Fall is a favorite time of year for so many people, and for such good reason! The change of colors, the cozy evenings with blankets and bonfires, picking pumpkins, and just enjoying the cooler temperatures. It’s a perfect time to go out and explore!
If you’re looking for something to do in and around Cape Girardeau, Missouri this fall, we have quite a few fun family-friendly options for you!
Take a Scenic Drive
One of the best things about fall is those colors! The peak time for fall color in Missouri is usually around mid-October. You can check the MO Department of Conservation website for fall color reports, starting mid-September. By mid-November, the fall colors are usually finished.
Trail of Tears State Park
This is one of the best places around Cape Girardeau to take in all the fall foliage! Take a slow drive through this state park and just soak in the scenery! Make sure you drive to the Scenic Overlook and walk out over the boardwalk. There is a parking lot for this lookout, and the path is wheelchair and stroller accessible and has a railing for safety.
If you want to make an afternoon of it, bring a picnic lunch. There are several picnic areas throughout the park, some with playgrounds nearby, and some overlooking the river or Lake Boutin. You can also go for a hike on one of the many trails, fish, and stop in at the Visitor’s Center.
Go to a Fair or Festival
SEMO District Fair
The SEMO District Fair is held at the Arena Park grounds every September. This year (2023), the fair starts Saturday, September 9th, and ends Saturday, September 16th. The cost of entry is $5 per person (age 12+). But if you come on “Thrifty Tuesday or Thursday”, entry is discounted to $3. Parking is free, and there is a tram running to take you to the gate if needed. Check the SEMO Fair website for tram and entry hours.
Each day, there are events happening at the Grandstand, such as concerts, tractor pulls, and the demolition derby. These events require tickets to be purchased.
The carnival is open daily, with armbands available for purchase. Check the fair website for prices and carnival hours for each day.
Kids will enjoy walking through all the farm animals in the agricultural exhibits, as well as interacting with animals in the petting zoo area!
And don’t forget about all those food trucks!
East Perry Community Fair
The “best little fair in the land.” This fair is held annually, the first Friday and Saturday after Labor Day, in Altenburg, MO (about 40 miles from Cape Girardeau). Admission and parking are free. This fair is considerably smaller than the SEMO District Fair, but don’t be fooled – it can get very crowded!
There is a carnival, food trucks, agricultural exhibits, and events. An event that our kids always enjoy watching is the mule jumping competition.
Riverfront Fall Festival
The Riverfront Fall Festival is put on by Visit Cape. This year’s date is Saturday, October 21st. The festival goes on from 11:00am to 6:00pm and is held on Riverfront Park and Water Streets in downtown Cape.
There will be vendors, food trucks, a pet costume parade, and live music.
Visit a Family Farm
Beggs Family Farm
This one is a fall tradition in our family. We never miss a year! There is so much to do here, and more is added each year! Beggs Family Farm is located outside of Sikeston, Missouri (about 30 minutes from Cape Girardeau). Beggs season is just the month of October, and they are open to the public on weekends only. Check their website for daily hours and tickets.
Admission is $15.95 – $18.95 (depending on the day, as well as whether you buy online or at the gate). I would suggest signing up for their email list before the season opens to get in on their ticket flash sale, where you can get them for a few dollars cheaper.
Things to do at Beggs Family Farm include visiting & feeding several types of animals from cows and goats to camels and a kangaroo. There is a tree house playground, a huge bounce pillow, gem mining, slides, pony rides, and so much more!
Don’t miss the Hillbilly Pig Race, or the giant corn maze (which changes designs year to year). Make sure before you leave to take a hayride to the pumpkin fields to pick out your pumpkins for the year!
It’s important to note that cash is accepted only at the admission gate. All extra attractions and concessions accept cards only!
Knowlan Family Farm
Knowlan Family Farm is in Burfordville, right outside of Jackson, MO. The farm store is open Monday-Saturday 9:00am – 5:00pm, and Sunday 1:00pm-5:00pm.
In the farm store, you can buy fresh produce and other local items. They also have some kids’ activities, like pedal cars and a small zipline, a playground, and a bounce pillow. Activities require tickets, which are $2.50/ticket.
We come here mainly for the U-pick apples. They suggest checking their Facebook page for updates on which varieties of apples are ripe at which times.
Browse a Farmer’s Market
Cape Riverfront Market
Stop by the Riverfront Market for over 2 dozen local vendors, every Saturday from 8:00am – 12:00pm through October 28th. As the name suggests, the market is located at the Cape Girardeau riverfront.
Come to shop for produce, locally made crafts, baked goods (highly recommend the Amish donuts!), and organic products. Stay and listen to some local music.
Cape Farmer’s Market
The Cape Farmer’s Market is held in the West Park Mall parking lot. They are open every Thursday from 10:00am – 3:00pm until the Thursday before Thanksgiving.
Go to pick out fresh produce, and fresh flowers, as well as other artisan items such as alpaca products, maple syrup, and jams. Enjoy the fresh, homemade donuts and fried pies, or come for lunch at one of the food trucks.
Go For a Bike Ride
Cape LaCroix Recreation Trail
The Cape LaCroix Recreation Trail is a 6-mile long trail, made for walking, running, biking, or rollerblading. It is a paved trail that runs throughout Cape Girardeau.
You can get on this trail at many different spots, but our favorite during the fall is to get on at the Osage Center. This is because this part of the trail takes you through Cape Woods, which makes for some nice scenery. Also, we frequently spot deer in this area, as well as lots of turtles if you look over the bridges that run across the creeks.
Some other places to get on the trail are at Arena Park, at the Shawnee Park Center, or on Mount Auburn Street, behind the Quality Car Wash (there is parking for the trail there!) There is a full list of the trail sections and mileage on the City of Cape website.
If you are more of a mountain biking family, there’s a place in Jackson where you can ride! Klaus Park is located at 4913 Old Cape Rd E. The trail is a 4.5-mile loop, and you will start beyond the pavilions, going to the right.
This trail has some mountain biking features such as small jumps, berms, and quick turns.
They do a great job keeping up with trail conditions on their Facebook page, so make sure you check it out there before making plans!
Cape Safari Park
Cape Safari Park (previously known as Lazy L Safari) is a family-owned walk-through zoo in Cape Girardeau. The animals here include several species of deer, camel, kangaroo, sloth, parrots, fox, lemurs, alligators, tortoises, and more!
Fall hours (September and October) are weekends from 10:00am -6:00pm. Admission is $11 per adult and $9 for children (ages 2-17).
Each year, they have an event called “Boo at the Zoo” for Halloween. It is held on the last Saturday of October. Kids can come dressed in their costumes (or not) and trick-or-treat around the zoo! My kids really enjoy the events that they put on here!
Pick a few, or all, of these activities around Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and add them to your family’s fall bucket list! Make this a fall full of memories!
Missouri Conservation Day on the River
This is an event that our kids really love! We try to go each year! This year, Day on the River is Saturday, September 16th, from 10:00am – 2:00pm at the riverfront.
This is a free, family-friendly event with hands-on activities for the kids, including netting fish commonly found in the Mississippi River out of a tub, arts and crafts, face painting, and observing other small Missouri wildlife.
You can also opt to take a boat ride with a conservation agent down the Mississippi! This is also free of charge!
Conservation Nature Center Events
The Conservation Nature Center, located in Cape County Park North, frequently holds free fun and educational events.
This year, there is a “Family Fishing Casting Carnival” where kids can learn to properly cast a fishing rod (September 13th), “Gather ‘Round Ye Olde Campfire”, where they will welcome in autumn with a campfire, nature-themed stories, refreshments, and campfire songs.
That is just a couple of the activities going on at the Nature Center this fall. Find more at their website. Or you can always visit (for free) during open hours to experience all the interactive exhibits and animals on site.
Manifolds on Main Street Car Show
The largest car show between St. Louis and Memphis takes place in downtown Cape on September 17th, from 9:00am – 4:00pm. The car show is free to attend.
Cat Ranch Art Guild Fall Event
Located in Marble Hill, the Cat Ranch Art Guild is hosting a family-friendly fall event on Saturday, September 23rd. There will be arts and crafts vendors, face painting, blacksmith demonstrations, hay rides, and food vendors.
There’s so much to get out and see and do in and around Cape Girardeau, Missouri this fall! Make a new tradition for your family, or try something totally new to you! Get out and enjoy the autumn weather!
Next, check out:
- Fun Things to Do in Southeast Missouri for Families
- 21 Best Family-Friendly Things to Do in Missouri this Fall
- Ultimate Guide to Cape Girardeau with Kids
- Expert Tips for a Memorable Visit to the St. Louis Zoo
- Elephant Rocks State Park in Missouri
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