A Maine Weekend with Kids

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A Maine Weekend with Kids

For the past 10 years we have made a trek across the country in October to see the fall foliage in Maine. Our ideal weekend to visit is the second weekend in October, although our visit occasionally varies depending on our work/school schedules. Acadia National Park is one of the best places in the country to see the fall leaves change color so we spend some time near Bar Harbor and then visit a few other coastal towns. There is a Maine Foliage Report that we read religiously leading up to our trip every year — in the hopes of seeing peak foliage. Our annual visit to Maine is approximately 4-5 days (usually a Thursday to a Monday), although you could definitely extend your visit. Below I’ve included our usual itinerary. Of course, Maine has so much to offer we couldn’t possibly do everything. Also, we do a lot of eating on our Maine trip. Every year our itinerary changes slightly as our kids get older and there are more things we can do together.

Day #1: Travel Day (Salt Lake City, Utah to Freeport, Maine)
Because we fly from Utah, our first day is partially a travel day. We usually fly into Manchester, New Hampshire because we can find great flights on Southwest from Salt Lake City. Occasionally we will also fly into Portland, Maine on Delta. We land in Manchester and get a rental car at Enterprise and begin our scenic drive through New Hampshire to Maine. The views of the fall foliage as we land in Manchester are always so breathtaking!

Our first stop in Maine (after about a two hour drive) is Freeport, Maine. Freeport is a quaint little town that is also the home of the L.L.Bean flagship store. We stay at the Hilton Garden Inn, centrally located in Freeport so we can wander throughout the town. Every visit we try a different restaurant for dinner after we arrive. Some of our favorites have been Derosier’s Pizza, Tuscan Brick Oven Bistro (this place was a little fancier), and Antonia’s Pizzeria. Usually we pick somewhere we can get food quickly so that our kids (who have been traveling all day) don’t throw epic tantrums. After we get settled for the night in Freeport we sometimes wander the town (the L.L. Bean store is open 24 hours!) or go for a swim in the hotel pool.

Day #2: (Freeport, Maine to Bar Harbor, Maine)
The next day we wake up and usually I go out for a run while my husband takes the kids to find breakfast. Last year he took them to Frosty’s Donuts, which was really fun because they could make their own donuts. It was less fun for me because they were then hopped up on sugar all day!

After breakfast we explore Freeport. Our favorite stores to visit are Wicked Whoopies (so many great flavors of whoopie pies!), When Pigs Fly Bakery (their bread flavors are amazing), and the L.L. Bean campus. The L.L. Bean store features a lot of interactive activities for kids in addition to some shopping. We always take a picture in front of the big boot.

After we’ve shopped a little we check out of our hotel and then begin the coastal drive to Bar Harbor. When we had babies we drove the quickest route we could find to Bar Harbor, which is inland and not quite as scenic. Now that our kids are older we drive along the coast and stop in Wiscasset, Camden, Rockport, and any other towns that look pretty. We usually check Yelp for reviews of restaurants along the way to grab lunch. For example, in Wiscasset (known as the prettiest village in Maine) there is a famous place to stop for lobster rolls (Reds Eats is known as Maine’s #1 Lobster Roll).

We usually arrive in Bar Harbor right as the sun is setting and get settled into our hotel. We have stayed at almost every hotel chain in Bar Harbor (and not all were a positive experience!!) but the one we have found to be the most family-friendly and affordable in the last few years is the Hampton Inn Bar Harbor. The hotel has a cute kids area, they have treats every night, the higher rooms have great views of the water, and there is a great breakfast buffet included with your stay. We usually book a large room that has two queen beds and a pull out sofa.

After we arrive in Bar Harbor we usually eat dinner the first night at Stewman’s Lobster Pound. This restaurant is right on the water and has a great casual environment. My husband loves seafood so he usually gets “The Downeast Lobster Experience” that includes New England Clam Chowder, Steamed Lobster, Mussels, Sweet Corn, Potatoes, and Homemade Blueberry Pie. I’m less adventurous but they have options for every kind of palate. After dinner we wander around the souvenir shops in downtown Bar Harbor and stop for ice cream at Ben & Bills Chocolate Emporium — they even have lobster ice cream! Bar Harbor is such a idyllic New England town.

