Autumn is officially underway and between the pandemic, wildfires and upcoming election now, more than ever, the “spooky” in this season’s beloved moniker of “Spooky Season” feels more real than ever. In spite of the scariness and – admittedly apocalyptic – uncertainty of this time, there are still many ways to let loose and safely enjoy autumnal activities.
Get A Little Corny At A Corn Maze
As a native to the incomparably beautiful and admittedly rural Finger Lakes region, navigating corn mazes was always a go-to Fall activity growing up. Whether it is a standalone, multi-acre maze in the dark with flashlights or a small, family-friendly field at a local farm that promises apple cider donuts at the end of your journey, this is a great way to get outside, make shameless dad jokes and have fun. Added bonus, most farms are responsible and require all patrons to wear a mask.
Be Picky At A Pumpkin Patch or Apple Orchard
Just like with corn mazes, apple and pumpkin picking were both part of my childhood and are great, socially distant Fall activities. Even better, you get to reap the rewards of your Instagram-worthy efforts with delicious produce all while supporting local businesses.
One of my favorite things about Halloween growing up was trick-or-treating (hello, obscene amounts of free candy! What more could a kid ask for?). It’s still up in the air what that will look like this year, or if it will even happen. Even though we probably shouldn’t greet any trick-or-treaters this year on the opposite side of a candy bowl, you can keep the spirit of trick-or-treat alive by baking delicious Fall treats to indulge in and/or send to your loved ones. Some festive suggestions include spooky witch finger cookies (recipe HERE – my mom always used to make a variation of these when I was a kid and I loved them!), classic and delicious pumpkin pie (recipe HERE), bone-chillingly sweet meringue ghosts (recipe HERE), and – for the less culinarily adept of us – festive and nostalgic pre-cut Pillsbury sugar cookies (HERE).
Snuggle Up With An Autumnal Movie
Perhaps one of the coziest ways to enjoy Fall is snuggled under a blanket, hot cider in hand with the glow of Netflix illuminating a dark room (perhaps with some cinnamon and pumpkin-scented candles). Horror fans rejoice as streaming sites are teaming with options at this time of you and, for scaredy cats like me, there are plenty of more wholesome, comedic and/or so-cheesy-and-bad-that-they’re-good movies to choose from. My personal favorites for this time of year are Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus, The Addams Family (1991), Coco (warning: you will cry… probably a lot) and What We Do In The Shadows. Not a movie person? Get a little nostalgic and re-watch old episodes of Are You Afraid Of The Dark? and Goosebumps or, for my foodies, check out Food Network’s upbeat autumnal programming, including Halloween Wars and Halloween Baking Championship.
Have A (Virtual) Monster Mash
Safe to say, much like trick-or-treat, Halloween parties won’t be happening this year in the interest of public safety. That said, you can still host your very own virtual Monster Mash! Gather your friends, enjoy some drinks and play a themed game or two. Midnight werewolf aka mafia is a game that has many variations and is a great, festive game to play virtually with a large group (I found a helpful guide HERE). For those who own it or are willing to shell out some cash, Jackbox (HERE) offers a number of games that are fun and easy to play remotely – if you’re looking for something in the Halloween spirit they have a Trivia Murder Party game that’s sure to set an eery mood.
Gather ‘Round The Campfire
Whether you gather your closest friends and tell scary stories a la Are You Afraid Of The Dark, or just simply enjoy having a s’more (or five), few simple pleasures can hold a flame (pun intended) to the joy and warmth of a good, old-fashioned campfire. This is also a great way to spend in-person time with friends safely, responsibly and social distantly.
What are your favorite, COVID-friendly Fall activities?