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75 Budget Friendly Fall Activities

September 2nd, 2016

Fall color on the Aspen Nature Loop trail in Flagstaff, Arizona

Fall is a great time to take advantage of wonderful free activities like enjoying the beautiful colors of the seasons, trying out new fall inspired recipes, planning festive Halloween activities, and enjoying outdoor recreation in the beautiful crisp air. Fortunately, there are many free and low cost activities to enjoy during these beautiful months. Take a look at 75 budget friendly activities to add to your fall bucket list. Also, feel free to add some suggestions of your own.

1. Take a scenic fall foliage drive

Pretty yellow aspens at the start of the fall season in Flagstaff, Arizona

Nothing really says fall quite like a quiet country drive during the peak of fall leaf peeping season. It’s a cheap & free way to get out there and enjoy the beauty of fall. Check out a few of the best fall drives in the US.

2.Enjoy some pumpkin flavored coffee

Trader Joe’s sells the most delicious Pumpkin Spice Coffee. And if you own a Keurig machine, there are now several pumpkin varieties to test out. Not a coffee drinker? You must try Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Roobios tea – it’s so delicious that I stock up on enough boxes to last months after fall has come and gone. Nothing puts me in the fall mood quite like a hot cup of pumpkin tea, a chilly breeze coming through the house, and a good book!

3. Carve pumpkins

bat pumpkin carving

This is an obvious must during October. I usually carve at least 5 pumpkins, both as a frugal fall activity and to be used as budget friendly decor throughout my house and outside. Pick up a super cheap carving kit at a dollar store and either use one of the provided designs, search for one online, or get creative and design your own masterpiece!

4. Make your own Pumpkin Spice Latte

Delicious Pumpkin Spice Latte

We all love Starbuck’s seasonal drinks especially the Pumpkin Spice Latte – it’s a great treat a few times during the season, however, it can get pricey to keep up the habit. Plus, it’s loaded with sugar and calories. Did you know that you can make a much more delicious than Starbucks home recipe, which just happens to be a bit healthier as an added bonus?! This vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte is great for those avoiding dairy.

5. Find a hiking trail with beautiful fall colors

Inner Basin fall colors in Northern Arizona

For most of the country, it really is not too difficult to find a beautiful park or hiking trail near your area with great foliage. Unless you live in Florida or California, you really should have plenty of nice options. Even if you live in Arizona, you can drive 2 hours up to Flagstaff to hike the amazing Inner Basin trail pictured above. Hiking is my favorite fall activity. The weather is just perfect for this calorie busting activity, not to mention the beauty of the season just makes the hike all the more picturesque. Check your local state/national park website for a list of trails near you or simply hit the walking path of your choice at any local park.

6. Try a Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte

Find a local coffee shop that is offering this seasonal specialty or make your own. Trader Joe’s and Tazo both make great mixes. All you need to do is add a bit of milk (I prefer Almond Milk as it gives the drink a super smooth and creamy texture). Or locate a great recipe online. Although this fantastic Pumpkin Spice Chai recipe is a bit time consuming, it is so incredibly delicious & well worth the few extras minutes it takes to prepare yourself over a pre-made drink!

7. Host a Halloween movie marathon

Pick a fun all day horor series like Scream, Friday the 13th, Child’s Play, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street… the options are endless! Or simply mix and match a few old and new classics for an interesting lineup sure to entertain everyone. A few of my favorites like time of year include The Cabin in the Woods, Thirteen Ghosts, The Watcher in the Woods, Hocus Pocus, Identity, The Lost Boys, Fright Night, all the Disney Channel Original movie classics (Halloweentown anyone?!), and way too may more to list! A horror movie marathon is by far the most entertaining frugal Halloween activity out there!

8. Enjoy a beautiful waterfall hike

A gorgeous waterfall during the fall season at Devil's Hopyard State Park in East Haddam,Connecticut

If you are lucky enough to live by a gorgeous waterfall like the beautiful Chapman Falls at Devil’s Hopyard State Park in East Haddam, Connecticut, fall is the prime time to take advantage of this picture perfect photo opportunity. The colorful foliage surrounding the waterfall makes the scene all the more attractive.

