Traveling with kids isn’t always as easy as the guidebooks make it sound, but New England is, in fact, as ideal a place to do it as any, thanks to its balance of education and fun. For every historical town, there is a wax museum full of witches; for every Concord Bridge, a Basketball Hall of Fame.
There is no bad time to pack up the minivan, either: Spring is wonderful for outside strolls in the parks; summer begs for cooling dips at the beach; fall is foliage and festival time; and winter is when to head for the indoor museums — or hit the ski trails. Following are the top sights and activities for kids, by state.
Family Travel in Massachusetts
- Boston Children’s Museum puts the “act” in interactive.
- Boston Fire Museum teaches wee ones about the history of firefighting.
- Museum of Science (Boston) is an enormous building spotlighting everything from live lightning shows and an Omni theatre to fossil exhibits.
- Public Garden (Boston) is where tykes love to ride on the famous swan boats and pay homage to the Make Way for Ducklings statue.
- Salem Maritime Historic Site (Salem) is the place to pace the decks of the tall ships.
- Wolf Hollow (Ipswich) is a howl — quite literally; a quasi-natural setting in which to visit and learn about wolves.
- Minuteman National Historic Park (Concord) captures the opening battles of the Revolutionary War. Later, take a swim (and visit Thoreau’s cabin) at Walden Pond.
Family Travel in Vermont
- ECHO Lake Aquarium (Burlington) guarantees that kids will get wet as they learn about frogs, snakes, and the resident sea monster, Champ.
- Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium (Fairmont) is a treasure trove of mummies, dinosaur fossils, stuffed animals, and Civil War memorabilia, along with an interactive weather center for budding meteorologists.
- Vermont Toy and Train Museum (Quechee) has case after case of toys from yesteryear to bring back memories, and some from today for kids to play with.
- The Retreat Farm (Brattleboro) is a working farm with a petting barn that encourages tykes to feed and groom the animals.
Family Travel in New Hampshire
- Hampton Beach (Hampton) is a veritable kid magnet; parents can relax on the sand while they play arcade games and eat cotton candy to their hearts’ content.
Family Travel in Rhode Island
- Watch Hill (Watch Hill) is a family-friendly throwback to the Victorian era, with a beautiful beach, a carousel for the kids, and plenty of upscale shops for parents to explore.