15 Family Outings You Don’t Want to Miss

We all want to be making memories with the kids while we still can, but what can you do that won't cost too much? Here are 15 family outings to try.

Most of us love to travel with our kids during the summer, but fall gets too crazy for going out. With getting back to school routines, extracurriculars starting again, and all those fall chores, life can just feel too busy to plan a family day trip or a day out. We all want to be making memories with the kids while we still can, but what can you do with the kids that doesn’t cost a ton or take up the entire weekend? There are a few family outings that you that most of us just forget about.

Why Family Outings are important

Going on a day trip with the kids or even just spending the afternoon out on a family trip is a great way to build family bonds. You’ll be making memories with the kids and develop those traditions that make being a family more than just routines.

On these family outings, you’ll do more than just have fun. You’ll build those relationships. It’s a way to spend quality time with your kids without guilt that you should be doing a whole host of chores, work and other things. And your kids will see you differently too, especially if you’ve had a rough transition into fall.

So grab the kids, throw on a jacket and let’s go! Try one of these fall family outings and make memories with the kids to last a lifetime.

Connect with Nature

The end of summer brings on the harvest season, and there is so much to see and do. One of our favorite fall outings is to connect with nature and the flavors of the season.

There are several kinds of trips you could take in the fall to connect with nature. There are harvest and farm trips, market and fair trips, and hikes or walks you can do on your own.

First, depending on where you live, check out your local area.

In the harvest season, many farms will offer tours or you-pick opportunities, or simply a roadside stand. Or try a farm attraction, where the farmers create corn mazes and offer wagon rides. These can be so much fun and educational, helping our kids connect where our food comes from.

Second, another option is a farmer’s market or fall fair.

If you live on a farm or you don’t have a suitable place to go, farmer’s markets are awesome places to check out all the fruits, vegetables and other foods that you can get at this time of year. And fall fairs are even better, if you have a local one, where you can play games, ride a midway, and look at all the competitions from your neighbourhood.

When I was younger, our community had a regular, large fall fair, and all the schools participated. One of my favorite parts of the fair was to go through the exhibits and look at all the drawings, crafts, fruits, vegetables, handmade items and other submissions that were shared for the competition. And maybe.. just maybe.. one of mine would be there and would have won a prize!

These days, farm trips and fall fairs are largely out of reach, due to a pesky allergy to straw and hay. (Yes, I’m allergic to straw. It’s more than just hayfever, I start choking at the scent of dried hay!!).

So my third option is a simple fall walk or hike.

I like to grab a simple free fall scavenger hunt sheet and take my kids on a walk. We collect leaves for a scrapbook, and look for signs of animals getting ready to hibernate. And we check off the list of other signs of the seasonal change.

Take a trip to the past.

While you may have taken a trip to see family over the summer, fall is a great time to re-connect with your past. Fall brings to mind the memories of past celebrations, and the bittersweet twinges of grief and remembrances of those who are gone. And with back-to-school, kids are often learning history too.

So bring the past to mind and look at ways to take a trip. There are several kinds of trips to the past you can take, from visiting a local cemetery or participating in a war memorial service, to being part of a re-enactment or visiting an historical village. It’s a great way to be making memories with the kids. Someday they might just be reminiscing about those trips with their own kids.

Remember loved ones at a cemetery.

Going to a cemetery is a fascinating family outing. Whether you are visiting an old cemetery to look at the original settlers of your area, or cleaning up a grave of a recently passed on loved one, it’s always an interesting trip. Grab some tissue paper and do some rubbings on some of the older grave stones. Then look at a genealogical site and see if you can put together a family tree.

Attend a memorial service.

November is the month to remember fallen soldiers. In Canada we have Remembrance Day and in the US there’s Veteran’s Day. Both fall on November 11, Armistice Day.

Many communities will hold memorial services on this day, usually at 11 am, when the treaty that ended World War 1 came into effect. The names of the fallen soldiers killed in the Great War and all the others since from your community are read during the service.

My children are part of a local volunteer organization that helps to run these events where we live. We often hand out poppies in the weeks before and participate in the short memorial parade. Sometimes we’ll help to lay wreaths as well.

Check out a re-enactment or historical village.

Seeing historical battles, villages or forts is so fun. It’s playing pretend, but for adults!

Whether you hang out with soldiers, settlers or pioneers, there are treats, games and skills to try. You might watch a blacksmith create a horseshoe, or put a few stitches into a quilt. And there may even be horse-drawn wagon rides! Talk about making memories with the kids.

Raise money for a cause.

As the holidays approach, many community organizations start fundraising in earnest. Helping out a drive, a walk, or sorting donations is a fantastic family outing that not only is going to make memories with the kids but provide an opportunity to give back to your community. You get to build those family relationships and family values at the same time!

Collect for a holiday food drive.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas so close together, food banks and hamper programs make a big push to fill up their warehouses for the leaner months of the winter. Contact your local food bank to see how your family can help. Some ways might be:

  • sort canned goods in the warehouse (may not be suitable for all ages!)
  • pick up donations from area businesses
  • organize a food drive with your kids’ clubs, school, or your workplace
  • go door to door and collect from your neighbours
  • volunteer to drop off hampers with a local food hamper delivery program
  • pack hampers for pickup or drop off

Sponsor or participate in a charity walk.

A popular way to fundraise for many charities is to travel certain distances and raise money per mile or kilometer travelled. The method of travel could be walking, running, biking or hiking. And sometimes it isn’t even a travel fundraiser, but maybe it’s a golf tournament or basketball competition.

