Fall break is only a few weeks away, which means that many families are looking for the best places to visit in fall. Awesome autumn colors are a must, and of course, you need family-friendly activities for an array of ages.
No need to fret if you didn't plan in advance! We've mapped out some of the best fall family vacations that are affordable and fun for everyone.
No matter what the season may be, Gatlinburg is a gorgeous spot to spend some time away! Settled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, visitors are guaranteed to find vibrant fall colors, awesome adventures in the wilderness, and lots of tourist attractions.
From Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and the Gatlinburg Space Needle to Gatlin's Rugged Ropes Course, mini golf, and more, there is something for kids and adults of all ages.
Of course, you can also drive 20 minutes down the road to Pigeon Forge to find adventures for older kids, including ziplining through the colorful forest canopy and white water rafting. Make sure to enjoy dinner and a show at Dolly Parton's Stampede Dinner and take in an array of museums and shops as well!
Branson is one of the best places for fall family trips! This Ozark town in nestled in southern Missouri and is filled with fun. First and foremost, they have one of the premier amusement parks in the nation!
Silver Dollar City is unlike any other — this rustic theme park takes you back to the 1880s. While there, take fun photos in old timey garb, ride the thrilling coasters, see some shows, and even explore a cave.
Similar to Pigeon Forge, you can also find Dolly Parton's Stampede Dinner, Titanic museums, and other tourist spots that cater to young kids. Make sure to find time to visit Table Rock Lake where you can rent boats, kayaks, or simply go swimming or fishing as well.
There are also fun shops at the Branson Landing and loads of restaurants to enjoy. Big Cedar Lodge is a great spot to stay, but for a truly rustic wilderness experience you can rent a cabin or AirBnb.
Taos, New Mexico
Yet another wilderness adventure, Taos is in the northern portion of the Land of Enchantment! If you visit at the end of November, you can sneak in a ski trip before the fall season ends, but this beautiful town has loads of other attractions to offer all autumn long. Take a chairlift ride to the top of Wheeler Peak for some fantastic views of New Mexico and explore the Pueblo Collective.
For those visiting at the end of October, there is also the iconic Taos Mountain Balloon Rally! Visitors can spot 30+ hot air ballons taking to the skies throught this three-day event. They also have museums, shops, and delicious New Mexican fare for you to indulge in.
And, of course, don't forget to sneak in some picturesque views at the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Families can camp, hike, bike, and fish. No matter what you choose, you are sure to show your kids a fun fall time!
Another one of the best fall family vacations is a trip to Portland. Not only can you take in the awesomeness of autumn, but this is also home to one of the nation's haunted amusement parks! If you have older kids, give them a real thrill by checking out the spirits and the fun at Oaks Park.
You can also pick pumpkins and apples at area farms, make your way through the corn maze, enjoy one of the many hiking trails in the area, and shop the multiple farmer's markets that Portland has to offer.
If you travel just 45 minutes away from the big city, you can also enjoy an event called The Spirit of Halloweentown! Celebrate the holiday all October with haunted tours, costume contests, and more spooky fun.
North Conway, New Hampshire
This is one of the best places to visit in the fall if you are hoping to take in the breathtaking colors of the season. The White Mountains provide the perfect backdrop for any family photo, along with an array of outdoor activities that the whole family can enjoy! Visit waterfalls, area lakes, or take a trip up to the Cranmore Mountain Resort.
You also have the option of taking in the sights on the Conway Scenic Railroad. For those families looking for a more rustic trip, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park is the ultimate family camp ground that gives you the perfect mix of the outdoors and theme park fun.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
For families looking for the highlights of fall, while still indulging in the fun of summer, Great Wolf Lodge is the perfect solution. This indoor water park makes swimming and water slides possible any time of year. Once you cool off inside, you can then take in the fresh air on a hike through the Rocky Mountains!
From pumpkin patches and hay rides to apple picking and more, you can get the ultimate fall family trip in Colorado Springs. Did we also mention that they have the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, horseback rides, and exhilarating helicopter rides available? No matter if you are going for a day trip or a whole week, you are guaranteed to find fun in the Centennial state!
We can't let you go without mentioning that you can also visit the North Pole in Colorado Springs! Santa's Workshop is another awesome amusement park that will fill your visit with merry moments.
The Emerald City is an enchanting place to visit in the fall. When touring this rainy town, you can get the best of both the city and the mountains. The Grand Ridge Trail Park is a great place to sneak in a hike or you can visit one of the many waterfalls in the region. Then, peruse Pike's Place Market for some locally sourced products and take a trip to the Space Needle to see a spectacular view of the city and the fantastic fall colors!
Other attractions that are tailored for the younger portions of your party include the Seattle Aquarium, the Woodland Park Zoo, and the Seattle Great Wheel. However, if you want some true fall activities, there are also corn mazes and pumpkin patches to enjoy! And, don't forget to get out on the water and take a ferry ride while in nation's largest ferry fleet location.
Door County, Wisconsin
You may not realize it, but Wisconsin has a peninsula on Lake Michigan! This is where you can find the beautiful Door County and it makes for another perfect spot for a ferry ride. While in the dairy state, you must also try some squeaky cheese curds, visit some dairy farms, and pick some apples at one of the many orchards in the area.
Don't forget to visit lighthouses throughout the region, spend a cool afternoon at the beach, and hike the Ridges Sanctuary Family Discovery Trail as well. Families can also go mini golfing, rent bikes for a day, and even sneak a peak at the northern lights! There are so many things to do in Door County during the fall months that you might just have to visit more than once.
Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls is a spot that's a must-see! Add in the autumn foliage and it is a hard view to beat. If you are looking for one of the best places to visit in fall, New York is pretty perfect. Niagra County has over 800 farms, so there are pumpkins and apples aplenty.
Hiking is another fun way to take in the Niagara Gorge and the beauty of the region. Then, families can sneak in some early holiday shopping with the many boutiques and outlets in the region. And to get into the spirit of the season, stop by the Old Fort Niagara on Saturday nights in Ocotober, where you can hear haunting tales on their Lantern and Lore Tours.
If you have toddlers in tow, strollers are recommended when visiting Niagara Falls. This can keep them safe and it can limit their time on foot in between attractions.
We know what you are thinking — Fresno? Really? Surprisingly, this city has loads to offer families looking for fun fall getaways, including Sequoia National Park! Spend a day amongst the towering trees, breathing in the crisp fall air. While the colors will be green, it is still an awe-inspiring sight. Spend the night at one of the nearby lodges and then make your way back to Fresno in the morning.
Once you get back to the city, check out the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and enjoy ZooBoo throughout the month of October. Then, get in on the fun at the Big Fresno Fair! They not only have rides and tons of fried food but also exhilarating horse races. Fresno is also a huge agricultural area, so there are plenty of autumn farms to visit.
The Best Fall Family Vacations Include Nature
The best places to visit in fall all have one thing in common — nature. Not only do forests bring the gorgeous fall foliage that we know and love, they also provide a great way for your kids to get out some of that unlimited energy they seem to always have stored up. Best of all, outdoor exploration is extremely affordable!
Head out early, pack a picnic lunch, explore the alluring autumn views, and then head back to the hotel for a well-deserved nap before you enjoy the more touristy parts of these popular travel spots. This can keep your fall family trips budget friendly and help to prevent meltdowns along the way.