We are finally past the hottest temperatures in the GTA and we are ready for a season of sipping on pumpkin spice lattes, wearing warm sweaters instead of sweat, enjoying the cool weather, and getting cozy under blankets.
The best part about fall is that it is a simple time of year to spend little money and still enjoy all the season has to offer. In fact, we have a detailed list of top things for you and your family to do for free this Fall in the GTA. Whether you are more interested in nature walks or festivals, there is something for you.
Fall Harvest and Apple Festivals
Fall Fairs bring you into the spirit of Fall and there are many you can enjoy at no cost.
This 9th annual festival is filled with free activities including a petting zoo, wagon rides, live music, a bouncy castle and more. September 15
At least one Applefest is a must in the Fall season and no admission fee makes this one number one on your list. Meet baby farm animals, create a DIY project, have your children’s face painted, play fair-style games with the whole family, enjoy tours in historic houses, take a ride on a hay maze or a pony, check out the vendors and enjoy some delicious BBQ food and apple desserts. September 16
This classic fair includes all of the traditional fall fair activities. From competitions, like the truck and tractor pulls and the demolition derby, to visiting with the farm animals and taking rides at the midway. September 21–23
Don’t let the end of Thanksgiving get you down and come out to continue celebrating the season at this Applefest, an annual street festival that has all things apple. Beyond the apple cider, apple pies, and apple fritters come to see live performers too! October 13
More Fall Festivals and Events
Mark these dates on your calendar as you don’t want to miss these one day or weekend events.
This annual free event in Rockton celebrates Canada’s leading children’s writers and illustrators. Meet-and-greets and story times with artists and illustrators like Paul Covello, author of Canada 123 and other picture books, and Dennis Lee, poet and author of Alligator Pie. There will also be live children’s music and theatre shows. September 16
The Hamilton Supercrawl is a weekend-long event located on James Strett North that is filled with a wide variety of performers, artist vendors, food trucks, and a family zone. This is an excellent event to explore the local artisans we have right here in the GTA. September 14–16
Enjoy a fun evening out roller skating with a DJ on the waterfront outdoor rink. Pick Friday night, Saturday night or Wednesday night to enjoy a retro date night or a family fun night out. Note that roller skates do cost money to rent for the evening but you are welcome to bring your own to make it a free night out. September 14, 19, 21
Enjoy an evening out with live music venues, makers aligning the streets, and entertainment within your community. The event includes a corn roast, bellydance performance, and family circus show. September 21
This annual festival celebrates Richmond Hill’s diverse, multicultural community. It opens Saturday evening with the fun continuing on Sunday, with live entertainment and a showcase of culture, food, fashion, arts and crafts, and sports from around the world. September 22–23
Culture Days brings a flurry of unique pop-up performances, interactive art installations, poetry slams, and all sorts of other cultural happenings to community locations throughout Canada. Experience free hands-on, interactive activities in your city or town and discover the creative people in your community! September 28–30
People traffic replaces car traffic in downtown Whitby for four hours on a Saturday at this free event designed to improve physical and emotional well being. Find live music and art, take part in yoga and a pop-up park on the street, try the bike obstacle course or Zumba classes or take the junior firefighter challenge. September 29
Come and explore historical buildings, museums, private homes, places of worship, and cultural venues all for free for this one weekend! September 29–30
Public Library Events
There are a number of free activities and events happening continually at your local library. Check out a movie, complete a DIY project, engage in story time or puppet shows with your kids, and attend events like fall fairs, spelling bees, Halloween parties, and more. Check the schedules here:
Brampton Library calendar of events
Durham Region Public Libraries
Hamilton Public Library events
Halton Hills Public Library events
Oakville Public Library kids’ programs and events
Markham Public Library programs
Milton Public Library kids’ programs and events
Mississauga Public Library children’s fall programs
Newmarket Public Library kids’ events calendar
Richmond Hill Public Library kids’ programs
Vaughan Public Library events calendar
Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library calendar
Fall Farmer’s Markets
Who doesn’t love a good farmers market in the fall? Yes, if you go you may be tempted to spend money instead of having a free day out, but often you can simply enjoy the experience by taking a walk through, having a taste tester or two, and breathing in all the fresh and local foods of the season.
This quaint country market in Dundas is a perfect way to get the country feel us city folk often long for. Take time to walk through the market, grab breakfast at the tea room, and stroll through the gardens. You can then allow your kids to run free in a field that is filled with a number of slides and playhouses amidst a small petting zoo. Open daily
A popular farmers’ market, located in the middle of downtown Hamilton that has over 60 vendors. Open every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
All vendors declare to be farm fresh from Ontario at this market. This is an excellent way to support the GTA’s local businesses while experiencing high quality produce, baked goods, honey, flowers, wines, maple syrup and more. Every Saturday morning until October 6.
This is not only a market to enjoy the smells and tastes of the farm vendors, you are also able to experience live music and to keep your kids entertained with various activities. Every Saturday morning until October 20
Around 40 vendors set up their tables and tents at this market each weekend. In addition to shopping, you can enjoy live bands each week. IT’s also adjacent to Riverwalk Commons, with public wading pool on warm days and public performace space for theatre, music, movies, and more. Every Saturday morning through October
Fall Walks and Drives
Some of the best fall colours in all of Canada are right here in southern Ontario. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy the fall splendour with your family.
The expanse of waterfalls in the GTA is large and fall is a perfect time of year to take time to explore. There are 18 to pick from on this list of the Top Waterfalls of Hamilton. Take the whole family out for weekly hikes to enjoy nature’s beauty.
Waterfront Walks or Biking
Check out the Burlington Waterfront, the Hamilton Bayfront, or the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail for beautiful areas to take a stroll or even a bike ride. Check out family-friendly trip suggestions along the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, including one that takes in the beautiful Lynde Shores Conservation Area.
Another way to take a fall hike is to go with a group following a knowledgeable guide. There are options for everyone including a focused tour on wildlife sightings, quiet nature walks, discovering the past, fitness challenges or simply to meet new people. Click the link above to see the full list of dates and times for all the guided walks available.
On the Pickering/Scarborough border, Canada’s first national urban park has plenty of leaf-peeping opportunities. Hit the trails, go canoeing, or take part in one of the weekly family-friendly (and some dog-friendly) nature walks, on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays.
Fall Colours Drives
You could head out into the countryside in almost any direction to see the changing colours this fall, but there are a few areas that are especially popular for scenic autumn drives. The Headwaters region (Erin, Caledon, Dufferin County, Mono, and Shelburne) is filled with small towns and lovely country roads worth exploring. Here’s a fall drive itinerary you could follow. Just east of the Durham Region, this Northumberland fall drive loops around from Port Hope to near Presqu’ile Park and back.