Cooler weather, changing leaves, and pumpkin spice lattes, oh my! Fall is in the air and you too can enjoy it on a budget! As soon as the cooler weather hit in August it immediately felt like it was time to hit up an apple orchard or pick out pumpkins to decorate the front porch. Fall is a treasure here in Minnesota and there is plenty of free or low cost family friendly fun to be had this fall! We never know if we will get one month of fall weather before winter hits or three, so get out there and enjoy it while you can!
Apple orchards and pumpkin patches seem to become synonymous in the fall, with many farms offering both. This is great for those strapped on time as well, especially if you only have the kids every-other weekend since you can essentially take care of them both in one stop. You won’t have to travel far to find top-notch apple orchards or pumpkin patches around the Twin Cities. Here are a few of our favorites: Emma Krumbees in Belle Plaine, Dehn’s Pumpkins in Dayton, Minnetonka Orchard in Minnetrista, Afton Orchards in Hastings, Deerdorf Orchard in Waconia, and Apple Jack’s in Delano! View a complete list of all 119 Minnesota Apple orchards here: http://minnesotagrown.com/product/apples/ Don’t forget to bring the camera! Fall photo opportunities are everywhere at orchards – start thinking about those Christmas card photos! Bring the fun home and bake an apple pie or two with the kids!
Have you been to the Saint Croix River Valley in the fall? If not, you are missing out. Whether you take a day trip with the kids or want a low key but impressive date night, the views of the changing leaves along the river can’t be beat! Depending on where you live in the cities you can check it out within just a half hour to an hour drive. Take a stroll along the river in Stillwater, trolley tour, gondola ride, or one of the many charter cruises offered on the river. Looking to get a little further out of town? Head south a bit to the LaCross/Onalaska area on the Mississippi River in Wisconsin for one of the most scenic fall drives in the country! To ensure you hit the leaves at the peak times watch the Fall Color Finder on the Minnesota DNR website: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fall_colors/index.html
If you need a little more action after a relaxing day trip check out one of the many corn mazes, haunted houses, and hayrides across the area. And finally, are all your friends posting about that coffee shop pumpkin spice latte? You too can enjoy that on a budget! Who needs a $5 coffee when you can make it at home for CHEAP! Thank you Pinterest! Just type in “pumpkin spice latte” in the search and you’ll have dozens of recipes at your fingertips to make your own at home! Here is one that’s perfect for a crowd, great to throw in a thermos for a cool evening football game or a hayride:
Crock Pot Pumpkin Spiced Latte
- 6 cups of milk
- 4-6 cups of strongly brewed coffee
- 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup of vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 3-4 cinnamon sticks
In a crock pot, combine the milk and coffee. Whip together the pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon and pour into the crockpot. Mix together well. Toss in 3-4 cinnamon sticks. Cover the crockpot, and cook on high for 2 hours. Enjoy!