases of the moon journal. Starting with the Harvest Moon on October 1, spend 10 minutes outside after moonrise writing down 1-2 words each to describe the appearance of the moon. Do this each night for all the phases of the moon through the Hunters Moon, appropriately occurring on Halloween night. If you’re loving this activity, keep going all the way through the Frost Moon on November 30!

Plant Spring Bulbs

Maybe, like me, autumn is not your favorite season because you know it means cold weather is coming. If your family has the winter blues, do a little active gratitude project. Plant some spring bulbs — both in anticipation of warm weather, and in gratitude for these colder months when beautiful, delicate spring flowers begin to grow under the earth. Remind your family (and yourself) that warmer days are ahead – both literally and figuratively. And spend some time talking about things you’re grateful for, like the turning of the seasons, God‘s creation, and His providence for us even in the midst of this difficult time. Then during those long winter months when things get tough, remind your family of the tulips and daffodils growing underground, preparing to bring joy and color back into your lives when the days get warmer.



Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.