Ahhh, sweater weather.
Everyone’s favorite time of the year. Autumn. Waking up to a crisp breeze, leaves changing color and falling, spooky season, and a return to hot beverages that warm your insides like they’re aiming straight for your soul. What’s not to love about it?
(Besides the fact that not everyone gets to experience a true four seasons, so fall might not be something you are familiar with. Plus the fact that global warming has adjusted our temperatures enough that fall really, truly, only exists for a very short window during the year and you have to jam-pack all of your fall favorite items, excursions, and otherwise into that window. But I digress.)
Here are some fun autumn outings that will make you excited for sweater weather, even if it’s not something you get to experience to its fullest.
Autumn Outings You Need To Bundle Up For
1. Drive-In Movies
Are you lucky enough to have a drive-in movie theater within a fair distance of your abode? Viewing movies on a larger-than-life screen in the fresh air, with a blanket wrapped around you and your favorite treats in a cooler on hand can be a really fun outing for friends and family, or a really romantic date night option. Some theaters will focus on new releases and amazing themed double features, and other screening options will include cult classics and creepy crowd favorites, from Halloween to Hocus Pocus and beyond!
Rooftop and cemetery/park options (like the Rooftop Cinema Club) have been cropping up everywhere as well, and are just as fun!
2. Football Games (Tailgating)
Ok, ok, ok. Hear me out. I know what you’re thinking. If you aren’t necessarily a football fan, this actually sounds like a drag. You may not be obsessed with your alma mater or know anyone on the team or coaching staff. You may not live in a part of the country that over-invests in its football program and treats its players like gods. You may not be into tight pants on thick calves or the idea of potential head injuries. And we get that.
But there is something about those Friday night lights. Something about standing in the end zone at a local football game, enjoying the banter between fans and friends. If you have been associated with the school or team in the past, it gives you a chance to catch up with familiar faces. If you haven’t, it’s a great people-watching opportunity.
And if you’re lucky enough to nab tickets to an NFL game with a group of friends? It doesn’t have to be an every year thing, but it truly is a fun experience, to feel the energy of the crowd almost shaking the concrete walls as you walk the concourse, searching for the best food vendors and biggest buckets of beer your wallet can support.
Our favorite autumn pastime? Tailgating. Showing up to a parking lot before game time with your own (affordable) meal items, snacks, and cold beverages. Piling blankets into the back of the pickup so you can stay warm with your friends while other members of the group play catch. Radio on, singing along to your favorite songs. For hours on end. In fact, sometimes just going for the tailgating – and completely skipping the game inside the gates – can be all you need for a big dose of a community heading into even colder temperatures and the “I don’t want to leave my house” mindset. (We get it. We’ve been there.)
3. Apple and Pumpkin Picking
With the onset of sweater weather comes true fall activities – apple and pumpkin picking. Farms and small vendors open up their orchards to the public, allowing them to pick their produce directly from the dirt. While this is often a really fun family activity, it can be a great option for a weekend date, or to enjoy with friends. Many of these roadside locations will also offer up other popular fall activities, such as pumpkin carving, hay rides, photo opportunities, petting zoos, and more.
While apple season is almost behind us, country road locations all across the United States will have apple-based baked goods and an assortment of home goods available throughout the witching season. Many of these stands and growers are open year-round and offer a plethora of other produce options when the time is right. (Berry picking season is a fun summer treat that many of them offer!)
Our favorite region for this fun outing is Apple Hill in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of Northern California. Located between the state’s capitol of Sacramento and the storied Lake Tahoe, this region is an amalgamation of over 50 local farms that offer fun activities such as those listed above. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can buy apples and pumpkins directly from their shops, as well as flavored butter, salsas, pies, donuts, ciders, and other yummy options.
4. Corn Maze
Feeling like you might want to get lost? Well, a corn maze will help you do just that! Never heard of one? (Then you might not be from the midwest!) Corn mazes are literal mazes cut out of corn fields. They are traditionally cut after the bulk of growing season, as the remaining stalks stand tall. They usually require a small fee for the farm they exist on, and visitors can run in and complete the maze at their own pace. Some mazes are created for kids and can be an added activity when out for apple picking or pumpkin selecting. Some mazes are super involved and a lot more difficult, and are fun to head to with a group of friends on a chilly autumn night. (Running them in the dark can be an awfully good time.)
If you’re lucky enough, your local corn maze will sell hot seasonal donuts, other baked goods, and beverages to enjoy before, during, or after your adventure.
5. Renaissance Festival
No matter where you are in America, there is a really big chance that the Renaissance Festival – or some beautiful version of it – is happening within proximity this time of year. Like a fall festival that stays put for a lengthy period of time, this magical place is full of quirky vendors, amazing food options (think turkey legs, pot pies, and vats of beer), art, acting, rivalry, and chivalry. Look for coupons or free opportunities to get involved locally, and go back in time for a day. Even if you don’t want to play dress up, it can be fun to find a yearly escape – and to see what your accomplices are made of at the knife-throwing station.
Yup. That’s a thing.