If you’re itching to get out of the city, these not-too-far Boston day trips are just the excuse you need
Now that the kids are settled into their school schedules, and you’ve mastered pick-ups, drop-offs, games, and appointments, doesn’t a family getaway sound nice? Sure, you’ve got lots to do before the holiday season, so a weekend away might feel like a luxury, but fall is a great time to explore the beautiful places outside of Boston and still feel like the family is on a mini vacation. We’ve got eleven fall trips to nearby places to visit, plus exciting things to do when you get there. So fuel up and plan your fall day trip now.
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Ready for a new adventure? Try these things to do in New England this weekend
1. Fitchburg, MA
Fitchburg is home to a myriad of exciting places to see and activities for all the kids in the family, and is one of our super easy Boston day trips. If your kiddos are art lovers, plan on making a stop at the Fitchburg Art Museum, where you'll find exhibits of modern art as well as cultural art from Egypt and Greece. But if your kids are passionate about the outdoors, a day trip to the many parks in Fitchburg may be the way to go. With options such as Coggshall Park for some walking trails and beautiful scenery, or Flat Rock Wildlife Sanctuary if you are looking for more of a hike (just remember bobcats and bears are known to pass through, so please check trail reports), your family can take in the fresh air and some great nature pics. Lastly, you can also turn your day trip into a weekend getaway when you check out The Great Wolf Lodge Waterpark. Though they offer day passes if you are just hoping for a small slice of summer for the family, a night or two stay at the resort offers more family activities and more time at the waterpark.
Distance from Boston: 49 miles, about 1 hour
Find out more: ci.fitchburg.ma.us
2. Gloucester, MA
One of the best New England fall getaways has got to be to Gloucester. After all, who says beach days are over just because it's fall? There's nothing like crisp sea air to invigorate and hopefully tire out the kids. Gloucester is known for its stunning beaches and savory seafood, and makes a great day trip that both kids and adults can enjoy. Head over to Half Moon Beach for a rocky trail walk, or if you are feeling more adventurous, take the family whale watching and book a tour with Cape Anne Whale Watch. Just remember to dress warmly and keep your eyes peeled. Speaking of adventure, if your kids are into knights and princesses, The Hammond Castle Museum is a must-see. Fall is an especially exciting time at Hammond Castle, as they offer Candlelight and Spiritualism tours, and the castle also serves as a venue for musical performances (mostly classical) and movie showings along with other events. Gloucester will easily be a favorite in your fall day trip book.
Distance from Boston: 40 miles, about 45 minutes
Find out more: gloucester-ma.gov
Related: 11 Incredible Vacation Rentals for Your Next Group Getaway
3. Plymouth, MA
Plymouth is an easy (not to mention educational) trip for families to take any time of year. Families will find lots to do at the Plimoth Patuxet Museums, from the Patuxet homesite, to touring the Mayflower II and a replica of a 17th-century English village, where many of the museum workers recreate what life was like back then and engage with visitors too. It's a chance for kids to learn about the Native people who first inhabited the land, and the Pilgrims who followed. Timed tickets are available to each of the sites. If you plan to visit between November 11-12, you can catch Plimoth Patuxet Museums' annual Cranberry Festival, which includes a family day with fun activities and a chance to try some locally grown, delicious cranberries.
Distance from Boston: 40 miles, about 45 minutes
Find out more: seeplymouth.com
4. Amhurst, MA
For one of the best day trips from Boston, try Amhurst. A great destination for families with big kids, Amherst is a mecca for day trippers from all over New England. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art should top your list if you've got little ones in tow who have a love for Carle's colorful books! The museum offers story time multiple times a week and they host an Everyday Art Project series for the whole family through November where families can bring out their creativity after your tour. For big kids (ages 8 & up) why not plan some adventures that go beyond the everyday? Race over to Pioneer Valley Indoor Go Karting to feed their need for speed. Or reach new heights at the nearby Central Rock Climbing Gym, where a day pass is all you need to try your hand at their rock walls.
Distance from Boston: 95 miles, about 1 hour and 45 minutes
Find out more: amherstarea.com
Related: Plan a Fall Escape: 10 New England Cabins to Rent Now
5. Gilford, NH
Adventure awaits in the mountains of New Hampshire at the Gunstock Mountain Resort. Open on weekends only for the fall, families can ride the mountain coaster, take a scenic chairlift ride or plan to zipline through the trees. And that's all before you hit the hiking or biking trails that crisscross around the mountain. After you've had your fill of mountain adventures, make your way to Beans & Greens Farm to pick up fresh veggies and dessert from their bakery section. They have everything from pies to cookies and a variety of bread. The farm also hosts a haunted corn maze during the fall season and families can buy their tickets online ahead of time. Grab some fresh cookies for the kiddos and let them lead you out of the spooky corn maze before heading home!
