While our days of dragging out the inflatable pool and kicking back while the kids splash away are behind us, there are still plenty of outdoor activities to look forward to come fall. From full moon walks to bike rides to pumpkin picking, we’ve found five autumn traditions your family can plan for the coming months. Even if we are inching closer to that dreaded 4:30 pm sunset.


Collect Leaves at the Arboretum
The Washington Park Arboretum is vibrant in the late part of the year, with a blooming winter garden and plenty of green space for trekking and collecting colorful leaves. Kids love spotting kayaks and ducks from the floating footbridges on Marsh Island that hug the Montlake Cut, too. Don’t forget the rain boots!

Make a Day Out of it:
Collect a couple of tote bags full of different colored leaves at the Arboretum, then bring them home and set up a craft table. Kids can add paint and glitter to traced and cut-out leaves. Or, you can easily press leaves while they’re still fresh by placing them between two wax paper sheets, covering on both sides with kitchen towels, and ironing over each leaf on high, dry heat for a few seconds. After the sheets have cooled you can cut out the pieces and quickly stitch together leaf crowns or have the kids arrange the foliage as a centerpiece for the middle of your dinner table.

waxed paper leaves

Go Apple Pickin’
Washington State grows more than half of the commercially sold apples in the U.S. That means you’re in driving distance to several U-pick orchards. Many farms supply wagons and bushel bags for picking and offer access to trees that don’t require ladders so little ones can reach out and pluck fruit from the ground. Read our suggestions for orchards that are closest to you, or check out the Puget Sound Fresh website.

Make a Day Out of it:
Make apple pancakes in the morning, then grab some hot cider at a coffee shop for the car ride. Once you’re home from the orchard you can knock out applesauce fairly fast from a quick recipe like this. You can also core and thinly slice a few apples with the skins on, cover them with a little salt and lemon juice, then pat dry and bake on low heat for four to six hours. The next day, kids can string the rings and make fall garland or apple slice ornaments to hang in the window.


Go on a Full Moon Walk
Make a tradition out of celebrating the full moon. Most kids are enamoured with that glowing pumpkin in the sky and will get excited about layering up, holding hands and taking a short trek after dinner. You can sign up for a full moon “memo” to receive reminders a day or two ahead of time. Also, check out the evening walks, talks and shows happening this fall at the Seward Park Environmental and Audubon Center.

Make a Night Out of it:
It may mean pushing their bedtimes back or skipping bath, but one way to extend full moon nights is to gather sticks and build a small bonfire in your backyard. Little ones can toast marshmallows and you can read bedtime stories in the moonlight.


Hit the Pumpkin Patch
Come October, a lot of Seattle kids live for a Saturday at the pumpkin patch. You can head to a tricked-out option like The Farm in Snohomish, with pig races, a two-story hay maze and mini golf. Or try Jubilee Farm in Carnation for a more low-key experience that includes a short tractor ride to a nearby pumpkin field. Kids can pick their own big pumpkin and take home several mini gourds to display in their room.

Make a Day Out of it:
When you get home from the patch, designate one pumpkin for immediate carving. Let little ones dig into the gooey core to find seeds, then roast and salt them as a snack for older kiddos. After dinner, combine half a can of pumpkin pie filling with vanilla frozen yogurt, whirl in a blender, top with a shake of cinnamon and serve simple pumpkin pie shakes.

Blake with Pumpkin

Ride Bikes on the Burke-Gilman
Stretching from Woodinville to Ballard, the Burke-Gilman really comes to life in the fall, with tunnels of trees dropping yellow and red leaves on the pavement. Plan a weekend ride on the trail to give the whole family some much needed fresh air. And you can always opt for a walk if you don’t own a bike trailer or have a baby that’s less than 12 months old.

Make a Day Out of it:
Start your ride at the trail crossing on NE Blakeley Street near Zoka in the University District, where everyone can fuel up on homemade scones and steamers before the journey. Then head for Ballard and stop on your way back at Essential Baking Co. in Fremont for grilled cheese and fruit.

burke gilman

What are your family’s outdoor fall traditions? Let us know in a comment below!

– Sara Billups

Photos via DNAMichaud Flickr page, Ctd 2005 Flickr page, b3nscott Flickr page, audreyjm529 Flickr page, Kristina Moy, Sharon Mollerus via Flickr and Kathleen Tyler Conklin Flickr page.