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YMCA of the Rockies Full of Winter Activities

Dec 5, 2016
If you plan on visiting Colorado this winter, plan to visit the YMCA of the Rockies because they are offering a series of winter activities

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Fourteen great ideas for a fall family vacation or getaway


matty-k-and-hannah-dipping-under-waterfall-near-bozeman-mtThe beaches are emptying.  The air is cooler and crispier. In the far north, the leaves are beginning to tint.  But just because summer’s over, doesn’t mean the fun is over.  There’s no better time than fall to get away for a few days to savor our kids, laugh with our friends and make time for romance with our mates.  Fall is a great season to get outdoors—and get active—with the kids whenever you can. Again this year we have teamed up with with Family Travel Forum to come up with the best fall getaways.

  1. OUTDOORS, SMALL TOWNS AND FESTIVALS

Get the kids away from electronics and into nature. With preschoolers, go apple picking or on a hayride. Find a u-pick farm with Family Travel Forum’s directory of orchards and pumpkin patches near you.  Go pick pumpkins with Farmer John in Half Moon Bay, CA or apples at Middlefield Orchard in Cooperstown, NY where you can also see cider being pressed at the Fly Creek Cider Mill. Learn the history of farming here at the wonderful Farmer’s Museum.

Plano, a large Dallas suburb, is hosting the Plano Balloon Festival September 23-25 complete with the popular Balloon Glow at sundown and the chance for rides in a tethered balloons. Bring all of your young knights and princesses to The Great Plains Renaissance Festival in Wichita, Kansas from September 24-25 and step back into the medieval world.  Meet artisans, craftsmen and vendors from past times. ]

Let’s not forget State Fairs—like the  Washington State Fair that ends the last Sunday of September  State Fair of Texas from Sept. 30-Oct.23 in Dallas with the Kidway area of the Midway with rides for the youngest fairgoers, free concerts , a competition kitchen where fairgoers of all ages compete (would your cookies win?)    There is even a State Fair Curriculum for different ages built livestock,  agriculture and Texas history

There are many free festivals and discounted hotel rooms offered by small towns across America during the fall. There’s the annual National Harvest Festival in Gettysburg, PA the first two weekends in October and the chance to celebrate all things cheese at the Cheese Days in Monroe, WI Sept. 16-18. The World’s Largest Cranberry Festival is held in Warrens, WI, Sept. 23-25.

When you are taking the kids out to dinner this September, you can support “Dine out for No Kid Hungry” and help end childhood hunger. All you need to do is stop by any of the thousands of participating restaurants and take part—just $1 can connect a child with up to 10 healthy meals. Just plug in the city or zip code here and you can find plenty of restaurants to choose from.

More festivals: in New York state, the Oyster Festival Oct 15-16 on Long Island; the Louisiana Gumbo Festival Oct. 14-16; and The Sonoma County Harvest fair Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in California with plenty of wine and microbrew tastings. (Here’s what I wrote about a recent visit to Sonoma County.)  In Washington State,  Savor the San Juans lasts the from Sept. 22-Nov. 12  with harvest festivals and the chance to see orcas.

Couples looking for a romantic getaway might try a Bed & Breakfast and share a memorable experience. How about a weekend biking on Cape Cod in Massachusetts or Martha’s Vineyard after the crowds are gone?  Here’s what I wrote about a recent trip to Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.

And what’s fall without an Oktoberfest, the German ritual dating to the 1810 wedding of Bavarian King Ludwig. In Germany, the whole month showcases local beers with community dinners where kids are always welcome. Several U.S. towns with German heritage celebrate in the US, tops among them being Oktoberfest Zinzinnati which draws 500,000 Samuel Adams fans to Cincinnati September 16-18. The New Ulm Oktoberfest Minnesota takes place over two weekends, October 7-8 and Oct. 14-15. Just an hour from New York City, Bear Mountain hosts an annual weekend OktoberfestVail Mountain celebrates at Lionshead from Sept. 9-11 and at Vail Village from Sept. 16-18, with many family events scheduled in the base villages. Have you ever tried keg bowling?

