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Fall getaways your family will love. (Because let’s be real: Kids don’t really care about the pretty leaves.)

At Mystic Seaport families can board the Charles W. Morgan, the last surviving wooden whale ship in the world.Courtesy/Mystic Seaport

Let’s face it: Your kids are not really into the beautiful fall colors. The shimmering golds, the fiery reds, the vibrant yellows and oranges! Uh huh. If you’re planning a fall getaway — and you should, it’s a great break from the back-to-school quotidian — you’ll need something more than pretty leaves to keep your kids happy. These destinations have plenty of autumn beauty, along with lots of family-friendly activities.

Mid-coast Maine

Fall is our favorite time to visit this picturesque region, when the pace slows and the Atlantic Ocean shimmers. On the way up the coast, stop in Bath to visit the Maine Maritime Museum. Set on 20 acres along the Kennebec River, the museum is a fascinating, fun place to visit for all ages. Check out the collection of some 200 historic small craft, the Blacksmith Shop, an 1851 American clipper ship, and the Tugboat Pilot House, where kids can don rain slickers and take the wheel of a tugboat. Families will also enjoy the 30-minute nature cruise down the Kennebec River.

Spend some time in Camden, filled with kid-friendly restaurants and shops, and pretty parks. Take a stroll around the harbor to look at the fishing boats, yachts, and windjammers. If it’s a nice day, check out Barrett’s Cove Beach at Megunticock Lake; even in the tourist-laden days of summer this lakeside park is relatively quiet. There’s a small beach, playground, and picnic area.


Fall is a great time to visit the mid-coast Maine region when the pace slows. Spend some time in Camden, filled with kid-friendly restaurants and shops, like Uncle Willy’s Candy Shoppe.Pamela Wright

Hike the 1.2-mile up-and-back Summit Trail at Beech Hill Preserve, to reach a historic stone hut and be rewarded with fine views of Penobscot Bay and the Camden Hills. Other parks to visit include Owls Head State Park, home to the historic Owls Head Lighthouse, and Breakwater Marie H. Reed Park, where you can walk the Rockland Breakwater pier, an easy 2-mile or so up-and-back hike, with a lighthouse at the end.


The intimate Coastal Children’s Museum is a local family favorite, with rooms filled with hands-on exhibits, including touch tanks, a dress-up station, music room, trains, slides, and a popular Velcro wall.

Splurge: The recently opened, three-bedroom, two-bath Camden Harbor Villa is filled with contemporary art, comfy lush furnishings, two sitting areas, a full-service kitchen, and a large outdoor deck. It’s conveniently located in a renovated farmhouse, a few blocks from downtown Camden.

Kids love the lobster display at the Maine Maritime Museum with two floors of boats, traps, gear, and tools of the trade, telling the “trap to table” story of Maine’s ever-changing lobster industry.Pamela Wright

Mystic, Conn.

USA Today named this historic seaport one of the 10 best summer vacation places in the country. We think it’s one of the top fall destinations to visit, too. The action doesn’t stop when the leaves start changing. And action there is: from top-notch museums to ziplines, nature trails to river boat rides.

The biggest attraction is Mystic Seaport, a sprawling maritime museum, where you can board the Charles W. Morgan, the last surviving wooden whale ship in the world, visit dozens of historic buildings in the re-created 19th-century New England coastal village, and watch shipwrights restore wooden boats in the working shipyard. Kids will also enjoy the live demonstrations, toy boat building, and a variety of dedicated children’s spaces.

Fall is a fun time to visit Mystic Seaport, where kids enjoy live demonstrations, toy boat building, and pumpkin displays!Courtesy/Mystic

Another popular attraction is Mystic Aquarium, filled with sea creatures such as beluga whales, sharks, seals, and sea lions. The aquarium’s live California Sea Lion show is a hit with kids.

Board an antique Chris Craft Motor Yacht to cruise the Mystic River and Fishers Island Sound with Mystic Coastal Cruises. You’ll have fine views of the historic shoreline on the 1½-hour cruise.


Don’t miss a visit to the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, a local gem. Stop in the Nature Center to see several species of rehabilitated raptors, including barred, great horned, and Eastern screech owls, a peregrine falcon, red tailed hawks, broad wing hawks, and an American kestrel. There are also live frogs, turtles and snakes, and more than 200 mounted bird specimens. Then head next door to Coogan Farm, with more than 10 miles of trails skirting through fields and forests.

Tween and teen pleaser: Be your kid’s hero and book a climb with TreeTrails Adventures, featuring five aerial trails with 76 elements. There are climbs for young kids, too, ages 4 to 6.

Northern New Hampshire turns technicolor in fall.Courtesy/NH Division of Travel & Tourism

Gorham, N.H.

Welcome to an outdoor lover’s paradise. Leave the crowds behind and head to this northern mountain town, nestled in the Androscoggin Valley, surrounded by thick forests and jutting mountain peaks. You’ll have acres of wilderness and miles of trails at your doorstep and fall foliage views galore. In town, there’s a cluster of small shops and restaurants, and mom-and-pop lodgings. Or book a room at The Glen House, a 68-room hotel that sits at the base of Mount Washington. The rustic-chic hotel has a Great Room with floor-to-ceiling windows, stone fireplace, restaurant and lounge, and an indoor saltwater swimming pool.

You’ve brought your hiking boots, right? Great Glen Trails has more than 28 miles of trails from easy to challenging, with views of the Presidential Mountain Range. There’s also mountain bike rentals and guided kayak tours on the Androscoggin River.


Love mountain views? The Glen House in Gorham is the place — just take a look at this drone shot of the property.The Glen House

If you’ve never taken the Auto Road to the top of Mount Washington, this could be the time to do it. The twisty, turning road climbs to the highest peak in the Northeast, a 7.6-mile journey going through four ecological zones and gaining more than 4,000 feet in elevation. You can drive yourself, or a better option with kids in tow might be to jump on one of the narrated guided tours. The two-hour tour includes 30 minutes at the summit to take in the glorious fall views.

Head deep into the forests and mountains on a side-by-side ATV from Northeast ATV Rental. You’ll have access to the “Ride the Wilds” trail system, considered one of the country’s best, with more than 1,000 miles of trails. The friendly staff will provide maps, instructions, and recommendations.

A must-do: Who doesn’t want to see a moose in the wild (at a safe distance, of course)? Gorham Moose Tours offers three- to four-hour small bus tours to see moose and other wildlife. While sightings are not guaranteed, this company boasts a 93 to 97 percent success rate.

Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at