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Kid-Friendly (And Cheap!) Weekend Adventures in New England

Pack up the kids and get ready for an awesome, affordable adventure.

CREDIT: Smolak Farms
CREDIT: Smolak Farms
Written by Michele Taranto

Sometimes all it takes is a little planning to have a great family outing. When routine exploits just aren’t cutting it anymore, shake things up by exploring new terrain, taking in an exhibition, or visiting a landmark and learning a little something about our local history. Here are awesome events to attend and places to visit around town before fall ends. Best part? All of them can be done on the cheap and on one tank of gas—or less!

 ‘We’ve Got a Ticket to Ride’

Canobie Lake Park

85 N. Policy St.

Salem, NH 03079

(603) 893-3506

Why Go

For one entrance fee, the entire family can enjoy 85 thrilling kid, teenager or adult rides as well as musical performances through this Sunday. Kids can ride as much as they want and parents don't have to keep digging into their wallets. The park also offers a host of your favorite carnival games with classic stuffed animals, for example, handed out as of prizes for various skills. In addition, the park features a variety of food from burgers to fried dough to an international food festival. 

Must Do

The park has now been transformed into a virtual Spookfest with the infamous Screeemfest Festival! All the rides and games are still available as well as many haunted attractions. The decorations are absolutely haunting, and free!

Insider Tip

Parking is always free! Also, AAA members should check with their local office for member discounts.

The Fine Print

Canobie Lake Park is open Fridays, 6 to 11 p.m., Saturdays, 1 to 11 p.m. and Sundays, 1 to 8 p.m. Tickets on Fridays and Sundays are priced at $30.99 and Saturdays, $34.99. 

Green Monster for Halloween?  

Fenway Park

4 Yawkey Way

Boston, MA 02215

(617) 226-6666

Why Go

Get a behind-the-scenes look at what is widely considered “America's Most Beloved Ball Park.” A one-hour tour takes visitors through many famous areas of the park, such as the Green Monster seats, 37 feet above the field; the “Ted Williams Red Seat” that marks the longest home run in Fenway history; Pesky's Pole; the press box; and visitor's clubhouse and dugout. Visitors will not only learn the background of Fenway but witness many hidden areas not known or seen by the public. 

Insider Tip

Tickets are available for purchase the day of the tour on a first-come, first-served basis, at the Gate D ticket booth on the corner of Yawkey Way and Van Ness Street.

Must Do

This guided tour is an event the entire family will love. “The feedback we get is that this is a family-friendly venue for the child and adult,” says Marcita Thompson, director of event operations and Fenway Park Tours. “We have a great following of family in all kinds of weather.”

The Fine Print

Tours go on seven days a week, year-round, and begin at the top of the hour, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The last tour on game days is three hours before game time. Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, $12 for children 3 to 15 years old and $12 for students and military. This tour is also handicapped accessible.

Children's Trick or Treat

Charmingfare Farm

774 High St.

Candia, NH 03034

(603) 483-5623

Why Go

Children's Trick or Treat at Charmingfare Farm is the perfect family destination for little ghouls who enjoy the excitement of Halloween but not the fright. A day at this retreat is a fun-filled Halloween adventure that includes five special attractions all included in the admission price and also features free candy stops for trick-or-treating.

Insider Tips

Save $2 per ticket by purchasing tickets ahead of time online, using promotional code: pumpkin13. Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended. Also, this event offers many great photo opportunities, so be sure to bring a camera.

Must Do

Grandpa's Spooky Hay Barn is the ultimate hay-play experience. Walk through the hay bale maze and enter a world of friendly ghosts offering special sweets.

The Fine Print

This great family event is offered this Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pricing is $17 per person and children under 1 year are free. The entry fee includes all attractions and entertainment.

Hail a Hay Wagon 

Smolak Farms

315 S. Bradford St.

North Andover, MA 01845

 (978) 682-6332

Why Go

Smolak Farms promises a great time year-round for the entire family. Kids can enjoy face-painting, games, spin art, cotton candy, rides, the super slide and more. For their parents, Smolak Farms also includes a farm stand, apple picking, pumpkin picking and a gift shop. A tractor-drawn hay ride transports passengers young and old through fields, orchards and around the pond to a wooded area where a bonfire lights the night, people sing, tell stories or just play games and socialize under the stars.

Must Do

On weekends through November, Hop-On Hayrides need no reservations, cost $4 and take riders on a tour around the scenic farm. They star Disney characters handing out treats for younger ghouls and goblins.

Insider Tip

Picnic tables are available so do bring in a lunch, but be sure to leave with some delicious cider donuts for home. Luncheon items are available for purchase at the farm stand.

The Fine Print

With just a $6 admission, children can visit the animals and playground area, have face painting and tattoo stamps, do spin art, eat cotton candy and popcorn and participate in carnival games. For $10, admission includes all of the above, plus admittance to the wee wagons, hay pyramid, super slide, bounce house and “batter up” batting area. Parents accompanying their children get in for free. Saturday and Sunday’s Fall Festival is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Witchcraft: Getting the Hang of It 

Salem Haunted Happenings

Salem, MA 01970

Why Go

There is really no better place to visit and experience Halloween than Salem, the Massachusetts locality that artfully blends historical fact, popular fiction and stubborn superstition in a witch’s brew that’s irresistible at this time of year. Throughout October, this infamous city has offered a festive time for visitors of all ages. Here’s a sampling of Salem’s offerings on this, the final weekend before the big day: 

The Haunted Happenings Carnival on Derby Street has rides and games for the very young to adult.

Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery at 285 Derby St. boasts more than 50 life-sized professionally made characters in a unique cinematic wax museum.

Cry Innocent: The People vs. Bridget Bishop lets you experience a witch trial and become part of the Puritan jury through a live reenactment at the Old Town Hall.

Discover the facts, myths and legends surrounding Gallows Hill of Salem on Lynde Street in this spectacular witchcraft and ghosts experience. 

Visit the Haunted Neighborhood at the Salem Wax Museum 

The House of Seven Gables sits on Derby Street.

New England Pirate Museum recreates a dockside village, cave and pirate ship. 

Witch Dungeon Museum is an award-winning live re-enactment of a 1692 witch trial.

Witch History Museum brings the infamous happenings of 1692 to life through a live presentation and guided tour featuring 15 life-size scenes.

Insider Tip

In addition to the many fabulous and authentically chilling places to visit within Salem, it is possible to experience the spirit of the town on a budget. Throughout October, the streets are alive with vendors, food, characters and entertainment, including live music on the weekends at the Museum Place Mall on Essex Street.

The Fine Print

Save $5 a person with a combination ticket to Witch Dungeon Museum, Witch History Museum and Pirate Museum. Also, there are two long-term, cash-only parking garages in Salem at 1 New Liberty St. and the South Harbor Garage at 10 Congress St. Street meters are strictly enforced 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Not all meters accept credit cards.

On the Prowl 

Roger Williams Zoo

1,000 Elmwood Ave.

Providence, RI 02907

(401) 941-4998, Ext. 316

Why Go

The Roger Williams Zoo, one of the oldest in the country, opened in 1872. It’s home to more than 100 species of rare and fascinating animals, as well as endangered species from all over the world. Almost all of the exhibits are outdoors, allowing visitors to view these creatures in a safe and secure habitat. 

Insider Tip

The zoo offers an extraordinary number of animals, so it’s recommended you prepare for your visit. Find a list of the animals and the zoo map online and gather the family together an evening prior to set up the day's schedule. This preparation can be a lot of fun just thinking about the adventure that lies ahead.

Must Do

Animals are not the only attraction at the Roger Williams Zoo. Through Nov. 3, the Jack-O’-Lantern Spectacular provides a spooky trail displaying 5,000 intricately designed pumpkins representing all regions of the United States. “The Jack-O’-Lantern Spectacular is a major draw throughout the New England area,” says Jan Mariani, director of marketing and public relations. 

Insider Tip 

On Nov. 2 and 3, kids wearing costumes get in for half price.

The Fine Print

The Roger Williams Zoo is open year-round, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pricing is $14.95 for adults, $9.95 ages 3 to 12, free under 3 and $12.95 for seniors. Providence residents enter for free the first Saturday of every month.

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