By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes
As the seasons shift, make a plan to soak up the sights, smells, and unique delights of fall.
Discover Farm Fresh
Autumn is an ideal time to celebrate our nation’s bounty by visiting farmers markets to marvel at the colors, textures, and wonder of fresh produce. Take a farm tour and learn how our food moves from plow to porch. Visit a community garden and become inspired to join in or plan for your own. For a more immersive experience, spend the night or a weekend on a family farm. Leave everyday expectations behind and get ready to pitch in for the morning chores. At farms across the country kids can collect eggs, pet pigs, corral critters, tend to a garden, fish in the creek, or hang out in the shade of fruit trees.
Take in a Roundup in South Dakota
Each year, the public has been invited to hear the thunder of hooves and photograph the moment as experienced riders roundup a herd of some 1,300 buffalo during the state’s Buffalo Round Up and Arts Festival. Considered a critical management tool in maintaining a healthy herd, the buffalo are corralled and then tested, branded, and sorted. The fall event typically includes a pancake feed, Western and Native American entertainment, and the chance to peruse the fine art and crafts offered by more than 150 vendors. Weather permitting, you can snag top-notch views of wildlife via the 18-mile Wildlife Loop State Scenic Byway. Possible sightings include elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and the resident bison roaming the park.
For more: TravelSouthDakota.com
As the Leaves Turn and the Elk Bugle
This is your chance to enjoy Grand Teton National Park and the extraordinary beauty of this valley, before it becomes a winter wonderland and minus the crowds that collect in summer. Take a family-friendly hike along the Snake River or explore aside a string of scenic lakes. Enjoy the changing leaves during a wildlife tour in Yellowstone or Grand Teton or enjoy the views via horseback. Check on the resident herd at the National Elk Refuge (sleigh rides are possible once the snow falls).
Pick Your Own Apples
Whether you fancy Granny Smiths, Fuji, or Golden Delicious, the whole family will enjoy a day in a pick-your-own fruit orchard. Gather your crop, then return home to choose your favorite recipes for crafting your own apple juice, pie, or cobbler. Stay close to the hearth or visit Washington, the state that harvests more than half of the country’s apples.
Corn Mazes and More
Play hide and seek in the corn maze. Climb aboard the horse-drawn wagon for a hayride. Wander the scenic pathways. Scout for the best pumpkins in the patch. Relax in the fresh fall air with a glass of crisp apple cider. Find a fall fun spot near you and immerse yourselves in the season.
Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert, and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com.
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