5 Low-Cost Activities to Enjoy This Fall

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Here's how to make the most of the season when money is tight.

For some people, there's no better season than the fall. The weather is cool but not too cold, the leaves look pretty, and the pressure of the holidays hasn't yet sunk in.

If you're on a pretty tight budget, the last thing you'll want to do is bust it in the course of enjoying the fall. Here's how to take advantage of the next bunch of weeks without having to dip into your savings or rack up debt.

1. Take a hike

Not only is hiking great exercise, but for the most part, it's free. In some cases, you may have to pay an entry fee to access a state or national park (though many state parks waive entrance fees after Labor Day), but it should be small. And if you want to avoid fees completely, stick to local parks and trails.

Not only is hiking a great family activity, but the majority of trails are dog-friendly as well. Pack a lunch and plenty of water, and make a whole day out of it.

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2. Go apple picking

Though apple picking options tend to wane during the latter part of October, the first half of the month is a great time to hit the orchards and scoop some fruit right off the trees. Many orchards don't charge an entrance fee or charge a very modest one. And from there, you only pay for what you pick. Often, you'll pay a lower price for apples per pound than what you'll pay at the grocery store, only your apples will be fresher and last longer.

3. Visit a pumpkin patch

There are those pumpkin patches where you walk in, pick a pumpkin up off the ground, lug it to a cashier, and call it a day. Then there are those pumpkin patches where you actually have to take a hayride out to a field and search for the perfect pumpkin.

The latter option is probably a better choice if you're looking to keep children occupied for the day. And while you might pay to visit a pumpkin patch, and you'll definitely have to pay for the pumpkins you pick, if you implement a "one pumpkin for the whole family" rule, you should manage to keep your costs down.

4. Camp out for the night

Camping out during the summer can mean battling mosquitoes and the uncomfortable heat. Fall is actually a great time to go camping, and if you spend the night at a state or local park, the fees you pay should be minimal.

That said, you will need the right camping gear to pull off an overnight trip. If you don't own a tent and sleeping bags, you may want to consider borrowing that equipment before you invest in it -- especially if you're camping out for the first time. That way, you can also get a better sense of what you need before spending real money on gear.

5. Host a potluck football party

Not every fall afternoon is a lovely one. But rather than bemoan those rainy days, turn them into a fun, low-cost gathering. Host a football party and have everyone bring a dish so you're not left running up a huge grocery tab to feed a small crowd. You can even suggest a rotation where you and some friends take turns hosting Sunday gatherings during football season.

Fall can be a wonderful season, and best of all, it doesn't have to be an expensive one. Add these activities to your list in the coming weeks so you can enjoy this time of year to the fullest.

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