Living in Florida, we don’t get to see fall foliage the way much of the country does; our palm trees stay pretty much the same color all year round, and their leaves only fall during our tropical thunderstorms. Both of my boys love to read and be read to, and every year they read stories about fall and Halloween, and ask questions about leaves changing color and what that means. Last year we decided to embark on an annual fall trip so our boys could see the fall colors and get to experience the seasons a little. Last year we visited Niagara Falls, and this year we decided to spend a few days in Boston and the see a little of the surrounding area as part of a mini New England fall foliage road trip. We were blessed with beautiful weather for most of our trip; crisp, cold days filled with sunshine and blue skies. Our boys absolutely loved getting to see the beautiful fall colors, eat hot apple cider donuts, run through red and gold leaf piles, and generally experience fall in New England. We were lucky enough to partner with Toyota on this trip so we had a safe, comfortable family friendly car to help us see as much as possible, and I thought I’d share a little of our trip in case you were thinking of doing something similar. Here are the highlights of our New England fall foliage road trip!
We started our trip to Massachusetts with a few days in Boston, which is a city I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. Everyone told us we would love the city, but we really had no idea how much there would be to do for families. It turns out that we barely scratched the surface of things to do, and now we need to go back to see everything we missed. Highlights included visiting the Public Gardens to see the famous Make Way for Ducklings statue, taking a Duck Boat Tour, visiting the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, spending a whole (very wet and windy) day at the incredible Boston Children’s Museum, and eating some of the most amazing fresh seafood (although how good of an idea it was to introduce my 2-year old foodie to lobster, I’m not sure!) We also took a trip across the Charles River to Cambridge where we toured Harvard University and were introduced to Mike’s Pastry and the best cannoli we’ve ever had!
Read through my post on 20 things to do in Boston with kids for all of my suggestions for family friendly Boston attractions.
Driving through Massachusetts; North Andover and the New England fall foliage
This was what we were most excited for! Jumping in the car and driving through the New England country roads to see how fall is supposed to look! Growing up in England, fall is one of the seasons I miss the most; I love it when the weather starts to cool down and the leaves start to change, and I do think it’s a real shame that my kids don’t get that full experience living in Florida. I was so excited to see some real fall foliage; we were coming a little late in the season and I’d been told the colors wouldn’t be at their best, so I was very pleasantly surprised when I discovered how pretty everything still looked. We didn’t have a particular destination in mind, we just wanted to get out there and drive to see what we could see!
Our Toyota Highlander was the perfect car for the job. The car was spacious enough to comfortably hold four adults and two young children still in car seats, as well as a stroller and diaper bag and coats and everything else; the journey north of Boston was a comfortable one (so much so that almost everyone fell asleep in the warm car!) It wasn’t so big, however, that I felt awkward driving it both around Boston and down some pretty narrow country roads. It had all of the safety features I look for in a family car, including a fantastic rear view camera (essential when reversing and little ones might be running around. I loved being able to connect my phone to the Bluetooth system since I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going, and I was able to safely listen to directions without having to look at my phone. It also drove very well on some slightly bumpy land as we came upon a little local farm where we decided to stop for an hour or two.
The farm we discovered was in North Andover, about 40 miles north of Boston. If you’re in the city and you’re looking for somewhere to drive to see the New England fall foliage without going too far, this is somewhere I’d definitely recommend driving out to. It took us about 45 minutes to drive out there, but that was with a few stops to take pictures, and we arrived at the farm a couple of hours before sunset. The weather was perfect and the boys were keen to get out and stretch their legs.
You know all of those things that you put on a fall bucket list; things like drinking hot apple cider and jumping in leaf piles? Well, we were able to tick most of them off here at Smolak Farms, and the boys were in heaven! They played in a fantastic playground (complete with a pirate ship!), saw all kinds of animals in a petting zoo, and ran through leaf piles to their hearts content. When they started to get tired, we retreated to the farm shop where we sipped on hot apple cider, ate fresh apple cider donuts and homemade apple crisp ice cream, and watched the sun go down behind the trees. A New England road trip has been on my bucket list for a long time now, and even though this was just a mini fall road trip, I was so happy to be sat there with my little ones as they got to experience everything they’d read about fall in books. Harrison even whispered to me as he drank his apple cider that it looked like the countryside had been painted with gold, and I thought that was the perfect way to describe it.
The colors truly were spectacular in the late afternoon sun, and we must have taken a hundred pictures; if this was considered late in the season, I can’t imagine how amazing the colors must be in peak season. Maybe we’ll have to come back one day to see for ourselves! Having a safe and comfortable family friendly car is an absolute must for any road trip, especially one driving through the countryside with little ones in tow, and the Toyota Highlander was the perfect car for the job. Thank you so much to Toyota for providing us with such a great car for our trip.
We stayed in North Andover until the sun went down and temperatures started to drop before heading back to the city. I spent the whole drive taking in the fall colors and trying to absorb as much of it as possible. I am so grateful that we got this opportunity and I got to show my boys what fall in New England looks like, if only for a short amount of time. I know we’ll never forget this little road trip, and I know we’ll be back to see more of this area one day.
This post was in collaboration with Toyota and we were loaned a car for the purpose of this post. As always, all opinions are my own.