Fall Fun Bucket ListIt starts with the smell of smoke in the air and the sound of a coach’s whistle heard in the distance. All too quickly, the mornings and evenings turn crisp along with ripe apples ready for the picking. Fall has arrived with much to offer—here are just a few items you should include on your
fall fun bucket list:
Attend a Sporting Event—if football doesn’t scream fall, I don’t know what does. Hit up a Billings, Laurel, Shepherd, Park City, Joliet , or other local high school football game on a Friday night. If the evenings are too cold, shoot for a college game—Rocky’s Bears usually play on Saturday afternoons as do MSU’s Cats in Bozeman (I will suspend judgment but only because Bozeman is closer than Missoula). If football isn’t your thing, check out a soccer game or a cross country race. Whatever you decide, go early so you can do some tailgating!
Check out Montana’s Majestic Wildlife—fall is initiated in part by the beginning of hunting season. Go hunting with a friend or family member, and if that just isn’t your thing, do some wildlife viewing. Montana has some magnificent creatures, and during the fall rut for elk; you can visit many places including the Slippery Ann Wildlife Viewing area near Lewistown where you can get a good view of the elk including the bulls who are proud to show their new rack. Even better, listen for their grand bugle (prepare for chills!) as they announce their presence.
Visit a Pumpkin Patch or Corn Maize—no fall is complete without a trip to a pumpkin match or corn maize where you are likely to go on a hay ride and drink some hot chocolate or apple cider. You might also get to see some farm animals, so if you don’t get to check out the wildlife, you can still get in some animal time! Grandpa’s Farm in Billings along with T&C Farms out of Laurel both offer a pumpkin patch with hayrides, a corn maize, refreshments, farm animals, and more.
Go Apple Picking or Leaf Viewing—if it isn’t pumpkins, it must be apples. You more than likely know someone with an apple tree or two and they probably have an overload of apples. See if you can help them out by picking some apples while doing something fun with the family. If you don’t know anyone/can’t find anywhere to pick apples that’s okay; go for a drive or walk along the river, or visit one of the local parks (Two Moon Park or Riverside Park are great options) to view the trees and their changing leaves. You can collect different types and colors of leaves and even make a nature book with the littles after your outing.
Participate in an Event or Activity—check out a fall festival which is usually complete with many favorites you see at the farmer’s market plus more. If you can’t make it to one of these, try one of the many back-to-school, fall, or Halloween carnivals put on by your local school, church, or other organization. For something more adventurous, try a date night, night out with friends, or family night with the tweens/teens, at an escape room. In Billings you can visit The Grand Escape Room or the Billings Escape Room. If you aren’t looking to hone your problem-solving skills however, head over to the Haunted Moss Mansion for thrills or to Boo at the Zoo for fun-filled activities (for kids of all ages).
Eat—whether it is cinnamon rolls, pumpkin bread, apple sauce, or corn bread, you’ve got a great side dish (note these are definitely side dishes because if we call them dessert, what will we call apple crisp and/or pumpkin bars?) to go with one of the ultimate fall dishes—chili. You can mix things up with chili by making different varieties including chicken, vegetarian, traditional, etc. To really make it fun, have a fall chili cookout with family and friends. If you aren’t up for entertaining, chili is always easy to throw in the crockpot and there’s nothing quite like coming home to a yummy fall meal after spending the day wildlife viewing, watching a game, or trekking through the pumpkin patch. For those who don’t plan ahead, I know your type—the Instapot makes good chili as well.
Drink—if you do any of the outdoor fall bucket list items, you should consider adding some apple cider to the agenda. You can drink it hot or cold and with or without some adult-only additions. Apple cider makes a solid complement to any tailgate, game, or hunting trip. I also suggest getting up early to enjoy the calm of the clear, crisp fall mornings with a hot cup or coffee or tea in your hand. Similarly, there is something comforting about having a friend over for coffee or tea on a chilly fall morning so consider inviting a friend to morning coffee/tea.
about the author...Ashlynn is wife, mom of three littles, and Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Rocky Mountain College. She is an introvert who is uncharacteristically social and loves family, learning, travel, animals, and all things Montana.