Guest Author - Jessica Hoffmann
With the start of fall, families start gearing up for Halloween and planning costumes, but there are plenty of great family outings throughout autumn that go beyond trick or treat and are budget friendly. As the trees change colors and summer disappears, spend some time outside with your family and enjoy the local events that make each southeastern town so special.
Pick pumpkins! As cool weather arrives, pumpkins ripen across the southeast. Plan a pumpkin picking day with your family and support local farmers and organizations. This is a great learning experience for children to get their hands dirty and see the fruits of local farmersí labor, plus a ton of fun for adults to find just the right pumpkin for the doorstep. Carving Jack-o-Lanterns and feasting on pumpkin bread are activities to be cherished for years and it is a perpetual debate to decide between short and rotund or tall and skinny pumpkins.
Take a hike! As the temps cool, fall makes for a great time for a family hike or camping trip. Pick a hike with a skill level that suits the entire family, and make sure to pack well. A daypack stocked with an extra layer of clothing and a liter or two of water will be vital if the hike is more challenging than you planned or the weather changes. Local hiking stores can ensure you have the proper equipment and point you towards trails that show off fallís leaf splendor.
Stomp Grapes! All ages can enjoy picking, stomping and harvesting grapes. Many wineries across the southeast host festivals to celebrate the grape harvest, which makes fall a delightful time to visit. Take the time to have a casual picnic and do some wine tasting while you are there. Quality vineyards are likely growing closer to you than you think.
Shuck oysters! Fall is also a time for feasting on oysters throughout the southeast coast line. With music and great food, these festivals tend to be friendly for kids and even the pickiest of oyster eaters. Check out the Florida Seafood Festivalís Blessing of the Fleet in Apalachicola or the Lowcountry Oyster Festivalís Oyster Shucking Contest at historic Boone Hall Plantation.
Get Lost in a Corn Maze! As fresh, sweet corn disappears at local farmerís market, it becomes a fabulous time to get lost in acres of corn. Uncle Shucks corn maze in Dawsonville, Georgia also features hay rides along the Etowah River - great fun for young and old!