14 Must-do Fall Toddler Activities

Happy Autumnal Equinox! If you’re in the central time zone like those of us in the Chicagoland, the equinox happens at 9:29 tonight. So since fall is officially upon us, I wanted to share our plans to enjoy the season and keep the toddler entertained with fun fall activities over the next few months.

14 must-do toddler fall activities for your family bucket list.

1. Go to a football game.

We got a jump on this one when we took Emme to a Northwestern football game in early September. Both my husband and I went to graduate school at Northwestern, so we try to go to at least one game every season. We found out at the last minute that it was Local Heroes Day, and my husband, a police officer, was able to get discounted tickets. We also had the opportunity to go on the field for the national anthem, which was kind of neat. Here Emme is enjoying a snack in the stands and sporting her new hat. I had no idea what to expect from her behavior- and attention span-wise, but she was actually pretty good and seemed to enjoy herself.

2. Check out a local fall festival.

Again, we crossed this one off the list early and attended Oktoberfest in Berwyn. But it rained on and off, so we cut our time at the festival short. Maybe we’ll get to another one in the coming weeks.

3. Visit a farm with animals and a pumpkin patch.

We’re going on a mini-vacation to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin because my husband will be attending a conference there. One of the activities I’m planning while we’re there is a trip to Green Meadow Farms in East Troy, which is about a 20-minute drive from where we’ll be staying. I’ve been wanting to check this farm out ever since I read about it in the Chicago edition of Red Tricycle in July.

4. Go on a hayride.

Quintessential family fall fun.

5. Splash at an indoor water park.

We’ll be going to Timber Ridge Lodge in Lake Geneva, which has an indoor water park.

6. Decorate a pumpkin.

Tiny pumpkins can be decorated with markers. Perfect for tiny people.

7. Go to the zoo.

We’re planning to go to Boo at the Zoo at Brookfield Zoo.

8. Dress up for Halloween and trick-or-treat.

I have given zero thought to a Halloween costume this year. I should probably get on that.

9. Have a dance party or two.

Because duh.

10. Explore a new playground.

Temperatures are dropping, and soon we’ll be stuck indoors. We want to make the most of the mild fall weather and visit a few more playgrounds in 2014.

11. Take fall photos.

Fall means it’s time to update our family photo, just in time for the holidays.

12. Visit an art museum.

We’re planning a visit to The Art Institute in Chicago. I was a little skeptical about this outing, but my husband and I did some recon this week, and it’s far more family friendly than I was expecting.

13. Visit a children’s museum.

There are three to choose from in the western suburbs of Chicago.

14. Learn about Thanksgiving.

Sometimes I underestimate the ability of young children to grasp less concrete concepts, which is dumb and probably partially lazy on my part, but honestly, my first instinct was to wonder if this was necessary. But really, is it ever too early to talk about the meaning of Thanksgiving and how we should be thankful for the good things in our lives? I’m going to start by getting books about Thanksgiving that are age-appropriate. We’ll see if I can come up with anything else.

Want to see how we did with our bucket list of fall toddler activities?

Best Toddler Summer Ever: A Recap

Though it’s not technically the end of summer, vacations are winding down and my work’s reduced Friday hours have officially come to an end (sad face). I feel like it’s a good time to do a recap of our best toddler summer ever… so far.

We managed to pack our summer full of toddler fun, with new experiences, day trips, backyard play, good food, and lots of water.

Butterfly Festival at Garden Patch Farms in Homer Glen

We kicked off our best toddler summer ever in June at Garden Patch Farm’s Butterfly Festival, where Em tried to grab some butterflies, fed chickens, and picked berries in Homer Glen, Illinois.

Toddler Playing in the Backyard

The backyard became our sanctuary and proved to be an invaluable resource for toddler entertainment. We could regularly get Emme and Cousin Cliff to entertain themselves for ten, sometimes 20, minutes at a time, allowing Aunt Sarah and me some much-needed lounging complete with wine.

Grilled Pizza | Mommy Sanest

Speaking of the backyard, I tried my hand at grilling pizza. It’s actually very easy to do, and it quickly became a family favorite. Our go-to grilled pizza used cherry tomatoes and basil from our garden.

Playgrounds in the Chicago Western Suburbs

We visited dozens of neighborhood playgrounds, trying out multiple slides…

Swinging in the Chicago Western Suburbs

… and swings too.

Boat Ride in Ohio

In July, we traveled to Ohio to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa who live on a lake. The toddlers loved the pontoon boat.

Mommy Sanest Family Photo

Emme was less thrilled with the family photo session we did while in Ohio.

Splash Pads in Chicago, Brookfield, and BerwynSpeaking of water, we tested out a few local splash pads and even ventured into Chicago to see how Millennium Park’s fountain compared. Brookfield Zoo

We made good use of our Brookfield Zoo membership, visiting the zoo’s splash pad (yes, more splash pads), Sting Ray Bay, the playground, Hamill Family Play Zoo, and various animals (or as Emme says, “elmos”).

Emme is 2!

And finally, we celebrated one very special birthday.

Up next: The best toddler autumn ever!