Your Ultimate Fall Bucket List

As a lover of all four seasons, I enjoy finding things to appreciate every month of the year. Autumn, in particular, is exciting and fun, and my sense of adventure always seems to kick in. Every year in my 20s, my two best friends and I would go to a haunted forest on opening weekend and scare ourselves silly. A week before Halloween, I still get a pumpkin to carve, as I did when I was young. I love autumn traditions like these. Here is a bucket list of fun ideas with options for your whole group of friends, a date, or a solo adventure or two.

If you’re hanging out with friends

Have a bonfire – If you live in a home with a big backyard or know a great place in town to host, bonfires are a great way to bring everyone together and prompt great conversation. Make this delicious recipe while you’re there for a creative take on s’mores.

Go apple picking – September and October are prime apple picking season. Luckily, it’s also a wonderful time of year to be outdoors, making apple picking a perfect activity before the weather turns cold. Find a nearby orchard to pick some apples, and once you’re home, try your hand at baking some apple-related treats. Here’s an easy apple crisp and my favorite apple pie recipe I make every year for my annual Friendsgiving.

Host a Friendsgiving – Speaking of Friendsgiving, I love to host my friends for a Thanksgiving dinner before we all leave town for the actual holiday. We have created our own traditions, including making my mom’s broccoli and rice casserole and ending the night watching the Steve Martin and John Candy Thanksgiving classic “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” Creating your own traditions as a group will give you something to look forward to every year.

If you want a creative date

Volunteer at a food bank – If you and your significant other are looking to spend some meaningful time together, consider volunteering at a food bank. Feeding America has a website that allows you to find a local food bank by zip code. Helping those in need with your partner can make for a truly special day together.

Go pumpkin picking (and carving) – Spending the afternoon at the pumpkin patch, going on a hayride, and then heading home to decorate or carve the pumpkins in the evening is a perfect, low-cost fall date idea. Need some carving inspiration? Here are some ideas.

Watch a football game – You don’t have to drop a small fortune on an NFL game. Head to your local high school and enjoy an evening under those Friday night lights. Most schools will appreciate the extra ticket sales, and you’ll probably be able to take advantage of a bake sale supporting the school, so buy that chocolate chip cookie (or two).

If you’re looking for a solo adventure

Bake for others – Fall is prime baking season, and what better way to celebrate than baking for your friend, coworker, or neighbor? Recipes like these pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and this gluten-free pumpkin bread are sure to be hits. I live next door to an older woman who I’ve often baked for. She eventually asked me over for dinner, and now I consider her a new friend of mine. Simple acts of kindness like bringing over a plate of sweet treats can go a long way.

Run a fall 5K – There’s nothing better than running on a crisp morning as the leaves crunch underneath your feet. Make this fall a time to (literally) hit the ground running. Many cities offer Halloween-themed races or races with treats at the end like hot chocolate or a glass of wine. This site and this site allow you to search for races near you.

Have a picnic in your local park – Make a delicious lunch for yourself and head outside to your local park to enjoy it under the changing leaves. After lunch, take a minute to quiet your mind and consider trying meditation this fall as a way to take a few deep breaths in the midst of this busy season.

Originally published on September 26, 2017.

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Kate Oczypok is a freelance writer and piano teacher living in the D.C. area. She regularly contributes to D.C.-based publications and has written for and a few wedding blogs. She enjoys entertaining, movies and spending time with her boyfriend and their hilarious English bulldog Moe.