Quick Trips with Little Ones Outside Boston

Written by Betsy Miller

Now that spring is here it’s time to begin exploring again.   What better way to enjoy the gorgeous weather and inspire joy than to take a little day or overnight trip?  Parent Talk members have mentioned New York City, Mystic, CT and Portland, ME as some of their favorites. These prove to be quick trips that promise amazing experiences to be had with a little planning and a few hours on the road.If your family is interested in an overnight stay, be sure to check out deals online like Groupon Getaways.  Many of the close-by packages include dinner and kids stay free.



New York City


Only a 3 hour drive or quick train ride away, some of the most exciting andfamily-friendly fun can be found in the Big Apple.Things to do and see include:

  • Central Park: I’d highly recommend the CP Zoo and a night-time carriage ride.
  • Staten Island Ferry – it’s free!
  • Children’s Museum of Art in SoHo.
  • Times Square: Toys R Us has an indoor Ferris wheel.  Also, if you are interested in seeing a show there is the TKS stand in Times Square (across from TRU) that sells cheap tickets the day of the show.  Be aware the Times Square can be very crowded, very loud and overwhelming to some children.
  • Top of the Rock: Amazing views from the 70th floor of the
  • Rockefeller Center, also home to NBC Studios.

Places to Eat:

  • Serendipity: delicious frozen hot chocolate is always a hit with kids.
  • Restaurant Row: tons of low-key, delicious Italian places on 9th Ave (my favorite is Becco on W. 46th between 8th and 9th)

Places to Stay:

  • Le Parker Meridien on W. 56th. It was great, but it was a pull out sofa and not a full wall. It also had a free in-room breakfast, which was awesome and two entrees with one side fed all of us. Also has a great roof top pool and is walking distance to Times Square (thanks, Karin Dupuis for the suggestion!)
  • Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South.  Suites and very nice amenitites.  Perfect location right on Central Park and within walking distance of FAO and Times Square.
  • Doubletree Suites and Marriot Courtyard also have suites.


Mystic, CT (thank you to Susan Orr and Jen Leonard-Schaffsteinfor the info!)


Mystic is a charming New England seaport town with activities both quietand exciting.

  • Mystic Aquarium – one of the best aquariums in New England wit hands-on attractions like petting stingrays and beluga whales .
  • Dinosaur Place – kid-sized amusement park includes trails to explore, a playground and splashpad.
  • Near Mystic on the Connecticut College campus there is a really pretty arboretum- lots of walking in the woods and gardens… a great place to let the kids explore.

Places to Eat:

  • Mystic Pizza (from the 80’s movie, of course!)
  • Costello’s Clam Shack – about 10 minutes down the coast in the

Noank shipyard is this very casual place known for chowders and clam bakes.Be sure to visit the website for directions as it can be hard to find.Places to Stay:

  • Hilton hotel with an indoor pool. It is very close to the aquarium.
  • Foxwoods is close and has many dining and hotel options. Also has a spa for treating yourself after a long, action-packed day with the kids!


Portland, ME (info also provided by Susan)



Things to do:

  • Willard Beach–very scenic, neighborhood-type beach in South Portland.  You can view the islands off the coast and a lighthouse. Within walking distance is a good bakery called Scratch for lunch or treats.
  • Walking trails: there are something like 40 miles of walking trails in Portland. There is one called Back Cove.
  • Boat rides and tours: take the boat to various islands off the mainland and explore-Peaks Island is the one with the most on it.


Places to Eat

  • Lobster Shack at Two Lights–fried seafood and home baked desserts that you sit outside eating at picnic tables overlooking a lighthouse. And I think it is BYOB. (10 min from Portland in Cape Elizabeth)
  • Flatbread pizza:  good kid-friendly restaurant.


Place to stay:

  • Portland Harbor Hotel
  • Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth is really nice. Suites are available which is good when traveling with small kids.

Where are some of your favorite places to take a trip with your little kids? Leave a note in the comment section below.

photo credit: Selbe B via photopin cc
photo credit: oefe via photopin cc

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