Adventures in Parenting: Columbus Day activities for the family

First, let me remind you that the kids have no school on Monday. Second, ooof, now what?

Lucky for you, the Seacoast is looking at another beautiful fall weekend with plenty to do. Take your pick from one of the events below or instead spend all three days at my kids’ soccer tournament like I will be. Watching soccer. For three days. Like, all day.

All aboard! The Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad offers one-hour round-trip Fall Foliage train rides on weekends and holidays through Oct. 22 departing from the Weirs Beach Station. These kid-friendly excursions travel along the western shore of Lake Winnipesaukee to Lakeport and back. Columbus Day weekend trains run Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $14 for children, under 2 is free. Additional trains are available in Lincoln and Meredith. Visit to purchase tickets.

Do you believe? Bedrock Gardens is hosting its annual Fairy and Hobbit House Festival where you can stroll along a fairy and hobbit house trail past houses created by gardeners, artists, and children. You also make your own house out of natural materials provided. Tracy Kane, award-winning Fairy Houses author, will read from her books on Saturday and Sunday. Event runs Saturday through Monday, Oct. 7, 8 and 9 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults and $5 for children with ages between 3 and 12. Visit to purchase tickets or more info.

Need to sneak in a little work or alone time on Monday? Atlantic Gymnastics in Portsmouth is offering a half-day Columbus Day Camp from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Drop your kids (ages 3.5 to 12) to burn some energy with a gymnastics lesson, fun games, jumping in the ball pit, climbing the indoor rock wall and more. Admission is $30 per child, $15 for additional sibling. Pre-registration required, call (603) 740-3547.

Charmingfare Farm does fall right with their annual Pumpkin Festival running Saturday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They have tons of events (above and beyond their normal park offerings) including pumpkin decorating, horse-drawn rides, festival games (cow milking contest, anyone?), hay maze, pony rides and more. Tickets are a bit pricey at $19 per person (kids under 2 free), but admission includes unlimited rides and activities. For more information and to purchase advance tickets, go to 

The North Shore has a couple of cool events this weekend including the Newburyport Fall Harvest Festival running both Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Come to downtown Newburyport and enjoy a gigantic craft show, live music, food vendors and kids’ entertainment (including juggler and comedian Bryson Lang and Brian Doser The Music Man). One of the most fun parts of the festival is the Annual Scarecrow Contest in which fun and interesting scarecrows decorate all the lamp posts downtown. This event is free and open to the public. Visit for more info.

You still have a chance to hit the fair circuit! The Topsfield Fair is open straight through Columbus Day. The country’s “oldest fair” is a living tribute to rural and farming heritage and a tradition for generations of families. Enjoy entertainment, 4-H exhibits, Kiddie Land, animal barns, duck racing, magicians, ox pulling, amusement rides and delicious fair food. Open daily through Monday, Oct. 9, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Visit for more info.

As a side note, if you had climbing the Portsmouth Lighthouse on your summer bucket list, this Sunday your last chance. The last public tour of the season runs this Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The admission fee to climb the lighthouse is $4 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under. Visit for more details.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for Columbus Day weekend fun. Visit for a full calendar of events.

Suzanna Vicinus, founder of and author of the Adventures in Parenting blog, is a mom of two kids who always wins at Scattergories but never at short-distance sprints. Follow her to find out about the best family activities, events, edibles and tangibles that the Seacoast area has to offer. Find more of her Adventures in Parenting columns online.

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