My family and I are new to Columbus and still feeling a little homesick over missing our former city of New Orleans. We moved to Columbus in September to be closer to family and to give our kids the chance to grow up close to their cousins. While New Orleans is known for many things, fall weather and activities aren’t among that list. In the south, the summer just seems to drag on until it abruptly changes into two weeks of winter, then back to summer again. Since Columbus has so much to offer in fall scenery and activities I thought a super fun fall weekend with extended family would be just the thing we needed to cheer us up, make lasting memories and help us enjoy our new city complete with Midwest-made Hudsonville Ice Cream! In one short weekend we made more memories with our extended family than we would have in a year when we lived so far apart. This weekend Columbus won over our hearts and now we are all smitten with her.
Apples, Pumpkins and Hayrides
Having never been apple picking before in our lives, we decided to start off the weekend by picking apples at Lynd’s Fruit Farm. The farm was less than a 30-minute drive from our house, making it a reasonable after school activity (especially since Lynd’s is not open for u-pick on the weekends this year.) The kids ran up and down the orchard, pulling apples off trees to fill our bag and eating all they could until their bellies were stuffed. We sent them on a mission to find the biggest and smallest apple they could, turning our picking time into an adventure. The kids also made their own contest to see who could make the shiniest apple by buffing it against their jeans after picking. The red Melrose and green Suncrisp varieties were so delicious we couldn’t decide which one we liked more so we got both, taking home a large bag of apples we picked for $30. After we had eaten and picked all the apples we could manage, we stopped by the market to peruse the pumpkins, take pictures with all the festive photo props and purchase some locally made jams, pickles and candies. At home that evening we went to work making our favorite homemade applesauce which is amazing warm or cold and makes the house smell heavenly while it cooks.
To continue our fall weekend, we started the next day with pumpkin picking and hayrides at Freeman’s Farm. Freeman’s doesn’t offer u-pick pumpkins like Lynd’s does, but it did offer absolutely stunning scenery on our short drive there and beautiful foliage all around the farm. There was an assortment of shapes and colors of pumpkins for us to choose from and everyone got to pick what they liked. I opted for a unique orange pumpkin with yellow streaks running down it, my sister-in-law opted for a beautiful white one, the men chose the biggest they could find, and the kids picked out smaller pumpkins. The bigger pumpkins were all priced by the pound and the smaller pumpkins were anywhere from $1-$10 depending on the color and size. After picking pumpkins and taking some photos with their backdrops, hay bales and rustic barn we purchased tickets for the hayride. They had several tractors operating to keep them uncrowded, allowing riders to socially distance. The hayride lasted approximately 10 minutes, circling the farm grounds and was enjoyed by all. All the kids (ages 2-12) loved the ride so much they wanted to go again.
Football and Chili
It wouldn’t be a fall Saturday if we didn’t eat a big pot of something warm and watch college football, so we continued the festivities by inviting our family over that evening to join us in watching football and eating bowls of chili from a pot simmering on the stove. We cheered as we watched our beloved Clemson (my husband and I lived in South Carolina when we met and got married) get the W over Miami. We even had apple cider for the kids and apple cider old fashioneds for the adults to complement our fall weekend theme. Ever since my years of watching Parenthood I’ve always wanted an outdoor entertaining space with lights strung over top, picturing my family gathered together enjoying each other. This has never worked out in our prior homes, but on this evening, I looked out over my brick patio with the lights strung over top at the people I love and realized that my dream has come true. This was the very moment our new house actually started to feel like home.
Hiking and Playing in Leaves
When we lived in New Orleans our go-to weekend activity was visiting and walking around a local park. So Sunday we decided to explore Jeffrey Park, because it’s only a mile from our house. The trees were practically glowing with bright shades of yellow, red and orange. We loved that there was a playground to play on and also a hiking trail that was easy for kids of all ages and wound down along the river for part of it. While we walked I collected some wildflowers to bring home and put on our table and the kids were on the lookout to spot squirrels, chipmunks and fish. We found a big field with a bunch of fallen leaves and took turns jumping in them, burying each other and having leaf fights. Then we each collected our favorites to bring home for decorations and crafts.
Right away we put our leaves to good use by doing some leaf rubbings. This is one of my favorite fall crafts because it’s quick, easy, requires very few supplies and kids of all ages can participate. I sat my wildflowers in a jar with water on the table and we scattered some leaves around it for a pretty, natural and free fall tablescape.
Ice Cream Party
After we finished our pictures and proudly displayed them, we had our fall weekend grand finale celebration with Hudsonville Ice Cream. Hudsonville is a family-owned, Midwest-made ice cream that has been around for over 90 years and is sold by various grocers and convenience stores throughout the Columbus area. (Click here to find locations where Hudsonville is sold near you.) With a variety of delicious flavors to choose from (including dairy-free options) we had a hard time making our choices but ended up going with Mint Chocolate Chip, Deer Traxx, Brownie Batter Cookie Dough and Seaside Caramel. We all enjoyed the ice cream so much, in fact my husband asked me to never buy another kind of ice cream again. My kids said the Mint Chocolate Chip has the most minty flavor of any they’ve had, and believe me, they’ve eaten their share of various mint chip varieties.
Hudsonville Ice Cream is also a company we like to support because they like to spread kindness to others. Recently they have been going out of their way to thank teachers and support staff for their hard work during this unprecedented school year. How cool is that?! Nominations for their Random Acts of Ice Cream campaign are accepted on their website, and they send ice cream to selected nominees each week.
Hudsonville was the perfect sweet and celebratory ending to our fun-filled weekend of activities that are bound to become yearly traditions.
Use this coupon to try Hudsonville Ice Cream yourself and get two containers of Hudsonville Ice Cream for the price of one. Trust me, your people will thank you for it.