9. Check for local fall festivals and events in your area

Bengstons Pumpkin Farm in the Chicago suburbs

Fall is one of the best times of the year for free festivals and events. Check local newspapers, the visitor’s center, the library, and bulletins around town for info about seasonal happenings. The lineup may include community art fairs and farmer’s markets, pumpkin patches, outdoor concerts, trick r’ treating and other Halloween related events, and much more!

10. Find a pumpkin patch near you

Pumpkin patch at Hitchin Post Stables in Flagstaff, Arizona

Most pumpkin patches offer free or cheap admission. Walking around enjoying the fresh fall air, picking your own farm fresh pumpkin, enjoying seasonal entertainment and vendors, making your way through a corn maze, and enjoying  a hot mug of apple cider can all be part of a pretty frugal fall day out. Check this helpful Pumpkin Patches and More website for a list of options conveniently sorted by county.

11. Take a relaxing hayride and enjoy the local fall scenery

Hayride at Hitchin Post Stables in Flagstaff, Arizona

Most pumpkin patches, as well as small town events will typically include a seasonal hayride as part of the lineup of activities. Typically, these run between $5-15 a person depending on the size of the event. Overall, it’s a great way to enjoy the fall weather and ambiance without going broke.

12. Watch horror and thriller movies on Netflix

There is a huge category of both exciting new & fun low budget movies in both of these categories. Whether you enjoy psychological thrillers, ghost stories, or slasher flicks, you can find them all on Netflix. No Netflix? Simply browse through your DVR for a few seasonal favorites – there is sure to be more than enough to choose from this time of year!

13. Enjoy a festive fall/Halloween themed series on Netflix

A few exciting fall/mystery/horror/sci-fi picks for the season include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Secret Circle, The Witches of East End, Salem, American Horror Story, Supernatural, and Stranger Things. Some of these series like Buffy and Supernatural have several seasons, and thus, will keep you busy with some frugal, festive fun for the whole season!

14. Visit your library and start a new book series

…Or reread an old fall favorite like Harry Potter. Harry Potter & Twilight are just the perfect fall series to curl up to with a nice hot cup of coffee or pumpkin tea. Curl up on the couch with a blanket and enjoy a lazy weekend rereading your old faves while still keeping that fall ambiance in the air. Something about the dreary setting in both, presence of wizards and vampires, and magical elements make either a good fall pick.

15. Roast s’mores on a starry night

Firepit at Mt Laurel Cabins in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Nothing really beats a crips fall night by the firepit. Throw on a cozy sweater, get your S’Mores Kit ready, maybe a seasonal pumpkin beer or cider, and enjoy these last few months where you can actually still sit outsidewithout freezing your butt off!

16. Roast pumpkin seeds

Although plain salted pumpkin seeds will always be the best, you can always try out a few new creations to make the event even more festive. Make a few different batches with all different types of spices and seasonings. Check out this basic Roasted Pumpkin Seed recipe from Whole Foods.

17. Decorate for the fall with budget friendly home decorating tips

Simply type in fall decor on a site like Pinterest and you will have more than enough options to keep you busy for at least 5 fall seasons. Pinterest is great because most of the design tips involve the use of materials which you already own or those which you can purchase really cheaply.

18. Take a brisk jog outside on a beautiful fall afternoon

Fall colors along Blackstone Blvd in Providence RI

Fall is the best time weather and scenery wise for just about any outdoor activity. However, nothing really beats jogging in a park surrounded by colorful foliage. The park pictured above is gorgeous Blackstone Blvd in Providence, Rhode Island. How could you not be motivated to get several miles in with the cool breeze and amazing foliage!

19. Shop for local produce at your farmers market

Check to see if your town offers a seasonal farmer’s market. Nothing compares to the freshness of fruits and veggies at the farmer’s market. This is a great time to stroll around as it’s not as hot as the summer season. Plus, you may be able to find some great seasonal deals on fall produce and specialty products like apple cider.

