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Back-to-School Getaways

Cover up the pool, lock the grill in the shed, toss the bathing suits back into the corner of the closet: September is here. Back to school means vacation season is over, right? Not so fast. While wearing white after Labor Day might be considered a faux pas, there’s no season unfit for a vacation. It’s selecting the right kind of vacation that’s the trick.

mother waving goodbye to son leaving for school

Back to school doesn’t mean vacation season is over!

Getting your kids back in the swing of things can be rough; early bedtimes have to be reinstated, alarm clocks set, school clothes laid out, haircuts administered, school supplies bought; there’s a veritable laundry-list of preparations needed for their first day. While you’re scaling this mountain of stress, vacation will probably be the last thing on your mind – but maybe it shouldn’t be.

Getting away is a great way to relax, but planning a getaway can add a lot of stress to your expanding to-do list. Here’s our advice: Wait a few weeks, let the kids get settled a bit, and then pick a tour-based, quick-and-easy, book-it-and-forget-it vacation at a nearby destination.  We’ve put together some great trips, spanning a few different locales, but every nook and cranny of the US has something in store for weekend wayfarers.


At 277 miles long and 18 miles wide, the Grand Canyon sprawls majestically across the American Southwest. Its mammoth size means that it’s a manageable drive for most families living in the region, and it’s awe-inspiring beauty has inspired tours, tours, and more tours. Want to explore the canyon by bus? Helicopter? Raft? Donkey? No problem.

View of the Grand Canyon

Enjoy the views and natural beauty of the Grand Canyon

Canyon excursions are a great option for families that enjoy the great outdoors and couch potatoes that could use some fresh air. The Grand Canyon is one of America’s natural wonders, and if you live in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, or any nearby city, you absolutely must pay it a visit.


If you happen to live near South Beach — besides being a lucky duck — you’re in range of a lovely, low stress weekend. Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and many others offer 3-night cruises.

Aerial view of Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas

Relax aboard Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas

Anyway, the point is: What’s more relaxing than a cruise? With pre-planned itineraries and all-inclusive amenities, cruises are a great way to get away while forgetting classic travel headaches — and with prices starting at around $200 a person, they’re also affordable!

New England

Connecticut’s River Valley is an accessible, unspoiled bit of rustic New England beauty, and there are plenty of great ways to explore it. Still, it’s hard to imagine a better way than by train AND riverboat.

The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat tour is a 12-mile, narrated journey through an unfettered stretch of nature and is great for adults and kids of all ages. Plan your trip for peak fall foliage season and watch the jewel-toned trees glitter in the autumn sun.

The Essex Stream Train

All aboard!

Though its a great day-trip, the $26 per person price tag should leave room in your budget for a stay at a charming local inn.Whether it’s man-made wonders (Gillette Castle, Goodspeed Opera House, Haddam Swing Bridge, etc.) or wildlife (Cormorants, Egrets, Swans, etc.) that gets your juices flowing, this trip has something for everybody.

Inspired to plan that nearby getaway? Let us know where you’re escaping to this fall in the comments below!

By Adam Poltrack

Tags: family travel, local getaways


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