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How to Plan Your Perfect Autumn Vacation

Enjoy Fall Foliage With Your Family

Fall is here; summer is just a hot humid memory. However, fall is the season for fun, colorful and fantastic vacation opportunities for families with young children, those whose kids are in year-round school and for everyone who plans a getaway over one of fall’s long weekends.

“Autumn is a great time to explore America,” said Christine Loomis, travel expert and family travel author. “While it’s ‘off-season’ in the travel industry, that doesn’t mean families give up services or quality. On the contrary, at this time of year the weather is often at its best and families have more options and can get better value for their money than during peak season. For example, vacation rentals are more abundant and usually less expensive in the fall, giving parents and children a chance to spend quality time together in top destinations — without breaking the family bank.”

Following are some tips designed to make your fall family vacation better and more budget-friendly:

1: Think outside the box when choosing a destination.

Ski areas — including Killington, Vt, Park City, Utah and Bretton Woods, N.H. — can be ideal getaways in the fall. Most ski towns are four-season destinations, meaning there are attractions and activities year-round. In the fall, however, families don’t have to fight crowds or pay top dollar in order to do the things they like — hiking, biking, horseback riding, rafting, golf, jeep tours, and, of course, enjoying the autumn foliage. Family-friendly festivals abound in autumn, too. Harvest festivals and Octoberfests always include family entertainment, and farms across the country offer apple and pumpkin picking, hayrides, even petting zoos for close-up animal encounters just right for little ones.

2: You don’t have to buy a second home in order to have your own home-away-from-home fall getaway.

It’s just as easy to book a vacation rental home as it is to book a hotel room. Single-family homes, roomy condos and deluxe properties are just a phone call away. Vacation homes not only offer more room for the money, they also offer less stress for vacationing families. “Homes and condos give families the best of two worlds — shared space for quality together time and privacy for kids’ naps or adult relaxation. In addition, fully-furnished properties allow you to prepare easy meals so you don’t have the expense — and hassle — of eating every meal out in restaurants,” said Loomis.

3: Keep kids entertained and make memories last forever with easy vacation projects.

Let the kids take pictures of fall foliage and vacation activities. Develop film at a local one-hour shop, then gather in your cozy vacation home — many with fireplaces — to tape the photos into a scrapbook. Let the kids write captions.

Pack a tree guide, sketchbook, pen and pencils and create an illustrated journal of your fall adventures. A simple piece of burlap or felt is a good place to stick fall leaves as you collect them. Or take two sticks and tie string between them, like a loom. Slip leaves, stones, and other gifts of nature between the strings to make a colorful fall collage. For leaves to retain their bright color, place them between layers of plastic wrap in a book.

Bring along your iPad and portable dvd players (good for entertaining kids while traveling). By vacation’s end, you’ll have a family travelogue that will provide memories, laughter, and a sense of togetherness for years to come.