Destination help/Northeast


May 5th, 2011, 08:26 AM
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Destination help/Northeast


We are a couple with 6-year-old boy and mother-in-law in search of a summer/fall vacation destination. Anything more than about five hours' drive/train (or a cheap flight -- $150/$200 each, say) will be a non-starter with the missus.

The ideal spot for us is Washington D.C., which we've visited each of the last couple of years. The wife and I love European cities, and I think D.C. comes closest; it's a great mix of attractions for adults and kids. Something like Quebec City or Ottawa would interest us but seems to be too far by ground and too expensive by air. Our destination doesn't have to be a city, but a little natural beauty goes a long way for us, especially with the little guy.

Right now, my fallback would be a Pennsylvania trip, which would put us near a lot of theme parks for our son but not so much for the adults, I don't think -- kind of like a close-to-home/poor man's Disney trip (something else we've done each of the last couple of years). Seems like you could cobble together something in central New Hampshire, too. What great place don't I know about?

Thanks for any help
boyreporter is offline  
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May 5th, 2011, 08:35 AM
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When you say summer/fall....if you mean that you can wait until September, just after Labor day, then do it. Rates will go down, crowds will peter out, and the weather in New England should be the best of the year.

"A lot of theme parks" sounds like overkill for a six year old. You gotta save some of that for when he's 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.
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May 5th, 2011, 09:14 AM
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Portsmouth NH offers historic Strawbery Banke area and some great restaurants. I think all of you would enjoy a cruise of the Portsmouth harbor or inland rivers. The children's museum is in Dover now and there's a great water park on Rt 1 south of Portsmouth. You've got beautiful beaches and the science center at Odiorne Point. Boston is only an hour away. Portland ME is to the north with pretty towns and beaches along the way.

OTH There's a wonderful League of NH Arts and Crafts festival in Sunapee NH. There is usually a schedule of adult and childrens activities daily over the 10 day show and working craftsmen. This is a ski area in winter so you can take a tram ride to the top.

How active is everyone? There are numerous places to rent kayaks where you can enjoy a picnic lunch along the way and take time for swimming. NH has some wonderful rivers.

The lakes region around Meredith NH offers several summer theaters. Some offer children's matinees. This is quite different from a European city but you can enjoy a cruise on the SS Mt Washington, explore some of the unique architecture of places like Castle in the Clouds or the John Hay estate (Sunapee area) or head up to the mountains for more natural beauty such as a walk thru the Flume (natural gorge). Different towns offer free concerts on the lawn where people bring a picnic supper. Visit the Squam Lakes science center in Holderness.

Not sure where to recommend staying but the Lakes region offers a huge variety of cottage rentals by the week. We live here. There's never enough time to do everything. We never did take DS to Disneyworld and he was the only kid in his class to have seen historic places like Mt Vernon. Manchester NH offers a great airport (also great restaurants) and is about 1.5 hours from the lakes/mountains.
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May 5th, 2011, 09:30 AM
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5 or 6 hours from where?

I'm sort of surprised you don't mention Boston because it seems like an obvious choice...its often compared to European cities because its older than most US cities, and fairly compact and walkable. There are plenty of things to do for adults and kids, and lots of side trips or add-ons possible.
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May 5th, 2011, 09:32 AM
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Would you consider something that's a little for you, a little for him?

Not sure where you say you are driving from but Hershey, PA is a bit over two hours from Washington, DC. We've been taking our two kids (now 9 amd 8) to Hershey at least twice a summer for the last 5 years. Very clean, very family friendly. Their recently constructed waterpark area is a lot of fun. Numerous hotel options either in Hershey or in Harrisburg which is about 20 minutes to the west. A ticket to Hershey also covers Dutch Wonderland, which we've not been to.

Hershey has numerous ways to make the trip more economical through ticket discounts at Giant Supermarket or a "preview" option. The preview let's you go to the park two hours before closing with a ticket for the following day.

Between what there is to see for adults and children in Washington, DC you can probably have a nice vacation combining a bit of something for everyone.
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May 5th, 2011, 09:32 AM
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AHHH! I'm an idiot. Five or so hours from Connecticut.

Thanks for the Boston rec; we've been there a lot, as I was born and grew up nearby. It's pretty great at U.S. cities go, to be sure.
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May 6th, 2011, 04:23 AM
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Well until you said you were from Boston that was the obvious answer. I saved an article I sent my daughter a couple years ago when she moved to Boston from Paris and was missing European cities - it was titled "the most European of US cities" (and it was about Boston of course). So then the next obvious answer is Montreal or Quebec. That's where I go when I can't get to Europe and need a fix. (Although I go to Boston repeatedly too).
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May 6th, 2011, 04:59 AM
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Montreal - driving distance but everyone needs a passport.

Cooperstown/Niagara Falls/Toronto (also, passport issue)

Philsdelphia area with maybe a day or so at the beach in NJ.
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May 6th, 2011, 05:18 AM
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Baltimore would work too. Could do combo of Philadelphia and Baltimore.
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May 6th, 2011, 05:29 AM
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I'm from Philadelphia and lived in CT for many years. When I lived in CT, I took a few trips to Montreal and while I didn't do it in five hours, I think I did it in six, and I'm one who tends to need to stop rather frequently. I definitely think Montreal has some of that European-type flavor you're looking for, including the thrill of heaing another language spoken by many.

I also think in the fall, Philadelphia would be a great choice as a base, and if you wanted, you could do day trips to any of: the Jersey shore, Hershey, Lancaster/Amish area, theme park, the Brandywine River Valley area, New Hope/Lambertville. And of course Philly itself has plenty both for adults and kid...but it does get very hot and humid here in the summer.
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May 6th, 2011, 07:26 AM
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PA's favorite free admission/free parking amusement park:
Knobels Grove near Elysburg (south of Danville).
My kids in their 30's still talk about it.
Head from there to Valley Forge/Brandywine or Philadelphia.
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May 6th, 2011, 08:37 AM
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You could do Philly, plenty for both adults and kids and then drive up along the Delaware River to the Poconos with possible stops at Sesame Place in Langhorne or the Crayola Museum in Easton for your son.
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May 6th, 2011, 11:17 AM
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I would think long and hard about going to Sesame Place. If you hit it right, I'm sure it's nice. If you hit it on a crowded day, then be prepared for really long lines and out of control teens. Yes, teens at Sesame Place. It's 35 minutes from some not so nice areas of Philadelphia and Camden, which means it's the nearest waterpark to those areas.

We went once when my daughter was 2 and my son was almost 4. In a pool called "Big Bird's Bath" a group of 20 or so teens were playing a full-contact game of tag. At one point I had to shove a teen into the wall to stop him from running over my daughter. The lifeguards are outnumbered so keeping order isn't going to happen. The highlight of the day was a woman threatening my wife with a and I quote "I'll snuff you out and not give a F***" in front of her child and ours.

There are certainly more positive reviews on TripAdvisor than negative. But, the negative reviews are fairly consistent in why they dislike it and how bad it can be on a crowded day.

If you pick Philadelphia, my Hershey recommendation still stands. Hershey is clean, they control how many people can be on a water attraction, and we have never been threatened with stabbing.
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May 6th, 2011, 11:58 AM
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If you choose New Hampshire, Storyland is great for kids your son's age. Small amusement park - hokie but clean and really cute with a few "thrill" rides for the adventurous 6 year old.
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