“Mommy, can you tell me the story of our vacation?”
Even now, six months later, this is a frequent refrain in our house. Our three-year-old, E, loves to be told stories, and one of his favorites is when we recount a play-by-play of our very first vacation together: a family road trip through New England.
I tried to go into this trip with low expectations, since I had no idea how traveling with a 2.5-year-old and five-month-old would go. Thankfully, our vacation blew any of those expectations out of the water. We had the most wonderful time seeing a gorgeous part of the country and spending time as a family, so much so that my son still loves talking about it almost half a year later.
Today, I want to share a day-by-day breakdown of our itinerary, along with all the tips and resources you’ll need to plan your own incredible family road trip through New England!
New England Family Road Trip: At a Glance
Day 1: Bristol and Newport, Rhode Island
Because we didn’t arrive in Bristol until after 1:00 AM the night before, we didn’t exactly spring out of our Airbnb on our first morning in Rhode Island. That suited us fine, as family time was the name of the game. It also allowed us to have a tasty breakfast on the lovely back patio.
M picked up takeout from Bristol Sunset Cafe, which was recommended by our hosts and certainly lived up to the hype. Their breakfast sandwiches (particularly the So Good sandwich I ordered) were delicious and the perfect start to our day.
Thus fueled up, we got ourselves together and set off for Newport.
Newport is located on an island in southern Rhode Island and is a pretty quintessential coastal New England town. It rose to prominence as a summer resort town for some of the wealthiest families in the United States (do names like Vanderbilt, Astor, and Kennedy ring any bells?) and is still home to some outrageously large and opulent mansions. The town is also a mecca for sailing enthusiasts: the National Sailing Hall of Fame is here, as were fifty years’ worth of America’s Cups. Today, it’s a beautiful seaside town with lots of offer.
As soon as we decided to add Rhode Island to our itinerary, I knew Newport would make the perfect first stop. And it was! We parked in the lot at Easton’s Beach, a long and narrow strip of sand fronting a U-shaped bay, and set off for the famous Cliff Walk.
The Cliff Walk is a 3.5-mile National Recreation Trail along Newport’s rocky coastline. On one side you have the Atlantic; on the other you’ll pass huge Gilded Age mansions.
We didn’t quite make it to any views of mind-blowing mansions, since we started at Memorial Boulevard and only made it as far as the Forty Steps at Narrangansett Avenue, but it was still a beautiful walk. The sky was a cloudless blue and the views out over Easton Bay were just lovely.
Despite E’s little legs getting tired and having to change a blowout diaper in the grass, the Cliff Walk was really enjoyable. Perhaps even more enjoyable, though, was returning to Easton’s Beach and grabbing lunch at their snack bar.
We had heard great things about the snack bar’s lobster rolls, so we placed an order and sat on the seawall enjoying the warm sunshine while we waited.
When our order came up, we snagged a picnic table in a nearby pavilion and tucked in. Sitting there, eating delicious lobster rolls with the sea breeze on our faces, we felt like we were truly in New England.
By that point, the kids were ready for a bit of rest. We headed back to the Airbnb – another big departure from M’s and my standard pedal-to-the-metal operating procedure! – for a little downtime. Later that afternoon, at our hosts’ recommendation, we took a short drive into downtown Bristol for a delicious dinner at Quito’s Seafood Restaurant and Bar.
Quito’s is located right on the water in Bristol Harbor, and the sun setting over the various yachts and sailboats was just beautiful.
The food was awesome, as well; when we asked which of their seafood soups, chowders, and bisques we should try, our server told us that the lobster bisque was – and I quote – “insane.”
I mean, that has to be your choice then, right?
Turns out he was right. The bisque was so tasty and had massive chunks of lobster meat throughout.
M and I also each had a Sicilian spinach salad and split an order of fried clams. I was in heaven. (There was chocolate milk and a whole cup of crayons to accompany his meal, so E was happy, too.)
