We offer you five great reasons to get the gang in the car – or even on a plane – for a fall weekend getaway built around everything from Florida’s tastiest crustacean to Maine’s most magnificent boats.
Windjammer Festival [Camden, ME]
Sidle up to magnificent schooners at this much-loved annual tradition in Camden. You’ll get a close-up look at more than a dozen iron-hulled merchant ships built in the 1800s and early 1900s, and a truly unique look at the harbor from their decks. The Windjammer Festival has some very fun attractions outside of the boats, including one that gives families a chance to build their own sea-faring vessels out of plywood and nails for a race across the harbor, or the opportunity to take part in a breakneck two-minute sprint across floating lobster traps.
Super Boat Races [Clearwater, FL]
Watch a flotilla of powerhouse boats slash thorugh the crystal-clear waters off Clearwater Beach at up to 180 miles per hour at these Super Boat Races. Kids will thrill at the raw speed and thunderous noise of the mighty machines, while parents should find plenty to enjoy between the fast-paced races, live music, and evening fireworks. While you’re there, pick up a VIP pass for free paddleboard lessons at Clearwater Community Sailing Center, a free date with Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and free rides on the cheerful red Jolley Trolley for easy access to every point on Clearwater Beach.
Flaming Leaves Festival [Lake Placid, NY]
Combine stunning fall foliage and Olympic-caliber ski jumpers, and you have this popular Adriondacks staple. Watch the gravity-defying athletes and their leaps set to the music of live blues bands, all while munching on barbecue grilled and smoked by some of the region’s finest pitmasters. Once the festivities have died down, be sure to take the chairlift up Whiteface Mountain and elevator to the top of the 120-meter ski jump to catch the brilliant red, yellow, and orange trees that give the Flaming Leaves Festival its name.
Annual Sarasota Pumpkin Festival [Sarasota, FL]
This three-day ode to the humble orange gourd features some of the biggest pumpkins you’ll ever see in person, plus three days of pie-eating contests for all ages. Children can check out the zoo, live Ninja Turtles, and giant maze for hours of entertainment, or just sample some of the pumpkin-filled treats all over Payne Park. As you might expect from Sarasota, there is also a full-fledged circus that features some of America’s finest performers, straight from the vaunted touring Ringling Bros. show.
Stone Crab Festival [Naples, FL]
The two-day Florida Stone Crab Festival will give you ample opportunities to sample arguably the tastiest claws in the animal kingdom. Naples has one of the largest stone crab fisheries in the world and is just a stone (crab’s) throw away from the famed Joe’s Stone Crab. The crab is best known for its massive, oyster-crushing claws, and those claws give it culinary cachet. For kids who don’t want to crack into the main attraction, there’s face painting, bounce houses, balloon animals, and day cruises in Naples’s crystal-blue waters, where you might spot a dolphin or two.