The kids are back in school, the morning air has been crisp, and the sun is setting earlier in the evening. That’s right, fall is just around the corner. While there are several apple orchards and corn mazes to visit in the Twin Cities this season, there are also dozens of other family-friendly activities to do and events to check out over the next few weeks as the leaves begin to turn.
To ring in fall, our family always heads out to an apple orchard for a day. We will definitely make our annual trip to Aamodt’s Apple Farm again this fall, but over the past couple of years we have also discovered some other fun activities we can do with the kiddos around the Twin Cities and at home to make the most of this beautiful season.
So take a seat, sip your pumpkin spice latte, and let me share with you some of my favorite things to do in the fall with my family.
Go back in time and visit the Defeat of Jesse James Days in Northfield this weekend (September 11-13).
This weekend (September 11-13) Northfield is celebrating its annual Defeat of Jesse James Days. The weekend event includes dozens of activities such as parades, rodeos, live entertainment, a craft show, arts festival, and a carnival. However, the main attraction is the re-enactment of the infamous 1876 bank raid involving the James/Younger Gang. The re-enactment is about 30 minutes long and involves horses and pistols. During the re-enactment, actors will discharge blank rounds of ammunition.
We took the kids to this free event a couple of years ago, and the re-enactment was very interesting to watch. Get there early if you want a good spot, and be prepared for the loud shots! The parade was also excellent, and I remember my kids being so excited about all of the candy they received. If you are looking for something different to do this weekend, I highly recommend this event.
For more information about the Defeat of Jesse James Days and the re-enactment schedule, please visit the event’s website here.
Spend a cool morning at the park with your kids and a pumpkin spice latte in hand.
Sure, Starbucks has a killer Pumpkin Spice Latte, but Amore Coffee in West St. Paul is the place to go in my neighborhood for a beverage that is truly fall in a cup. Grab a muffin for your kiddos there too and then take a walk over to Cherokee Regional Park. I love walking in the grass there and hearing the crunch of the leaves under my feet as I watch my kiddos run ahead of me toward the playground. When I’m not too busy warming both of my hands around my coffee mug, I like to sneak in some hand-holding with my husband as we soak in a few minutes of relaxation while watching our children play. I can’t think of a better way than this to spend a fall morning.
Don’t forget your camera! Cherokee Regional Park is a great spot to capture some beautiful leaves and moments with your family in the fall.
Get some more fair fun in this year at the Nativity County Fair in St. Paul.
If you already miss the Minnesota State Fair or didn’t get a chance to go, there is still time to get your fair fun in this year. On September 18th, 19th, and 20th, all families are invited to attend the Nativity County Fair held in the Macalester Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul. While the fair is small, it features a great variety of food, rides, games, entertainment, and a parade for a reasonable price.
I’ve taken my kids to the Nativity County Fair before, and I did appreciate being able to do some fun, fair activities with my kiddos without having to deal with a huge crowd. Be sure to check out the Nativity County Fair website for a complete schedule of activities.
Take a drive to Stillwater to visit Aamodt’s Apple Farm and taste wine from St. Croix Vineyards.
While I won’t be able to take part in the wine tasting this year with baby #3 on the way, plenty of fun will still be had when we make our annual trip toAamodt’s this fall. Aamodt’s never disappoints. There are always great food options like apple brats and kettle corn, and the kids enjoy a variety of inexpensive activities like the Honeycrisp Express kiddie train, hay wagon rides, and goat farm. We usually go on the weekend, but this year Aamodt’s is running a free treasure hunt throughout the farm for kids on Mondays through Fridays. After completing the hunt, participants receive a free apple donut!
Be sure to show your Twin Cities Kids Club card for a special deal when you visit Aamodt’s! When our members buy one caramel apple, they get a second caramel apple for half off! This special offer is good September and October, Monday through Thursday.
Fill your house with the scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, and baked goodies in the oven.