By the time we left, the sun had disappeared below the horizon and the harbor and adjacent park were bathed in evening light.
With such a great first day under our belts, we were starting to feel confident that this whole family vacation thing could be a really great experience. Thankfully, it just kept getting better.
Tips for Bristol and Newport with Small Children:
- Although it was a very late night, we were really glad that we made the first long drive of our family road trip at night when the kids had a good chance of sleeping most of the way. It was nice to be able to just wake up in Rhode Island and get the vacation started!
- We took the stroller on the Cliff Walk but should have taken our baby carrier as well. E’s little legs got tired and it would have been easier to put him in the stroller and wear S instead of the other way around.
- Parking at Easton’s Beach is no joke; it cost us $25 for the pleasure of leaving a car there. We sucked it up and paid the price, since it was the closest we could get to the Cliff Walk and we wanted to try the lobster rolls at the snack bar, but if we didn’t have the kids along I probably would have tried to find parking elsewhere.
If you have older kids or more time...
- Stroll the downtown area. There are lots of beautiful shops and restaurants.
- Visit some of the mansions along the Cliff Walk and beyond. Perhaps my biggest regret about our time in Newport was that it didn’t work for us to visit The Breakers in particular.
- Spend some time on Easton’s Beach.
Day 2: Bristol to North Conway, New Hampshire
Our stay at Gloria’s Getaway was so comfortable and our time in Rhode Island so enjoyable that we were reticent to leave after just one day. I had been less excited about Gloria’s compared to the other Airbnb’s we’d be visiting on this trip, mostly because it was a straightforward, homey apartment versus the mountain condo and rustic cabin we’d be staying in later. But in the end it completely won us over and was probably our favorite place that we stayed on the trip.
The whole apartment was spotlessly clean and our hostess, Mary, had added so many thoughtful touches. Not only had she handcrafted a local guide, but she was super responsive and hospitable. We felt so at home that it was hard to pack up and leave!
Thankfully, we had the promise of brunch with M’s cousin’s family outside Boston and the White Mountains waiting for us later that day. We said goodbye to Gloria’s Getaway and headed north.
Most of our morning and early afternoon were spent visiting with M’s cousin Jess and her family outside of Boston, and then we continued on toward North Conway, New Hampshire. I had planned to stop in Portsmouth, NH, to break up the drive, but the kids both passed out immediately and were still fast asleep as we approached the exit. Thus, M and I decided to press on to North Conway and were able to enjoy a quiet drive north.
North Conway is pretty little town that serves largely as a tourist base for exploring the nearby – and stunning – White Mountains. We arrived with some time to spare before we could check into our next Airbnb, so we let E blow off some energy at the Harvey Dow Gibson Playground along the main drag through town.
To his delight, we also arrived on the last day of the Mud Bowl, an annual event that benefits local charities. Seeing people playing football in ankle-deep mud and muck made such an impression on E that he was still talking about it weeks later.
At last, we made our way out of town to our Airbnb, which was a three-bedroom condo tucked away in the woods off the highway.
Our hosts had clearly done a lot of work to update the place and turn it into a cozy mountain retreat. There was plenty of living space and three bedrooms that allowed us to spread out.
We kept it low-key that night with dinner at Moat Mountain Brewing Company (the grilled chicken and portobello sandwich was *chef’s kiss*) before turning in for our first sleep in New Hampshire!
If you have older kids or more time...
- We were fortunate to get to see family while on this trip, but we could have just as easily popped into Boston for a few hours on our way from Rhode Island to New Hampshire. At roughly a third of the way through the drive, it would make a great stopping point. (Though, to be honest, there’s so much to do in Boston that a few hours might just be a tease!)
- As I mentioned, we also had planned to spend some time in the seaside town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which would be a worthy alternative
Day 3: Echo Lake State Park
One of the major goals for this first family vacation of ours was to spend as much time as possible outdoors. Not only were we headed to a beautiful area of the United States, but getting outside would provide some low-cost fun while also giving E plenty of opportunities to burn off all that toddler energy.
