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Taking the Kids: So many choices for fall getaways

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

So many choices! With many schools, colleges and universities starting the year with remote learning — and parents continuing to work from home, there is an unprecedented opportunity for a longer road trip from home — often at a bargain and reduced capacity at many places means you won’t face crowds, even at theme parks.

Of course, you have to be prepared for the new normal travel landscape. Restaurants have greatly reduced capacity so you may need reservations. Many families this year prefer takeout (and many more restaurants now offer this option) or are preparing their own food. And masks are mandated outdoors in some places, as well as indoors.

You also will need reservations at museums that have re-opened, as well as at theme parks because they have greatly reduced capacity. Walt Disney World has, in fact, cut back hours.

Some national parks are also requiring reservations for a specific time. Wherever you plan to go, check the websites — and check again before your visit as things can change on a daily basis. (Our Taking the Kids fall getaway guide can give you some great ideas!)

You can fly, and flights have never been so cheap. But many countries are still closed to Americans and many Americans simply are uncomfortable taking to the skies right now or going too far from home.

You can take a once-in-a-lifetime adventure on short notice — rafting the Grand Canyon (as long as your kids are at least 12) where outfitters have availability this fall for trips that typically book more than a year in advance. OARS has trips well into October. Western River Expeditions also has availability on trips that don’t require hiking in or out of the canyon. All outfitters have added COVID mitigation plans.


(With kids as young as seven, Explore Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and raft the Green River through the Gates of Lodore, with three-day trips starting at under $850 (the kids will love inflatable kayaking).

You won’t be able to cruise this fall from American ports as the Cruise Lines International Association has just announced there won’t be cruises until at least the end of October. But you certainly can plan for next year or the year after with new amenities coming — like Carnival’s roller coaster at sea or special deals for booking now and cruising later with liberal cancellation policies and low deposits like from Holland America.

Your favorite fall festivals may be canceled, but you can still get out to a farm or an orchard. (Check for an orchard near you.) When was the last time you raced your kids through a corn maze? Search Corn Mazes America for a state-by-state directory and to see which ones are open. Fall is also a great time to visit farmers’ markets, though with reduced capacity expect lines to enter. You can meet local farmers and select what’s in season for those meals you are making at your vacation rental or for your picnic.

Enjoy fall foliage somewhere you have never been — Colorado, Utah or the Smoky Mountains, for example.


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