Day #3 (Bar Harbor, Maine)
The most important stop for us in Bar Harbor is Acadia National Park (named the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast” by the National Parks Service). We love this place so much that we even used the name “Acadia” for one of our daughter’s middle names. This national park offers activities for every type of person. If you are very adventurous there are hikes and bike rides that take you throughout the park along the carriage roads. There are also scenic overlooks to drive to and restaurants to visit. We rent bikes in downtown Bar Harbor at the Bar Harbor Bike Shop and then ride into Acadia National Park. The bike shop has trailers to pull kids, it has baby seats, and it also has attachments to make regular bikes into tandem bikes. Now that our kids are getting older we have been able to do even more bike riding in Acadia.

Our favorite easy bike ride in Acadia National Park is around Witch Hole Pond. There is an easy loop that our kids love and some scenic bridges and ponds. It is easy to get lost so you want to make sure to have a map and follow the signs. We also love to explore and throw rocks into Jordan Pond and hike around there. Now that our kids are older we are looking forward to incorporating some more hikes into our visits.

When in Acadia National Park you must stop by the Jordan Pond House for popovers and tea/hot chocolate. We love the popovers — they are legendary! You can even buy their popover mix. It is sometimes hard to get in for lunch, so we’d recommend making a reservation ahead of time or arrive on the early side. Parking can also be a nightmare! So take the shuttle bus if it is still running during your visit. If you can’t make it to the Jordan Pond House you can visit the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor where they also serve the legendary Jordan Pond popovers.

After a full day of hiking or biking we usually end up at Rosalie’s for dinner (the best pizza in Bar Harbor!) and then wander around town checking out the various shops. If there is a cruise ship in town we usually save our souvenir shopping for the evening to avoid the crowds. Occasionally on one of our visits the “Bar” of Bar Harbor (a sandbar) reveals itself and we wander along the sandbar looking for sand crabs and shells. Your hotel can usually tell you when low tide is, so you can see the sandbar, but be careful not get stuck when the tide comes in (we almost did this time!). We also recommend taking a walk along the Bar Harbor Shore Path where you can see some of the old homes of Bar Harbor and catch scenic views of the coast line.

Day #4 (Bar Harbor, Maine to Southeast Maine)
We usually can’t escape Bar Harbor without a stop at Two Cats Restaurant — we love their breakfast. If we don’t have time for breakfast we stop and get some homemade granola to go. Before we head out of town we usually drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain for one last view of Mount Desert Island and a family picture. Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard. Be prepared — it can be windy and cold. On our drive back down the coast we usually take the inland highway to see the leaves on the way to Ellsworth (another quaint but larger town that has an airport, fast food restaurants, and a Walmart) and to get down the coast faster. We stop along the way and take pictures at covered bridges we find, old railroad tracks, and any gorgeous vistas. It is pretty much guaranteed that we always stop in Portland, Maine for a short visit while driving back down the state. The Old Port waterfront is fun to wander around and warehouses have been converted into shops and restaurants. If you haven’t noticed yet, our family likes pizza so we usually stop at the Portland Pie Company for one of their awesome pizzas — we love the Harbormaster and the Old Port. It is great family-friendly restaurant. Our kids usually convince us to stop for ice cream at Mount Desert Island Ice Cream or Beals Old Fashioned Ice Cream.

