Trip ideas to fill your fall break weekend

Media Credit: Photo Illustration by Sophia Young | Assistant Photo Editor

Fall break will give students time to see a variety of landmarks and historical sites, from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to Central Park in New York City.

If you couldn’t tell by the crispness in the air and the smell of pumpkin spice lattes, fall is upon us and so is a much needed three-day fall break.

The break, from Oct. 22 through 24, is still a few weeks away, but we’ve compiled a list of both overnight and day trip ideas so you can start making plans for how you’ll spend the long weekend. From the bustling cities of the East Coast to smaller getaways and even a National Park, here are a few curated itineraries to get you started.

Williamsburg, Virginia
This hidden gem of a city is filled with so many activities that you will likely have trouble fitting everything into three days. Filled with gorgeous gardens, museums and historic buildings, like the former Capitol building of Virginia and Governor’s Palace, Colonial Williamsburg is a must-see for history buffs. After exploring, you can grab dinner at the King’s Arm Tavern, a colonial-style chophouse built in 1772. 

If you already get enough history from your classes, then throwing it back to your childhood days with a trip to Busch Gardens might just be what’s in store for your fall break.

Of course, taking some time to relax is important too. After a full day you may want to shop around Merchant’s Square and eat at the Blue Talon Bistro. Finally, you can take a night to celebrate spooky season by catching a ghost tour in this historic city.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Fall break is a great time to hop on a bus over to Philly where there are at least 100 ways one could plan their stay. Perhaps you want to explore Philly “National Treasure” style and check out the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Or take a walk down the scenic Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where you can visit museums like the Rodin Museum, Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

For dinner, you can try Moshulu, a seafood and steakhouse restaurant inside an anchored ship. Afterward, you can take a lovely evening walk on the waterfront and enjoy views of the Delaware River. You can also check out some must-take photos around the city, including the Rocky Steps and LOVE sculpture. Of course, top it off with a Philly cheesesteak at John’s Roast Pork or the original Tony Luke’s, and you’ll have a solid Philly vacation.

Alexandria, Virginia
You don’t have to go far from D.C. to have a fun-filled fall break getaway. Just a short water taxi ride down the Potomac lies Alexandria, where you can take a break from the bustle of the city and experience a town filled with its own lovely charm.

Whether you’re just taking a day trip, or spending a full weekend in Alexandria, you’ll definitely want to check out the Old Town. This shopping and eating district is filled with boutiques, restaurants and cobblestone alleys. Don’t worry about getting too tired walking, as the trolley provides a convenient, and quaint, method of transportation. You can even pay homage to GW’s namesake by visiting Mount Vernon, where you can explore George Washington’s estate, including the mansion and gardens.

New York City, New York
This list would hardly be complete without mentioning New York, which is just a four-hour train ride from the District. The Big Apple needs no introduction, but if you’re traveling to the city for the first time you might want to start with the basics. Explore the plethora of stores in Times Square, including fan-favorites like M&M World and Midtown Comics, or take a stroll through nearby Bryant Park.

If you’re able to snag some tickets in advance, a Broadway Show would be a great way to spend an evening. Among the many shows planned for that weekend are Hamilton, Wicked and SIX. The Statue of Liberty and Empire State Buildings are simply must-sees, even if you don’t go inside them.

Finally, if you’re able to fit any space into your jam-packed itinerary, you could have a picnic at Central Park and experience iconic gossip-girl scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Being a stereotypical tourist might not be your idea of an exciting fall break, so if that’s the case, check out NYC’s page on Atlas Obscura for cool, unexpected activities.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park is an ideal fall trip for an escape into nature, and you might even be able to catch the changing leaves in all their glory.

While you’re there, you take a hike up Old Rag Mountain, where you’ll get a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountain range. Or you can explore Shenandoah by horseback instead of by foot. Skyland Stables offers horseback rides through the park and an apple orchard.

At night, take a look up at the stars from Big Meadows, a lush mountaintop field, or go there during the day with a picnic. If you’re not into camping, you can stay in one of the lodges inside the park, which include Skyland, Big Meadows Lodge, the Lewis Mountain Cabins and other public use cabins available for reservation.

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