2018 Fall Bucket List for Families in Richmond

Despite a rather slow start, fall has officially arrived here in Richmond. The temperatures have finally started dropping and despite thinking it might never happen, the leaves have finally started changing. For many of us, fall is the best time of the year. Not only have the kids gone back to school after a long summer, but football has started, fall festivals are in full swing, and holiday fun is just around the corner. And to help you make the most of the fall season here in Richmond, we’ve put together a bucket list of must-do fall activities.

From activities that you can do at home to places to get out and explore, you’ll find that there’s plenty to keep every one in your house happy and entertained this fall season.

Be sure to take a look at our bucket list below, try out some of our suggestions, then if you have some fantastic fall traditions that we might have left off the list, let us know! Drop us a line anytime at cs@richmondmom.com. We would love to hear from you!

 

1. Hike (Or Bike) The Trails

Fall Bucket List Forest-Hill-Park-Loop
Friends of Forest Hill Park / Facebook

We all know that some of the best trails on the East Coast are right here in Virginia. But did you know that you don’t even have to leave the Greater Richmond area to find awesome trails, fantastic fall scenery, and diversity for everyone in your family – from bikers to hikers? From the James River Park System to parks throughout the surrounding counties, the Greater Richmond area is jam-packed with perfect hiking trails. If you’re looking for some ideas for your fall bucket list, be sure to check out our Best Hiking Trails In And Around Richmond for trails within an hour or two of the area, as well as our Best Hiking Trails in Richmond for trails that are closer to home.

If you’re looking for a great family bike ride, be sure to visit The Capital Trail, a beautiful 50+ mile ride from the state’s capital in Richmond to the former capital in Williamsburg.

 

2. Spend A Day At The Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch Gallmeyer Farms
Gallmeyer Farms / Facebook

Few things say “fall” quite like pumpkins. Whether you’re carving them for Halloween jack-o-lanterns, using them for seasonal decorations, or cutting them up to make homemade pumpkin pies, pumpkins are as much a part of fall as colorful foliage. But the best part about pumpkins? Picking your own at the pumpkin patch. Richmond has a wide variety of pumpkin patches, both in and around the city. Try any one of the pumpkin patches in our 2018 Guide to Pumpkin Patches in Greater Richmond for an experience that will be fun for the whole family. Many of these awesome farms and nurseries offer additional activities, like fall festivals, hayrides, games, food, and more.

 

3. Meander Through A Maze

fall bucket list corn maze
Chesterfield Berry Farm / Facebook (photo by Kennedy Lee Jenkins)

Speaking of pumpkin patches….as we mentioned above, many of the farms in our area not only offer pick-your-own pumpkins, but a broad selection of other activities, as well. Corn and hay mazes can be found at many of these locations. With a range of mazes from elaborate trails that require maps and clues to simple mazes ideal for younger explorers, these mazes make for a fun family activity that can only be found in the fall. Here are few spots that offer corn or hay mazes in and around Richmond:

Ashland Berry Farm
Chesterfield Berry Farm
Gallmeyer Farms
Hanover Vegetable Farm
Lloyd Family Farms
Swift Creek Berry Farm

 

4. Make The Most Of Richmond Restaurant Week

fall bucket list Richmond Restaurant Week
Richmond Restaurant Week

For many of us, especially those of us with younger kids, going out to eat is a special treat. But during Richmond Restaurant Week, it becomes even more special. During Fall Restaurant Week 2018, which will be held October 22- 28, participating Richmond area restaurants will be offering three-course prix fixe meals for only $29.18 per person. You’ll not only have the chance to try some of the area’s finest dining establishments at a great fixed price, but $4.18 from each meal will be donated to FeedMore, a local organization that fights food insecurity throughout Central Virginia. Since it’s inception 17 years ago, Richmond Restaurant Week has raised more than $700,000 to help feed area families and individuals in need.

To see a complete list of the 36 area restaurants participating in Richmond Restaurant Week, click here.

 

5. Find The Best Fall Foliage

Fall Foliage Three Lakes Park_Shutterbatte Photography
Photo by Shutterbatte Photography

Fall means cooler weather and shorter days, but it also means changing leaves. Fall foliage is the highlight of the season for many – and few places offer better fall colors than Virginia. To keep an eye on peak fall colors throughout Virginia, be sure to visit the Virginia Department of Forestry’s Fall Foliage Report. Then, if you’re looking for a fun weekend outing with the family, try one of these fall foliage tours

Charlottesville area:
Greene County
Harrisonburg area:
Rockingham County tour directions | Shenandoah County tour directions
Lexington area:
Bath and Warren Counties tour directions
Roanoke area:
Bedford County tour directions | Craig County tour directions | Franklin County tour directions
Staunton area:
Highland County tour directions

However, keep in mind that while there are beautiful fall foliage tours throughout the state, you don’t actually have to leave Richmond to see sensational colors. Check out our list of Best Places For Fall Foliage in Richmond for beautiful vistas right here at home.

