Leaf-Peeping With the Kids

Ashley B | September 7, 2013 | 20 Comments

When I used to live in the North, fall was my favorite time of year. Apple-picking, pumpkin-carving, starting to wear long sleeves again… and my favorite activity, leaf-peeping! I remember going for long drives through various New England towns, taking in the scenery of quaint churches, town greens and red, orange and yellow autumn leaves. I can almost smell that characteristic “fall” smell now, decades later and 1,500 miles away!

Gas prices and antsy children being what they are, long meandering drives through back roads aren’t realistic… at least not more than once or twice during the season. Still, if you can combine some leaf-peeping with other fun activities and plan them for the peak of color in your area, you can enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage while keeping your kids happy and your gas bill manageable. Here are some ideas:

  • Peep leaves on the way to something fun. Fall is a time packed full of fairs and football games… take advantage of these kid-friendly events, and take the scenic route! If there’s nothing scheduled for the day you want to go, try apple- or pumpkin-picking, or find out where in your area kids can go on a hayride.
  • Don’t forget to bring a snack. Little tummies get hungry in the car, and while food shouldn’t usually be used to alleviate boredom, a few well-timed goodies can keep little ones happy for a while. Fun fall snacks include popcorn (or kettle corn!), caramel apples, apple cider, maple sugar candy and toasted pumpkin seeds.
  • Let them run off some steam. Let’s face it: sitting in the car looking at trees can be boring for children. Find a park along the way or hike an easy trail in the woods. You can soak up the scenery while they run and play.
  • Collect some leaves for later. When you stop, give each child a ziplock bag to fill with leaves that they find. When you get home, you can press them between the pages of heavy books, then make fall themed cards for friends and relatives who don’t live in an area where the leaves change.
  • Make the drive itself fun. Sing songs and play games to pass the time. You can get your fill of leaf-peeping while simultaneously searching for each state’s license plate or playing car bingo. If need be, just get the kids started and then quietly drop out of the game, letting them continue as long as they want. You can also bring along travel games, window markers, stickers (my daughter covered her carseat in tiny smiley face stickers one day when we were stuck in the car for several hours), coloring books, etc.
  • As a last resort, pack a handheld game or a DVD. While family memories can be made in the car doing traditional and seasonal activities, know when to say when. If your kids aren’t having any fun, don’t feel guilty about doling out the DSes or popping a cartoon into the DVD player. If you want to take an hour to enjoy the blaze of color that comes just once per year, it might be a concession you’re willing to make.

Where do you go for leaf-peeping? Any favorite routes to share with Shopaholic Mommy readers?

Comments (20)

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  1. Jennifer Mae Hiles says:

    Love the idea of collecting leaves from trips and making fall cards out of them. My daughters would love to do that! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jennifer Hedden says:

    I would love to visit the northern states in the fall. I love the cooler temperatures and the beautiful colors of the leaves. I also love all the comfort food that goes along with it. I just moved to Colorado and I have heard that it is beautiful up in the mountains this time of year, especially the Aspen trees. Thank you for sharing these great tips!

  3. Lucy Black says:

    I love collecting leaves, it’s sush a refreshing and beautiful activity.
    Great post.

  4. bill elliott says:

    Living in Michigan we have alot of chances to collect leaves, it is a great time when you get your Grandchildren involved

  5. I always loved taking my daughter out for drives for all of the seasons, especially Fall Leaves and Christmas Lights. What a great idea to stop and let the kiddies run for a bit during a long drive.

  6. Jessica H. says:

    I think fall leaves make the best background for pictures. Some of my favorite pics of my girls are with a fall background. And I am lucky up here because I get to see all the colors, red, purple, gold, yellow. They are already starting to change here and then we are going on a special hike to see a seven mile stretch of uninterrupted fall color.

  7. Miranda W says:

    This has always been one of my favorite activities. The kids always loved it and now the grand kids do too.

  8. Nancy Hilderbrand says:

    leaf peeking was a past time of mine when I was growing up and it was also something we did with our children

  9. katklaw777 says:

    Great tips…we live in Illinois and usually head over to Brown County in Indiana and follow the covered bridge routes to see some beautiful fall colours.
    The routes are well marked and the kids luv the covered bridges.
    Since the routes are for cars we make frequent stops to walk across the bridges and check out road side stands.

  10. Carrie says:

    I have never heard it called leaf peeping before…very great ideas and tips!

  11. Fall is the best time of year! I used to love it when my parents wanted to take us on drives to amish country to see the leaves. Your tips would have helped a lot though. Especially the taking snacks part! I know we used to whine about being hungry and thirsty even though it was fun to look at the pretty leaves. It is so fun for kids to collect leaves. Check out the book Leaf Man! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Alene Nielsen says:

    Love all the ideas. Never been leaf peeping.

  13. lisa lo says:

    I used to take the kids up on a gondola and then walk around up there on the mountain. You can do this in Colorado.

  14. Mike W Davis says:

    Our leaves are just starting to change a little now– we still a few warm days ahead here in S. Idaho–but soon.We collect leaves also,and walk the areas to see them all,because every tree is so different.Sometimes we take long drive to the hills because the trees and smells and cool air is so different.One of our favorite things to do. Thanks for the reminder of the fun to come.

  15. Joanne J says:

    I like to collect leaves too.

  16. Lillea says:

    I agree with others here that leaf collecting is fun and how nice that cards, etc. can be made with them.

  17. Ivo says:

    I remember the times when we ben out in the nature with mountain bikes, all day long. It was so awesome. I miss those days..

  18. Jill A. Collins says:

    I am so looking forward to Fall this year. I love all the colors and after so many 100+ degree days this Summer, cooler, colorful days will be so welcome!

  19. Kelly Arndt says:

    I’m from Aus, but taking time out to admire nature and all it’s beauty is a universal and international trait that we should all be trying to instill in our children. We should all be able to have precious memories of time spent with our families, too. All I have to do to remember times spent with Mum and Dad, is to take a handful of leaves and lift them to my face…the smell always reminds me of my nature-loving Dad, gone almost ten years now…

  20. Carrie Phelps says:

    I’ve lived in New England; MA, VT, NH, ME for most of my life & I have never grown tired of the fall views! I also look forward to the fall. I love the colors, pumpkin/apple picking, sweatshirts, Halloween & football! Happy fall to you.

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