My 2-year-old son loves to be outside, and so I have been dripping in sweat pretty regularly since the start of summer.
To be honest, if my toddler was capable of making a bucket list it would probably include “Watch Daniel Tiger” and “Watch Mr. Rogers” and then “Watch Daniel Tiger again.” (I limit TV, I swear.) Then he might think to add “Look at fire trucks” and “Throw the ball.”
But as fall rolls around, there are some great ideas to occupy your toddler.
(1) Visit a pumpkin patch
I hadn’t been to a pumpkin patch in years, and then I had a baby, and suddenly, I felt absolutely compelled to go to one. And I’m not talking about a run-of-the-mill, outside-a-church pumpkin patch. I am talking a full-on farm pumpkin patch.
I know I’m not the only parent who felt this way, because whenever I go to Hodges Family Farm in Charlotte there are plenty of other adults wielding cameras and capturing their child’s precious, autumn moments. Hodges Family Farm not only has a pumpkin patch, it also has animals, hayrides, reasonably priced hotdogs and little, red wagons to cart both children and pumpkins around in. Other area farms with pumpkin patches include Hall Family Farm in Charlotte and Lineberger’s Maple Springs Farm in Gastonia.
(2) Play in the Wee Houses at Daniel Stowe Garden before the exhibit ends
Let’s all mark our calendars. The Wee Houses exhibit at the botanical garden in Belmont ends October 2, and if you and your toddler haven’t been to it yet, well, you need to make that happen pronto. For limited time only, adorable, child-sized houses dot the landscape of the gardens (which were already fabulous, and kid-friendly anyway).
There are log cabins, tee-pees, treehouses and nests. We have been going all summer (and it has been so hot and sweaty – bring on the fall!), and I know when the exhibit ends, I am in for some major “Where are my little houses?” toddler tantrums. Luckily, I will be able to distract my kidlet with some of the garden’s other fall events including the Lost Hollow Music Fest Oct. 16 and 17, Bootanical (kids wearing costumes get in free) Oct. 29-30 and a Fairy Fest Nov. 13.
(3) Go to a festival
It’s fall, and you and your toddler (or toddlers, God bless you) should really go to a festival. Festivals are fun! Festivals are often free! Festivals have food, especially if the festival has the word “Food Truck” in it! Get thee to a fall festival and then eat something fried. On my list for this year are the previously mentioned Daniel Stowe Garden festivals, the Yiasou Greek Festival in Charlotte Sept. 8-11,
(4) Visit a county fair
Fairs are the best. They have animals, rides, games and giant produce (Giant produce, I say!). They also have lots and lots of people. All of this makes for a very entertained toddler – especially if that toddler is eating a corndog and watching pigs race or tractors pull. The Charlotte region has several fairs. When you do go to a fair, I suggest you buy some pickle chips because there are no pickle chips like fair pickle chips.
(5) Buy a year-long pass to Discovery Place Kids because winter is coming (eventually)
Fall is so beautiful. The weather is crisp. Kids wear super cute hats and throw leaves around, but guess what? It’s transitory, temporary, here today then gone tomorrow, and what are you left with? Cold, gray winter. This is why I strongly suggest getting a season’s pass to Discovery Place Kids, a fantastic children’s museum in Huntersville. It is the most toddler-friendly place in the Charlotte area. Is it hyperbolic to call it a tiny, toddler utopia? No. It is accurate. Also, it has heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer making it an all-around winner in my opinion!