What’s not to love about fall? The cool autumn air, brilliantly colored leaves, apples, pumpkins, Halloween... the list goes on and on. Once fall begins, I always find that my calendar is bursting with activities, from pumpkin picking to harvest festivals and everything Halloween. Get outside and take advantage of all of the seasonal fun our Garden State has to offer. Here are 35 fantastic fall activities to enjoy with your family.
Looking for more? Check out our NJ Fall Fun Guide, which we'll continue to update throughout the season.
1. Relish the Garden State’s beautiful fall foliage at a scenic park or playground.
2. Breathe in the crisp autumn air on a family hike or on a visit to a NJ nature center. Tenafly Nature Center’s new Butterfly House is now open through October.
3. The beaches are FREE to roam after Labor Day. (Of course, that means they are usually closed to swimming for safety reasons, but still!)
4. Now that crowds have thinned down the shore, it’s the perfect time to climb the steps at one of NJ’s great lighthouses.
5. Celebrate all things creepy crawly at Rutgers Master Gardeners of Mercer County’s 15th Annual Insect Festival: "Please Bug Me" on September 9.
6. Didn’t get enough time in the pool this summer? There are plenty of great indoor water parks in our area.
RELATED: Best Apple Picking Farms in New Jersey with Kids
Apple picking at Demarest Farms is always a hit. Photo by yusuke toyoda via Flickr.
7. It’s apple picking season! Pick at Terhune Orchards, Alstede Farms, Demarest Farms, and plenty of others.
8. Fall is a great time to try out a new class: Sign up for a new baby-and-me class, preschool music class, or an after-school enrichment program.
9. Spend an afternoon in one of our favorite indoor play spaces and fun zones, from romper rooms to ice rinks to museums.
10. Enjoy a family sleepover at the Turtle Back Zoo to observe the animals in the dark on September 16.
11. If your kids have grown bored with your neighborhood park, find a new playground that's worth the drive.
12. Hit a family-friendly winery like Laurita Winery, which will host a Touch of Italy & Food Trucks Too Festival on September 16-17.
13. Get in the autumn spirit at a harvest festival; check out the Hopewell Harvest Fair (September 23) and Dunellen HarvestFest (October 8).
14. Party with the pumpkins at the annual Pumpkin Festival at the Whippany Railway Museum on October 1.
RELATED: Best Fall Events for NJ Preschoolers
Alstede Pumpkin Farm.
15. Pick your very own pumpkin at one of NJ’s fun-filled pumpkin farms.
16. While you’re there, take the family on a hayride and get lost in a corn maze.
17. Instead of a sandbox, let the kids dig through a corn pit at Wightman’s Farm. This is a must-do with my own every year.
18. Jets or Giants? In my house, fall means football. Catch a home game at MetLife Stadium.
19. Cozy up with farm animals at these NJ agri-spots.
20. Take a stroll with the dead at one of New Jersey's Zombie Walks. Our favorites are the Asbury Park Zombie Walk (October 7) and the Smithville Zombie Walk (October 28).
21. See a show! Shopkins light up the stage at the Mayo Performing Arts Center on September 17. Catch Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood LIVE: King for a Day at NJPAC on October 14. Watch Catboy, Owlette,and Gekko save the day at PJ Masks Live! on October 14-15 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
22. Spend Columbus Day weekend celebrating Sea Turtle Awareness Weekend at Adventure Aquarium October 7-9.
23. Catch up with your favorite Disney princesses at select AMC Theatres, starting September 15, at special screenings of popular princess-themed movies of years past.
RELATED: See Baby Animals and More at Family-Friendly NJ Farms
Camping at Diggerland.
24. Sleep under the stars at one of NJ's best family campgrounds. Or camp out at Diggerland on October 21 and enjoy rides, arcade games, and s'mores over a bonfire.
25. Stroll, shop, and eat your way through the fall street fairs, such as the Caldwell Street Fair (October 1) or the annual New Providence Street Fair (October 22).
26. Check out a zoo full of boo at a zoo Halloween event.
27. Have more fall fruity fun at The Chatsworth Cranberry Festival on October 21-22.
28. Hop aboard a Halloween train ride, including the Great Pumpkin Train for a boo-tiful choo-choo ride along the Delaware River starting September 30.
29. Get your thrills at an NJ amusement park fall event. Storybook Land hosts Happy Hayrides on Thursdays – Sundays in October, and Trick-or-Treat Weekend on October 27-29.
30. Take a Halloween trip to a theme park during Six Flag’s Fright Fest, held weekends September 16-October 31. Find pint-sized thrills at Sesame Place during The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular on select dates from September 22-October 29.
31. Enjoy a good fright at one of New Jersey's haunted houses.
32. Get goose bumps on Cape May's ghost trolley tour. It's known as one of the most haunted towns in America!
Big Apple Circus.
33. The Big Apple Circus is back and better than ever. Head under the Big Top at Lincoln Center for the 40th anniversary celebration, kicking off October 26.
34. Throw on your costume and enjoy the festivities at a Halloween Parade. We love Hoboken's Ragamuffin Parade & Costume Contest (October 31) and Boo at the Boardwalk on Jenkinson's Boardwalk (October 21-22, 28-29).
35. Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream skates into the Prudential Center November 1-5. This year’s special guest is Moana.
Top photo: Wightman's Farm. Photo by Laurie Rein. Unless otherwise noted, photo courtesy of the venues