During the pandemic I started realizing that if I didn't have a plan and a reason to get out of the house, we would end up spending too much time in front of the TV. We love TV in this house, but everyone needs some fresh air. We started taking morning adventures that lasted anywhere from 2-4.5 hours. Below are some of our favorite itineraries!
I've also included some slightly longer day trips that we've started to add in since the kids have gotten older.
Located in Rye, but just outside Portsmouth along the seacoast is Odorione Park. You can play in the shallow tidal pools looking for crabs and minnows, visit the Seacoast Science Center,which has aquariums, touch tanks, and whale skeletons. The park also has the remains of the World War II Fort Dearborn as well as many trails for hiking and cycling. There are large grassy areas for a picnic and plenty of picnic tables. There are bathroom facilities and a newer playground.
This sandy beach with a beautiful new playground is a great spot to spend a few hours. We packed a picnic, buckets and shovels and spent along morning going back and forth from the playground and the swings to the beach.There was plenty of parking but I can see how it would fill up in the summer weekends. After we headed downtown to get ice cream at Terry's Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop.
At the tip of South Boston you can visit Fort Independence at Castle Island. Grab a seat in the grass or one of the many picnic tables and watch the planes land and harbor traffic. Fish from the pier, stroll the boulevard around the fort or bay. Make sure you grab an ice cream from Sullivans. There is also a great playground and kayak rental on the island.
Tip: Library has discounted passes, the app ParkWhiz can help you find garage parking
This is a great place to go when the weather isn't great. The parking is attached, the whole place is stroller friendly and there are things for kids of all ages. The exhibits are constantly changing, but even those that don't change are still fun to explore like the space ship, t-rex, the musical stairs, mathematic, and live animal care and exhibits. They do have a cafe on site, but there isn't much nearby unless you walk to the Cambrigeside Galleria. You can also jump on a Duck Boat.
Like most museums, you can buy a timed entry ticket in advance. Your library may even have discounted tickets. Plan to spend at least 1.5 hours in the museum! Afterwards, walk along the channel to Martin Richard Park. The slides and pirate ship are always a big hit with the kids. You can follow the channel around past the Barking Crab and the Court House and watch the boats along the harbor. There are so many places to grab lunch or sweets, or picnic along the harbor.
Book your tickets in advance for timed entry, the earlier the better to avoid huge crowds. You can also pay and reserve parking on ParkWhiz. Afterwards, head to the Rose Kennedy Greenway and ride the Carousel. Play in Christopher Columbus Park and if your kids still have energy, you can stroll through the North End and grab a sandwich or gelato! We've also had picnics at Christopher Columbus Park while watching the harbor.
A short trip north to Wolf Hollow in Ipswich. Such a nice (and educational) alternative to visiting a zoo. Best for kiddos with a good attention span, because they do an hour-long session on the weekend with an educational presentation. You are able to observe the wolves in a (relatively) natural environment - nearby you can grab lunch at Russell Orchards or head to town for an ice cream.
Blue Hills Reservation has a lot to offer both lifelong hikers and those who want to stroll through stunning scenery. There are 125 miles of trails that will take you over hills, through marshes, across meadows and around the ponds. The skyline trail takes you to amazing city views, but there are also a variety of hikes for beginners to more challenging.https://www.mass.gov/location-details/hiking-in-blue-hills
Pack a lunch and pack up the kids. Head to Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary and hike any number of the family friendly trails and boardwalks through the marsh. Take the Rockery trail and climb the rocks, explore the stone caves and look for turtles and frogs in the ponds. Head back to the Visitor Center to play at the Nature Center, build a log cabin at the Nature Play area, jump + balance on logs. You can also rent a canoe (free for members). Parking is $10 for non-members.
The southern coast and tip of Maine are closer than you might think and are accessible easily by car or train! Consider taking the Amtrak Downeaster if you don't want to drive. The beaches, tide pools and rivers are all great reasons to head to Maine. But here are a few others!
Depending on how far you're hoping to drive, here are some reasonable trips you can take up/back in a day:
Rhode Island may be the smallest New England State but there is still so much to do with the kids! You can head up/back in a day and still hit a few items on this list:
This location is about an hour away, but for kids who are walkers it’s definitely worth the trip because there is so much to see and do! If your kid is a post lunch napper, then you will probably not be able to see and do it all. We purchased our tickets ahead of time and went right when it opened. There are plenty of restrooms, hand sanitizer stations and concession areas if you need snacks and water. Lots of parking too!
There isn’t one area of the park that disappoints but these were our favorites:
What we didn’t get to try but will on our next trip:
This place is pretty spread out, I find it is helpful to plan out your trip in advance because so many of the rides have height restrictions and specific hours/times of year they operate (Dino Land is closed in the winter).
Some of the attractions are outdoors, some ticketed, some are in various buildings around the park. I do suggest going when the weather is nice so that you can make the most of the park.
Be sure to check their website before you head down, some of the rides are older and may be offline for maintenance. Tickets can be purchased in advance and that is recommended. A few highlights:
Food: Edaville has a variety of different food options: sitdown options, grab and go, or snacks but they do not permit outside food and drink.
Rides and attractions are open seasonally (Christmas Festival of Lights begins in late October) with train rides, European-style Christmas market, food, drinks and lots of sparkly lights.
Most rides have height requirements and require adult to ride with the child. Visit Edaville.com to learn more about the rides, safety, requirements for height and what’s open and closed. Visit: www.Edaville.com
Canobie Lake Park has been around for over 100 years, it's seasonal (May-October) and offers something for everyone with over 85 attractions!
Here are just a few of the features:
Tips: buy tickets in advance and save online, the park allows outside food, the waterpark gets very busy especially in the early afternoon. A lot of the rides have height requirements but you can plan your trip accordingly and search online for rides by height. It's very spread out so you may want to bring a stroller.