10 Great Fall Date Ideas

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 10, 2011 · 54 comments

in Dating, Marriage, Relationships & Family

The spring has always been associated with romance–the blossoming flowers supposedly mirroring the spate of budding new loves.

But in my opinion, the holidays and the fall are the most romantic times of year.

Maybe it’s because the fall is my favorite season, maybe it’s because I love donning sweaters again and all things pumpkin-spiced (Kate and I had a pumpkin pie instead of a wedding cake), but I think autumn’s one of the best times to plan an outing with your gal. The chill in the air is conducive to cuddling, the changing leaves provide an inspiring backdrop, and there’s just this ineffable, stirring feeling this time of year that lends itself to romance…far more than the humming of bees in my opinion!

Whether you’re trying to win the heart of a new crush or are looking for something fun to do with your spouse, here are 10 great fall date ideas that will have you rustling up some romance along with the leaves.

Football Game

Pageantry, excitement, and yes, even romance. Football games make great dates, particularly first dates. They give you the comfortable side-by-side position offered on a movie date, but with the opportunity to stop and chat whenever you like. And with things constantly happening on the field, there’s always something to talk about if conversation lags.

Kate’s and my first date was to an Oklahoma/Tulsa football game. And we’re still together ten years later, so it worked out pretty well for me. Touchdown!

Pumpkin Carving

The fun of carving pumpkins is something you never outgrow. Scooping out the pumpkin goo, getting creative with a knife, and experiencing the little thrill of seeing your pumpkin lit from within.

Begin your date by taking your girl to a proper pumpkin patch, picking out your gourds together, and springing for both pumpkins. Then go back to your place to gut and carve up some jack-o-lanterns. After going all Norman Bates on your pumpkins, you and your date can roast the seeds and sit on the porch to admire your work.

Haunted Attraction

Doing something a little scary makes your brain release dopamine, and researchers have found that this neurochemical can make you feel more attracted and attached to the person you’re with; first dates that include a pulse-pounding activity more often lead to second and third dates because of this. So if you’re looking to win the heart of your new gal pal, bring her to a haunted house or other spooky attraction. By the time the last zombie jumps out at you with his blade-less chainsaw, you’ ll be going steady for sure.

State Fair

Cattle, carnival rides, midway games, sideshow attractions, hot tub displays, and deep-fried butter. Where else can you find this winning combination of things except the state fair? If you’re worried about making conversation, you’ll never want for things to talk about—if you can’t have fun on a date at the fair, you might consider applying for the job of the aforementioned zombie.  And now that you know how win your gal a giant stuffed bear and show off your he-man strength on the High Striker, you’ve got this date in the bag.

Halloween Parade

If you live in the Northeast, check out the Halloween parade in Rutland, Vermont. It's awesome. Even the Avengers love it.

If you think parades are only for holidays like the Fourth of July, then you’re really missing out. Halloween parades—devoid as they are of ties to history, war, or death—are parades that can let it all hang out. People go just to be kooky and have fun. There’s music, dancing, costumes, and just a whole lot of people having a good time. If you want to get dressed up, but costume parties aren’t your thing, here’s your opportunity.

Hayride

Hayrides abound this time of year, but if you’re making a date out of it, be sure to pick a good one. They’re frequently found at pumpkin patches, but these are often tailored for the wee kiddies, and the ride doesn’t last very long or go very far. Look for hayrides that are offered by real ranches or farms,  follow a nice, scenic route, (if it’s under the moonlight, all the better), and provide a little something extra like cider and hot chocolate, traditional horse-drawn (as opposed to motorized) propulsion, or a history tour along the way.

Foliage Drive

Watching the green leaves transform into beautiful displays of vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds is one of the best parts of autumn. But driving through your neighborhood or walking across campus just doesn’t give you a sweeping view of the unfolding majesty. So hop in your car, pack a couple of sandwiches for a picnic, and take a scenic drive through mountain passes where you and your date can get an awe-inspiring look at the seasons’ changing of the guard.

This can be a stand-alone date, or something you make time for en route to another one of these suggested activities.

Apple Cider Mill

If you’re lucky enough to have an apple cider mill where you live, take advantage of it for a casual afternoon date. You can watch how the cider is made, sip on samples, browse the kitschy products in the country store, and sit down to eat some delicious donuts. Fall-tastic.

