Boston Day Trip · kid-friendly · Travel

Sunday Driving North of Boston

Happy Wednesday everyone! We are halfway to a holiday weekend, or more than halfway if you’re taking off Friday like 90% of the people in my office. I can’t wait for three days home with my G! This Sunday we had a rare wildlife sighting — Mark Linehan, in his natural habitat, without having to work…ON THE WEEKEND. Naturally, we took advantage of it with a little day trip outside the city. For this adventure we chose to visit my all-time favorite ice cream stand, Erikson’s in Maynard. Sometimes childhood memories don’t stand up to present-day reality, but in this case that was not at all true and it.was.EVERYTHING.

Erikson’s is just a quick jaunt off of route 2 from the city, and from there you can take a leisurely ride around the northwest rural suburbs of Boston. Maynard, Stow, Bolton and Lancaster are the heart of apple-picking country and lie equidistant from Worcester and Boston, and Route 117 makes for a gorgeous Sunday drive any time of year, whether in spring with all the wildflowers, horses and goats on view, or during peak fall foliage. Continue on to Harvard, as we did, and stop in at the General Store for made-on-site lemonade, sandwiches and sweets. Then, enjoy them in a family picnic across the street on the town Common!

There’s lots of other fun things to do in the area. We love The Discovery Museum in Acton, the Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton, the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, and of course the dozens of farms and orchards that are open to the public year round, such as Honey Pot Hill, Bolton Spring Farm, and Nicewicz Family Farm.

A great path back to the city takes you via Route 2 or 62 through historic Lexington and Concord, where there are literally dozens of attractions and parks to visit — enough to make up their own separate day trip, in fact. You can stop by Minute Man National Historical Park, Orchard House (where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women), Walden Pond, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the Battle Road Trail, the Emerson House and the Thoreau House (pick your transcendentalist), The Old Manse & nearby North Bridge where the first shots of the Revolution were fired, and of course Lexington Battle Green, Buckman Tavern and Minuteman Statue. Near there is the famous Minuteman Bike Trail, which is super kid-friendly (and therefore extremely crowded on weekends) and which has lots of cute shops and places to grab snacks or ice cream nearby in Downtown Lexington. Of course, I don’t recommend doing any of these things with Mark unless you really, REALLY want to learn about colonial history…like in extreme, minute detail (but in a fun way!)

Oh, to be this carefree and happy every day. Life is magical when you’re three!

I hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend. We are equal parts excited about kicking off summer in New England and sad to mark yet another holiday we would have celebrated with Georgia’s Great Granddad. Living a thankful life every day is one way to honor his memory, and I hope you can find small ways to do the same in your own life this year. xoxoxo.

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Boston Day Trip · kid-friendly · News · Tips and Tricks · Travel

August Day Trips from Boston!

It’s definitely late August now. Georgia has had her birthday party, my Florida squad has left town after their annual visit, and the fall calendar of meetings is already filling up at work (big, heavy sigh). I’ll share more photos of G’s party at the Stone Zoo soon, but here’s a sneak peek plus a couple snaps from some day trips that we have been taking while warm weather is still around us here in Boston. There’s nothing like summer in New England!  

We made trips to the Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford, Gary’s Best Hot Dogs, Bedford Farms Ice Cream, the waterfront and shops in Newburyport, and a fun new restaurant called City Streets where they put cooked pasta on top of tossed salad — what?!? Sounds crazy, tastes really good.


Order like a native with the works: mustard, relish, onions and celery salt. Junk food overload not required but encouraged.img_8312Awesome waterfront dining in Newburyport at the Black Cow, where I sampled an amazing veggie burger, fries and cole slaw alongside a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio.We rolled up on the night of a gigantic classic car show, complete with propped hoods and blaring 50’s music. It was awesome!img_8234img_8236

This past weekend, we had the rare treat of Mark being off both Saturday and Sunday, so we decided to take a trip to Revere Beach, home of the famous international sand-sculpting festival, which takes place every July. We love this beach because, at 9 a.m. on a weekend morning, you can have the place to yourself, and there’s parking right on the parkway along the shore. On Sundays, the parking is free and pretty easy, especially if you arrive early! Georgia was over the moon that Mom and Dad were off work at the same time, which hasn’t happened probably since we flew to Florida as a family this past winter. She kept Mark busy building sand castles and wading with me in the low tide for hours, and we made it home in time for lunch and a nap. Sometimes I can’t believe we are lucky enough to live within 15 minutes of the subwayhiking, and the ocean.

I feel like we’ve done our best to make the most of our summer before Georgia starts preschool in early September. Where did my baby go?? In preparation for going to the “big kids school” after Labor Day, we all decided it was time to give up the pacificer, which G has used for naps and long car rides since she was less than a year old. Last Sunday morning, we set the binkies out on her window sill, and after church we came home to find that the “Binky Fairy” — whose arrival we’d been discussing together for months — had swapped her binks for a big girl preschool backpack and lunch bag, some sticker books, some fruit snacks and a couple new stuffed animals to cuddle. She even left Binky Fairy Dust! So far, it’s been over a week and she’s made barely a passing comment about wanting them, so I am ready to call it a success.