20. Shop for antique treasures at a flea market

Many areas are home to year round flea markets. Back when I lived in Tampa, you could find a number of year round markets within a short drive of your house. Summer is often too hot to browse around looking for deals, so save your visits for the fall.

21. Check your town’s event calendar for the annual holiday craft fair

I just love visiting those cute holiday craft fairs which are often held at churches or inside the high school gymnasium. You can find the cutest little holiday knick knacks and crafts at such a cheap price. Plus, you will be decorating your house with unique treasures as opposed to the same old- same old that everyone else has from the department stores and chains.

22. Hold a garage/yard sale and clear out some old junk, while making a few bucks in the process!

I love holding regular garage sales on the weekends. It’s a great opportunity to clear out some junk, mingle with your neighbors, and make a few bucks in the process. Store anything you do not sell in totes for easy access the next time around.

23. Enjoy all the seasonal fall treats found on the aisles of your grocery store this time of year

Seasonal pumpkin treats at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s carries the best selection of pumpkin flavored fall specialties. As you can see in the picture above, Trader Joe’s sells a wide variety of treats for the season (and there’s lots more than that pictured!). My favorites are Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Body Butter, Pumpkin Spice Coffee, Pumpkin Roobios Tea, and Pumpkin Muffin Mix. They also sell pumpkins at a pretty decent price so you can go pumpkin crazy without going broke!

24. Enjoy a seasonal pumpkin smoothie

Any pumpkin lover must try out the seasonal Almond Milk Pumpkin Smoothie at Jamba Juice. This delicious creamy treat tastes like you are drinking a pumpkin pie, although it’s much tastier! For a budget friendly alternative, find a great recipe online.

25. Check with local museums and zoos to see if they are offering any special fall events

Jack O'Lantern Spectacular in Providence Rhode Island

Most zoos host some type of annual fall/Halloween related event often called a Boo at the Zoo. This fun and budget friendly family activity is a great way to get out of the house and enjoy the fall weather and festivities without overspending. Luckily, these seasonal events are often priced lower than regular zoo admission. Pictured above is the fantastic Jack O’Lantern Spectacular in Providence, an event which features 1000’s of artistic crafted pumpkins, with a new theme each year.

26. Enjoy seasonal pumpkin flavored tea at your favorite local shop

Witch's Brew tea at Steep in Flagstaff Arizona

Check your local tea shop for special autumn flavors. Or order online from specialty retailers like David’s Tea or Davidson’s Tea. Davidson’s offers the most delicious Pumpkin Spice Tea. As mentioned above, Trader Joe’s sells a wonderful Pumpkin Roobios blend.

27. Decorate your house for Halloween

Be creative and make your own ghosts, bats, and gravestones! Turn decorating into a fun and frugal date or family activity!

28. Get into the fall spirit by watching movies that highlight the beauty of the season

Plan a marathon of fall favorites like Good Will Hunting, You’ve Got Mail, Rudy, When Harry Met Sally, School Ties, and The Blind Side. If these movies cannot get you into the fall spirit, then nothing else will!

29. Find a paved bike path that is lined with gorgeous fall foliage

A beautiful fall day on Boston's Minuteman Path

Biking is a relaxing activity which also happens to be a great workout! And passing all those beautiful fall colors is all the more motivating to get out there! Pictured above is the gorgeous Boston area bike trail known as the Minuteman Trail – wow are the colors incredible here. I highly recommend checking it out if you ever find yourself in the area.

30. Find a coffee shop that puts up lots of fall decor and relax with a hot pumpkin drink

Espresso drink around Halloween at the Monte Vista in Flagstaff

Find a cozy local coffee house that actually decorates and order their specialty autumn drink. Also scan the pastry shelves to see if they are offering any pumpkin muffins or holiday treats. Spend a lazy morning enjoying one of the best cheap pleasures of the fall season: a steaming mug of Pumpkin Spice Latte.

31. Treat yourself to an at home pumpkin facial

Pumpkin is loaded with minerals and antioxidants, making it great for the skin! It’s really easy to prepare a simple mask and there are tons of easy, cheap recipes online. Here’s one great Pumpkin facial recipe.

