Seven Fall Activities for Families (That Are Not Apple Picking)


Everyone thinks of fall as apple picking season. And apple picking is great — don’t get me wrong. But when my family goes apple picking, we fight the crowds, someone always winds up with a tummy ache, and we pick more apples than we can eat. It’s a once-a-season trip for us. There are so many other awesome things for families to do in the fall! Here are my top seven fall activities for families in and near Boston:

Plant some bulbs

Every spring and summer I think about the garden I could have had if I’d gotten my act together earlier. Bulb flowers like tulips and daffodils are best planted in the fall, as are trees and shrubs. Get out there while the weather is still somewhat warm! For maximum success, plant about six weeks ahead of the first frost.

Find a festival

Many towns in Massachusetts have harvest festivals or Oktoberfests. In addition to local festivals you’ll find in your neighborhood, here are some great, family-friendly festivals to attend in and around Boston:

Harvest Festival at Powisset Farm in Dover (October 6): A hay maze, field day activities, animals, cider pressing, seasonal vendors, and so much more!

Honk! in Somerville (October 11–13): A celebration of music, community, and activism.

Boston Book Festival in Copley Square (October 19–20): A variety of events for the whole family that promote a culture of reading.

Take a hike

Fall is a great time to get outside. It’s no longer too hot and not yet too cold. Blue Hills and Middlesex Fells are great hiking spots close to the city. Or check out the best day hikes in Massachusetts for a new spot.

Play in some leaves

Get outside and rake the leaves with your kids! Make a huge pile — and have them jump in it. Make a few stacks and have a leaf fight. Collect some of the prettiest leaves and press them in a book. Or do one of these 10 autumn leaf crafts.

Get ghostly

Salem is infamous for its witch trials and gets particularly ghostly in the fall around Halloween. All through October is “Haunted Happenings,” with a variety of family-friendly events. Visit on “Wicked Wednesdays” and “Wicked Weekends” for costumed characters, crafts, and face painting. With movies, parades, and various tours, there are many events daily at the end of September and during the month of October.

Visit a museum

Yes, you can do this any time of year, but there are two big advantages to doing it in the fall. Exhibits often change in the fall, so you’ll be the first to see something new. And museums tend to be less crowded in the fall for a few reasons: School is back in session, and the weather isn’t hot/cold enough to lead people to take refuge indoors. 

Go to a game

Patriots and Red Sox games are great for families, if you can get tickets. But how about the Revolution (men’s soccer), the Cannons (men’s lacrosse), the Storm (women’s lacrosse), or the Renegades (women’s soccer)? It might be more fun for little ones to watch a college sports game or even a game at your local high school. Concessions are much cheaper at the local level, too, and proceeds often support the schools! 

This fall, I’m going to get lost in some hay at the Powisett Harvest Festival. See you there!

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Rachel is a native of the West Coast and didn't know that her straight hair could frizz until she made the move East! After earning a Master of Environmental Management from Yale, she moved to Boston for a job opportunity and, on her first Saturday night in the city, met the man who would become her husband. They married in 2012 and are learning more every day about how to be parents to daughters Annabel (2013) and Eleanor (2016). Rachel and her family recently relocated from Charlestown to the Metrowest suburbs and are enjoying their yard, but dislike shoveling snow from their driveway. Rachel currently works as an energy and environmental consultant, and wore Birkenstocks before they were trendy. Likes: her family, her in-laws, cooking ambitious meals and leaving the dishes for someone else, hiking, running, yoga, climbing mountains, reading books, farmers' markets and her CSA, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, the sound of her daughters' laughter, and coffee Dislikes: running out of milk, New England winters, diaper rash, wastefulness, cell phones at the dinner table