Feel Like Your Fall is Flopping? Here’s a Student’s Guide to Having an Amazing Autumn During this Busy Time of Year


With weekly football games, club meetings, and homecoming prep, the first quarter is an exciting time of the school year, but it can also be overwhelming. The academic and social responsibilities that students have during these months can distract them from the bountiful autumn season itself, and all it has to offer.

Getting into the fall spirit can be difficult as a high school student. Coping with a plethora of applications, SAT prep, and an increase in academic responsibilities during this busy time of year can draw attention away from the beauty, festivity, and spirit that Autumn holds. Pumpkin Cream Cold Brews are not the only Fall items that Northern Virginia has to offer for busy students. Autumn in NOVA is an exciting time of year, filled with bustling festivals, beautiful hikes, and spooky scares. Here is a must-read list of all things Fall that you need to put on your to-do list this Autumn.

Cox Farms and Fields of Fear

Cox Farms in Centerville is arguably one of the greatest Autumn attractions in Northern Virginia. Every year, Cox Farms hosts a world-famous Fall Festival from Mid-September through early November. The festival opened this year on Sep. 17 and will remain open every Thursday through Monday until Nov. 8. It is open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM in September and 10 AM to 5 PM in November. 

Sitting on a beautiful 116 acres, Cox Farms’ Fall festival has much to offer; including live music, live farm animals, large slides, hayrides, a corn maze, a nature trail, lots of pumpkins, a full-size replica of Stonehenge made completely out of styrofoam (not sure why), a Corner Market filled with delicious food, drinks, merchandise, and so much more! 

The Fall Festival at Cox Farms is a great place for everybody to get outside and enjoy the season, but the real fun for teenagers starts after dark, when the festival is over and Fields of Fear begins. The Fall Festival closes at 6:00 PM, and at 7:30 PM the farm doors reopen as the fields turn dark and the moon goes up. Every Friday and Saturday night from Sep. 23 to Nov. 8 from 7:30 PM to 11:00 PM, Cox Farms transforms into Fields of Fear. A haunted corn maze, a deadly hayride, a nightmare forest, and some more delicious food; all attractions that bring hundreds of teenagers a weekend looking to get spooked. Fields of Fear is a must-visit event this Autumn to get you in the Halloween spirit.

Scenic Hiking Spots and Walks

As the leaves change color and the air turns crisp, Northern Virginia transforms into an Autumn wonderland with plenty of places to walk, hike, drive, and enjoy for free. Northern Virginia is home to one of the top ten fitness trails in the country, Burke Lake Park. This park in Fairfax Station holds a beautiful lake surrounded by miles of walking trails, perfect for viewing the changing leaves while enjoying fresh air and exercise. If you’re interested in a more challenging hike, then your best bet would be Great Falls Park in Mclean. While there is a $20 per car entrance fee, it is worth the money to experience all the park has to offer. The miles of hiking trails along the Potomac River make this park the perfect Fall destination. Another place to enjoy for free is Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria. While this one is a little bit further from Potomac Falls, it is totally worth the drive to visit the largest park in Fairfax County. This park has a half-mile boardwalk trail through its natural, vast wetlands. Its large forests and observation tower make this park a great place to see wildlife! Getting outside and enjoying nature is super important for highschool students in the Fall. This stressful and busy time of year can take a toll on students’ mental health, so it is super important to take breaks and breathe in the fresh Autumn air whenever possible.

Cozy and Creepy Playlist

Every adventure needs a soundtrack. Whether you’re studying, sitting by the fire, spending time with others, or driving with the windows down and the heat turned up, the right playlist is simply an Autumn necessity for a student. Here are some songs for all your Fall needs, whether you’re carving pumpkins with friends or working on your English assignment.

  1. Wake Me Up When September Ends – Greenday
  2. Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
  3. Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood
  4. Dark Red – Steve Lacy
  5. Sparks – Coldplay
  6. we fell in love in october – girl in red
  7. Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
  8. Matilda – Harry Styles
  9. Telephones – Vacations
  10. Bad Habit – Steve Lacy
  11. Heaven or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins
  12. Linger – The Cranberries
  13. Touch – Cigarettes After Sex
  14. Kiss Me – Sixpence None The Richer
  15. Drunk on Halloween – Wallows
  16. Head Over Heels – Tears For Fears
  17. Zombie – The Cranberries

Halloween Must-(Re)Watches

If you ever do have time to sit down and watch a movie this season, it is super important to find the right one. Whether it’s a scary film or a Disney Channel classic, watching movies is a great way to get into the Halloween spirit. Here is a full list of movies you need to watch this October and November, whether they’re new to you or you’ve seen them a thousand times.

  •   Halloween series (1978-2022): The scary and gruesome story of serial killer Michael Myers that lasts 13 movies and over 40 decades, with the final installment of the series, Halloween Ends, in theaters Oct. 13. 
  • Hocus Pocus 1 and 2 (1993 and 2022): A Disney Channel Halloween classic that must be watched every October. Available to stream on Disney+. On Sep. 30 of 2022, after almost 30 years, a sequel was released to this movie featuring the same three witches, and a brand new story. This is also available to stream on Disney+.
  • Knives Out (2019): While this is not a Halloween movie, its chilling, hilarious muder mystery storyline is perfect for this time of year. An A-List cast, a POC female lead, and Chris Evans in that sweater; this movie has everything, including a sequel set to be released before Christmas this year. You can watch this movie and its upcoming sequel on Netflix.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001): Out of all of the Harry Potter films, this one creates the most Autumn comfort. Its nostalgia, aesthetic, and Halloween feast scene makes it a great rewatch for this season. It is available to stream on HBO Max.
  • Scream (1996): As one of the most influential horror movies ever, Scream is funny, scary, and clever, making it a go-to horror movie to watch this October. It offers a unique cinematic experience with an outstanding cast and screenplay. You can watch it this month on Hulu or Amazon Prime Video.
  • The Conjuring (2013): This modern yet retro haunted house movie is a great option for horror newbies and connoisseurs alike. This is another well made scary movie that can be watched anytime of year, but it is even spookier when watched around Halloween. HBO Max streams this movie and its sequels all year long.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993): This eerie stop-motion film is a unique take on the Halloween genre. It is technically a children’s movie, but its spooky animation can make even adults uncomfortable. It really depends on one’s taste, but this movie is a great choice to watch this month. Its creative plot and detailed animation makes it a Halloween classic that will never get old. This film is available to stream on Disney+ and should definitely be added to your October watchlist.