I also wanted to share that we lost a dear family member this past week — Georgia’s Great Granddad, who lived a long, full life and passed peacefully just a few weeks after turning 94. He was very special to both Mark and G, who always wanted to be held by her Great Granddad and lovingly referred to him as “my friend.” Here are a couple of my favorite photos of them together, from the year she was born and again this past winter. He will be so very missed.

I’ll be back after the services ~ hope you all have a very restful week ahead.

kid-friendly · Travel

Greetings from Sarasota

As promised, here’s a quick glimpse at our family vacation to Sarasota! I started writing this while we were there, but got too busy having fun to finish it up. Vacation was awesome but it’s also good to be home. Mark and I definitely feel rested and ready for the busy spring ahead! For this vacation, we made a couple changes to our usual travel strategy, and we’re never looking back. Any guesses what they are? 

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The biggest thing we did differently was to go away for a longer stretch.

Traveling with little kids is exhausting, and when we used to go to Florida for one week at a time, it always felt even shorter because the travel days took so much out of us. We also were being cheap. Georgia’s daycare gives tuition credit for just one week of vacation at a time (which I know is more generous than most) so we planned our trip around that restriction. Also? Mark, being self-employed, doesn’t get paid vacation time, so every time we go away it’s to the detriment of his income.

However, we realized that we simply don’t feel very relaxed after those short trips, and what’s the point of vacationing if you return feeling depleted? So, we stretched it out this time, and I’m never, ever, EVER going back to the old way. I might even try leaving for two weeks next time, if we can manage it, even though that likely means eating even more preschool tuition.

  

The other thing we changed, because we had no choice, was to buy Georgia her own seat on the airplane. She did so much better and we were so much less frazzled! In hindsight, we should have done this when she was 18 months old, if not younger. Sure, it’s expensive, but by now she’s old enough to survive a connecting flight, which is loads cheaper than going direct — so we saved a ton of money that way, and actually ended up paying the same for all three of us as we did to fly direct last time with her on our lap. G was able to eat, play, read and stretch out so much more easily on the plane, and we could actually sit back for a minute instead of wrestling with her for three hours straight. We fly frequently, so I don’t know why it took us so long to figure this one out, but I’m going to tell all my friends from here on out!

The other tip I’d share: instead of having both parents “on duty” for the entire flight, it’s much less stressful to trade off and let one person read for a bit while the other one entertains the little one. We were much less drained after doing it this way, and we each got to read a magazine or book on one leg of the journey. Obviously this gets harder the more the child-parent ratio tips out of your favor, but for us it was a lifesaver.

Bye, Boston!

We also invested in a new travel stroller that we LOVE. I know for some people the City Mini GT already is a “cheap alternative” to a luxury stroller, but that’s not our life and we treasure that thing. We can’t afford for anything to happen to it, because we truly rely on it for actual transportation every single day. It’s our all-terrain workhorse, and we want to make sure it’s still with us for our next adventure close to home!

Thankfully, a friend tipped us off to this amazing single stroller by Kolcraft, and it may be the best $50 I have ever spent. It has an extended UV sun canopy, two parent cup holders, a snack tray, a large basket underneath, two foot brakes, a one-hand fold that locks and stands up by itself, it’s under 10 pounds AND it fully reclines with a five-point harness. It also is comfortable for tall parents to operate and dries ultra fast in case of spills. While it will never replace our City Mini for long walks on trails, hills and cobblestones, it lives in our car for errands and outings, and I’ve already got big plans for it when we attempt to visit Disney next year.

So what else did we DO in Florida?

Well, no trip would be complete without a visit to our favorite Gulf beaches — Nokomis and Siesta Key, recently voted top in the country (for good reason!) — and to get some delicious food and ice cream. This year we had great dinners at Gold Rush BBQ in Venice, Casey Key Fish House in Osprey, and Siesta Key Oyster Bar. Our favorite ice cream place is Nokomis Groves but we also love The Soda Fountain and Ciao Gelato in Venice.

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whose long legs are those??

On one of our last days in town, we took a water taxi from Casey Key around the Intracoastal Waterway and out to the Venice Jetty, where we watched dolphins jumping in and out of the ocean. It was amazing!


We also were lucky enough to get tickets to see the Red Sox playing at the Baltimore Orioles spring training park in Sarasota. Georgia lasted until the top of the 8th and it was so much fun! Beautiful facility, great food, nice breeze, and the Sox won 🙂 You have to plan pretty far in advance to get tickets, but they aren’t overly pricey (especially compared to Fenway Park!) and there are lots of places to cool off in the AC or run around with a toddler who doesn’t want to sit still in their seats any longer. We felt so lucky to do this day trip!

We had so much fun and can’t wait for our next family adventure. If you are making a trip to the Sarasota/Venice/Bradenton area, be sure to check out Bundle of Joy rentals for any baby and toddler gear! We rent a full-sized crib for just $25 per week from them, and they will deliver, assemble and dissemble it for you, plus provide a real mattress, sheets, bumpers if you use them, and any other supplies such as strollers, car seats (including installation), beach toys, bouncers, etc. that you need. It sure beats a pack n’ play or portable crib, and Georgia sleeps much better because of it. I can’t recommend them highly enough! Have a Happy St. Patty’s Day everyone! 

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