Our first full day in New Hampshire provided us with the perfect setting for our first hike as a family of four: Echo Lake State Park.
Echo Lake was perfect for us because it:
- is located less than two miles off Route 302, the main road through North Conway;
- features a flat, .8-mile-long loop trail around the eponymous lake that was the perfect distance for our toddler; and
- was stunningly beautiful.
We were fortunate to have a gorgeous, blue-sky morning on the day we headed to Echo Lake. After paying our entrance fee, parking, and changing what felt like our thousandth diaper blowout of the trip thus far, we hit the trail. First, we passed through a nice picnic and recreation area, where we certainly would have enjoyed a packed lunch if we’d brought one.
It didn’t take long before we were in full view of Echo Lake and the massive rock faces that make it so scenic.
A wide stretch of sand led down to the calm, blue-green water.
The trail looped around the lake, sometimes hugging the water’s edge but mostly leading through the forest.
Whether by design or the work of visitors, there were also numerous offshoot paths cutting down to the water at various points along the way. E, of course, wanted to take each one for a new opportunity to toss sticks and/or stones into the lake.
At last, to E’s delight, we reached the main recreation area and allowed him to run squealing into the lake. It was a little chilly, and we hadn’t brought a swimsuit, but he had a blast splashing and swimming around in the calm, shallow water. The rest of us, meanwhile, basked in the bright sunlight and the incredible scenery.
By the time we got E dried off and changed into his spare set of clothes, we were all pretty hungry. We drove the short distance back into town, grabbed takeout from the scrumptious Stairway Cafe, and returned to our home base for naptime. Thanks to the exertion of the hike and the excitement of his impromptu swim, E slept like a log.
Tips for Echo Lake State Park with Small Children
- On a warm day, be prepared for the kids to take a dip in the water. There are nice bathhouse facilities near the park entrance where you can change clothes and diapers.
- At the time of writing, entrance fees for the park were $4 per adult and $2 for each child aged 6-11.
- While we drove right in, the park can fill up on nice weekends and holidays, so consider booking your entrance in advance via the state park website.
If you have older children or more time...
- Try one of the longer and more scenic hikes. I’ve read that Cathedral Ledge (also its own state park, but hikable from Echo Lake) is particularly stunning.
- In good/warm weather, spend a few hours at the little beach.
- Take some time to walk the main drag through North Conway (White Mountain Highway, or Rt. 302). There are lots of great restaurants, shops, boutiques, and other places to explore and fill a couple of hours.
- Just outside of town, and not far from our Airbnb, is a family amusement park called StoryLand, which also has an aquarium onsite. Both were recommended to us for a return visit.
Day 4: The Mt. Washington Cog Railway
Our second day in New Hampshire just might have been the best day of E’s short life thus far. Within a 12-hour span, he got to ride a train, eat lunch overlooking a golf course, play miniature golf, and eat a giant dessert.
I mean, what more could a 2.5-year-old golf and machinery aficionado want?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning, when we loaded up the car and made the 45-minute drive through the White Mountain National Forest to the Mount Washington Cog Railway.
The Mount Washington Cog Railway is a three-mile rack-and-pinion railway that climbs all the way to the top of the tallest mountain on the US East Coast. Not only is it incredibly scenic, ascending through the tree line with views of the gorgeous White Mountains all around, but it’s a mechanical marvel and a piece of history. Although you can hike or drive up Mount Washington, there’s no doubt that the railway is the most charming and memorable way to reach the top.
Visiting the Cog Railway is one of the most popular things to do in New Hampshire, and we thought it would make a great activity for our machine-obsessed 2.5-year-old. Our train tickets were actually the only activity we booked in advance for the entire trip, and we’re very glad we did. We were able to get seats at the very front of the train, and fortuitously had chosen the left side, which seemed to be a bit more scenic than the right.
