Fall is a great time to go on a quick weekend road trip and get in some quality time with your family. School, soccer practice and work can get the best of us, and vacations can get thrown on the backburner. Set some time aside and take advantage of the long Columbus Day weekend, or any weekend that best suits your family, and hit the road. With our baby travel checklist and getaways you can drive to in four hours or less (yes, we counted stops for diaper changes, feedings and potty-breaks), you’ll be on the road in no time!
FAIRFIELD COUNTY, OHIO
Tucked away only one hour from Columbus, this small-town’s charm offers adventures for the whole family. To celebrate fall, head to the Fairfield County Fair Oct. 7 – 13 (157 E. Fair Ave. Lancaster, OH 43130; 740-653-3041; fairfieldcountyfair.org) to bring in the season right. What’s new? The newly opened AHA! Children’s Museum ( 1708 River Valley Circle South, Lancaster, OH, 43130) has tons of space for kids to explore plus 30 hands-on exhibits. It’s expanding this month and taking on a playful STEM approach to bring more excitement to the table: The Raymond B. Martens Nature Playscape is an outdoor space for children and families that includes a .10-mile paved Tike Track, tunnel and slide hills, vegetable gardens with rainwater irrigation, climbing structures, a replica covered bridge and canal boat. For more information on Fairfield County and events, go to visitfairfieldcounty.org.
Known for its 472,900-square-foot children’s museum, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (3000 North Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208; 317-334-4000; childrensmuseum.org), sits on 29 acres, making it the largest children’s museum in the world. Indianapolis is loaded with culture, arts and museums and has surprises for the whole family: the 100-acre Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park (1850 West 38th St. Indianapolis, IN), the White River State Park (801 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204) and the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens (1200 West Washington St. Indianapolis, IN 46222) are a few of the many attractions that will entertain the kiddos for the weekend. Be sure to check out some of the fall festivities while you’re there. The Historic Irvington Fall Festival Oct. 20 – 28 (5700 E. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN; irvingtonhalloween.com) includes a pumpkin carving contest, street fair, costume party and more. Children of all ages will love the Indianapolis Zoo ZooBoo Event Oct. 4 – 28 from 2 – 7 p.m. Tue – Sun (317-630-200; indianapoliszoo.com) with Halloween-themed enrichment surrounding the animals, trick-or-treat stations (including allergy-free stations) little crafts, a fun dance party and much more. For more information on visiting Indianapolis, go to visitindy.com.
HOCKING HILLS, OHIO
A home away from home, Hocking Hills is perfect place for relaxing and enjoying nature. Family and stroller-friendly walking trails, cozy cabins and fall events are some of the many activities to get into. Hocking has plenty of fall fun for everyone, too. The Circleville Pumpkin Show Oct. 17 – 20 (159 East Franklin St., Circleville, OH 43113; 740-474-7000; pumpkinshow.com) will keep the family satisfied with 23,000 pumpkin pies, a baby parade, rides for all ages, games, live music and more. Take a ride on the October Weekday Fall Foliage Train, Oct. 4 – 26 at 1 p.m. Thu and Fri (Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, 33 W. Canal St. Nelsonville, Ohio 45764; 740-249-1452; hvsry.org). Bask in the cool fall breeze and embrace the colorful leaves. For more events and information, visit hockinghills.com.
14 SMART TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH BABY:
No road trip with a little one is perfect, but make it more enjoyable with a little preplanning and prep.
1. Check that your car seat is safe and snug (get it checked out at a car seat safety location; see page 15).
2. Pack Baby’s favorite books and toys.
3. Make sure formula, food and bottles are within reach.
4. Pack Baby’s medicines and toiletries in a separate baggy to prevent leaking.
5. Pack an extra memory card and batteries with your camera.
6. Have your pediatrician’s phone number in your phone in case you need to make a call.
7. Keep an extra outfit tucked away nearby for Baby AND Mommy and Daddy in case of any messy accidents.
8. Check the hotel and reserve a Baby crib if needed.
9. Bring a rear-view baby mirror to keep a good eye on Baby (unless you have a trustworthy backseat driver).
10. Bring along Baby’s favorite music.
11. Put window shades on the car to create a darker, nap-friendly atmosphere.
12. Bring along a cooler to keep food, snacks or drinks cool (a bottle warmer is great as well).
13. Set aside extra travel time for rest stops so Baby can stretch his little legs and for diaper changes, feedings, etc.
14. Relax and enjoy every moment.
— Amanda Hayward