Known as “America’s oldest seaport”, Gloucester was the largest fishing port in America in the second half of the 19th century, and one of the top five ports in the world at that time. In addition to its contributions to the fishing industry, Gloucester also produced granite in nearby quarries as well as a thriving art community. Founded in 1623, the city is less than one hour north of Boston, directly on the Atlantic Ocean. Gloucester is one of four communities (Essex, Rockport, and Manchester-by-the-Sea are the other three communities) that make up the Cape Ann district.
Located an hour south of Washington DC and an hour north of the state capitol Richmond, Fredericksburg began as a tobacco seaport until the Civil War, when, in December of 1862, the area became synonymous with a battle that took the lives of 12, 000 thousands soldiers. Today, visitors come for an education in Revolutionary War and Civil War history and a chance to explore the numerous museums and historical sites.
Hershey, Pennsylvania may be known as a chocolate lover’s paradise and a dreamland for thrill seekers. Indeed, a visit to Hersheyland amusement park is a MUST when you are in town, but there are also many other places to explore in both Hershey, a town originally named Derry Church and changed to honor the man who created thousands of jobs and industry in the 20th century, and nearby Harrisburg, the capitol of Pennsylvania. As you drive through downtown Hershey, check out the streetlights- 55 of them are dressed up as wrapped “kisses” and 52 streetlights are dressed up as unwrapped “kisses.”
There are SO many places to explore in Dallas- my family could have stayed for a year and still not have seen everything! Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay that long, but we vow to return soon! I did most of my research on VisitDallas.com, which has great lists and suggestions. Click here to request a print copy of the Visitor’s Guide. If you’re planning on exploring multiple spots on my list, consider purchasing a CityPass, which will give you discounts and allow you to skip many lines. More info here. While many locations having parking lots and there are several metered options on main roads, consider riding with DART, Dallas’ public transportation system. Learn more about it here. Like I mentioned, there was too much to do while we were in town to cover the entire city, but I wanted to share some spots we enjoyed:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city, is known for many things: being the “City of Brotherly Love”; the home of the cheesesteak, the first bank, and the Liberty Bell; and the place where “eagles fly.” Home to over one million people and less than a two hour drive from both New York City and Baltimore, it’s probably most know for being the first capitol of America and the location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. There certainly is a lot of history “preserved” in Philadelphia, but there’s also a ton of other ways to explore the city with kids. Before you head to Philadelphia, check out VisitPhilly.com for tons of recommendations, itineraries, and calendars. The website is well organized and has suggestions organized by neighborhood, season, or family friendly activities. If you’re planning on visiting for a few days, consider purchasing a CityPass or Philadelphia Pass, both of which offer substantial savings if you visit multiple locations (most of which are on my top 20 list).
Rhode Island make take some heat for being the smallest state in America, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in family-friendly fun. Providence, the state capital, is located one hour south of Boston and three hours north of New York City. My family has driven through the Ocean State several time on the way to visit family (check out my posts on nearby Newport, Bristol, and The Farmer’s Daughter) but we’ve never stayed in town for more than a day.
On our way home from celebrating Christmas in Boston, we decided to spend some time exploring Providence. Even though the weather was chilly (mid 20s-30s), we enjoyed lots of indoor and outdoor fun. Here are some of our favorite activities for family fun in Providence:
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).
Memphis, Tennessee is widely known as the Home of Blues, Soul, and Rock & Roll. Located on on the Mississippi River, in southwestern Tennessee, the downtown area is filled with plenty of chances to sample barbecue and a wide variety of music, making it a popular destination for couples and groups of friends looking to have a good time. However, as I planned for a summer road trip stopping in Tennessee, I quickly discovered that Memphis also has a lot to offer for families.
Start by going to memphistravel.com. It’s full of helpful suggestions for where to go, what to do, and where to stay. They’ve even categorized lists such as “Weird Things to Do” and “Best Barbecue.” I found the website incredibly useful in planning our visit. Here are some of our suggestions:
On a recent trip out west, we stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas for the weekend. I knew Little Rock is known for being the home of America’s 42nd President, Bill Clinton and I knew I’d want to stop at the Clinton Center and Park to explore the museum and earn a stamp in my Presidential Libraries passport.
Yet, as I read through LittleRock.com to search for other things to do, I quickly discovered that Little Rock is a very family friendly city and my list of “must visit” spots quickly grew! I was warned that Little Rock gets hot in the summer; Indeed, on the weekend we visited, it rose to almost one hundred degrees each day. However, the heat did not interfere too much with our plans- there are so many family friendly things to do inside (many of them are FREE!) that we could beat the heat and still have a lot of fun exploring the city. We found Little Rock to be very pedestrian friendly (drivers actual stop for people waiting in a cross walk!) and easy to walk from place to place. We walked to almost all of the following places from our hotel, but you could also take a Rock Region Metro Streetcar, which kids might enjoy. I am already planning another visit to Little Rock; it looks like they have just as many activities for year round fun!
Mystic is a small town located in the most eastern part of Connecticut and is known for its historic seaport. Mystic is part of New London County, which includes other family friendly towns and cities ranging from New London to Groton to Niantic down to Old Lyme. The area becomes flooded with visitors in the spring and summer due to its close proximity to the Long Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean. However, there is plenty to do in the “off season” too: food festivals throughout the year, the famous Pirate Invasion in the fall, the arrival of Santa via tugboat and holidays strolls in December, and the popular Mystic Irish parade in March. Recently, my family spent a few days of our April break exploring the area. We had so much fun we could have extended our trip to a few weeks! Lucky for us, the area is less than 90 minutes away, so we can return for day trips any time we wish. Here are some of our favorite spots: