USA: Northeast Secret Family Vacation Places – Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
When family schedules are hectic getting away means everything and we have a few secret spots worth checking out if crowds and lines are not part of your family vacation plan.
Enjoy a lobster roast in Maine; board a cog railway at Mount Washington; in New Hampshire visit Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vermont; enjoy music under the stars in the Berkshires of Massachusetts or try lobster on the beach in Maine. This is the fun stuff but it's a secret. Maine: Castine – Sailing, Lobster, and Acadia National Park.
The peninsula of Castine on the eastern edge of Maine's Penobscot Bay is definitely off-the-beaten path. The town of Catsine is one of the earliest European settlements in North America so traditions abound, art, music and local lore all part of the attraction with fresh seafood the bonus. The area is a rich mix of upland forests, rocky shores, and secret coves. Hiking (cross-country skiing in winter), kayaking, and sailing are popular activities. Bonus points:
Castine Kayak guides lead small groups on exciting naturalist ecotours, including sunrise, morning, afternoon, sunset, bioluminescent night tours, full moon trips and overnight adventure. Family vacation base:
South Bangor and west of Bar Harbor Breezemere Farm Inn is definitely on a secret pathway known to locals and those of us who love to go where no one else has been and drag our kids along. Quiet, comfortable and out of the way this is a place to find before sunset – the roads get narrower and signs less frequent. The Inn includes 1850 farmhouse with guest rooms as well as comfy housekeeping cottages with kitchen facilities. The farmhouse is furnished with history yet is not intimidating and the stories to be told are endless. The farm part includes sheep and sometime lambs, pigs and often piglets, goats and kids, and curious chickens always entertaining. Our time was brief just two nights (we needed a week) so we elected to stay in the farmhouse the breakfast was top notch. Bonus points: Kids may help with basic chores and the star watching is wonderful. Need to know:
When you have had enough “quiet” time it is but a short drive to Bar Harbor, Castine, Holbrook Island Sanctuary, or Acadia National Park. Location on the planet:
Breezemere Farm Inn 71 Breezemere Road Brooksville, ME 04617. Toll-free 1-888-223-FARM (3276), firstname.lastname@example.org or Breezemere Farm Inn New Hampshire: Mt. Washington Valley - Rock Climbing, Pony Rides, and a Cog Railway.
The White Mountains of New Hampshire offer four seasons of family vacation experiences without effort. Ride horseback along secret shaded pathways; relax in a Victorian carriage; swim in Echo Lake; try mountain biking along well-marked trails. Fly fishing is very popular from the end of May to the middle of October when both brown and rainbow trout are abundant. For families with energetic teens, rock climbing begins in April and continues until the snow falls. Once the snow season arrives White Horse and Cathedral Ledges attract those wishing to attempt ice climbing. Bonus points:
This is the location of the Conway Scenic Railroad known for terrific family rail adventures and even Mt. Washington has a cog railway. Need to know:
The shopping is tax free. Family vacation base:
Farm By the River Bed and Breakfast rests amid 70 scenic acres along the Saco River. Enjoy horseback riding, carriage, wagon or pony rides onsite. In the warmer seasons river swimming and fly fishing are available. Sleeping choices are classic New England in style with each room uniquely decorated with family heirlooms from seven generations. Two-room family suites are available Guests enjoy afternoon baked goods and beverages. Bonus points:
Take advantage of discounts on horseback riding, snow tuning, and sleigh rides plus complimentary snowshoeing (snowshoes provided). Location on the planet:
Farm by the River Bed and Breakfast with Stables 2555 West Side Rd, North Conway, NH 03860. Toll-free 1-888-414-8353, (603) 356-2694 or www.farmbytheriver.com Vermont: Woodstock - Cheese Making, Living History, and a Squash Game.
Like a Currier & Ives picture, the village conveys a sense of New England worthy of experiencing. Framed by history and surrounded by natural beauty, the sensibly arranged shops, galleries, and antique stores, match with the landmark F.H. Gillingham & Sons General Store. Vacation activities include hiking, biking, birding, shopping, antiquing, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy living history. Visit Billings Farm & Museum one of the only working dairy farms which is also one of the premier farm life museums in the country. Enjoy oodles of interactive programs and historical exhibits. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park conducts walking tours of Woodstock's Civil War "home front" the Underground Railroad, abolition meetings, the town's free African-American community, and Woodstock's pivotal role in the Union war effort in Vermont. The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) in nearby Quechee is the home to one of North America’s most impressive collection of live birds of prey including owls, hawks and eagles. Bonus points:
South Woodstock is the home of Bufala di Vermont the site of the first water buffalo farmstead creamery in the United States – think 100% pure fresh mozzarella. It’s never too early to introduce a child to mozzarella not on a pizza. Family vacation base:
Located six level miles west of Woodstock Village Farmhouse Inn (bed and breakfast) is an ideal central Vermont family vacation spot any season of the year. You’ll know you’re there when you see the five-story barn. Spontaneity is the attitude making each day one of a kind from outdoor summer movies, campfires, and house concerts, to sugaring, igloo building, and full moon snowshoeing. No two rooms are alike but all have private baths, allergy-free feather pillows and comforters, fluffy white Turkish cotton towels, alarm clocks, heating and air conditioning with in-room controls. There’s even a suite for families. Bonus points:
We have it on good authority – this spot works for teens. Need to know:
Killington, Pico, Okemo, and Suicide Six ski areas are only minutes away. Location on the planet:
Farmhouse Inn at Robinson Farm 543 Woodstock Road Woodstock, VT (802) 672-5433 or www.farmhouseinnvt.com Massachusetts: Pittsfield - The Berkshires, Jacob’s Pillow, and Hancock Shaker Village.
The area is known worldwide for its culture, theater, music, and museums. It is an exceptional family destination because of the quality and variety of vacation activity choices including arts and natural adventures. This is the location of Jacob's Pillow Dance Centre, rich with history and alive with art. Jacob’s Pillow was once a family farm and a stop on the Underground Railroad of 1800s. Also in the area Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony, providing magical evenings with picnicking on the lawn. Wait for it!
Hancock Shaker Village is one of my favorite living history museums showcasing Shaker life amid a 1200-acre complex. The highlight for most kids is the chance to try on Shaker clothing and practice chores but everyone who has joined the Shaker Supper wants to do it again. Family vacation base:
Maple House B & B, a 200 year old inn nestled on a hilltop near Rowe in the Berkshires is an all-seasons secret family vacation spot. The homestead farm offers vacation days which include feeding animals, picking fresh vegetables and berries, biking, hiking, swimming, boating, or tubing on a private lake. Stargazing is effortless, and a horse-drawn wagon ride possible. Ten miles of skiing/hiking trails start at the back door, around Pelham Lake and Rowe Forest. From the back door it’s ten minutes to historic Mohawk Trail, Shelburne Falls, downhill skiing, and the Deerfield River, famous for kayaking, white water rafting and fly-fishing. Bonus points:
Ten miles of skiing/hiking trails start at the back door, around Pelham Lake and Rowe Forest which offers free swimming, tennis, volleyball, BBQ facilities, canoeing and fishing. Ten minutes to historic Mohawk Trail, Shelburne Falls, downhill skiing, and the Deerfield River, famous for kayaking, white water rafting and fly-fishing. Close to North Adams, Williamstown, Historic Deerfield, Hancock, and Mount Snow, Vermont. Location on the planet:
51 Middletown Hill Road Rowe, MA 01367. (413) 339-0107 or Maple House B & B