Pumpkin patches, hot cider, raking leaves into huge piles for jumping, big bowls of spicy chili, and anything cooked in a slow cooker or cast iron: when it comes time for fall, these are just a few of the things we like to do in Head Country.
We couldn’t help but think of a few more, so we made a fall bucket list to share. Don’t wait around to tackle your favorites, though, because as well all know—fall is fleeting in our neck of the woods.
Our Favorite Outdoor Fall Activities
Tailgating. Dig out the sweaters, take in the crisp air, and head to the game with some competition-ready tailgating recipes. We always draw a winning crowd with these Apple Habanero Nuggets, these Slow Cooker Party Meatballs, and this 3 Meat BBQ Chili. These Sweet & Spicy wings are always a hit with football fans, too.
Touch football. If fall means anything, it’s football. A game of football out back is the perfect chance to bring friends and family together for some fun and good food. Just don’t try hosting without being ready to serve these, our recipe for Chipotle Chicken Wings with Spicy Honey Glaze.
Go camping. Sleeping under the stars (or at least in a nice camper under the stars) is the ultimate way to experience fall outdoors. Cook your favorite fall dishes outside over the campfire. Sip hot coffee while taking in the crisp morning fall air. Take a hike around the campsite amongst Technicolor leaves. Tell each other ghost stories as you drift off to sleep. Don’t forget to pack the ingredients for Bacon-Wrapped Meatballs, Fire Station BBQ Skillet, and plenty of chips and this Smoked Queso Blanco Dip—you’ll be craving them before you even finish setting up camp.
Jump in a pile of leaves. The higher, the better. Set up a prize for the creator of the largest leaf pile, then let the lucky winner choose who gets to jump in and send the leaves flying (fair warning: the winner is likely to choose himself). We’d also give the winner first dibs on these Smoked Pulled Pork Stuffed Peppers.
Fall Things To Do When You Love Food
Make a big batch of spicy chili. If we could vote for the official food of fall, we’re all but sure chili would come out on top. A big, bold chili is just as good served by the ladle-full for tailgating, at the watch party, after an evening of swapping stories on the porch—anytime company stops by, really. We love this recipe for Instant Pot Spicy Chili because it’s super-simple, has competition-worthy flavor, freezes beautifully, and looks gorgeous in a bowl with corn chips, sour cream, and plenty of cheese.
Roast vegetables. We love a big, hearty bowl of chili this time of year, but we love how a tray of fall vegetables looks coming off the grill or out of the oven. Simply grab some sweet potatoes, winter squash, brussels sprouts, and onion from the nearest farm stand or grocery store, roughly slice or cube, coat with olive oil, and sprinkle on some Head Country Marinade and your choice of one of three Head Country Championship Seasonings. Roast at 425 for 30-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and beginning to caramelize. We like this recipe for Paleo BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, too.
Bake an apple pie. Go full traditional with apples, cinnamon, and sugar baked inside a crisp, buttery crust, or add a secret ingredient like we did in our recipe for Brown Sugar BBQ Apple Pie. Just a quick warning if you make this for a fall party: you’ll be expected to show up with it every year from now on.
Drink hot cider. Hot cider after a fall hike through the woods with a good friend and a good dog might be as close to heaven as some of us will ever get. And hey, we’ll take it.
Fall Activities With the Kids
Corn maze. Or corn maize, as they’re sometimes called. Either way, we love layering on the scarves and playing hide-and-go-seek in these super-sized mazes once the leaves start to turn. These Barbecue Meatloaf Sliders are the perfect snack to fuel your fall fun.
Take a drive along a country road. Pack up friends and family and head for the city-limits signs. Make a game of looking for the red of maple leaves, roaming wildlife, and who gets to be the one who serves up the hot Sloppy Joes once you get back to the house.
Carve a pumpkin. Pumpkin carving is not just for kids. After all, who doesn’t love drawing silly faces and them carving them out, just like when we were kids? Plus, grown-ups get to rinse the seeds, toss them in plenty of Head Country Original Championship Seasoning and a few tablespoons of butter or oil, spread them out on a sheet pan, and roast them at 250 degrees for 45 minutes for the ultimate crispy, crunchy, nutty flavor.
Go on a hayride. Load up in the car and head for the country to find a horse-drawn hayride, or opt for a tractor-pulled experience this fall. Be sure to pack plenty of blankets, extra sweaters, and some hot cider. Better have a batch of Smoked Meatloaf Balls ready for afterward, too—hayrides have a way of shaking up big appetites.
Rent a cabin. There’s something about how a rustic cabin, a roaring fireplace, and a porch set up with rocking chairs and stacks of antique quilts says fall. We recommend bringing the ingredients for these Cast Iron BBQ Chicken Nachos or Sweet Brown Sugar Meatballs to round out the ultimate Fall Break experience.
Fall Fun: Halloween & Thanksgiving
Visit a haunted house. Whether you go with the kids or a group of friends, no fall is quite complete without scaring yourself silly at the local haunted house. Choose a historical locale to learn more about the spooky side of the history of your area, or hit up one of the Hollywood-style haunted houses to get your fill of over-the-top costumes and drifting fog (from pounds upon pounds of dry ice).
Tell ghost stories. Pull some hay bales up around a bonfire and tell your favorite scary tales—even if it’s for the 30th time. Bonus points for using a flashlight to light your face for the ultimate spooky effect.
Make a homemade Halloween costume. For a fall activity that rates high on nostalgia, join the kids in crafting a homemade Halloween costume. Not only will you have the honor of wearing a one-of-a-kind costume for trick-or-treating this year, but you will also show the kids how it’s done (read: set a good example).
Watch a scary movie. Wait until dark and queue up all the movies that give you the chills. Don’t press play until you have all the right snacks lined up, though. We like popcorn with chocolate-coated candies mixed in, plenty of movie-sized boxes of candy, and this recipe for Cheese-Stuffed BBQ Meatballs. These BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Nachos are delicious in front of the big screen, too.
Host a potluck Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone should host an entire Thanksgiving dinner at least once, but it’s fun—not to mention easier—to get all your friends and family in on the food-prep action, too. Let guests bring their Thanksgiving favorites, or make suggestions on what to bring. Some of our favorite recipes for Thanksgiving dishes are these Slow Cooker Cranberry BBQ Chicken Drumsticks, Skillet Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Meatballs, Slow Cooker Turkey Breast, and our Classic BBQ Turkey.