• Family activities

20 activities to try in autumn

By OS Team

Published on 7 min read

child on bike

Keep your children busy in autumn with these 20 ideas for fun outdoor activities suitable for all ages.

1. Wildlife spotting

Autumn is great for spotting birds, squirrels, rabbits, deer, badgers and loads more. Stake out the garden or head out to the local woods or park and see what you can find. Encourage children to take note of what they have spotted, so they can keep a wildlife diary or draw pictures later. Older children can try animal tracking or nocturnal wildlife spotting.

2. Go for a ride

It’s a great time of the year to get out on the bikes before it gets too cold and dark. Whether it’s around the local park or some serious off-roading, most kids will jump at the chance. There are plenty of safe bike routes available to help keep you off the main roads.

By using the Sustrans National Cycle Network in OS Maps, you can enjoy over 16,575-miles of traffic-free and quiet on-road cycling and walking routes.

3. Head on a spooky walk

Take some torches and head out to the big dark forest, an ominous local ruin or even a graveyard. Try not to get too scared when one of the kids sneaks up behind you!

Kid feeding the ducks

4. Feed the ducks

Head to your local pond and you will often find local ducks and swans as well as migratory birds who would love to steal your sandwiches. Healthier options for most birds include oats, grains, fruit, vegetables or bird food from your local pet shop. Feeding bread to ducks is not recommended.

5. Fossil hunting

Everyone, at some point in their lives, has been fascinated in fossils and dinosaurs, but not many people realise that many of Britain’s beaches are bursting with fossils. Find the beach beaches for fossil hunting and wildlife spotting.


Best Places for Fossil Hunting

6. Find the end of a rainbow

Autumn is one of the best times of the year to see rainbows. Who can be the first to spot one? When you do, see if you can run, walk or ride to where the rainbow lands before it disappears. It’s not as easy as it looks!

7. Visit a historical site

There are thousands of historical sites across Great Britain, which vary from the barely visible remains of old settlements to historic monuments. Many of these are free to explore, so why not get out your OS Map and look for something near you?

historic castle to visit 

To 10 English Heritage Castles

8. Build a den

Get out into your local woods, park or even the garden and try and build a den. First you’ll need to find a tree for the main support. Start out with a frame made from thin logs and branches, and then cover with smaller sticks and leaves to create a cosy hidey-hole. If the kids can lie down in it without it falling over, it counts as a success! 

Buy your own ready-made den kit here. 

9. Find local events

There’s always plenty of events for children during school holidays and key dates like Halloween and Bonfire Night. From arts and crafts to virtual story telling, there are plenty of activities to get involved in. 

10. Play a game

Whether you take a traditional game outside or make up your own, playing games is a great way to spend a few hours as a family. Why not try having a go at playing a location-based game and increase your time spent outside? These popular games combine the latest in technology with outdoor activities such as walking and cycling. 

11. Watch an autumn sunset

sunset autumn 

10 Best Sunsets

The great things about autumn is that the sun sets early enough for the whole family to enjoy. Make sure you arrive around 15 minutes beforehand so you don’t miss it and stay a little longer to see the colours light up the sky (if you’re lucky!).

12. Mushroom hunting

The damp cool weather brings out all sorts of weird and wonderful fungi, from classic red spotted toadstools to impressive bracket fungus on old wood, and most children will be fascinated in these odd, hidden growths. Head out on a walk and see how many you can spot. They make wonderful photos! Avoid touching or eating any mushrooms unless you are able to positively identify them.

kids navigating 

13. Have a navigation race

Pick some points – around the garden or park for smaller children or a larger area for older children, draw or print a map and see who can make it around all the points in the quickest time. Remember that the fastest route between two points is not necessarily a straight line if there is more difficult terrain or a landscape feature such as a river in the way.

14. Make a hedgehog hibernation house

Use an upside-down crate or pile of logs and cover it in some fallen leaves to encourage a hedgehog to hibernate in your garden (see how to build your own house here). It’s best located in a quiet spot out of drafts, but don’t worry about filling it with bedding – hedgehogs prefer to do that themselves.

hedgehog home

15. Star gazing

With earlier nights, it’s the ideal time to go out star gazing. Ideally, you need a clear night with few clouds, a new moon and a place as far from artificial light as possible. It can take quite a while for your eyes to adjust to low light levels, so allow at least 10 minutes for your eyes to get used to the dark. It can become surprisingly cold when you are not moving, especially if you are lying down, so wrap up warm and bring a waterproof blanket to lie on.

16. Leaf piles

We’re not sure why, but all children seem to love kicking through piles of leaves. Rake some into a pile in the garden, or go to your local park or woods where they will have been blown into piles by the wind. Avoid the most popular dog-walking sites in case your pile of leaves contains a nasty surprise!

family litter pick beach

17. Keeping our favourite places clean

Litter picking is surprisingly, a lot of fun! You will find local groups that organise tidy ups by searching local council and community sites. Whether you join a group or choose to go alone, litter pickers can be bought for as little as £10 and will keep the kids entertained for hours. Make sure they are wearing gloves and know not to touch anything. This activity will also help teach children not to drop litter and you may even find some treasure!

18. Conkers – Classic British sport!

Collect conkers, drill a hole and thread one per string, and then see which one survives. Coating in varnish, soaking in vinegar or baking them is cheating! If you get really good, you may even be able to take part in the Conker World Championship! If you don’t fancy battling it out with your conkers, you can always use them for woodland crafts!

conkers game 

19. Climb a tree

As trees lose their leaves it can make climbing easier, so choose one with easy to reach branches and get climbing. If you want to go higher, many woodlands have special tree climbing activities, like GO Ape, where safety ropes and skilled instruction are available.

20. Plan a treasure hunt

Hide a treat somewhere in your local area or in your back garden and draw a map so your kids will know where to look. You can use a simple mappy treasure hunt, or if you’re after something more advanced, check out our beginner’s guide to geocaching.

autumn leaves 

We hope this gives you some ideas on how to make the most out of autumn – it’s a great time to be outside!

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By OS Team


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