For a fabulous fall family vacation, you’ll love New England. New England’s fall foliage is legendary, there’s really nothing else like it. In autumn, the warmer daytime sun and the cool, crisp nights help the leaves transform from a lush green to a tapestry of vivid fall colors. We have put together a list of the best New England fall family vacation activities all in one place (that’s right, the best of the best) so you don’t have to search the net for a family activities yours will love. When planning your New England fall family vacation be sure to also see our post about the best kid friendly resorts in the area.
New England is where our country began; America’s birthplace, and could not only make one of the most memorable and educational fall family vacations around, but amaze and awe even the pickiest of travelers. New England, as you may know, is comprised of 6 states, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Within these states you’ll find gorgeous landscapes, tons of beautiful fall foliage, and plenty of family activities for all to enjoy.
In New England, you can find everything from white sand beaches, and lighthouses, brilliant fall foliage, and expansive lakes, to panoramic mountain views, and dockside restaurants with delicious seafood chowder, lobster, and blueberry pie.
In visitingNewEngland.com, I found tons of fun fall family activities that are sure to please even the pickiest of your bunch. Thanks for the great tips!
In fall (autumn), New England is famous for its glorious foliage as billions of leaves change from green to a kaleidoscope of colors. The air is crisp and cool – perfect for hiking, biking or a classic fly-drive break along back roads, where farm stands are piled high with crunchy apples and orange pumpkins. When is the best time to come? The leaves start turning colors in the northern regions of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire typically around mid-to-late September and peaking around mid-October. In the more southern states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and along the coast of New Hampshire and southern Maine, color starts later and often lasts up until November. Use this helpful New Hampshire interactive fall foliage map to plug in potential dates and gauge peak foliage in the scenic mountain areas.
Here’s the BEST of New England Fall Family Vacation Acvitities
New England Aquarium, Boston, Mass. — the best aquarium in New England. A pure delight for the whole family, it would be easy to spend several hours at the New England Aquarium. New England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, Mass. (617) 973-5200 Year-round activities
Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, Conn. — A highly developed, sophisticated museum located in a great seaside town, right up there with the quality presented by the New England Aquarium. Here you’ll find myriad living collections, science and conservation work of Sea Research through exhibits, and demonstrations and educational programs. The emphasis is on emphasizing “hands-on, interactive, live animal contact experiences for all ages,” according to the Aquarium. One of the few aquariums in the country to showacase rare beluga whales! Mystic Aquarium, 55 Coogan Blvd., Mystic, Conn., Tel. (860) 572-5955. Year-round activities.
Mystic Seaport, Mystic , Conn. — It’s a bit touristy, but the 17-acre Mystic Seaport in America’s largest maritime Museum. It’s very educational with a working shipyard, an impressive collection of smaller vessels, a chance to board a whaleship, square rigged ship or fishing schooner. Add some historic homes, the chance to see how seaport industries worked, a childrens’ museum, working shipyard, planetarium, steamboat cruises, shopping, restaurants and more, and you have a complete vacation day well spent. Mystic Seaport, 75 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic Conn.. Tel. (860) 572-5315. Year-round activities.
Acadia National Park, Maine Maine’s Acadia National Park is one of the most spectacular parks in the United States, with its beyond scenic rocky coast, and forested valleys, lakes and mountains, carved by glacial force. It cannot be fully described, only joyfully visited. The 27-mile loop at Mt. Desert Island offers endless ocean and mountain scenery, unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Old Orchard Beach, Maine The miniature golf, cotton candy, fried dough, french fries, cheeseburgers, carousel, arcade games, amusement rides, festivals, fairs, concerts, fireworks, boardwalk and long stretch of unusually sandy beach for Maine makes this a great family destination. It’s honky-tonk, but in a clean, fun way. Old Orchard Beach has been a favorite family destinations for generations, and remains that way in a big, fun way. Seasonal
Nubble Lighthouse, Cape Neddick, Maine Generally recognized as one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country, Nubble Lighthouse is the perfect place to rest, and get hypnotized by the rough ocean waves and prototypical Maine rocky coastline –it is a picture-perfect postcard come to life. Sometimes, Mother Nature’s fury can be viewed in the form of some spectacular storms with biting high winds and crashing waves. Nubble Lighthouse, Follow Nubble Road from Route 1A in York
Capron Park Zoo, Attleboro, Mass. This small zoo near Providence, R.I., offers exceptionally well thought out animal exhibits and educational programs in a friendly, family setting. What the Capron Park Zoo lacks in size, they more than make up in a clean environment that allows animals to roam more than in a typically larger zoo. Some display highlights include The African Lion cubs, North American River Otters, Snow Leopards, Japanese Macaques, Red-crowned Cranes and a pleasing Rain Forest exhibit. The price is right as non-Attleboro adults can get in for $3.50 and seniors and children for $2.00 (under three are admitted free). One of New England’s most underrated attractions for over a half century, the Capron Park Zoo is a real gem! Capron Park Zoo, 201 County St., Attleboro, Mass. Tel. 508-222-6202. Year-round activities
Children’s Museum of Boston, Boston, Mass. — An exceptional children’s museum, filled with top-notch displays. A model of how a children’s museum should be run. Children’s Museum of Boston, 300 Congress, St., Boston, Mass. Tel. (617) 426-8855. Year-round activities
