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5 Autumn Activities You Can Still Safely Enjoy During COVID

It's officially fall — time for carved pumpkins, warm drinks and every autumn activity you’ve been itching for. But this year comes with a slightly different fall flavor because of the pandemic, and you might be wondering how to stay safe from COVID-19 while you enjoy your favorite season. Luckily, it's still possible to find safe fall activities during coronavirus.

From hikes to baking to tailgates, you can have plenty of fun this autumn. Here are five seasonal activities that are still safe during COVID.

  1. 1. Bake seasonal treats

    pumpkin pie on table, fall meal

    Who doesn't love baked goods? This season calls for pies, cookies and other desserts that reflect autumn. Think pumpkin, cinnamon, apples and more. You can bake various fall recipes at home without any fuss. These kitchen sessions are safe autumn activities for yourself and your close family or roommates — it’s probably best not to invite any outside guests to help this year. Your only excursion will be to your local supermarket to grab ingredients.

    Pair your baked goods with chai tea, warm apple cider, mulled wine, or hot chocolate and a scary movie for a memorable night. Now's a good time to experiment with flavors you've never tried before, too — why not cook up your own creative recipes with combined fall ingredients like maple bacon, cheddar and apple, or persimmon and oranges? If you’re in the mood, stir up some fall cocktail options to sip on the side, like this apple and gin autumn cocktail or this pumpkin spice white Russian

  2. 2. Pick and carve pumpkins

    Girls Pumpkins

    It's generally safe to visit a pumpkin patch — they’re spacious enough to stay socially distanced from other people. As long as you wear a mask and maintain enough space, you can have your pick of the best pumpkins. Your local farm or pumpkin stand may have their own rules, so make sure to check those beforehand. If you aren't sure whether your destination will have hand sanitizer, plan to pack your own.

    “Pumpkin picking never gets old,” says Alicia, a recent college grad. “And since pumpkin patches and fall markets are outdoors, they’re still something you can enjoy like any other fall, just with a mask.” 

    Remember to wipe down your pumpkins before you take them into your house. Get creative with fun carving designs and put them on your porch to get festive. If you're competitive, you can have a design contest with your neighbors! If you want to carve sustainably and combine your pumpkin picking with a baking activity, scoop out the pumpkin guts to make some delicious pumpkin bread.

  3. 3. Host a tailgate party

    Although your college may not be having a football season or allowing fans to go to games, a tailgate is a must for any college football game. That said, you have to take extra precautions if you want to host one. Your group should contain only a few people. It's ideal to keep your number under 10, and you should concentrate your guests to close friends and roommates. If necessary, wear masks when socializing and separate into socially-distanced "pods" or groups when you eat.

    This year, it’s best to tailgate at home in your driveway or community parking lot — you can still enjoy the football season with your friends. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have varied recommendations for sporting events, so make sure to review those beforehand. These efforts will help make sure your tailgates are COVID-safe activities.

  4. 4. Hike around a local forest

    There's no better way to experience fall than to spend time in nature — especially if you live up north. A hike on your local trail will be an awesome way to explore autumn. In addition to providing ample social distance and serene views, spending time outdoors boosts your vitamin D levels and reduces your exposure to indoor germs — so get out and explore your local trails.

    Hikes are healthy and safe outdoor activities, and if you choose a less-trafficked section, they're even better. You likely won't come across anyone else, but you should still pack a mask to keep yourself and others protected if you do you pass someone on the trail.

    “It’s a great time to be a hiker,” says Casey, 25. “It gives you the chance to get your energy out and get out in nature without being too close to anyone. It’s one of the only things that hasn’t had to change.”

    Feel free to collect leaves, pinecones and other fall-inspired items on your walk. You can look for any in-season animals that may be nearby, too. Remember to pack essentials in your hiking bag the way you would have for any school field trip — you should always tote water, healthy snacks, sunscreen and a first aid kid on any outdoor activity. Feeling adventurous? Make your own hiking snacks before you hit the trails!

  5. 5. Make a DIY Halloween costume

    Milk-Bone Halloween Mask and Bandana Set

    Your original Halloween plans may not happen, but you can still have fun. Why not make a DIY costume to have a virtual Halloween party or a friendly social media competition with your friends? Keep in touch while you put together your costumes, perfect your makeup and pose to post your spooky look on your group chat. It may not be the same as going out, but it’s a new opportunity to go all out with your creative ideas. Plus, you may want to try a more complicated costume that wouldn't work well at a party.

An enjoyable fall is still possible if you follow some common-sense safety guidelines. Stay at home, enjoy the outdoors at safe distances, or take to virtual celebrations this autumn — and don't forget to have fun!