Twin Cities families, it’s that glorious time of colored leaves, saying goodbye to pollinators like monarchs, who fly south at the start of autumn, of apple orchards and fall festivals and corn mazes. Oh, and pumpkin patches, too! It’s all about Twin Cities fun fall activities.
The fall season is a perfect time for families to explore all kinds of different things to do across the metro area and beyond into greater Minnesota. We have plenty of ideas to enjoy this time of year. Use this article as your fall bucket list of must-do autumn activities.
Watch our Family Fun Calendar toward the end of August and early September. It fills with monarch festivals, tagging events and other celebrations of the world’s favorite pollinators. While we are saying goodbye for now, this is a great time to start planning for next year and how we can welcome back all pollinators in the spring! Look for wildflower seeds in early fall and sprinkle them around Thanksgiving — just before a good snow and before the ground freezes. (Wildflower seeds make great school Halloween treats when candy isn’t an option.)
Visit an Apple Orchard in September
Take a crisp morning or an afternoon and spend time together apple picking in one of the beautiful apple orchards that dot the The Twin Cities. It’s an autumn tradition that our team’s families – including 12 children – would not miss. Our metro area is FULL of orchards where you can pick your own apples to the north, south, east and west. Some are free to enter with a la carte fees for activities that interest you. Others have an entrance fee that includes many of the activities. And some of the best charge nothing to get in and offer diversions for free. Pick your way through our apple orchard guide to find what fits for your family.
Bring it home and make an apple pie or this super easy Apple Crisp (So Easy Your Kids Will Make It).
Follow up with a pumpkin patch in October
Do your kids enjoy carving jack-o-lanterns or making pumpkin pie and pumpkin bars made from fresh pumpkin? And what is more iconic than spending a night in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin and picking out your own pumpkins to take home. Whether you go for giant pumpkins or mini pumpkins, you’ll find all you need at one of these Twin Cities Pumpkin Patches. If you prefer not to make a mess at home, we have collected a list of places where families can Carve the Perfect Pumpkin (and Leave the Mess) in the Twin Cities.
Bring it home: Decorate your porch with carved jack-o-lanterns or decorated gourds. Don’t forget to roast pumpkin seeds after you are done carving.
Escape a corn maze
We’re glad that corn mazes in the Twin Cities come in all shapes and sizes because we acknowledge that they’re not for everyone. From the monster maze at the Twin Cities Harvest Festival to sweet little puzzles at family-run orchards, check out the different options your family can enjoy escaping together.
Bring it home: Plan an end-of-season cook out with the last of the summer corn on the cob!
You need not harvest to enjoy a fall festival
Because Minnesota is one of the most beautiful settings for fall fun, it seems natural that its folk is out celebrating the season each weekend. Our calendar of completely family-friendly fall festivals books up September & October with great food, live music and fall family fun. Some of our favorites include St. Paul Oktoberfest, Stillwater Harvest Fest, and the Harvest Festival at Holz Farm (below). Get ready for wagon rides, corn boxes, cider pressing, farm animals and all the rest. Find our full Fall Festival calendar with details and any admission information here.
Bring it Home: Fall is the start of chili season. This is a perfect day to get a batch going in your crockpot before heading out to a festival. You’ll be happy to come home to a ready-to-go meal! P.S. Chili goes really well with apple dessert recipes.
Scoop up fresh produce at a fall farmers market
We think a trip to a fall farmers market trumps a traditional grocery run any day of the week. Stacks of brightly-colored autumn produce is just waiting to be turned into cozy family dinners. We’ve rounded up 8 fall farmers markets in the Twin Cities we think go above and beyond by offering not only a fresh selection of food, but an atmosphere that will appeal to the youngest shoppers.
Bring It Home: What’s your favorite fall produce treat? Pumpkin spice soup? Butternut squash? Warm apple cider? Pies? Grab the ingredients to make for dinner tonight!
