Fall Family Road Trips that will Thrill the Kids
Fall decor, pumpkin treats, and farm festivals are finally here! If you want to make the most of the cozy season, have you considered planning a road trip with your family? Road trips are the perfect, quick escape from the city where you can dive into family-friendly fall and winter festivities. Whether it’s apple picking or nature hikes, tractor rides, or fudge tastings, your kiddos will have plenty of fun activities to do, all while exploring the history of unique towns. We’ve rounded up some of the best road trip destinations for your family this year. Get your train tickets or GPS ready, because these are fall vacays you do not want to miss!
From fall foliage to beautiful vineyards and historic villages to botanical gardens, the crisp days of autumn are an excellent time to discover central Massachusetts. This itinerary makes for a great weekend trip! Start by exploring New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill in Boylston, MA, with Myths, Magic & Monsters in October, then enjoy lunch in their charming café. (While there, buy tickets for their Nov/Dec Night Lights celebration, an experience not to be missed!) Afterward, drive around the reservoir to see the Old Stone Church, built in 1890, where fall foliage is a stunning backdrop for photos and a lovely stroll.
In the afternoon, journey through time at the Worcester Art Museum, whose 38,000 artworks include objects from ancient Antioch, European Old Masters, early American paintings, Japanese ukiyo-e prints, and more.
Are you craving a glass of local wine? Beautiful Agronomy Farm Vineyard in Oakham, MA offers flights, pours, and bottle sales, plus a delicious selection of snacks in their tasting room, including local cheeses, crackers, nuts, spreads, chips, and chocolate.
Later, check in to the Publick House Historic Inn in Sturbridge. Nestled on acres of beautiful countryside, you’ll be greeted with warm pecan sweet rolls at the Inn’s famous Bake Shoppe. Choose a room in the Historic Inn, dating from 1771, or the Chamberlain House, a more recent addition.
Spend your second day at Old Sturbridge Village exploring the 200+ acres and 40 historical buildings of this recreated 1830s rural New England town. Be sure to stay for Phantoms by Firelight from 4:30-9:00 pm on October weekends to enjoy “spooky delights” from carnivalesque performances and candy to storytelling by the bonfire. Or visit later in the season for Christmas by Candlelight, a unique look at the history of holiday traditions.
For information on these attractions, additional lodging options, restaurants, and more visit discovercentralma.org.
Whether you’re interested in spooky historical tours, farmer’s markets or stunning nature walks, Westchester County is a must-visit destination this fall. See how you can take advantage of seasonal offerings and start planning your itinerary today.
• The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze: If you’ve never walked through rows of more than 7,000 illuminated jack o’lanterns, now’s your chance. This annual Van Cortlandt Manor spectacle runs from September 15 – November 19 and is great for all ages.
• Lyndhurst After Dark: See the mansion like never before on this spooky tour. Enjoy seasonal decorations throughout the property and hear about the slightly darker side of Lyndhurst’s history. Nightly tours run October 19 – 22 and October 26 – 29.
• Farmers Markets: Westchester County has a wonderful variety of farmer’s markets to explore. Stop by for locally grown produce, delicious desserts, craft sangria and so much more. Spend a fall morning outside and support local Westchester artisans.
• Jay Day at Jay Heritage Center: Jay Day has fun for the whole family—pony rides, apple coring, live music, balloon sculptors and more. Head to Jay Heritage Center on October 1 for this annual fall fair.
• Croton Gorge Park: Take advantage of peak leaf season with a two-mile hike through the Croton Gorge Park. Enjoy gorgeous vistas of the New Croton Dam and its vibrant autumn colors.
Start planning your fall trip to Westchester County today.
Are you in need of a peaceful, relaxing, and scenic getaway? Frederick County, Maryland, can provide just that! History lovers will enjoy learning about Frederick’s part during the American Civil War, including battlefields, Monocacy National Battlefield, and South Mountain State Battlefield. Families can take beautiful hikes through Chimney Rock in Catoctin Mountain Park or Cunningham Falls State Park.
You could even spend the day with animals at Catoctin Wildlife Preserve or ride a themed train on Walkersville Southern Railroad. And with 20 nationally-branded hotels and camping sites nearby, booking a stay is easy.
For families traveling this fall, plan to visit fall festivals on local farms. Conquer the twists and turns of the corn maze, bounce to new heights on the jumping pillows, get hands-on petting and feeding the farm animals, and pick out the perfect pumpkin.
