Things To Do With Your Littles in Ontario This Fall (In the Middle of a Pandemic)

It’s hard being a mama on maternity leave sometimes – you keep having to rack your brain for things to do everyday. Not even so much for baby (depending on their age), but sometimes for your own sanity! I like some full days at home a week (we still get out for walks around the neighbourhood but nothing crazy) but I also get stir crazy being in the house.

Fall is wonderful for getting out because it’s no longer humid and deadly outside (for you or baby), and the world just gets so beautiful in the fall! Don’t get me wrong, I love summer – swimming, the cottage, the beach, and other outdoor adventures. But the fall weather just gets me – y’know?

Since it’s easier to go out, and because after fall comes the eternal winter in Canada (where going out is sometimes ok but mostly unpleasant because of how cold it can get), I want to take advantage of it and do as many things as I can outside in the next 2 or so months.

So, I’ve compiled a list of things I either have already done or plan to do outside with Maggie. Yes, I realize the first day of fall was this week so I’ve done some things before fall has truly started – but the weather in Southern Ontario has already gone fall so I was just following its lead.

Note: I’ve tried to include options for moms and babies, as well as moms with slightly older children. No sponsorship – these are my true recommendations.

WALK! Anywhere you’d like – but Ontario has some beautiful paths, trails, and parks to explore.

As I mentioned, we walk daily already and have been doing so basically since Maggie was born. I wanted to stay active in the early postpartum period (and also found getting out was better for my mood!). With fall here, walking got so much nicer – it’s not rainy and wet like in spring (for the most part) but it’s crisp in the morning and cooler in the afternoons (unlike in summer). It’s literally perfect walking weather.

It also helps that there is lots to look at outside right now – the changing leaves and beautiful colours! Lucky for us Ontarians (and I’m sure many other people around the world), there are many paths, trails, and parks where you can enjoy the beauty of fall.

Depending on where you are, some parks may be more accessible than others. Some good options include:

  • Algonquin Provincial Park (if you’re wanting to make a day out of it!)
  • Forks of the Credit (this is a personal favourite – so beautiful and easy to access from the GTA)
  • Bronte Creek (nice and close if you are in Halton region or Hamilton/Haldimand)
  • Awenda (a good weekend trek as there are lots of nice areas to walk around here)

And so many others – parks are actually abundant in Ontario, it’s awesome. I found out that the Ontario Parks website also has a page to see which parks have leaves turning colour! It includes “peak viewing” times for the best colours of the season. Check it out here – there is a big list of parks there as well.

If you’re not big on day trips or don’t have transportation, there are lots of paths and trails in the GTA. If you have older children, you could bike them (great weather for biking). You could also just hike or walk – the Bluffs in Scarborough, Evergreen Brickworks, High Park, and Humber Bay Park are a few I personally love; but there are many to choose from, even just in your area! A quick google or map search can pull them up, and there is also this site which lists good hiking areas by region.

Pick some apples at an orchard!

It’s the time of the year for apple picking and this is usually a good family activity. We actually just went on the weekend – sure, it wasn’t *actually* fall yet but it sure felt like it!

We went to Chudleigh’s Entertainment Farm in Milton – another place that is easy access for anyone in the GTA. They also boast a range of things to do outside of apple picking – they have a small farm, a park, food (apple blossoms and pies and other yummy’s to take home), and apple cider (hard and not)! I highly recommend their Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce as a take home item – it is so good. There are lots of apples coming into season right now so it’s a good time to go. They are open until the end of October.

How is it for social distancing/precautions? Honestly, it was alright. It’s outside so it’s of course easier to distance. They require masks in the store area, on the tractor/wagon, and now also in the park area (good idea). I was a little iffy about the farm area because they didn’t require them there and people were a bit too close for comfort for me – especially as someone who had their baby in the stroller (we ended up taking her out and walking around with her to keep her a bit closer). So if you’re nervous – just avoid that area. Everywhere else felt spaced out – especially the orchard area, where it was easy to avoid people.

Note: you need to book a time in advance and purchase your tickets online.

Grab your pumpkins for the season.

She is my pumpkin, but see also the pumpkin from Chudleigh’s in the back (big one; little ones are from Metro).

If you’re heading to Chudleigh’s for apple picking – bonus! They also have a pumpkin patch. We got out big pumpkin for outside the house from there – they are 8$!

Picking a pumpkin just makes the whole season a bit more fun – it’s a little bit more exciting than just grabbing one out of the bin at the grocery store (however – I did grab two small ones from Metro too for decor).

There are lots of other pumpkin patches around too – including the infamous Downey’s farm. I’m hoping to get out there in the next few weeks and check out their market as well (farmer’s markets is another thing I really like in the fall – because the weather makes it easier to enjoy).

Note: since I haven’t been yet I can’t speak to the precautions taken at Downey’s for COVID-19.

Do a spooky corn maze.

As a kid, I loved corn mazes. They are an easy way to social distance, usually have fun tasks in them (like treasure hunts and figuring out how to get out HA!), and are well – kinda spooky. They’re also just fun – they don’t have to be spooky if you go during the daytime. So that makes them good for all ages, but especially for older kids who can participate more.

Bonus to Downey’s – they have a corn maze! It’s actually super cute this year because it says “thank you frontline workers” – how sweet.

There is also Hanes corn maze in Dundas – I haven’t been there in years but it still has great reviews.

Note: more information about their precautions is available on their websites (linked). I have not been to either yet so I can’t give any additional info. I know Hanes you have to book tickets in advance though.

Drive-thru pumpkin sculptures!

Usually, this isn’t a drive-thru event but I love to see how things are adapting to the pandemic limitations. So much creativity.

Instead of virtual (which would not be as cool for this event), Pumpkins After Dark in Milton, ON is doing an audio guided drive-thru display of their pumpkin sculptures. There are over 150 to ooh and ahh at!

If you’re not into sculpting your own pumpkins, or you just like to admire the beauty of artistically sculpted ones (mine never look good) – this is a cool and safe event. Tickets must be pre-purchased online. The event is running now until November 1st, Thurs-Sun after darkness falls.

This is a great option for parents whose baby won’t sleep and need to take a car ride but are tired of staring at the same scenery – haha. Seriously though. Also good if your kids like the car but you don’t want to go far – all the sculptures should keep them entertained.

Try a safe fall weekend getaway.

We plan to still go up to the cottage in the fall, and let me tell you – being able to get away from the city for a weekend during all of this has been so needed. If you have somewhere to escape to – I highly recommend it as a mental health booster (a change of scenery works wonders!).

If you don’t have a cottage or something like that, Air BnB is actually still functional right now. I know a few people who have used their services recently and who have been pleased with the precautions taken by the hosts. It’s of course a decision you have to make at your own discretion. Not everyone would be comfortable and that’s totally okay!

This pandemic has been such a weird time for people because things we normally wouldn’t hesitate to do – like blow out our birthday candles – have become sort of awkward. We’re navigating a whole new territory here and we need to be respectful of each other’s boundaries and needs.

That being said – if you are comfortable doing some local day trips or staying over somewhere safe… that is your decision! Just make sure you are taking precautions. If you go up north (even to your cottage) try and bring everything you need with you so you don’t have to go into town too much for supplies. Be respectful. Wear a mask in public places – you know the drill. This goes for all of the above suggestions too!

It’s a weird time we’re living in but it doesn’t have to be totally boring! Enjoy your time with family in safe and socially distanced ways to stay healthy, safe, and happy this winter. Happy fall y’all!

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