When I tell my kids we are going to see fall leaves, they groan and quickly remind me how carsick they get. They think that a fall drive sounds like an arduous journey where mom and dad restrict the electronics and tell them to look out the window for hours.
My ideal October outing is a long drive in a convertible with the cool wind whipping my hair while I enjoy majestic scenery. I have five kids, so that isn’t usually my reality. I’ve discovered ways to get my leaf-peeping fix while keeping the kids happy and excited to be outdoors.
Here are my best tips on how to enjoy fall foliage with kids.
Hike to a Waterfall
Take the kids hiking to a destination, such as a waterfall. You can be surrounded by fall leaves for hours and the kids will feel rewarded by the waterfall at the end of the trail. Kids can spend hours outdoors when there is water nearby. One of my favorite places to see fall leaves with my family is Shenandoah National Park, which has several fun hikes to waterfalls.
Go Horseback Riding
Find an trail riding outfitter and take your family horseback riding. There are some outfitters who will take children as young as 3 years old, so be sure to find a guide who can work with your family. Enjoy fall leaves while your children experience horseback riding.
Take a fall vacation and go camping among the fall leaves. Not sure if tent camping is right for you? Check out our tent camping tips for beginners. If you are worried about rain or cold, consider renting an RV. I recently made a reservation with Cruise America and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the rental process is. Jody Halsted who writes the Family Rambling blog shares great tips from her first RV rental.
Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
For a unique way to enjoy fall leaves and make a lasting memory, try a hot air balloon ride. Check for age and height restrictions. Most children over 8 will be allowed to ride in a hot air balloon with an adult, and some companies will take children as young as 5.
Go Zip Lining
Families with kids over age 5 can enjoy most zip line experiences. Flying through the trees will excite the kids, plus you get beautiful views. I took my kids zip lining in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. I am afraid of heights, but the safety harnesses eased my fears and we had a great day enjoying the treetops. Zip lining is a perfect way for kids and adults to enjoy fall foliage together.
Visit a National Park
Fall is a great time to visit a national park, and so many parks boast amazing fall foliage. Kids will be entertained by great hikes, amazing vistas, and the National Park’s Junior Ranger program. Fall is a good time to visit national parks because they will be less crowded than in the summer months.
Visit a Fall Festival or Corn Maze
Find a fall festival or corn maze to enjoy with the kids, and chances are you can find one near some beautiful fall leaves. Kids love festivals with pumpkins, games, and outdoor activities and are often willing to take quite the drive to arrive at a festival. Want to take your family to a corn maze? See our tips on how to find a corn maze in your area.
Ride a Train
Years ago I rode the Mt. Hood Railroad in Oregon on a crisp fall day and never forgot how much I loved that train ride. Kids love trains, so take your ride in the fall when leaves are changing and you can enjoy cool weather and fall leaves.
Ride a Gondola or Tram
Ski resorts make great fall foliage destinations. Many ski resorts have fall activities for families looking to enjoy the mountains, and riding a gondola or tram to the top of the mountain is something kids will love. You can usually bike or hike down. Many resorts also offer zip lines, slides or other fun activities for kids in the fall.
Kids love picking fruit, and apple orchards are often nestled in the most beautiful surroundings. Find an orchard near you and enjoy apple picking and fall leaves.
However you choose to see fall leaves, make a memory your kids will enjoy by adding an activity into your drive. Whatever you do, get out an enjoy a beautiful fall.