Celebrate autumn by attending Colorfest in Thurmont, Maryland, October 14-15th. Colorfest is one of the largest outdoor craft shows on the East Coast. Explore amazing crafts, art, jewelry, clothing, and various delicious foods. Or, look ahead to Sailing through the Winter Solstice event beginning on November 18th—experience over 25 lighted boats displayed in Carroll Creek Park in Downtown Frederick. More info at Visitfrederick.org.
Want an all-in-one destination that will guarantee endless family adventures this Fall? The Kartrite Resort in the Catskill Mountains is home to NY’s biggest indoor waterpark and much more. Spend an entire day at the 11 waterpark attractions just a 90-minute drive from the city, then check into one of the new and modern resort suites to get some rest. All suites (available as 1, 2, or 3 bedroom and bunk bed suites) come with four passes for the waterpark for the day of check-in and check-out.
Beyond the water fun, enjoy The Kartrite’s seven eclectic eateries and bars, a full daily activities schedule, and soak in the fresh Catskills air with archery, goat yoga, or hiking on up to 6 miles of trails. Plus, head indoors to endless fun at Playopolis arcade, laser tag, ropes course, rock climbing, bowling, virtual reality, and more. You could even plan your trip around one of the themed weeks: October 26-30: Halloween Hullabaloo, November 23-27: Friendsgiving Week, or December 21-27: Holly Jolly Holidays Week. Exciting promotions and packages await if you have a special occasion like a birthday or bar/bat mitzvah!
The Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle, located 80 miles from New York City in Bucks County, PA, are two National Historical Landmark sites celebrating the legacy of Henry Chapman Mercer, American archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramicist, and scholar.
The Mercer Museum is a six-story concrete castle built between 1913 and 1916 that features both seasonal exhibitions and a core museum collection of over 17,000 pre-industrial tools. This permanent collection offers visitors a unique window into pre-industrial America through sixty different crafts and trades and is one of the most comprehensive portraits of pre-industrial America.
Fonthill Castle, built between 1908 and 1912, was the home of Henry Mercer and served as a showplace for his collection of tiles and prints, with the interior featuring Mercer’s renowned, hand-crafted ceramic tiles designed at the height of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Psst..check out 10 Recipes to Make After Apple Picking
For a perfect family road trip, visit Rockland County – just 30 miles north of NYC. Situated along the majestic Hudson River and nestled among thousands of acres of untouched parkland, you can expect lots of outdoor fun: hiking trails, mountain vistas, and plenty of fall foliage. Rockland County also offers exquisite waterfront villages with world-class restaurants, art galleries, theatres, shopping, historic sites, and more!
Fall is the perfect time to explore Rockland County. Visit one of the many farms and farmer’s markets where you’ll find fresh produce, pumpkin and apple picking, and more! Stop by Dr. Davies Farm, one of Rockland’s oldest working farms, where you can pick your own pumpkins and apples, enjoy hayrides, and shop for homemade pies, donuts, and cookies. You can also sample delicious hard ciders at the newly opened Red Barn Cidery at Dr. Davies Farm. Enjoy sweet ciders made from Dr. Davies’ apples, food trucks, and live music.
With so much nature surrounding you, choosing just one hiking adventure can be tricky. For a fun family outing, visit Bear Mountain State Park – an outdoor lover’s paradise! The park features various outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, picnicking, boating, and fishing, as well as the park’s Trailside Museums and Zoo. Visitors can also enjoy spectacular panoramic views from Perkins Memorial Tower, located at the summit of Bear Mountain.
To get to Bear Mountain, take the Palisades Interstate Parkway (PIP), a scenic 42-mile ride from the George Washington Bridge along the Hudson River Palisades that features vibrant foliage and breathtaking views of the Hudson River. After a day of exploration and before heading home, enjoy dinner at the 1915 Bar & Restaurant located at the historic Bear Mountain Inn.
Embark on a captivating fall road trip through Rhode Island, where history, mystery, and autumnal beauty await. Here is your itinerary for an unforgettable journey!
• Providence Ghost Tour (Available throughout October): Begin your road trip in Providence, where the city’s rich haunted history comes to life. Join the Providence Ghost Tour, the city’s longest-running haunted history tour, perfect for families. Wander through the eerie tales and ghostly legends that haunt the city’s streets. Learn more at visitrhodeisland.com/event/providence-ghost-tour/92438/.
• Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular (until October 31): Continue your family journey to Roger Williams Park Zoo, where the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular awaits. The kids will love immersing themselves in the enchanting ambiance of Halloween with this nationally acclaimed event. Marvel at thousands of intricately carved pumpkins, each telling a unique story. Check out visitrhodeisland.com/event/jack-o-lantern-spectacular/92071/ for all the details.
• Oktoberfest 2023: Head to Pawtucket to celebrate Oktoberfest at the German-American Cultural Society of RI. Experience the Bavarian tradition of the Wies’n with authentic German cuisine, lively music, and delicious beer for adults only (of course!). Join in the festive atmosphere! All the details can be found at visitrhodeisland.com/event/oktoberfest-2023/95191/.
• Fall Foliage: As you traverse Rhode Island, take advantage of the opportunity to witness the vibrant fall foliage. Explore numerous trails and parks, such as Lincoln Woods State Park, to soak in the breathtaking autumn views. Experience the essence of the season in all of its colorful splendor!
• Rhode Island Lighthouses: Rhode Island is a haven for lighthouse enthusiasts. Take some time during your journey to explore the unique and historic lighthouses that dot the coastline. Each lighthouse has its own fascinating story and charm, making for memorable photo stops along the way.
With a blend of spooky tales, mesmerizing pumpkin displays, Bavarian festivities, fall foliage, and iconic lighthouses, your fall road trip through Rhode Island promises excitement and serenity, ensuring memories that will last a lifetime.
From beer gardens to corn mazes, state parks to beautiful art, fall is an excellent time for a weekend trip to MetroWest Boston! Start your visit at Hopkinton State Park, enjoying outdoor activities highlighting gorgeous fall foliage, from kayaking on the lake to amazing trails for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and more.
When you’ve had your fill of the outdoors, visit some indoor beauty at the Danforth Art Museum in Framingham, a jewel box housing 3,500+ pieces reflecting works of art from the 18th century to the present.
No visit to Framingham is complete without a stop at legendary Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers, one of 17 craft breweries in MetroWest. Jack’s autumnal limited-edition beers include Pumpkin Crop Lager and Copper Legend, brewed for Oktoberfest.
After the sun goes down, head to Hanson’s Farm for their Haunted Hayride or corn maze, followed by a delicious cider donut. Get a great night’s sleep at the Fairfield Inn in Sudbury or in one of the historic rooms at The Wayside Inn, the oldest inn in America.
In the morning, tour the Wayside’s 100-acre property, including the Old Barn’s antique coaches and farming tools, the Redstone Schoolhouse from the poem Mary Had a Little Lamb, the Grist Mill, Chapel, and beautiful grounds. Enjoy a gourmet lunch at the Inn before making the short drive to Hudson.
Spend the afternoon at the American Heritage Museum, where your tour starts in a WWI trench, listening to a nurse explain what it was like on the Front while bombs explode above you and the floor shakes. This extraordinary museum features historic aircraft, tanks, cars, and rare relics from the Revolutionary War to today, including one-of-a-kind artifacts, immersive exhibits, and living history events. Afterward, wander the charming shops and boutiques of downtown Hudson.
For information on these attractions, additional lodging options, restaurants, and more, visit metrowestvisitors.org.
From fall foliage to harvest festivals, apple-picking to glorious hikes, the cooler days of autumn are a great time to visit north central Massachusetts. Start your weekend trip at the beautiful Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, housing historical collections of Shaker material, Hudson River and New England landscape paintings, folk portraits, and indigenous art and artifacts on a glorious 210-acre landscape with stunning views and miles of walking trails.
Check in to Great Wolf Lodge New England in Fitchburg in the afternoon for the ultimate adventure. Let the kids play in the massive 84-degree indoor waterpark, exclusive to guests. The fun continues throughout the resort: battle a dragon while playing MagiQuest, test your skills at the Northern Lights Arcade, challenge the indoor ropes course, and come together for nightly Story Time.
After dinner, head to Groton Hill Music Center for a fantastic folk, jazz, classical, or Broadway concert, then back to the Lodge for a great night’s sleep.
Start day two at Wachusett Mountain Ski Area or Wachusett Mountain State Reservation in Princeton, where there’s no shortage of seasonal festivals, from Oktoberfest to Apple Fest, or take in the stunning foliage by hiking to the mountain’s summit for a scenic 4-state view.
