6 Fall Vacation Ideas for the Whole Family

August is underway, and before we know it, summer will be coming to a close. While we’re all loving the warm weather, there is something magical about the dawn of the autumn season. With mild weather and a rainbow of colors in the air, it’s the perfect time for a family vacation.

Here are some of the best fall vacation ideas for the whole family, from cross-country USAgetaways to cozy staycations this upcoming season!

1. Enjoy Breathtaking Sights at National Parks

We love to talk about observing the blooming flowers in spring, but it’s equally wonderful to take in the dazzling colors of fall foliage. America is dotted with national parks in which you can experience autumn in all its glory. Consider one of them for your next road trip!

  • Shenandoah National Park: If you live in or near Virginia near the Blue Ridge Parkway and the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains, why not plan a trip to witness some of the beauty of the Shenandoah National Park? The Fall FoliageBike Festival is specifically dedicated to this season.

  • Yosemite National Park: Witness some of the most splendid views in California at one of the most beloved state parks in the nation.

  • Appalachian National Scenic Trail: This popular hiking trail ranges all the way from Maine to Georgia, making it a location of interest for people all over the country. The White Mountains National Forest section in New Hampshire is a must-visit fall destination.

  • Rocky Mountain National Park: Situated in Colorado, this park is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway or day trip.

  • Acadia National Park: Located in Maine, this park is full of scenic overlooks, breathtaking waterfalls, and room for a host of outdoor activities. It’s an ideal spot to visit between late September and mid-October before the weather gets too cold.

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Located in Tennessee, this national park is the perfect place to grab a kayak from a local rental spot and brave the rapids of the Pigeon River.

  • Yellowstone National Park: Located in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, this park is home to the world-famous Old Faithful geyser, as well as some natural hot springs. It’s a must-see at any time of the year.

    2. Visit Salem, Massachusetts for a Wicked Good Time

    New England is perhaps the most renowned for its autumnal sights and activities in the US. Amongst the many places to go, Salem, MA, has got to top the list for most iconic Halloween location. The 1692 Salem witch trials remain a hauntingly fascinating subject for fall lovers to this day.

    You could write a book on all the autumnal things to do here, but here are just a few.

    • Spooky Museums: There are plenty of different themed museums to see around Salem. The Salem Wax Museum and Frankenstein’s Laboratory are some places to get into the Halloween spirit while also learning a bunch. To really lean into the history of the town, visit the Salem Witch Museum in a beautiful gothic church.

    • Marketplace: The Haunted Happenings Marketplace is a great spot to do some fall-related shopping. Enjoy music, grab last-minute Halloween costumes, and binge on a variety of spooky snacks.

    • Grand Parade: The Haunted Happenings Grand Parade occurs in early October, making it a wonderful opportunity to get some Halloween fun in early. You can witness and follow the parade around some of the most iconic spots in Salem.

    • Take in the Atmosphere: While it’s always fun to have activities planned when you go somewhere, a casual trip to Salem is worth it on its own. Simply walking around, you will see decorations, fall colors, shops, and restaurants that will get you into the Halloween Spirit.

    While you’re visiting the small town of Salem, make sure to take some time to see Boston — because going to Boston in the fall is something you have to cross off your bucket list. Plus, Salem is only a few hours away from Burlington, Vermont, one of the best places for leaf-peeping in the fall.

    3. Go to a Winery or Brewery

    Wine enthusiasts tend to agree that autumn is the best time to get into the spirit. After all, September through October is the peak of the grape harvesting season. Visiting a vineyard during this time will expose you to beautiful shades of red and gold. Many wineries and breweries also prepare for guests with special events, tastings, and tours.

    Here are some prime destinations if you’re interested in exploring wineries and vineyards.

    • California’s Napa Valley: If you’re on the West Coast, Napa Valley is a prime location for this kind of activity. You can also take advantage of the opportunity to check out the Napa Valley Film Festival while you’re there.
    • Lake Chelan: Here’s another wonderful West Coast location for those closer to the Seattle area. After enjoying some fancy wine tastings or vineyard tours, feel free to hit up the downtown area for trendy restaurants and boutiques.
    • Hill Country: The South has its fair share of wine country to go around. One popular spot is Hill Country, located in Central Texas. While you’re there, don’t forget to try some of that famous Texas barbeque.
    • The Finger Lakes: Finally, an East Coast location! The Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York is known for its gorgeous nature and plentiful family activities. 
    • Asheville Brewing Company: If you prefer a brewery over a winery, check out one of Asheville, North Carolina’s best. 

