15 Budget-Friendly Family Activities to Do This Fall

New seasons bring new challenges to keep your family entertained and engaged with each other. If you and your family have been working on a tight household budget, planning family activities can feel overwhelming or even impossible.

Luckily, we’ve rounded up the fifteen best family activities on a budget for the fall. Experience all the great fun this season has to offer without feeling like you’re compromising your family’s future comfort.


1. Drive-In Movie (Or Host Your Own!)

Some communities offer free drive-in or outdoor movie events during the early fall. Lots of the movies are family-friendly or even Halloween-themed. It’s one of the best budget-friendly activities because a lot of events only make you pay per car instead of per family member. This makes it much less expensive than a typical movie theater. Pack lots of blankets to keep cozy and bring your own movie snacks!

If you can’t find any outdoor movies in your area, plan your own family movie night. Get lots of popcorn, move the couch out of the way and put blankets out on the floor, turn out all your lights and make it a big family event.


2. Apple Picking

Apple picking is one of the classic things to do in the fall. Lots of apple farms let you pick and eat apples straight off the tree. Most let you pay by the pound at the end and have cheaper prices than the apples in grocery stores.

Even if you don’t want to spend the money on apples, you can take the opportunity as a lovely walk through an orchard with your family.


3. Take a Hike

Speaking of lovely walks. Hikes are free!

There are lots of free county, state, and national parks for you and your family to enjoy. No matter what your skill level is, there are beautiful hikes that will be possible for you to complete. Try to find one with some kind of stunning view at the end.


4. Find Free Museum Hours

Sometimes museums have hours where they offer free or pay-what-you-wish entry. This is a great opportunity for families on a budget to experience art or science together without paying a massive amount of money. Check their websites for more information.

For a particularly fun fall museum activity, try an art museum and go check out the Impressionists. A lot of impressionists were painting beautiful fall scenes. You can explain to your children the techniques the painters used to create the illusion of reality. Then when you leave, have them notice their own impressions of fall scenes outside.


5. Halloween Parades

Check your town’s local newsletter about Halloween parades. Many parades are free to watch and some even are free to participate in. Get extra wear out of your kid’s Halloween costume, and have them walk in that parade!

Speaking of Halloween costumes, here are some options for saving money on those costumes. Use what you already have to create special outfits. Sometimes kids love wearing their parents’ clothes even more than a store-bought Halloween costume. Does your old high school graduation gown double as the perfect wizard costume?

You can also organize a costume swap with your neighbors. Everyone’s kids are of different ages and sizes so old costumes can be exchanged so that everyone has something new to wear.


6. Make a Campfire

Have some fallen branches in your yard that you need to clean up anyway? Make a night of it with a campfire. With a few stones and bricks, you can make a firepit to burn old logs and sticks in.

It’s pleasant to sit around the fire as a family, but for even more fun you can add a couple of activities to it. Get a bag of marshmallows to roast or have a competition about who can tell the best ghost stories.


7. Carve a Pumpkin

If you’re keeping a tight budget, you can still enjoy pumpkin carving this autumn.

Your family can get one big pumpkin to carve together. Collaborate on a single design or designate areas of the pumpkin for each member to carve. Some pumpkins go for as little as five dollars, but from scooping to designing to carving it’s a whole evening of fun activity.

You also can get a snack for several days out of it! After scooping out the pumpkin, rinse off the seeds to make roasted pumpkin seeds! This tasty and nutritious snack can be packed as part of school lunches, and you didn’t even have to make a separate grocery run.

Multipurpose purchases are one of the best money-saving tips. So always look for what else you can use an item for after buying it. In this case, pumpkin is food and decoration.


8. Press Leaves

This activity is two or three in one. Go for a walk around your neighborhood and pick up all the beautifully colored leaves that you can find. Learn to identify trees based on leaves and tree bark to get in touch with your local flora.

Then, take the leaves home and press them between heavy books. Make sure you put a layer of paper between the leaves and the books before you do so that the leaves don’t bleed onto your books.

After about two to three weeks, you can take the leaves out. They’ll keep their beautiful colors and shape forever now. You can paste them into a notebook and add pages every year. Write down the kinds of trees they came from and put the notebook on display each fall.


9. Check Your Local Library

Libraries are great resources for things to do in the fall that don’t break the bank. Libraries are first and foremost for the benefit of the community so many of their events are free and open to the public.

Check your library bulletin or website for Halloween storytimes, fall crafts, fun nature lectures, coloring pages, gardening demonstrations, and other fun fall activities!


10. Jump in Leaves

There’s a certain amount of yard cleanup that comes with the fall, but it doesn’t have to be all work and no play.

Have the kids participate in raking up leaves. Have everyone work together to make the biggest pile possible and then… JUMP! Some of the leaves might be displaced a little, but then everyone will help put them in garbage bags anyway.


11. Have A Chili Cook-Off

Big meals among friends can be an expensive affair, but there’s a way to get everyone to pitch in just a little bit. Organize a chili cook-off amongst your neighbors!

Nominate a few neighbors to be the judges and have everyone bring a folder table and a pot of their best chili out onto their lawns. Go around from house to house getting a sample of each pot. By the end of the night, you and your children’s tummies will be full, and you’ll have gotten a great chance to connect with your community.

Make it even more of an event by creating a fun playlist and bringing speakers outside for everyone to enjoy. Or see if the neighbor’s teenage kids would like to perform with their band.


12. Have a Picnic

While it’s still a little warm, plan an afternoon picnic. You don’t have to spend any more money on lunch than you already do, but bringing it outside makes it a little more special.

You can have a picnic in your very own backyard or make it a part of your hiking adventure.


13. Camp in the Backyard

This is a way to combine a few activities into one and create a night that your kids are sure to remember.

On a clear night, pitch a tent in the backyard (to avoid those campsite fees), and have everyone sleep outside for the night. For dinner, you can roast hotdogs over the fire.

Once it gets dark out, do some stargazing with your kids. Do a little research on simple constellations beforehand, and they’re sure to be impressed with your knowledge and their new skill.

If it’s cold make sure everyone is bundled up in good layers and inside a warm sleeping bag. If you only have a couple of sleeping bags. Kids can share with parents to be cuddled all night long.


14. Find a Spooky Science Experiment

You can find lots of science experiments online with a Halloween twist. Look up how to make Mad Scientist slime or ghostly smoke in your very own kitchen. A lot of these experiments use materials that you probably already have in your homes such as baking soda and contact solution.


15. Play a Board Game

As the nights get cooler, you’ll be looking for more indoor activities. It’s the perfect season to get your family into playing board games together.

There are lots of games for every age group, and just because they’re easy doesn’t mean they aren’t fun. If you don’t already own some board games, check your area for local board game cafes or see if there are games available for loan from your library. If you must buy a game you can always check thrift stores.


Family Activities For Every Season and Every Budget

Whether you like to do large social activities, spend time outside, or cozy up with your loved ones indoors, there are great fall family activities for you. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to feel close to your family and make memories that last.

Curious about more money-saving tips for families? Check out our blog for more fascinating and helpful articles!

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Quick Personal Loans for Canadians :

  • No credit investigation
  • No documents required
  • Repay in up to 90 to 120 days
  • $500 short-term loans