32. Pick out a cute fall mug at an affordable store like Home Goods

Treat yourself to a nice festive coffee mug this fall. Stores like Home Goods and Kohls offers lots of festive selections at super affordable prices.

33. Try on Halloween costumes and check out the spooky displays at a Spirit Halloween store

Spirit is just so much fun to walk through around Halloween, even if you have no spare money to spend. Aside from looking through endless costumes and Halloween knick knacks, you can also check out the spooky displays. It’s always a great time and should be on everyone’s October fun list.

34. Visit your local bakery for a special fall themed treat

Halloween themed treats at Walt Disney World's Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Typically the local bakeries will start rolling out the special fall treats like pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, or pumpkin cookies by mid September.  Many will offer several different pumpkin themed options, as well as unique festive creations for Halloween around this time of year.

35. Visit your favorite restaurant and try out a great fall dish like pumpkin ravioli

Delicious pumpkin ravioli at Pizzico's in Providence, Rhode Island

Fall is the best time to plan a visit to your favorite local Italian restaurant because this is when they usually put the best food of the year on the menu like butternut squash or pumpkin ravioli and maybe even pumpkin cheesecake. Pictured above is the most delicious Pumpkin Ravioli ever at a little Providence restaurant called Pizzico. It’s definitely the best pumpkin ravioli I have ever found and to date I’ve never tasted a worthy rival. Check local Italian websites/call around to see who is offering a great fall dish. Also check Groupon & Living Social for special discounts.

36. Make your own creative, budget friendly Halloween costume

Take your time researching ideas, find cheap items around the house or at the dollar store, and turn your project into a fun fall activity. Check Pinterest for frugal design ideas.

37. Get out the crock pot and make some pumpkin chili

Although this sounds like a strange combo, pumpkin chili is absolutely delicious! Grab a pumpkin beer, simmer the chili in a crockpot all morning, turn on the football game, lazy around the couch, crack open the windows, and you have the perfect fall afternoon all set up.

38. Find budget friendly Halloween events in your area

Corn maze at Hitchin Post Stables in Flagstaff, Arizona

Examples of festive free or cheap fun this time of year typically include screenings of horror movies, haunted forests and corn mazes, and local pumpkin patches. My local theater runs special Halloween movies the entire month of October on Tuesday nights for just 5 bucks. It’s a great way to get out of the house and do something festive for under ten bucks.

39. Make your own caramel apples

The homemade version of your favorite treats are so much more delicious and fun than simply picking up a pre packaged set at the store! Try all different toppings like Reeses pieces, dark chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and nuts.

40. Design a Shutterfly book highlighting your summer adventures

Fall is the perfect time to get all your summer photos together and start making some sort of memento of your adventures. Shutterfly is a great company that allows you to customize your own photo books and even make unique knick knacks using your own photos.

41. Take a self guided tour of haunted sites in your town

Beautiful Old Burying Point cemetery in Salem, Massachusetts

Head to your local visitor’s center and pick up a free map of haunted/historical sites in your area. Pictured above is the super old and super spooky Old Burial Hill in Salem, Massachusetts. You can find plenty of sights like this in your own town, just do a little research!

42. Spend the day apple picking at an orchard

This fun, family friendly activity is the perect way to spend a beautiful fall day.

43. Be young again – Tune into ABC Family’s 13 Nights of Halloween and Disney’s Monstober

The house from Hocus Pocus in Salem, MA

October is the time to catch all your favorite childhood Halloween classics on the Disney Channel and ABC Family. During this time, you can get into that youthful spirit again by enjoying all your childhood favorites like Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown, and Twitches. Does the house above look familiar? It is the actual house of Max and Dani’s in Hocus Pocus, used for filming, and you can see it, along with many other Hocus Pocus sights in Salem, Massachusetts.

44. Try out a pumpkin flavored beer

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale, or Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale are a few notable options. Anyone who needs a gluten free alternative should definitely try out Harpoon Pumpkin Cider.

