This fall will likely look different from what we’re used to. With fewer opportunities to gather, remote learning for kids, and social distancing measures in place, we may not have our typical seasonal activities to look forward to. If you have a backyard, though, fear not – there’s plenty to do on your own property that will help you get into the spirit of the season! Make plans to try some new fall backyard activities with the kids or add a new twist to your favorites.
Instead of relying on community-run activities this fall, or if you’re nervous about being around others, make use of your backyard as the weather gets chillier. These fun backyard activities will help you celebrate the upcoming holidays and bask in the crisp autumn air. Whether you’re looking to spend time with family, friends, or yourself, look no further than your outdoor space to make it happen!
30 Fall Backyard Activities to Try with Kids
A quick note about the links in this guide to fall backyard activities. Occasionally, we link to Amazon or other sites for these products. We do that to make it easier for you to find the products we recommend. But we also participate in affiliate programs. While it doesn’t change your price, we do earn a small commission when you make a purchase using that link and that helps to support Jersey Family Fun. Other links go to related articles on Jersey Family Fun or a site we feel can be helpful.
Play in the Leaves
You’re never too old to jump around in a pile of leaves! Before you finish raking, embrace your inner child by playing outside.
Have a Backyard Photoshoot
Pull out your camera to take pictures of your surroundings. You can also shoot some outdoor photos with your friends and family. Just make sure you get to be in some of the pictures!
As Halloween approaches, carve some jack-o-lanterns outside. BONUS, by doing the carving outside, you keep the mess outside. The scraps can be great for birds and other wildlife in your community. Visit our list of New Jersey pumpkin patches to find out where you can get a pumpkin near you.
Alternatively, you can paint some pumpkins for Halloween. Since you won’t need any knives or sharp tools, younger kids can safely join in on the fun.
Have a Colorful Campfire
It’s not too late to host a campfire! If you have a fire pit (we found 10 under $100 on Amazon), gather around it for ghost stories and s’mores. Over the summertime, Saturday campfires became a new family tradition. To make it even more special I bought Rainbow Flame Crystals on Amazon (affiliate link) so that our Saturday campfires would become colorful campfires.
Remember the summer Kindess Rocks took over Facebook. It seemed every community had little artists painting kindness messages on rocks and leaving them in different places. Bring the trend back!
Get painting in your backyard and then either rock out your backyard or surprise a friend with Kindness Rocks in their yard. You could also rotate the rocks at your mailbox letting your mail carrier read a different encouraging message each day.
Decorate your yard for Halloween
Bring the spirit of “spooky season” into your backyard with some tasteful decorations. To turn decorating into a fun bonding experience, let your kids help you. This is one of those fall backyard activities that doesn’t have to be confined to the backyard. Whether you want to go spooky or scary, Amazon has a great collection of outdoor Halloween decor.
Drink Apple Cider or Hot Chocolate
There’s nothing quite like drinking a warm beverage on a cold day! Pick up some apple cider doughnuts at your favorite New Jersey farm before heading home. Then, take in the sights and smells of autumn in your own backyard as you sip on your seasonal drink and snack on your doughnuts.
Collect Acorns or Pinecones
Grab a small bucket to store any acorns or pinecones that landed in your backyard. You can use them for craft projects and as outdoor home décor accents. While it’s fun to craft with acorns and pinecones, I wouldn’t suggest bringing them indoors. Sometimes they develop bugs.
Go on a Manhunt
If you’ve never played manhunt before, fall is a great time to do so! Put simply, it’s hide-and-seek in the dark. Dress in all black clothing, carry some flashlights, and prepare for a night of fun!
Chalk it up
If your backyard has pavement or a deck, break out the chalk and let the kids create there. I like to think of it as a safer space to create because you don’t have the risk of street traffic. I bought this set of chalk at the beginning of the spring and I still have lots left and I’ve been chalking A LOT. Read our 100 Chalk the Walk ideas to get some ideas to inspire you.
Have a Backyard Campout
You don’t need to visit a New Jersey campground to go camping! Set up a tent in your backyard, throw in some sleeping bags, and enjoy a night outdoors.
Be a Wizard or maybe a Werewolf
Wizard and Werewolves is a game meant for the backyard! When the moon comes out it’s time to play. Wizards and Werewolves by Starlux Games, was sent to us to try out and we can’t wait. It’s an epic team-based glow in the dark game that pits two mystical forces against one another in an exciting backyard battle of speed, skill and wits.
Play as a Wizard and capture the magical crystals that will lead your team to victory, or play as a Werewolf and defend the crystals until each Wizard has been turned to your side. Designed for ages 8 and up, this fast-paced outdoor game is guaranteed to have your kids pulses racing and imaginations soaring. Bring your favorite fantasy books, movies and board games to life in this heart-pounding outdoor action game of crystals and curses.
Play with Your Pets
Doss your dog like to run around outside? Join them for an hour of fetch and tug-of-war! If you want to play with your dog beyond your backyard check out these places you can take your dog in New Jersey.
Teach a dog a new trick
Speaking of dogs, why not make one of your fall backyard activities to teach your dog a new trick? Check out 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog to help you get started.
Tell Ghost Stories or listen to them
Gather around at a patio table, on your lawn, or around the campfire to tell some ghost stories with your family or friends. Don’t forget a flashlight in case it’s dark outside!
To make it a little more creepy forget the flashlight and bring out the blu-tooth speakers. Connect to the speakers through a smartphone or tablet. Then, open up a playlist of spooky campfire stories. There are a few iPhone and Android apps that have spooky ghost stories. Spotify has ghost story playlists too.
Capture the Flag
If you have a larger backyard, add the Capture the Flag game to your fall backyard activities. Play Capture the Flag outside in the dark using futuristic lights. We were sent the game to review. It comes with 25 light-up game pieces, 12+ hours of batteries, and 12 different ways to play!
Capture the Flag is a classic game that many adults grew up playing as well. It’s a great backyard game for large families or a few small families together. All ages can play together and will enjoy this game that develops teamwork, social skills and strategy. It offers an exciting nighttime activity — without phones, computers or tablets. Physical exercise becomes part of the fun as players run, hide and chase each other to win. It is playable anywhere with space to run.
If you live in an area with minimal light pollution, lay outside and look at the stars. Can you see any constellations from your backyard? This telescope actually lets you connect your smartphone so you can see and snap pictures while you view the stars. If you need a refresher on constellations buy the 100 Things to See in the Night Sky, Expanded Edition: Your Illustrated Guide to the Planets, Satellites, Constellations, and More to serve as a guide as you check out the night sky.
Host a (Small) Halloween Party
For a special fall backyard activity, host a small Halloween party. Throw on some Halloween costumes and celebrate the holiday with snacks, music and friends. Make sure your gathering meets your area’s guidelines!
Backyard Story Time
Read a book, or two, or three. Kids don’t need to socialize with others to enjoy their backyard! Sometimes our teens don’t want to socialize with anyone. Hang a hammock from the trees. Get an inflatable chair. Or just lay out some beach towels in the backyard. Make it comfortable to get lost in a good book in the backyard. Reading outside can help you and the kids get away from any distractions you may face inside your home.
Draw or Paint
Does something in your backyard catch your eye? Spend some time drawing or painting it outside. If you’re up to it, you can even make a painting of your whole backyard!
If the backyard doesn’t inspire the kids to paint, order up one of the paint-at -home kits available for curbside pick up in New Jersey. There are so many different designs available. Kits come with everything you need except an easel. While you don’t need an easel, the boys and I found it much easier to paint with an easel. We also felt like true artists. I picked up table-top easels for $12 each at Michael’s craft stores. The easel we got is also available on Amazon.
Design a Fairy Garden
Another trend from a few years back were fairy gardens. This is one of those fall backyard activities that you can do throughout the fall. Add something new for the ‘fairies’ every few weeks or decorate their garden with each passing holiday.
You can go all out with fairy garden decor available on Amazon or create your own with items around the house. Empty containers can be little homes. Used spools of thread can be tables. Old beads can be windows. Building blocks can be connected to build anything. Accessories from dolls, Barbies, or action figures can also be used in a fairy garden.
Build a bird-friendly habitat
One of my new hobbies this summer has been bird watching. While there are wonderful places to go bird watching in New Jersey, it can also be a fun backyard activity. You can find lots of bird feeders at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other outdoor stores. If you want to get creative, I’ve found lots of paintable bird houses at Michael’s that are $5 or less.
