Autumn is here, and with it comes much more than beautiful foliage -- it also brings a bounty of festivals. Catch your breath at the sight of hundreds of hot air balloons in Albuquerque, savor the taste of the nation's best apples in Gettysburg, or witness thousands of jack o'lanterns lit up in the Hudson River Valley. Sound appealing? These are just a few of the opportunities that await families.
Yellow Daisy Festival - Stone Mountain, Ga.
One of the largest fall festivals in the Southeast, the annual Yellow Daisy Festival is a four-day event at Stone Mountain Park, just outside of Atlanta. Running Sept. 10 to 13, 2015, the show features more than 400 artisans, live entertainment, children's activities, craft demonstrations and more.
Recommended Hotel: Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort
Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort
Arts and Apples Festival - Rochester, Mich.
Apples bring visitors to Eastern Michigan for this annual event that combines the fall harvest of apples, plus artwork. For nearly 50 years, Rochester Park has welcomed festival-goers and this year opens its doors again to nearly 300 artisans displaying their wares for purchase. The festival also features (of course!) apple treats, live entertainment and a Kids Art Zone. The annual event will take place September 11 to 13, 2015.
Recommended Hotel: The Royal Park Hotel
The Royal Park Hotel
Lowville Cream Cheese Festival - Lowville, N.Y.
Who says a fall festival has to be all about pumpkins and apples? On Sept. 19, 2015, Lowville, N.Y. -- about 1.5 hours northeast of Syracuse -- celebrates cream cheese at this annual event, which includes recipe contests and live entertainment. There's also a Children's Park with a rock climbing wall, giant slide, zip-lining and more.
Recommended Hotel: SpringHill Suites Syracuse Carrier Circle
SpringHill Suites Syracuse Carrier Circle
The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze - Croton On Hudson, N.Y.
This one is part festival, part attraction, and a must-see for any family. Every fall, families can get into the spirit of the season at The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze, where more than 7,000 hand-carved, illuminated jack o'lanterns are on display in an evening walk-through experience at Van Cortlandt Manor. The special event takes place on the following dates in 2015: Oct. 2 to 4, 9 to 12, 15 to 18, 21 to 31, and Nov. 1, 5 to 8, and 13 to 15.
Recommended Hotel: Castle on the Hudson
Castle on the Hudson
Sonoma County Harvest Fair - Sonoma, Calif.
The Sonoma County Harvest Fair is a celebration of the grape harvest in California's wine country. Yes, families can participate in the World Championship Grape Stomp, but the festival isn't all about wine. There are plenty of family-friendly activities, including pumpkin tosses, sheepdog trials and cow-milking contests. Animals are a key theme for children -- there are miniature donkeys, pet pigs and pygmy goat shows. Water fowls and poultry even get recognition. Kids might enjoy riding carnival rides or participating in the Easy Bake Oven Bake-Off. Parents will appreciate live jazz music and art shows. This year, the festival takes place October 2 to 4, 2015.
Recommended Hotel: Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta - Albuquerque, N.M.
For mesmerizing beauty and sheer grace, there's nothing like the sight of hundreds of vibrantly colored hot air balloons drifting through the desert sky of New Mexico. It's all part of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which takes place Oct. 3 to 11, 2015. Events kick off as early as 6 a.m. each day with a "dawn patrol," in which balloons are inflated and launched in a choreographed musical performance. Mass balloon ascensions follow at 7 a.m. many mornings, while evening offerings include fireworks shows that everyone in the family can enjoy. Kids of all ages will become awestruck over the Balloon Glow -- a magical event in which the balloons are lit from within like colorful paper lanterns.
Recommended Hotel: Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa
Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa
National Apple Harvest Festival - Gettysburg, Pa.
Head to Gettysburg, Pennsylavania for the National Apple Harvest Festival, Oct. 3 to 4 and 10 to 11, 2015. The annual event features arts and crafts, live entertainment, contests, and, of course, lots of apple treats. Schedule a ghost tour while you're in town -- Gettysburg is notoriously haunted.
Recommended Hotel: Gettysburg Hotel
New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival - Laconia, N.H.
Formerly the Keene Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshire, this grand event -- the biggest annual event in the state -- features more than 30,000 pumpkins. Live music, crafts, hayrides, fireworks, a kids' costume parade and a pumpkin pie eating contest keep visitors entertained. Teens enjoy events specifically geared toward them, too, including wall climbing and seed spitting contests. This year's event takes place on Oct. 24.
Recommended Hotel: Summit Resort
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Written by Lissa Poirot