Simple Weekend Ideas for Fall

simple fall living

This fine fall weekend we’re going to a 50 acre botanical garden in Orlando with a friend. I’m excited for the outing and I can’t wait to see what kind of pictures we get.

I consider it a minimalist weekend outing.  We’ll drive and use gas, pay an admission, probably eat at some point, but we won’t be adding anything to our homes. There won’t be any Leu Gardens fridge magnets sneaking home with us. Sometimes outings and experiences create a lot of stuff, like window shopping, and sometimes they’re like our planned trip to the garden, simple and serene.

I got to thinking about why I had so much anticipation for this weekend and I realized it’s because it’s fall. Fall is such an exquisitely special time of year for me. I relish the fleeting changing of the seasons.

Sometimes Fall whips by in a flash so quick I don’t know what happened between summer and winter. Other times fall lingers for a while, letting me savor it’s brisk, windy flavor.

Given how much I’ve been internally waxing poetic about the nature of fall lately, I figured it would be fun to share a few of my favorite simple fall activities with you. Consider them minimalist outing adventures. :)

A Happy Rat’s List of Simple Fall Activities

1) Botanical Garden: Visiting your local botanical gardens can be almost as delightful as walking down a hiking trail in the middle of some hidden woods. It’s a chance to reconnect with nature and see some of the beautiful things that live in the world with us. The sights you’ll see on a nature walk are like nothing you’ll ever find on the nature channel. The real experience never pales from the tv version.

2) Camp Fire: Fall is the perfect time for campfires, and it’s not just little kids who love a campfire, it’s for us grown-ups too. A campfire doesn’t have to mean camping. It can mean a lovely campfire party in a friend’s backyard, or for an even more civilized version, a chiminea party. All are beautifully fun ways to experience fall. I’d say every one of the best parties I’ve ever attended involved a little fire burning in the backyard. The best aspect of a party like this, is you can make it so comfortable and casual. BYOB, potluck, chairs around a campfire under the stars=stress free awesome perfection.

3) Squash Eating: Forget everything you think you know about squash, and cook some fall squash this weekend. There is nothing on this planet like an acorn squash soup or a baked butternut squash seasoned with savories instead of sweets. I didn’t discover the scintillating joy of hard squash until I moved to rural parts, and if you’ve never lived in the country hard squash may be something you’ve never tried. On every ounce of trust you have in me, I say run out this weekend and bake yourself a spaghetti squash, fork it around to loosen all the spaghetti tendrils, then mix in some marinara sauce and a few capers or olives on the side. It’s vegan, low-calorie, gluten-free, cooks in less than an hour, and it’s made out of good carbs instead of bad carbs. It’s worth the adventure. ;)

4) Star Gazing: I can’t end a list like this without covering my favorite of past-times, fall star gazing. Are you old enough to remember the movie E.T.? I was around nine when it came out and I think it was targeted right at my age range. I was a turbo E.T. fan, complete with E.T. sleeping bag. Remember the part of the movie where the little kid is sleeping out on his lawn chair waiting? That’s the part of the movie I loved. It seemed so adventurous and wild. I couldn’t imagine at that time ever being able to stay up and watch the stars late into the night. Ever since then I’ve stargazed and cloud gazed. To me spring and fall are the perfect times to do a little extra star gazing, the sky seems crisp without being super cold.

Ratty Conversations

What about you? What are your favorite simple things to do during fall?



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49 Responses to “Simple Weekend Ideas for Fall”

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  1. Happy Friday everyone! Hope you’re going to have a grandly wonderful weekend. I hope you enjoy this little list of fall activities I threw together for you, now I can’t wait to hear about your favorite simple fall activities. ;)

    Oh, the picture. All summer long I meant to take the camera down to a beautiful field of wildflowers close by. I walked by it daily but somehow kept forgetting to take a picture. I knew fall had arrived the morning the brushhog was out there clearing the field. The photo is one of the few wildflower stalks the brushhog missed. Sort of a last moments of summer shot.

    In the meantime, I’m signing out. I’m going to go enjoy the fall weekend a little bit early this week. Cheers!

  2. That picture is absolutely stunning! I keep meaning to ask what type of camera you have!

    As for us, we really don’t get much in terms of season changes. Anything under 100 means it’s time to FINALLY get outside. And it means being able to take advantage of all of the parks within walking distance. Oh yeah, and being able to save loads of money by having the AC off :)
    Megyn @ Minimalist Mommi recently posted..Antithesis

    • Hey Megyn,

      It sounds like you and I live in similar climates. It’s not “fall enough” here to have the ac off for the season, but at least we’re only running it intermittently now.

      Thanks for the compliment on the picture. Patrick researched cameras for a long time before choosing one. We’d never had a good camera before this one! I had to go look it up on the camera, but he chose a Panasonic Lumix dmc-fz35. I’m lucky he lets me touch it at all. :)

  3. Linda Sand says:

    Walking down a leaf-strewn path and listening to them crackle underfoot. Or kicking up bunches of leaves and watching them swirl through the air. Playing croquet and having to find your ball hidden among the leaves leading to a discussion as to how many leaves you get to move before your next hit. We already had our wiener roast around a campfire; now it’s corn maze season here. Can you tell I’m a northern girl?
    Linda Sand recently posted..Saying goodby to Weight Watchers

    • Hey Linda,

      That sounds so beautiful! Now I’ve never heard of a corn maze before, is that like a spooky walk in the corn fields? It sounds like fun. :)

      • Linda Sand says:

        A corn field is planted in such a way as to make twisting and crossing paths through it. You walk into the field then try to find your way through to the exit the same way you would do with a pencil on a paper maze. Since corn grows higher than a person’s head you can’t just peek over the stalks beside you to see what’s there. The farm market next door to this RV park planted one that is open weekend days and it is very popular right now.
        Linda Sand recently posted..Accessories

        • Ah, it’s like a labyrinth! How very, very cool Linda. I’ve only ever seen corn fields when I’ve been on a roadtrip from one place to the other. I’ve seen it driving by and at the occasional stop, but I can’t remember what state I was in, maybe Indiana. Thanks for telling me the details. :)

          • jaime says:

            Never heard of a corn maze. I bet you were in Indiana. You must get to the midwest (or west, or upper south) and experience one. it is awesome!
            jaime recently posted..To Do List

  4. Jill Foley says:

    I’m heading to the coast for a women’s retreat with other ladies from my church later today. The rest of my family will be camping at the coast (fall is our family’s favorite time to camp).

    I laughed a bit when I looked at the list of items to bring to the retreat….one suggestion was money for shopping. There will be free time in the afternoon and what do most people do in their free time? Shop! Not me….I’ll be walking on the beach, or sitting on the beach with a book, or doing yoga on the beach. I plan to bring nothing new home with me (except maybe feelings of refreshment).

    I love going to orchards and farms in the fall – definitely one of my favorite things to do.
    Jill Foley recently posted..Wanting More…

    • Hi Jill,

      That sounds like a lovely retreat weekend! It sounds like a perfect chance for you to enjoy the beach all on your own while the ladies are out shopping. :) I bet there are a few who’d like to join you there too. :)

      The orchards and farm visits sound lovely too. I’ve never been on an apple orchard before.

  5. Lorna says:

    Fall is my absolute favorite season! I love the colors, the smells (including the food), and the refreshing temperatures here down South.

    • Hey Lorna,

      It does get refreshing. It’s funny how Fall and Winter are the times for being outside down south, the opposite of the rest of the country. I’ve been hiding inside avoiding a mosquito plague all summer and now I can’t hardly stay in my computer chair. I keep wandering outside and working there instead. :)

  6. Sandy B says:

    My sons and I have a fall tradition of reading “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury. Even though they are away at school, I’ll be pulling it out to read again. I’ve also been looking forward to the Circleville Pumpkin Show. It’s been a while. We won’t buy anything but food while we’re there, but who can pass up a pumpkin burger or pumpkin ice cream?
    Sandy B recently posted..Coming Attractions

    • Hi Sandy,

      That sounds really special. I would definitely be snatching up a pumpkin burger! I’ve made lentil burgers before, but never one out of a pumpkin. :) That sounds like a really fun tradition rereading the Ray Bradbury book every year. It definitely had a fall feeling to it. I reread it a few years ago but before that I hadn’t read it in close to twenty years.

  7. pamela says:

    What’s a brushhog?
    pamela recently posted..Oh! oh! AMY…….

    • Hi Pamela,

      There’s probably a more technical name for it, I’ve always called them brushhogs. Ahhh, it’s like a giant tractor sized lawnmower that has all the cutting blades behind the large tractor thing. How’s that for a bad description! They’re used for mowing down fields. Most of the people I’ve seen use them will let a field grow up all year and then “brushhog it” once in the fall (sometimes once at the beginning of spring too).

      Here’s a much better description: What Wikipedia has to say about Brushhogs :)

  8. Great list, Tanja. My wife is a botanical nut – loves flower gardens. I like them when I can find something unusual. We built a big stone fire pit last year where we can safely have a nice camp fire – it’s wonderful! Love squash. It took a while to get that back. One year when I was in grade school dad planted several hills of crookneck squash. The silly things took over the back yard and produced so many huge squashes (the blows were the size of pumpkins and had necks that could get two feet long and 6 or 7 inches in diameter. We were eating squash at every meal as well as shoving it off on out friends and neighbors. It to so they’d lock their doors and pretend to not be home when we came up their walks. And I too have always loved stargazing. The sky in a good clear night without smudging from city lights is AMAZING!

    Allan Douglas recently posted..Leave the Leaves

    • Hi Allan,

      Can you believe it’s raining today! Sigh, our trip was cancelled because we’re in for one of those long soakers that’s going to last all week long. We’ll get there eventually. :) Meantime it’s a tiny house sort of day with the pitter-patter of the rain hitting our roof.

      Your story about the crookneck squash is awesome. I could vividly see the neighbors slinking away from the curtain and huddling in a hallway off the living room waiting for you to leave. Hmmmm, that is the only danger of growing produce. We did get some 5 gallon bucket drop-offs this summer that were completely filled with squash (from our friend who gardens). We ate as much squash as we could and then quietly put a little of it on our compost pile. The cucumbers got canned though, and so did the strawberries!

      Stargazing in the country is always better than the city that’s for sure. Our only issue was we were in such deep hilly woods we had a very small clear view of the night sky (too many tree branches). Our little patch of stars was brilliant though! And on full moon nights we could walk through the woods with no flashlight and see everything around us.

      We’ve got a really good spot for starwatching here too though. There’s a little light pollution but we’re far enough removed and our town is small enough that it’s not too bad at all. :)

  9. We are not doing something very minimal. but it does not include shopping. We are headed to the NC mountains with some friends, me driving a truck following hubby and the other couple riding on motorcycles. We will be doing some great eating at a couple of renowned restaurants in the area (all diets are off this weekend!) and they bikers will be riding the Dragon’s Tail.
    As for me? I will find a quiet creek to sit beside! I will ride with my hubby on quiet backroads at home, but have never ridden long distance and don’t think I could handle the Dragon’s Tail!
    IF I purchase anything at all, it would be a hooded sweatshirt. Those are the only souvenirs I ever buy. I wear hoodies each day and they remind me of our trips. I have a few that are getting frayed and my need to be donated, so I don’t feel bad about adding another to my collection!
    I love visiting botanical gardens! Lucky for us this weekend should be peak colors in the Smoky Mountains!
    Living the Balanced Life recently posted..What it means to focus from Steve Jobs

    • Hey Bernice,

      That sounds like fun! Especially with the peak leaf color happening this weekend. New Smyrna is south of Daytona and next weekend is our big biktoberfest event. I’m expecting to miss out on some sleep again this year hearing all the cycles roaring by. This whole coast comes alive in the spring and fall with bikes.

      Me? I’d be like you, sitting out of the Dragon’s Tail. I enjoy a short motorcycle ride but anything lengthy is a bit much for me, and after getting hit by so many cars in accidents I’m gun-shy of motorcycles. I want a little protection between me and the big suv’s on the road. :)

      Enjoy that gorgeous scenery Bernice, I’ll be living vicariously through you this weekend!

  10. Viola says:

    Last weekend I want for a walk in the park, in the morning. There weren’t many people, and it was quiet in the park even though I live in the center of the city. I could hear the birds, and the sound of the water fountain. I walked there for a while, and sat on a bench looking at the colors of the autumn leaves. It was simply great.

    • Hi Viola,

      That sounds absolutely perfect. I love finding those tucked away spots and times when there aren’t so many people around. It proves that even in cities there is always an opportunity to connect with nature. Thanks for sharing that!

  11. tammy says:

    i’m late getting here as ususal! you’ll be well on your way into your wonderful weekend.
    as i write this, the cool autumn wind is whipping down the prairie and rain is right behind it!
    at least we’re hoping so.
    my autumn favorites?
    first just the word… autumn…. evokes gold, copper, red, ochre… rich tapestry of tree art!
    then the smells… mustiness, earthiness … rich and dark…
    then the sounds… leaves crunchy… leaves blowy… wind whispery…. then maybe howling!
    then the light… brilliant blue or pewter grey days… cozy lamps lighting the corners even in daytime!
    then the feel… sweaters, comfy fleece with hoodies, socks, scarves… all soft and friendly-like.
    and to top it off… a holiday that has no reason other than to eat lots of good stuff and to be
    thankful and feel true gratitude that you DON’T have to participate in stupid black friday shopping!!!!
    tammy j

    • Tammy that’s absolutely beautiful! I love it… brilliant blue or pewter grey days, what a way with words you have. :) And I felt autumn all around me as I read it. Thank you for sharing your fall favorites Tammy!

  12. Lisa S says:

    Last night, we packed up a picnic…sausage, cheese, rolls, strawberries, apples and choc chip cookies and drove to a small state park near us. We had supper by a little lake, fed the geese, and took a stroll through the woods. The kids waded in the stream and we walked back to the car in the near dark with a bright moon shining down. The only thing that came home with us that we didn’t take was a big stick that my daughter found in the woods. What a great evening that was…the whole family together and we hardly saw another person.

    • Hi Lisa,

      That sounds absolutely delightful. I can feel the little breeze that was likely blowing across the water as you shared your picnic with those you love. It sounds like one of those perfect evenings you remember ten years later, wondering how it managed to be quite so magical. :) Thank you for sharing it Lisa.

  13. tammy says:

    dashed in earlier then commented then went to the market.
    took the time now to read all the commenters. and saw that your trip got cancelled!
    a great day to cozy up in your tiny jewel of a house.
    still no rain here but the wind is blowing strong and the sky is silver.
    bring it on!!!!
    tammy j
    ps… you’ve really got some great commenters doncha! besides moi of course! and no
    not looking for strokes… simply stating the obvious! i love seeing how other people feel.

    • Hi Tammy,

      Yep! The rains derailed us! (It’s Monday now) and we had rain all weekend long. Last night an unexpected tropical storm blew through. It was magnificent!

      So our simple weekend plans will happen another time, and instead we got to sit inside and watch the world rumble around us. A perfect trade. :)

      p.s. Tammy, you have no idea how much my little community of commenters means to me, you included. I know sometimes people will blog for years with a steady readership but no comments coming in. I feel blessed to have the feedback and sharing that happens down here below the posts. In a lot of ways I feel like the comments section is more important than anything I write in the top post! And I love that Minimalist Packrat is a community gathering spot for people. :)

  14. How about soaking in a hot spring while sipping hot cocoa? Also goes well with your #4, stargazing. It’s finally cooling off at night here in the desert.

    • Ohhhh yes!

      When Patrick and I were out west we managed to make our way out to a handful of hidden hot springs out in the middle of the wilds. We knew the springs were out there because we’d followed a guidebook to find them, but it was amazing to hike for so long and then magically come across a shallow spring just deep enough lounging in.

      Hot springs soaking while stargazing at night? Now that’s not something I’ve done yet! I need to put it on my list. :)

      How nice it’s finally cooling off for you. We’re still back and forth with the weather, but it’s been cool enough to spend a lot more time outside and leave the windows open too. Ahhhh, fall. :)

  15. jaime says:

    Fall is my favorite time of year. Here are a few of my favirite things to do in fall
    1. pumpkin patch
    2. cider mill – this is so michigan of me – i am sad we have none around here :(
    4. sitting quietly and watching leaves fall
    (Carter and I did this for about 30 minutes last night as the sun was going down. It was lovely.)
    jaime recently posted..To Do List

  16. jaime says:

    Fall is my favorite time of year. Here are a few of my favirite things to do in fall
    1. pumpkin patch
    2. cider mill – this is so michigan of me – i am sad we have none around here :(
    3. sitting quietly and watching leaves fall
    (Carter and I did this for about 30 minutes last night as the sun was going down. It was lovely.)
    4. tossing the football in the backyard
    5. puttering in the yard looking at all the changes.
    jaime recently posted..To Do List

    • I loved your #5 Jaime, because I thought you’d left it blank on purpose! You got a trillion minimalist points from me when I saw it. :) You still get a trillion minimalist points because your completed list is beautiful too.

      #3 just sounds divine. We haven’t had enough leaf fall to do that here in Florida. In Arkansas I could lose myself staring out our top floor window at the tree canopy in front of me, seeing the leaves descend. I used to muse on why they’d choose that particular moment to let go. There’s something perfect about a world where trees gently discard their leaves, go dormant, and then burst out with vibrant life come spring.

      Thank you for sharing your whole list Jaime, and I hope everything’s starting to slow down for you again!

  17. Just curious to see if you got rained out, or if you still went and enjoyed Leu Gardens in the wet weather. Their gardens are really beautiful, and the approaching cooler temperatures would be a good time to meander through.
    Eric | Eden Journal recently posted..I Need Your Help to Test Techinques for Falling Asleep

    • Hi Eric,

      It’s funny we’ve been waiting for Leu Gardens all summer. We’ve had long-standing plans with a dear friend to go visit the gardens at the first hint of fall. The rain was continuous this weekend so we didn’t make it, but we will be going as soon as our friend can find some more free time.

      I’ve never been but it sounds like you have. Are you in Orlando? I grew up visiting the Bok Tower Gardens in nearby Lake Wales and Sunken Gardens in Saint Pete, but I haven’t been to Leu Gardens yet.

      • Yes, we live in Orlando. Leu Gardens is nice, but we don’t go very often since they charge an entry fee. Bok Tower is on my to-do list. When we feel like taking in some nature we often head to Gemini Springs which is near our house or sometimes Mead Gardens in Winter Park. Neither matches Leu Gardens for the variety, but they are still very nice and they are free.

        • Thank you for the suggestions Eric, that’s wonderful! I’ll be putting Gemini Springs and Mead Gardens on my list. And it’s great that they’re free. I noticed on the Leu Gardens website they have free admission on the first Mondays of every month. If our friend can’t find free time before November, Patrick and I may do a solo trip and take advantage of the freebie.

  18. Thanks Andrew. :)

  19. RobinN says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments so maybe you got this suggestion already but a cool fall activity is having a barbeque!

    It may sound a little strange as the weather is changing from summer to winter, but last year I invited friends and family to my house on a friday evening where there was little wind. Get a fire going, add a barbeque and you have yourself a great time with your closest friends/family.

    We plan on doing it again somewhere mid-Nov.

    As for a camp fire, great suggestion! ;)
    RobinN recently posted..30 day missions (1): A Morning Routine

    • Hi Robin,

      Thanks for sharing that. I’ve never thought of a barbecue for fall, but it sounds intriguing. We don’t have an outdoor grill right now, silly minimalists, but I often think longingly of one. My mom has a grill and the most luscious grilled veggies happen on her porch. Hmmmm, a fall barbecue party. I love it! Thank you for sharing your thoughts Robin. :)

  20. Marianne says:

    Up here in the North East we are just finishing up applepicking season. Its so much fun to spend half a day at the orchard, picking apples and pears. Some have hay rides and small country stores with fresh apple cider donuts. Then you can go home and make apple pie! We are also known to partake in “leaf peeping”. People drive up and down the highway looking at the trees change colors. I also love to plant my perrienials in fall. The soil is great and I can spend winter looking forward to the beautiful flowers that will bloom in spring.
    As for the corn maze, im embarrased to say I’m from the state where a husband, wife, and 3 week old baby got lost in a corn maze and called 911 to get them out. *shakes head* They released the 911 call today. May i suggest just pushing your way through the corn? They were found 25 ft from the entrance.

  21. Marla Sparks says:

    dashed in earlier then commented then went to the market. The rain was continuous this weekend so we didn’t make it, but we will be going as soon as our friend can find some more free time. We were eating squash at every meal as well as shoving it off on out friends and neighbors. Shop!
    Marla Sparks recently posted..Cancer Tattoos Tumblr

  22. Francy Skitt says:

    I love your Happy Rat’s List of Simple Fall Activities. The list is really give fun and entertainment to you and to your family. Thanks for this concept. I think I also need to make this list of simple fall activities for my family this fall.
    Francy Skitt recently posted..Teeth Whitening Products You Can’t Afford To Miss

  23. For sure my kids would have a great time having these simple fall activities. Thanks for sharing it and for giving me point to make this one also. I am sure my kids would have an interesting time this fall.
    Jennifer Graham recently posted..Mosquito Patch : The Natural Repellent for Mosquitoes

  24. I want to engage either camp fire or visiting botanical garden this fall. I want to do these activities together with my friends. For sure doing camp fire really gives me awesome time with my friends. We can do chatting and playing on the camp site.
    Tricia Duncle recently posted..Human Growth Hormones: Pills vs. Injections

  25. Oisha Hicks says:

    That is wonderful time together with your friends. I like that one also having camp fire in botanical garden and eating some point. This is just enjoyment and fun at all. There is no need to purchase anything to bring at home. I love that idea. Since I am minimalist person this is a great happening.
    Oisha Hicks recently posted..Fat Burning Food – Chile Peppers!

  26. Kelly Evans says:

    Fall is a good time so I want my kids to have wonderful fall activities. Thanks for this list and I really like your suggestions.
    Kelly Evans recently posted..4 Tips to Stay Beautiful

  27. Lucinda Le says:

    There’s probably a more technical name for it, I’ve always called them brushhogs. Some have hay rides and small country stores with fresh apple cider donuts. My sons and I have a fall tradition of reading “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury.
    Lucinda Le recently posted..Top Realtors in Murrieta CA

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