  1. EXPLORE NEARBY NATIONAL PARKS AND MONUMENTS

The National Park Service has just launched the second year of  Every Kid in a Park initiative — giving all 4th graders and their families free access to all national parks — this school year. Why not use it to explore one of the lesser known parks or monuments that may be in your neck of the woods?

Theodore Roosevelt, sworn in as the 26th president after McKinley’s assassination in 1901, was fascinated by the great outdoors. His 23-room Victorian summer white house, Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, NY, houses dozens of hunting trophies from his expeditions in the wild. It is said that without his passion for nature, Americans might never have had the 230 million of acres of land he preserved – much more than any other president. How fitting that his childhood home and those of many other Roosevelts are protected by the National Park Service today.

Hyde Park in Dutchess County, New York, is home to four National Park Service sites incuding the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. Come from NYC on the free Roosevelt Ride hybrid bus, which shuttles daily from the Poughkeepsie tran station to the FDR Home, Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill house and the Vanderbuilt Mansion. Several of these sites are linked by the 10-mile-long Historic Hyde Park Trail, and some are open to bikes through November. Ask the kids to download free podcasts at each stop to narrate your visit.  Not only is this area, a little less than 90 miles from NYC, especially beautiful in fall, but this marks the 75th anniversary of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.  Take your junior foodies for lunch nearby at the Culinary Institute of America.

Did you know Abraham Lincoln grew up in Spencer County, Indiana which was where he was first exposed to the law? NPS manages the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial there, where he lived from 1816 to 1830, and where costumed rangers reenact the pioneer farmer’s life as he might have lived it. Lincoln is close to Santa Claus, and the entire town — including the Holiday World themepark, farm markets, local campgrounds and church — start Halloween celebrations September 25 and continue weekends through November 1.

Perhaps your passion is history. Yorktown Victory Center, in Virginia’s Historic Triangle, celebrates the 235th anniversary of this decisive Revolutionary War victory, and on October 15 and 16 will debut the expansion of this popular site as the tech-savvy, interactive American Revolution Museum at Yorktown with a new building and 22,000-square-foot expansion. Many weekends in late autumn have special programming themed to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

If you are visiting New York City, the National 911 Memorial and Museum is a must stop on all levels. Kids born going into high school this year were either babies or not even born when 911 occurred.  The memorial and museum bring it all into vivid context.  It is intense so after you finish you might want to visit the new One World Trade Center Observatory which offers an upbeat view of the Big Apple and great views (tickets are required).

  1. LEAF-PEEPING, CAMPING AND ROAD TRIPS

With kids, choose road trips within a day’s drive of home and break up your trip with plenty of fun stops. Family Travel Forum’s  state-by state directory of leaf peeper hotlines guarantees you’ll find the peak colors. Bring zip-lock bags so you can collect different leaf species, nuts and pine cones for art projects. Bring glue to press flowers and scrapbook tourist brochures. It’s not just about looking at the leaves!  Let preschoolers jump in them and make leaf scrapbooks and acorn or pine cone sculptures for school. Have a scavenger hunt on a hike to see how many different kinds of leaves you can find.

Opt for a spacious condo. You have choices across the country where you can enjoy the fall colors, weather and discounts  from Northern California to Colorado to New England where Smuggler’s Notch boasts the cheapest rates of the season with its Autumfest package and half-price day care. Couples can relax with no set itinerary, lingering over a farm-to-table meal, perusing local galleries and museums.  Girlfriends can catch up during a road trip; end at a spa like in Vermont as I did recently or in Sonoma, CA.

  1. MOUNTAIN RESORTS

Before the snow falls, mountain resorts have lots of activities and lodging bargains, making them a great choice whether you’re with kids, gal pals, those frat buddies or a significant other. Mountain bike, hike together and leave some road trip time to watch the aspen change color. Just be mindful of the high altitude in some places. Many locals parents start their kids on one baby aspirin a day for the week prior to arrival to help them acclimate.

