When you think about fall family fun in Austin, you might be expecting a list of events like corn mazes, ghostly outings, and festivals. While those are wonderful options for many families, what I discovered repeatedly when my son was younger is that we needed to look beyond events with crowds, lines, and a lot of noise. We learned that just because something is fun for others does not mean that it’s fun for us, and vice versa. And not everyone in your family may put the same things on their fun list. With that in mind, I’ve got some tips to help you make your own family fun in Austin list for this fall.
Create a “50 Fun Things for Fall” List
You can brainstorm as a family, or each individual could make their own list and then you can look for crossovers. This Venn diagram of fun lets you see the sweet spot in the middle which helps you figure out how you’d like to spend your time together as a family.
To prompt your 50 Fun Things list, consider different categories of fun. What’s fun if you’ve got 15 minutes to an hour, half a day or a full day? What’s fun to do inside, outside, for free or that costs money? What do you like to create or make? What do you like to play? What’s fun that you get to dress up for or that you wear your old clothes to do? With friends, with a crowd, just as a family, or with a particular family member?
Making the list might be plenty to prompt your fun. You can take it a step further by creating a family fun board with people to see, places to go, and things to do out in the world or at home.
- People to See: Consider who you want to see this fall: family, school friends, other friends, or connections. Do you want to schedule a monthly potluck with friends, plan to attend festivals together, make travel plans for fall holidays, or host a board game or movie night?
- Things to Do: I highly recommend 101 Things You Gotta Do Before You’re 12 by Joanne O’Sullivan. The book includes things that are fun at any age like sleeping under the stars. There’s plenty of camping around Austin where you can do just that: McKinney Falls, Krause Springs, Pedernales State Park, Pace Bend, or Inks Lake. Beyond star gazing, Natural Gardener and multiple churches around town have labyrinths open to the public. Another idea? You can catch a train like the Austin MetroRail or the Austin Steam Train with its Hill Country Flyer. You could also plan a special fall excursion and ride the Austin Steam Train’s Pumpkin Express on Oct. 27.
- Places to Go: A search for going to a junk museum will turn up the Cathedral of Junk in South Austin. Want to go to a really big thing? The State Capitol building downtown is fifteen feet taller than the U.S. Capitol. You could double down on a thing to do and a place to go by going to a rally at the capitol. Visit an unusual animal farm by going to the Hill Country Elephant Preserve in Stonewall or Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels.
- Fun at Home: You don’t have to go out in the world for fall family fun. Think about what the cooler weather might offer at home. Try lying in the hammock in the backyard, having brunch outside on the weekend, throwing a frisbee, or raking leaves and jumping in the piles. You could also plant a fall family garden full of things different people in the family like to eat.
The board will give you some things to check off, inspiration as the days get shorter and calendars to remember all that you want to do. Print out calendars for the fall months and add specific events. Add the things you want to make sure you put on your schedule, like an afternoon of doing the science kit that looks fun but keeps sitting on the shelf. To make the board look fun, you can buy a foam board in fall colors, use scrapbook paper for backgrounds, use different color ink for your lists, and format the board in afun f ont.
Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, defines play as “… intensely pleasurable. It energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.” Whether you’re looking at your 50 Fun Things list or creating a Fall Family Fun Board, keep reminding yourself that what you’re doing is for fun. Fun comes in many forms, and finding your version of family fun will make your fall one to remember.
Sonya Fehér is a home organizer in Austin specializing in organizing for families, women and creatives. You can find her at spacewisingorganizing.com.