Fall is the perfect time to escape for a quick trip: the weather's cooled, prices are coming down and the crowds have disappeared. These are some of our favorite fall trips for families.
School may be in session but getting away for a short trip in the fall is a great way to ease out of summer living. And whether it’s a day trip or a quick weekend, there’s something to make everyone in the family happy. Here are six trips to consider which will enrich everyone’s body, soul and mind.
Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA
This living museum will engage kids and adults in the history of America in the 18th century. The historic area, which is a reconstruction of the city as capital of Colonial Virginia, includes hundreds of recreated buildings and structures, as well as three main thoroughfares – all of which are peopled with talented docents and translators who interact with guests to tell a more convincing story.
See the tools and techniques of 18th century trades, discover pre-Revolutionary military sites and weapons, including the newly opened Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop Public Armoury, peruse the British grandeur of Governor’s Palace, and explore the African American Experience, which provides a truthful, historical interpretation of slavery – a painful yet fully American experience.
Planning on staying? There are six hotels within the Historic Area, including 26 Colonial Houses which can be booked overnight.
US Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL
Known as “Rocket City,” Huntsville is ground zero for the development of the NASA space shuttle rockets – so it’s no surprise the US Space & Rocket Center is the perfect place to investigate and learn about all aspects of the past and future of the American space program.
In addition to the a full-stack Space Shuttle with two solid rocket boosters and external tank, and an authentic, impressive Saturn V rocket with hands-on exploration, other exhibits include the Spacedown IMAX Theater, a Moon Shot simulator, a G-Force Accelerator and a Mars Climbing Wall.
If you’re looking for something even more interactive, you might want to book Family Space Camp, for kids between 7 and 18. Here you’ll launch simulated missions to the International Space Station, train to be an astronaut on a gravity chair and make and launch your own rocket.
Great Sand Dunes, CO
America's national parks are diverse and majestic, offering families a peek into the awesome splendor of this considerable country. And though sites like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite are popular tourist sites, we are partial to the Great Sand Dunes at the base of Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
At 8200 feet elevation, these 30 miles of dunes can reach up to 750ft high. Hiking is the best way to appreciate this extraordinary, natural sandbox, and a two-hour walk also lets you explore the stunning Medano Creek, where you can splash around in a little water with your beach. Get your kicks sandsledding and sandboarding down the dunes, though cardboard and snow sleds don’t work on dry sand, so you’ll have to stop and rent a board near the park entrance.
Camping is allowed to help you experience the beauty of the park at night, and there are also cabins, a motel, a lodge and a ranch if you want something a little more comfortable.
Dinosaur Trail, MO
Find your very own prehistoric insect captured in amber at Montana’s Dinosaur Trail. This sprawling experience covers 14 locations around the entire state, which is home to some of the most important paleontological discoveries ever made.
The exhibits along the trail range from the first baby dinosaur bones at Two Medicine Dinosaur Center to the best preserved “mummy” of a dinosaur ever found at Great Plains Dinosaur Museum. Want to get your hands dirty? Paleontology field dig opportunities are available at three different facilities.
Be sure to pick up the Prehistoric Passport, a simple guide to the museums and communities along the way, where you’ll find history, facts and space to collect a stamp at each dino facility – which you can then trade in for prizes.
TreEscape Aerial Adventure Park, Vernon, NJ
Mountain Creek, best known for its namesake ski resort and water park, has a new park on the block. The TreEscape Aerial Adventure Park, located on the grounds of the Great Gorge Golf Course, is a heady combination of elevated ropes courses, connected wooden climbing platforms, obstacles and screaming ziplines – all in a green, eco-friendly environment.
A six-hour window will allow you to finish the entire course, though it’s not a prerequisite, and a shuttle will follow historical logging, mining and horseback riding rails to deposit you at the park. A separate park is available for kids aged 4 to 6 and allows the younger set a chance to try out about 20 different climbing elements. Older folk can also come back when the sun goes down for night climbing on Saturday evenings.
If you want to try out some of the resort’s other activities, overnight accommodations can be booked at The Appalachian resort at the base of Vernon Peak mountain or the Crystal Springs Resort – both which offer amenities like dining, pools and a spa.