Family Vacation Spring Break in New England
School spring break is almost here and most of us in the frozen tundra (aka, the Midwest) have beach vacations, amusement parks, and palm trees on the brain. But why not mix things up and add New England to your list this year? Within driving distance for many regions of the country, tourist destinations in the northeast are less crowded and still advertising “off season” rates or specials until the snow birds come home. To get you started on your spring break planning, consider these towns, venues, and all-inclusive destinations.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is an easy stop for families to make traveling to and from Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. Less than 15 minutes off I-95, the museum features 2 floors of hands-on exhibits created by local artisans, so the experience is uniquely New Hampshire. Families can explore a dinosaur dig, create a flying machine, learn about nature, experience world cultures and much more. Open year round, the museum also hosts numerous special events, artist visits, live performances and cultural celebrations.
Mt. Washington Valley, NH is also among the top ten family travel destinations for Spring Breaks in New England. This region of New Hampshire consists of 27 beautiful New England towns and villages, with the best known, North Conway, in the center. The region lies in the shadow of Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the Northeast. For outdoor loving families, the Mt. Washington Valley surrounded by the 660,000 acre White Mountain National Forest, offering seemingly endless outdoor recreation and scenery. In the winter, seven ski resorts and six XC centers offer a combined 250 alpine trails and 450 km for snowshoeing and XC skiing. Add to that a number of options for sleigh rides, skating (indoor and out). For the more adventurous families, there’s winter camping galore, rock and ice climbing and winter trips to the top of Mount Washington. Families can choose from more than 150 lodging properties in Mt. Washington Valley, offering everything from resorts with indoor water parks to hostels, campgrounds and plenty of family friendly inns and B&Bs, motels and hotels.
At Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire families will find plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained. The 200-room hotel offers numerous options for families including the Bretton Woods Canopy Tour (New Hampshire’s longest zip line). Families can enjoy a family sleigh ride, snow tubing, skiing, and dog sledding in the winter or fishing, swimming, mountain biking and horseback riding in the spring. In addition, kids can always be found having a blast in the game-room, indoor swimming pool and playground. When families aren’t outdoors they can take a break in one of the hotel’s six eateries and at the end of the night the whole family can wind-down for the night with cookies and milk and a turn-down service.
Nantucket, a small island located 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, was once the whaling capital of the world. The distinct character and traditional charm, carefully preserved thanks to local regulations, has made the island a popular secluded getaway. The island’s one town, Nantucket, hugs the harbor and features cobblestone streets, historic sites, bountiful stores, homespun restaurants and seaside attractions. Forty percent of the island is designated as conserved land with rolling moors, heaths, miles of exquisite beaches and charming landmarks including three lighthouses and an operating windmill. Accessible by ferry, leave your car on the mainland and enjoy the slower pace, historic ambiance and nature at its finest. In Nantucket, feel like a local and rent a modern-day cottage big enough for the entire family at Harborview Place, right on the water’s edge.
Hartford, Connecticut is the birthplace of Mark Twain’s most famous characters, Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. A tribute to all things Mark Twain, visit the Mark Twain House and Museum to see the infamous billiard room where Twain did all his writing, to unique exhibits in the Museum Center, and educational programs and community events. Beyond the daily house tours and rotating museum exhibits, consider a trip back to Hartford for Tom Sawyer Day (June 11), a Graveyard Shift Tour, or a jaunt down the road to the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, the brand-new Connecticut Science Center, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, or the Tony Award-winning Hartford Stage.
Located in the quaint village of Stowe, Topnotch Resort is at the foot of the Green Mountains and will still have plenty of winter activities available for spring break. The resort will still be running its Ski for Free package, including two lift tickets into the price of nightly accommodations. There are plenty of other activities as well, including snowshoeing, Nordic skiing and even dogsledding. All of these are available for families, as Topnotch is extremely family-friendly. Topnotch also has an award-winning spa, perfect for a light treatment or big massage after a day in the outdoors.
Rhode Island is a child-friendly state and the perfect place for a family vacation. A logical choice is a trip to Providence, where you can explore the acclaimed Providence Children’s Museum, visit the beautiful 430-acre Roger Williams Park, a Victorian park (1878) comprised of waterways, walks, outdoor gardens, and a Carousel Village, Museum of Natural History, and the park’s crown jewel, Roger Williams Park Zoo. Other children’s activities in the park include paddleboats, a carousel, miniature train ride, pony rides and a jungle gym. But there’s plenty for a family to do beyond the boundaries of Providence. Consider a hiking adventure in one of our state parks or miles of paved bike paths, enroll in a family sailing course on Narragansett Bay, or step back in time at any of our bountiful historic attractions from Colonial times or the Gilded Age mansions of Newport.
Newport and Bristol Counties, perched on miles of scenic Rhode Island coastline, are the gems of New England. While many families plan their summer vacation around Newport’s warmer temperatures, the quiet charm of the City-by-the-Sea during spring break might just be the region’s best kept secret. Think the beach is just for sunning yourself? Think again. Easton’s Beach invites kids to see and pet creatures of the sea at their Save The Bay’s Exploration Center & Aquarium, home to 50 species of local Narragansett Bay critters. Downtown you’ll find the area’s only outdoor ice rink, the Sovereign Bank Family Skating Center, where you can skate night or day for just a few dollars while the hot cocoa flows (through the end of March)! Neighboring Middletown is home to the Norman Bird Sanctuary, a 450 acre wildlife refuge offering over 7 miles of hiking trails (and tons of wildlife watching). Of course, one of the most jaw-dropping attractions in Rhode Island comes courtesy of Mother Nature. Ocean Drive traces more than 10 miles of breathtaking shoreline, where the waves crash on centuries old rocks and boats head out to sea. For more visitor information, visit www.GoNewport.com or call 800-976-5122.
Finding it impossible to list all of the wonderful spring break venues in just one story, please feel free to leave a comment with your favorite New England family destination.