Our last night in Maine is when we usually try out new hotels and new cities. We have stayed in Downtown Portland a few times at the Residence Inn (although it was pretty pricey and cramped compared to other options) and we also stayed at the Atlantic Birches Inn (before we had kids). For the past several years we have stayed at The Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport and we love it. We aren’t staying there this year because their season ends before we arrive, but we love this hotel. The Colony Hotel has family-friendly rooms and various options for different size families. They do allow dogs (and sometimes the dogs and wedding party guests at the hotel behave worse than toddlers!!). We love getting an ocean view room that has an adjoining room for our kids. The pool at the hotel is heated and there is also a game room at the hotel and various restaurants to eat. A breakfast buffet comes included with the room. This hotel definitely has a New England charm to it. From the hotel is an easy walk to the beach or to the ocean pathway where you can see the beautiful mansions and beach houses along the shore. Even though we are sad to not be staying at The Colony Hotel this year, we tried out a wonderful new hotel called the The Dunes on the Waterfront in Ogunquit and we loved it. The Dunes has little cottages you can reserve that fit up to 6 people or so. The cottage we reserved had ocean views and it had two bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, living room with a fireplace, and a screened porch. The hotel also had a playground for kids, free rowboats, and it was within walking distance of town.

When we stay in Kennebunkport we love to wander around town and visit the shops. Last year we enjoyed a kid-friendly dinner at Alisson’s Restaurant, a local tavern that had New England-style seafood and pub food. Our kids enjoyed the kid’s menu options. Then we searched for ice cream and could only find Ben & Jerry’s and Rococo Ice Cream. The flavors were a little fancy for my girls at Rococo, but I enjoyed it!

This year when we stayed in Ogunquit we enjoyed dinner at a kid-friendly pizza restaurant called La Pizzeria and then went back to our cottage for hot chocolate and a game of cards. In the morning when we woke up we borrowed a hotel rowboat and went on an adventure across the estuary at high tide to get over to the Ogunquit beach. It was quite the adventure!!

Day #5 (Southeast Maine to Salt Lake City, Utah)

Every time we visit Maine we wish we had booked a longer trip!! We usually spend the last few hours before we fly out driving around and enjoying the fall colors on the Maine Coast and in New Hampshire. Of course, because we are so sad to leave Maine, the trip always seems much longer on the way home!! And, of course, we usually get delayed somewhere in the midwest (usually Chicago!).

We have done this fall foliage trip for the past 10 years starting with a four month old and then adding kids every two years (that one year when we had a 9 month old, a two-year-old, and a four-year-old was particularly brutal). There were some times when it was a struggle because flying cross-country with babies and toddlers was so hard, but whenever we arrived in Maine and saw the beautiful leaves and scenery we knew it was worth it.

If you decide to go on your own fall foliage trip to Maine, we hope you will have an amazing adventure. We’ve only scratched the surface here of what you can do in Maine and we can’t wait to keep finding new adventures every year.


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Travel Family Spotlight: The Rhodes Family

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Travel Family Spotlight: The Rhodes Family

One of my favorite things about social media is meeting other families that love to travel. I like to dig in and find out what works for them, because every family travels differently and for unique reasons. This series spotlights families that love to travel like we do. We hope you’ll enjoy the latest installment of our “Travel Family Spotlight” series.

Jordan Rhodes, founder and editor of the luxury travel guide, Glimpse Guides, was kind enough to give us some insight into her family, why they travel, and some of the things her family has learned from all of their experiences. Jordan has extensive resources on her blog for upscale family travel and also has an app with city guides for families.

Glimpse Guides is a “collection of city guides for parents who don’t want to give up dining in stylish restaurants, staying in luxury hotels or shopping at some of the most charming and exclusive boutiques in the world, just because they are traveling with their children”. We love that all the recommendations in the guides are kid-friendly yet fashionable, and Jordan and her team have personally experienced each city with their own families.

Jordan also has a philanthropical arm to her business, the money she makes on guides and any products she sells goes to “Give a Glimpse” which in turn covers travel costs for disadvantaged scholarship students wishing to study or intern abroad and artisans working to create products. We hope you’ll love getting to know Jordan and her family like we have! You can find more about Jordan and Glimpse Guides on her website and Instagram account @glimpseguides, or download her app in the app store.

1. Tell us about your family.
I have three kids (unless you count my husband)… Scottie is 6, Noah is 5, and Georgie is 22 months. We also have two dogs, a really sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Berkeley and an up-to-no-good Golden Retriever puppy named Ruffin.

