15 Free Fall Activities for the Whole Family
The fall season is one of the most enjoyable times to spend with your family. The air is crisp with a light winter nip and families are constantly looking for fun things to do. The good news is that Fall often offers lots of things to do for free, to help you save yet still enjoy family time. If you are willing to be a bit creative and step outside the box, you can certainly find plenty to do without spending a ton of cash.
In the Pacific Northwest, we are blessed with so many really great things to do for free, and Fall is a particularly great season to get out of the house and take advantage of these things. Here are some of our favorites!
Here are some awesome family activities that cost little to nothing at all:
1. Join in a Hayride
Kids and adults alike all love to go on a hayride. If you get to know your local farmers, finding a free hayride is super easy to do and tons of autumn fun. We do have a master list of fall festivals and pumpkin patches here in the Northwest, so you can call around to find out which ones might be offering free hay rides this year.
Another spot to check out is Union Gap, if your up for a day trip, and enjoy the free (donation based) agricultural museum. They have specific weekends where hay rides will be happening there too (you can check out our full review of one of our visits here too, to get a better idea of what the area has to offer).
2. Go for a Hike
If you want to have some fun that brings you close to nature and teaches at the same time, spend some time on a hiking trail. Few things will nourish your soul better than the forest.
If you are in the King County area, they offer a service callled Trailhead Direct, that will provide low cost transportation to many of the great local hiking areas, through the Fall. Find information on fares and routes here.
3. Visit a Pumpkin Patch
Walking around a pumpkin patch brings you right into the season. Some of the pumpkin patches will offer free admission (but you will have to pay for things to do there, like corn mazes etc). The trick here is to set expectations with your kids before you go (are you just going to enjoy the atmosphere, or do you have a budget to spend on certain activities or foods?
You can also find deals on Groupon sometimes here, if you want to enjoy some of the activities at a discount (or check the pumpkin farms website for special discount days). If you truly want it to be a free outing, go to an area that has more then one farm in the area (like Snohomish for example) and bring along your own cider or hot chocolate from home, and just roam them all for photo opps and to enjoy the fall beauty.
Make sure to check out our big list of Pacific Northwest Pumpkin Patch reviews here for some ideas of what spots might be a good fit for your family.
4. Find a FREE Oktoberfest to enjoy!
If you look in our Fall Festival list we share above, there are some days and times that you can get into different Oktoberfest celebrations for free. Leavenworth is another area where their festival is free (but you will pay gas to get there and food to eat).
5. Tours – Explore Glass Pumpkins / History Tours & More
Whether it is local history or your own family history, taking everyone around and viewing the important places of your past is a ton of fun. Even the kids will enjoy visiting their old homes, schools and heritage. Seattle also offers a number of free (pay what you feel) tours. You can find a list of those here.
A fun one this time of the year, is to explore the Glass Pumpkin Patches, put on by the Tacoma Glass Blowing Company. Find more info on that here.
If you are interested in history, the Klondike Museum, down on the Seattle waterfront is free. You can explore the history of Seattle in the museum, but you can also do a free self guided walking tour of Pioneer Square.
6. Make a day trip out of viewing Fall Foliage
We have a list of spots that you can view beautiful Fall leaves in the Northwest here. Another idea is to head to the mountains. Leavenworth is a beautiful place to see the changing leaves (make sure to check out Sia’s post on ways to save at Leavenworth, where to stay, and more).
This spot offers free sailings on Sundays, throughout the year. Sprit boats, steamboats, electric boats, schooners, ketches, yawls, and yachts: come every Sunday to sail them all, year-round, rain or shine for free.
8. Take in a FREE or low cost event!
There are a number of spots that you can find free Fall events, or attractions (or low cost ones), to enjoy with your family. They include:
- Public library free passes – check with your local library to find out what kinds of free event tickets you can get with your library card. Many offer free museum tickets and more!
- Our free and frugal events round up (including free museum days the first Thursday of each month)
- $5 Teen Tix Program
- Comp Train Ticket deals – these tickets are free, but you will need to pay service charges so there will be a small fee.
- You can actually catch free movies at many of the Seattle Library branches too (find the calendar for that here)
9. Watch the fish spawn
Fall is the time when you can find many amazing spots to watch fish spawn. I have taken my kids to various local hatcheries, the Wenatchee river, and other locations for this amazing event. Just google fish hatcheries, or places to watch fish spawn near me, to find a location that will work for you. Pack a picnic and make an afternoon of it.
10.Explore a free garden! A few of our favorites include:
I love the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, for one. It is free, and will have lots of great Fall colors this time of the year (and a great suspension bridge). More ideas include the Kobota Gardens in Seattle,
The Washington Arboretum Botanical Gardens is a great one to see Fall colors, and they offer free loaner back packs for the kids, to help them really have fun exploring (they include things like scavenger hunts, magnifying glasses, and other things they need to explore)!
Point Defiance is a good stop in the Tacoma area, as they offer much to explore, and lots of walking trails.
Let us know your favorite free garden to explore this time of the year!
11.Make a Scarecrow with items you probably have around the house
This is a fun and frugal way to make the yard festive, and you can get the kids involved in decorating. If you do not have all the supplies at home already, hit up your local thrift store to get what you need for a bargain.
12. Go through winter clothes for charity & Enjoy Fall Consignment Sales
With the cold weather coming, families will be in need. This is an excellent way to get your kids involved and learning about charitable living. Go through the old and get rid of what you don’t need.Same goes with your pantry – go thru your pantry & give your extra to local food banks (here’s a list of Northwest Food banks) You can also find a list of the Fall consignment sales here, if you want to get involved in selling at one of these, or buying!
13. Window shop for Christmas
Although it is early yet, window shopping is absolutely free. Head out and have some fun pretending what Santa will be bringing.
14. Go Apple Picking
There are plenty of areas around where you can go apple picking. You will have to pay for the apples, but if you consider that part of your weekly grocery bill, the event itself is free. You can find a list of places to enjoy this in the NW here.
15. Go to a fall festival
Festivals certainly include plenty of temptations, but a family that wants to simply walk around and see the sights can go for free. Many fall festivals have petting zoos and various other attractions that cost nothing. Go have some fun just enjoying the ambience.
Check out our list of Pacific Northwest Fall Festivals going on this autumn season.
Fall fun does not have to be expensive. Go out and get busy with the family and feel good about it!
And be sure to have a hearty pot of soup in the crockpot for when you get home, to finish your day off with lots of fall comfort.
Some of our favorites incude: hot potato soup on a chilly day is tough to beat. Gather everyone around the table and enjoy a classic for next to nothing. Here are a few of our favorite hearty soups: Slow Cooker Sausage & Pumpkin Chili, Taco Bean Soup, Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup, Zuppa Toscana Soup, and Chicken Corn Chowder to name a few. You can find all of our homemade soup recipes here too.
What are your favorite free fall activities to do with your family?