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Fall Activities, Ranked

Woman playing in the leaves.
Photo: Science Photo Library/Getty Images

The days are getting shorter. The air is getting crisper. The schools … have been gotten back to. Yes: Fall is officially upon us.

Perhaps more than any other season, fall inspires people to treat their affection for it as a personality trait. This fervor has been widely parodied in recent years — “Mr. Autumn Man” from The Onion, and “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers” from McSweeney’s are already making the annual rounds online.

But it has barely begun. In the next few months, you will scroll through endless Instagram photos of flannel-clad apple-picking jaunts. You will wake up mysteriously famished in the middle of the night, yearning for a mouthful of discounted drug store candy corn. You will encounter a single, perfect red leaf falling from a tree, a poignant reminder of our slow, relentless march toward oblivion.

Anyway, let’s rank fall activities! From worst to best:

7. Apple picking

A couple picking apples.
My enemies. Photo: Caiaimage/Agnieszka Olek/Getty Images/Caiaimage

Apple picking is a scam. You pay someone money to do work, and then pay, like, three times more money for a product than if you bought it from a store. The entire process goes against all the common-sense immigrant values I was raised with. (See, also: when I tried to WWOOF after college.) But when I started dating a white man from the Midwest, I felt it was important to learn and share some of his cultural customs.

I found myself simultaneously lugging around a heavy box of fruit while engaging in a Lord of the Flies–esque competition to pluck the most desirable apples off the trees that were increasingly being picked bare by other Brooklynite couples who had driven up to the Hudson Valley. (I’m Piggy, obviously.) The payoff was a comical amount of apples hanging out in my crisper, which I’d occasionally look at and consider turning into applesauce before remembering that I’m not a baby. The worst part is that the apples are just FINE. They’re fine. Dare I say the Pink Lady apples I buy from Trader Joe’s every week are better? Yes, I dare.

The Instagrams were nice though.

6. Drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Look, I know that in this day and age criticizing Pumpkin Spice Lattes has been deemed everything from snobby to sexist. I don’t dislike your Pumpkin Spice Lattes because I think they’re too pedestrian — I’ve enjoyed the nectar that is a Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha® plenty of times myself. I dislike them because they taste like someone cut a dump truck of Sweet’n Low with the potpourri your mom has kept in the downstairs half bathroom since 1993.

5. Hayrides

Potentially fun if you’re under the age of 12; essentially a slow, itchy car ride for everyone else.

4. Halloween Stuff

Two dogs with Halloween gear.
WooOOooOOf. Photo: Emmanuelle Bonzami / EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm

I’m of two minds about Halloween. On the one hand, I’m terrified of anything actually spooky. On the other, I enjoy dressing up, making a cocktail called “Spooky Juice” (one part vodka to one part orange Fanta), and spelling out the word as “spooOooOoOOooky” for the entire month of October. What I’m saying is, I love Halloween.

3. Hiking and leaf-peeping

As I get older and find myself spending every waking hour of my one precious lifetime on the internet, I’ve gained a new appreciation for nature as a place where there’s no cell-phone service and nobody can bother me. I love being “present” and “living in the moment” and “wondering what to do if I run into a bear.” Yes, you can hike year-round, but there’s nothing like heading out when the leaves are changing color and turning the landscape into a Bob Ross painting. It makes me feel like just Thoreau (in that I’m an insufferable blowhard and still too dependent on my mother).

2. Putting babies in pumpkins

Pioneered by visionary artiste Anne Geddes, taking photos of babies inside pumpkins is now a time-honored Pinterest tradition. And we, as a society, are all the better for it.

A baby in a pumpkin.
Yes. Photo: Adriana Cavazos/Getty Images/EyeEm

1. Being cozy

Yes, the air is fresh, the leaves are a marvel, and the seasonal produce is bountiful. Who cares? The best fall activity ultimately involves staying inside your damn house. If summer was caftan season, then now is the time to hide your body under a rotating selection of shapeless Chunky Sweaters™ and piles of knit blankets until May. If I could fit my entire body inside a pumpkin (see above), I would.

Fall Activities, Ranked