Ghost Hunt

While on your ghost hunt, always look behind you. Behind you!

It’s hard to imagine ghosts showing their pallid faces when it’s 102 in the middle of July (even humans go into hiding). But when the sun starts to set earlier and the chilly air returns, the world seems considerably spookier. Which makes fall the prime time for ghost hunting. If she’s up for it, grab your lady friend and a couple of flashlights and go explore an abandoned building where specters have supposedly been spotted. If you’re looking for a more low-key (and definitely legal) option, many tours of reportedly haunted parts of town are offered this time of year.

Weenie Roast

Winter came early for these intrepid autumnal weenie roasters.

Let’s face it: there’s never a bad time for a weenie roast. But the fall is peak weenie roast season. It’s chilly but not freezing—the perfect time for cuddling by the campfire, munching on hot dogs and s’mores, and engaging in some good old fashioned fireside smooching.

What are your ideas for great fall dates? Are there any particular haunted attractions, hayrides, or apple cider mills in your neck of the woods that you recommend people checking out?

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kyle October 10, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Love the Schlitz ad for pumpkin carving! Now that’s classy!

2 Harry Knox Sr. October 10, 2011 at 6:35 pm

i am 60 and read everything you put on. thanks for helping to keep men manly !

3 Pat October 10, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Not sure I would carve out a pumpkin on my crotch with a sharp knife in hand. Unfortunately I live in an area of the country not known for Fall ambiance, but all your ideas sound great if I am ever back east in the fall.

4 Miah October 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm

This just begs for a Hot Dicken’s Cider joke…

5 Josh October 10, 2011 at 7:29 pm

i usually love the articles on here, but was this one written in the 40′s so boring it hurts, give some ideas for us younger couples! a hayride? are we amish?

6 Cara Bristol October 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

How about getting lost in a corn maze together? Or picking apples and then baking a pie together?

7 JonathanL October 10, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I don’t think anyone is going to love all of these. If I’d taken my wife to a football game she might never have forgiven me, and hay rides of date quality are hard to come by (most also involve that most romantic of transportation mode, the diesel-spewing tractor).

Pumpkin-carving is fun, and stencils allow you to make something interesting without being too difficult.

The best part of most of these dates is that many of them make fun activities for larger groups as well. Pumpkin-carving started out as something my wife and I did, and now our son joins us as well.

I always make pepitas, eat them for a day or two, and then tire of them, but they’re fun for a little bit.

Seasonal cooking is ALWAYS fun, and fall brings out such wonderful flavors that call to mind togetherness and companionship. Can’t go wrong.

8 WBP October 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I didn’t know they had the internet in the 1950′s.

9 Steve October 10, 2011 at 8:24 pm

In the year 2011, people still think it’s a good idea to go on a drive, just to be driving around? There are old fashioned ideas worth keeping around – I shave with an old style razor, tie my own bow ties, open doors, and call my elders sir and ma’am. There are other antiquated practices that we’re well rid of – I don’t use racial slurs, I don’t pay my female employees less than my male employees, and I don’t burn a gallon of gasoline every twenty minutes just so my date and I will be moving around while we’re on a date.

If you want to see leaves, you don’t have to go on a Foliage Drive, you can just as easily go on a Foliage Hike, or a Foliage Bike.

10 Dan October 10, 2011 at 8:35 pm

There is a railway museum about a half hour away from me in southern Indiana that has train rides running this time of year to see the leaves turn. They also offer rides around Christmas, the “Polar Express”. Look around your area for these possibilities as well.

11 Nick October 10, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Some good ideas, especially the fall drive and pumpkin carving.

Though I must agree that it would be nice to have some ideas for the younger crowds (like the football game).

12 Brad October 11, 2011 at 3:16 am

I’m 20 years old, and I do not think that any of these options are too old-fashioned. I think we can learn from the simplicity and authenticity of old traditions. The options listed in this article are genuinely nice and romantic. Sheesh, if you think every single one of these options is out-dated, you’re making our generation look bad… sorry none of these are centered around constant digital stimuli.

However, another option (that goes along with the ‘Haunted Attraction’), if you’re looking for a serious scare, would be a local theme park that has a seasonal Halloween theme. For example, in southern California, there’s a them park called Knott’s Berry Farm, but through the month of October, it’s Knott’s Scary Farm. Really creepy and lots of gore, if that’s your thing. What’s old-fashioned about that?

13 Adrien October 11, 2011 at 5:35 am

A great experience typically between September and October (during a three week span for the European species) is to go deep in the forest at moonlight, especially when the day had warm air and the night is clear and chilly, to listen to the breeding of deers. (Maybe elks in America). They call (a bellow) when the male is in rut to gather his females and gain new ones. There’s a little danger to it (not too much not too less) and it is an awakening of your whole senses. A real harmony with Mother Nature. Great for a date and great for a rite of passage as well.

14 Robert October 11, 2011 at 8:34 am

There are some good ideas listed here. But as with most things in life, your mileage may vary.

Another thing you could add to the list is Astronomy. As the weather cools down, conditions become ideal for astronomy. Getting into astronomy can be rather expensive so you can search for local “star parties”. These are events held by local astronomy groups and are normally open to the public. Typically astronomers are more than happy to give you a view through their scope. Getting a glance at the heavens, now that sounds romantic to me.

15 George P.H. October 11, 2011 at 8:37 am

I’m surprised park walks weren’t mentioned. Nothing like walking around with all those crunchy leaves underfoot :).

These are cool, but there’s also a bunch of stuff to do indoors if where you live is too wet in autumn. Tea ceremonies,etc.

Cool list though, if a bit old-fashioned.

16 Jeremy M October 11, 2011 at 8:48 am

Anyone who feels that some of these are old ideas should actually consider taking a girl out and doing some of these things; she will think you are the most creative date she has probably ever had.

I admittedly agree with the critic of the driving option…that just isn’t very feasible right now with gas prices being what they are. Some great suggestions were made of taking a walk or a bike ride though the leaves. I do, however, understand what Brett was saying about how taking a drive away from town and into a more heavily forested/mountainous area will provide a completely different experience of the fall colors that can be seen; there is something about being away from the distractions of town when you go out to see something like that.

My favorite fall date is definitely a corn maze when I’m in an area that does one. My wife and I are probably going to go out this weekend and get our pumpkins to carve them and bake the seeds and everything. Men, you would probably be amazed at how many women have never been taken to do either of those two things.

To me, I think that these ideas are all classy dates that would impress your lady; old-fashioned is almost always a hit with women. Don’t believe it? Ask a girl out, take her to do one of these things, and see how much more interested in you she will be. Then thank Brett tomorrow ;D

17 Tom October 11, 2011 at 9:44 am

This site just cracks me up sometimes. I especially like the pumpkin carving Schlitz commercial. LOL!

18 Daren Redekopp October 11, 2011 at 10:04 am

For me, there’s nothing like sitting out on the front deck with my wife, watching the leaves fluttering down on the upturned faces of my little sons. After they go to bed, it’s all about watching the skies dim and talking about our dreams.

19 Brian October 11, 2011 at 10:20 am

I’m 23 and one of the favorite fall things my girlfriend and I do is go out to the country to do a few corn mazes and pick pumpkins. We try and go to one every weekend starting in late September through October.

20 Matt October 11, 2011 at 11:44 am

Personally, I like all the aforementioned ideas, however for me, nothing beats a romantic 5 a.m. deer hunt with my girl.

21 Thomas October 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Great article! One of my favorite Fall Date ideas is to go shoot a round of skeet. There is nothing manlier than exploding some clay pigeons over a field. Also be prepared to be humbled when your lady out shoots you.

22 Aficionado October 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Sorry guys, but I’m with Brett on the drive. I spend more than my fair share of time in the woods, but hiking doesn’t give you the same views as a good scenic drive, since you’re usually down on the ground and under the canopy of leaves. Besides, to get to the really good places, it’s usually gonna be plenty strenuous, and while I don’t mind sweating through my clothes, most girls don’t rate that high on what they want to do. Not to mention stuff like camera, coffee, etc., all add weight, and are much easier to carry in a car.

But driving through the mountains with the top back (if possible) and the falling leaves swirling in the wake behind you? Priceless.

