by Katie Julius
Whether or not California, especially Southern California, actually has “fall” in the traditional sense is up for debate. But, don’t let our unseasonably warm weather this time of year stop you from enjoying some fun fall activities across the Golden State!
Fall isn’t complete without apples. There are apple farms that dot California up and down the state, so no matter where you live, an apple picking adventure is not far. For those in Southern California, I personally recommend Oak Glen – and be sure to stop and get the apple cider donuts at Snowline Orchard. They have a grassy area with picnic tables to enjoy a dozen or two along with fresh pressed apple cider.
Can’t make it out to the orchard this year? No worries! There are lots of fun apple activities you can do at home. When my daughter was young, we headed to the store and bought one of every kind of apple and did a taste test. For younger kids, talk about colors and taste. You can even use one of these worksheets to aid in your observations. With older kids as well, talk about what they might be best used for or have a discussion about grafting and how new varieties are created.
To amp up your apple tasting, invite over some friends for a Caramel Apple Bar! Pick a few varieties of apples, cut them up and put some sticks in them. Then dip into melted caramel, chocolate, or white chocolate. Top with nuts, candies, sprinkles, marshmallows, crushed graham crackers, coconut … you get the idea.
Even if you aren’t a fan of pumpkin spice _____ (fill in the blank), there’s no escaping pumpkins in the fall. Of course, there’s the obligatory trip to the pumpkin patch – and experiences vary greatly. Some may just offer pumpkins for your kids to sift through. However it’s become increasingly common for pumpkin patches to be a “destination” complete with petting zoos, games, hay rides, corn mazes, bounce houses, etc. Whatever type of pumpkin patch experience you are looking for, it’s out there! If you don’t already have a regular place you visit, ask other local families for suggestions for a place that meets your needs.
If you carve pumpkins at home, make it an object lesson! There’s a great analogy that likens the pumpkin’s “guts” to our sin and the need to remove them so we can have the joy (happy jack-o-lantern face) of Jesus. A book we’ve used in the past is The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs.
When one thinks of fall and the beautiful colors of the changing leaves, usually a trip to New England is in order. Believe it or not, California does have some places where you can see the fall colors. They may not be quite as vibrant as our East Coast friends get to see, but the scenery is beautiful in its own right. If you’re in Southern California, you’re going to need to drive a bit as most of the locations listed here are in Central and Northern California, but the stunning views are worth the trip.
KIDS GO FREE
San Diego is home to a number of world class museums, zoos and aquariums. If you weren’t already aware, during the entire month of October, many of these venues offer free kids admission with a paying adult. Even if you live in Northern or Central California, if you were planning a trip to San Diego, October is the time to come if you want to get the most bang for your buck. From the San Diego Zoo (check out the new Wildlife Explorers Base Camp) to the San Diego Air and Space Museum to the USS Midway Museum, there are dozens of offers for kids to not only enter free, but eat free at restaurants and stay free at hotels. Check out the full list and details at SanDiego.org.
Because our weather is typically warm or mild during most of the fall, it’s a prime time to get outside! Visit a national or state park. Stop by your local nature center and go on a hike. If you’re near the water, rent a canoe or kayak. Ride bikes as a family. Visit the beach one last time before storing away all your summer beach gear. Enjoy the beauty of this season in God’s creation.
Whatever you do this fall, enjoy this season together as a family as you seek to bring up your children in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).