2. Where do you live when you are not traveling? Has your family moved around at all?
We have lived in Greenwich, CT for 12 years. Before that I lived in New York City, London, Charleston, and grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas.

3. How often do you travel with your family? Is it local travel or international? Where has been your favorite place your family has traveled so far?
I travel at least once a month and I would say the majority of that is with one or all kids. We do at least one international trip a year with kids but my husband and I usually do 3-4 together overseas. Nantucket is a huge favorite with kids but we also love big cities like London. Italy is definitely very kid-friendly, which is helpful when you want to have some nice wine with a meal.

4. Why do you like to travel with your kids?
I love to travel with my kids because it makes me so happy to watch them see and learn something for the first time. I’ll never forget the joy they felt going down a hill in San Francisco on a trolley, or how wide my daughter’s eyes got seeing the London Eye, or dancing in the street with a jazz band in New Orleans. All things they would never experience in Greenwich. Travel is just as important an education as school.

5. What are some unexpected things that you've encountered as you have been traveling with your family?
In London this summer I was so proud to discover that my kids have empathy. Whenever they saw a homeless person on the street they would beg me to give them money, and if I didn’t have any they would make sure we returned later with some. It made me so happy that somewhere along the way, they realized that there are those less fortunate in the world. Again, not something you would find in Greenwich so I know they picked up on that from travels.

6. What's the most memorable travel experience you've had with your family?
That is a tough one! I think the most memorable for me - but I am a huge Anglophile - was the Christmas we spent at The Connaught in London. Santa was there to pass out gifts, they had horse and carriage rides through the neighborhood with hot chocolate, and we had several amazing multi-course meals at The Connaught and its sister hotel, Claridges, which were kid-friendly because it was Christmas so it was so nice to be able to dress up and bring the kids to really nice restaurants. London is magical in December.

7. What are the easiest and hardest parts about traveling with kids (for your family)? The hardest parts are the flights.
My two oldest are now happy with iPads, but on overnight flights they’re too wired to sleep, and my baby will sleep, but she needs constant entertainment until she gets tired. However, we make sure we stay true to one airline (Delta) so we always have enough points to upgrade to business class with beds, or at least use miles to get a seat for the baby so we can strap her into her carseat. It’s also nice to be able to go through the shorter Priority security lines, and not have to pay for luggage (ours ALWAYS go over the weight limit). It is so important to be loyal to one airline! And I think the easiest part about traveling with kids is that everything they’re seeing is new, so they don’t get bored. Also, the abundance of wine on an airplane...

8. What are some of your favorite travel resources?
I find inspiration from magazines like Town & Country, Departures, and Garden & Gun. And Instagram is the best, as well. I’m also drawn to other adventurous souls so I’m lucky to have discerning friends give me tips.

9. What advice would you give to other families who want to start traveling as a family and aren’t sure how?
Download my app of city guides! Not only do they contain lists of stylish, kid-friendly restaurants, hotels, and boutiques, they also include itineraries and tips plus maps of everything so you’ll know what’s near you. It’s in the app store under Glimpse Guides and I think it makes traveling easier! I’m also happy to chat with anyone who has questions about traveling.

10. Have you had any barriers to traveling as a family, and how have you dealt with those? (i.e. work schedules, finances, school, etc.)
We are lucky that my husband travels constantly for work (he is a healthcare investor), so often we are tagging along on his trips, and that’s also why he racks up so many miles on Delta. As for school, my kids are still young enough to be able to miss days, but we also chose a wonderful progressive school that understands the importance of travel and one-on-one time.

11. What are three items you never leave home without?
iPads for the older kids, a pacifier for the baby, and Aromatherapy Associates ‘Support’ oil — it keeps me calm no matter what.

12. Where are you headed next? 
St. Barth’s with some fellow bloggers and then Aspen for Christmas!

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Travel Family Spotlight: The Landin Family

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Travel Family Spotlight: The Landin Family

One of my favorite things about social media is meeting other families that love to travel and adventure. I like to dig in and find out what works for them and what draws their family to want to be "on the go" so we started a little series here on the blog where we spotlight other families who love to travel. We hope you will enjoy the next installment of the "Travel Family Spotlight" series. 

