Looking for fun fall activities to do in your rural area or small town? Check out these 10 creative ideas the whole family will enjoy, from picking your own heirloom pumpkins to hunting small game and more.
Few people appreciate the blessed relief of fall more than those living in the South.
And even though seasonal temperatures may fluctuate between sweater weather and flip-flops, Southerners still love to get out there and enjoy all Autumn has to offer.
Those of us living in rural areas have the advantage of being close to sought-after country fall activities like orchards, pumpkin patches and scenic colorful hikes and drives.
If you’re itching to take advantage of everything fall has to offer, you’ll love these 10 fall activities to do in the country—most of which are an acorn's throw from your front porch.
1. Go Apple Picking
Despite movies and postcards depicting apple picking as a Northern thing, the Southern states boast their own unique varieties of tasty apples, such as Arkansas Blacks and Winesaps.
Apple season starts early in the South, with many orchards opening up in August for select varieties.
The season typically continues through the end of October, though, depending on your favorite apples, it usually pays to get there early.
Check the websites of local orchards to determine when your favorites are ripe and ready for picking.
Need help finding your local orchards? Use upickfarms.com to find a local apple orchard in your area.
Are you new to apple picking in the South? Word to the wise: dress in layers.
Unlike up North, weather down South can fluctuate between chilly and sunburn weather…which is why most orchards serve hot cider and cold cider slushies.
Once you’ve picked a peck (or two), try some of these recipes in 10 Clever (and Easy) Ways to Use Up Apples.
2. Try Cold Weather Camping
If you’re not big on camping in the sweltering heat of the Southern summer, then now is the time to get out there.
Most campsites are open until the end of October, with some extending their season into November.
Although Fall typically stays mild throughout most of the South, it can get frosty, especially at higher elevations.
In 4 Safety Tips for Cold Weather Camping, outdoors-woman and adventure blogger Corey Hunt shares helpful tips on preparing yourself and your family for camping in cooler weather.
Interested in getting out after the campsites are closed?
See How To Go Primitive Camping for tips on camping in remote areas.
3. Do Leaf Arts And Crafts With The Kids
Fall leaves provide endless materials and inspiration for making autumn arts and crafts.
There are endless online tutorials for various leaf arts and crafts for all abilities.
Some easy fall craft ideas to try include:
- Collect leaves to laminate OR press between two pieces of wax paper using an iron. Display on a window.
- Place different leaves underneath pieces of paper, then color over them with a crayon. This creates a perfect imprint of the leaf in whatever color they want.
- Make “leaf people” by gluing different shapes of leaves together on construction paper. From there, they can add googly eyes, pipe cleaners for arms, etc.
- Press leaves in a large book to preserve for the months ahead.
- Make a leaf-inspired centerpiece.
You’d be surprised how a few leaves can entertain and delight children of all ages.
Discover more ways to encourage creative play this fall, or anytime, in: 13 Unstructured Playtime Ideas To Get The Kids Outside.
4. Enjoy A Hayride
Fall is the perfect time to take in the sights and smells of the country on a hayride.
If you have enough space, some square bales and the right equipment (think a tractor with a trailer or even a 4-wheeler with a spacious trailer and small hay bales), you can create your own hayride around your property.
This makes a fun Halloween or holiday activity for the kids, too.
Orchards, pumpkin patches and local farms also offer hayrides around this time of year.
5. Go Pumpkin Picking
Sure, you could pick up a pumpkin from the supermarket, but you live in the country—why not go to the source?
Many farms specialize in pumpkin patches with standard orange pumpkins or even heirloom varieties.
The benefit of buying directly from a farm (apart from the fun of it) is you get a fresher pumpkin that is less likely to rot before Halloween.
For tips on choosing the perfect pumpkin, check out: Picking the Perfect Pumpkin: A Guide to 17 Heirloom Varieties.
For ideas and recipes for what to do with your pumpkins, see: 7 Creative Ways to Use Pumpkin (Besides Pie and Cheesecake).
6. Get Started Hunting With Small Game
If you’re interested in learning to hunt but are unsure how to start, Fall is an excellent time to start hunting small game.
Squirrels, for example, are abundant in Fall as they scurry around gathering nuts for the winter, and their hunting season usually lasts from October through February.
Rabbits are abundant year-round, and many states have no limits on their hunting season (check your local hunting laws).
As Walter “Deet” James, Jr., hunting specialist with the Education Division of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, explains in How To Start Hunting as a Complete Beginner With Small Game,
“With small game, there tends to be more action. It’s less intense. Less equipment is needed. It’s far more relaxed. And it’s easier to take the game out of the woods. You don’t need to drag it and do all this preparation.”
For more tips and advice, see: How To Start Hunting as a Complete Beginner With Small Game.
7. Host A Fall Potluck On Your Land
Take advantage of the milder weather and host an outdoor potluck on your property.
The theme could be as simple as a hot dog roast with sides and s’mores or a fancier local fall harvest fare.
If you have the space and desire, you could even set up an outdoor movie with quilts and pillows for bundling up and popcorn popped over an open fire.
The point is to get your friends, family, and neighbors together for an evening of fresh country air, good food and community.
8. Check Out A Small-Town Fall Festival And Support Your Local Community
Most towns host various fall-themed festivals that are fun for the whole family.
These festivals may include live music, dancing, food, vendors, contests, arts and crafts, or even fair-style rides and entertainment.
For example, some towns have festivals celebrating pumpkins, apples, Halloween, local honey, local artists and craftspeople and other fall events.
Check your local papers and online for upcoming events and support your small town.
9. Take In The Fall Foliage Via Car, Foot, Motorcycle, 4-Wheeler Or Bike
Most of the Southeast is rich in deciduous forests, meaning that Southern states rival the Northeast in Fall foliage.
Some of the best places to view fall foliage in the South include:
- Northeast Georgia
- Western North Carolina
- Upstate South Carolina
- Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
- The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina
Whether you take a road trip, a day trip or a local hike, bike ride or 4-wheeling excursion, make time to take in the color of the Fall season.
10. Prioritize Firepit Nights
Cooler, darker evenings lend themselves to hunkering down in front of the fire.
If it’s a bit too early to fire up your fireplace or woodstove (fluctuating temperatures and all), consider spending more evenings outdoors in front of your firepit.
Here’s how to make fire pit nights more enticing for the whole family:
- Have comfortable lawn chairs available
- Bundle up in blankets
- Serve hot chocolate, hot cider, or hot toddies
- If entertainment is needed, try a star gazing app for educational fun
- Sing, play musical instruments, or make use of a portal speaker and music app
- Let the kids participate in the fire starting! Provided they are old enough, you can use this opportunity to teach your children fire safety while they learn how to build a fire.
Don’t have a firepit yet? Learn how to build one in: How to Build a Fire Pit.
Looking For More Fall Activities To Do In The Country?
Check out the following articles inspired by rural activities and the great outdoors.
- How to Create a Campsite on Your Land
- A Trail Building Tutorial For Recreational Land
- 10 Great Places to Go Glamping in the South
- Cutting Firewood Warms You Twice: Tips For Choosing the Best Firewood
- Start Birdwatching With Kids to Connect with Nature
- The Joy of Metal Detecting in Rural Places
- Tips for Fishing with Kids: A Fisherman’s Advice
- How to Build Your First Treehouse