It’s the season of pumpkin spice and everything nice. As we kiss away those steamy summer months, it’s time to welcome the sweet, cozy fall season. This time of year brings fresh starts, fun events, and the glorious revival of hot beverages. (See you later, iced almond milk latte!) Maybe it’s because this season is so full of excitement, but autumn always seems to fly by too quickly. So this year, we’re making it a point to make these fleeting fall weekends count. But that doesn’t mean we’re ready to blow our budgets on trips to the pumpkin patch and fall shopping splurges every weekend. If you’re looking for some fun, fall-inspired things to do this weekend that don’t cost a ton, we’ve got you covered. To help you make the most of the season, here are some fall weekend ideas to fill your social calendar while keeping your budget happy.
1. Have a fall picnic
Can you imagine anything cozier than snuggling up with blankets and a steaming thermos of apple cider in your local park as you watch the wind rustle through the changing leaves? This makes for a romantic fall date idea, but it can be just as fun to do with friends or by yourself as a solo date! Pack your picnic basket full of yummy fall treats and bring plenty of blankets if it’s chilly outside.
2. Swap spooky stories around a bonfire
There’s not much I love better than a roaring, crackling bonfire on a chilly fall evening. Gather some friends and have a bonfire in your backyard firepit or at a local park. Take turns telling spooky tales—or read aloud from a book of ghost stories if creative storytelling isn’t your thing. And don’t forget the s’mores supplies!
3. Spend an afternoon at your favorite café
An afternoon cozied up at a café with a warm beverage in hand is peak fall vibes. For the ultimate relaxing fall weekend, make it a solo date. Bring a book to get lost in, or grab a seat next to the window for some prime people-watching time.
4. Stroll through a local craft fair or neighborhood festival
For fun fall weekend ideas that don’t require travel, see what local festivals, craft fairs, or street parties are happening in your town. Many of these events are free to enter and offer fall snacks, crafty projects, or special attractions at affordable prices. Check your local tourist board’s website or do some old-fashioned Googling to find an upcoming event. It’s a great chance to spend a day outdoors, support your community, and get festive in your neighborhood!
5. Bake a fall-inspired treat
Pick your favorite fall treat (apple crisp, pumpkin cheesecake, or cider donuts, anyone?) and try your hand at baking it from scratch. Put on an autumn-themed playlist, pull out that apron, and get baking! Whipping up a cozy recipe will get you in the fall mood, and you’ll fill your whole home with sweet smells while you’re at it. Plus, it’s a great way to use up fall produce from the orchard, farmers’ market, or your local grocery store.
6. Host a pumpkin carving contest
Whether you picked yours straight from the patch or grabbed some pumpkins on your last grocery store trip, put this season’s haul to good use. Gather your supplies and a few friends who don’t mind getting messy, and host a carving contest. This classic fall tradition is great for setting your phone down and getting your hands dirty. Once those pumpkins are carved out, be sure to bake the seeds for an added treat.
7. Cozy up with a fall movie
This is the perfect time of year to cuddle up with a few classic fall flicks. A fall movie night is a great solution when you need a quick fall date-night idea or want to host a last-minute friend gathering. Pull those fluffy blankets out of the linen closet, pop some popcorn, and hit play. Need some help narrowing down a film? When Harry Met Sally, Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, Ghostbusters, and The Addams Family are all crowd favorites. For a sweet throwback, try Casper or It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
8. Support your local football team
It wouldn’t be fall without a bit of football. Even if you’re not a huge sports fan, it’s always fun to dress up in sporty gear, grill out with friends, and cheer on the team. Soak up those Friday night lights at your local high school’s football game, or head to the college stadium one weekend and get your tailgate on. Bring some blankets, a Thermos full of cocoa, and a few hand warmer packets for when the sun goes down.
9. Take a nature walk
If you’re lucky enough to live in a region where the leaves change in the fall, take full advantage of it! A light hike through your neighborhood trails is the perfect fall activity when you need some screen-free time or a relaxing form of exercise. The colors on the trees are just gorgeous this time of year, and the best way to enjoy them is to get out there! Use this as an opportunity to get moving, put your mind to rest, and appreciate the nature around you.
10. Run a fall 5K
If you’re looking for more of a physical challenge, most cities host a variety of races in the fall. You’ll typically pay a small fee to sign up, but the proceeds often go toward charitable causes, so it’s a great way to give back. Lace up your sneakers and take in the fall scenery while you run for a cause.
11. Get crafty
As chilly weather hits, going out feels like a more grueling task. When you can’t bring yourself to bundle up and hit the town, tackle those fall decor projects you’ve always wanted to try. Whether it’s a cute garland for your mantle, some DIY wall art, or a nature-inspired wreath for your front door, put on a relaxing playlist, light a pumpkin-scented candle, and get crafty.
12. Do some fall cleaning
If it’s been a while since you last tackled that Saturday cleaning session, now is a great time for a reset. Switch your closet into fall mode, and trade those airy sundresses for chunky sweaters and blazers. As you sort through your cold-weather clothes from the previous year, set aside any items you know you won’t wear this season. It’s a wonderful time of year to donate clothes—especially warm sweaters and pants—to those in need. Spend a weekend getting re-centered for a new season and give back at the same time.