And who cares what the gas costs? Most cars get at least 20 mpg, so at worst that’s less than $10 for 40 miles of driving–about the cost of a movie ticket, minus popcorn. I’ve done long distance leaf trips in a car that got 8-12 mpg. I don’t remember what it cost, but it doesn’t matter–the memory of the trip was worth it.

And I’m in my low 30′s, so don’t think this is old-guy stuff; I’ve been doing it since my teens.

23 Steve October 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm

On a related note: apple picking.

24 Ben October 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Rake a pile of leaves and jump into it together. Repeat.

25 Joe October 11, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Depending if she is into that sort of thing, check out a midnight movie for Halloween. My local theater is doing Shaun of the Dead this year.

26 JonathanL October 11, 2011 at 5:25 pm

The return of film classics at theatres is one of my favorite recent trends. The opportunity to see something on the big screen that many of us never had a chance to see on the big screen, or to share with our children or partners, is wonderful. My local theatre chain is showing Ghostbusters on Thursday, and while the specific local theatres are unfortunately not participating, it’s pretty neat to think that some people can go see a movie that first ran something like 25 years ago.

Brad brought up a good point with amusement parks, some of which do a great job during the season and can give you countless hours of fun for a whole-day date. Disneyland doesn’t do too much with it except dump a bunch of Nightmare Before Christmas onto the Haunted Mansion (which I find disappointing), but Knott’s Berry Farm, as mentioned, is LOADS of fun during October.

In regards to the modernity of the suggestions, I think the kind of man who takes pleasure in simple, timeless pleasures will stand out more than the one who doesn’t. As you start to get older, you really appreciate the passing of the seasons, and they become worth celebrating.on their own for what they are. I look at the trees that line the streets every day as I drive to work and smile, and I know ten years ago i didn’t care at all about things like that.

27 Nick October 12, 2011 at 2:05 am

I guess my comment was misinterpreted as me calling these ideas out-dated and for old people. Corn maze, midnight movies, halloween theme parks, awesome ideas that easily work for my digitally enslaved generation.

28 StephanieB October 12, 2011 at 10:14 am

I loved all the ideas! It makes me Wana move back to the Northeast! Pumpkin carving this weekend.

29 Will Russell October 12, 2011 at 10:59 am

Anything related to Christmas and Thanksgiving. Near where I live there is a town where all the houses decorate for Christmas and the Town hosts horse drawn carriage rides to look at the lights. I guess this technically might be winter, but I agree holidays are much more romantic. Also during Christmas, just sitting in a dark room with the christmas tree lit, nothing else on, nothing else playing, just enjoying the tree, reminsicing on the memories the ornaments signify and spending time with your lady or family. A lit fire place is the only other acceptable source of energy during this.

30 Anthony October 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I’m 25 living in NYC and I think all of these a great ideas. The 21-30 year old crowd in NYC are into the old school, old fashioned stuff these days so this would fly over well. I won’t really speak for everyone, but I’m sure if I presented these ideas to some of my buds, they’ll be doing them on their next set of dates. The girls will love it too.

Cheers.

31 DAN October 13, 2011 at 10:21 am

What happend to being a man? I am glad their is a web site like this. I was so enthralled by this web site I made my own about manlyness, not as good yet but is a start.

32 Chris October 13, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Great ideas! I was actually in the aforementioned Halloween Parade in Rutland, VT one year, it is definitely a sight to see! Thank you for the great posts time and time again.

33 Bill Corrigan October 14, 2011 at 9:25 am

I have found that autumn finally gets us back inside from the beach and pool and we catch up on all the museum shows.

34 Logan October 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I’m 21 years old and i can honestly say that my girlfriend would enjoy any of those things, except for maybe the ghost hunt haha. Anyways I don’t think they’re outdated, and I think more men in my generation should follow suit of the older generations. Whatever happened to men being gentlemen to ladies? As with the drive, so what if you burn some gas, like Aficionado stated its the memories you make that matter. I personally would love a good drive through very rural parts, and maybe even stop and have a picnic somewhere along the way. The less digital equipment the better, no texting or yapping on the phone the whole time. The simple basic date is where you will bond much more, in my opinion.

35 Libbi October 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm

So i am a 20yr old girl and I have to say I love all of these ideas!! I live in southern Alabama and I have always wanted to take a drive to go see the leaves change colors. You have stolen my fall date wishlist! If a boy actually planned dates like this, instead of the obvious dinner and a movie, he would have a lot better luck.

36 Kevin October 19, 2011 at 6:16 am

Took my gal on the Blur Ridge Parkway three weeks ago and the leaves must now be in peek color. If your near Ashville NC check out French Broad Chocolate Lounge for some worthy chocolate. If in Texas Wiseman House Chovolate in Hico does Sipping Chocolate to warm your heart and your girl will swoon.

37 Laura October 19, 2011 at 8:41 pm

I’m 20 and all the ideas sound lovely. Granted, depending if it’s your first date, you have a steady relationship or you’re married some will be more apropiate than others.

38 James October 20, 2011 at 9:07 am

These are great ideas! I specially love the Haunted House and Halloween Parade (specially the on in NYC). I think pretty much any of these are actually great for first dates, walking in a park, going to a food market and pretty much anything outside will make for a good date.

39 Richard October 20, 2011 at 11:17 am

If your lady enjoys wine, visit a winery. Every state in the Union has at least one. Most have tours and tastings on the weekends, often with other activities like art exhibits or concerts. And the Fall is when there’s a lot of activity as the harvest is gathered and pressed. Read up on the winery first so you can ask intelligent questions as you sample their wares. Keep in mind that it’s customary to purchase at least one bottle, whether or not there is a tasting fee. Don’t forget to note which wines your lady likes!

40 Miranda October 24, 2011 at 12:23 am

These sound like fun! I wish more guys would plan dates like this.

41 Joseph October 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm

My wife and I got married in October, celebrated 23 years Sunday. I totally agree that fall is a romantic time. Great post, great site, great content!

42 Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy October 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Great ideas, only outdone by the pictures. Seriously, these are fantastic!

43 Matt1973 November 2, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Just have to have someone u love to do all that great stuff

44 Matt1973 November 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Just have to have someone u love to do all that great stuff.

45 Justin C. September 24, 2012 at 11:45 am

These are all great fall ideas. I’m 22 and I know my girl would love to do all these. Alot of these activities are simple, but focus on much communication. Great ideas.

46 shane October 5, 2012 at 6:35 am

Knives and beer don’t mix! ;)

47 Dan October 10, 2012 at 7:55 am

Wow in the last month I’ve done quite a few of these with my gal. One of them was a weekend combo- we took a drive, visited some state park hiking trails, camped out, and cooked steak (not the tube variety) peppermint hot chocolate and smores over a campfire. Another time we took the train out of town and rode our bikes to an apple orchard; then we took a hayride to pick some apples.

48 RP October 10, 2012 at 8:20 am

Look closely at that photo under “State Fair.” The guy in the middle in the suit & tie. Where is his hand going? Priceless.

49 Nathan Magnuson January 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm

The fact that you started this list with going to a football game gave you instant credibility in my book!

50 cori October 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I’m in my my thirties and I am with Miranda, I wish guys would plan dates. I will say one of my favorite Fall activities is running or jumping into a pile of leaves that someone else has raked. That would be a fun, creative date in my book!

51 jerry October 8, 2013 at 9:50 pm

How about going and taking a widow and her orphans some groceries? Service is the answer not self.

52 Josh October 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Great article, manliness is a lost art and losing more and more value in the american way of life. I am 25 and to brag a little I’m the epitomy of a ladies man, so to the other guy up there “was this written in the 40′s” if you want to pull women learn to go a little old school with it, they eat it up like no other. All of these are great ideas and are all on the list to do with multiple lady friends. Good job guys. Keep it classy, keep it manly

53 Maria October 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm

OK well last time I checked I was definitely a girl… And I think all of these ideas are fabulous!!! They sound like a lot of fun… fall is definitely my favourite season. Anyways, for those of you who are saying all this stuff is outdated… It isn’t true. I would way rather do something unique and interesting like this, something that actually lends itself to conversation… Better than a movie or a big fancy dinner. However, I understand that some girls just aren’t into this kind of stuff… So to each their own I guess.

54 Chris G. October 11, 2013 at 10:47 am

Awesome ideas for fun, intimate dates. Believe we will open up the sun roof and enjoy some coffee and doughnuts on a morning drive through the mountains in the morning. Thanks!

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