Another way to make a bird feeder is use what you have. The core of an apple, the leftover of an orange, can all make great bird feeders. String some floss or a pipe cleaner through them. Then, cover the leftover fruit with peanut butter and then bird seed. Finish it off by hanging it from a tree. Watch as bird after bird comes by to enjoy the treat.
For help identifying the birds coming to visit your backyard get a bird identification guide. I have this one on my porch, National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America. I like it because it not only shows a picture of each bird but it also goes into great detail about the bird and tells me what parts of the country it can be found in.
If you’ve got kids with energy then the Smash Ball game is a must have must do fall backyard activity. Everyone can get into the competitive spirit and burn off energy when you play Smash Ball! We were sent a set to review from Party City. (It’s available online or through curbside pickup.)
The game includes a training ball, two competition balls, a spike net, a hand pump, and a carrying case. The objective of the game is to bounce the ball off the net onto the other team’s side before it hits the ground. The players hit the ball back and forth until it lands inbounds or the ball goes out of bounds. The first team to 21 points, wins.
Host an outdoor movie night
Maybe you’ve always enjoyed community outdoor movie nights, but right now the idea makes you a little nervous. Turn your backyard into an outdoor movie theater. It’s a perfect safe activity because each guest can bring their own chair or towel and sit 6 feet apart from each other.
This is also one of those fall backyard activities that can be as simple or elaborate as you want. Go simple by hanging a white sheet against the side of a shed, fence, or the house. Or go elaborate and buy an outdoor inflatable screen. Some special event rental businesses even have them for short term rentals. Click over to find the highest rated outdoor movie screens on Amazon and outdoor movie projectors.
Make & Take Tye-Dye Days
Tye-dying can be a safe outdoor fall backyard activity that even teens will enjoy. Plus if the colored water gets splashed around you don’t need to worry about staining anything indoors. Get one of these tye-dye kits from Amazon (affiliate link). If friends are joining you have each friend bring their own dyeable item and rubberbands. Then, set out each color bucket 6 feet apart from each other. Have plastic sealable bags at the end for kids to put their wet items in so nothing gets messy on the way home. This Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit is a party in a box with everything you need to tye-dye up to 36 projects.
Imagine a bowling-type game for your backyard, that’s Murbles. We received a sample game when schools first closed last spring and it was a great way to get my boys outdoors.
Murbles is easy to play, easy to see and easy to score. Simply toss the point ball into play, then alternate turns trying to get your game balls as close as you can to the point ball. The player with one or more Murbles closest to the point ball wins points. It is just that easy! There is no court required, nothing to set up , or take down just dump the ball out of the Murble bag and you’re in the game.
Glow in the Dark Sword Battle
Be the coolest parent on the block when you have a glow-in-the-dark battle in the backyard. Glow Battle: A Light-Up Sword Game is a backyard activity game with 10 ways to play.
Will it be you or the kids who lead your team to victory as you play organized sword fighting games using (harmless!) glowing foam weapons? Choose from 10 different ways to play, 2 or more players.
This is a great interactive game for team building and developing strategy and ideal for both large and small groups. With 28 glowing game pieces, players participate in an active game that gets youth off their phones and screens. Physical exercise becomes fun as boys and girls do their best to run, swing, tag and use teamwork to win. You can also play inside a basement, garage or gym with the lights low.
Get a neat swing
If your kids have gotten older or you don’t want the work of setting up a playground get a unique swing. You could use an old tire and hang it from a tree with some sturdy rope or buy one of these tree swings that come with ropes and more for installation.
Turn the backyard into a Ninja Course
Do you have want to be ninjas? Maybe your kid always has a lot of energy? Set up a ninja course in the backyard and you have a fall backyard activity that could be enjoyed almost year-round. There were a ton of impressive backyard ninja course sets on Amazon. I was really surprised they weren’t that expensive either.
Even if you won’t be getting out much, this fall doesn’t have to be boring. There are so many ways to utilize your backyard, for fun fall backyard activities, both with and without other people. It’s time to think outside the box (or rather, outside the house)!