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Two weeks in New England with a three year old

23 replies

willowboom · 01/02/2020 14:16


We (me, husband and three year old son) are starting to plan a two week trip to New England for May this year.

It's very early stages but we are thinking of going to Boston for a few days and then driving up the coast through Maine. Considering a few days in New York before Boston but maybe that would be better as a separate trip another time...?

We like great scenery, gentle hikes, pottering around towns, trying new food and lots of things to keep our pre-schooler occupied.

We haven't been to America before and this will be our son's first long flight.

Any must sees and dos, practical tips to make the trip run smoothly or other advice? Are we crazy to attempt this with a three year old?

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P1pp1L0ngst0cking · 01/02/2020 15:38

No not at all but plan carefully. We did New York, RI, Boston, up the Maine Coast to Acadia, across into New Hampshire and then down through Vermont along Route 100. It took us a month and still ran out of time.

Utterly gorgeous.

P1pp1L0ngst0cking · 01/02/2020 15:47

If only going for 2 weeks I’d do Boston up to Acadia then across down through Vermont and back to Boston. Or did you just want to do Maine?

willowboom · 01/02/2020 19:48

Your trip sounds amazing. What was your standout place/ moment?

Yes we were thinking of Boston to Acadia along the coast and then back to Boston via a more inland route. We want to see as much as possible but are mindful that our pace will need to be slower than it was pre-child.

Was the driving relatively easy?

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SeaToSki · 01/02/2020 20:12

Boston... Museum of Science, Duck Boats, North End, New England Aquarium

Newburyport and Plum Island, sweet town and lovely walks

Kittery (outlet shopping) Portsmouth - go and look at the submarine

Kennebunkport. Brick museum (or something like that). Seashore Trolley museum, lots of Kennedy Family stuff, nice beaches to walk on

Portland - amazing brew pub scene, good indoor trampoline parks, maybe fly back to New York from there and then home

SeaToSki · 01/02/2020 20:14

Go north on route 95 and route 1, they take the coastal route, if you want to circle round and then drive south, cut across the white mountains to new hampshire and go south on route 93

The driving is easy if you have Sat Nav. I would buy a data plan for your phone and use google maps. The sign posts are atrocious. Also dont forget that undertaking is legal and very used. The speed limits also go up and down a lot

BubblesBuddy · 01/02/2020 20:36

I’m sure your 3 year old will enjoy the brew pub scene!

I would take it fairly slowly. Boston is an easy going City with plenty to do. There is a historic trail and you can go out to Cambridge and Harvard to have a look around (future educational planning!)

We actually drove to Cape Cod with DDs and had more of a conventional beach holiday. If going up the coast I would have a look at the Lonely Planet guide for this area to check out their recommendations for itineraries. We tend to find these a very useful starting point. We then spend longer in places if we need to. I would not try to cover too much mileage and I would find towns with something that all of you would enjoy. So good walks, lovely countryside and seaside areas. Plimoth plantation is worth going to but Salem isn’t (in my opinion). You need to take a view on what interests you and what is too tacky.

You will have a great time. I would skip NY though. You have more than enough for 2 weeks if you include Boston.

timeforawine · 01/02/2020 20:40

Following. Sorry OP no advice but want to do a similar trip Grin

P1pp1L0ngst0cking · 01/02/2020 22:01

We did NYC for a week first as we love the place and then Cape Cod for a week ( really lovely and ideal for a 3 year old, you could spend 2 weeks there and not scratch the surface). We’ll be returning. Don’t think you’ll have time for either so I’d fly to Boston but wouldn’t spend long there as so much better places to see.

From Boston ( via Rhode Island mansion walk )we did Salem( don’t bother unless you have teens and even then I wouldn’t really), Plimoth Plantation( lovely),Kennebunk( lovely) Lobster Shack at Two Lights( lovely area)Sebasco Harbour( stay as many nights as you can it’s gorgeous ), Camden then up to Bar Harbour and Acadia( sea kayaking, Jordan Pond, Sand Beach, Cadillac Mountain, Park Loop Rd....). Then went into New Hampshire( Kancamagus Highway, Robert Frost farm, Franconia Notch and across to Vermont( Stowe, Ben &Jerrys factory,Route 100 stopping off continuously as gorgeous).

Get Lonely Planet New England guide book and Lonely Planet New England Best Trips( road trips with useful pull out map). Download the NE Google maps as they saved our life a few times and buy a good paper map. Don’t bother with Sat Nav.Pick your must sees and then chunk up your journey how you want. Drive as much as you want each day. We self catered for most of it staying in log cabins, motels, cottages etc. All were a big success bar the old high school we stayed in Kennebunk complete with bats. If we were to leave out anywhere it would be New Hampshire. Maine blew us away. I’d book 3 weeks not 2, you may well feel rushed if not.

It’s very expensive so go for motels with fridges and kitchenettes as much as you can. You’ll save on breakfast but do have some diner breakfasts whilst you’re there.

