Just have one day to devote to your vacation? We’ve got some ideas that are sure to fit any family’s needs.
*Mystic Seaport, Olde Mistick Village, & Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, Connecticut: The town of Mystic, Connecticut has much to offer any visitor by way of three major destinations all within the town’s limits. The Mystic Seaport is a living museum showcasing the New England maritime way of life featuring a working preservation shipyard, exhibit galleries, and a recreation of a 19th century coastal village. Visitors have the pleasure of partaking in carriage rides and boat trips alive with history through the eyes of historical role players throughout the campus. Drive just a mile down the road to Olde Mistick Village, an outdoor shopping village home to a plethora of themed shops including Irish Eyes, Sofia’s Mystical Christmas, Imagine Fantasy Gifts, and many more. Don’t forget to stop into Franklin’s General Store for some homemade fudge, made fresh daily. After you’ve thoroughly toured the village, walk across the parking lot into Mystic Aquarium, arguably one of the best aquariums in New England. Here alongside the usual smattering of ocean fish you’ll find a family friendly sea lion show, Titanic historical exhibit, penguins, and even beluga whales. If you’re willing to spend a little extra cash, step inside the beluga tank or meet a penguin for an up close and unforgettable experience. Whatever your fancy, Mystic has a lot to offer.
Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts: The largest outdoor history museum in the Northeast, Old Sturbridge Village takes you back in time to the 1830s. Visit the more than 40 original buildings including various homes, meetinghouses, a district school, country store, bank, working farm, three water-powered mills, and trade shops. All of the buildings lie within 200 acres complete with scenic views, farm animals, and authentically costumed staff. Throughout the day, multiple activities and demonstrations take place for guests to enjoy such as the Milking Demonstration, A Shoemaker at Work, A Reading of Whittier’s Poetry, Meet the Oxen, 19th Century Base Ball, and much more. Plenty of dining options are available within the grounds, as well as gift shops for treats and souvenirs. With our fast paced, technologically motivated society whizzing around us, it can be nice to step back to a simpler time and experience what life was like in early American colonies.
Lake Compounce, Bristol, Connecticut: This establishment is the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the United States. Stretching over 332 acres of land, the park has a multitude of rides ranging from the classic carousel and bumper cars to a shooter haunted house and flying swings, among many others. The park also features several water attractions, free of any additional charge to guests. Many recognize Lake Compounce, however, for the roller coasters that call this park home. Boulder Dash, a wooden coaster, is the first of its kind to be built entirely on the side of a mountain. Another, Wildcat, is the park’s centerpiece and remains of the world’s oldest operating roller coasters since it has continued to run since opening in 1927. With many restaurants, games, and peaceful lake views, an outing to Lake Compounce is one everyone can enjoy.
The Newport Mansions & Cliffwalk, Newport, Rhode Island: In Newport, RI, the Preservation Society of Newport County provides access to 10 grand mansions, most of which were built in the 1800s. Each home is rich with not only detailed history, but ornate architecture and furnishings thoughtfully maintained for tourists to enjoy. Most every property features walking and audio tours complete with details about the home and its residents. Starting February of 2016, the Preservation Society began to allow interior photography via smartphones so that visitors may take home some visual keepsakes from their trips. Each home takes roughly one to one and a half hours to tour, each within walking distance of the next. Tickets can be purchased in a variety of packages in order to serve a multitude guests’ needs. After seeing the mansions, go for a stroll along Newport’s Cliffwalk, a public access walkway combining the beauty of the Newport shoreline with the mansions’ stunning architecture. Stretching about 3.5 miles, there are some challenging areas of the walk, so it is not advised for those unsteady on their feet. Good shoes are highly recommended to maintain optimal safety. If all that walking and learning makes you hungry, right around the corner is the Newport Creamery, complete with classic American eats, delicious ice cream, and Awful Awfuls, their thick and creamy milkshakes.
EcoTarium, Worcester, Massachusetts: In the midst of a urban environment, come visit the indoor and outdoor EcoTarium, a unique museum offering guests many interactive platforms in which to learn about the world around them. Among many temporary exhibits, the museum features a sizable planetarium, a narrow-gauge 1806s steam engine model train, a tree canopy walkway, and many more activities. Visit the building's mineral dome to view colorful specimens including ores and crystals from around the world or experiment with bubble making by standing in a giant bubble yourself or creating strangely shaped suds. The EcoTarium also is home to a variety of animal life including hedgehogs, the bald eagle, emperor scorpion, red fox, turtles, and many more. The museum hosts a number of events for guests throughout the year to continue learning and having fun, ranging from vacation week camps to holiday themed celebrations. While the museum's cafe does not serve breakfast or dinner on site, sandwiches and snacks are offered from June-August. Admission for adults is $15, $10 for children aged 2-18, senior citizens, and college students, and children under age 2 are admitted free of charge. Before leaving town, stop by Coney Island for what locals say is a hotdog that can't be beat.
Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Mashantucket, Connecticut: Since opening in 1998, this immersive museum has sought to educate visitors on the natural history and culture of the northeastern Native Americans. The extensive complex consists of many permanent exhibits, classrooms, the Mashantucket Gallery (used for temporary exhibits), a 320-seat auditorium, a restaurant, museum shop, and administrative offices. Each aspect seeks to expose as much history of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe as possible through films, videos, interactive programs, archival material, ethnographic and archaeological collections, commissioned art, and traditional crafts by Native artisans. Admission for adults is $20, seniors and college students with ID $15, youth aged 6-17 $12, and children or members get in free. Free parking is available for visitors as well.
Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, Rhode Island: Opened in 1872, the Roger Williams Park Zoo is one of the nation’s oldest zoos. A variety of animals reside in the zoo’s exhibits, including but not limited to, Red Pandas, Cheetah, Masai Giraffe, Giant Anteater, Eastern Rosella, Laughing Kookaburra, and more. Regular zoo admission is $14.95 for adults, $9.95 for children ages 2-12, $12.95 for seniors, and toddlers aged 1 or younger are admitted free of charge. For an additional fee on top of the price of admission, guests can engage in giraffe feedings or a harbor seal encounter! Seasonally, guests can also participate in “Birds from Down Under”, an immersive experience feeding birds native to Australia, and Camel Rides. A short distance from the zoo in Roger Williams Park is the Roger Williams Park Carousel Village, a mostly seasonably available area that features a historic carousel, bounce house, and pony rides. This enjoyable day trip is bound to be fun for the whole family!
Kennebunkport, Maine: If you’re looking to get a quick taste of classic New England, head up to Kennebunkport, Maine to experience life in a true ocean shore town. From its beautiful sandy beaches with scenic coastline views to the plethora of authentic New England fish dishes, Kennebunkport is the perfect day trip. Charming shops, historic lighthouses, and all the seafood you can get your hands awaits you in this quaint beach town. Whether you rent a bike for a ride or go whale watching, there are plenty of things to do here. Throw some sunscreen in the car and drive; Kennebunkport is only a few minutes farther from Boston than Cape Cod and you’ll certainly hit less traffic.
Salem Witch Museum and Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts: Massachusetts is known as a hub for America's bewitching history, especially the town of Salem. Books and movies alike showcase the town's most well known events - the Witch Trials of 1692. The Salem Witch Museum takes guests on a journey back to that time to learn more about the drama behind the time using factual evidence to illustrate the trials, changing interpretations of witches, the truths now revealed, witchcraft practices today, and details behind witch hunting. Open year round, this unique experience uses life size stage sets, figures, narrations, live guides, and theatrical lighting to fully immerse each visitor in the world of Salem's 1692. Admission is $11 for adults, $9.50 for senior citizens, and $8 for children aged 6-14. Just around the corner, stop by the Peabody Essex Museum. Considered one of the oldest operating museums in the United States, the extensive building is home to a combination of historic and contemporary American, Asian, Maritime, Oceanic, Native American, and African art as well as a large archival library. Dance, sculpture, paintings, interactive architecture, and more expose guests to an array of cultures and offer opportunity for multifaceted growth. Before leaving town, stop by the Howling Wolf Taqueria for from scratch Mexican fare like the Al Pastor Quesadilla or Habanero Shrimp; whatever your favorite Mexican offering, this local restaurant can offer up a well made portion at an affordable price.
Kimball Farm, Westford, Massachusetts: What began as a simple creamery has exploded into a well known Massachusetts fixture. Kimball Farm is not only home to some of the largest portions of delicious ice cream around, but the grounds of the Westford location feature many attractions. Perfect for a day trip, Kimball’s offers bumper boats, two fantastic mini golf courses, a driving range, batting cages, arcade games, and pitch and putt. New for the summer of 2016, guests can also take a ride on the Spin Zone bumper cars, a joystick controlled bumper car that when hit goes into a spin! Also new is the Soaring Eagle Zipline, flying guests from 100 feet high on a side by side bench seat. Visitors of any age will also enjoy seeing Animal Adventures, an interactive exhibit featuring the Canadian Lynx, Giant Python, Eurasian Eagle Owl, and more. The on site Grill and Seafood shack serves up plates of scallops, oysters, clam strips, corn on the cob, and much more. Slap on some sunscreen and come with an empty belly; this day trip will keep you busy and fill your stomach with unparalleled treats!
Edward Johnston with Dwell360 is a REALTOR® who services the cities and suburbs of metro Boston. He is focused on his customers and his experience in the residential real estate market is extensive. Search for homes in Massachusetts and then give Ed a call.