Safe Outdoor Activities to Enjoy in This Autumn

By Ashley Camuso

We love fall (in that first few months of a hot romance type of love). The crisp morning air, the changing leaves—it’s the best time to spend outdoors. Studies show that spending time in nature for at least 2 hours a week (we recommend more) boosts our mental and physical wellbeing. And when the great outdoors looks as good as it does in the fall, who wouldn’t want to get out there? 

If you’re a bit hesitant to take part this year, we understand. Outdoor autumn activities often mean group-oriented activities and/or large crowds. And let’s be honest, COVID-19 has given us all a new perspective on things like pumpkin picking and apple bobbing (hello germs!). Our worries last year were candy-induced sugar highs, and now they’re a myriad of much more serious issues. That said, there are still fun and festive ways to make the most of your fall season. If your face currently reads “How?” we’re here to give you the full rundown.

We’ve got a list of COVID-friendly outdoor activities and most importantly, how to safely approach them. From driveway tailgates to drive-in movies, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 

Fall Foliage Painting Party

While massive parties won’t be in the mix anytime soon, you can still find ways to celebrate the season with your friends . Got a yard and a beautiful view? Host a fall foliage party. Set up socially-distanced painting stations, hire an instructor (virtual if needed), and paint away. You’ll be able to enjoy each other’s company and take in the true beauty of fall all at once.

Safety Tips:

  • Keep the invite list small, and only include people who you’re sure have been safely following CDC guidelines
  • Set the painting stations 6 feet apart (or farther for extra safety)
  • Offer personal food and drink baskets at each station, using only single-use packaged products
  • Make sure everyone wears a mask and gloves (change gloves often)
  • Continuously sanitize surfaces

Apple and Pumpkin Picking

This may be the trickiest one of all, given that apple and pumpkin patches have so much foot traffic and tons of high-touch surfaces. There are many precautions you can take in order to ensure a safe visit, but there’s no need to force it if you’re not 100% comfortable. For an at-home alternative, make your own patch in your backyard by buying and sanitizing supplies.

Safety Tips:

  • Make a reservation at an off-peak hour to ensure the smallest capacity
  • Call ahead and inquire about safety guidelines and available activities. If the farm doesn’t seem to be overly safe and cautious, skip it


A camping weekend is one of the safest (and only) getaways you could be taking advantage of right now. Camping allows you to control your level of socialization and escape crowded areas (we’re looking at you, city dwellers). Plus, unplugging from technology and exercising in the crisp fall air may just be the refresher you need. If you do your research and opt for the safest campground possible, you’ll be all set.

Safety Tips:

  • Avoid cabins and tents and opt for your own camper with your own bathroom. The risk exposure through renting a cabin is much higher because cleanliness is out of your control (but you can always bring cleaning supplies and give it a good clean before you settle in!)
  • Call ahead and make sure there are clean facilities available and that your campsite is spaced far apart from others
  • Travel to the nearest location to minimize risk of exposure at gas stations and other essential rest stops
  • If you venture outside of your space for a hike or a meal, wear a mask and social distance
  • Bring ample supplies like disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers

Drive-Through Haunted House

You don’t have to walk through a haunted house to get your scare on this season. There are hundreds of drive-through haunted houses that offer an immersive experience right from your car. Watching from a seat will give the experience a completely different feel, like your very own Disney ride. If your town isn’t offering one, consider creating your own with a few families in your neighborhood. Whichever option you choose, end the night with a drive-in movie for double the fun. 

Safety Tips:

  • Invite friends and make sure everyone takes their own cars
  • Have masks on hand for when you want to exit the car or roll down the windows


Help your ultimate Halloween tradition stay alive with a socially-distanced trick-or-treat. Where to start? We recommend heading over to candy company Hershey’s Halloween 2020 website. They offer a brilliant personalized guide you can use to map out your night according to your area’s risk levels. 

Safety Tips:

  • Listen to your city’s guidelines; Trick-or-treating rules will vary depending on location
  • Make sure everyone wears a mask and gloves. You can get extra creative with this one by letting your children decorate their masks to match their costumes. 
  • Sanitize your children’s candy haul
  • If you have little ones, skip the candy and just enjoy walking around in costume

Driveway Tailgates

Bring the excitement of the football stadium right to your driveway with a trunk party. Go all out with the decorations and set up a music speaker. Offer a themed food station at each car, then hop around (in a mask) and enjoy each one. Post-tailgate, enjoy the game on a big projector. Safety is just one of the bright sides of a driveway tailgate; It’s way more cost-effective than pricy tickets and it lessens the headache of having to find a spot in a flooded parking lot. 

Safety Tips:

  • Keep the invite list small, and only include people who you are sure have been safely following CDC guidelines
  • Instead of family-style trays of food, opt for individual containers. You can creative with cute disposable bowls where the food is already plated
  • Ensure each family has a safe space and encourage everyone to stay around their own cars
  • Make sure everyone wears a mask and gloves (change gloves often)
  • Continuously sanitize surfaces

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

About Ashley Camuso
Camuso works in New York City and lives in the Hudson Valley, indulging in a healthy balance of city subway adventures and quaint country hikes.

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