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Crisp, Cool, Fun!

Fall is a wonderful time of year to enjoy the great outdoors. The crisp air and beautiful colors delight the senses and offer new opportunities for fun and exploration. We are lucky to live in a region that has much to offer during my favorite season of the year. Here are a few of my families favorite things to do during the beautiful season…and remember the hot chocolate will taste even better when coming in from the crisp, cool air outside. 

1. Visit an Apple Farm and pick apples for eating or baking. We live in an agricultural wonderland and there are many farms to choose from. Whether you visit a local small orchard, or venture to the Delta or the famous Apple Hill, you are sure to get the full fall benefit of picking juicy apples right off the tree. Many of the orchards in Apple Hill have other activities to indulge in once you have picked your bounty, and also offer delicious , fresh apple cider to warm your insides and hands. For a complete listing of apple farms by city please visit:  http://www.pickyourown.org/CAsanfran.htm

For more information on the farms at Apple Hill, please visit: http://www.applehill.com/site/upickgrowers.html

2. Go on a nature walk. This is a wonderful time to go outside to a local trail or hike in the glorious color changing wilderness. Many regional parks will offer a spectacular show of color as well. Teach kid about the different varieties of trees, show them up close the difference in the leaves. Have them collect leaves of different species and get an up close look of the patterns created by the changing pigment and veins in the leaves. If you don’t want to bring the leaves home to preserve or press, then bring a long the camera and take pictures to keep the memories of the changes of nature. You can make a nice fall craft by pressing the leaves at home and preserving them in an album or having the kids trace the shape of the leaf on paper and then coloring it in with their own artistic impression The fresh air will revive the whole family and delight all of your senses.

To preserve a leaf: Bring a mixture of 2 parts water and 1 part glycerin (available in most pharmacies) to a boil in a saucepan (adults only). Pour the solution into a heat-proof container. Drop in a few brightly-colored leaves and gently submerge with a wooden spoon. Keep the container in a cool, dark place until there is a slight change in the leaves’ tints. Then remove them and blot dry with a paper towel. Instead of turning brown and crumbly, the leaves will retain their brilliant hues. 

3. Organize a friendly game of football. Get in the Fall sporting spirit with a fun and easy way to get some exercise. If it is a large enough park or field get a game going for both adults and kids and just have fun. Name the teams for the things that you find or see during the season. Flag football is fun for mixed groups of kids and adults and the flags could be decorated with fall designs. Make it a neighborhood game and as long as the weather holds out have a game every weekend.

4. Visit a farm, zoo or petting zoo and see what the animals are doing during this time of cooler weather. Kids will love seeing the animals and learning their habits for fall and winter burrowing. You may even be able to take a hay ride through the fields of the farm. For more information on zoo’s from Sacramento and surrounding cities, please visit: http://pages.prodigy.net/rhorii/youngkidmus.htm 

5. Go for a bike ride. What better weather to let the air flow through your hair…or knit hat! Get the family together on those bikes and enjoy your neighborhood, state or regional parks. Take in the sights, breathe the fresh air and then rest in the park while enjoying all the surrounding color. Talk about what you saw and all the different smells of fall. This weather is perfect for taking advantage of those trails and parks that may have been a little too warm during summer, and you can’t beat a bicycle for a fun way to get around and get outdoors. 

No matter what you do, remember that this is a glorious time to be outside. There is so much to see and so much to tickle the senses. Get outdoors and enjoy!

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