Boston’s North End – Family Travel at Its Best

 

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Stunning and delicious, Boston’s North End is a family-travel paradise.  Wander Hanover Street to enjoy Italian sweets such as canolies, anise cookies, and luscious gelato.  Find gourmet coffee, fresh-spices, and imported delicacies down busy, narrow side-streets.  It’s simply fun to walk around Read more »

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The BIG Maze at the National Building Museum.

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation in DC

After we had our tickets clipped and entered the BIG maze I expected to accompany my 12-year-old daughter through the special exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. But she was already gone at the first turn. If I didn’t want to run to catch up I’d be going it alone. I expected to run into her at each of the many dead ends, but she was never there. Even when I finally made it to the center of the maze, where I could see over the shorter walls, she was nowhere to be seen. Finally I emerged out the other end hoping to find her. When I turned around, she was already coming out of the maze for the second time. Such is the crazy energy that takes hold of kids when they face amazing things like an indoor maze made out of plywood with walls ranging in height from 3 to 18 feet. Read more »

Plymouth: Little rock, big hype

One of my strongest memories from middle/high school is driving in a bus for what seemed like days (probably about an hour) to go see Plymouth Rock.  We’d been studying the pilgrims and were excited to see the spot, the very spot, where the first pilgrim set foot on America in 1620.  We drove, we parked, we disembarked, we saw a large pavilion, we walked over, and there is was, a rock.  I was shattered.  I don’t know what exactly I expected of an attraction named “rock” but that certainly wasn’t it.

Today, I took the kids to “blog the rock.”  A great opportunity to write about educational adventure with kids right? Over breakfast, Bill got out Wikipedia and I read a local brochure about the rock out loud.  We devoured delicious pancakes and omelets as we learned about the following saga: Read more »

Beyond the Icons: Education, Entertainment, and Good Eats in Manhattan

Manhattan can be an expensive and intimidating destination for anyone.  It’s a great place to travel as a family but it’s challenging to get past the big tourist destinations and into the real city.  Here’s a few of our recent finds to get you started!  The Tenement Museum is a fantastic window into the history of New York City and into America in general.  It should not be missed but you must get your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.  Visits to the museum are by guided tour and there are several unique packages to choose from.  Most of the tours take place at 97 Orchard Street, a renovated tenement building with a basement and 5 floors, each housing a different window into history.  The building once housed 2 shops and about 22 apartments, each only 325 sq ft and without plumbing or electricity.  During a 70 year period centered on about the turn of the last century, approximately 7000 individuals and 30 different businesses were housed in this one building.

We took their newest tour, the “Shop Life” tour, on the bottom level and enjoyed an overview of life as a new immigrant to New York with emphasis on the wave of German immigrants from about 1860-1880.  We learned through old photos, newspaper clippings, an interactive card game, visiting rooms, holding artifacts, and a high-tech smart board (you may be impressed by the high tech smart board but your child will likely be a lot less impressed as there are many in school classrooms across the country).  The 90-minute experience gave us all a multi-faceted vision of what life was really like for the proprietors, John and his wife Caroline, as well as glimpses into the other businesses that once occupied the building including a kosher butcher, an undergarment factory, and an auction house.  The finale was a video of a nearby contemporary local storeowner and wrapped up the tour with thoughtful style and a new perspective on modern NYC life.  The tours are billed for kids aged 8 and up because they do involve listening, sitting, and not touching.  There are also food-sampling tours, live actress Read more »

Family on the Loose’s Inside Scoop on Visiting Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg has to be America’s quintessential educational family travel destination.  It’s like Disney for the NPR-crowd. Kids have fun and think they are on vacation.  Almost accidentally, they learn about American history by watching and interacting with characters in costume.  We had a great time but found it challenging to get our arms around the entire experience.  There is too much to do in a short visit and yet I’m not sure parents or kids are likely to enjoy more than a few days at a time.  Based on our recent visit, here are a few insider tips to help your family have a blast.

Colonial Williamsburg might also be one of the most photogenic places on Earth.  We hope you enjoy a small sample of the five zillion photos we took while visiting. Read more »

Salem MA: witches, hangings, Wikka, and chachka

Salem, Massachusetts is an oxymoron, at once both historical and fiction.  The town is famous for the 1962 witch trails in which over 150 innocent people were arrested, imprisoned, and tried for witchcraft.  Nineteen accused witches were hanged and one man was crushed to death by stones.  In history, there were no witches in Salem, only mass hysteria.  Now, there are witches in Salem, practicing Wicca, but there is still mass hysteria.  This time, it’s chachka hysteria.  You cannot imagine a town with more trinketry, souvenirs, junk-for-sale, keychains, and crass t-shirts.  Read more »

Newark (EWR) – 4 hours of it!

 You’ve got your kids.  You’ve got your carry-ons.  And, you miss your connecting flight … now you’ve scored four glorious hours at one of America’s classic airports.  Jackpot!!  First stop, something to eat.  We started at Ruby’s Diner.  It’s a fun experience if you want a burger and some really yummy french fries.  The only remotely healthy food on the menu is a Caesar salad.  However, in the front case they sell cups of fruits, little packages of cheese cubes and grapes, and a yogurt parfait.  “Everybody loves parfait.”

 OK, now you’ve blown one hour and you want to make the best possible use of the next three.  This is a great time to get started on next spring’s science project.  Few venues offer such an easy opportunity to collect mountains of scientific data Read more »