You can participate in a couple of ways. You and your family could sign up to be sponsored, and then collect pledges. On the day of the event, you do the event with the charity as a family. You get out and get active, have fun with your kids, and it’s all for a good cause.

Or you could sponsor someone else who is participating. Maybe go to the event and cheer them on too! And these events need tons of volunteers to even be held, so you can definitely help out that way as well. Hand out water bottles to the runners, or staff the registration booths. It all counts!

Sort donations for charity.

Food banks aren’t the only ones collecting for the holidays. There are many charitable organizations who rely on donations to help out those in need.

You could go through your closets and donate those winter items – coats, boots, hats and mitts – to a winter coat drive with your local homeless shelter. Or collect old blankets for the humane society, who use them for the dogs and cats that are sent there.

As a family, you could choose a family from your local Angel tree or child protection services, and give them a Christmas too. Your kids might have a blast choosing toys and gifts for kids they’ve never met.

Or maybe you’ll support a book drive for your local library, and sort books for the sale. Sort out donations for a silent auction to support United Way or another community charity. Or donate toys to the hospital’s pediatric ward.

There are a ton of ways to support your community and get involved.

Celebrate your Community!

A favorite fun family outing for us is to play tourist in our own backyard. We’re fortunate to live in an area with a rich and thriving cultural heritage. There’s so much to see and do around here, we can be out all. the. time!

So watch your local newspaper or grab a community centre newsletter and check out what’s in your area.

Have fun at a fall festival.

Many neighbourhoods, libraries and churches offer fall festivals. Sometimes they are Halloween themed, but sometimes they’re just harvest or fall themed too. They’re great places to not only have fun with your kids but meet your neighbours too.

These festivals often have live music, games and activities for the kids, and food. Usually there’s food! Sometimes it’s a barbeque that raises money for whatever organization is holding the festival, or sometimes they’ll invite food trucks. But whatever there is, it will be yummy! And those are great memories you make with your kids.

Cheer on the parade!

Fall is the season for parades. Most communities hold Thanksgiving Day or Christmas parades. You can be part of the parade, through your children’s clubs or sports teams, or maybe as part of a work or church group. Or you can bring out your lawn chairs, blankets and hot chocolate, and watch the parade go by.

Whichever you choose, dress for the weather. It’s fall, so it’s definitely getting colder. So bring out the gloves and hats, if not the winter coats and boots. Watching a parade also is a great time to cuddle the kids and/or your significant other, so bonus!

View the neighbourhood displays.

People have some of the most magnificent home decorations for the holidays. And it can be a lot of fun to hop in the car or just go for a walk around the neighbourhood some evenings to go and look at them.

Halloween or Christmas, there can be some awesome light shows and fantastic blow-up displays. Sometimes your local municipality or community organization will put up a display in the park or on a trail too. So bundle up the kids and walk the streets, or drive around with the family, and ooh and aww over the amazing sights right in your own backyard.

Be a patron of the arts.

If you’ve never seen a play on the stage, or attended a live orchestra, it’s a must-do. There’s nothing like the magic of live acting and live musicians. The Fine Arts are something that we often overlook as families, because they can be expensive and overwhelming if you’ve got little kids. But they don’t have to be.

Sometimes plays, music, movies and art displays are more accessible to families than you think. It might take a little bit of research, but here’s a few place you can go to expose yourself and your children to a few more of the cultural treats in your community.

See a play.

Broadway isn’t the only place you can see live action stories on stage. There are many different ways you can see a play, and some of them are very accessible to families with kids of all ages.

Fall is a perfect time to grab a matinee showing of the summer’s last runs at your local theatre. If you can get them in early fall, you can often get cheaper tickets and less strict rules about noise, by watching the last few performances before the theatre moves into their Christmas shows.

You might also try your local high school or college drama club. Or you could even attend a church Christmas performance in late fall. Though they might be amateurs, that doesn’t mean that the quality of the performance suffers. It just means that the costs are lower and they’ll be more forgiving of little ones who get a little restless. And that’s perfect for making memories with the kids!

Listen to the orchestra.

Symphonies and orchestras aren’t always about classical music, and many groups offer family-friendly performances as well. If Mozart and Beethoven aren’t your thing, it’s ok! Your local symphony or orchestra group probably offers more than the great composers.

Locally, our symphony musicians have a movie night, where they will play the orchestral accompaniment to classic Looney Tunes cartoons. It’s a lot of fun, and really brings out how music adds to the comedy of the animation.

Another popular event here is the movie theme night. The symphony orchestra will play themes from blockbuster movies, like Star Wars and Harry Potter. One year, they played the theme from the Super Marios video game!

Your local group may offer a matinee or family-friendly event on a Saturday morning for a discounted cost too. Just ask!

Go to a Movie.

While you could grab the kids and head out to the latest release, there are more family-friendly and memory-making ways to see a film.

Check out your local library or museum. Often they’ll show family-friendly flicks FREE, on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The movies being shown won’t be the latest release, but you might be able to catch a fairly recent movie on a big screen at no charge.

Another option might be a low-budget small theatre. We have one of these in the basement of a smaller mall, where they’ll show kids’ classics and old cult favorites for a discounted price. They have “theme night” movie marathons too! Look around for the hidden movie theatre gems in your area. You never know what you might find.

Get out there and start making memories with the kids!

There’s nothing like going out with the family and making memories with the kids. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, or take a long time, but it will be special. Whether you go to a museum, watch a movie at the library, or head out to a local festival, your children will never forget that day, and neither will you.

Yes there are a million other things you could be doing. But your kids are young for only a short time. Make the memories while you can. Pick a fall family outing and don’t miss out.

Making memories with the kids, with these 15 family outing suggestions.
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