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Gateway at Tempe | Fun Fall Activities

Happy Fall! 

It's one of our favorite times of the year. The leaves are transitioning into beautiful fall colors, folks are feeling festive, and the fresh cool air is perfect for getting outside with friends and exploring both on and off campus.

Make sure to take advantage of this beautiful and vibrant season's fun and enriching activities for college students!  Here are 12 of our favorites ideas for campus events that are ideal for fall:

1) Organize a Fall Fest

Fall and pumpkin festivals are the best! Food, fun and games is always a winning combination, but especially so in autumn when the crisp, cool weather invigorates the campus community. Caramel apples, pumpkin decorating, corn mazes and bake sales are traditionally popular activities as are chili cook-offs, crafts, dancing and live music. (Instagram and Pinterest are wonderful resources for creative, theme-based ideas for your event.)


Tis the season for toasty warm drinks, so build a DIY hot chocolate station for students to create their own concoctions. Students can dress up their drinks with fun spices (pumpkin, obviously), cinnamon, marshmallows, whipped cream or vanilla, and chocolate stirring sticks. (That said, it doesn’t have to be just for hot chocolate -- serve different flavors of tea, ciders, coffees along with warm treats.)

Bonus: Set up a photo op station with festive lights, pumpkins and a haystack, or use your own beautiful campus foliage as a lovely fall backdrop!

Want to set up a Fall Fest on your campus? Start a group and create your event now.

2) Tailgate with Classmates and Alumni

Whether or not you’re a sports fanatic, going to games can be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to get into the school spirit, take a break from your studies, meet new friends and even network with alumni. Football is hugely popular in the fall, as are other college sports such as women’s volleyball, field hockey and soccer, so share the love! ❤️

Tailgating can be a fantastic experience on any game day (whether it’s the Homecoming game or a match against your school’s biggest rival) and undeniably fun: grilling out before the game, getting decked out in school colors, painting faces, spending time with friends and cheering on your team!

Be sure to review official tailgating rules of the school where you will be tailgating. Some items may be prohibited such as deep fryers and open flames. So check the rules, check the weather, bundle up, grab some friends and take part in this lively fall tradition!

3) Roast S'mores at a Bonfire

Whether you’re celebrating a team’s victory or just getting together with your club, dorm or classmates, fall is the perfect time for a bonfire on or near campus. No bonfire is complete without the best campfire treat around: S’mores! Roast some marshmallows, tell stories and sing songs around a serene campfire.

Spend some quality time with your friends and get to know other people in your campus community. Meet potential new buddies in your residence hall, people from nearby dorms and commuting students you don’t get to connect with as easily during the week.

Food, flames and friends - what else do you need?

4) Plan a Halloween Spooktacular

Eat, play & be scary! Throwing a big Halloween event on campus is an exciting opportunity for students and student organizations to get involved, connect and create wonderful memories. Offer  up fun activities like games, haunted houses, dancing, a photo booth, caricature artists, candy & trick-or-treating on campus, and of course, a costume contest (with prizes for best costume!) 

Make sure to create a spooky playlist, or better yet, invite one of your school's musical ensembles (instrumental or choral) to dress up in costumes and play while attendees enjoy food, sweets, hot cocoa & drinks!

Check out some of these other cool Halloween-themed event ideas happening on campuses across the continent:

5) Host a Spooky (or Fall-Themed) Event for a Good Cause

Halloween activities can be a great opportunity for students to give back. At Kingsborough Community College, student volunteers guide people through the park on a Haunted Halloween Walk with spooks and food for all!

At Rutgers University, student organizations, fraternities, sororities, residence hall and alumni groups compete in the annual Charity Bed Race. Teams decorate beds during Homecoming and race down College Avenue, and the winning team gets to donate a cash prize to a charity of its choice.  

In College Park, Maryland, costumed community members join up for Monster Dash 5K run around the lake to support low-income, immigrant youth in the DC metro area.

