Family Friendly Things to Do in New England this Fall

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Image via Shannon Watt

The beginning of the fall season is upon us, and one of the best places to immerse yourself in it’s full splendor is New England. The flaming foliage and crispy air is the optimal time to visit the area and experience its delights. On our recent travels through the region we found some great activities for families to enjoy in the area.

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Image via Shannon Watt

Fall Foliage:

Of course the most popular thing to do in New England in the fall is to drive around and see the leaves changing color. The White Mountains in New Hampshire are a perfect place to do just that. The 112 – Kancamagus Highway – has been named one of the most scenic drives in the entire USA.

While there, you can also enjoy the foliage by hiking into the numerous trails in the gorges tucked at the base of the White Mountains. Flume Gorge is a gorgeous trail at the base of Liberty Mountain that leads to a waterfall.  The rock formations along the narrow walls and the stream running along beside you make this hike a memorable one, and who doesn’t love a waterfall at the end?

If you’d like to see the foliage from a higher vantage point, drive up the road to the Cannon Tramway and take the gondola to the top of the mountain. The views are spectacular, and on a clear day you can see the surrounding states and Canada.

If the kids need a break from all the site seeing, check out Attitash ski resort. Even if there’s no snow yet, the resort has many things to offer families in search of fun. Attitash has an alpine slide, an alpine roller coaster, Eurobungy trampolines, and an air bag jump that the kids and adults love to jump off the tower into. It’s a great way to enjoy the mountains even before the ski season begins.

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Image via Shannon Watt

Fruits of the Sea

Even with the cooling temperatures, the ocean has some great family activities. Whale feeding grounds are about 20 miles off the coast of Maine. They whales stay through October, and then migrate south. You can catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures by taking a boat tour out of Kennebunkport. We went on a First Chance Whale Watching tour out into the Atlantic and got a glimpse of a few North Atlantic Right whales and Minsk whales.

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Another great sea adventure is taking a ride on a lobster boat and actually helping the crew collect lobsters from the traps. Lucky Catch Lobster tours puts its new “crew” to work during the tour, and you learn about the lobster fishing trade, the traps, and the life cycle of lobsters in the process. Passengers have the option of putting bands on the lobster claws, holding a lobster, measuring it, clearing the traps of small critters, and other tasks that keep the trip lively. The hands-on experience is one kids surely won’t forget.

Captain Tom and his crew are available to answer any question you think of and, at the end, allow guests to buy the lobsters just caught for a nominal price. We bought some and then walked off the boat and into the restaurant on the pier where they’ll cook’em right up for you to eat within minutes. It was an experience my kids won’t soon forget.

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Image via Shannon Watt

History & Thanksgiving Preparations

Fall marks the beginning of the holiday season, and planning for your upcoming Thanksgiving feast. In classrooms across America, young children will learn about the First Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and the Indians. But have you ever wanted to see where it all it began? Would you like to eat an authentic feast that’s as close to what the pilgrims actually had that first year back in 1621? Then Plimoth Plantation is the place to visit this fall.

Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts is a living history center with outdoor exhibits of a Wampanoag village and a 17th century English settlement.

The English settlement has a fort and several structures, each with its own purpose. As you enter each place you learn from its occupants what it’s used for, and to whom it belongs. We walked through the home of the William Bradford, we talked with farmers and gardeners as they tended to their animals and crops. We even got a chance to wash dishes in their primitive way. The townspeople dressed and spoke in an authentic way that transported us back to what it must have been like.

The Wampanoag homesite is inhabited daily with Native people in historically accurate clothing. They are doing traditional activities that would’ve been done in that time period, like creating shell jewelry, burning out logs for canoes, and cooking meals of indigenous plants over an open fire. When I entered the village I wasn’t prepared for what I first saw – little children scurrying around in deerskins and native hairstyles – they were adorable. In addition, they spoke using some English and some native words. We met whole families who’ve grown up participating in this educational program at the living history museum and we learned so much by interacting with them. The native homesite was by far our favorite portion of Plimoth.

 There’s also a full-scale replica of the Mayflower II that was built in England and sailed to America in 1957. You can walk the decks and speak to the crew, who wear period costumes and speak as men from the time period as well. Seeing the ship up close, how small it is, and how many people were on board, really helped me understand what a hard voyage that must’ve been.

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If you visit during the month of November you can enjoy a traditional harvest dinner with the pilgrims. Plimoth goes all out in planning a feast accompanied by music and verse of the time period. You can find out more details here.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to enjoy fall in New England. The only thing left to decide is when to go and where to start! Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy the changing of the seasons before the rush of the holidays begins.

 What are you favorite places in New England? Where do you enjoy going in the fall? Leave your tips in the comments below, I'm always looking for a great idea for next year.            

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Family Friendly Things to Do in New England this Fall

Shannon is a mother of 3 teens, who hit 40 and decided that instead of a "mid-life crisis", she wanted an adventure of a lifetime. She convinced her wonderfully open-minded husband to pack up their house, sell most of their possessions, and travel the USA in an RV for a year or two. Besides homeschooling her kids, running their online program, Watts in the World, Shannon loves to explore new places. Nothing is more exciting than waking up in a new city everyday, and discovering what's great abou ... More

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