Kid-friendly camping in New England this Fall
Bringing kids camping is always a noble pursuit, but fall is an especially meaningful time to connect children with the outdoors. Autumn in New England is when nature’s life cycle is at its most tangible, teachable and fun, with transformations in the foliage, migrating animals, and Read more...
Bringing kids camping is always a noble pursuit, but fall is an especially meaningful time to connect children with the outdoors. Autumn in New England is when nature’s life cycle is at its most tangible, teachable and fun, with transformations in the foliage, migrating animals, and harvest-time growing regions to explore. It’s a chance to form hands-on, leaf-stomping traditions with your kids, and teach them fall means more than just pumpkin spice lattes.
Here is our quick guide to kid friendly fall camping in New England this fall. The Hipcamps listed here have either family-friendly seasonal activities on-site, farm animals to observe, are comfort-driven with extra amenities, or have extra space for kids to run around and relax.
For a good primer on camping with children, start here. When it comes to camping in fall, here are a few extra considerations for planning your trip:
For camp, your first decision is tent or cabin. Temperatures in New England are lower in the fall, and daylight is a bit shorter. Make sure you’re prepared for cooler temperatures with a warm, cozy sleeping set up. Check the lows in the weather forecast. If your tent and bags are not rated for those temps, go with one of our lodging options for a snug and immersive stay in a cabin, tiny house or yurt on private land. Or, if you have a large vehicle or RV, search for RV lodging and build a sleeping nest in your car. As always, extra blankets, pillows and favorite stuffed animals will make your beds more fun and familiar for the kids.
Pack enough layers for everyone, including warm pajamas, hats, gloves, and wool socks. Bring firewood for both evening and morning fires. And pack a thermos or two so that you can boil water and have hot chocolate, tea, or miso soup on hand in the evenings. Make sure the young ones are drinking enough water during the day, as our bodies don’t always remind us to rehydrate when outdoors in cooler weather.
Remember, the New England sun sets in September and October as early as 7 or 6-ish, so plan for down-time after dark. Lanterns or string lights for the tent or picnic table are a must. Make sure everyone gets a headlamp or flashlight. Bring along books, cards or board games for in-tent activities after dark. Take a moment to organize your bedtime supply kit before dinner so you don’t need to dig around for essentials after dark.
Also, map-out nearby towns, general stores and diners nearby. An evening pie or donut-run to town can be the perfect way to use a few evening hours and wind the kids down for bed.
Now, the fun part. From New Haven to Burlington, the New England countryside is loaded with fall activities. When mapping your trip out, search your rout for pumpkin patches, u-pick apples and grapes, corn mazes, hay rides and petting zoos. Fall festivals and farmers markets are also common in New England at fall — great ways for kids to learn about produce, eat some apple cider donuts, and maybe meet a friendly goat or two.
Obviously, leaf peeping is a must. For day trips and hikes, look for County and State Parks nearby for trails. Some may even have bike paths in deciduous forests. Bring a field guide on these excursions to identify trees. Fall can be a great time to teach children about nature’s cycles - why are the leafs falling? What are hibernating animals doing right now? What is happening to the planet that causes the change in season?
(Fall is also a great time to bring the kids to New England’s major parks, like Acadia National Park, the Catskills or the White Mountain National Forest. Not only do these parks host epic fall foliage color transformations, they are typically less-crowded and have a more local vibe after Labor Day.)
For camp activities, bring art and craft supplies to make leaf art, like collages, mosaics or leaf rubbings. Carve a friendly jack-o-lantern for an outdoor night-light. And make sure your kids have personal chairs to put near the campfire for roasting marshmallows. And, as always, make sure to deputize your kids in campsite tasks - pitching the tent, prepping for dinner, and starting a fire are all empowering skills for a kid to practice at camp.
Lastly, if this is your first fall camping trip with kids, keep it short and close to home. Whether you’re based in Boston, Providence or Portland, there are Hipcamps near you. There’s no need to burn yourself or your kids out with too many logistics on a fall trip. Consider it a fun, cozy farewell to the camping season and you may just begin a new family tradition.
Ready to find your fall family getaway? Here are a few of our favorite kid friendly New England camps:
It’s not hard to see why we love the West Yurt at Finnegan’s Farm. The luxurious yurt takes the work out of setting up camp and will fit everyone in its queen sized bed. Close to New Haven, this farm site features friendly goats, cows, ducks, chickens and a pony.
The Wilder Hills Gardens is a perfect self-contained fall foliage campsite in western Massachusetts. Surrounded by deciduous trees, this campground has fire pits, an outhouse with sink and a warm-water shower for campers. There farm has a chicken coop to visit and has u-pick Asian pears in the fall.
New Hampshire’s Paca Hill Farm lets you pitch a tent on their working alpaca farm. You can purchase fresh eggs and seasonal veggies from the farm daily, or walk to the adjacent pancake house for breakfast.