      4. Explore Sleepy Hollow and the Hudson Valley

      One of the most iconic autumn destinations in the United States is the legendary Sleepy Hollow. Ever since Washington Irving wrote about the fearsome Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow in 1820, folks have been flocking here to experience both scenic and spooky activities. 

      Here are some fun things to check out while you’re in the Hudson Valley area, which isn’t too far from New York City.

      • Pine Hollow Arboretum: Talk about your fall colors! Take in all the beauty that nature has to offer this time of year by taking in the shady groves and magnificent trees at this location. The Pine Hollow Arboretum is wonderful for a simple walk, but they also host events featuring tours, live music, and autumnal snacks.

      • The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze: The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is one of the most breathtaking Halloween sights you’ll see. Located at the Van Cortlandt Manor right near the town of Sleepy Hollow, this fantastic vast display of sculptures, scenes, and spectacles made entirely out of jack o’ lanterns defies the imagination. 

      • Sleepy Hollow Tours: There are plenty of fanciful tours all around Sleepy Hollow –– scary and non-scary alike. Take a look at the famous Octagon House, Lyndhurst Manor, Philipsburg Manor, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery tour, and even the Headless Horseman Bridge for plenty of historical and fantastical entertainment.

      5. Soak Up Sun and Theme Parks in Florida

      We always love to recommend Florida as a family vacation spot for two reasons: the wonderful weather and the endless array of fall family activities. While it’s not going to be particularly rich in fall colors, you’ll be able to pack your woven swim shorts and other resort wear swimsuits and squeeze the last bit of warmth out of the year before winter comes. Here are some things to do while you’re down there.

      • Disneyworld: We could put any number of Florida’s famous theme parks on this list, but when it comes to family, Disneyland usually takes the cake. Around Halloween, the theme park transforms into a family-friendly spooky delight. Visit the Haunted Mansion or Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for a roaring good time.

      • St. Augustine: The oldest city in the United States is chock-full of history and wonderful things to do during autumn. This city is famous for its pirate history and haunted attractions. Explore the Spanish Quarter, take a sip from the Fountain of Youth, hop on a ghost tour, or visit the Pirate & Treasure Museum.

      • Tampa: Tampa presents a whole host of family-friendly activities in the fall. You can throw on your resort shirt and head to the beach for a boat show, or you can enjoy German beer and culture at the Top of the Bay Oktoberfest fall festival.

      In addition, Florida’s fall temperatures are usually between 70-80 degrees, which means you can still don a resort swimsuit and head to the beach or water park. While other parts of the country start bundling up for the approaching winter, you can soak up the sun in Florida for months to come!

      6. Have a Fall-Tastic Staycation

      If you don’t live near a national park or theme park, you can just as easily take in local sights and have a fall getaway at home. Plan a picnic, try out some hiking trails, or go on a bike tour with your family for a different kind of outdoor adventure. You may be surprised to find beautiful nature nearby that you haven’t even seen before.

      • Go for a walk and look at the beautiful fall colors.

      • Explore historic cemeteries or nearby historic haunts.

      • Make homemade apple cider and pumpkin pie.

      • Go apple-picking at a local orchard (or buy apples at a nearby farmers market)

      • Have an outdoor fall movie marathon with a projector and cozy blankets.

      • Find the nearest byway or parkway with breathtaking vistas and go for a scenic drive.

      • Go to a local corn maze or pumpkin patch.

      Many of these aren’t activities that you can enjoy year-round, so it’s best to get in on the fun during the fall season. 

      Have a Fantastic Fall

      We hope these ideas have provided you with some inspiration for your next family vacation or staycation. Apple orchards, wine tastings, Halloween decorations, and hiking tours are all a part of this beautiful time of year. While we look forward to all this and more, the most important thing is making memories with your loved ones.


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