It is the perfect time of year to get your military family outdoors. Fall activities are a perfect compliment for the cooler air that accompanies this season, even for those stationed in the Southwest part of the U.S. Getting outside is a great way to spend quality time with each other and to participate in a little exercise without even knowing it. Don’t let your children’s busy school schedules dissuade your plans — that’s what the weekends and holidays are for!
Here’s some of the favorite fall activities military families shared:
Children adore animals, so what better way for them to learn about them and get up close in person than at a farm?
“My son loves to be outside and he loves to play, so we are always trying to find stuff to do that’s not just going to the park or going to the playground or to the splash pad,” said Christina Sparta, Air Force spouse and mom of two children. “They have hay rides, a train that you can ride on, and, of course, the farm animals that you can also feed.”
The autumnal season is probably the most popular for people in search of experiencing the best of camping and hiking. One well known national park that is loved for its fantastic land and water features is Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas.
“Visiting Big Bend National Park is on our bucket list,” said Sparta. “You can even use Airbnb to rent campers and RVs for overnight stays, which makes it a fun way to camp without doing all of the prep work.”
Chief of Interpretation at Big Bend National Park, Tom VandenBerg said that fall is a great time to visit.
“The heat of summer has dissipated and opportunities abound for hiking, camping, exploring and enjoying scenic drives,” said VandenBerg. “Big Bend encompasses over 1,200 square miles of mountains, deserts, spectacular canyons, the Rio Grande and the best scenery in Texas.”
If you are unsure whether your children are ready to go on a far-away camping trip, there is a way to assess if they will handle it well before you pack everything up and travel to your campsite.
“Camping can be tricky with kids, so setting up a tent in the backyard is a great way to dip your toes in the water,” said Ciera Nichols, Air Force spouse and mom of two children.
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If you live in an especially hot climate, then fall is when you can finally start enjoying being outside. Savoring a meal outdoors in the crisp weather of fall is always a good idea. Picnics don’t have to be limited to parks—prepare your goodies and take them somewhere nearby with a spectacular view like a lake, beach or overlook, if your area has one.
“We love eating outside,” said Nichols. “It’s very simple, outdoor family time. Occasionally, we will go pick up food and sit by the lake. It’s a great way to unplug from the busyness of the week.”
Gathering the family for a trip to a corn maze will result in navigating an exciting pattern full of false trails that is sure to make everyone laugh. A lot of corn mazes also have other various attractions that could include petting zoos, hay rides, play areas for the children and more.
“The corn maze that we enjoy going to has yummy snacks and lots of things to do,” said Nichols. “This will be the first year our daughter is old enough to do the big slides and walk around the maze with us.”
Pumpkin patch/apple orchard
It’s not just children that love frolicking through a field of pumpkins or apples—adults have to admit it’s quite exhilarating, too. If you live within close proximity to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, a visit is a must.
“We took our daughter to an apple orchard that had an autumn pumpkin patch last year,” explained Nichols. “They took us on a little wagon ride around the farm, let us pick fruits, and at the end, we were able to go through the pumpkin patch to pick out which ones we were going to take home to paint/carve.”
The options for outdoor activities during the fall are plentiful. Step outside and explore more things to do this season with the best company!