Fall Break Fun: Staycation Tips and Day Trips

Fall Break Fun: Staycation Tips and Day Trips
Photo by Jacob Colvin from Pexels

Somehow fall break is almost here, which is hard to believe when it still feels like summer temperatures! If you aren’t traveling, a full week with kids at home can feel a bit daunting.

Here are some fun tips and tricks for fall break at home, and a few day trips to consider, too:

Fall Break at Home:

There’s plenty of fun to be had around the house. These activities are also adaptable for seasonal themes.

  • Leaf rubbings: Pick a few leaves and place a piece of white paper on top of them. Gently rub back and forth with a colored pencil or crayon to make a beautiful leaf rubbing in the colors of your choice.
  • Shadow outlines: Let the sun help make traceable shapes! Make a line of toys, such as dinosaurs and place paper behind them. Trace the shadows on paper or with chalk to make a parade of animals without stencils.
  • Bubbles: I may be considered a grownup, but bubbles are one of my favorite kid’s activities. Big bubbles, little bubbles, I love all the bubbles! You can even make bubble art by adding food coloring to bubble solution and blowing the bubbles onto the piece of paper. Be careful — food coloring will stain hands and concrete, so gloves and a grassy area are advised.
  • Sidewalk chalk: Cooler temperatures make for great chalk days! Turn it into a photoshoot by drawing spaceships, cars, and scenes for the kids to interact with.
  • Spooky season sweets: Pinterest is always full of Halloween desserts and fall treats that leave me yearning to bake, but I often talk myself out of it because it’s too close to Halloween and we’re about to be drowning in Trick or Treat candy. My kids also love to bake and play in the kitchen, making fall break the perfect opportunity to get cooking.
  • Trick or treating practice: For younger kids especially, Halloween can be a bit intimidating. It’s darker, there are spooky sounds and bright lights, and knocking on neighbor’s doors can be intimidating. Practice can make this a more approachable holiday. Trade silly hats and masks and let your kiddo practice saying “trick or treat” and “thank you” before the big day.
  • Scavenger hunt walk: Neighborhood walks grew in popularity during the pandemic and many have continued the tradition. To liven up your usual walk, try making it into a scavenger hunt. Make a list (using words or pictographs, depending on your kid’s reading level). Fall and Halloween decorations can make it extra fun! Some ideas to include are different colored leaves, a fall y’all sign, a spider, a ghost, a bat, a scarecrow, and a bale of hay.
  • Build your own obstacle course: If rain is forecasted, indoor options that burn off that energy are a must. Building an indoor obstacle course, utilizing jump ropes, hula hoops, and blankets is fun for the whole family.
  • Secret spy course: This is an upgrade from the obstacle course. Using yarn or painter’s tape, make a zig-zag of lines that even Entrapment-era Catherine Zeta-Jones would be impressed by. Put a jingle bell on certain points, so the alarm will be sounded if any intruders try to break into the secret safe.
  • Backyard camp out: I’ve never officially been camping, but I did once sleep in a tent in my own backyard, so there’s that. A backyard camp out, complete with s’mores and hot dog roasting, is a fun way to give kids the experience of camping while still being near indoor plumbing and without leaving town for working parents.
  • Theme day/PJ day: There are many simple joys in life, and staying in pjs all day is one of them. Giving your kids theme days, like PJ day, goofy hat day, backwards day, etc., can help make passing the time more enjoyable.
  • Blanket fort: Building a blanket fort is a bucket-list kid item. Everything feels special in a blanket fort. Build a blanket fort, provide snacks, books, and enjoy a small bit of quiet that isn’t secretly severely damaging your home.

You can view these ideas and more on this Pinterest board made just for this post!

*If you’re itching to get away from home, play tourist around Knoxville. Go up in the Sunsphere, walk around Market Square, visit Zoo Knoxville, go to the movies, go bowling, and visit the Knoxville Museum of Art!

Day Trips:

  • Mingo Falls is a 120-foot waterfall located near Cherokee, North Carolina. It is also known as Big Bear Falls, and is sure to be beautiful during fall. The hike is almost entirely stairs leading up to a viewing platform right in front of the waterfall. I’ve only been in winter, but plan on going this fall. It is gorgeous and about a 2.5 hour drive. The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is nearby and is a wonderful museum.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park is full of wonderful trails and experiences. Laurel Falls, Cataract Falls, and Chimney Tops picnic area are some of our favorite trails! (can you tell we like to be near water?!).
  • Look Rock Tower Trail in Blount County is another wonderful hike. It’s primarily paved and has a wonderful observation tower that has beautiful views.
  • All the Dolly: Dollywood, Dolly’s Stampede, and Pirates Voyage are sure to delight all ages!
  • Chattanooga and Atlanta both offer top-notch aquariums, and it’s bound to be a beautiful drive!

What other fun ways do you enjoy fall break? We’d love for you to leave a comment below!

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Hey, y’all! I’m an adventurous wanderer who put down roots here in East Tennessee back in 2014. My little family moved here from the wilds of suburban Alaska in 2014. We love exploring Knoxville and the surrounding areas, especially the Smoky Mountains. I’m a freelance writer and teacher who loves looking at the mountains when my nose isn’t in a book. I’m a mom to two bookish kids, a wildly clingy dog, two cats, and a fish I’d be in trouble for not mentioning. Since becoming a mom, I’ve been able to add Lincoln Log architect, LEGO contractor, and mediator to my resume. I’ve always been a bit of a jack of all trades, as I’ve been a tutor, teacher, circus instructor, bookseller, amateur baker and, of course, writer. I remind myself of this as I tell my kid not to sit on my other kid’s head while stopping the dog from chasing the cat and the other cat from jumping on top of the fish tank. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and am currently pursing my Master of Fine Arts while keeping all these creatures who live in my house alive. I survive on coffee, writing fiction, reading, Disney, and snuggles. You can read more of my work at www.pawprintsinthesink.com.


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