With the kids: 3 fall activities for Harford County families

For Harford Magazine

From crisp temperatures to gorgeous changing leaves, October offers plenty of incentives to get out of the house and into the great outdoors.

Here’s a look at some of October’s best local family activities, whether you’re looking for a fright, wants to learn about nature or have creative energy to burn.

1. Get spooked

With Halloween rapidly approaching, the time is right to grab the kids for a spooky night on the town. From the Jericho Covered Bridge in Kingsville, originally built in 1865, to the Rodgers’ House Tavern in Havre de Grace, there are numerous supposedly haunted spots scattered throughout the county.

Lisa Ryan, proprietor of Havre de Haunts Tours and Paranormal Research, makes local ghosts her business. On her company’s 90-minute walking ghost tours of Havre de Grace, Ryan and her team share stories of the region’s history designed to leave you with the chills.

Havre de Haunts ghost tours. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m., Oct. 13-28. 217 N. Washington St., Havre de Grace. $14 for adults, $10 for children under 12. 443-243-5836.

2. Take a hike

Located along the Bush River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay, the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center is a research facility offering a wide variety of fun, educational programs designed to help kids and adults learn about the local environment.

During October, families can take classes focused on the changing leaves, learn how to conduct spooky Halloween science experiments, get to know wild turkeys and more. Or, for a less structured experience, simply wander the 2 miles of hiking trails on your own.

“The trails are not really difficult and with the loops you can craft a distance that works for your family,” says the park manager Kriste, Garman. “You can get down to the water easily and do some fishing on the pontoon pier.”

Anita C Leight Estuary Center. Open daily from dawn to dusk; class times vary. 700 Otter Point Road, Abingdon. Classes and events range from free to $8. 410-612-1688.

3. Grab a brush

Autumn, when the light is golden and skies are streaked, is a wonderful season to be a landscape artist. The Harford Plein Air Festival celebrates outdoor painting this month, with events and competitions showcasing the work of residents of all ages.

Plein air refers to art created outside, without photographs as a reference. One portion of the festival, the Quick Draw Competition, invites children and adults to go outside and paint. Artists who are interested in participating can register to paint and to have their work judged for awards (be sure to bring your own supplies).

“The Quick Draw Competition gets families and kids to spend quality time together outdoors and to interpret the natural beauty around them through plein air painting,” says Amanda Pugh, marketing and development manager for Maryland Center for the Arts, which organizes the festival.

Harford Plein Air Festival. Oct. 8-15. Quick Draw Competition and Art Sale. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 14. Office Street, Bel Air. $15 for adult artists (ages 18 and up), $5 for youth artists. 443-567-5216.

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