 

6. Pick Apples

Apple Picking

Like pumpkins, apples are an essential part of fall in Virginia. You can, of course, find delicious local apples at many area grocery stores and farmer’s markets, but there’s something extra sweet about an apple you’ve picked straight from the tree. While we don’t have much in the way of orchards right here in the city, there are plenty of places to choose from in the surrounding counties. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of prime apple picking locations to help you plan your apple picking expedition. Check out our Guide to Apple Picking In The Greater Richmond Area for complete listings, including location, distance from Richmond, available apple varieties, and more.

 

7. Have Fun At Fall Festivals

Fall Festivals Guide 2018

Fall is for festivals – especially here in Richmond. From small local events to large regional gatherings, there’s a festival for every family here in Greater Richmond. Regardless of your interests or location, you’ll find something to satisfy your fall festival cravings in our Guide To Fall Festival In Richmond And Beyond.

 

8. Treat Yourself To Some Brunswick Stew

17th Street Farmers Market / Facebook

One of my favorite childhood memories was watching my grandfather slow-cook a giant kettle of Brunswick stew over a fire in the backyard. Even better was getting to eat this uniquely Virginian treat. Today, the smell of Brunswick stew still takes me back to my childhood and to me, it simply tastes like fall. During the fall months, you’ll find many local organizations hosting Brunswick stew sales to raise money for everything from fire departments to high school athletic programs. Be sure to stop and grab several quarts this time-honored fall treat to keep in the freezer. When the cold weather hits and you’ve got a steaming bowl of stew in front of you, you’ll be glad you did.

Can’t find a local sale? Make some yourself! Here’s one of our favorite traditional Brunswick Stew recipes for you to try at home.

In the meantime, don’t miss the Brunswick Stew and Stout Festival on October 27 from 11am – 4pm at the 17th Street Farmer’s Market downtown. Stew masters from all over will be competing for Best Stew – and you’ll get to taste (and take home) the best of the best for yourself!

 

9. Sip Some Cider (for kids and grown ups, too!)

fall bucket list apple cider

Apple cider, hot or cold, makes everything better. Whether you’re warming up on a crisp fall day with a cup of hot cider or drinking it chilled straight from the fridge, cider satisfies everyone. Fortunately, finding fresh-pressed cider isn’t much of challenge, thanks to the plentiful apple orchards all around us. Even if you don’t make it to an orchard to pick some up, you’ll often find plenty of local offerings in area grocery stores and at farmer’s markets.

In the meantime, you may have noticed another type of cider that seems to be popping up more and more – and that’s the kind strictly for the grown-ups. Hard ciders have enjoyed an impressive revival in Virginia over the last handful of years. This year, you’ll have the chance to try some of the state’s best ciders during Cider Week Virginia. Held the week of November 9 – 18, Cider Week Virginia spotlights more than 15 cideries from around the state and offers events that range from tastings to cider making classes. With many of the events happening right here in Richmond, you’ll want to mark your calendars now!

 

10. Head over to Halloween on Hanover

Fall Bucket List Halloween on Hanover
Halloween on Hanover Ave / Yelp / photo by Follow My F

If you’ve never spent Halloween night on Hanover Street in the Fan, then make this the year that you remedy that situation. Halloween on Hanover is not a formal event – but it’s a Richmond tradition all the same. For years, the residents of Hanover Avenue have collectively created a Halloween spectacular that only seems to get better each year.

In the days leading up to Halloween, the stately homes along Hanover are transformed into Halloween-themed haunts – ranging from whimsical to more than a little spooky. With a festival-like atmosphere, you’ll find everything from dancing to live bands to air cannons that fire candy from a pirate ship. If you’re trick-or-treating with little ones, you’ll love the fact that the area is well lit and the streets are blocked off from the 1900 block to 2200 block. However, keep in mind there will be smoke machines, animatronics and some scary costumes…so it could be a little overwhelming for tiny tots. But if something gets too intense, just move down the block and you’re sure to keep the whole family happy and entertained all night long.

