Fall is the perfect time to enjoy some outdoor family fun without spending a fortune. Check out these events in and around Columbus.

Fall is the perfect time to enjoy some outdoor family fun without spending a fortune. Check out these events in and around Columbus.

Enjoy the fall foliage at a Columbus Metro Park. Afraid you can't juggle the kids and a trail? Then explore as you ride on a 42-passenger open-air tram with an experienced naturalist on board. www.metroparks.net

Experience nature by camping in your own backyard. Pitch a tent and build a fire (try a fire pit or chiminea) and bring marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars to make s'mores.

Try the new Canopy Tours in Hocking Hills. Have your own family survivor experience as you ride the zip lines over tree canopies and views the splendor of the hills. www.hockinghillscanopytours.com

Plan a family fishing trip. Cool fall weather stimulates the fish to feed more, so they'll be looking for your bait. For local fishing information, check out the Ohio Department of Natural Resources at www.dnr.state.oh.us

Visit the Circleville Pumpkin Show. For over 100 years the festival has remained "The Greatest Free Show on Earth." There's plenty to do, see and eat for everyone in the family, including parades, pumpkin foods and massive displays of pumpkins and gourds. This year's dates are October 15-18. www.pumpkinshow.com

Attend a local football game. Choose from pee-wee league, grade school or a Friday night high school game. The price of admission and concessions is family-friendly and the weather is usually perfect for a night in the stands.

Gaze at the night sky through a telescope. The air is crisper and cleaner, which means the fall constellations are more easily seen. If it's been a while since you used your astronomy knowledge, check www.astronomy.com to brush up.

Spend a day at Slate Run Historical Farm. See how pioneers in the 1880s conducted their fall harvest and prepared for winter. Slate Run also offers a Family Overnight at the Farm adventure on September 13 for families with children ages 6 and older. www.metroparks.net/ParksSlate RunFarm.aspx

Attend the Fairfield County Fair. Held in Lancaster, it's one of the last county fairs of the year. Dates are October 5-11. www.fairfieldcountyfair.com

Select Halloween pumpkins from a pumpkin patch. Forgo the local grocery store and go directly to the farm. At lots of family-owned farms, you can pick your own pumpkins or choose from pre-picked pumpkins and enjoy hot cider and other home-made goodies. For a complete list, look on this site: http://www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/OHpumpkins.php

Check out the Columbus Marathon. You and your family can cheer on world-class athletes and everyday runners. Be part of the experience on October 19. www.columbusmarathon.com

Investigate the Statehouse Ghost Tours. This event features free potion-making for kids of all ages. Food such as finger sandwiches, owl-eye cookies and spider cider will be available. Date TBA. www.ohiotraveler.com

Go to Laurelville in western Hocking County. Visit the Laurelville Cider Company to see how cider is made and bring some home to enjoy later. www.1800hocking.com/ members/laurelville_fruit_farm

Pretend to sail the seven seas on the Santa Maria. Located in Battelle Park, the world's most authentic, museum-quality replica of Christopher Columbus' flagship will be open until October 26. Events include the Haunted Ship where pirates give a twist to Halloween family fun. www.santamaria.org

Relax and enjoy a train ride. Get on board the family-friendly Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad in Nelsonville. www.hvsry.org

Take in the splendor of the 41st Fall Festival of Leaves. This event takes place in Bainbridge October 17-19. Try a car tour of leaves if you have small children or elderly family members. http://www.fallfestivalofleaves.com

Attend a different kind of Halloween costume party. Here's an event even the family dog can appreciate-- the Halloween Pet Parade on October 26 at Easton Town Center, sponsored by the Capital Area Humane Society. www.cahs-pets.org

Bring the family to the Worthington Fall Festival. The festival will be held October 11 in downtown Worthington. Family activities include food, crafts and produce from local growers. www.owba.net, or http://consumer.discover ohio.com

Enjoy the Harvest Fair. The Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware is the host of this September 20 event. This family-centered celebration of the season includes tractor climbing, apple cider making and rides on a horse-drawn wagon. www.visitdelohio.com and www.stratfordecologicalcenter.org

See a working farm in action. Visit the Pigeon Roost Farm Pumpkinfest from September 20 through October 31. The Pumpkinfest includes barnyard animals, camels, beehives and tractor-drawn rides. Food, crafts and decorations are also available. http:// www.pigeonroostfarm.com

Get outside!

Marguerite Marsh is a freelance writer in Columbus. She writes about many topics, including families, relationships, artists and pets.