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Fall Getaways for the Whole Family: Introduction
The kids may be back in school, but there are still plenty of opportunities to get away for a while. Fall offers a slew of fantastic options for family getaways, from colorful autumn leaf drives to weekend escapes and Halloween fright nights.
Here are month-by-month ideas that will keep you family happy in September, October, and November:Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Make the Most of Long Holiday Weekends
In the fall, there are several long holiday weekends when the kids are out of school. The long weekends around Columbus Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving provide great opportunities to score some much-deserved R & R with a family getaway. Choose a family-friendly resort, plan a mini road trip, or head to a big city.
Turn Veterans Day into a teachable moment for kids, highlighting the value of peace and the sacrifices of the servicemen and women who fought and died for us. If you're close enough to the Washington, D.C., area, take in Arlington National Cemetery and the powerful Vietnam Veterans Memorial. If you live in or near the South, how about a day in Charleston, South Carolina, visiting the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, where kids can actually climb aboard retired military vessels and aircraft like the famed WWII USS Yorktown. Spend a second day discovering the history and charm of Charleston, founded in 1670, and you have a getaway for everyone in the family.... Another option: Visit a Civil War memorial, like the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania, where nearly 9,000 soldiers died as Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy. The battle inspired President Abraham Lincoln's great Gettysburg Address four months later in November 1863, in which he reaffirmed the principles of equality espoused by the US Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Here are more ideas, for getaways over the Columbus Day and Thanksgiving weekends:Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
Take a Colorful Fall Foliage Drive
Has your family discovered the joy of leaf peeping? Nothing makes you appreciate the glory of autumn like a road trip to view fall foliage. From New England to the forests of the West, the landscape changes from green to brilliant coppers, reds, and yellows every fall. It is a sight that children and adults should see at least once in their lives.
If fall foliage is for you, there are a couple of resources that will help you decide where to see the colors at their boldest. The Smokies National Park does a fall foliage prediction map for the entire nation indicating which areas are at their peak over a two-week period. A key clarifies where each foliage-heavy area is in the color-changing process. Weather.com does fall foliage maps every day, indicating what areas are at peak or near peak on that day. Armed with information from both sets of maps, you'll have a chance to plan your leaf-peeping trip with some accuracy.
There are a couple of other advantages to going to the country at this... time of year. For instance, anywhere there are apple orchards, farmers will be making fresh apple cider, one of the great treats of fall. If you go in October, the farmstands are still full of produce with wonderful apples, corn, squash, and other hardy vegetables and fruits. You may even find a place to get a great deal on your pumpkins for Halloween.
Here are more tips and ideas to help plan a family leaf-peeping weekend to remember:Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
Pamper Your Preschooler
For families with preschoolers, the back-to-school season may be the best time of year to grab a getaway at a top family resort. Why? Because prices tumble then and resorts shift their focus to younger kids. Here’s a sampling of destinations that make fall a special time for preschoolers by offering activities and events especially for the under-5 crowd.
You might not have to go far; imagine a weekend trip to the country where you take a family hayride on a pumpkin farm that ends with big cups of hot chocolate. Stay overnight at a B&B and go see an apple pressing the next morning. You return laden with pumpkins, baskets of apples, gallons of apple cider, and maybe a homemade pie or two from a farmstand. Sounds like fall heaven for both little ones and their parents. Here are more ideas for fall fun with preschoolers:Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Go Where the Deals Are
The fall season, when business slows down at resorts and hotels, is a great time to score an affordable getaway. These destinations sweeten the pot with fantastic seasonal promotions:
Continue to 6 of 10 below.
- Fab fall packages in Traverse City, Michigan
TripAdvisor.com calls Traverse City, on the shores of northern Michigan, one of the top 10 places in the country to see beautiful fall foliage.
- Affordable fall getaways at Ohio State Park lodges
Ohio's lodges offer resortlike amenities, a raft of sports from hiking to geocaching that are perfect for families, amid lush green woods and parks.
- Why September is the best month to visit Orlando
This is your chance to stay at some of Orlando's famed resorts while the weather is still great but there are great deals and fewer visitors crowding the beaches.
- Why October is the best month to visit San Diego
As with Orlando, October is on the cusp of the off-season for San Diego resorts and attractions, which means they're offering deals. There's still plenty... of sun and fun for everyone in the family.
