Travel: Fall Break Getaways

Fall break is the perfect time to pack your bags, hit the road and create memories with your loved ones. Whether you’re seeking an outdoor adventure or a place to unwind and enjoy the season as a family, here are four destinations to consider for fall break!

Visit a New-to-You City

Fort Wayne, Indiana

This season is one of the best times to visit Fort Wayne. Families looking for a fall-break getaway will find it all here, including beautiful foliage along the riverfront and trails, and lots of events and activities happening throughout the city.

The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is celebrating the fall season with spooktacular activities during Wild Zoo Halloween, including spooky animal enrichments, a mystery maze, treats and more. Costumes are also welcome!

On the third weekend of September, Fort Wayne celebrates its apple heritage and connection to Johnny Appleseed (who is buried along the St. Joseph riverbank) with an annual period-authentic festival. Featuring all-things apple, visitors can bite into an apple fritter or caramel apple while enjoying the roving entertainment and reenactments, browse the farmers market, and stop by Chapman’s gravesite, where you can pay tribute by leaving an apple. 

Every October, downtown Fort Wayne turns into a destination for frightening and spooktacular fun with Fright Night, featuring fireside tales, ghost tours and the annual Zombie Walk. On October 21, ghosts, goblins and zombies take over the streets of Fort Wayne with the 14th annual Fright Night — a thrilling day of family-friendly festivities, including garden trick or treats, live music, and the annual parade of zombies, where around 10,000 zombies parade through the streets of downtown Fort Wayne.

Go Camping

S&H Campground

Greenfield, Indiana

Autumn is a great time to go camping for fall break. S&H Campground in Greenfield offers a range of activities and amenities that make it an ideal choice for families seeking a fun and relaxing camping trip. This campground has accommodations for all camping styles, including cozy cabins, spots to park a camper or RV, and primitive tent sites, plus a range of onsite family activities.

Kids will love the multiple playgrounds at the campground, as well as activities like fishing, putt-putt golf (both indoor and outdoor), arcade, volleyball, garden games and more. On weekends through November, families can also enjoy the campground’s Family Fun Park, which has an inflatable playground, giant slide, bungee trampoline, trackless train and more.

Tent sites are located among mature trees, and the cabins come with many of the comforts of home. The spacious RV sites have full hookups, offering everything you need for a great family vacation. 

Find Thrills and Chills at an Amusement Park

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari

Santa Claus, Indiana

If you’re looking to add some adrenaline to your fall break, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is the place to be. Located in southern Indiana, this amusement park has rides for all ages, including roller coasters for thrill seekers.

One of the highlights of visiting Holiday World during fall break is their festive Halloween activities, known as Happy Halloween Weekends. From September 23 through October 29, visitors are greeted by charming decorations, cheerful scarecrows and friendly costumed characters in a delightfully spooky atmosphere. Kids can explore Holidog’s 3D Halloween Adventure, an interactive walk-through experience that combines fun and scares in just the right balance for little ones. Families can also enjoy live entertainment, Halloween-themed shows and trick-or-treating for kids 12 and younger.

Holiday World’s world-class roller coasters can’t be beat. Whether speeding through the twists and turns of The Voyage, feeling weightless on Thunderbird, or trying one of the mini coasters for tiny tots, there’s an adventure for everyone, big or small.

Explore a National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park

Chesterton, Indiana

Who said the beach is only for summertime? Indiana Dunes National Park is also a must-visit destination during the fall — with the major bonus of avoiding the summer crowds during fall break. Located along the southern shore of Lake Michigan in northern Indiana, Indiana Dunes is one of the only areas in the state where you can experience towering sand dunes and 15 miles of beaches.

Families can also take part in one of the park’s ranger-led programs and interpretive exhibits at the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center. At the center, you can learn about the history of the area, the unique ecosystems that call the dunes home, and the importance of conservation.

For outdoorsy folks, Indiana Dunes National Park has plenty to offer. Hike through the sandy trails, or try your hand at birdwatching and spot some of the over 350 species that inhabit the park. Bring your bikes and explore the park’s scenic trails, or pack a picnic and enjoy a leisurely lunch surrounded by the park’s natural beauty. The park also offers opportunities for fishing, kayaking and even horseback riding.

Relax at a Resort

French Lick Resort

French Lick, Indiana

Put the “break” in fall break by heading to a nearby resort that offers equal parts relaxation and entertainment. Nestled in the heart of the Hoosier National Forest, French Lick Resort is home to two historic hotels, three golf courses, two spas, indoor and outdoor pools and a Vegas-style casino. Activities range from horseback riding to bowling to surrey bike rentals, and there are tons of hiking trails to explore the grounds. Best of all, KidsFest Lodge offers supervised entertainment for the kiddos while mom and dad hit the spa (or the casino!).

One way to enjoy the beauty of the resort during the fall is by going on one of the seasonal hikes or morning walks that are offered free of charge to hotel guests. Start at West Baden Springs Hotel and meander through the woods, enjoying the changing leaves and brisk air. The hiking trail ends at the French Lick Resort horse stables, where you can book a horseback ride or even a tour of the stables.

Spend the Day on a Train

Whitewater Valley Railroad

Connersville, Indiana

Whitewater Valley Railroad dates back to 1867 and offers regularly scheduled excursions throughout the year. Fall break is a great time to catch a ride, because Whitewater offers special rides during the autumn season.

The Fall Foliage Flyer is a five-hour round-trip excursion through the scenic Whitewater Valley with a two-hour layover in historic Metamora. This train departs from Connersville’s Grand Central Station on Thursdays and Fridays in October. 

Also in the fall, Whitewater is offering a train ride to Metamora, for the Metamora Canal Days Festival. On Saturday, October 7 and Sunday, October 8, hop aboard this seven-hour round-trip excursion through the scenic Whitewater Valley with a four-hour layover in historic Metamora. Departure is from Connersville’s Grand Central Station. It’s a good way to enjoy the Metamora Canal Days Festival without worrying about parking!

Nicole Sipe
Nicole Sipe
Nicole Sipe is the editor of Indy's Child and Southwest Ohio Parent magazines. She has a BA in Journalism from California State University Northridge, and has been involved in the print and digital publishing world for most of her life. Born and raised in Southern California, Nicole traded the city and sun for corn and creeks, and now lives in central Indiana with her husband, two sons and Collie. Her latest book for children, “All About Me! Art Journal” was published in 2022 by Walter Foster Jr. In her spare time, she likes traveling with her family, enjoying good food and drink, volunteering at her children’s schools and around her community, and practicing yoga.

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