We started following the Landin Family on Instagram when we heard about their company Around the World Stories (audio stories written for kids between the ages of 5 and 12). This fun family of five travels around the world and creates audio stories to share with other families. We are fascinated by the Landin family's slow, deliberate style of travel and what they've learned about human kindness while traveling. We loved learning more about the Landin family through this interview and know you will too. You can also find them on Instagram at @aroundtheworldstories or on their Around the World Stories website.

1. Tell us about your family.
We’re a family of five - Matt, Tania, Maya (15), Mirabel (11) and Lacey (9). We also have Elsie (4), our sweet labradoodle pup who comes with us everywhere we go. Since June 2016, all six of us have been traveling full-time, mostly around Europe. We homeschool / worldschool our kids and work on the road. We create fun audio stories for kids about other countries around the world. You can find us on Instagram at @aroundtheworldstories.

2. Where do you live when you are not traveling? Has your family moved around at all?
We don’t have a home base right now. Wherever we are is our home. Even before we started full-time traveling, Matt’s former job with the State Department had us moving around every two or three years to a new country. Our favorite kind of travel now is slow-travel - we settle somewhere for two or even three months. We love to meet the locals, get to know our neighbors, visit local festivals and immerse ourselves in the culture.

3. How often do you travel with your family? Is it local travel or international? Where has been your favorite place your family has traveled so far?
Most of our travels have been international, but we recently also spent several months exploring the U.S. There are so many beautiful places in the world to visit! An absolute favorite place is hard to choose, but here’s what we came up with:

My favorite place (Tania): Bavaria, Germany

Matt: Praia das Maçãs, Portugal

Maya: Cornwall, England

Mirabel: Föhr, a tiny German island in the North Sea

Lacey: Efteling, the Netherlands

4. Why do you like to travel with your kids?
I think traveling with kids opens up the world for both them and us. It gives the kids such an incredible perspective on the world. Traveling teaches them to be flexible and to be open to other cultures and ways of life. Worldschooling also gives all of us so many opportunities to learn about history, culture, art and language. And for us, it’s honestly so much fun seeing the world through their eyes. Kids are so good at being present, noticing things we don’t and reminding us to find the fun in situations we might otherwise not.  

5. What are some unexpected things that you've encountered as you have been traveling with your family?
I think the most unexpected thing we’ve encountered is the kindness we’ve so often been shown. We met a biker on our recent bike trip in Germany who went an hour out of his way to help us get back on the right trail at night, a shop owner in Portugal brought us firewood from his own apartment because the shop was out of wood and a fellow traveler once paid for us to use the bathrooms because we hadn’t yet exchanged any money in Switzerland. A new neighbor in Austria left freshly picked raspberries on our door step, a family in Denmark let us in and made us tea while we waited out the rain, and countless others have stopped to help us find our way. It’s truly been one of the greatest gifts of traveling - meeting so many beautiful, good, kind people. I think when we are in the safety of our own town, we sometimes just don’t think about helping the new person, the vulnerable person, the traveler, the foreigner, but being shown that kindness has been a wonderful reminder.

6. What's the most memorable travel experience you've had with your family?
The time the monkeys in Gibraltar jumped on my back to open my backpack comes to mind. (He took my passport and ran off with it! Thankfully he dropped it once he found the apple I had.) The time Matt had to jump in a lake and swim across to chase after our pup because she just wouldn’t stop swimming after the ducks also made for a very memorable afternoon. (There were about 15 locals cheering him on by the end of the swim. One of them commented, “Now this show is worth paying my taxes!”) The flamenco show in Spain and having a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower were moments I will also always treasure.

7. What are the easiest and hardest parts about traveling with kids (for your family)?
Finding opportunities for learning is definitely the easiest part of traveling with kids, whether through art, history, food, or just walking around a small town. The hardest times are certainly the transition days. Packing up and racing to catch a train in the rain is never fun.

8. What are some of your favorite travel resources?
I can’t imagine pre-Internet travels anymore. My favorite resources are often reading reviews from other travelers. Whether it be for a guest house, a class one of my kids is thinking of taking, an event or a restaurant, the reviews always give us a feel for what we’re getting into. Airbnbs have also completely changed travel for us. We can stay in small towns with a yard, castles, apartments in the city, a treehouse or anything in between.

9. What advice would you give to other families who want to start traveling as a family and aren’t sure how?
My biggest advice to anyone would be to stay flexible. Sticking to a rigid schedule or waiting for that perfect age is going to put too much pressure on everyone. I’d even go as far as saying don’t plan too much. Choose a couple of major stops you want to make and then leave time to enjoy the small things. Just walking around a new town, finding a fun cafe or ice cream stand, watching the locals and exploring is how many incredible travel moments come about.

10. Have you had any barriers to traveling as a family, and how have you dealt with those? (i.e. work schedules, finances, school, etc.)
It’s certainly been tougher than we’d expected keeping a good work schedule. We often can’t find Internet or even a quiet place to work. On some days, work has to go out the window; but at the same time, it just has to get done. We’ve recorded stories in bathrooms, cars, basements, a castle and a tent. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s so rewarding when it works out.

11. What are three items you never leave home without?
1. Phone - for taking pictures, for a GPS and also as a way to communicate with each other if separated. (We learned this one the hard way in Paris).
2. Our Kindle
3. A good small backpack for day trips

12. Where are you headed next? 
We’re headed to Bavaria next. We’re excited to hike the same mountain we talk about in our first story about Germany. It’s one of my absolute favorite spots in the world.


Don't forget to follow the Landin family on Instagram at @aroundtheworldstories or on their Around the World Stories website.

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Travel Family Question: Why Travel with Kids?

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Travel Family Question: Why Travel with Kids?

When we began spotlighting travel families one of the questions we asked everyone was “Why do you like to travel/explore with your kids?"

A lot of people don’t love to travel with their kids, so we wanted to revisit some of the things our travel families said about this topic in their interviews. In this post we share quotes from eight travel families. Maybe their thoughts will motivate you to want to travel more with your family!

1. @macs_explore (The McEvoy’s)
We love exposing our kids to different areas of the country and world, because we feel like that is truly how they gain an education about the world around them. Our kids know a lot about different plant and animal species since we spend so much time outdoors and they are are also quite savvy with many outdoor survival skills. We also want our kids to see that most of the world doesn't live like us in the States, so it's very important to us to travel to third world countries as their eyes and hearts are opened to different cultures and ways of life. We try to find small ways to serve in the countries we travel to, which make for the longest lasting impact on our kids. They still talk about the time we went to an orphanage in Costa Rica to play with the kids and give them clothes and toys!

2. @littlekidnyc (Little Kid Big City)
I’ve always been a city explorer – way before our son was born. I would tear open an issue of Time Out New York with as much enthusiasm as a present on Christmas morning. To my delight – our son is just as much of an explorer as me. He loves experiencing new things, seeing the city, and learning about our world (often asking me to take him to see things!). My utmost joy comes from watching his reactions, and discoveries. Experiencing the city again through a child’s eyes may be the best gift of all.

3. @capitol.momma (Alexis Aschenbach)
They love it and I love watching them experience new things. It's the best to see the world through their eyes with such wonder and excitement. Plus it's a great learning opportunity for them. Especially in the D.C. area, we have so many historical sites and museums to explore and I try not to take that for granted.

4. @flightsfromhome.slc (Emily Holt)
Traveling with Jade has definitely changed things. The pace of travel is much slower, and we overall have to be more flexible to account for things that might come up. But really, this has actually been a welcomed changed. It's nice to be forced to spend a little less time go-go-going on vacation. Plus, it's truly nice to just unwind as a family for a week or two and just enjoy each other's company.

5. @talkwordytome (Kim Christenson)
I love traveling with my kids because they love it. They get so excited about taking off and experiencing new things. Watching them do that is so satisfying. Adventuring together binds us as a family and adds a depth of joy and fulfillment to our relationships.