6) Throw a Pumpkin Carving Party

Pumpkin spice up your night! Celebrate the harvest (or wrapping up midterms) with a fun evening of pumpkin carving, a cherished Halloween tradition. Whether an intimate gathering for your student organization or a larger event open to the whole campus community, students will have a blast enjoying an evening of treats, pumpkins and hot cider while creating lasting memories with friends.

Set up your own small pumpkin patch for your guests, or make a trip out of it and take your group to a local pumpkin patch to pick out the best gourds, followed by a festive pumpkin carving party on campus! Make sure to include pumpkin picking strategies, carving techniques, tools and printable templates.

7) Explore International Cultures & Traditions

Take your taste buds on a trip around the world with an International Potluck, or organize a Thanksgiving Feast before students leave for break. Invite guests to bring food and drinks from various cultures to share and then have everyone vote for favorites. (Bonus history lesson: ask guests to write a short background on the dish on an index card to display next to their dish!)

Explore holidays and cultural traditions. This is a wonderful opportunity for student organizations and leaders to really shine as they create, organize and promote an event on campus. Celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, with the South Asian Student Association, learn about Mexican culture and the celebration of life at El Dio de Los Muertos festival hosted by the Hispanic Student Association, or dive into Bavarian culture at Oktoberfest with the German Club.

8) Take a Trip to a Local Orchard

Get your group together and go apple-picking for a quintessentially fall excursion! Many orchards offer multiple varieties of apples in the fall months that you can pluck directly from acres of bountiful apple trees. (Plus, spending some time outdoors at a local farm is a fantastic way to destress from classes.)

Go on a hayride, travel through a corn maze… a trip to the apple farm is a great way to spend an afternoon off campus with friends! While you’re there, make sure to try their homemade baked goods like fresh apple crumble, pumpkin muffins, pies, donuts, apple and pumpkin butter. Be sure to snap some photos of your group in action!

9) Have a Cozy (or Spooky) Movie Night

Spend some time outside before it gets too cold! Cuddle up with your classmates for a film screening under the stars on a cool, crisp fall evening. Bundle up in your favorite blanket with popcorn, treats and hot cocoa to watch favorite flicks with friends.

Host a monthly Movie Night with different themes each month and allow students to vote on which films they would like to see. (October is perfect for binge watching Halloween movies!)

10) Show Off Your Campus Foliage at a Fall Photoshoot

One of the best things about fall is the colors, especially on picturesque college campuses where autumn is quite magical. The leaves are turning brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow, and the weather hasn’t gotten too cold to enjoy spending time outdoors, making fall the ideal time for a photoshoot.

Embrace the colors! Document the season by getting your friends, dorm mates or student club members together to snap some amazing photos using the breathtaking backdrop of your campus foliage and architecture. Capture your favorite fall moments: have some fun with friends in the fallen leaves, make a leaf pile and jump in, have a leaf fight. You  might even consider hosting a #campusfoliage photo contest for the best photo snapped by a student!

11) Go Hiking with Your Group

Fall is perfect for getting outside, so be sure to take advantage of the cool weather by organizing a group hiking trip. Invite students, staff and professors to step away from the busy campus and head into the woods to spend time together in some fresh autumn air on a relaxing stroll through nature.

Lace up your hiking boots! Explore beautiful mountains and greenspaces by your campus, or check out your local state parks for information on the best trails to enjoy the fall foliage. Does your school have an Outdoors Club? Putting together a group hiking trip could be a great opportunity for them to recruit new members!

12) Enjoy Great Music at an Outdoor Concert

Fallapalooza! With great fall weather comes the chance to enjoy live music outdoors. Bring music to your students’ ears by putting together an outdoor concert featuring bands, free food or food trucks, hot drinks, games, crafts, giveaways and inflatables. Book some bands or showcase your own students’ ensembles, and invite guests to bring a lawn chair or blanket, sit back and enjoy an evening of music and socializing!