Top 8 Fall Vacation Destinations for Families in 2023

Fall is such an amazing time to travel in the United States and parts of Canada.

In the fall, the weather is typically pleasant and the crowds are usually far less than during the summertime. 

There are so many incredible fall break destinations for families. You really can’t go wrong traveling to most places within the United States during this time of year.

That said, here are my favorite destinations for a fall family getaway. 

View of a fall tree and dock along Geneva Lake at sunset.


1. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, located just 90 minutes from Chicago is a perfect fall family getaway.

Visitors can walk on the lake shore path along Geneva Lake and enjoy not only the incredible fall colors but also the stunning mansions that surround the lake. 

View of Geneva Lake surrounded by the all of the fall colors of the trees along the lake shore.

Must Know Information

Each property owner along Geneva Lake is responsible for maintaining the part of the lake shore path that is along their property line. For example, some parts of the path may have pavers while another part may have stepping stones, logs, or even grass.

This means that strollers or anything with wheels cannot be used on the lake shore path. Also, make sure to have on good walking shoes as the terrain is constantly changing.

If you are looking for even more to do with your family in Lake Geneva, you can take the Best of the Lake tour or the Ice Cream Social Cruise with Lake Geneva Cruise Line

You can also try ziplining or a ropes course with Lake Geneva Ziplines and Adventures.

Even more, downtown Lake Geneva has so many quaint shops and fantastic restaurants to enjoy.

DISCOVER MORE THINGS TO DO: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Expert Tip

When booking a hotel in the Lake Geneva area, consider its location as well as your desired amenities. It is very convenient to stay at a hotel near downtown Lake Geneva but some of the larger resorts are located further from this area. You will need to decide if you want to be able to walk to Geneva Lake and downtown or want a larger resort that is a short drive to the lake.


BEST FREE THING TO DO IN LAKE GENEVA: Walk along the lake shore path and look at all of the amazing mansions. 

2. Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls is another fantastic fall break destination for families.  

During this time the crowds have tapered off yet the weather is still great and many attractions are still open.

View of Horseshoe Falls from above with a rainbow plus a view of Table Rock Centre.

The Embassy Suites Fallsview is the perfect accommodation for your family during your fall getaway. 

Request a room with a view of the Falls, and you will be able to see the Falls illumination and fireworks right from your hotel room!

The Falls Incline Railway, located near the Embassy Suites Fallsview, is the perfect way to get near the Falls and to many of the attractions offered by Niagara Parks as well as the Fallsview Trail which follows the Niagara River.

ULTIMATE GUIDE: Planning a trip to Niagara Falls

Expert Recommendation

My top 5 attractions on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls include:
1. Niagara Falls Power Station and Tunnel
2. Whirlpool Aero Car
3. Niagara Falls Cruises boat ride to Horseshoe Falls
4. Clifton Hill
5. Falls Illumination and Fireworks

There are so many other great attractions to do and see as well! Consider purchasing one of the packages from Niagara Parks that include a variety of attractions plus a 48 hour ride on the Incline Railway and the WEGO bus

DISCOVER MORE THINGS TO DO: 25 Things to do in Niagara Falls with Kids

BEST FREE THING TO DO IN NIAGARA FALLS: Walk along the Fallsview Trail and get an up close view of Horseshoe Falls from the Table Rock Centre. Also, see the Falls illuminated at night as well as the fireworks show. 

3. San Diego

San Diego is another phenomenal fall break vacation idea for families.

The San Diego weather is usually great, and there are so many family friendly things to do in the area.

USS Midway sitting on the bay with the city of San Diego in the background.

Some of our favorite things to do in the San Diego area include:

  • Balboa Park and its museums
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Old Town Trolley tour
  • USS Midway
  • Coronado Beach
  • SeaWorld
  • See the seals in La Jolla

DISCOVER MORE: Taking a family vacation to San Diego

Expert Recommendation

The Liberty Station area is a great spot to stay. Liberty Station has a number of excellent hotel options including the Homewood Suites which is perfect for families. We LOVE this area because you can walk to tons of great restaurants including the Corvette Diner and Liberty Public Market.


BEST FREE THING TO DO IN SAN DIEGO: Visit all of the stunning beaches San Diego has to offer. You don’t want to miss Coronado Beach or seeing the seals in La Jolla. You can also enjoy an incredible sunset on the Ocean Beach Pier.

4. Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg, located next to Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a stunning destination for a family fall vacation.

There is SO much to do and see for families in Gatlinburg.

View of the Great Smoky Mountains.

VISIT GATLINBURG: Gatlinburg Family Vacation

Downtown Gatlinburg has so many exciting attractions plus tons of fun shops and restaurants. 

Expert Recommendation

I highly recommend purchasing tickets for Anakeesta. This is one of my favorite attractions in Gatlinburg. Anakeesta has so many unique things to do and has gorgeous views too!

DISCOVER ANAKEESTA: Ultimate Guide to Anakeesta

Other must see attractions in Gatlinburg include Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg Space Needle, Skybridge, and the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tram. 

If you are planning on going downtown Gatlinburg, try to get there early in the day as it can get very busy.

DISCOVER MORE: Visiting downtown Gatlinburg

Also, make sure to bring a stroller or wagon for younger children as the sidewalk can be quite busy, and it will keep them safe from the busy traffic on the street. 

A visit to Gatlinburg is not complete without at least driving through Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

If you can do a few hikes here, even better!

Two boys in front of Laurel Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Pigeon Forge is another great town to visit near Gatlinburg. 

Make sure to check out the Island at Pigeon Forge for tons of family fun including shopping, entertainment, amusement rides, restaurants, and the fountain show!

BEST FREE THING TO DO IN GATLINBURG: Drive through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is no entrance fee to this national park. If you want to park at any place within the park for longer than 15 minutes, you will need to pay a $5 daily parking fee for a parking tag to place on your vehicle. 

5. St. Louis

St. Louis, Missouri is another fun idea for a fall family getaway.

The fall weather is ideal as compared to the summer heat that St. Louis often experiences. 

Additionally, St. Louis has numerous family friendly attractions. 

We love visiting Gateway Arch National Park.

Walking below and near the Arch is absolutely incredible. 

If you can purchase tickets to go up into the Arch, I highly recommend checking it out. 

There is also an impressive museum you can visit for free in the bottom area of the Arch as well as a souvenir shop and cafe and coffee shop.

FIND OUT MORE: Gateway Arch National Park Tips

Must Know Information

You do need to go through security to enter the bottom of the Arch including the museum and gift shop. This security is for ALL visitors even if you are not taking the tram to the top.

Other amazing things to do on your Fall break vacation to St. Louis include the City Museum, St. Louis Zoo, and Union Station. 

MORE FUN: St. Louis Family Vacation

Expert Recommendation

If you are looking for a fantastic place to stay, I strongly recommend the Drury Plaza at the Arch. It is a family friendly hotel with breakfast, an awesome pool and outdoor observation deck with views of the Arch, and you can WALK to the Arch!

BEST FREE THING TO DO IN ST. LOUIS: Walk around Gateway Arch National Park, and take some fun selfies underneath and around the Arch. Also visit the museum inside of the Arch for free! Plus, don’t forget about the St. Louis zoo!

6. Branson

Branson, Missouri is another perfect destination for a family fall getaway!

It is a phenomenal spot for families to vacation as there is so much to do!

Humongous meatball sculpture with a fork in it and two young boys standing in front of it.

Branson has the iconic Silver Dollar City amusement park, and between September 15-October 28th, Silver Dollar City holds its Harvest Festival with Pumpkins in the City at night. 

GET THE TIPS: Silver Dollar City Tips

This is an event that you do not want to miss. 

Additionally, the Branson Strip is full of fun, intriguing and even some quirky museums including the Titanic Museum, Hollywood Wax Museum, Wonderworks, Aquarium at the Boardwalk, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and so many more!

The Branson Strip also has impressive miniature golf courses, family fun parks, and arcades galore!

Make sure to also check out Branson Landing which is a shopping, dining, and entertainment district located along Lake Taneycomo and near historic downtown Branson. 

Expert Recommendation

Check out the light, fire, and fountain show on the scenic boardwalk along Lake Tanycomo at Branson Landing. The fountain show is hourly starting at noon until 10pm and is not to be missed!

Another must do activity in Branson is the Top of Rock Lost Canyon and Nature Trail electric cart tour. 

This tour lasts 45-50 minutes and has absolutely stunning views. 

You will even get to ride through a cave and have the opportunity to purchase a drink from the Bat Bar.

BEST FREE THING TO DO IN BRANSON: Go to Branson Landing to see the fountain show.

This just scratches the surface of the fun to be had in Branson, Missouri on fall break with your family!

7. Chattanooga

Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee is the perfect place to enjoy all of the beauty and fun that fall has to offer!

Cannon with a view from the top of Lookout Mountain at Point Park

If you are limited on time, the one must see attraction is Rock City.

This attraction will blow you away!

Rock City is unique, stunning, and has surprises around every turn. 

On your visit to Rock City, you will walk along paths, up and down steps, across bridges, and through caves while seeing incredible rock formations, greenery, and amazing views.

At Lover’s Leap in Rock City, you can see 7 states at once!

You can also enjoy Fairytale Caverns and Mother Goose Village here too!

LEARN MORE HERE: Ultimate Guide for Your Visit to Rock City

Must Know Information

You do not want to bring a stroller into Rock City. You will not be able to go down all of the steps and through the narrow passageways including seeing Fairyland Caverns. If you have a small child or baby, I recommend putting them in a carrier.

Plan to spend a few hours at Rock City. If you go in the morning you can enjoy lunch at Lover’s Leap either at Cafe 7 or Cliff Terrace. 

Another great option for lunch is the Big Rock Grill which is located at the main entrance at Rock City. 

Besides Rock City, other great attractions to enjoy on your fall getaway include Ruby Falls, the Incline Railway, Point Park, Tennessee Aquarium, and a walk across the Walnut Street Bridge.

DISCOVER MORE: Ultimate Guide for the Best Day Trip to Chattanooga

Fun Fact

The Walnut Street Bridge is the longest pedestrian bridge in the world at .45 miles across.

Expert Tip

Park your vehicle near Coolidge Park which is considered to be on Chattanooga’s North Shore. Next, check out Coolidge Park, ride the historic indoor carousel, and then enjoy the amazing views walking across the Walnut Street Bridge. Finally treat yourself to some ice cream at the infamous Clumpies Ice Cream.

BEST FREE THING TO DO IN CHATTANOOGA: Walk across the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge.

8. Arches National Park

Arches National Park located in Moab, Utah is another terrific fall family vacation. 

Delicate Arch at Arches National Park

The temperatures are cooler as compared to the summer with an average high of 85 in September and 71 in October.  

Average lows are 54 in September and 41 in October.

It is important to note though that fall can be a very busy time in Arches National Park.

Expert Tip

You will need to make a timed entry reservation for your visit to Arches National Park. Entry tickets can be reserved three months ahead of time for a given month and WILL likely sell out. If you are unable to get a timed entry ticket, you can enter the park before 7am or after 4pm without a reservation.

Expert Recommendation

If you are looking for a hotel, I strongly recommend the Springhill Suites by Marriott in Moab. This hotel is just minutes from the entrance to Arches and is perfect for families!


The Springhill Suites also provides a free breakfast and an incredible pool area. 

If you have extra time, while in Moab, you could venture over to Canyonlands National Park for a day too.

This time of year is also perfect for rafting on the Colorado River, visiting the Moab Giants, or hiking the Grandstaff Trial to Morning Glory Bridge.

DISCOVER MORE THINGS TO DO: Things to do in Moab with Kids

There is so much to do for families in the Moab area and many perfect hikes with kids in Arches National Park.

BEST HIKES FOR KIDS: Arches National Park with Kids

Expert Tip

Make sure to dress in layers as fall mornings have the potential to be cool until the temperature rises in the afternoon.

BEST FREE THING TO DO IN MOAB: Find the dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs on Potash Road. 

Best Fall Vacation Destinations for Families

I hope this list of incredible fall vacation destinations for families gives you some ideas as to where you can venture to on your fall break or weekend getaway.

Fall is an amazing time of year to travel to many destinations. 

These destinations are just some of my favorites to visit that are super family friendly, have phenomenal weather, and a variety of fun things to see and do!

Download my free travel planning itinerary to help plan your Fall getaway today!

May you LOVE your adventure! KW

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