Summer Northeast Family Trip- Advice Needed

Old Feb 21st, 2016, 03:57 PM
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Summer Northeast Family Trip- Advice Needed

I am in the process of planning a 2 week trip for my family (6 year old boy, 10 year old boy and husband) to the Northeast at the beginning of August. We live just south of DC and we are thinking that we might drive the route. We are thinking of planning our trip such that we can drop our older son off at sleep away camp at the end of the 2 weeks (in the Poconos, PA). My kids love the outdoors, animals, hiking, fishing, swimming (including at the beach), etc. I would love to do whale watching, see the White and/or Green Mountains, perhaps Cape Code and Niagara Falls. We would like to stay in cabins or the like or we are even considering renting a trailer to tow behind our vehicle. Any suggestions on good routes, destinations and accommodations would be greatly appreciated.
heharris is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2016, 04:02 PM
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Sorry but a trailer is not a great idea in these areas if you want to visit any cities. Also there are many roads designated "parkways" that allow only passenger cars - nothing larger and you are not allowed to have anything in tow. And these are often the prettiest routes - rather than the massive interstates filled with 4 lanes of trucks.

Think you will have much more flexibility with budget motels or similar.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2016, 04:35 PM
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Since your objectives is to be in the outdoors, animals, hiking, fishing, swimming, etc, and not visiting cities then I think cabin camping or towing a trailer sounds like a great idea. The states in the northeast have good state parks. You can camp right next to a small, medium, or large lake in many, many locations, and the kids can be on or in the water in minutes.

A good resource would be the state parks office in each state - they could send you a brochure with list of state parks & ammenities, or look online.
J62 is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 01:47 AM
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Some of the campgrounds have rental campers and/or camping cabins. Here's an example at Searsport Shores in mid-coast Maine But our favorite campground was Chewonki in Wiscasset and they only do tent rentals

Depending on your vehicle, you might be limited to a pop-up tent trailer. When we had a small tow behind camper it needed a truck with a tow package capable of towing that kind of weight. But a campground where kids can explore, ride bikes and jump in a lake might be perfect for you.

August is a great month. You might plan your route depending on special events. Owls Head Transportation Museum has special events on weekends. The one we liked was antique vehicles that included antique airplanes which kept taking off and landing. (near Rockland Maine) Instead of a whale watch, you might consider a day trip with picnic lunch to Monhegan Island.

Highly recommend Squam Lakes Science Center in Holderness NH which our grandchildren loved. You'll be able to have close-up experiences with native NH animals. Holderness is right between Lake Winnipesaukee and NH's White Mountains so all the mountain activities are just a short drive away.

Near Concord NH there are places you can rent kayaks with a choice of going down the river to an isolated beach or the more expensive trip where they drop you off on the Merrimack River and pick you up later. You could rent tandem kayaks so each child could go with a parent. If you go for the Merrimack River, take a picnic lunch and enjoy a little private sandy beach along the way. Keep eyes open for bald eagles.

You could head south to Manchester NH and the SEE Science Center. The Millyard built in Legos is incredible. Then head north again on I293 then I89 to Vermont. Also highly recommend the Montshire Museum in Norwich VT. They have outdoor waterplay so we brought a picnic lunch, had the gds change to bathing suits after lunch. The 10 year old might be a little old for the waterplay. See what he thinks.

Cross over the Green Mountains using the Lincoln Pass to Bristol VT. Right next to the road on the east side of town is a small river. You'll see cars parked because there's a popular swimming hole with a small waterfall. Older kids jump off ledges into deep pool. dh and I simply brought a picnic lunch and watched the fun (no grandchildren that trip). Have boys wear water shoes. Just downstream it is shallow enough to walk across the river but very rocky. There are some routes to see waterfalls going around on facebook. This is on the Vermont one but you can google popular swimming holes to find more. We have not been to the one in NH that's near the Kancamagus Hwy in the White Mountains.