P1pp1L0ngst0cking · 01/02/2020 22:05

As I said we were there for a month and still ran out of time. We’ll definitely be returning again and again. Maine just had that special something and there is so much more to see and to see again.Stunningly beautiful.

P1pp1L0ngst0cking · 01/02/2020 22:06

We wish we’d fitted in Portland and will do that next time.

willowboom · 01/02/2020 23:26

Thank you so much for all your replies. I'm so excited to get planning now - Lonely Planet books have been ordered. I think we'll give New York a miss this time, it sounds like there is a huge amount to keep us busy.

Great tip about google maps.

What sort of budget am I looking at for food and day to day expenses? We're not bothered about fine dining (three year old) and are happy to self cater/ picnic a lot of the time but we will be on holiday so eating out occasionally is part of the fun.

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P1pp1L0ngst0cking · 02/02/2020 06:34

Budget a lot more than you think but being only a couple with a small child will save you $$$ on everything . You can spend as much or as little as you like really although supermarkets in NE are expensive imvho, even the non Trader Joes.

I’d pick your route and then google the menus on places you’re interested in to get an idea. If you have a fridge you can keep milk in there and have your own breakfasts.We take plastic plates, stove top coffee pot and cutlery as have 3 teens to feed, were there for a while and exchange rate was shite at the time.Allow money for ice cream, the odd diner and coffees out on top of however many restaurants you think you’ll want to visit. I did masses of research and all the places we stayed in were lovely, reasonable and mostly self catering. Dunkin, Chipotle, Chuck fil a and Taco Bell are cheap and fill a hole although there aren’t a huge number of chain options thankfully in many of the above areas. I don’t think NE is a cheap area. We had a toll thing in the hire car that paid automatically and went on the credit card. Get that if offered although we were driving out of NYC so may have been more relevant. Attractions were pricey although Acadia was amazing value as I recall. NH parks not so much. If you’re short on time I’d focus on Maine and Vermont.

You’ll have an amazing time. The US is a stunning country and well geared for road trips. We all love it and are already pining to return. Allow a lot of time to plan. As I said I researched it a lot and it paid off as we stayed in some lovely places and enjoyed every minute. Do book as it’s a popular route. It takes more time to research and book everything than you think.

P1pp1L0ngst0cking · 02/02/2020 09:38

Also don’t forget tipping. You absolutely have to tip. Taxes differ too in different states so may well be more on top. Others may know the specific taxes for NE states, I can’t remember exactly.

SeaToSki · 02/02/2020 11:28

I would go to a supermarket (or target) and buy a cooler (inexpensive plastic one) and then buy ham, cheese, milk, salad bits etc and then keep it refilled with ice. That way you can feed yourself breakfast and lunch and then go to a chain restaurant for dinner. Most restaurants are child friendly (even brew pubs!). You can buy ice almost anywhere to refill.

Boston is going to be way more expensive, but you dont need a car in the city, so you could just uber in from the airport to your hotel and then pick up a rental car when you go north.

Go on expedia to look at hotel and motel prices

BubblesBuddy · 02/02/2020 16:16

The tax added to a meal is often 7-9%. Then the tip is double the tax. Often parents with DC will tip 20%. So you are looking at 25-30% on top of advertised prices.

Anywhere serving alcohol will keep DC away from the bar. It’s the law. You cannot drink until 21. We have found LP recommendations to be pretty good. They will suggest restaurants of all prices. We just ate out with DC but it’s not cheap! DIY will help if you are on a budget.

EmmaGrundyForPM · 02/02/2020 16:52

@SeaToSki. I agree about Plum Island
We stayed there for a week and had a lovely time. It. was a few years ago and Our kids were older though - 9 and 11.

texarkana · 03/02/2020 20:57

Boston has a children's museum that I think is better for a 3 year old - huge bubble room and science inspired play room to run about etc. It's on the river.
If you get way down east to the fabulous Bar Harbor and Acadia I would look up Diver Ed. He does a brilliant boat trip for kids - you watch him dive down on a camera link and you see him retrieve lots of sea creatures, lobster, sea star, cucumber etc. Then he brings them up for the kids to handle and then returns them to the ocean. It was recommended to us by a Boston local and we loved it and went back twice!

willowboom · 03/02/2020 21:08

This is great! The tips about tips, tolls and buying a cooler are especially useful. I've just googled Diver Ed - amazing, definitely one for the list.

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willowboom · 03/02/2020 21:10

Plum Island looks lovely too

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MrHaroldFry · 03/02/2020 21:34

Just to say OP, if you plan to hike, take tick precautions. Large tick issue in NE so dress appropriately and wear repellent

willowboom · 03/02/2020 23:10

Oh gosh, thank you. I wasn't aware of the tick issue so will definitely look into that.

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ColumbaPalumbus · 03/02/2020 23:28

Boston children's museum is AMAZING.

ColumbaPalumbus · 03/02/2020 23:30

White/tan long trousers and socks with closed toed shoes and check every night before bed for ticks

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