20 activities to try in autumn

Keep your children busy in autumn with these 20 ideas for fun outdoor activities that are 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 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.

Discover how you could find wildlife that you might not expect to see in Britain.

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. Take a look at the Sustrans National Cycle Network layer in OS Maps and enjoy over 16,575-miles of traffic-free and quiet on-road cycling and walking routes.

kid bike ride

3. Head on a spooky Halloween walk

Take some torches and head out to the big dark forest, a ominous local ruin or even a graveyard. Try not to get too scared when one of the kids sneaks up behind you! Get started with 5 of our favourite spooky walks in the UK.

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. Download the free GetOutside app to find your local pond or take a look at OS Maps.

5. Fossil hunting

There are some fantastic places to find fossils around Britain. Find out about them, what to look for, and get tips for equipment to take with you in our handy beginner's guide to fossil hunting.

fossil hunting

6. Find the end of a rainbow

Autumn is one of the best times of the year to spot rainbows. Who can be the first to spot one? When you do, see if you can run, ride, or drive 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? Read our OS GetOutside Champion, Mary-Ann Ochota's, guide to becoming a landscape detective and get six easy tips on getting started.

historic world heritage site

8. Build a den

Get out into your local woods (or even the garden) and try and build a den. 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! Use our free GetOutside app to find your nearest woodland.

den building

9. Find local events

There's always plenty of events for children during school holidays, some now happening virtually. From arts and crafts to virtual story telling, there's plenty of activities to get involved in. Download the free GetOutside app to find out what's on near you.

10. Create a family quiz

If there's a rainy day during half term, a quiz is guaranteed to keep the kids (and older members of the family too!) busy! It could multiple-choice, picture based, or even a crossword or word search. Have a look at some existing quizzes online for inspiration, choose a theme and start bamboozling the family. You could event test your family's map reading knowledge in our map reading quiz!

11. Home cookery classes

Most boys and girls of all ages enjoy cooking, although the results can vary from the amazing to the amazingly messy. Even young children can follow a simple recipe that uses measurements in cups or spoons, while older children can try more complex cooking - or even make you dinner! Set aside plenty of time as it will take longer than you think, both for the cooking and the tidying afterwards. This is another great rainy day activitiy!

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.

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. If you enjoy this game, check out our beginner's guide to orienteering.

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.

Image: Gardener's World.

Image: Gardener's World.

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 suprise!

17. Keeping our favourite places clean

Litter picking is surprisingly, a lot of fun! You will find local groups that organise tidy ups of parks, nature reserves, beaches and similar areas by searching local council and community sites. However, you don't need to be with a group to do this. 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 crafts!


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 this simple mappy treasure hunt, or if you're after something more advanced, check out our beginner's guide to geocaching.

treasure hunt

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

Download the free GetOutside app to find more family-friendly activities!

Download the GetOutside App More autumn activities Gear for great days out

Edited: 22.10.2020