I would skip Niagara Falls, there's not enough time. For sandy beaches, Cape Cod is a good choice or any of the ones in southern Maine. Beaches north of Portland ME tend to be rocky with very cold water.
dfrostnh is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 02:59 AM
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Driving is a good idea. There is a lot to see. I agree that towing a trailer is not a great idea because of road restrictions and the need to make reservations far in advance. If you could rent a trailer or a cottage near a beach or lake for the middle of your trip, that would be great.

dfrost is the expert on camping and on central New England. I know a lot about the White Mountains, Boston, and the Cape and Islands and love the areas near the Canadian border.

Things kids would like by state arranged in a loop:

Connecticut: Essex Steam Train. Mystic Seaport

Eastern Massachusetts: Freedom Trail in Boston. Whale Watch from Aquarium in Boston

Maine: inexpensive mail boat cruise from Portland through Casco Bay. One trip stops at a lobster restaurant on Bailey's Island for lunch. Camden area Windjammer sail, car trip up Battle Mountain, Owls Head Transportation Museum.

New Hampshire: what dfrost says, plus a ride through Pinkham Notch at the foot of Mt Washington. Easy hikes there from AMC center. I-93 through Franconia Notch is full of semi-tacky attractions that are the kinds of places your father wouldn't stop -- trained bears, etc. Be a sport.

Vermont: Ben and Jerry's factory, Shelburne outdoor museum.

Massachusetts (western): drive up to Greylock Lodge, highest point in MA. Hancock Shaker Village. Interesting, and good connections via Taconic Parkway or NY Thruway to Poconos.
Ackislander is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 03:35 AM
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We've taken the whale watch from Provincetown on Cape Cod and have seen whales every time. Look for a cottage/motel in Wellfleleet, Eastham, Truro, North Truro or Provincetown which have easy access to the National Seashore and places to go on a fishing trip too.

If you do decide to do the camper route, do make reservations now.
emalloy is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 06:25 AM
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Thank you so much for all of the information. Re Cape Cod, can you recommend lodging that is seaside -- would love to rent a small cottage or quaint place (even B&B) but we would only stay for 2-3 nights.

What about Finger Lakes and Lake George area? Any towns/lodging you would recommend? Do you think it is too much trying to make it to Niagara? We would only stay 1 night -- I just really want to see it and think the boat ride below the falls would be incredible for the kids.

Any thoughts on Lake Winnipesaukee? I heard Meredith was a nice town to stay in.

Re Mystic, any recommendations on good places to stay?

Keep the great information coming. I really really appreciate it
heharris is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 08:01 AM
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The Squam Lakes Science Center is a short drive from Lake Winnipesaukee. Meredith is a lovely town on the lake. Traffic is a bit congested downtown because everyone has to drive downtown. Wolfeboro would be another nice town. Weirs Beach is honkytonk but kids would love it. Arcade etc. I think you would have to use Weirs Beach or a state park for lake swimming unless you had a hotel/motel/cottage on the water. Nice thing about Meredith would be several choices of restaurants within walking distance of some hotels. Lake Winnisquam would be quieter as long as the lodging wasn't right on Rt 3.

If you could find lodging on Squam Lake it might be ideal but also a rare find. Lakes are close so we don't have experience overnighting in that area. Some complaints about lakes have to do with noise from jet skis and power boats.
dfrostnh is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 09:17 AM
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For the Mystic area, there is a string of hotels/motels close to the Aquarium and Seaport. Look for ones that tell you to get off I-95 at exit 90. The Hilton is right across the street from the Aquarium. A little more upscale would be the Inn at Mystic or the Inn in Stonington. There are also several other options including B&Bs in the area.

For waterfront on the Cape, check out the places on rt 6A between North Truro and Provincetown.
emalloy is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 09:42 AM
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Oh, the 6A places are on the bay side, the ocean side is National Seashore in that area, but well worth a trip over to for more surf and beautiful beaches.
emalloy is offline  
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