Distance from Boston: 98 miles, about 1 hour and 40 minutes
Find out more: gilfordnh.org
6. Springfield, MA
Trust us, Springfield is one of the best New England fall getaways around. After all, when you're traveling with kids, you can never underestimate the power of proximity. Enter Springfield Museums, with several fantastic spots to hit in one location. Grab tickets to The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and the Memorial Sculpture Garden for your little bookworms. The museum is celebrating it's 20th anniversary this year so it will make a memorable part of your day trip! Keep the energy going when you bring the kids face to face with their wildlife faves at the Zoo in Forest Park before finishing the day at the Basketball Hall of Fame. 40,000 square feet of basketball history including a new Kobe Bryant exhibit? Yes, please!
Distance from Boston: 90 miles, about 1 hour and 30 minutes
Find out more: springfielddowntown.com
7. Providence, RI
Consider Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island, Boston Common II. Your kids will love the familiarity while you'll love getting out of the city for the day. Rent a kayak or even take a pirate cruise around the waterways before catching a ride on the carousel. The fall brings an exciting twist to the usual swan boat rides, you can ride them at night while the boats are illuminated by colorful lights. Or keep it simple with hikes along the park trails and rides on the new pump track in the bike park. Round out the day with a trip to the Zoo if animals are what your kids can't get enough of. Or put the Museum of Natural History on your can't-miss list if star gazing is your thing. A truly fantastic one-stop-shop.
Distance from Boston: 51 miles, about 1 hour
Find out more: goprovidence.com
8. Bretton Woods, NH
If your family enjoys a good balance between relaxation and family fun, head to New Hampshire and the Omni Mount Washington Resort. From zip lining and canopy tours that get you up into the trees to more down to earth adventures like fly fishing, tennis and mountain biking, or simply gazing at the beautiful fall foliage from your cozy room, there's something for everyone. A Masquerade and Paranormal Weekend put on by Strange Escapes in November is a spooky attraction for ghost story lovers in the month of November. The resort also offers various packages to customize your stay, like the Modified American Plan which takes care of dinner and breakfast daily so that you have more time and energy to spend with the family. Most activities are discounted for guests, so consider staying a night or two.
Distance from Boston: 157 miles, about 2 hours and 30 minutes
Find out more: brettonwoods.com
9. Strubridge, MA
One of the best New England fall getaways is steeped in history. It is, after all, how New Englanders roll. Head west to Sturbridge and Old Sturbridge Village where historians in full cosplay gear will let you in on all the 19th century gossip and goods so you feel like a village insider. It's also the perfect place to admire some of that famous New England fall foliage. Please note that during the fall, the Old Sturbridge Village is open Wednesday through Sunday only.
Insider Tip: Wells State Park is another hot spot for families looking for a respite away from the city.
Distance from Boston: 60 miles, about 1 hour
Find out more: osv.org
10. Westford, MA
Sometimes you don't have to travel far to find fun-filled adventures for your crew. Take a totally easy Boston day trip that starts at Nashoba Brook Wildlife Sanctuary is an amazing place to catch glimpses of the local wildlife such as hawks, owls, and foxes, or simply to take a nice family hike away from the city. Just don't plan on bringing any of your fur babies along for the trip here, dogs and pets are not allowed in the sanctuary. There's also Bobby's Ranch where you can book a family trail ride if you've got horseback riders over the age of nine.
Distance from Boston: 35 miles, about 35 minutes
Find out more: westford.info
11. Mystic, CT
Make Mystic your fall day trip destination if you've got mini marine biologists in your crew. Mystic Aquarium is where you'll find all the underwater action, from sharks you can actually touch to seals, sea lions and penguins. They even have dinosaurs! And no visit would be complete without taking in a show at the Foxwoods Marine Theater. Once you've learned all there is to know about marine creatures, head to the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center to learn about land animals. End the day with some high seas adventures at the Mystic Seaport Museum where children under age 7 can dress like sailors and learn what life on the sea is like. The museum also offers toy boat building for an additional price, but it's sure to keep their little hands busy.
Distance from Boston: 100 miles, about 1 hour and 40 minutes
Find out more: mysticchamber.org