- Why November is the best month to visit Jacksonville
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better place to visit in November than Jacksonville, which offers a whole month of free admission for children at some of the city's most popular family attractions.
- Fab fall packages in Traverse City, Michigan
06 of 10
Get Lost in an Amazing Corn Maze
All over the country, giant corn mazes are cropping up to the delight of families who flock to this quintessential fall experience. Wear comfy shoes or boots and bring your sense of adventure. And make sure to wear something bright so that someone can find you if you get lost.
There are mazes in practically every state, from California and Oregon, Wisconsin and Minnesota to Pennsylvania and Vermont. Seen from the air, many are amazing sculptural feats forming intricate designs like giant dinosaurs or Jimmy Fallon in mid-sentence during the Late Show. Choose from the 10 most amazing corn mazes in the United States to explore with kids.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
Plan an Autumn Weekend in the City
Fall can be an ideal time to visit a major metropolis like New York City when temperatures are mild and the city brims with fun activities like organized neighborhood walking tours and playtime in one of the city's many parks, cultural events like museum exhibits for kids, beautiful stores that have nothing but candy, and fantastic Broadway shows for the whole family.
To keep accommodation costs down, consider renting an apartment for a few days through Airbnb, HomeAway, or Craigslist. You'll save by choosing something just outside Manhattan in a less expensive, family-friendly area like Astoria in Queens or just across the Hudson River in Jersey City, New Jersey; both have frequent, direct subway service into Manhattan. Plus, you'll be able to do your own cooking and find places that can accommodate a big family at a decent price.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
Find Spooky Fun During Halloween Season
Halloween is no longer just one day of the year. Now there's an entire season built around the spooky holiday, with destinations, theme parks, zoos, aquariums, resorts, and even cruise lines rolling out the orange-and-black carpet for families. Cities and towns around the country are welcoming haunted houses, scary walks through purpose-built scary neighborhoods, gory displays, boo zoos, and more. These are open for days or weeks, and they are so popular they sell out way before opening day.
Take a look at what goes on in Philadelphia, for instance, during the Halloween Season. It's a lot of frightening fun.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Celebrate the Season at a Fall Festival
Autumn is for festivals to celebrate the season's colors and annual harvests of everything from corn and apples to oysters.
Among the festivals are Renaissance fairs, which have caught on over the past couple of decades, enabling anyone to slip into life in a different era and have fun doing it. The fairs are great fun, which explains why they've been growing in popularity with everyone from toddlers to the family dog.
As with most of the Renaissance fairs around the country, the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire in Manheim, Pennsylvania, will get you into the period mood with a full complement of jousts, tournaments, heroes, damsels, royal folk, and live entertainment on the grounds of Mount Hope Estate & Winery. For Halloween, there is also a Not-So-Spooky Halloween celebration over the last two weeks of October, including three weekends of Halloween Daze and Spooky Knights with treasure hunts, costume competitions, trick or treating, and pumpkin decorating. Plus, there are shows at... the Poe Evermore Dinner Theater. All this makes for diversions that are truly family friendly.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
Feast Your Eyes on the Northern Lights
No need to visit Iceland to see the Northern Lights. You can stay right here in the U.S. of A., where some of the most amazing Aurora Borealis sightings happen in the Great Lakes region every year, typically from fall to spring. The key to seeing the Northern Lights is to go as far north as possible.
The Northern Lights, also called the Aurora Borealis or the "polar aurora," occur when large numbers of electrons originating from the sun stream toward the Earth along its magnetic field and collide with air particles. The air then lights up like a fluorescent light tube about 60 miles above the earth's surface. The resulting colors of the Northern Lights reflect gases found up there.
Where to See Them in the Great Lakes Region
There are several places in the Great Lakes region to see this brilliant phenomenon, but one of the best vantage points is Cook County, on the northeastern tip of Minnesota, where you can lie back and watch purple and neon green light up the sky from late autumn to... early spring.
Sightings are likewise common in the spring and fall on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, one of the northernmost parts of the continental U.S. Locals say they can even see the glowing lights from their yards. The best places to see the Aurora Borealis in Michigan are Marquette or Michigan's northernmost Keweenaw Peninsula.
The northernmost region of Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Superior is a wonderful place to watch the Aurora Borealis in the fall and late spring. Greens and pinks put on an amazing light show. On a clear night, the lights reflect off Lake Superior, the largest expanse of freshwater in the world, creating a spectacular display.