By Kimberly Blaker
Summer may be seen as the outdoor season, but autumn also offers lots of opportunities for outdoor fun. Try some of these family activities, and fill yours and your kids’ senses with delight. Be sure to double-check with the venues before going in case they have changed their dates or times.
Make pumpkin loaf
(Culinary.net) Fill your house with the aroma of fall with warm slices of this Pumpkin Loaf dolloped with butter.
Find more seasonal dessert recipes at Culinary.net.
Nonstick cooking spray
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Heat oven to 350 F.
Prepare loaf and muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray.
In bowl, whisk eggs. Set aside.
In separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together. Set aside.
In another bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add whisked eggs and mix until blended.
Alternately add flour mixture and pumpkin puree to egg mixture, beating until blended. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Pour batter into loaf and muffin pans. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans.
Enjoy Fall Leaves
National parks and forests are the places to be in the fall. For a splendid fall foliage experience, visit one of the closest mountains, Brasstown Bald. It happens to also be the tallest mountain in Georgia at 4,784 feet. Peak color in Georgia usually takes place sometime between mid-to-late October and early November. To help leaf peepers find the best scenery, Georgia’s State Parks offers an online “Leaf Watch” travel planner, found at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/leafwatch.
One hour away from Brasstown Bald is one of the best apple picking farms, Hillcrest Orchards and Farms. If your going on a weekday the admission is $8 per person (walking age & up). Enjoy the petting farm, wagon rides, and all playgrounds (including the giant slides, kiddie corn maze playground, trike rides, jumping pillow, and the new ball zone). On the weekends, the admission is $14 per person (walking age & up). Pick your fun at the annual “Apple Pickin’ Jubilee” where you can pick your own apples, milk a cow (mask required), watch the swimming pig races, and watch live bands & cloggers on the Hillcrest Stage. Hillcrestorchards.net.
Host a campfire cookout
If outdoor fires are permitted in your area, have the kids round up neighborhood friends for a cookout. Grill some food and finish it off with roasted marshmallows and/or s’mores. Have everyone take turns telling stories around the fire.
Make a scarecrow
What’s fall without a scarecrow on your porch? Just buy a couple of bales of straw, then have each family member gather some old clothes and hats. Stuff and use string to tie off the hands, feet, and head.
A near by walk in the woods
As flies and mosquitoes retreat, it’s the perfect time of year for a walk in the woods. Look for animals scurrying about gathering for the long, cold months ahead. Don’t forget your binoculars. Try Ocmulgee Mounds National Park, Amerson River Park, and Wesleyan College Arboretum for some splendid natural trails in Macon. Try Fountain Park in Warner Robins, Weleetka in Perry, Dauset Trails in Forsyth, High Falls, and Indian Springs are near by too.
Remember as a kid diving into the crisp fall leaves? Grab the rakes, and have your kids pitch in. Pile up the leaves to jump in, build a fort, and even have a leaf fight. Just check for ticks afterward.
Find a fun fall destination
Apple, pumpkin, fall harvest, and many other activities are found this time of year. Don’t miss Lane Southern Orchards Mini Fall Farm Festival, (lanesouthernorchards.com), on October 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., children can wear their costume and trick or treat around the barn.
Watch birds migrate
As fall fills the air, many birds begin to head south for the winter. Contact state and national parks or your Department of Natural Resources for recommended birding locations.
Let your kids try out their green thumbs. After all, fall is the time of year to plant perennials and flower bulbs. Let your kids choose some plants from the gardening store, and give them the opportunity to help design the garden. A hand-painted rock or two adds color until the spring blossoms bloom.
Take a train
With the colors of fall blazing under bright blue skies, a scenic railroad excursion is a sure bet. You’ll need to drive to Blue Ridge, Georgia, for a foliage tour. However, with the crisp October air, it might be an ideal time to take the kids on Middle Georgia’s Sam Shortline Railroad, samshortline.com.
Make a bird feeder or house
Kids will enjoy the carpentry experience and marvel at watching birds make use of their creation. Find kits in hobby stores and online for making bird feeders. To make one from scratch, visit your library and check out a book on how to build a birdhouse, or find free instructions on the Internet.