As autumn winds begin to blow,
grab your car and head for these open spaces
By Anna Fader
Some of the best family outings start with tossing a kite in the trunk of the car and heading for open spaces. It’s why our hearts swell at the end of Mary Poppins; any family that spontaneously goes and flies a kite together in the middle of the day is clearly in fine shape. The American Kitefliers Association, aka the AKA, calls kites “a source of community building,” and—while that might seem a grandiose claim for a bit of string and paper—who can deny it?
The trick for folks living in cities is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find kite-friendly spaces in urban areas. Some, though—like super kite-friendly Los Angeles —have plenty of good kite parks. Boston has its harbor islands, prime for kite launching. And there are a variety of recurring kite-flying events dotted around the five boroughs of New York City.
No matter where you live, combining a kite outing with a drive in the country is a great family bonding solution. So if you’re willing to road trip it, there are some worthy kite extravaganzas coming up around the United States as autumn winds begin to blow. For starters, the American Kite Association hosts its own ultimate kite experience in Oklahoma in October. If you live too far away to make it to this mecca of all things kite, perhaps one of these other fall kite gatherings would be an easier drive:
Seal Beach, CA The Japan America Kite Festival, touted as the largest in Southern California, lures an average of 12,000 people each October to launch, watch, buy and build kites. The festival’s location next to Seal Beach Pier provides an equal dose of good breezes and gorgeous views. San Francisco, CA What could be more perfect than the cool breeze off the Golden Gate Bridge to lift a kite skyward? September’s free Family Day Kite Festival has the ultimate backdrop.
Lincoln City, OR The Lincoln City Fall Kite Festival is in its 28th year of luring kite lovers to the beach in October. There'll be lots of pros navigating big show kites and fighting kites, but this family-friendly fest also offers kite-making workshops for novices and a spectacular “mass ascension” in which hundreds of kites (including yours) will fill the air at once.
Cleveland, OH The Cleveland Kite Festival a huge two-day September event with lots to do both in the sky and below it. Multiple fields at Lakefront State Park sport aerial acts, fighter kite competitions and other sky-bound spectacles. Beginners can participate on the Learn to Fly Field, and take classes and workshops. There’s even a midway with craft booths and kite shops to add to the carnival-like atmosphere.
At kite festivals you can fly your own kites and watch the experts, and you’re sure to see lots of impressive designs and stunt flying. You may even pick up some skills of your own—but then part of the beauty of kite flying is that you really don’t need to be an expert. Trick flying is neat for sure, but just holding the string and watching your corner of the sky can be thrill enough.
Anna Fader is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Mommy Poppins, the ultimate insider city guide and family travel blog for families in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut.