Summer may be seen as the outdoor season, but autumn also offers lots of opportunities for outdoor bonding fun. Try some of these activities, and fill yours and your grandkids’ senses with delight.
ENJOY A COLOR TOUR. Embrace all of fall’s colors by surrounding yourself with them in an area park. In Columbia, some of the best places to enjoy the season’s colors are at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, Grindstone Nature Area, Shelter Gardens and along the Katy Trail. Remember that in central Missouri, fall colors typically hit their peak in mid to late October.
HOST A CAMPFIRE COOKOUT. Have the kids round up neighborhood friends for a cookout. Hot dogs, hot chocolate, marshmallows and s’mores are a traditional way to top off the season. Have everyone take turns telling stories around the fire. If you have little ones, check out library books with autumn themes to read to the youngsters.
ATTEND A FOOTBALL GAME. Gather your blankets and head to the stadium. Whether it’s cheering on the Mizzou Tigers, heading to one of mid-Missouri’s many high school games or even heading to Kansas City to enjoy a Chiefs game, it’s great fun for kids and grandparents alike. Take along a bag of popcorn and thermos of hot cocoa, then snuggle up and get ready to cheer on your team!
MAKE A SCARECROW. What’s fall without a scarecrow on your porch? It is easy to make — just buy a couple of bales of straw, then have each family member gather some old clothes and hats. Stuff it using string to tie off the hands, feet and head.
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, and don’t forget your binoculars. Use one of Columbia’s many wooded trails (find a complete list of trails at como.gov/trails) or head over to Rock Bridge Memorial State Park or Finger Lakes State Park for more.
LEAF FUN. Do you remember diving into the crisp fall leaves when you were a kid? Grab some rakes and have your youngsters pitch in. Pile up the leaves to jump in, build a fort and even have a leaf fight.
FIND A FESTIVAL. Apple, pumpkin, fall harvest and many more festivals are found this time of year featuring food, arts and crafts, kids’ games, pony and wagon rides, and more. The annual Heritage Festival & Craft Show will be held Sept. 16-17 at Nifong Park. In addition to live entertainment, there will be more than 70 vendors, kids’ activities, demonstrations and more. On Sept. 20, Columbia will host its final Family Fun Fest of the season from 6-8 p.m. at Albert-Oakland Park. And on Oct. 14-15, the 32nd annual Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival will be held in southern Boone County. Not only can you find a plethora of pumpkins, but there’s lots of vendors and activities for everyone to enjoy. If your grandchildren are older, consider taking them to see a concert at the Treeline Music Festival, formerly known as Roots N Blues, held at Stephens Lake Park from Sept. 29-Oct 1.
VISIT A PUMPKIN PATCH. Begin a family tradition of picking your pumpkins from a local patch. After cleaning out the pumpkins, make roasted pumpkin seeds, a yummy treat that kids love. Rinse the seeds, pat them dry, and coat with melted butter. Spread the seeds on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 350 until golden brown. Be sure and stir them occasionally.
SHIFT THROUGH A CORNFIELD MAZE. Kids delight in finding their way through cornfield mazes. Shryocks Callaway Farm does a corn maze each year that is known for its different, intricate designs made using GPS technology. Get all the info on this season at callawayfarms.com.
PLANT PERENNIALS AND BULBS. Let your grandkids try out their green thumbs. After all, fall is the time of year to plant perennials and flower bulbs. Allow your grandkids to choose some plants from the gardening store, and allow them to help design the garden. A hand-painted rock or two adds color until the spring blossoms bloom.
HORSEBACK RIDES. Head to the stables and enjoy the fall colors on horseback. Boone County is home to a number of equestrian centers, stables and farms that offer horseback riding, lessons and more.
MAKE A BIRD FEEDER OR HOUSE. Kids will enjoy the carpentry experience and marvel at watching birds make use of their creations. Kits are available in hobby stores and online for making bird feeders. To make one from scratch, find a book on how to build a birdhouse or find free instructions online.
PARADES AND MARCHING BANDS. Celebrate Mizzou’s Homecoming Oct. 21 in downtown Columbia. The parade will take place that morning with the football game kicking off at 3 p.m. at Faurot Field. Be sure to take a blanket and snacks, and enjoy the colorful floats, cheerleaders and marching band.