This was my first year to plant zucchini, and boy did I learn a few things. To start, I didn’t need to plant 12 zucchini plants. My countertop has been overflowing with giant zucchinis over the past few weeks, and I can’t bake enough zucchini bread before my son harvests more from the garden. While I have an overabundance of this green veggie, I can’t complain about the wonderful smell coming from my kitchen right now.
Over the past couple of years I have learned to enjoy baking with my children. They feel so proud when they get to pour and mix ingredients, and it is a great way to show them all of the steps that go into preparing food. It’s messy, but it helps us to learn how to work together better. If you don’t have a garden, head on over to a farmer’s market near you and pick up some zucchini, apples, or pumpkins to make some baked goodies with your kiddos and to fill your house up with the yummy scents of fall.
Although I still have seven zucchinis on my countertop after making two loaves of bread and two dozen muffins tonight, I’ve got a new craving after browsing Alice’s recipes on Dining with Alice. This weekend I think I’m going to have to try making her Pumpkin Waffles.
Enjoy the fall colors, crisp air and family-friendly activities at Country Sun Farm in Lake Elmo.
We have made several trips over the past few years to Country Sun Farm with the kiddos in the fall. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon with the family, and most of the activities are under $5 each. Kids can play around in a corn pit or jump on bouncers. They can even play with silly string or do some gem mining. The hayride at Country Sun Farm might be a little spooky here and there for younger kids, but there are a lot of silly sights as well along the way.
Country Sun Farm also sells pumpkins! So stock up on some for making pies or for carving. Country Sun Farm will reopen for the season on September 17th and will remain open through October 31st.
Buy some beautiful Mums for your front doorstep and enjoy Pumpkin Fest at Gertens with the kiddos.
Gertens in Inver Grove Heights is fun to visit all year-round, but last year we discovered that the garden center throws a pretty sweet fall event for kids on the weekends during the month of October. From 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on October 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th families are invited to enjoy a variety of activities and food for purchase at Pumpkin Fest. Activities include a straw maze, pumpkin painting (great for younger kids!), petting zoo, story time, games, and a spooky maze. There will also be a costume contest on October 24th. We saw some awesome homemade costumes last year including a police car and Minions, so be prepared for some tough competition.
On your out, pick up a beautiful fall Mum to decorate your front doorstep for the season.
Head out of the cities for the day, take the scenic route, and feed the family at a pizza farm.
I have yet to visit any of our pizza farms in Minnesota, but it is high on my list and fall seems like the perfect time of year to go. It’s not too hot to sit around outside eating pizza, and you can take a long look at the beautiful colors of fall during the drive to the farm.
If you haven’t been to a pizza farm yet, or want to visit one but don’t know where to start, read this wonderful pizza farm review by our friends over atsKIDaddlers. I could really go for some fresh-from-the farm pizza right now.
Do some exploring, relaxing and fishing along the Mississippi River.
There is still time to get some more use out of that fishing license you purchased over the summer for your family. I don’t really know much about fishing or whether now is a good time to catch anything, but I do know that I enjoy the simplicity of putting a worm on a hook and casting for a few hours. My kiddos don’t have the attention span yet to fish for hours, but they do have fun exploring the shore of the Mississippi and checking out the old, twisted roots of trees along the edge of the woods. Park your vehicle at Crosby Farm Regional Park or Lilydale Regional Park and take your kids on a little outdoor adventure.
Collect some fall leaves along the way and save them for a craft to do later on at home.
Jump in a pile of leaves, and take a lot of pictures!
Okay, so I’m getting a little ahead of myself. We won’t be able to jump in a pile of leaves for a while, but this is a tradition that I look forward to every year. I have hundreds of pictures on my computer of my kids jumping into huge piles of leaves, and I will be taking another hundred this year. If you come over and rake my leaves I’ll let you and your family jump in the piles of leaves with us too!
What’s your favorite thing to do with your family in the fall? What fall traditions do you keep?
-by Aimee Farley, Owner, WhyILeftMyJob.com and Twin Cities Kids Club Co-Owner