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Four nights within six to eight hours drive from Philly with kids

Four nights within six to eight hours drive from Philly with kids

Old Jul 7th, 2019, 06:07 PM
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Four nights within six to eight hours drive from Philly with kids

Looking for additional ideas or input on a quick getaway for my family of four (two adults, two eight-year-olds). As this is not our "vacation" year (we save the bigger spends and longer vacations for every other year), I am trying to plan a short relatively inexpensive getaway within an easy drive of Philly. Our kids are active and love trying new things, and also love experiencing local culture. Last summer we spent a week in Bar Harbor, ME, and loved the days in Arcadia and staying in the town. The kids had fun hiking, biking and swimming, as well as dining out and getting ice cream Recently, just one kid and myself did a quick weekend in DC and loved it as well. We also fairly regularly roadtrip to South Carolina via I81 and have stopped over in Roanoke, driving parts of the Blue Ridge, etc. Was planning on doing a few days in the Smokies, staying in Bryson City, on our next drive down that way in two years. Just so you have an idea! This summer, we have max four nights for a fun getaway. My goal is to try to give them an "awe" moment or two in nature, give them an opportunity to feel challenged or accomplished, and have a fun family experience together.

I'd planned four nights in Niagara Falls, Canada, in mid- August. Hotel is booked, but can be cancelled. We'd do the typical things-- the Hornblower, Cave of the Winds, the zipline, Clifton Hill area, etc. The more I look into it, the more I've questioned it. I think four nights is too long, but I'm having trouble figuring out what else to do that makes this trip feel worthwhile. From all of my forum searching, I'm starting to worry that (aside from the amazement of seeing and experiencing the falls themselves) we're doing a big trip around something that feels like Wildwood (Clifton Hill) and Cape May (Niagara on the Lake), NJ. Seems too quick to also visit Toronto, which we'd love to do, so thinking we'd need to do this on a longer vacation. And I've toyed with doing two nights in the Finger Lakes (Watkins Glen area) on the return. But it's starting to feel disjointed and forced. So, my questions are:

Any ideas on how to make four nights in the area of Niagara Falls, Canada fit the bill? I feel like I'm missing something! Great hikes, non-touristy small towns to hang out in?
Alternatively, any ideas for a fun getaway that might be a good alternative? (Not looking to do Boston at this time, as we have family there that we'd need to coordinate with) Do we do a few nights in NYC or DC and scrap the long travel? Or is there a great option that I haven't thought of that includes lots of outdoor opportunities with a mix of a small town stay?

Edited to add that we're not looking for a "beach" vacation as we do plenty of that every summer!

Open to ideas!
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Old Jul 7th, 2019, 07:57 PM
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Old Jul 8th, 2019, 02:22 AM
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Perhaps look for an event rather than a location. I've heard good things about Circus Smirkus based in VT but they tour the New England area. Musterfield Farm in Sutton NH has an Old Time Farming Days weekend around 3rd weekend in August. Your kids can try walking on stilts. I liked watching young 4-H kids work an obstacle course with their oxen. Sutton is near Warner NH which is home to the Kearsarge Indian Museum and a Nature Museum. Very nice small town. You can get a NH Dairy promotion trail map to best ice cream places. Kayaking on the Contoocook River is also nearby. They have rental kayaks and your destination can be a secluded sandy beach. You can also opt to have them take you to the Merrimack River. Water is usually low in August and there's hardly any boat traffic because of depth. We did about a half day paddle to the take out spot but along the way stopped at a secluded beach for a picnic lunch. You don't see any buildings until you get to the take out area near exit 17 on I93. This area near Concord NH is probably a longer drive than you wanted. Look for special events closer to Philly but try to find the smaller, less crowded venues. My husband used to like to go to an antique engine event at the Eric Sloane Museum in Kent CT.
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Old Jul 16th, 2019, 11:45 AM
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If you’re still considering Niagara Falls, would your family be interested in a stop at the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown? In the area around Cooperstown you can also do a cave tour which your family may enjoy for a few hours. My son played baseball with his all star team in Cooperstown and we stopped at Howe Caverns on the way home.
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