When summer starts to wind down, you might think that it’s time to pack away the picnic basket and start planning plenty of indoor activities to keep your kids occupied.
However, whether you live in an area that’s still somewhat warm or are in a neighborhood where it’s already getting a little cooler, fall can be the perfect time for a stunningly picturesque and wonderfully pleasant picnic.
According to Midwest Living, “Summer picnics get all the glory,” but fall is an ideally “colorful season for eating outside” thanks to the “cooler temperatures [and] fewer bugs, not to mention splendid scenery.” Indeed, it’s the perfect time to “escape to a pumpkin patch, family farm or leafy lakeshore to savor fall.”
Despite the fact that the leaves on the trees still hadn’t started to turn color for the season in my own neighborhood, a chill was indeed in the air, so I felt like it was an ideal time to take my family out for a meal in the crisp outdoors before it got too cold (i.e., before it started snowing).
While I’ve planned plenty of summer picnics over the years, this was my first time setting up something for fall. I knew I needed to consider that the weather might be on the chillier side and I would need to check the weather forecast to make sure we weren’t heading out on a day when it would likely rain. I was also hoping to include some seasonal items with the meal, so I thought that a quick trip to our local farm would be great for picking up what we needed as well as a lovely way to kick off the day.
With that in mind, I began to plan a perfect autumn picnic for my family. Read on to see how it went and get a few ideas for your own awesome outdoor meal.
My Thoughts Before the Picnic
I was incredibly excited before the picnic. I love summer and have a hard time getting through the long, cold winters in my area, so when fall hits, my mood can be pretty iffy. I tend to focus on how much I love things like the crisp air, thunderstorms, gourds, Halloween, and gorgeous walks through the stunningly beautiful woods to get me through this season. However, this year, I was thrilled to also have a picnic to look forward to and to plan.
My Family’s Thoughts Before the Picnic
My kids certainly thought it was a quirky idea to have a picnic in the fall, but they were definitely up for it. My husband had already had a pretty long week, so when I asked if he was interested in heading out for a picnic on the weekend, he thought it would be a great way to get out of the house and unwind.
Planning: The Picnic Basket
A few years ago, we had come across a picnic basic at a thrift store and had immediately snatched it up. I’ve always loved picnics, and having my very own basket charms me every time we take it out.
In order to prep for our fall picnic, I simply cleaned it up a bit since it had gotten a little dusty since the last time we’d taken it out.
Planning: The Food
Along with a few easy-to-make yet oh-so-yummy hot sandwiches that suited everyone’s specific tastes, potato salad, carrots, and some chips and cookies that we already had at home, we stopped by our local farm to see what they had available. Right at the front of the little farm store, a table was set up with a row of fresh fruit. It was a lovely rainbow of plums, pears, nectarines, grapes, peaches, strawberries, and raspberries. We opted for some grapes, raspberries, and peaches. It was also impossible to resist one of the farm’s homemade desserts, so my son grabbed a mini strawberry rhubarb crumble pie.
Planning: The Drinks
I wanted every aspect of our picnic to be special, so I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a jug of apple cider, which definitely suited the occasion. Although I love hot cider with a little cinnamon in it, I didn’t have a thermos to keep it warm, so I opted for cool cider, which is still delicious.
Planning: The Games
I grabbed a few things to keep us occupied on our picnic, including a kite that I had picked up during the summer but that we never used because we didn’t have any particularly windy days. I also packed our baseball gloves and a few balls so that we could play catch, as well as a Frisbee, our ring toss game, and a mini boccie ball set.
Planning: The Blankets (for the Picnic Table or Sitting on the Ground)
I grabbed a couple of our outdoor blankets (that is, ones that can get a little dirty and I won’t mind). In fact, I actually packed two blankets just in case we set up our picnic on the ground, which may have been a little damp. I was hoping that two blankets would keep our bums dry while we were sitting down eating our meal.
Planning: Extra Blankets and Jackets (To Keep Warm)
Even though the weather forecast was calling for a nice day, it can still be a little chilly this time of year when the sun goes behind a cloud or if it gets a little windy. So along with packing a few extra blankets to keep us warm, I also grabbed a jacket for everyone.
Picnic Day: The Location
There happens to be an absolutely gorgeous park in my city that seemed like the perfect place for a fall picnic. Along with a river that winds through the grassy areas, there are also little islands connected by picturesque bridges. There are all kinds of gazebos and benches beside the water, along with gardens and stunning trees. The park and its waters also host ducks, swans, and plenty of fish.
When we got to the park, we found a picnic table right beside the river and underneath a gorgeous willow tree. Nearby were ducks and big fish in the water and a beautiful little island right across from us that was filled with birds.
Picnic Day: The Weather
The day was a little chilly, and it was overcast for most of our picnic. But the air was wonderfully crisp, and there wasn’t any frigid wind. It was the perfect fall day! Although, to be honest, by the end of our picnic, I was glad that we had brought along our jackets and extra blankets, because it began to get cooler as the sun started to go down.
Picnic Day: The Meal
Bringing hot sandwiches was a great idea, and thanks to the fact that I’d wrapped them up tightly, they were still nice and warm when we sat down to eat. The fresh fruit and pie from the farm were delicious, as was the apple cider, although I’d love to pick up a thermos so that we could have a hot drink next time.
Picnic Day: The Fun
It ended up not being windy enough for a kite. This was a little disappointing since I really wanted to try it out, but was probably better since we didn’t freeze due to an icy breeze. We did play a few other games, and there was definitely lots of fun to be had at the park. My husband and son even ended up playing catch with a duck who mistook their ball for a large piece of bread.
My Family’s Final Thoughts
But I know it’s going to take time for her to see that. Good thing she’s with us now. We’ll show her just how amazing she is every goddamn day.
My Final Thoughts
I was thrilled with our autumn picnic and was a little surprised that it didn’t seem to pale in comparison to our normal summer picnics. The weather was still nice enough to appreciate the outdoors, it was lovely to plan a meal around seasonal delights, and we now have another item to add to our list of favorite fall activities. And considering the park was filled with plenty of other families — as well as individuals, couples, and groups of friends — also enjoying picnics, it was clear that this is a popular outing that everyone should try.
A picnic is a great way to bond with your family and spend some real, quality time together doing something fun and engaging!