To me, nothing is better than Nebraska in the fall. There’s something almost magical about it. With the turning of the leaves and the start of Husker football season, the whole state seems to come alive — myself included.

Fall became even more fun once I had kids of my own to enjoy it with — a cornucopia of football, family, food, fun and festivities. Here are 10 fall activities your family can enjoy during this festive time of year.

1. Pumpkin patches. Nothing says fall in Nebraska quite like a pumpkin patch. For many families, this becomes a favorite fall tradition. Corn mazes, hayrack rides, haunted barns and pumpkin picking are just some of the fun you and. Your family can have. Check out this list of pumpkin patches around the metro area.

2. Apple picking. Apple cider, apple donuts, apple pie — oh my! Nebraska has an abundance of apple orchards that allow apple picking. Just a quick trek down highway 75 to Nebraska City is where our family tends to go. We get to spend time outdoors wandering the orchards, while the kids get individual bags to gather apples in. We then use them to make all sorts of homemade goodies. Check out a list of orchards here.

3. Create an indoor haunted house. When the weather outside gets frightful, we bring the party indoors. My kids love turning their bedroom into a haunted house. Bonus for mom — the elaborate decorations they create occupy them the majority of the day.

4. Cozy up with fall-themed movies. There are tons of family-friendly movies and TV shows with fall themes. Each year we look forward to "It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and "Hocus Pocus." Break out the cozy blankets, popcorn and caramel apples and get watching.

5. Cook comfort foods. To me, fall means comfort food. I wait months for the return of chili, soups and casseroles cooking away. Break out that crockpot and fill it with the flavors of the season.

6. Plan a family photo shoot. This is the perfect time of year to have a family photo shoot. The changing colors and fall foliage create beautiful backdrops for portraits. Make lasting memories with those you love. If you're looking for a great place to take some family photos this fall, check out our list here.

7. Sit at a local coffee shop. Grab a book or magazine and enjoy a morning sitting at your local coffee shop. Parents can indulge in those seasonal coffee drinks (you know the ones I’m talking about), while kids can get them sans espresso.

8. Make autumnal art. This is a great way to get your kids outdoors. Have the kids gather things from nature — leaves and pine cones work best. Paint pine cones and decorate using craft materials. Use leaves to create a collage or do a leaf press with crayons.

9. Tell “spooky” stories around a bonfire. Find a spot — whether it's in your backyard, a friend’s house or at your local pumpkin patch — to gather family and friends around a bonfire. Grab your hot dogs, s’mores and a fall brew (or hot cocoa for the kids) while telling age-appropriate spooky stories.

10. Take a drive. Before the weather turns cold, pack a picnic and load up for a day drive. Pick a scenic route to view the changing leaves and explore a new spot. Platte River State Park in Louisville is a great area to check out the changing season. 

What else would you add to this list?

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Shea Saladee lives in Papillion with her husband, Brent, and their three children. She works as an instructor at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

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