Leaf-peeping by bicycle in Reno-Tahoe
PSHAW PHOTO/ShutterstockGetting your children to sit stil—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 idea that is stimulating and adventurous, without requiring too much effort, is cycling. When you visit the Tahoe area, you can rent bikes to make your way along the Truckee River. Here, 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, you can also explore the Mt. Rose Meadows Trail, or for a boozy solution, try the Reno Wine Walk. Not a fan of pumpkin carving? Here's how to celebrate, sans the mess.
Venture through a cave in Kentucky
Zack Frank/ShutterstockWhile you might have visions of your handsome, sweet children nestled in a pile of leaves with big smiles and matching sweaters, the reality is that looking at trees can get boring real fast. (And hey, your phone only allows so many photos before storage is full!) To get a bit of peeping and a lot of variety, head south to Bowling Green, Kentucky. Though you might not first think of this state as a place for autumn adventuring, this town is only four hours away from Indianapolis in the heart of South Central Kentucky's Cave Country. Here, you can get your heap of leaves, and then take your children to explore the world's longest-known ave system, Mammoth Cave National Park. In the area, you can also book a number of hiking, equestrian, and biking adventures, all with idealistic 60 to 70-degree temperatures. Hitting the road to get there? Listen to these family-friendly audiobooks on the way.
Go pumpkin picking in upstate New York
Romiana Lee/ShutterstockThe beauty of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York is how it caters to a variety of interests, no matter how many birthday candles were last on your cake. In the 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 kid's attention span, that is), and the chance to snuggle together by many fireplaces. For a place to stay, consider the Inns of Aurora, a cozy, quaint hotel that offers views of the nearby lake surrounded by the breathtaking rainbow of fall colors. And hey, if you and your partner are foodies at heart, consider booking a table at the Aurora Inn Dining Room, which was recently featured at the James Beard House. Even if your kiddos aren't exactly exercising their critical taste buds yet, they'll enjoy the crisp and often sweet flavors of fall on the menu. Need some sweet dessert ideas for fall? Get started with these.
Go hiking and get inspired in England
mubus7/shutterstockIt's not just the United States that offers the idealistic backdrop for fall exploration. If you're up for the task of trekking your family across the pond, pinpoint Berkshire, England as your vacation destination. Here, you can explore the National Trust Park, that offers miles of woodland paths and breathtaking views. Especially for the outdoorsy family that can handle some chillier temperatures, the rolling hills and the plethora of bike trails will make for a getaway your children will always treasure. For a bit of a splurge that'll give you the R&R you've definitely earned, consider staying at the five-star Relais & Chateaux country house, Cliveden House that's right in the middle of the park. The budding writer or bookworm in your family might enjoy The Cliveden Literary Festival, which celebrates great writers throughout history. Before you go, check out these fascinating facts about famous writers.
See shows—and views!—in Boston
Lorna Wu 2/ShutterstockMake the journey to B-town in early October before it becomes too cold in this beloved Northeast town. Not only are the stunning tones of the fall present throughout the many parks, but Boston offers plenty of 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, too. Stay at XV Beacon in a suite built for your family, complete with a rooftop view to toast your apple cider.
Go off the grid in Maine
Doug Lemke/ShutterstockAs 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 energy to try. Don't guilt yourself over it while you're home and instead, take the excuse of a vacation to really prompt your entire family to unplug. One fall must-see 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 prompt you to truly 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 rent and the staff will set up a private bonfire to roast s'mores and tell Halloween ghost stories by the sea. Did someone say s'mores? Here are delicious s'mores recipes, no campfire required.
Sip on beer in Vermont
studio23/ShutterstockGone 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 kiddos 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. Hey, you can even order an 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.
Go ziplining through the forest in New Hampshire
Olesia Bilkei/ShutterstockForget walking or biking, your family is made of endless courage, with a thirst for speed and adventure. To keep everyone's heart racing (and happy), head to Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. It's just a few hours away from many New England cities, like Boston or 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 fall leaves on White Mountain from afar, or since your family definitely can't wait to dive in, you can go zip lining or take a lift through all of the colors.
Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
Anton Ermachkov/ShutterstockOne of the most celebrated mountain ranges to explore on the East Coast, attracting thousands of peepers each season is the Blue Ridge Parkway. Appalachian Trail hikers, families throughout the South and North, flock to this seasonal destination, which offers plenty of driving time with captivating views and overlooks. If you have a baby under the age of one that is instantly sleepy when in a car, Asheville might be your best bet for a semi-relaxing 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. Don't be surprised if you run into a ghost. The Omni Grove Park Inn is one of the most haunted hotels in America!
Enjoy campfire S'Mores in Colorado
Deyan G. Georgiev/ShutterstockSet your sights to Telluride, Colorado, not just for skiing but for fall-themed excursions, too. Your family will enjoy exploring the nearby San Sophia Mountain Range, as it happily changes colors throughout the season, complete with countless hiking trails of every skill level. For a once-in-a-lifetime ride your curious children will never forget, stay at the Madeline Hotel and Residences, which offer the Glider Air Tours. Here, you can take a half-hour or full-hour ride in an Ask-21 glider that gives a bird's-eye view of the mountains, cutting it close to every peak, valley, lake, and meadow. For something a tad less intense, you can also go on a Jeep tour across the Million Dollar Highway for stellar leaf peeping perks. To lower your heart rate from all the excitement, your family can settle into the evening, counting stars and cuddling with wool blankets at hotel's Sky Terrace by a fire pit. Don't forget to order s'mores!