A lot of people have asked in wonder how and why we take our kids on bigger trips but I feel like it's often easier to take them than leave them! Leaving them means worrying and scheduling babysitters and rides and meals. And when we bring them, we don’t feel a rush to get back home and “save” them. When we leave them, we’re always saying things like, “Oh Ellie would love this!” or “I wish Camden could see that.”

With that said, I strongly believe in getting away without kids regularly. In my book, traveling together has marriage-saving power. 

6. @smithsholidayroad (Bron Leeks)
I love the family connection time away from routine. I love that kids open our eyes to so much difference and can often be the icebreakers in meeting new people. I guess I like the escape it can create and the challenging situations you can discover.

7. @lizziehdavis (Lizzie Hinckley Davis)
Traveling with kids is often a lot of work.  But I love to do it because they are only little once.  I can travel the world my whole life but I only get to introduce it to their little personalities for a short time.  On our recent trip to London, we decided to focus on only two things: Kid Friendly and Christmas activities.  Our itinerary was very different than if just my husband and I had come alone, but doing these new activities showed me a whole different side of London that I would never have known about without kids.  Having our kids with us changed the trip but it changed it for the better.

8. @3kidstravel (Elise Caffee)
We sometimes travel with our kids and sometimes without but, honestly, we prefer to take them with us. We love exploring new and familiar cities from a child’s perspective and we love that our children help us slow down our pace and truly experience where we are visiting. When we travel without our kids we go at an exhausting pace, but with them we are forced to slow down and take in everything around us. We also like helping our kids learn about new cultures, countries, food, etc. Lastly, we especially appreciate the family bonding that results from traveling together and getting put into new and sometimes uncomfortable situations. We grow as a family as we have these experiences together.

Do any of these comments resonate with you? We'd love to know why YOU travel with your family, or why you'd like to travel more with your family? Let us know in the comments.

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8 Reasons Why Our Kids Love Nantucket, MA

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8 Reasons Why Our Kids Love Nantucket, MA

Nantucket Island is the place I dream about from my childhood as being the perfect beach vacation spot. I hoped my kids would love it as much as I did when we took them this summer, and, not surprisingly, they did. Since I hadn't been to Nantucket in over twenty years, it was fun to explore the island again through their eyes and pretend I was a kid again. There are a lot of things to love about Nantucket, but if you were to ask my kids this is probably what they would remember:

1. The Ferry Ride. We chose to take the high-speed ferry from Hyannis to Nantucket and it was the perfect 1 hour adventure. We got a snack on board and played games and watched the water splash against the windows. Because the ferry went really fast and was a little bumpy, we only stayed inside and didn't explore the boat much (other than a few potty trips). We loved the ferry because it had an easy boarding process, felt like we were on a ride at Disneyland, and it dropped us off right in downtown Nantucket so we could begin our adventures.

2. Bike Rides. Nantucket Island is covered in bike paths and instead of renting a car we opted to only use bikes the entire time we were on the island (we did use Lyft and Uber a few times too). We rented from Easy Riders Bicycles and the process was very easy. They had kids' bikes for the older girls and a bike seat for our younger daughter. We picked our bikes online, confirmed them over the phone, and they dropped off the bikes at our rental house with locks and helmets and picked up the bikes on our last day. We biked to the beach, to get groceries, to the lighthouse, and we even figured out how to ride a bike while holding an umbrella stroller plus beach gear (not an easy feat). Every night before bed we'd ride bikes to the Sankaty Head Lighthouse to catch fireflies and watch the sunset. 

3. The Food. We'd heard all about the food on Nantucket before we got there and couldn't wait to eat out. Of course, we stopped at the famed Juice Bar daily for ice cream and Aunt Leah's Fudge for candy. We also picked up Steamboat Pizza slices to take the beach several days and we grabbed sandwiches from Claudette's in Sconset. We ate a few meals at our rental house to keep costs lower but one night we went out to B-ACK Yard BBQ with the kids. They had a great kid's menu and the servers were really attentive and you could tell they enjoyed kids. For an adults-only activity we ate dinner at The Chanticleer in Sconset and the food was delicious and the ambiance was perfect. There were so many restaurants we wish we could've tried, but our visit was too short.