Children’s Museum in Easton, Mass., The wonderfully diverse and family-oriented Children’s Museum in historic North Easton Village is located in a former fire station. Children can play with ball shoots, sit in a king’s and queen’s chair, have fun in the playhouses, and create masterpieces in the wood shop and arts and crafts room, to name a few of the many fun things to do. With three floors of fun and over 100 programs where kids can learn through exploration, the Children’s Museum in Easton is an underrated hidden gem. The setting is informal, friendly and supportive and the cost is just right at $6.00. The Children’s Museum in Easton ,The Old Fire Station, 9 Sullivan Ave., North Easton, Mass. Tel. 508-230-3789 Year-round activities
The Butterfly Place, Westford, Mass. — An incredible variety of butterflies under one roof. The Butterfly Place, 120 Tyngsboro Rd., Westford, Mass. Tel. (978) 392-0955 Year-round activities
Eastern States Exposition (the Big E), West Springfield, Mass. New England’s largest and most fun family fair takes place from mid-to-late September. The Big E has something for everyone. Don’t miss the Big E, one of VisitingNewEngland.com’s favorite New England attractions! Eastern States Exposition, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield, Mass Tel. (413) 737-2443. Seasonal
Edaville Railroad, Carver, Mass. — Family amusement park featuring train rides, museum and children’s rides. Edaville Railroad, Pine St., South Carver, Mass. Tel. 1-877-EDAVILLE. Seasonal
Southwick’s Zoo, Mendon, Mass., is more fun than a barrel of monkeys! Some great fun can be found at Southwick’s Zoo, beautifully situated on 330 acres in the heart of Massachusetts’ scenic and serene Blackstone Valley. Arguably New England’s finest zoo, Southwick’s houses hundreds of animals, some of which are endangered species. Be sure not to miss it as part of your New England vacation. Southwick’s Zoo, 2 Southwick St., Mendon, Mass., Tel.: 508-883-9182
Outside MA (800) 258-9182. Seasonal
Canobie Lake Park, Salem, N.H. — More than 100 years old, Canobie Lake Park might now be a state-of-the-art amusement park, but it still feels old-fashioned (and affordable) as compared to some of the other New England amusement parks. That is a good thing, as the feeling here is more family-oriented and safe — perhaps a byproduct of its storied tradition and a beloved New England household name. Canobie Lake Park, Exit 2, Route 93, Salem, N.H. Tel. 603-893-3506. Seasonal
Clark’s Trading Post, North Woodstock, N.H. — A longtime favorite New Hampshire White Mountains family tourist destination, Clark’s Trading Post is best known for its trained New Hampshire black bears display. Clark’s also features a scenic 30-minute railroad ride, a covered bridge, bumper boats, a haunted house, an “Americana” museum, souvenirs, ice cream and more. Clark’s is timeless, getting creating the same family vacation memories just the way it did many, many years ago. Seasonal
More New England Fall Family Vacation Activities;
courtesy of: discovernewengland.org
In the Mid-Coast, tour the Maine Maritime Museum, where you can see old boats, a shipyard and art, as well as take part in hands-on activities. Drive down a rocky promontory to Five Islands Lobster in Georgetown for a lobster roll: From Route 1, take 127 South. Local directions suggest: ‘Keep going until your hat floats, and then just back up a bit.’ Enjoy fall color all over Maine: go hiking and biking in Acadia National Park, canoe and listen to loons in the Rangeley Lakes. And, for a spectacular view, take the elevator to the Observatory high up on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge!
Drive along the Mohawk Trail in Western Massachusetts — America’s first officially-designated “scenic road.” It runs up and over the Berkshire Hills and leads to state parks and forests for hiking and biking. Drive to the top of Mount Greylock for fabulous foliage views. At the Natural Bridge State Park, see a true wonder, North America’s only naturally-formed white marble arch. Or, zipline through the tree canopy with Zoar Outdoor in Charlemont, west of Shelburne Falls. North of Boston, go out to Cape Ann and take a boat tour from Gloucester or Essex.
In the beautiful White Mountains Region, you can stand on the top of New England: the summit of Mount Washington. Get there on the Auto Road or on the historic Cog Railway. Want to climb an easy mountain? Near Jaffrey, Mount Monadnock is the “most climbed mountain in North America,” with great views from the top. In the Lakes Region, take a cruise on the M/S Mount Washington. With mountains as a backdrop, the foliage seems to wrap around Lake Winnipesaukee.
Up in northern New Hampshire, Dixville Notch is home to the Balsams Grand Resort — one of New Hampshire’s four grand historic hotels and the home of the Ballot Room where the residents of Dixville Notch are the First in the Nation to vote for the US presidential elections. This area is covered with endless, unspoiled scenery, exceptional hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, and golf.
The USA’s smallest state is making a name for itself as a producer of wine. And, when better to visit the vineyards than at harvest time? With lunch and a tasting, this is a great day out. But, across the state, Rhode Island farms are celebrating their bounty; stop at farm stands, pick-your-own and join in the harvest festivals. Or, go back in time, to the start of America’s industrial revolution. At Slater Mill, Samuel Slater built North America’s first successful water-powered, cotton spinning mill on the banks of the Blackstone River. Tour this historic area by boat and see the fall color on the Blackstone Valley Explorer.
For birds-eye views of the foliage, head for Bennington. At the Battle Monument, you can scan the landscape from the top, over 300 ft (91m) above the ground. And, you don’t have to climb any stairs; just take the elevator! Or, drive up the very steep Skyline Drive to the top of Mount Equinox, south of Manchester. On a clear day, you can see across New England, into New York State and even into Canada. Burlington makes a great base for seeing the foliage: take a Lake Champlain cruise, or go up in a hot-air balloon!
For more on New England in the Fall:
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