45. Make a delicious butternut squash soup and top it with pumpkin flavored croutons

Butternut Squash soup is great anytime of the year, however, nothing beats a steaming bowl of this velvety soup on a cold fall’s day. Trader Joe’s sells amazing pumpkin flavored croutons to toss in. You can find many variations of this fall favorite by doing a simple search online.

46. Watch old Halloween themed episodes of 90’s classics like Roseanne and Home Improvement

Roseanne and Home Improvement had some of the best Halloween episodes of any sitcom ever. Luckily, you can track most of these down on You Tube for free. Or fork over 5 bucks on Amazon for the Roseanne Tricks and Treats Special Edition featuring 8 classic Halloween episodes – trust me, it’s worth it!

47. Train for a fall/Halloween themed 5k

You will find plenty of these festive races from September-November. Whether a Turkey Trot, zombie walk, or pumpkin run, you should be able to find something to interest you. Training for a 5k will keep you busy and healthy all fall long! Find a fall themed race near you on the Running in the USA website.

48. Collect colorful fall leaves or pine cones

Row of brightly colored red trees in Swansea MA

Pick your favorite fall trail and collect colorful leaves or pine cones along the route. You can turn pine cones into all sorts of fun crafts including my favorite: glitter cones. Dab your cones in glue and sprinkle with autumn glitter colors (find at a store like Micheals).

49. Shop for a horror novel or scary ghost stories book

Scan your local thrift shop first to see if you can find any scary ghost story books or classic chilly novels like Stephen King’s It. They will usually have seasonal selections on a special display. Or look for cheap deals on Amazon.

50. Cheer on your local high school or college football team

Fall means football season! For a much cheaper alterntative to a pricey NFL game, cheer on your local high school or college team!

51. Enjoy a picnic in the park

Pretty bridge at Devil's Hopyard State Park in East Haddam CT

Pick a beautiufl park in your area for a relaxing weekend picnic. Enjoy the beautiful outdoors in these cooler months before it gets too cold & snowy to do so!

52. Make your own scarecrow as a festive and frugal fall/Halloween decoration

Get crazy and create the best handmade Halloween decor on your block!

53. Find your coziest pair of pajamas, turn up the fireplace, pick a nice window seat, and enjoy a great novel

There’s nothing like being lazy and enjoying a good novel on a cool fall day. Get comfortable in a pair of cozy flannel pjs, turn up the fireplace, and relax!

54. Host a potluck Sunday night football party

Have everyone bring a fall treat and keep plenty of fall beers on hand. Enjoy good food, good company, and a great game.

55. Bake Halloween themed sugar cookies

Find affordable cookie cutters in seasonal shapes such as bats, ghosts, and gravestones at Walmart or Michaels. Top with fall color sprinkles or Halloween candies. Yum – these are so delicious, fun to make, and totally festive!

56. Donate your old summer and spring clothing to a thrift shop

Help those in need while clearing out some space for your beautiful fall and winter sweaters. No point in tossing anything away as someone else could probably use it.

57. Volunteer at an animal shelter or soup kitchen

It always feels great to help those less fortunate, plus it costs you absolutely nothing, gets you out of the house for a bit, and provides plenty of opportunities for socializing.

58. Treat yourself to a fun pair of Halloween earrings

Although I am not a big fan of Wal-Mart, they do have the cutest Halloween themed earring and they will only set you back 3 bucks! There are so many festive designs – spider webs, ghosts, bats, etc.

59. Check out the Lemax Spooky Town Display at Michaels

Lemax house displays Halloween

The annual Halloween village set up at Michaels is just fantastic. There are so many creative pieces in this collection. I wait each year for the display to go up to see which new pieces they have added to this creative collection! Although the pieces are a bit pricey, you can get them really cheap right after the holidays or even track down some old pieces through ebay or Amazon.

60. Enjoy a round of miniature golf

The fall season offers the perfect weather for this fun family activity. Some courses, like Golfland in Mesa, Arizona, even have special Halloween light effects and decor during the season.

61. Plan a board game marathon for a rainy day

In most areas of the country, the weather is often overcast, cool, and rainy during the fall months. This means it’s the perfect time to plan an old-fashioned game night! Play mystery favorites like Clue or seasonal selections like Boo-opoly, a festive Halloween themed version of Monopoly.

