You know it’s Fall when you have to slip on your wool socks in the middle of the day and your kids leave the house with hats on before school. Fall is my favorite season of the year not only because the chill in the air is noticeable and you get to cuddle, but because it’s prime time to enjoy the water features that aren’t frequented. Yes, that’s right. It is OK to get near water when it’s cold outside! Here are our favorite activities to do near water during the Fall season.

Catch and release some tadpoles in a pond

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Hiking or walking to a pond is a great activity for smaller kids who can go longer distances on their own. Search for parks with ponds or lakes in them before you head out and bring a friend for extra fun. Most ponds will have beach areas to sit on or observe from. Be patient when looking for pond life and always obey any park rules or regulations. What to bring: butterfly net or fish net, bucket, and binoculars for viewing beyond the pond

Get under the rocks and find some crabs at the shoreline

We visited our nearby regional shoreline recently, and we couldn’t stop looking for the little hard-shelled friends. We found a lot more under the rocks near the water and the older kids will love helping lifting the heavier rocks up. “Ewws” and “Ahhs” ensued while the seaweed topped rocks were tilted up in search for more aquatic life. What to bring: extra sweaters/hats in case it’s cold, magnifying glass to observe the sea creatures you encounter and a bucket

Make mud pies

This is the most messy activity of the bunch, but it’s so worth it! Put on some old clothes, get your mud boots on, and find some mud to play in. We won a contest a couple of months ago by making mud pies and it was the perfect reminder that it is ok to get a little wet and muddy. You can make your own mud pile with water and dirt or go venture out and find one on your walk or hike. With a ton of natural materials like rocks, sticks, and flowers, you’ll have endless possibilities for a mud delicacy. What to bring: water (if making your own mud pile), shovels for building, towels, extra set of clothes, rainboots or shoes you don’t mind getting dirty and an extra set of clothes.

Take an ocean-side stroll

There’s something about being near vast waters that keeps kids and adults alike mesmerized. Beachside strolls are an absolute must not just because you can find shells, rocks, and ocean life peeking under the sand, but because being barefoot in the sand is always a good idea. Dress the kids up in layers and if you’re unsure about splashing around in the water, you can still dig in and explore the sand without getting drenched. What to bring: shovels, buckets, flip flops (for afterward), and baby powder (to help get the sand off your kids’ feet)

Jump in muddy puddles

This pretty much explains itself–jumping in puddles is one of our favorite activities to do all seasons of the year. My big kids and toddler alike will spend tons of time doing this so long as you give them the ok to get dirty which is always ok for us. We tend to find hidden places off the trail during our hikes but when we can’t make it a planned trip, a walk around the neighborhood will always give us a pop-up puddle to enjoy. What to bring: raincoat or clothes you don’t mind getting wet, rain boots or waterproof boots, extra set of clothes and a towel