After a lazy summer soaking in the sun, gardening and afternoon swims, let’s look forward to the joys of changing seasons. Approaching the time of pumpkin patches and chrysanthemums, cinnamon donuts and cider, changing leaves and crisp air — fall means a trip on the open road to witness the changes across the countryside.
We included a fall trip roundup in this issue, a guide to local travel that will inspire you to hit the road and find new ways to entertain yourself in this festive season. Here is a list of day trips (and a few overnight ones) that might spark your wanderlust, with emphasis on trips that everyone in your family can enjoy.
As a precaution, we’ve checked with all of these locations to make sure there are options for COVID-safe activities. All of them are doing their utmost to keep visitors safe.
Fun for the kids
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, MI
Tickets cost $4-$15
Distance: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Frederik Gardens has over 200 breathtaking sculptures ranging from 19th century to modern works of art, all surrounded by beautiful plant life year-round. You’ll find the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory, which houses over 500 species of plants from across the globe; the Gwen Frostic Woodland Shade Garden; and the Kenneth E. Nelson Carnivorous Plant House.
If you are looking for fall-themed festivities, these Gardens are the place to be this time of year. From September 18 to November 1, Frederik Meijer Gardens hosts “Chrysanthemums and More!” Filled with colorful fall displays and family-friendly activities, this is a perfect road trip with the grandkids.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
3000 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN
Ticket cost ranges from $15-$25
Distance: 3 hours, 28 minutes
If you are feeling adventurous, try a longer trek with your grandchildren. This Children’s Museum is an exciting experience for kids and adults. While the museum staff has, precautiously, removed some interactive items, they’ve been able to maintain safe measures to keep many of the exhibits open. The kiddos can experience “American POP”, with its pop-culture displays and activities, as well as “The Power of Children,” a display all about inspiring young people such as Anne Frank, Ryan White, Ruby Bridges, and Malala Yousafzai.
There are also outdoor activities from tennis to pedal car racing! Check out the website to learn about the many experiences this museum has to offer.
Indian Creek Zoo
2744 Consear Rd., Lambertville, MI
Tickets cost $11-$13
Distance: 20 minutes
For a quick, family-friendly trip with your grandchildren, Indian Creek Zoo in Lambertville checks all the boxes, including the safety of an outdoor outing. You and the kids will love observing the wide array of exotic animals, from South American tayras (also known as “bush dogs”) to alligators and chameleons.
Indian Creek Zoo has exciting, interactive options as well, like their Giraffe Adventures and sloth and lemur encounters. Check out their website to find out about pricing for those add-ons.
For history buffs
Gilmore Car Museum
6865 Hickory Rd., Hickory Corners, MI
Tickets cost $16
Distance: 2 hours, 20 minutes
The Gilmore Car Museum has over 400 cars on display, representing over a century of innovation. From Model A’s to post-World War II classics, and beyond, you can spend an entire day with this collection. During the fall, enjoy special exhibits like “Women Who Motor,” a revisiting of how women have contributed to the development of the automobile as consumers, engineers and racers.
There are also permanent exhibits that look at different eras of history through the lens of car travel. They include subjects like the Dust Bowl, the Green Book motorist guide, a history of muscle cars and the evolution of toy cars. The Gilmore Car Museum will appeal to anyone who loves history, even if you aren’t a gearhead!
Safety requirements include masks, social distancing, and limited guest capacity. There are also interactive elements of the museum that may be closed until further notice.
600 N. Whitewoman St., Coshocton
Tickets cost $5-$8
Distance: 3 hours, 10 minutes
If you are a history lover, you will surely appreciate the horse-drawn canal boat rides at Roscoe Village. Visitors will feel like they’ve stepped back in time to the 1830s when they step aboard Monticello III, slowly pulled by draft horses as the tour guide tells captivating tales from the past.
Roscoe Village also features a museum, shops, and gardens to visit while you’re there enjoying the fall weather.
The village is encouraging the usage of masks (if medically possible) and social distancing during COVID-19. Additionally, they do provide hand sanitizer stations throughout their facilities, and they are restricting occupancy in some areas.
Arts & Culture
4000 Michigan Rd., Indianapolis, IN
Tickets cost $18
Distance: 3 hours, 30 minutes
There are several exhibits on display at Newfields Museum through September and October. During your visit, you’ll find watercolors by J.M.W. Turner, “Edward Hopper and the American Hotel,” and vignettes by Anders Ruhwald, among others.
After viewing those beautiful works of art, grab a bite at The Cafe (or a drink at the beer garden). There is also a greenhouse, park and lush gardens to explore.
The Newfields campus has many things to do and see, so you might want to spend more than just one day exploring it. Check out their website to learn about the many cultural attractions.
Though the Hotel Bar is closed until further notice as a COVID safety measure, the beer garden is open at limited capacity. Masks are required in all public spaces at Newfields in compliance with the latest state mandates.
1700 55th St. NE, Canton
Distance: 2 hours, 26 minutes
USA Today has touted Gervasi Vineyard as one of the best wine country hotels in the area, so reserve a room to see what all the buzz is about. Even if you choose to make this a day trip, the gourmet food and fine wines will make it worth the drive.
Gervasi boasts three restaurants, all with ingredients sourced from local farms, featuring Italian cuisine, a wine bar and a coffee shop that becomes a cocktail spot in the evenings. Gervasi’s live music and entertainment is top-notch. Visit on September 10 to hear Sweet Treats and Tunes with The Rat Pack, a concert that includes a serving of Prosecco and a dessert trio, an event that requires reservations for at least 6 tickets per table, starting at $222. Why not treat yourself?
The Gervasi staff does require that you bring a mask, as all restaurants on site do require one. Masks do not have to be worn outdoors unless it is impossible to keep a 6-foot distance from other guests.
The Mohicans Treehouse Getaway
23164 Vess Rd., Glenmont
Distance: 2 hours, 30 minutes
While ideas on this list are perfectly suited for day trips, this little getaway will make for a wonderful overnight or weekend stay. The Mohicans has beautiful cabins, along with eight unique treehouses that steal the show.
The remote location also makes it a place that is safe to go-to for social distancing. Plus, the staff is committed to following CDC guidelines for cleanliness, so rest easy and enjoy your immersion in nature. Whether you choose the one-bed loft in the Little Red Treehouse or book for a group of up to six guests at the White Oak, you’ll be glad you spent a weekend at this charming spot.