Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. It always has been and always will be. Cozy sweaters, pumpkin spice ANYTHING, crunchy leaves, football games...the list goes on and on. Plus, there's a lot of great things happening in the Cedar Valley during the next couple of months.
We've compiled a list of fall recommendations below, and the best part is some of them are FREE!
Fall Events & Festivals
Don't miss cemetary walks with the Cedar Falls Historical Society and Grout Museum District, or the Spooks, Spokes & Sneakers bicycle ride and powder fun run. Or, stock up on fall produce and goodies like apples, squash and honey at one of our local farmers' markets. Many are still open through the end of October. Looking for more? Visit our events calendar for a full listing of events taking place in the Cedar Valley.
Trails & Fall Foliage
The Cedar Valley is home to over 106 miles of hard-surfaced recreational trails and fall is the perfect time to enjoy them. Organizations like the Cedar Valley Association for Soft Trails, Cedar Valley Cyclists, and Cedar Trails Partnership plan a plethora of activities for cyclists throughout the fall season. There's also plenty of opportunities to experience the trails on foot. Each year, the Hartman Reserve Nature Center hosts their Halloween Hikes. This non-scary walk through a candle-lit trail in the evening is complete with forest characters and hot cocoa.
Fall is also one of the best times to take in the beautiful display of red, orange and yellow leaves. One of my favorite places to visit in the fall is George Wyth State Park. Whether you're hitting the trails or just taking in the scenery, nature really puts on a show here in the fall. The Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens also offers a stunning display of fall colors with the many trees, plants and flowers spread amongst the grounds. Peak fall color typically occurs in northeast Iowa around the weekend closest to October 10. Check the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website for weekly fall reports.
Pumpkin Patches & Halloween Haunts
From pumpkin patches to pumpkin launchers, the whole family is sure to enjoy a trip to any of the following places.
A Family Market Place
257 Ansborough Ave (NCC Grounds), Waterloo
Hours: Daily 11am-8pm
Pumpkin Patch and Petting Zoo.
5111 Osage Rd, Waterloo
Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-7pm
Cost: Tues-Fri $8; Sat/Sun $10; Kids ages 2 & under free
Scarecrow's Haunted Barn, Haunted Scarytale Cornfield, Pumpkin Playland, Punkinator, giant jumping pillow, hayrides and farm animals.
Or, if being spooked is more your thing, there are quite a few haunted houses in the Cedar Valley to get your scare on.
Harris Haven Funeral & Mortuary Haunted House
3767 Lafayette Rd, Evansdale
Hours: Oct 2-3, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 28-31 (Thurs/Sun 7-10pm; Fri/Sat 7pm-Midnight)
100 Waterhawk Rd, Evansdale
Hours: Oct 9-10, 16-18, 23-25, 30 (Fri/Sat Dark-Midnight; Sun Dark-10pm)
Cost: $10 ($1 off coupon online)
Heart of Darkness
5111 Orange Rd, Waterloo
Hours: Oct 2-3, 9-10, 15-18, 22-25, 29-31 (Thurs 7-10pm; Fri/Sat 7pm-Midnight, Sun TBD)
Cost: Thurs/Sun $15; Fri/Sat $17 (Save $2 off admission when you purchase tickets online)
Panic Park Haunted House
5932 N Union Road (Rotary Reserve), Cedar Falls
Hours: Oct 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 22-24, 29-31 (Thurs 7-10pm; Fri/Sat 7-11pm)
Cost: $15 ($1 off Fri/Sat with food donation; $2 off Thurs with food donation)*
*Discounts not valid on car load night (Oct 9).
When I think fall, one of the first things that comes to mind is sports. In the Cedar Valley, you can cheer on the University of Northern Iowa Panthers and Waterloo Black Hawks, or simply enjoy a round of golf with friends. Other spectator opportunities include races at the Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, USA Wrestling Pre-Season Nationals, and Iowa High School Football Playoffs.
Tricks or Treats
Last, but certainly not least...fall wouldn't be complete without trick-or-treating. Both downtown Cedar Falls and Waterloo, and Scheels host FREE trick-or-treating events for the little ones. In addition, this year the Phelps Youth Pavilion is putting on a "Monster Mash" for families.
We encourage you to get out and enjoy all that fall has to offer in the Cedar Valley. Try something new or maybe just stop and look around at nature's beauty - you won't be disappointed.
Share your fall photos with us on Facebook or tag them with the hashtag #IDigWaterloo on Twitter or Instagram for a chance to win an #IDigWaterloo t-shirt!
- Beth Keeney, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau