50 Cheap or Free Things to Do in the Fall

published Sep 23, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Chelsea Victoria/Stocksy

Fall is the season for coziness, comfort food, and getting outside to enjoy the last of nature’s best weather. Regardless of whether the leaves around you change or not, fall is a time to take advantage of all the outdoor activities you can squeeze in. The best part? So many of these fall festivities can be done at no cost whatsoever. That’s right — we’ve rounded up tons of things to do in the fall, and many of them are free! 

Keep scrolling for our ultimate list of fun fall activities, and jump right into autumn with all your favorite people.

1. Host a costume party.

It’s fall, ya’ll, and that means it’s time to break into the costume chest and drag out your weirdest, wackiest (or maybe even scariest) looks. Gather your friends and loved ones and throw a hilarious costume party for a surefire fall event everyone will love. 

2. Navigate a corn maze.

In many parts of the country, corn mazes are a popular fall activity. As cornstalks start to wither and die, many farms will plow paths through them to make fun and challenging corn mazes. It’s fun for the whole family! 

3. Do fall yard work.

Looking to get some work done around the house? Fall is an excellent time to do yard work! Summer’s flowers and gardens are starting to die, and temperatures are dropping, making outside work more palatable. Chop up fallen trees (or have a professional remove them), cut weeds and old flowers back for new growth in the spring, and plant seeds that can overwinter in your garden. All this hard work will ensure your yard looks amazing when spring comes.

4. Start your holiday shopping.

By the time October begins, you’ve got less than three months to get your holiday shopping list checked off. Why not start early, before the stores get crowded? Think of early holiday shopping as one of the best things to do in the fall! 

5. Make your own candles.

Candles practically go hand-in-hand with fall, with all the yummy scents and cozy vibes. That’s why there’s no time like fall to get started making your own candles. With only a few ingredients and basic precautions, you can whip up candles right at home, using all the scents you love. 

6. Hit up a farmers market.

Sure, farmers markets run all summer long, but fall is a special time to visit one near you. There’s typically an abundance of late-summer fruits and veggies, and you’re likely to find a delicious, warm coffee to wrap your hands around while you shop.

7. Visit a pumpkin patch.

Cliché? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely. Check out the farms in your surrounding area to pick out some orange beauties.

8. Carve or decorate said pumpkins.

If you’ve never carved a pumpkin before, you can find tutorials on YouTube and use these sketches to make it easier. Plus, check out some of our fun pumpkin decorating ideas.

9. Go apple picking.

If you happen to live in a part of the country where apples grow, take advantage and go pick them apples! It’s a great time of the year for the tasty fruit.

10. Bake a seasonal pie.

Once you have your pumpkins and apples, consider baking a homemade pie (or several). There’s nothing like a fall day at home with a pie baking in the oven, smelling up your whole space with its buttery, fruity goodness. You can also invite a bunch of friends and family over and make a day of it!

11. Go hiking/camping.

Even if you have good weather all year-round, use the fall season to the fullest. Make an effort to go explore your local hiking trails and camping grounds, or make a long weekend out of it somewhere nearby.

12. DIY some Halloween and fall decor.

Instead of going to the store and spending money on autumn decorations, get crafty! We have some quick and easy Halloween projects right here.

13. Watch your favorite Halloween movies or TV shows.

What better way to get into the fall spirit than re-watching your favorite Halloween flicks? Tune in to some of the classics, like Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

14. Make your own PSL.

Save some cash and DIY a better-than-Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte at home — this version even has real pumpkin in it. Not a PSL fan? Try making your own mulled cider for a delicious fall treat.

Credit: Bryant Jayme

15. Go leaf peeping (and take photos).

Among many things, fall is known for its leaf-altering beauty. If you live in an area where the trees change colors, go check out the view!

16. Or, do your leaf peeping virtually.

If the leaves don’t change much in your neck of the woods, or you just want to see them without exiting your house, log into one of these virtual leaf peeping webcams.

17. Brainstorm a creative Halloween costume.

It’s never too early to start thinking about your Halloween costume — especially if it’s a sport you take seriously. Start by searching for inspiration online or visiting your local thrift store for ideas. You could even plan a virtual costume contest with your friends!

18. Find your favorite pumpkin-flavored beer.

Make a mix-and-match six-pack of assorted pumpkin-flavored beers and do a taste test to find your favorite one. Start out with Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead and Dogfish Head’s Punkin.

19. Roast pumpkin seeds.

If you’ve already picked your pumpkins, then you’re basically halfway there! Roast the seeds for an ideal autumn snack.

20. Collect unique leaves.

As the leaves are falling, keep an eye out for unique shapes and colors that you could transform into DIY crafts or simply display in your home for the season.

21. Collect an array of gourds.

Adopt a gourd (or 50!). They’re inexpensive and tiny so they don’t take up too much room, and come in all different kinds of shapes, colors, and sizes.

22. Get into Sunday football (snacks and all).

If you’re not already a football fan, try watching a game one Sunday afternoon to get into the sport of the season. Even if you’re not familiar with football rules, make a fun time of it with wings, nachos, dips and chips … the list of snacks goes on and on.

23. Go to antique fairs and thrift shops.

Fall is a great time to take advantage of flea markets. What’s not to love about an open-air stroll through rows upon rows of antique gems waiting to be discovered?

24. Have a scary movie watch party.

Have a scary movie night and scream and shriek by yourself or with your housemates, or invite long-distance friends to watch with you over video chat. 