Playing checkers by the fire on a cool night at Emerson Resort in Upstate New York

62. Play old Nintendo favorites like Super Mario 3

No matter how many times you have beat the game, old faves like Super Mario 1 & 3 just never seem to get old. Spend the day enjoying old time favorites like Mario Brothers, Tetris, and Pac Man on NES. Th is just the perfect full day activity for an overcast, rainy fall day! If you have a WII, you can purchase old games for just 5 bucks. An alternate option is to buy a refurbished system on Amazon – they are still much cheaper then the newer systems, and loads more fun!

63. Treat yourself to a pumpkin themed bath

Just the scent of pumpkin seems to put you in a good mood and definitely makes it seem like fall is in the air. Trader Joe’s sells an amazing pumpkin scented body lotion that will have you stocking up for the entire year. Find a pumpkin flavored body scrub and scented candles and you are all ready for your mini pumpkin at home spa day. Don’t forget about the pumpkin facial mentioned above!

64. Sharpen your photography skills

Aspen Nature Loop in Flagstaff

With gorgeous colors tempting you everywhere, it’s the perfect time to get out your camera and sharpen your photography skills. Not only can you take great landscape photos in the fall, but it’s also a great time for family photos and future greeting card opportunities.

65. Turn raking leaves into a fun fall activity

Fall leaf peeping on the Aspen Nature Loop in Flagstaff AZ

After doing your yardwork, stuff the leaves into a Halloween leaf bag: a fun, frugal, and classic Halloween decoration for your front lawn.

66. Plan a Halloween party

Search for creative recipes, make your own costume, make your own decorations, and plan a fun night of Halloween movies and music with your family and friends. Have each guest bring a unique Halloween themed treat!

67. Start looking up new side dish recipes for your Thanksgiving feast

You’ll find more than enough options for new creative additions to your meal by doing a quick search online. Nowadays, you can easily find vegetarian, vegan, paleo, and sugar free recipes.

68. Take your dog for a walk while enjoying the cool fresh air and beautiful colorful trees lining your neighborhood

Row of beautiful old homes and fall color trees in Salem MA

69. Enjoy a fall themed puzzle or latch hook kit

Use puzzle glue to save your puzzle and turn the latchhook into a festive fall pillow. Additional crafty ideas can be found in stores like Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics.

70. Make your own fresh apple cider

Apple Cider is the perfect alternative for those who do not like coffee. While everyone else is enjoying their pumpkin spice lattes, you won’t feel too left out.

71. See if anywhere near you is offering a free or low cost ghost tour

Burial Hill cemetery in Plymouth MA

These festive ghost hunting events often allow you to test out cool ghost hunting equipment, including EMF meters which show changing frequencies. The photo above is from an amazing ghost tour in Plymouth MA known as the Plymouth Night Tour. This creepy old cemetery known as Burial Hill is one of the country’s oldest.

72. Watch a marathon of Ghost Adventures

This show is even more fun to watch during the Halloween season. Prepare to be spooked! So cheesy and scary at the same time – it really is one to add to your lineup. Another classic cheesy series to add to your list is Goosebumps and The Haunting Hour – these cheesy half hour Horror/Halloween themed shows will bring you right back to the 90’s for some classic, low budget, cheesy technology scares. Find the whole series on Netflix!

73. Walk around a zoo enjoying the fall colors and cooler temperatures

I just love visiting the zoo during the cooler fall months, especially during peak fall color season. Bring with a picnic lunch to save on the overpriced food. Also see if the zoo is offering any special seasonal events.

74. Check local newspaper ads for neighborhood garage and yard sales

Plan a Saturday morning of hunting down bargain treasures. I have found many a treasure spending random weekends hunting down deals.

75. Take a day trip to a scenic state or national park near you

fall colors and covered bridge in east haddam, ct

Skip the highway and enjoy the beautiful fall colors along the back roads. Pick a scenic trail with lots of beautiful fall foliage. Afterwards, enjoy a picnic amongst the gorgeous surroundings.

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