With the vibrant colored leaves, chilly morning air, and sound and smell of crackling fire pits – what’s not to love about fall? Celebrate this spectacular season by starting a new fall tradition with your family. Here are a few ideas to get you started!
by Amy Martens
Visit a pumpkin patch
Our kids have gone to one of the many pumpkin patches in the area every year — and we’ve loved them all! Some are free, some are not, but all are worth the trip. The barrel train and farm animals were a hit at the Buffalo Pumpkin Farm, while Corn Crib Nursery offered a kid-friendly zip line, human hamster wheel and straw mountain maze. Details on Quad City pumpkin patches can be found here.Wherever you go, hop aboard the hay rack ride to pick your own pumpkin!
Do a spooky craft
No matter the season, crafts are an easy way to make special memories with your littles. In anticipation of Halloween this year (and to give the kids something fun and messy to do before bath time), we painted their hands and feet to decorate canvases as friendly bats, Franken-feet and candy corn art. Now I have a spooktacularly cute keepsake that can be hung up every year!
Take the kids to Boo at the Zoo
This will be our first year as a family of five going to this event — and I’m so excited for the twins to share this family-favorite tradition with their baby sister! This year’s event is set for October 26-27 at the Niabi Zoo, and you can bet Woody, Jessie and Bullseye will be there collecting candy and spotting their favorite animals! The Quad Cities has a lot of other fun festivals to add to your family’s fall traditions!
Our fire pit is usually a place for the adults to unwind and enjoy a cold beverage AFTER the kids have gone to bed. But the chilly fall weather is the perfect time for the kids to join the fun by roasting marshmallows! Get fancy with s’mores or eat ’em plain — either way, they’ll love gobbling up the sticky sweetness and staying up later than normal. Bonus activity: tell spooky ghost stories around the campfire!
Have a Halloween movie marathon
Snuggle up with your coziest blankets and biggest bowl of popcorn — it’s time for a Halloween movie marathon! Depending on the ages of your kiddos, your movie selection will vary. Some of our favorites include: Mickey’s Monster Musical, It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Scared Shrekless and Hotel Transylvania. We recently watched The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is a little dark for our 4-year-olds, but they seemed to enjoy it. This year, Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice might also make an appearance. And the Halloween season wouldn’t be complete without my personal favorite — Hocus Pocus!
Take a Starved Rock Fall Colors Trolley Tour
Our plans to go on the Starved Rock Fall Colors Trolley Tour last year were foiled, so I’m hoping to make the trip this year. This activity would take some extra planning, but a scenic trolley tour and nature hike could make an exciting — and different — family outing. Make it into a weekend by staying at the Starved Rock Lodge or one of the property’s rustic cabins!
There are a lot of other amazing day trips we talked about in the summer, but most of them will be just as grand, if not better, for adding to your repertoire of family fall traditions!
Last year, the kids went wild smearing paint and glitter on their very own pie pumpkins! You’ll want to make sure you have your workspace covered and your camera ready for this messy activity. No paint on hand? Let your littles scoop out the pumpkin seeds and help toast them for a yummy snack!
Now that we’re in the season of pumpkin-flavored everything, nestle in with your favorite pumpkin spice latte and make a list of the fall traditions you’d like to start with your family. Cheers to the best season of the year!
About Amy Martens:
Amy and her husband, Kevin, started parenthood off with a bang. Twins Brett and Elaina arrived in 2015, and baby sister Alyssa joined the family in 2018. All three kiddos love to play together, get into mischief and terrorize Paisley, the family cat. Amy graduated from Drake University with degrees in magazine journalism and English, and now works full-time at a marketing agency in Moline. Some of her favorite things include spending time with her family at home, crafting impulsively, traveling anywhere and everywhere, and baking tasty treats.