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Fall Break: Don’t Fall Into a Vacation Rut

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Fall Break: Don’t Fall Into a Vacation Rut

I was so excited for the taste of fall that we experienced last weekend. There was a chill in the evening air, friends were posting pumpkin recipes on Facebook and we spent several hours at the Redstone Arsenal Oktoberfest. Thanks to the local school systems, this year we are able to plan a Fall Break Vacation without having to pull the kids out of school!

As always, the beach will be a popular destination. However, if you don’t want to vacation with the masses, here are a few other ideas for family bonding.

Again, I like to keep the driving distance under seven hours. Please refer back to my previous Budget Friendly Travel advice and for your rental car needs (we like to rent to spare the miles on our car), and look no further than Enterprise Rental Car in Huntsville on Bob Wallace Avenue.

Memphis, TN

(3 hours and 32 minutes)

Suggested lodging: The Peabody Memphis is a must stay at least once in your lifetime. I still have fond memories of visiting those ducks with my parents when I was a child. Actually, I still have a stuffed duck from one of those visits! Mingle with tourists and locals alike. Get to know the history from stories that the staff will tell. And of course, the marching of the ducks is a legendary experience.

Fun for the Family:

  1.  In case you chose alternate lodging, The Peabody is a stop that cannot be missed. Schedule your visit around the marching of the ducks.
  2. Are you a Space and Rocket Center Member or SciQuest Member?  Don’t forget to put those memberships to use while traveling. In Memphis, visit The Pink Palace Museum. Keep this guide handy!
  3.  For the history buffs, like our Caroline Grace, check out The National Civil Rights Museum.
  4. There is nothing better on a cool fall day than a zoo. The Memphis Zoo is a great one!

Do NOT leave Memphis without a taste of the bar-b-que. Central BBQ (just around the corner  from the Civil Rights Museum) and Rendezvous are my top two picks.  Travel and Leisure ran a great review.

Photo by Ron Cogswell via Flickr Creative Commons.
Photo by Ron Cogswell via Flickr Creative Commons.

Highlands, NC

(4 hours and 34 minutes)


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Suggested Lodging: If traveling without budget boundaries, The Old Edwards Inn is breathtaking and romantic, however, with kids along for the adventure I would be likely to return to Mitchell’s Lodge and Cottages.

Fun for the Family:
This is an adventure and outdoor-type of destination. Pack a good pair of hiking shoes, sunscreen, insect repellant and clothing to layer and be ready to play.

  1.  Take the family on a high flying adventure at Highlands Aerial Park.  Designed for ages 5 and older, check out the BRAVE INDIAN tour.
  2. The Highland Hiker is your source in case you forgot to pack essential hiking gear or are just looking for guidance to explore the area.

Day Hikes and Waterfalls are wonderful ways to bond as a family. And wear the little ones out so that mom and dad can enjoy a glass of wine after the kids fall asleep!

Life lesson:  Don’t judge a book by its cover.  While we were in the Highland’s area, we ran across the best French restaurant inside a gas station… yes you heard me right!  This is about 32 minutes from Highlands but you shouldn’t leave the area without sampling a meal at Caffe Rel. The restaurant is very kid friendly, we took all five with us and even saw Santa Claus having dinner in the off season – I bet he was checking up on the kids to make sure they used their manners at dinner!

A French restaurant in a gas station. Wait... WHAT?
A French restaurant in a gas station. Wait… WHAT?

Atlanta, GA

(3 hours and 11 minutes)

Suggested Lodging: I would stick with a Hilton Property here. Lodging is completely dependent on what you want to do – I have probably spent the night in all of the Embassy Suites and Hampton Inn hotels in Atlanta and they are all great!

Fun for the Family:

  1.  Ever since we visited Andretti Indoor Karting and Games, Aiden has been begging for another visit to Atlanta. This was a great adventure for boys and girls alike, and a great idea for a team dinner if you are in Atlanta with a sporting event.
  2. Medieval Times is a fun family centered event that  is memorable for all ages.  This fall break take advantage of their Knight Training Event or Fall Break Special. Check out their specials and create a Knight to Remember for your family! Be sure to read to the end of this post for a chance to win tickets!
  3. Take an escape from the usual and stop for a meal at R. Thomas Grill. When was the last time you dined with exotic birds in a California style covered patio/tent?

Culinary Adventure:  One of my favorite dining experiences in Atlanta is Fogo de Chao.  PRO-TIP:  Go at lunch time – also the salad bar choice without the meats is a meal in itself!

See Also
road trips from Huntsville

Indoor go-carts? Where do we sign up?
Indoor go-carts? Where do we sign up?

Asheville, NC

(5 hours and 8 minutes)
One of my favorite childhood memories was a vacation with our neighbors to Asheville! With an abundance of nature activities Ashville, NC is the perfect fall escape.

Fun with the Family:


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Pre-trip: Read The Mystery of Biltmore House by Carole Marsh with the kids.

  1.  Plan a day of hiking and nature exploration at Chimney Rock State Park.  PRO-TIP: Pack a cooler and snacks. You’ll need them.
  2. Visit the Biltmore Estate. If you live in the South you should visit this Vanderbilt Estate at least once. Take advantage of this all-day event which should take 6-8 hours. Children under 9 are admitted for free. With pre-purchased tickets you can save $12.
  3. Do you have a train lover in your family? Take a Fall Foliage ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

Culinary Adventure: You will not go hungry if you use this as your guide: Explore Asheville Restaurants and Asheville’s Kid-Friendliest Easteries from a mom’s perspective.

Medieval Times in Atlanta is ALWAYS a big hit!
Medieval Times in Atlanta is ALWAYS a big hit!

I wish you and your family a Fall Break to remember!
It is very fitting that Wanderlust has a German origin – thank you for allowing me to share my Wanderlust with you!

Read more of Melika’s adventures in family traveling HERE on Rocket City Mom.

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View Comments (20)
  • These are all great ideas! My boys have been asking to go to Medieval Times for years. As always, wonderful giveaways & information, RCM!

    • Good luck in this giveaway! If you don’t win these tickets, follow Medieval Times on Facebook! They frequently have specials and giveaways too!
      Happy Travels, Melika

  • We’re off to visit grandma for a week with a stop in Atlanta. Looking forward to getting out of town for a while!

  • Fall break has snuck up on me! I don’t have anything planned. Will probably do a staycation and make use of our local memberships.

  • I always wanted to try Medieval times. NC is just too long of a drive for a 5 year old. I was personally thinking about doing Chattanooga for a night, it’s pretty close and has some interesting things to do.

    This is the first year that we have fall break, and we are at a loss. We have another one on the way, so was trying to save up our vacation time for the newborn.

  • We’ve been wanting to head over to Atlanta to visit family. So we will probably be doing that. Thanks for the tips!

  • We have been talking about taking a mini-roadtrip for a while now. These are all great suggestions! I am originally from New Jersey, and we had a Medieval Times there, but I never did get to go. Going to try my luck at the contest. Lol…Medieval Times always makes me think of Jim Carrey in “The Cable Guy” 😛

  • I did not realize Asheville was so close! I used to love going there when I was in college

  • We just went to Memphis for the weekend and the kids had a blast. I think we are going to stay home for Fall Break, although I am going to take a previous RCM suggestion of Shakalaka one day!

  • Fun ideas!! We are headed to ATL last minute and never would have thought of Medieval Times!

  • I think we are going to hit the road and do a mini vacation to Atlanta for fall break. Thank you so much for all the information that you provide about the local festivities and budget family friendly vacation spots!!!!!! RCM is awesome!!!!!

  • We will probably visit a few local places that my son loves… the Huntsville Botanical Gardens and most likely one of the pumpkin patches. Would love to visit Medival Times soon though… it looks like alot of fun!

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