Out West, Aspen, Colorado  is the place to hike, mountain bike, fly fish, golf, disc golf on the highest disc golf course in North America atop Aspen Mountain and indulge at a spa when hotel rates are significantly less in one of the most spectacular times of year in Aspen. Check out the guided hikes at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, enjoy Yoga on Aspen Mountain, or visit the Saturday Aspen Farmer’s Market.  Explore the spectacular Maroon Bells hiking trails or the locals’ fave — Hunter Creek Trail, or try mountain biking.  Jackson, Wyoming is gateway to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and fall is an ideal time to visit—after the summer crowds are gone. Unlike other snow resorts, Jackson is busier in the summer than the winter.  Explore Grand Teton National Park with an expert from the Teton Science Schools and see the wildlife in Yellowstone.  Go horseback riding and experience the authentic Wyoming ranching culture. Ride the tram up at Jackson Hole snow resort and mountain bike or hike down.

There are also many  farms around the country where you can visit and stay –like we did at the Inn at Valley Farms in New Hampshire and teach the kids where their food comes from. Visit for a day, like the Billings Farm and Museum or Shelburne Farms  in Vermont, the Stone Barns Center in New York and Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm in Albuquerque, NM.   Learn what 18th century farming was like in New York state at the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, NY

  1. HALLOWEEN FUN

Neighborhood trick-or-treating is so Old School.  These days, of course you aren’t limited to one afternoon or evening whether you want an evening of fright at a theme park, trick or treating at your zoo, or a stay at a haunted bed and breakfast. You aren’t even limited to the month of October.

Here’s what I wrote about some of the Halloween options across the country.  Many family attractions near you, like the great for toddlers “Boo at the Zoo” in Kansas City, MO and the adult geek-chic “Spirits & Skeletons” party at the Houston Museum of Natural Science use the holiday to raise funds for their year-round educational missions.  Most zoos and aquariums now have Halloween events, according to the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and many have become so popular that they require a special ticket. For the brave tweens and teens in your gang, there are There are  approximately 1,500-2,000 Haunted Attractions in the United States and Haunted Attraction Association notes that every year new “frights” are added.

How many different color leaves can the kids count? That’s the focus of the 90-minute Dutch Apple sightseeing river cruises, with itineraries on the Hudson or through the Erie Canal locks in Troy. Weeknights in October.  Go see a different side of the New York State Capitol on a “Capitol Hauntings Tour” and meet the ghost of Samuel Abbott, the night watchman who died there in a 1911 fire. This tour has been immortalized with its own Listen with the Lights On podcast.

All fall, head to one of the 13 Great Wolf Lodges  for Howl-O-Ween  with a Trick or Treat Trail, Spooktacular story time, Monster Bash dance party and costumed characters who are more funny than scary.  In December, as the resorts begin their popular Snowland transformation, the newest Great Wolf Lodge will open in Colorado Springs.

And there’s no greater Halloween action than at theme parks whether you’re four or fourteen:

Both Disney parks kick off the fun  in September. Disney World’s immensely popular Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (between Sept 2- Nov. 1) and Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland (between Sept 23-Oct.31) are both bigger than ever before. The lovable Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade runs twice each night in Orlando and is topped off with Happy HalloWishes Fireworks Spectacular. (The Halloween parties require extra admission.)

Disneyland is also debuting Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Final Check-Out – the chance to do the ride completely in the dark, and the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow will make an appearance at the Frightfully Fun Parade.

SeaWorld’s Spooktacular, in Orlando and San Diego provides special Halloween shows and the chance for your younger kids to strut their stuff, showing off their costumes while dancing with life-sized, but not-too-scary, sea creatures. It’s all in the regular admission price and runs weekends throughout October in Orlando and September 24-25 plus weekends in October in San Diego.

Weekend nights from September 30-October 30,  Howl-O-Scream transforms three Busch Gardens theme parks – in Tampa Bay, Williamsburg and SeaWorld San Antonio — into the ultimate scare adult zone (not suitable for children under 13.)  There are spooky haunted houses, terrifying scare zones and elaborate themed shows. During the days, the parks host a costumed array of very family friendly fare.

Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights begin September 16th and they promise to deliver more sophisticated and scary Halloween frights based on “the FX anthology-horror series American Horror Story,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Exorcist” and other horror movies than ever before.  The masters of cinematic special effects use both the Orlando and Hollywood theme parks to house bloodthirsty beasts, entertain haunted souls, and allow special ticket guests into way-too-scary haunted houses. Not recommended for anyone under 13 and maybe not even then.

The 18 Six Flags parks put on a Fright Fest like no other under the motto “Family by Day, Fright by Night!” During the day, come in costume for the Spooky Kooky Magic Show and the Monster Maze. After dark, thing heat up, and Fright Fest is not recommended for children under 13.  But, send your bravest teens to conquer the ghoulish scare zones, come face-to-face with blood-thirsty creatures, wander through haunted mazes and ride the Voodoo Drop. Fright Fest opens on September 24th and runs weekends through October 31st.

The huge stone Fort Monroe, a decommissioned Army installation built on the shores of Chesapeake Bay around 1830, is at the heart of historic Hampton, Virginia. Show up there October 21-22 for guided Ghost Walks, not recommended for children under age 12. From October 24-28 Haunted Hampton Tours focuses on the grisly side of the city’s history with a spooky tour of a graveyard and appearances by Blackbeard’s pirates, ghosts of soldiers, and the first witch in America in the form of costumed performers. Both of these events are free of charge.

Hauntings are up all over Chicago Southland. From September 24-30, you can visit the 13-acre Pumpkin Patch and find your way out of a 15-acre corn maze.  Don’t miss the petting zoo, pig races and cow train in the heart of Tinley Park. Music, food, crafts, a kids zone and vintage baseball make up the Lansing Autumn Fest October 7-9. Over the weekends of October 22-23 and 29-30, the Brookfield Zoo’s Boo! at the Zoo will have kids’ costume parades while zookeepers share information about resident bats, ravens and spiders.

  1. SUMMER FUN IN THE FALL IN OFF SEASON FLORIDA

The towns throughout Florida, the most visited state in the Union recent years according to D.K. Shifflet, have many different personalities, but they all have great weather in common. Up north there’s history and Spanish style in St. Augustine and a whole Greek fishing village in Tarpon Springs.  Here are 7 Places to See in Florida outside the theme parks.

For an unforgettable ecotourism encounter, visit Homosassa Springs for the chance to swim with manatees or study them up close in a special aquarium. These “sea cows” as the enormous, gentle creates are known, live in the Springs’ unusual mix of salt and fresh water, in an area protected by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. They are most numerous from the late fall through February so plan a visit before the snowbirds arrive.

  1. KICK BACK AT RESORTS OFF SEASON

You’ll find top values, music festivals on the major Caribbean islands, and cheaper flights in the shoulder season between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Take the whole family for a long weekend in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands — no passports are required, saving you over $100 per person right there!

SpongeBob greets guests at Nick Punta Cana

SpongeBob greets guests at Nick Punta Cana

Backed by the signature Karisma Gourmet Inclusive experience, the brand new and  first ever international Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana  sits on Punta Cana’s Uvero Alto Beach in the tropical Dominican Republic, and encompasses 208 playfully luxurious suites, 10 restaurants & bars and the super silly Nickelodeon Place where you’ll find the Aqua Nick Water Playground.  The perfect mix of five-star luxury and classic Nickelodeon fun, the resort offers options for kiddos and parents alike, from character dining and the Just Kiddin’ Kids Club, to a world-class spa and nightly live entertainment. Here’s what I wrote  about my recent visit ) .    Plus, families will have the chance to be Slimed – an activity surely on everyone’s bucket list.Winter specials are currently available with rates up to 50% off plus KIDS INCLUDED! For more information, visit

Prices drop along Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, even for the already top value budget all-inclusive Rivera Maya resorts [ KYLE LINK]. Of course, this hurricane season and, although weather is always unpredictable, we strongly recommend you protect your vacation investment with travel insurance. Whether you’re in Playacar, Playa del Carmen on near Tulum, count on at least one visit to the active, super fun, ecological park Experiencias Xcaret. This year, the new focus is on exploring the senses. Treat the family to a four-hour immersion at Xenses Park (an add-on to your Xcaret day), where they can test out their senses of smell, taste, touch, hearing and sight with 15 new activities, guided tours and a self-guided walk through a natural wonderland.

  1. HARVEST THE TASTES AND TRAILS OF AUTUMN

There are many  farms around the country where you can visit and stay –like we did at the Inn at Valley Farms in New Hampshire and teach the kids where their food comes from. Visit  “learning farms”  for a day, like the Billings Farm and Museum or Shelburne Farms  in Vermont, the Stone Barns Center in New York and Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm in Albuquerque, NM.   Learn what 18th century farming was like in New York state at the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, NY

Go to Farm Stay U.S. for a directory with over 975 working farms and ranches in all 50 states and U.S. Territories. .

Fall is the ideal time of year to tour the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.  With trails that are easily accessible to the very young and the less fit, and even some that accommodate wheelchairs, it’s a great place to explore with three generations. Be sure to pack a flashlight for your peek into Cobb Cave.

Leave the tent behind and hike hut to hut on the Appalachian Mountain Trail where the Appalachian Mountain Club staff serve you dinner and breakfast or opt for one of their kid-friendly lodges where you can borrow all the gear you need. Here’s what I wrote about our stay.

Head to a dude ranch in fall for a few days of riding, good meals and relaxing in spectacular country whether in Arizona, Texas or Colorado. It’s a good bet for a couples’ getaway and fun way to challenge friends, especially when you can practice your cattle-penning skills. Rent the gear you need from REI or borrow what you need and take off on foot or mountain bikes.

  1. CITY GETAWAY

Tampa, Florida is one of those cities with so many family attractions that it feels more like a resort destination than a big city where you can introduce kids to the concept of farm (and sea) to table. You can save big on your fall getaway with the CityPASS program, which offers discounted, prepaid admission to top attractions in 12 North American destinations: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, Tampa Bay and Toronto

In California, for example, a Southern California CityPASS admission card saves nearly 30% off a package that includes a prepaid 3-Day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper ticket that allows unlimited back-and-forth access to Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, plus one-day admissions to LEGOLAND California and SeaWorld San Diego.

With preschoolers, check out San Diego and nearby Carlsbad, which boasts LEGOLAND, the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, and SeaWorld, as well as many wonderful museums in. Here’s what I wrote about all the museums in Balboa Park and the Legoland Hotel. Come in October when San Diego celebrates Kidvasion-– kids stay and play free throughout San Diego at 100 participating partners.

Take a weekend to visit a city near your home — Chicago, Los Angeles or Miami — and explore like a tourist. Go to a museum, a festival, a theatrical performance, a locally run restaurant. Here’s what I wrote about the wonderful Space Shuttle exhibit at the California Science Center.

Many people only think of Hollywood and Universal Studios when they think of Los Angeles. But there are also many unique and wonderful museums.  Kids love the La Brea Tar Pits, where bones from nearly 2,000 saber-toothed cats have been found. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)  offers the nation’s only free youth membership program! NexGen offers free general admission to anyone 17 and under as well as one accompanying adult. At the Petersen Automotive Museum, there not only are all kinds of vehicles but a Discovery area just for kids while the Getty Center in Malibu offer special family events and  activities.

If your kids are studying American History or need a bit of college-aspiration-inspiration, there’s no better city to explore than Boston where you can literally walk in the footsteps of the Revolutionary War Patriots on the Freedom Trail, re-enact the Boston Tea Party at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum or tour the oldest warship afloat—the USS Constitution.  Eat clam chowder at historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace where street entertainers perform outside where Patriots rallied the citizens of Boston to their cause.  No matter what your kids’ ages or interests, you’ll find activities for them in Boston. Visit Harvard, the oldest college in the country and the Boston Children’s Museum.  Here’s what I wrote about the children’s museum.  Go Whale watching with the New England Aquarium.

Use my Kids Guide to Los Angeles and Boston to empower kids to lead the way!

Girlfriends and couples should check out Santa Fe with its wonderful galleries, history (it’s 400 years old) and over 20 spas to choose from, and San Francisco with its museums, restaurants, spectacular coast and one of the best Farmer’s Markets in the country. Here’s what I said about it.

  1. LONDON IS A REAL DEAL

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared London’s Autumn Season of Culture open. Now in its third year, the 2016 season coincides with some of the biggest expansions of major cultural venues seen in decades, as well as fantastic festivals, incredible new exhibitions and sparkling new theater.  The Science Museum, for example, IS OPENING A NEW INTERACTIVE Wonderlab:The Statoil Gallery in Mid October with state of the art exhibits and even the chance to take part in chemistry experiments and fly down a “friction slide.”

This year, in the post-Brexit climate, you’ll see the best value for your dollar in years. You may not have realized that London’s state museums and galleries—including the biggies like the British Museum, the National Gallery, Tale Britain and Tate Modern and the V&A are all free.

Harry Potter fans of any age will get a big bang out of the new Warner Bros. Studio Tour, The Making of Harry Potter in Leavenden outside of London. Read what I wrote about my recent visit there. Buy the best value Oyster Card to get around buses and trains, the London Pass with discounted admission to major attractions, and don’t miss a visit to Kings Cross Station. This London tube stop was featured in the “Harry Potter” series as Platform 9-3/4, the portal to the wizarding world.

  1. CRUISE FROM A HOME PORT NEARBY

You have some 30 ports to choose from and you can go for a long weekend or a week, whether you want to head to Bermuda from New Jersey, up to Canada from Boston or New York, the Caribbean from Galveston or Florida or Mexico from California.  Check out our family cruise guide to decide what ship is best for your family. Shoulder season deals are everywhere and you might still be able to snare a deal for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

And whether your kids aren’t in school yet or you’re looking for an adult getaway, opt for a cruise on a luxury liner instead of a driving trip to see the best of the fall foliage.  Many of the major cruise lines sail special New England to Canada itineraries at this of year. Here’s what Family Travel Forum said about these cruises.

Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Breakaway sails from New York to Bermuda and then the rest of the year to the Caribbean. It’s got the largest water park at sea complete with a splash zone for the littlest cruisers, huge sports complex, Broadway productions, Nickelodeon Characters and over two dozen different dining options. Here’s what I wrote about being aboard Breakway.

Disney Cruise Line sails from Galveston as well as  New York, Miami, Port Canaveral, San Diego and elsewhere, depending on the time of year. You’ll find a nursery at sea, all of the characters and princesses your kids want to see and first-rate kids and teen facilities and programming, including for Halloween this year.  Everyone loves Disney’s private island.

Alternatively, sail off aboard a Windjammer and enjoy the coast of Maine at its finest, as leaves change and rates fall in local B&Bs.  Rockford, Maine, with its charming old B&Bs and fine farm-or-sea-to-table restaurants is a great choice for a girlfriends or couples’ weekend away.

  1. ADVENTURE OUT AND MAKE NEW FRIENDS

Maybe you’ve sent your last child to college. Maybe you are celebrating a special birthday or anniversary.  If you can get away in fall, you’ll have your pick of unique experiences.

In Panama, the Gamboa Rainforest Resort is popular and luxurious; in Nicaragua, we loved Jicaro Ecolodge on Lake Nicaragua that takes sustainability seriously. At the Iguana Lodge on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, guests can participate in the great work in turtle conservation. Hopkins Bay Resort a beach property in Southern Belize is the place where kids can catch and cooking their own fish, explore the village by kayak and try local food of the Garifuna people.

If your children have chosen a gap year in their education, or if you’ve got willing pals, a special companion or want to go it alone, there’s no better opportunity for a volunteer vacation. Opportunities range from wildlife tracking to guided archeological digs, to house building in every corner of the world or right near home.  You can clear hiking trails, ride the sloop Clearwater to test the water quality in the Hudson River, or volunteer to children in South Africa or Thailand or Cambodia learn to read.

  1. CAMPUS VISITS AND COLLEGE TOURS

Ready to hit the town?  The college town, that is. Leave the other kids in the family behind and opt for some one-on-one time with your high school junior or senior.  Save big on college travel.

There are lots of fun things to do along with the college touring whether you are heading to Boston — college central with nearly 60 universities and colleges — a small college town, or a thriving intellectual community like Ann Arbor, Michigan or Madison, Wisconsin.

In fact, Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, is a great town to visit at any time of year. If your family is drawn to arts and culture, Ann Arbor is home to several terrific museums (two on the university campus are excellent and free of charge), dozens of galleries plus a rich offering of performing arts. If you are a sports enthusiast, you can watch a football game at “the Big House,” the largest college stadium in the country.  Not to mention dining at Blimpy Burger or touring the Jiffy Mix plant in Chelsea, nearby.  Be sure to mix some local sightseeing in with an admissions office visit so the whole family can get a sense of what the town offers outside the classroom.

See if you can get coffee or lunch on campus; browse the shops nearby.  Allow enough time to have some fun — whether going to the top of the Prudential Center in Boston, on a hike in New England, or to a museum in Chicago.  Hit a farmers market or a pumpkin stand as well as the campus.

In Northampton, MA, home to Smith College and the Five College Consortium (Mt. Holyoke, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Hampshire Colleges), the café scene is one of the best around. Peruse the many shops on Main Street and on the second Friday of the month; check out the free family events at the Smith College Museum of Art. In this quiet corner of the Pioneer Valley where maple and oak line the shores of the Connecticut River, there is great hiking and canoeing when you’re done with the campus tours. There are also many motels, hotels and posh New England B&Bs, but UMass housing is one of the best values around and their hotel it serves as a training site for students in the hospitality and tourism management department in the Isenberg School of Management.

Don’t try to cram too many schools into one visit — and certainly no more than two a day. Ask your teen to keep notes or shoot some video on their phone; otherwise, they all start to look the same! Here’s what I wrote about Boston college touring.

  1. FAMILIES WITH SPECIAL CHALLENGES HAVE SPECIAL OPTIONS IN FALL

If you thought you couldn’t travel because someone in your family has special challenges, think again.  Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports ; New England Disabled Sports at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire; The National Ability Center in Park City, Utah; Challenge Aspen;  Breckenridge Outdoor Education and the National Sports Center for the Disabled all in Colorado, offer many different outdoors programs for children with special challenges and their families. Summer programs such as kayaking and hiking continue through fall, and thanks to the work of so many volunteers, fees are usually on a sliding scale to accommodate a family’s budget.

Autism on the Seas helps arrange vacations on land and sea for families with children with Autism, Aspergers Syndrome and other Developmental Disabilities. Walt Disney World and Disneyland get high marks from visitors with disabilities, because there are special park maps and handheld devices for those with visual and hearing disabilities.  If you’re coping with dietary needs or food allergies, Family Travel Forum’s guide to Dining at Theme Parks shows you the healthy alternatives.

Visitors with physical disabilities will love Virginia Beach’s Camp Grom, a fully-accessible, 70-acre playground and camp facility on the beach.  The whole community celebrates the 43rd Neptune Festival starting at the bronze King Neptune statue and continuing down the boardwalk with music, seafood treats, games, stained glass and ceramics vendors and more. October  23 marks the fundraiser for JT Grommet Park,[ http://jtwalk.org/ ]which offers surfing lessons to the disabled, works with Wounded Warriors, and provides recreational activities for those with ALS.

Please share your favorite fall adventures in our comments section.

This special FamilyTravelConsulting.com travel section contains advertising and some sponsored content.  All opinions are based upon the authors’ actual travel experience and knowledge.

 

 

 

 


Seasonal Travel Tips | 1 Comment

One Response to Fourteen great ideas for a fall family vacation or getaway

  1. Kelly says:

    Great information. I would like to check into Legoland. My kids would love that.

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