Trust us, this is a fall tradition you’ll definitely want on your Richmond bucket list. Even The Wall Street Journal named Halloween on Hanover as one of the nation’s best places to trick-or-treat!

 

11. Make Your Own Holiday Decorations

fall bucket list wreath Maymont
Maymont / Facebook

While the shops are filled with Halloween decorations right now, we all know it won’t be long before shelves everywhere are filled with Thanksgiving and Christmas décor. Why not get a jump start on the upcoming holiday season by making some of your own decorations this year? DIY holiday decorations can turn into a fun family event with easy-to-make wreaths, ornaments, and centerpieces. Try some of your favorite crafting sites and inspiration sites like Pinterest for ideas.

If DIY at home isn’t totally your style, then go for something more formal like Maymont’s Wreath Workshops, held November 26 – 28 or their Deck the Halls Workshop, held on November 29. Be sure to visit their calendar for times, costs, and registration.

 

12. Hit the Holiday Markets

Fall Bucket List Holiday Craft Markets
GrowRVA / Facebook

Get your holiday shopping started at one of Richmond’s many craft and artisan markets. Not only will you find truly unique, one-of-a-kind gifts, but you’ll have the chance to support local businesses and artists at the same time. And best of all, while it might be hard to turn holiday shopping into a family event on a regular day, the diversity and festival-like atmosphere offered at many of these markets makes them more appealing to the whole family – which means you might just get some help shopping this year after all!

Here are a few of the markets coming up this fall:

Holiday Farm and Craft Market (Downtown): Thursdays, now through mid-Dec
The Holiday Market (North Chesterfield): Nov 18
Thanksgiving Holiday Market at Forest Hill Park (Richmond-Southside): Nov 21
Special Holiday Markets @ River Street Market (Petersburg): Nov 17 & Dec 15
KCES Holiday Market (Mechanicsville): Nov 29
Bizarre Bazaar (Richmond): Nov 29 – Dec 2
Handmade Holiday @ Hardywood (Richmond): Dec 1 – 2

 

13. Rake Your Leaves…Then Help Someone Else

Fall bucket list raking leaves

Fall is called “fall” for a reason. As soon as the weather starts to cool, the leaves start to drop. From there, it doesn’t take long for our yards to be filled with fallen leaves and other debris from trees more than eager to shed their summer splendor. Subsequently, raking is a fall “tradition” for most of us. Raking is a relatively simple job that even your younger kids can pitch in to do. You may struggle to keep them from destroying your carefully collected leaf piles with a few well-aimed jumps, but even that is a great fall tradition in and of itself.

However this year, we’d like to encourage you to add a new fall tradition to your list. Once your yard is done, identify a neighbor, friend, or family member who might not be able to get to their own leaves and offer to rake for them. Whether it’s an elderly neighbor down the street, a friend who has been sick, or a family member that could use an extra set of hands, you can be certain they will be grateful. Go as a family, send the kids on their own, or do it yourself – but do it knowing that even the simplest of jobs can lift a huge burden from another’s shoulders.

 

14. Help Stock the Shelves at Your Local Food Pantry

Fall Bucket List FeedMore
FeedMore / Facebook

Major holidays always serve as a major reminder of food insecurity and hunger that occurs right in our own backyards. Fortunately, the Richmond community is one known for its caring, and as such, offers a number of organizations and ministries that collect and distribute food items to families and individuals in need, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.

While we encourage food collection and donations all year long, fall is a great time to get your family thinking about those less fortunate. Encourage your kids to start collecting items from your own pantry that could be donated. Then consider making a special grocery shopping trip to collect even more goods to give to local pantries and shelters.

Below, we’ve listed a few of the local organizations accepting food donations. For even more, a simple Google search of “Richmond area food pantries” will help you locate services near you.

FeedMore
Belmont United Methodist Church 
East District Family Resource Center
Lamb’s Basket 
Welborne United Methodist Church

 

15. Make S’Mores (And Memories) 

Fall bucket list s'mores

Not every fall tradition has to be elaborate or take a lot of time. In fact, you don’t even need to leave your own back yard to make the most of the beauty of a Richmond fall. Try making a small fire in a chiminea, fire pit, or on a grill and roast marshmallow, make s’mores, sit around and tell stories, or just gaze at the stars while wrapped up in cozy blankets.

Fall can be a busy season between after school schedules, upcoming holidays, and the craziness of family life in general. So how ever you choose to enjoy the fall season here in Richmond, just remember to slow down and enjoy the things that are most important. Chances are you’ll realize that they’re not “things” at all, but rather the friends and family that surround you.