Take a leaf peep tour
Enjoying the changing fall leaves in the Twin Cities can be blink-and-you’ll-miss-them quick. With only a narrow window of time to enjoy them, it’s time to plan ahead for a Fall Color Tour. We’ve rounded up ten places – by way of water, rails or hiking trails – you can bring your family to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage. Fall is a perfect time to explore the Mississippi River, take a family hike or a fun day trip along a scenic drive.
If you plan to enjoy the fall colors along the North Shore, Anne has listed her favorite 10 Fun Stops for Families on the drive up!
Bring It Home: Don’t forget to jump in a pile of leaves in your backyard, too!
Movies in the park
Movies in parks don’t stop with August, throughout September and October fall and Halloween-themed movies are screened all over the Twin Cities. In a lot of ways, outdoor movies this time of year are PERFECT for families: 1) Sunset is earlier, so you don’t need to keep your kids up to nearly midnight to catch a movie in the park; 2) mosquitoes and other bugs have calmed down and 3) the idea of curling up together in a wool blanket is just cozy. Check our Guide to Free and Cheap
Summer FALL Movies in Twin Cities Parks.
Bring It Home: Turn it into a family movie night on the couch with snacks and cuddles for the whole family! Usually the same movies that are playing in the parks are streaming on your favorite service, too.
“Tailgate” in the backyard
I’m always looking for ways to sneak in a few extra cookouts before the season is over. Use football season as an excuse to barbecue one last time. Set up the cornhole game, toss a football around and get ready to watch a football game (or all of them) together. We have some fun football themed food ideas here.
Take It Out: Highschool football games are super fun and a relatively affordable way to spend a Friday night as a family. If you don’t have an alma mater or a teen in high school, just go cheer for a nearby high school team.
Gianna shares some fabulous fall craft ideas in 25 Easy Arts & Crafts for Kids Throughout the Year – caterpillars, owls, pumpkins and turkeys. Pick your favorites for a day of art making and display them on your front door or window.
Take It Out: Have the fun but leave the mess behind at a local studio: Arts and Crafts for Kids Around Town.
Depending on your tolerance, it might be getting a bit cold for popping a tent, but Gianna learned that renting an RV is a whole different kind of camping but still packed full of fun! It is one way to extend your camping season. Another is State Park cabin camping. The benefits of fall camping is that the crowds have lessened, the landscape is beautiful and the weather is often perfect for hiking and exploring.
Spend a day at the zoo
Both Twin Cities zoos are open 365 days a year and fall is one of the best times to visit. I’d rank it among the top four seasons in Minnesota. There are less bugs and milder weather in the fall, making it a perfect time to explore outdoors. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, both zoos offer indoor and outdoor options.
- Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley (Watch for the annual Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular in October)
- Como Park Zoo & Conservatory (Particularly nice at the beginning of fall when the weather is cooler but animals are still outdoors)
And finally, we’re getting excited about all the fun that comes with Halloween events! Browse all kinds of completely family-friendly, not-so-spooky activities going on throughout the month of October.
- 40+ Ideas for School Halloween Treats – Candies, cookies, popcorn balls, healthy alternatives with fruits and vegetables and special dietary restrictions.
- 30 Easy DIY Halloween Costumes Straight from Your Closet – Gianna shares Halloween costume ideas that don’t require a trip to the store.
Find hundreds more things to do in Minneapolis & St Paul, MN with kids!
- 9 Twin Cities Waterfalls to Visit With Kids
- Outdoor Activities
- Across the Border in Hudson Wisconsin
- BookHounds Invites Rick Chrustowski in “The Case of Habitats & Homes”
- Minneapolis Institute of Art (“Mia”)
- Richard T. Anderson Conservation Area and Elizabeth Fries Ellet Interpretive Trail
- Nickelodeon Universe Indoor Amusement Park, Mall of America
- Crayola Experience, Mall of America
- Mill City Museum, Minneapolis