It wasn’t long after M and I got the two of us settled with a kid on each lap that the train chugged into motion and began its ascent.
I wrote a full account of our journey on the Mount Washington Cog Railway in another post, so this recap will be a bit abbreviated. But suffice it to say that this trip was well worth the price of admission for the scenery alone!
The views from the upper portions of the railway were stunning. The trees fell away to reveal green mountains rolling off into the distance, stretching all the way into Vermont and Quebec before disappearing into the horizon.
At last, we reached the summit and emerged from the train into a chilly fog. This wasn’t unusual; the summit of Mount Washington is notorious for terrible weather, and especially for wind. The highest wind speed on Earth – a whopping 231 miles per hour – was recorded here in 1934. I knew when we booked the trip that it was likely that we wouldn’t be able to see much from the top, and for a few minutes, I was right.
But then, Mount Washington’s fickle weather began to work in our favor, and the clouds began to dissipate.
The rest of our time at the summit was beautiful, with mostly blue skies, some fluffy white clouds, and unobstructed views for miles in every direction. Depending on which way we were looking, we could see all the way to Vermont, Quebec, Maine, or Massachusetts. We could even spot the thin line of the Atlantic Ocean along the eastern horizon!
After our hour at the summit, we boarded our return train for the trip back down the mountain. The journey was just as scenic as the way up, though I’m glad I couldn’t see the steep drop in front of us!
By the time we returned to Marshfield Base Station, it was well after noon and we were all pretty famished. There weren’t many open places to eat near the Mount Washington Cog Railway, but that ended up working in E’s favor. The closest place we found was The Grille at the Bretton Woods Golf Clubhouse & Nordic Center near the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods. The resort was incredibly picturesque: a large, white, red-roofed hotel with all the glamor of the turn of the 20th century and a backdrop of soaring mountains.
After a quick drive-by, we parked at the golf course clubhouse and had lunch on the terrace overlooking the 18th hole. E loves golf (it’s genetic on his father’s side), so he was in his glory eating grilled cheese and watching the golfers play. Now, when we say we’re going out for lunch, he still often asks if we’re going to eat at the golf course.
After lunch we drove back to our condo. The kids fell asleep almost as soon as the wheels began to move, so M and I got to enjoy the beautiful drive in a reverent silence. Upon our return, M took E to play mini golf at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf (I’m serious, the kid’s obsessed) while I did a couple loads of laundry. Later that night, we had a fantastic dinner at Tuckerman Brewing Company, where E’s kid’s meal came with an entire ice cream sandwich that our server decorated with dollops of whipped cream and a generous drizzle of chocolate syrup.
Best. Day. Ever.
Tips for the Mount Washington Cog Railway with Small Children
- I wrote an entire post about our ride on the Cog, including lots of tips for planning your own trip. Don’t miss it!
- There are no bathrooms on the train, so make sure everyone has a last minute potty break before each leg of the trip.
- Regardless of the weather down below, make sure to bring warm clothes for the summit.
If you have older children or more time...
- Spend some time in the White Mountain National Forest. There were lots of gorgeous-looking hiking trailheads and scenic viewpoints along the way to the Cog Railway.
- Take a hike around the summit of Mount Washington. The Summit Loop trail is fairly difficult but features great views. Make sure to be prepared for any weather.
- In addition to the Cog Railway, train enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the Conway Scenic Railway. These multi-hour journeys depart right from downtown North Conway and travel into the White Mountains. There is also a one-hour Conway Valley Train for small children.
Day 5: North Conway to Jeffersonville, Vermont, via the Kancamagus Highway
The next stop on our family road trip was Jeffersonville, Vermont, where we would be staying in a cabin just north of Smuggler’s Notch State Park and the legendary town of Stowe. Instead of heading directly to our destination, we decided to take a slightly longer route that included the Kancamagus Scenic Byway.