In the afternoon, explore Davis Farmland in Sterling, the ultimate hands-on discovery farm for kids. Pet, cuddle, feed, and groom North America’s largest sanctuary of heritage farm animals, or play in the Imagine Acres and Adventure Land. Everyone will love harvesting apples and pumpkins in the orchard.
For information on these attractions, other farms and orchards, additional lodging options, restaurants, and more, visit www.visitnorthcentral.com.
Festivals, fairs, fun! Just 25 miles north of NYC, Nyack packs the fall season with non-stop family-friendly activities. What’s unique is the unique blend of events and experiences the village offers visitors and residents alike.
Attractions this year include the Phoenix Festival: Live Arts in Nyack – 25 live theater, dance, and music performances presented by top NYC professionals on indoor and outdoor stages. Among the ten shows to choose from is a for-all-ages stage adaptation of Wind in the Willows.
Also on the docket is OctoberFest – beer, yes, but fun food and kid games, too. Nyack’s Famous Street Fair (now in its 50th year!) – inviting you to browse festive goods offered by 300+ vendors and scores of local businesses. Rockland County Fashion Week features models of all ages and sizes and some fashionable doggies!
What would Halloween be without Nyack? Festivities get underway with a village-wide ‘Spirit of Nyack’ kickoff event. Then comes the parade – the costumes, the crowd (10,000+), the marching bands, and the sheer exuberance make this celebration one of the biggest and zaniest in the US.
Your family will also love the weekly Farmer’s Markets, featuring live music, fresh goods from local farms and artisans, and plenty of kid-friendly activities.
The great thing about Nyack events is…Nyack! Possibilities for memorable experiences – such as adventurous shopping – abound. One-of-a-kind small businesses offer hard-to-find treasures – many imported from sustainable sources in the U.S. and worldwide.
A draw for shoppers who like to marry a good deal with a good meal is Nyack’s tempting array of casual eateries and fine dining establishments. The village is a hub for culinary arts education, food enthusiasts, and the final product – the best food on the plate for the discerning diner.
The river is Nyack’s jewel in the crown – majestic Hudson vistas from the shore, hikes at the river’s edge or on Hook Mountain ridge, or fun on the river itself – sailing, kayaking, and water sports as summer stretches into fall. Combining events with a special blend of memorable experiences, Nyack is the perfect place to enjoy the Hudson Valley’s autumn glow! VisitNyack.org for details.
Nestled on the shores of Lake Ontario, Rochester, NY, transforms into a fall oasis and a winter wonderland that promises a delightful escape for families seeking adventures and cozy memories. With various activities to suit all ages, this vibrant city within a day’s drive is the perfect destination for a memorable getaway.
One of the highlights is the Roc Holiday Village, where families can revel as the seasons change. You can find outdoor ice skating, explore artisanal vendors, and partake in family-friendly activities, all contributing to a magical atmosphere.
Meanwhile, the George Eastman Museum hosts the Sweet Creations exhibit, showcasing intricate gingerbread houses within the historic mansion of Kodak founder George Eastman. This provides a unique opportunity for families to marvel at edible artistry while soaking in the heritage of this national historic landmark.
For those seeking a step back in time, the Genesee Country Village and Museum transforms into a 19th-century wonderland during Yuletide in the Country. Here, families can enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides, carolers, and engaging hands-on activities, offering an immersive experience steeped in history. Check out: visitrochester.com/family-program
When the snow arrives – outdoor enthusiasts can explore Rochester’s snow-covered trails for snowshoeing amidst serene woodlands and frozen ponds. For skiing and snowboarding, Bristol Mountain, a short drive away, offers trails for all skill levels, making it suitable for beginners and experts alike.
There is more. The Strong National Museum of Play, a paradise for kids and families, transforms into a magical wonderland during winter. Special exhibits, interactive displays, and seasonal festivities provide hours of laughter and learning, enhanced by a recently opened 90,000 sq. ft. expansion. Additionally, the Rochester Museum & Science Center offers a wealth of interactive exhibits and engaging displays, allowing families to immerse themselves in the wonders of science.
After a day of adventure, families can seek refuge from the cold at charming spots with a cozy ambiance, including Neutral Grounds or Spot Coffee. With warm decor and inviting menus from hot cocoa to gourmet sandwiches, families can unwind and relive the day’s adventures.