3 New England vacations for fun and learning

This summer, head north for a vacation rich in history, coastal beauty or mountain adventures. New England offers all of that and more.

When the Robinson family of Annapolis decides where to vacation each summer, a destination in New England is usually at the top of the list.

“There’s lots to do and it’s not as hot as Maryland, so it’s an easy choice for us to head where it’s cooler,” says mom Carla Masserini.

Masserini, her husband Greg Robinson and daughter Hannah, 13, traveled to Newport last summer and visited sights like the Cliff Walk and scenic Newport Harbor. This spring, they took a weeklong vacation to Boston.

“Boston has so much history, and it’s great for Hannah to see things that she has learned about in school,” Masserini says.

The family visited the Boston Tea Party Museum, biked along the Charles River and attended a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.

“I’m sure we’ll be back (in New England) before too long,” Masserini says. “It’s just a beautiful part of the country.”

Check out these three New England spots for an all-American summer vacation.

Bean Town for families

Head North Boston W

Few cities are as manageable or kid-friendly as Boston. Start your visit with a Boston Duck Tour, a WWII-style amphibious vehicle that rides past sights like Bunker Hill, Quincy Market and the old State House. Kids will love when the duck vehicle transforms from a bus into a boat as it splashes into the Charles River for a cruise past nearby Cambridge and the Boston skyline.

Visit Boston Public Garden for a picnic lunch or a swan boat ride. Don’t forget to see the famous “Make Way for Ducklings” statues inspired by the Robert McCloskey book. A visit to the Boston Children’s Museum is perfect for little ones who will love the bubble room and pretend play areas plus the giant climbing tower.

No trip to Boston is complete without a walk along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path through downtown Boston that passes 16 significant historic sites in American history.

Next, head to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum where costumed actors lead tours of the Boston Tea Party ships and visitors participate in reenactments by throwing tea chests overboard. Holographic movies and interactive exhibits enhance the experience. Afterward, stop into Abigail’s Tea Room for tea or lunch.

Boston details

Travel — An 8-hour drive from Baltimore or a 90-minute flight on Southwest.

Lodging – Stay in Back Bay at the centrally located Sheraton Boston with a large indoor pool with retractable roof and rooms with a view of Fenway Park; heratonbostonhotel.com. Or cross the river to stay at the Doubletree Suites in Cambridge, near Harvard University; doubletree3.hilton.com and search Cambridge.

Boston Duck Boat Tours – $39.50 adults; $27 ages 12 and younger. bostonducktours.com

Boston Children’s Museum – $16 adults and children ages 1 and older. bostonchildrensmuseum.org

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum – $28 adults; $18 ages 12 and younger.
bostonteapartyship.com

The Freedom Trail – thefreedomtrail.org

City by the sea

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Spectacular mansions and a glamorous reputation can make Newport, Rhode Island, seem inaccessible when in fact it's a destination full of affordable activities for families.

Start your day by hiking the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk, a partially paved trail along the coastline with views of the ocean and mansions from the Gilded Age — a time of rapid economic growth. Next, take an inside tour of a mansion like The Breakers, the grandest of the Newport summer “cottages.” Built by the Vanderbilt family in the late 1800s, the 70-room mansion boasts crystal chandeliers and Italian palazzo-style rooms. Families also can take an audio tour designed just for kids.

Tennis fans will enjoy the International Tennis Hall of Fame, a museum dedicated to the history of tennis. The “Roger Federer Experience,” a holographic visit with Roger Federer, offers kids the chance to test their tennis knowledge.

For some seaside fun, head to Easton’s Beach, a popular beach with a snack bar that serves lobster rolls and fried clams. Take a ride on the 1950s era carousel or rent chairs and boogie boards from Rosie’s Beach Store.

Be sure to visit the Save the Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium at the beach, where kids can touch more than 40 species native to Narragansett Bay in the touch tank.

Newport details

Travel – A 7-hour drive from Baltimore or a 75-minute flight on Southwest to Providence.

Lodging – Stay in the heart of downtown at the Newport Bay Club, a historic hotel that offers family-style rooms with kitchens. newportbayclub.com

Cliff Walk – cliffwalk.com

The Breakers – $24 adults; $8 kids. newportmansions.org/explore/the-breakers

International Tennis Hall of Fame – $15 adults; free for ages 16 and younger. tennisfame.com

Easton’s Beach – Free. eastonsbeach.com

Save the Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium – $8. savebay.org/aquarium

Mountains, factory tours and more

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For pastoral beauty, nothing beats Vermont. If you are looking for a central point to explore from, stay in the Stowe area at the charming Green Mountain Inn. For a full resort experience with hiking, biking and swimming, try the Stowe Mountain Resort or the Trapp Family Lodge, an Austrian-style resort still owned by the original von Trapp family of “The Sound of Music” fame.

Start your day with a hike or bike ride along the Stowe Recreation Path, a 5.5-mile scenic greenway that winds through Stowe Village and Topnotch Resort. Next, head to nearby Waterbury, home to the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory, the Cabot (Cheese) Annex or the Cold Hollow Cider Mill — all within a stone’s throw of each other.

Head west to Shelburne Farms, a 1,400-acre farm and nonprofit learning center where kids can milk a cow, help shear a sheep or explore the 10 miles of trails that meander through farmland. For an unforgettable souvenir of your trip, visit the Simon Pearce glass blowing store in Quechee to watch glass blowers at work. Round out your trip with the perfect Vermont photo op at the nearby Taftsville Bridge, a classic Vermont covered bridge.

Vermont details

Travel - Stowe is an 8.5-hour drive from Baltimore. Southwest offers nonstop flights into Manchester, New Hampshire, which is a 2-hour drive from Stowe. JetBlue offers connecting flights from BWI into Burlington.

Lodging – Try the centrally located Green Mountain Inn in Stowe; greenmountaininn.com. For a more resort experience try the Stowe Mountain Lodge; destinationhotels.com/stowe-mountain-lodge or the Trapp Family Lodge; trappfamily.com.

Stowe Mountain Path – Free. stowerec.org/parks-facilities/rec-paths/stowe-recreation-path

Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour – Free. benjerry.com/about-us/factory-tours

Cabot Annex Store – Free. cabotcheese.coop/cabot-annex-store

Cold Hollow Cider Farm – Free. coldhollow.com

Shelburne Farm - $8 adults; $5 ages 3-17. shelburnefarms.org

Simon Pearce Store – simonpearce.com/our-stores/quechee

By Katie Riley

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