Especially famous for its fall foliage, the Kancamagus is a 34.5 mile-long section of Route 112 that runs between the towns of Conway and Lincoln. It passes through the White Mountain National Forest and includes plenty of photo stops, hiking trails, waterfalls, picnic areas, and other recreation spots.
We set off into a cloudy morning, but the views were still beautiful. Again, little hints of autumn colored our way.
Our first stop was the Albany Covered Bridge, about six miles down the highway. We rumbled across the bridge in the car, but then there were lots of small trails and viewpoints to explore the area on foot. It was a peaceful little spot, with the bridge spanning a slow-moving river filled with countless rocks and boulders worn smooth over the centuries.
It was also a great place for E to stretch his legs and indulge in one of his most favorite pastimes (besides golf): throwing rocks into water to see the splash.
There were hiking trails nearby, but we still had a long way to go to reach our destination in Vermont. So we continued west along the Kancamagus.
Within moments, we were stopping again, this time at the Lower Falls scenic area. Located right alongside the highway, it’s impossible to miss. There, the Swift River tumbles over huge boulders and rock formations, creating pretty waterfalls and beautiful pools perfect for swimming.
It was too cold for a dip, so I just spent a few minutes admiring the views before we continued on our way.
Next on our list was a stop at the Sabbaday Brook Trail, which ambles an easy 0.3 miles to Sabbaday Falls. There are lots of longer or more difficult hikes along the Kancamagus, but this one seemed perfect for our little family.
The Sabbaday Trail and Falls area is a nice place to stop for a snack or meal, as there are a number of picnic tables tucked into shaded alcoves of the forest. My understanding is that it can get crowded in the summer or peak fall foliage season, but we had plenty of space to ourselves when we visited.
E got to spend some more time tossing rocks and sticks into the slow-moving stream, and later we made our way up the trail to the falls themselves. The trail was wide and easy, with a bit of incline as we neared the falls but nothing unmanageable for our two-year-old. It was nice to be surrounded by such lush greenery, with the distant rumble of the falls getting steadily closer.
It didn’t take long at all to reach the falls, which tumbled over a mishmash of rocks in a rush of white water.
A wooden walkway and stairs allowed us to get up close and personal and admire the cataract from all angles.
After giving the waterfall its due, it was time to hit the road again. If we had had older kids or more time, I would have loved to spend the whole day along the Kancamagus Highway. There were so many beautiful overlooks, tempting trails, and other fun places to explore. As it was, however, the troops were getting hungry and tired, so we pushed on.
Especially as we got into some of the higher passes through the mountains, the scenery was just stunning. Eventually, however, we emerged from the national forest and back into civilization.
It was well into the afternoon by that point, so we stopped at the Woodstock Inn Brewery. There, we enjoyed a tasty lunch on their flower-filled patio until a thunderstorm chased us indoors.
The rest of the drive into Vermont was quiet, as both S and E fell asleep. We buzzed along the highway before turning off to wind our way through some country roads to our destination.
We had booked a two-bedroom cabin at Sterling Ridge Resort, a quaint, cozy place in the woods. Our cabin was right on the lake, with a welcoming front porch that looked down a small hill to a fire pit and the lake beyond.
The inside was nothing fancy, but it was cozy and inviting and had everything we needed for a couple of days in the woods.
That night, M grabbed some food from a local market and we feasted on salad and pre-made stuffed shells at the tiny table in our cabin. I was glad that the cabin was so cozy, because I was disappointed to be leaving New Hampshire so soon. Rather like we experienced after moving on to Ireland from Scotland, we had so fallen in love with New Hampshire that we were worried Vermont wouldn’t compare. Fortunately, we still had a few great days ahead of us.
Tips for the Kancamagus Highway with Small Children
- Lower Falls is a great spot for a picnic or bathroom break, as there are facilities available. Just make sure to keep an eye on the kids and NEVER enter the water if it is high or rushing.
- Make sure to pack water and snacks, as there are no services along the highway.
If you have older children or more time...
- Take advantage of the many hiking trails and other scenic viewpoints along the way.
- In warm weather, go for a swim at the Lower Falls.
- The Woodstock Inn also offers accommodations if you’d like to break up the trip to Vermont to really enjoy the Kancamagus.
- Stop at the Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza, a beautiful waypoint that overlooks a lake and offers views of the cliffside where the famous Old Man of the Mountain – a New Hampshire treasure – once appeared.
Day 6: Smuggler's Notch State Park
After our long drive the day before, we kept things pretty low-key on our first full day in Vermont. The morning began with E and me taking a walk down to the lake, which was so calm and glassy that its surface reflected the surroundings like a mirror.
Next came a bit of self-catered breakfast, followed by a short drive south into Smuggler’s Notch State Park. The drive took us on a winding adventure through the mountains, with some hairpin turns around giant boulders. Soon enough, we arrived at the trailhead for the Bingham Falls trail. This kid-friendly trail is less than a mile in length and ends at another pretty waterfall: a proven winning combination on the trip thus far.
For the most part, the walking was easy. Our only challenge was getting E to keep putting one foot in front of the other instead of stopping to pick up every stick along the way. The forest was thick and lush, giving the sunlight a greenish hue as it filtered through the trees.
We found a couple of viewpoints over the West Branch Little River and E again got to toss a few stones before we headed toward the falls.
The last part of the trail descended steeply in a tumble of rocky steps. Fortunately, the trail was pretty dry so it wasn’t too slippery, but some of those steps were big for E’s little legs!
We picked our way carefully down and were rewarded with a short waterfall shooting out through the rocks and swirling away down a boulder-filled ravine.
There were plenty of big boulders to sit on and we had the place all to ourselves, so we set up camp and enjoyed a mid-morning snack. It was so peaceful, quiet except for the sound of rushing water and the breeze rustling the trees. I could have stayed all afternoon.
Eventually, we left Bingham Falls to return to the car. The way down challenged our knees, but the way up challenged our lungs. It was a steep climb, and E was pretty tuckered out by the time we reached the top!
Thankfully, after you summit the rocky steps, the rest of the trail is pretty easy.
In search of a lunch spot, we drove a few minutes further south toward the famous town of Stowe. We ended up at Idletyme Brewing Company, which had another pretty patio where we could soak up the September sun. Afterward, we returned to our cabin to enjoy a lazy afternoon. I couldn’t get enough of these mountain roads.
After being on the go, it was nice to take some time to just enjoy our cabin. We only left to grab a delicious dinner at Martell’s at the Red Fox – one of the few nearby restaurants – and to pick up some s’more-making supplies from the Sterling Ridge main office. When darkness fell, we built a campfire and helped E roast his first marshmallows. It was a perfect night in the mountains!
Tips for Smuggler's Notch with Small Children
- Less steady kids might need a hand descending the stone “stairs” to Bingham Falls. Be cautious after a rainfall, as I’m sure wet rocks would be pretty slippery. Sturdy shoes are a must.
- Do not swim at the falls.
- Route 108, the most direct road between Sterling Ridge Resort and Stowe, closes during the winter.
- It is highly recommended that you make a reservation at Martell’s.
- The office at Sterling Ridge Resort is well-equipped with anything you might need for your stay, including fun stuff like the s’mores kit we purchased.
If you have older kids or more time...
- Ride a gondola from Stowe Mountain Resort to the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak.
- Winter sports reign in this area, so if you’re visiting in the winter you shouldn’t miss all the skiing, snowboarding, and other outdoor opportunities.
- Sterling Ridge Resort has free kayaks and canoes available to take out on the lake. There are also nature trails, a game room, heated pool (seasonal), and a maple syrup operation in winter!
