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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Family fun in fall: Eight local autumn activities to do with kids

A gainst a palette of changing hues, our region’s crisp autumn days will stretch just long enough to unfold a number of bargains for fall family fun.

From trips to Green Bluff to a walk around a neighborhood park, you and kids can harvest some time together. Usually by late September, more apples are ripe for picking. That’s followed soon by pumpkin patches. Toward mid-October, most of our region’s variety of trees turns to bright hues of yellow, orange and red to spot on leisurely strolls.

With that quest for fall activities, here’s a list of eight cheap, fun things to do with children:

Glamp in the backyard. You might need to bring out the extra blankets on these cooler nights, but cozy up in a tent on the back porch or backyard. Perhaps string some lights and read some fall-themed books before bedtime.

Hike toward seasonal changes. We have an abundance of nature trails close to home that are easy for children. Encourage them to look for signs of changing seasons, insects or fallen leaves. For short or long walks, three places to try out are Spokane Valley’s Dishman Hills Natural Area, Tubbs Hill in Coeur d’Alene and trails near the Spokane Valley YMCA and Mirabeau Point Park, 13500 Mirabeau Parkway.

Visit apple orchards, pumpkin fields, corn mazes. Fields turn toward fall harvesting time soon. Among places open to visitors, two community favorites are Green Bluff Growers – a community of family farms near Mead – and the longtime family-owned Carver Farms that holds fall events in the Newman Lake area. Green Bluff’s Apple Festival runs from late September through October.

But check first online or by calling to see if a favorite farm destination has new protocols these days. For example, Beck’s Harvest House’s online information is requesting reservations for carloads ahead of time for a visit date and estimated arrival. A $5 ticket serves as a reservation for a full carload but doesn’t include entry to its Farm Funland and Giant Corn Maze, which must be purchased separately per person entering, the website said.

Even without a Funland ticket, families can stay as long as they’d like to enjoy music, food, “Pumpkin Land” and more, according to the information. To check on different farms and schedules, start at

Carver’s plans to open for weekends only beginning Sept. 25, with U-pick pumpkins, a corn maze and pumpkin donuts. Check for any updates at

Make a fall dessert. If you do pick apples boxed up to enjoy at home, families can plan a day to have the kids help use them in a favorite dessert you create together. An apple crisp might be one of the easiest picks, including a child-friendly recipe from Highlights magazine, for “kids in the kitchen,” and an old-fashioned apple crisp. Or help them follow a dessert recipe from a family cookbook, and encourage the kids to help measure the ingredients and go heavy on the cinnamon.

Decorate pumpkins. You can go beyond jack-o-lanterns for the pumpkins gleaned from nearby U-pick farms. Parents magazine is one place to find easy no-carve pumpkin designs. Ideas range from painting on faces for special characters to gluing on pom-poms and other decor.

Plan a trip to see fall colors. Although views of autumn leaves usually peak next month, keep in mind good spots for drives and walks to see the changing colors such as at Riverfront Park or several neighborhoods and parks on the South Hill. Another fun destination is Finch Arboretum that features more than 2,000 labeled ornamental trees. Located at 3404 W. Woodland Blvd., off West Sunset Boulevard, the site offers a self-guided walking tour.

Go on a picnic. This could coincide with another fall activity, but plan a stop for a picnic along with some playtime at the nearest park. Take a blanket or chairs along with a packed meal. There might even be some opportunities for fall family photos to tuck into holiday cards or chances to romp through piles of leaves.

Enjoy a fire pit and end-of-season barbecue. On a few of our warmer fall days, this might be one way to squeeze in more out of the season if you have an outdoor gas fireplace or small fire pit – although you might need to keep those blankets handy. Have a family barbecue, with plans at the end to roast some marshmallows. This whispers still a hint of summer that’s wrapped up but still can feel as carefree. It’s just a seasonal state of mind.