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As August rolls around, you may find yourself mourning the imminent end of swimming pool weather and grilling season. Help ease the pain of summer's departure by looking ahead to crisp autumn days filled with exciting seasonal activities. Below you'll find a list of quintessential fall experiences for your family to enjoy this year.
*Attend an outdoor fair or festival. The Indiana State Fair (www.in.gov/statefair/fair)
runs August 2nd through 18th at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. 2013 fair visitors will celebrate "The Year of Popcorn" and choose from a dizzying array of entertainment options including ice shows, a singing competition and high-divers along with the usual livestock exhibits and delicious fair food options. Next month, enjoy an extensive line-up of live music while sampling German cuisine at the Indianapolis Oktoberfest (www.indianapolisgak.com, www.germanparkindy.org). This year's festival will take place at German Park from September 4th through 8th.
**Pay tribute to Indiana's agricultural heritage by enjoying seasonal farm activities. Take a road trip to Tuttle Orchards in Greenfield (www.tuttleorchards.com) to pick apples and sunflowers, explore a 4˝ acre corn maze or take a hayride around the farm. For a farm experience closer to downtown, head to Waterman's Family Farm at Raymond Street. You can find a list of approximate U-Pick crop dates at www.watermansfamilyfarm.com, but it's always best to call ahead to see which items will be available during your visit.
**Let them eat pie. Is there anything that says fall quite like a thick slice of apple or peach pie a la mode? Dig up an old family recipe and make one of your own, or leave the baking to Locally Grown Gardens farm market. Visit www.locallygrowngardens.com
for a list of their current and upcoming pies, crisps and breads.
**Schedule a fall foliage hike to take advantage of the season's colorful scenery. Early fall might just be the best time of the year to enjoy nature. Fort Harrison State Park offers many ways for families to get active, including the paved, bicycle-friendly Harrison Trace Trail as well as several more adventurous wooded paths. Moderately difficult Fall Creek Trail, with its creek views and boardwalk, offers a particularly nice variety of scenery. Plan your route and print out a trail map at www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2982.htm.
**Cheer for the home team while attending an outdoor sporting event. Soccer, football, cross country and other fall sports will be kicking off soon at a high school near you. Visit www.ihsaa.org for a list of 2013-14 season dates. If you haven't made it to a baseball game yet this year, the Indianapolis Indians (www.indyindians.com) still have regular season home games scheduled through August 31st. Finally, for those looking to splurge on a top tier sports experience, the Indianapolis Colts (www.colts.com) play their first preseason game against the Buffalo Bills on August 11th.
**Use fall's chillier days to scope out some great options for indoor fun. *Opening August 31st, the brand new Playscape at the Indianapolis Children's Museum (www.childrensmuseum.org) is a must-do for families with young children. This space will include a water table, an art studio, a dedicated area for infants/toddlers and more. Or, sign the kids up to learn a fun new skill this season. Eppert Piano in Fishers (www.eppertsite.com) offers group piano lessons for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, while the Indianapolis Art Center (http://indplsartcenter.org) holds youth classes for future painters, glass blowers and digital artists.
With so much to do in the Indianapolis area, this month's a great time get started on your family's fall bucket list! Can't you just taste the apple cider and hot buttermilk donuts already?