25. Do a fun Halloween movie-thon.

There are plenty of lighthearted Halloween movies that can make up a movie night on its own! And silly Halloween movies might let you sleep a little easier, too.

26. Drink hot apple cider.

There’s nothing like sipping on some warm apple cider that has a strong cinnamon taste to it. You can buy it fresh at farms and most likely your local coffee shop, or you can take a stab at making your own mulled cider.

27. Eat apple cider doughnuts.

What’s better than sipping on warm apple cider? Eating an apple cider doughnut alongside it, sold at farmers markets and grocery stores near you.

Credit: Cathy Pyle

28. Plant seeds for the coming spring.

Get ahead of the garden game and plant some bulbs for the coming spring. Not only will you be pleasantly surprised next year, but it’s also a fun and productive way to spend more time outside.

29. Look into the history of your town/do a self-guided tour.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a spooky town, you can avoid spending money on the guided tour and search the houses that you’d want to walk by yourself. For the rest of us, look into the history of your own area and note a few places that have a significant past.

30. Learn to knit/crochet/embroider.

You might have some supplies lying around from that time you bought them and never actually crafted anything, so now’s the time to try knitting, work on a fun crochet pattern, or try another stitching hobby again! And if not, usually the materials to make something are fairly inexpensive.

31. Celebrate Oktoberfest with some brews.

While Oktoberfest is traditionally in October, it actually begins in September in Germany, so do as the Germans do and start filling your steins now. Lederhosen and dirndls are encouraged, but optional.

32. Do a fall soup swap.

There’s nothing like making a big pot of homemade soup in the fall, from your zesty corn chowder to your broccoli-cheddar. Host a potluck or meet your friends in a park one day to trade and try each other’s soups!

33. Make room for new sweaters by donating your old ones.

Evaluate what sweaters you kept from last year, then shuffle through them to see which ones you want to keep and which ones you’d like to donate. That way you have room to spare for when you come across your new favorite.

34. Watch hot air balloons take off.

Do some research to see where hot air balloons are taking off throughout the season. While flying on one is pretty pricey, watching them is entirely free!

35. Make apple cider caramels.

For the most delicious way to use up extra cider, whip up these apple cider caramels from Smitten Kitchen. They’re deceptively easy to make and taste like autumn deliciously encapsulated.

36. Cook up some chili.

Similar to soups, chili is an ultimate comfort food of fall that keeps you feeling warm and cozy. Plus, when you make a big pot, it can last you for days!

37. Go hunting for bittersweet for free fall decor.

Bittersweet is a pretty plant that grows all over the U.S. Look out for its telltale red or orange berries in the brush while you’re out and about. You can sometimes find the best bittersweet just growing wild on the side of the road! Clip a few branches and make your own wreath or just stick a few in a pretty vase for a completely free seasonal decoration.

38. Curl up under a cozy blanket with a good book.

We’ve all done this at one point, and we all know how great it feels. Give yourself an afternoon to open the window, brew a nice cup of tea, and take to the couch with a great read.

39. Build a campfire.

Whether you have your own fire pit or your friends do, take an evening to sit by the fire and roast some marshmallows. 

40. Jump into a big pile of leaves.

When you see a big pile waiting for someone to jump in it, take advantage! If you haven’t done it since your childhood, it’ll refresh your memory as to how fun it is. It’s also an incentive to do some raking with a fun end goal.

41. Try birdwatching.

Find out which birds may be migrating through your area this season, and do some research as to where the best places to spot them might be. New to the hobby? Check out these ornithologist-approved bird-watching tips

42. Go camping in your backyard.

Who says you need to go far away to camp? Pitch a tent in your yard and bring on the s’mores!

43. Or, go camping in your living room.

No backyard? No problem. Take your comforter, blanket fort, or tent to your living room or studio floor to mimic the setting of the great outdoors. Put on your best flannel and nosh on your favorite fireside snacks to feel like you’re really roughing it. 

44. Take a scenic drive.

Crank up the tunes, roll the windows down, and go for a drive to look at all the pretty fall leaves.

45. Watch a Thanksgiving movie.

It’s never too soon for Christmas movies, but keep it fall-focused with one of these streaming Thanksgiving movies.

46. Bake some snickerdoodles.

Nothing says fall like ooey-gooey cinnamony cookies. Bake up a batch and share with friends.

47. Put together a fall simmer pot.

Fill your home with the aroma of apple pie, a pumpkin spice latte, or freshly brewed coffee by making an autumnal simmer pot. Simply fill a saucepan with water, bring it to a simmer, and add in naturally delicious-smelling ingredients that you likely already have around the house, like cinnamon sticks, apple peels, and orange slices. 

Credit: Sofia Rivera

48. Press a leaf.

Autumn is one of the most scenic seasons, and it can pass so fast. Preserve a memory of your leaf peeping by collecting a fallen leaf or five and pressing them. Put them in a glass frame and hang it on the wall for some stunning DIY decor. 

49. Do your own fall reset.

Your back-to-school shopping days may be behind you, but fall is still a natural time to freshen up a bit and reset your routine a bit. Give yourself a mini reset by cleaning everyday items like your purse or bag, earbuds, and phone; making a fall playlist; or swapping out your breezy linen sheets for cozy flannel ones

50. Make a fall bucket list.

Fall can be fleeting, so make sure you do the autumnal things you’ve been waiting all year to do by writing them down in one place! When you have a free evening or weekend morning, you’ll never wonder how to spend it. 

What are your favorite fall activities? Tell us in the comments.