- Martell’s often features live music, so consider dropping by for a meal or a drink and checking out the local talent.
Day 7: Burlington
For the final day of our family road trip in New England, we headed west to Burlington. A little less than an hour from our cabin, Burlington is a university town located right on Lake Champlain. It has a fun, hip vibe and is the biggest city in the state. We had heard a lot of great things about Burlington and also thought it might provide a nice change of pace from our days in the mountains.
We arrived mid-morning and parked near the Church Street Marketplace, a pedestrian street lined with shops, restaurants, historic buildings, and other fun attractions.
After strolling the Marketplace, we turned toward Lake Champlain.
I had intended for us to take a boat trip out on the lake, but hadn’t been able to find anything kid-friendly that worked for our schedules. It was cloudy and threatening rain, anyway, so we headed instead to ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain.
ECHO is a fantastic science center that aims to educate families about nature and Lake Champlain. In addition to special temporary exhibits, there are rooms devoted to the care and history of the lake, simple engineering, local marine wildlife, forces of nature, and more.
Most exciting for little kids like ours is the treehouse area, where toddlers and young children can splash on a water table and engage in lots of imaginative play. There are boats, a market, a cafe, and even a slide!
Most of our late morning and early afternoon were spent at ECHO, with a quick jaunt up to Burlington Bay Market and Cafe for a casual lunch. E had a blast running back and forth to all the kids’ areas and was even enthralled by some of the engineering activities.
With nap time looming, we said our farewells to ECHO and returned to the car. E had been asking to play putt-putt (mini golf) again ever since he and M played back in New Hampshire, so we found a course near Stowe and set off. The kids fell asleep almost immediately, so M and I took advantage of the quiet to do a little drive through the town of Stowe. It’s a pretty place, obviously a tourist hub, with well-kept buildings and lots of high-end shops and restaurants.
Eventually, we continued north out of town and made it to the mini golf course. With a putter finally in his hand, E got in his eighteen holes for the day.
Afterward, we grabbed dinner at The Bench, a casual eatery with a wood-fire grill and good beer list. Then it was back to the cabin to enjoy the last night of our New England family road trip.
Tips for Burlington with Small Children
- The woman who sold us our tickets at ECHO wisely advised us to check out the rest of the science center before visiting the treehouse area, lest the kids get so enamored that they wouldn’t want to leave. She was right!
- ECHO has a comfortable, inconspicuous nursing area just beyond the treehouse toddler space.
If you have older children or more time...
- Take a boat ride on Lake Champlain. Make sure to keep an eye out for Champ, the lake’s very own mythical monster.
- Spend some time shopping and enjoying the scenery (and people-watching) at Church Street Marketplace.
- Take a road trip up Route 2 to explore the scenic islands of Lake Champlain.
- Spend the day (or better yet, an overnight) in charming nearby Stowe.
The next day we left at dawn for our eight-hour-without-stops drive back home. I was nervous for this day; not only would we be dealing with the usual post-vacation blues, but I also wasn’t sure how E and S would do spending so much time in the car. Thankfully, they both did great!
It took us a long time to find a place to stop for breakfast (the excellent Three Squares Cafe in Vergennes, Vermont), so we got a good 1.25 hours under our belts before giving them their first break. They (and M, in the passenger seat) also took a long nap as we drove through New York, so we were more than halfway home before we had to worry about entertainment. We stopped near Albany to blow off some energy at a playground, grabbed some pre-packaged food from a rest stop service plaza for a quick lunch, and made it home in time for dinner, baths, and bed.
Our family road trip through New England – our first real vacation with kids – exceeded all of our expectations. Sure, there were diaper blowouts and some toddler whining, a couple rain showers and some long drives. But we also got to summit Mount Washington, roast marshmallows over a campfire, hike three different wooded trails, see family, eat great food, and make precious memories spending time together as a family. I’m so grateful that we had this opportunity, so relieved that it went well, and so excited for the next adventure!
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