Traveling through autumn on family-friendly jaunts from New York City
As the leaves start to change colors and the temperatures get a little chilly, my family and I like to stay closer to our New York metro area home for most our trips. Fall on the East Coast is so pretty! Why would we ever leave?
This year the leaves aren’t the only things changing; the dynamic of my family is transforming, too. My boys are growing up quickly and their schedules are getting busier. I find that any time I can get away with them is precious. Our oldest will be going to college soon, and, suddenly, every visit to our favorite apple farm is a memory to which we want to cling forever. Every road trip has become that much more special. I have realized that these family excursions are more than just adventures; they are ways for us to create new moments in time together as a family.
In recent months, we’ve compiled a list of favorite family trips in and around New York City. Here are some of the highlights.
Bear Mountain via The Circle Line
The Circle Line, a cruise company, is known for its boat tours along the Hudson River. During the month of October, certain cruises go a bit farther up the river (two hours one-way) to Bear Mountain State Park, where guests can disembark and enjoy the park for up to three hours. During this time, the park also hosts Oktoberfest and sells food to make for a perfect picnic outing. Rent a paddle boat and enjoy Hessian Lake.
Thanks to amazing fall foliage, the Tarrytown area of New York State is stunning during autumn months. The town is located near the Hudson River and also has a train that runs in and out of Grand Central Station (trips are about one hour). One of the area’s biggest attractions is Sleepy Hollow, the setting for a famous Halloween story by the same name. Naturally, residents of this community like to do Halloween in a big way. The best example of this: The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, an organized walk around town on which visitors can witness the spectacle of 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins.
If you wanted to stay overnight to enjoy all the evening festivities and lights, our family really enjoys the accommodations at the Sheraton Tarrytown Hotel. Especially because the hotel staff welcomes our little four-legged baby as well.
The Berkshires are a chain of mountains in western Massachusetts (and, technically, eastern New York). I recently traveled to the area to drive the Mohawk Trail, a famous route for leaf-peeping that also had a colorful history as a trade route for Native Americans. The trail follows what is now Route 2 through Massachusetts, and technically starts in Williamstown. On a foggy day, the clouds have a way of creating an effect on the colorful hilltops that make them look like paintings.
Viewfinder Tip: It’s natural to want to take pictures as you’re driving through fall foliage. Be safe and wait to shoot until you’ve stopped the car.
A great experience along the Mohawk Trail is to drive to the summit of Western Gateway Heritage State Park, which is relatively empty during the week. The winding roads to the summit are full of color from the changing foliage and the wildflowers that grow along the road. There are several overlooks spots where you can stop to take photos of the valley below. When I visited, the morning sky was full of fog, You also will find several trailheads along the way, so dress for a hike.
Another option: Hike in Natural Bridge State Park, named after a naturally formed white marble arch. Here you also can tour the abandoned marble quarry located nearby.
When I went recently, I managed to make the Berkshires into a day trip by leaving early in the morning and returning early in the evening (all told, it’s a four-hour one-way drive from New York). Most people who visit the region choose to stay overnight, though finding a hotel during the peak season can be difficult and costly with kids.
Considering that Corning is a one-way drive of five hours from New York, this definitely is one of those trips you want to stretch into a long weekend. I recently went with my kids and their excitement over blowing their own glass ornaments at the Corning Museum of Glass was enough to make me tear up. They also really enjoyed the scavenger hunt at the Rockwell Museum (not to be confused with the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts), and the plane and car exhibits at the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum. The Rockwell Museum is located in the city’s former City Hall, and displays everything from Southwestern pottery to American wildlife paintings. At the Curtiss Museum, I recommend watching the short film about Curtiss’ life; this is where I learned about his invention of V8-powered motorcycles, and his nickname as the “Father of Naval Aviation.”
When we were there, we also spent a nice amount of time hiking through Watkins Glen State Park, looking at insects and enjoying the waterfalls along the (Glen Creek) gorge. The park was so empty, we felt like the only family alive in the world. Most of the time, we couldn’t have been happier.
Whether you want to take a trip for a couple of hours or a few days, any of these excursions from New York will leave you feeling more enriched and better connected as family. Do one of these trips now, before your kids become too old to appreciate it!
What are some of your favorite fall getaways and why?
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