4. Beaches. There are so many beaches to choose from in Nantucket. We only made it to three beaches, but they were each wonderful in their own way. Our first stop was Sconset Beach because it was close to our rental home. The beach is quiet and relaxing and not very crowded. We saw a seal in the water, which was pretty exciting. There is a nice, new ADA accessible playground near the beach and bathrooms a few minutes away in Sconset Village. When we got hungry at the beach we grabbed sandwiches in the Sconset Market and Claudette's. Our second stop was Children's Beach because we heard a lot about it. This beach is right in Downtown Nantucket and close walking distance from everything in town. The beach doesn't have very many waves because it is in the harbor. There is a big playground by the beach, a grassy area for picnicking, a snack shack, and places for kids to catch crabs. During the summer months the park also hosts a variety of games and activities. Our last beach stop was Jetties Beach. To get to this beach you can take a shuttle from downtown, ride your bike, or walk. We walked, but it was a little far for little legs. The waves at Jetties are small and calm so it is almost like swimming in a pool and there is a sandbar that our kids swam out to and played at for hours. We also loved that they had a place to rent beach equipment and had changing rooms, showers, and a snack bar. There was also a little playground near the beach. I tried to ask my kids which of the beaches was their favorite, but they couldn't pick. I know we missed several other great beaches -- so, we've got a few to try next time!

5. Lighthouses. Lighthouses are a quintessential symbol of Nantucket. Nantucket has three lighthouses. We managed to visit two of them. Sankaty Lighthouse is on the Eastern Shore of Nantucket (it was a 5 minute walk from our rental home) and it used to be much closer to the edge of cliff but was moved because of erosion. It is a beautiful lighthouse and we loved watching it shine every night, Brant Point Lighthouse is one of the most popular lighthouses on the island and the one you see as your ferry comes and leaves Nantucket. It is customary to throw two pennies in the water when leaving the Nantucket Harbor, one for luck and one to ensure a return trip. The last lighthouse is the Great Point Lighthouse located on the Northeast tip of the island. The area is only accessible by a 4-wheel drive vehicle or a 7 mile hike in sand.

6. The People. We can not express enough how much we enjoyed getting to know the people of Nantucket. Most of our conversations were with small shop owners, restaurant servers, and taxi drivers and they helped us get to the know the island better. We also loved how much everyone enjoyed our kids. Nantucket can see a bit intimidating when you arrive (it is a little high brow) and I was a little nervous about how my kids would fare but families with kids were treated very kindly and accommodated. For a few brief scary moments we lost our six-year old when we were wandering around town and we had so many people offering help to find her -- luckily a nice elderly couple found her immediately and kept her safe til we could get to her.

7. The Wave. Most people don't take cars to Nantucket. It is pricey and the traffic is pretty horrible. However, we were able to get all over the island thanks to The Wave, which provides seasonal island-wide bus service. Children 6 and under are free on the bus and adults are either $1 or $2 depending on the loop you take or you can get a multi-ride pass. The bus was our favorite way to get around the island, particularly because we stayed in Sconset seven miles from downtown. There is something about kids and buses too, they acted like it was a ride at Disneyland. And, we loved meeting other families on the bus and usually we'd see those same families on the beach. The bus rides provided a great opportunity for our kids to make friends and for the adults to relax and avoid having to drive in Nantucket traffic.

8. The Scenery. I can't say enough about the beauty of Nantucket. My kids commented regularly how gorgeous the houses and flowers are. But, I will say the scenery is what made me love Nantucket the most. I love the architecture, gardens, flowers, ocean views, smells, rolling hills, cliffs, bike trails, etc. In my dreams I live on Nantucket. And, I kinda feel like when you are somewhere that beautiful and your kids are whining or complaining it doesn't seem that bad, because you are in paradise. 

Have you been to Nantucket? Did you take kids? What was your favorite part? We'd love to hear from you.

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