31 Ways to Celebrate Fall in KC During a Pandemic

Fall is by far my favorite season. Sweaters, cider, leaves, a ridiculously large stockpile of Halloween candy — what’s not to love? This year has been rough for so many reasons, but I am clinging to fall excitement like it’s the last pumpkin spiced latte in the world. Even though a few events and fall festivals have been put on hold for 2020, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate fall in KC during COVID-19.

Here are 31 socially distant ideas to make the most of autumn in Kansas City this October:

Get Outdoors


  1. Follow the popular story Cricket in the Thicket as it winds its way through the Heartland Harvest and Children’s Gardens at the Trail Tales exhibit in Powell Gardens.
  2. Grab a blanket and listen to a Kansas City Symphony pop-up neighborhood performance at an outdoor venue near you.
  3. Camp under the stars at local campsites like Smithville Lake and Clinton Lake — or simply pitch a tent in your own backyard.
  4. Spend some time in nature while hiking a few of KC’s family-friendly trails. Don’t forget the trail mix (candy corn is a must)!
  5. Visit one of Kansas City’s many bike trails or rent a bike at many popular parks.

Visit a KC Fall Staple

  1. Go on a cider donut pilgrimage and visit one of Kansas City’s best apple-centered attractions, like Louisburg Cider Mill or Dunn’s Cider Mill.
  2. Take a leisurely stroll among the leaves at the Overland Park Arboretum.
  3. Visit a local pumpkin patch or family farm, like Johnson Farms in Belton or Carolyn’s in Liberty.
  4. Research local lore around supposedly haunted places in Kansas City, and then make your own family driving tour to share the metro’s most famous ghost stories.

Get Spooky

  1. Have a scary (or not-so-scary) movie marathon with all your fall film favorites. Make sure stove-popped popcorn is on the menu — and, honestly, make sure Hocus Pocus is in the lineup.
  2. Decorate a few table tennis balls like eyeballs and set up a kid-friendly “eyeball” pong game. Just set up a regulation beer pong array (sans beer, of course) and toss those homemade peepers.
  3. Write a few two-sentence horror stories and have a family contest for the spookiest one. Here’s one to start: Call me paranoid, but I make sure I lock all the doors and windows in my bedroom every night. After all, the neighborhood was never the same after the last time I escaped. Stephen King would be proud.
  4. Grab all the ingredients for your favorite mocktail “potions,” pour them into funky containers, and label them with fun names (think a classic “eye of newt” or trendy “unicorn slobber”) for your kids to create their own Halloween treat.
  5. Challenge your family to a 30-minute costume contest. Take half an hour to each scavenge the house for the best costume pieces and props, then compare your final ensembles.

Make Something

  1. Carve or paint pumpkins as a family.
  2. Bake some apple crisp. There’s no better way to make your house smell so October-y.
  3. Make a seasonal leaf garland by tracing the leaves with crayons and then stringing them together.
  4. October is National Pasta Month. You don’t need an excuse for making your own macaroni and cheese bar at home, but that seems like a pretty solid reason to bust out the elbow noodles.
  5. Find a few fall crafts on Pinterest and rope your family into creating something fun during a fall crafternoon.
  6. Go on a pumpkin-spice scavenger hunt at the store (or at your favorite local bakeries/restaurants) to pick up a few pumpkin-flavored foods to sample. Arrange a few on a board and treat yourself to a pumpkin-spice snack tray.
  7. Combine chocolate pudding, Oreos, and gummy worms for a classic dirt ‘n worms dessert.

Be a Homebody

  1. Bring out the grill, yard games, and your Chiefs gear for a backyard tailgating experience.
  2. Buy a few tiny gourds, decorate them like you would Easter eggs, and hide them around your house or yard for a game of “Gourd and Seek” with your kids.
  3. October is also National Book Month. Make sure the whole family pencils in a few hours with a good book.
  4. Get fancy with your kiddo’s tea set and have a tea party (subbing hot apple cider for the tea, of course).
  5. Bring back family game night. Schedule an evening to order pizza and play all of your family’s favorite board games.
  6. Light a seasonal candle from The Corner Candleshop in Brookside, start a favorite playlist or podcast, and cuddle up under a blanket to take advantage of all the fall hygge.

Stay Connected

  1. Go big on your outdoor Halloween or fall decorations this year. If that sentence exhausts you, take a tour of your over-achieving neighbors’ displays. Or keep it simple, rake the yard and then jump in the leaf pile!
  2. Create some fall art for Grandma and Grandpa, then take a trip to your local post office to mail it off — or deliver personally if they live in town.
  3. Make socially distant trick-or-treat plans with your neighbors. The evening might look different this year, but you can always create individual candy bags and leave them on a table for kids.
  4. Drop off a Halloween treat for your local family members and neighbors. Whether it’s a craft, snack, or just a note, they’ll be so glad you thought of them.
A firm believer that the Midwest is all that and a tator tot casserole, Valerie moved to KC after graduating from Mizzou in 2013. She’s been married to her husband Josh since 2015, and together they’re raising an adorable, tiny human firework named Finnian (1). Valerie spends her workdays making funny greeting cards while Josh wins at the stay-at-home-dad game by teaching Finn words like “yee-haw” and helping him style his Snapchat filters. When she isn’t tracking down a new place to drag her family to, you can find her blasting showtunes, sharing (very poorly) wine with friends, reading, listening to true crime podcasts, or near cheese. You can’t find her playing kickball, so don’t even try. Valerie, Josh, and Finn shoot for put-together, but settle for put-on-pants—and they love every second of their reasonably-chaotic life.