Sure it’s sad to say goodbye to summer but not when there’s so much to do in the fall! Read on for some ways to ease into autumn and find fun in the fall!
1. Bake anything pumpkin spiced.
There’s nothing like the scent of pumpkin spice to evoke that warm, cozy feeling of fall. But this fall, go beyond pumpkin spice lattes and get baking! Not only will you warm up your surroundings, but you’ll scent them, as well! From pumpkin spice blondies with cheesecake swirl to pumpkin cinnamon pull-apart bread you’ll find an endless array of recipes online. For a recipe for fresh pumpkin loaf and/or muffins from Victoria’s Heidi Fink, Red Seal chef, award-winning cooking instructor, and starting this fall, host of Chek TV’s Cooking on the Coast, visit chefheidifink.com/blog/baking/fresh-pumpkin-loaf.
2. Play in the leaves.
What better way to tackle yard work and have fun at the same time than raking up and playing in the leaves? Not only is play the way that kids learn about the world, but it’s fun—and it engages all five senses at once! Pumpkin spice isn’t the only fall scent…think fallen leaves, dewy grass and fresh crisp autumn air. And the colours! When you’re ready to head indoors, round up a few of your favourite leaves and do leaf rubbings, sandwiching leaves between two sheets of paper and rubbing with the side of a peeled Crayon. Voila! Exercise, fresh air, fun and art!
3. Express gratitude.
To reinforce the importance of gratitude, find meaningful ways that kids can show appreciation. Lead by example—offer a genuine “thank you!” to a store clerk, or a helpful neighbour. Talk about gratitude; ask your child how they feel when people say thank you to them for doing something nice, and then how they feel when they don’t. Point out generosity; call attention to it when people—including your kids!—do things that go beyond what’s expected. Find fun ways to say thanks: try giving a smile or a thumbs up if someone holds the. Share the love by delivering cookies or cupcakes to someone who’s gone out of their way for you. Make gratitude a part of bedtime; when you tuck your child in, ask them to tell you three things they’re grateful for.
4. Visit a Pumpkin Patch.
From one end of the Island to the other, there’s no shortage of pumpkin patches, u-picks and corn mazes. And depending which one you end up at, you’ll find attractions including farm trains, haunted houses, hay rides and corn mazes—along with pumpkins in all shapes and sizes! In Victoria there’s Galey Farms and Michell Bros Farm. In Nanaimo there’s McNab’s Corn Maze. In Port Alberni there’s Naesgaard’s Farm & Market. For a complete list of u-picks and farm stands, visit bcfarmsandfood.com.
5. Celebrate Halloween—Backwards.
Deliver Halloween treats rather than collect them! Have a favourite neighbour? Mail carrier? Teacher? Friend? Why not trick them with an impromptu treat?! As the expression goes: It’s better to give than receive. And who doesn’t love a snack-sized Halloween treat when it comes to getting into the spirit of the season?!
6. Getaway for a Day.
One of the many advantages of living on Vancouver Island is the number of stunning road trips just outside our front doors. Some possibilities: Whiffen Spit, East Sooke Park or Mystic Beach in Sooke. Hand of Man Museum, the Raptor Centre or the Totem Trail in Duncan. Englishman River Falls, Coombs Market or Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville/Coombs. Maffeo Sutton Park, Newcastle Island or Petroglyph Provincial Park in Nanaimo. Mt. Washington, the Courtenay Dinosaur Museum or Campbell River Pier in Comox. Remember: Getting there is half the fun so factor in enough time to make stops along the way.
7. Get together.
When the days get longer and the nights get shorter, brighten them up with a celebration or two. Gather friends and family and host a potluck. Or pack a picnic and meet at a covered picnic area like the ones at Saxe Point (Esquimalt), Beaver and Elk Lakes (Saanich), Island View Beach (Saanich), Goldstream Provincial Park (Langford), French Beach(Sooke), Cowichan Bay Marine Gateway (Cowichan Bay) Bowen Park (Nanaimo), and Robert V. Oster Park (Campbell River). No matter what you choose, keep it simple. Even a quick kids-and-coffee meetup between preschool drop-off and pick-up or a movie night on the weekend is a chance to re-connect and unwind.
8. Take a Hike.
There’s no shortage of hikes on the Island. Some good ones include: Gowlland-Tod Range (Saanich), Mt. Finlayson (Langford), Cathedral Grove Trail (Parksville/Qualicum), Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park (Carmanah Valley), Rainforest Trail (Tofino), Wild Pacific Trail (Ucluelet) or Paradise Meadows Loop Trail (Mt. Washington). Be sure to dress and pack accordingly and check the trail’s rating—easy to near-impossible!—before setting off. For more details, consult a good guidebook like The Best Hikes and Nature Walks with Kids in and Around SouthWestern BC by Island Parent contributor, Stephen Hui. 105hikes.com
9. Stroll through a cemetery.
We know, it sounds morbid—or with Halloween on the way, eerie—but few things are as peaceful as a stroll through a cemetery, especially if you take time to read a few of the epitaphs and reflect on lives lived. With Remembrance Day around the corner, now is a good time to think about those who have come before us and about all we have to be thankful for—much of it because of the actions of others. Be prepared for some pretty big questions from the wee ones but don’t feel compelled to answer. Instead, wonder aloud together.
10. Hit the trail.
The Galloping Goose, Lochside, and Trans-Canada Trails and only three of many cycling and walking paths on Vancouver Island that lend themselves to a family peddle or walk. And it just so happens that they’re three of the most colourful this time of year with the changing leaves. Not only that but depending which trail you choose, you’ll pass fields of golden corn, parks and forests, and even pumpkin patches! Make sure you’ve got a basket or panniers to carry home your haul if you make any shopping stops along the way!