Dutchess County, New York

Dutchess County, located in southeastern New York, spans from Fishkill and Beacon to Rhinebeck and Red Hook covering (in total) thirty cities, towns, and villages. There are literally hundreds of ways to explore the area, but I thought I would share twelve ways families can enjoy all that Dutchess County has to offer together. The county borders western Connecticut and is about 90 minutes from Manhattan. Driving from the north end of Red Hook south to Beacon takes less than an hour, so you won't spend days in the car exploring the area.

Start your planning by checking out DutchessTourism.com, which is a well organized, well informed network of suggestions for eating, staying, and exploring the county.  They have a section dedicated to family fun and even have itineraries broken up in one, three, and five day stays (in additional to organizing suggestions for shopping, craft beer, spa, LGBT and other themed trips).

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Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum in Boston, Massachusetts

I love Boston; It’s my hometown. Even though I moved to Connecticut almost twenty years ago, I still consider myself a Bostonian and love exploring the city whenever I am in town visiting my parents. The list of places to explore with my children is long (hello, Freedom Trail!), but on a recent trip, I thought we’d start with an experience I keep reading rave reviews of: The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. The tour and museum did not disappoint; this is one of the most engaging, humorous tours I have experienced. The tour guides (all of whom impersonate actual historical figures) were upbeat, friendly, and welcoming to children. Children of all ages will enjoy the experience. (**toddlers might need to skip one small section of the museum; see below)

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FDR Presidential Library, Museum, and NHS, Hyde Park, New York

We just returned from a wonderful trip to Dutchess County, New York. Less than two hours from Manhattan, Dutchess County is filled with hundreds of ways to learn about American history, agriculture, and the arts. Check out dutchesstourism.com for advice, suggestions, itineraries, and maps. I'll have a full write up of our travels in two weeks.

Whenever we travel, we always check our National Parks Passport and our Presidential Library Passport to see if there are any locations near our destination. We hit a double when we found The Franklin D.  Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum and the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, both located on the same property in Hyde Park, New York. We love the National Park Service (read about why here) and our son is quickly becoming a presidential scholar, so we had to spend the morning exploring the complex. America’s first presidential library and museum was designed by FDR himself and opened to the public in 1941. The museum has over 400 collections, including 51,00 volumes and 150,000 photographs, negatives and audiovisual items, as well as plenty of research and meeting spaces.

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The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee

We’re not huge country music fans, but while in Nashville this summer, we figured it was only appropriate to listen to what the locals listen to and blend in with the crowd. There’s no better place to listen to, and learn about, country music than the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s located in downtown Nashville, close to many area attractions. (I’ll have a full list of our fun in Nashville in the coming weeks.)

I was uncertain if my children would be engaged throughout our self guided tour ( we decided to forego the audio tour). I was so pleasantly surprised at how child friendly the museum is! There is plenty to see and do, even for younger, non-country loving kids. We spent over two hours inside the museum and could have stayed longer had we not had another reservation.

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The Health Museum in Houston, Texas

Opened in 1996 in Houston, the John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science, aka The Health Museum for short, welcomes over two million visitors each year. Recently renovated, the museum also has plans to expand the four permanent exhibits in the near future.  The Health Museum is located in the Houston Museum District, an area encompassing 19 different museums and recreational spots, along with plenty of restaurant options.  On a recent trip to Houston (stay tuned for an upcoming post on all things family-friendly in Houston), we had the chance to explore The Health Museum.  If you're local to the Houston area, I recommend checking out their programming schedule; there is a wide variety of classes and camps offered throughout the year (they even have real organ dissections!!).

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