The 30 Best Fall Weekend Getaways
Many of the activities of fall are both adult and kid-friendly, making for a vacation you can all agree on. Here are some ideas for your upcoming autumn excursion.
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Leaf-peep by bicycle in Reno-Tahoe
Getting your children to sit still—no matter the season—is a tall order. So while you and your partner may subscribe to the idea of lounging hand-in-hand on a deck while you overlook the mountains, your kiddos might go stir-crazy in approximately five whole minutes. One stimulating and adventurous idea that doesn’t require too much effort is bicycling. When you visit the Tahoe area, one of the best places to spot fall foliage in America, rent bikes to make your way along the Truckee River. You’ll not only soak up the warm varieties of red, yellow, and orange among the trees, but your kids can race and play in the crisp fall air. For a tougher trek, explore the Mt. Rose Meadows Trail, or for a boozy solution, try the monthly Reno Wine Walk.
Ghost hunt in Charleston
The suffocating summer temperatures of the South have mellowed for mild autumn, so visitors can more comfortably explore the lovely city of Charleston, South Carolina. Plus, the town’s historic heritage is on full display for fall: Check out one of Charleston’s many ghost tours or horse-drawn carriage drives, or head to Boone Hall Plantation for family-friendly pumpkin patch activities. For older visitors, the plantation’s grounds transform into scary mayhem for Boone Hall Fright Nights. You can also explore the cobble-stoned city’s spirit-filled history with its Fall Tours of homes and gardens. For spooky accommodations, stay at the Francis Marion Hotel, one of the 24 most haunted hotels in America.
Pick pumpkins in upstate New York
In the Finger Lakes town of Aurora, your sunshine-filled autumn getaway offers your family the opportunity to visit local pumpkin patches, sample the many wineries in the area (dependent on your kids’ attention span, that is), and the chance to snuggle together by the fireplace. For accommodations, consider the Inns of Aurora, cozy, quaint lodging options that offer views of the nearby lake surrounded by a breathtaking rainbow of fall colors. If you’re a foodie at heart, book a table at Aurora Inn’s recently reopened restaurant, now the 1833 Kitchen & Bar. Even if your kids aren’t exactly exercising their critical taste buds yet, they’ll enjoy the crisp and often sweet flavors of fall on the menu.
Soak up culture in Boston
Make the journey to Beantown in early October before this beloved New England city becomes too cold. Not only are the stunning tones of the fall present throughout its many parks, but Boston offers plenty of frugal fall activities and entertainment for your curious kiddos. From exploring the Boston Public Garden and walking along the Charles River to booking a child-friendly show in the Theater District or touring the Museum of Fine Arts, your fall excursion can double as a learning opportunity. Stay at XV Beacon in a suite built for your family, complete with a rooftop view to toast your apple cider.
Get off the grid in Maine
As much as you (try!) to limit your children’s screen time, the hard truth is that sometimes, plopping them in front of the television is the only solution you have the energy for. Don’t guilt yourself over it when you’re home; instead, use a vacation to prompt your entire family to unplug. One perfect fall spot to do that is Chebeague Island in Maine, a seaside town with a unique take on the season. Here, you can see the autumn colors reflected on the ocean while walking through the picturesque town, sampling seasonal goodies. For a place to stay that’ll get you to step away from your iPhone and switch off the news, book your room at Chebeague Island Inn. Here, there are no TVs or phones. The property also offers L.L Bean bicycles to borrow, and nightly bonfires for roasting s’mores and telling Halloween ghost stories by the sea.
Go glamping beneath Mt. Rushmore
Once the summer crowds have dispersed from this iconic landmark, the Black Hills of South Dakota start to glow with fall colors. And there’s no better time to take in the affordable pricing, with under-$200 glamping not as expensive as you may think at the unique and buzz-worthy resort Under Canvas (open through September). The tents even include wood-burning stoves to keep you cozy at night. For indoor accommodations a bit later in the season, stay at K Bar S Lodge in Keystone, one of the 21 nicest small towns everyone should visit before they’re 50. Some rooms even have a view of Mt. Rushmore. For an authentic Native American experience, visitors are welcome at October’s Black Hills Powwow (He Sapa Wacipi).
Sip on beer in Vermont
Gone are the days when you and your main squeeze could spontaneously take off for the weekend, packing only a small backpack for your romantic escape. But just because you’re parents now doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little alone time after the kids are worn out from leaf peeping and pumpkin picking. In Burlington, Vermont, book your stay at Hotel Vermont, which features the nation’s first beer concierge. Here, experts will take you through the hops and malts of the region, including Hill Farmstead, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Heady Topper, and more. You can even order alcohol-free apple cider so your kiddo won’t feel left out between sips. Check out our list of the best craft beer by state.
Zip-line through the forest in New Hampshire
Forget walking or biking: Your family is made of endless courage, with a need for speed and adventure. To keep everyone’s heart racing, head to Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. It’s just a few hours away from many New England cities including Boston and Burlington, Vermont, and offers a mountain escape from the stresses of your overbooked schedule. Stay at the Omni Mount Washington Resort, where you’ll see the changing tones of the White Mountains’ fall leaves from afar; your family definitely can’t wait to explore, so go zip-lining through all of the colors.
Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
Winding through one of the most celebrated mountain ranges on the East Coast, the Blue Ridge Parkway attracts thousands of peepers each season. It’s truly one of the 25 best road trips in America, offering plenty of driving time with captivating autumn views and overlooks. The cultural hot spot of Asheville, North Carolina might be your best bet as a base for your Blue Ridge getaway. You can book the “America’s Favorite Drive Package” at the Omni Grove Park Inn, which includes a guidebook, accommodations, parking, and daily breakfast. It doesn’t hurt that the historical hotel is also set upon a hill, giving you yet another Instagram-worthy photo opportunity.
Enjoy free activities in Baltimore
Charm City is even more charming in autumn with over 200 free arts and cultural events during its month-long Free Fall program. Visitors can enjoy concerts, dance and theater performances, art exhibits, and tons of family-friendly activities throughout the city. Plus, fall is peak seafood season in Maryland, with events including Baltimore Seafood Festival and Oysterfest 13. Fans of the macabre looking for spooky fall fun can check out the International Edgar Allan Poe Festival and Awards in the author’s hometown. For an amazing location and views over the Inner Harbor, stay at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore.