If you would have told me 17 years ago that my boyfriend would become my husband and that we’d be revisiting the first state we were in together with a child in tow, I’d say you’re nuts.
Crazy as it may seem, this is now my reality. My husband Matthew and I met in high school and were only dating a few weeks when we went on a school trip to Salem, Massachusetts during the Halloween season. Little did we know that this would be the first state we’d venture to together in our quest to reach all 50.
Recently our little family took a short jaunt north to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Although as a couple we have already been to these states, we came again to do a few things we didn’t get to do the first time around and share this experience with our daughter, Cassidy. Here are our adventures!
In Boston, we spent our morning walking along the Freedom Trail. Although guided tours are offered, we opted to travel at our own pace. We parked in the garage in Boston Common and walked through the former cattle pasture up to our first stop – the Massachusetts State House. The gleaming gold dome on top was mesmerizing. Following the Freedom Trail, our next sites were the Park Street Church and Granary Burying Ground. At this site lies notable names like Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. Since we had a (almost) three-year-old, we chose to admire these stops from the street. I mean, we couldn’t expect Cassidy to be enthralled by the tour of a cemetery. So we moved on to the King’s Chapel and Benjamin Franklin statue. This memorial stands near the Boston Latin School, the first public school in the United States. A few of the nearby pieces of art were interesting to look at, but nothing caught our eye quite like the mosaic on the sidewalk. After a quick game of “Jump on the Letters and Numbers”, we walked on.
Being the avid readers we are, Matthew and I were pumped to see the Old Corner Bookstore. While it is an interesting building and you could feel the history that surrounds it, we were taken aback to see that it is now a Chipotle restaurant. Booooo. Rambling on from our slight disappointment, we came to the Old State House and a large cobblestone circle marking the site of the Boston Massacre. Our next point of interest was Faneuil Hall. We did want to try to stop in this former marketplace and the location of many revolutionary speeches, but it was unfortunately under construction. By this point, we had done quite a bit of walking and just pushed on to get to the USS Constitution. Now, this ship was awesome. The decorations and wood were beautiful and history found on this frigate is pretty interesting. We were able to venture down below deck and explore the lower two levels including sleeping quarters and cannons.
We decided to skip Bunker Hill due to tired feet and a tired toddler. I’m sure there’s plenty more to explore more in depth, so perhaps that will need to wait for another trip!
Tips for Boston:
- One of the best parts of the Freedom Trail is there is no need stare at a paper map or map app on your phone. The historical trail is marked throughout the city with a red brick sidewalk so you can take in the sites.
- If choosing the parking garage in Boston Common, remember to take your ticket with you. We were in a hurry to get going and didn’t read the signs that clearly stated, “Take your ticket with you.” Good thing someone was coming out when we were trying to get in.
- There’s no shame in taking an Uber back. With a worn-out toddler and impending rain clouds, a ride back to Boston Common was a welcomed relief.
- Pack some water and snacks (not that most parents do this anyway). There are places to stop, but it’s easier to see everything when you don’t need to.
After rain decided to ruin all of our fun, we moved out of Boston and on to Providence, Rhode Island. Our daughter was certainly a trooper through our Freedom Trail walk, so after a short drive (and nap), we spent the afternoon at the Providence Children’s Museum. I’m honestly not sure if kids or parents were having more fun. There were foam bricks to build with, various stations to explore art and science concepts, and air tubes to send colorful scarves through. But Cassidy’s favorite, by far, was the Water Ways exhibit.
In this area, kiddos are invited to don a smock and explore with water. Cassidy put together pipes and elbows to change the flow of mist. She used different trays and tools to play with ice. A majority of her enjoyment was found in tossing toy boats and bugs into a tornado funnel to watching them flow out of the bottom. As much as we tried to check out other exhibits, we seemed to continually return to the Water Ways!
Tips for Providence Children’s Museum:
- Take time to explore all of the space in the museum. From the oversized dragon greeting guests at the front door to the miniature models encased in the ramp walls, everything was exciting and engaging for Cassidy.
- It’s a good stop for kids of various ages. Young ones will enjoy the Littlewoods area, designated specifically for those 4 and under. Older children can take on the challenge of writing their name upside down with only a mirror to guide them.
- There are no food or drinks available on premises. You are permitted to bring your own, but need to enjoy them in the designated lunchroom area.
In Connecticut, we definitely wanted to take Cassidy to the Mystic Aquarium. Matthew and I were here a few years ago for our first trip through these states. But it was a whole new experience with a toddler. Like most kids, she loves looking around to find camouflaged garden eels and staring in wonder at the large tanks of colorful fish.
There were beluga whales, sea lions, and seals that provided plenty of entertainment. Touch tanks with stingrays splashing water, sharks, and squishy whelk shells proved to be pretty amusing too. We spent a fair amount of time walking on the boardwalk over the swampy marshlands, counting how many frogs and turtles we could spot. But Cassidy’s favorite was certainly the penguins. We came back to their area a few times to check out their waddling and sunbathing, then moved into the underwater viewing area to watch them quickly zip by.
After we were aquarium-ed out, we made one more stop before home: the Pez factory in Orange, Connecticut. It was so bright, colorful, and full of recognizable characters to spot like Mickey, Darth Vader, and Elsa. There’s even a scavenger hunt challenge that takes you through the museum and store in search of specific Pez dispensers. Cassidy enjoyed looking around for the seven dwarves from Snow White in our hunt. And you even get a free dispenser for completing the challenge! It was the perfect stop to stretch our legs before making the final leg of travel back home.
Tips for Mystic Aquarium:
- Buy tickets online beforehand. There are discounts available through a few programs, but full-priced adult tickets cost $36.99 at the gate. By purchasing tickets online, you can save yourself a little bit of money (and time).
- Try to get to the aquarium early in the morning. It gets very busy.
- It seems to be the theme of this trip, but pack snacks. We found that with spending the money we did on admission, it was a relief to not spend extra on a bottle of water or something to nibble on.
Tips for the Pez factory:
- Do the scavenger hunt!
- There’s a photo opportunity to put your head on a Pez dispenser with fun props.
- You can grab a small bucket and fill it with whatever flavor Pez your heart desires! We ended up with a mix of strawberry, grape, vanilla, candy corn, sugar cookie.
Have you been to any of these places? Any other tips for traveling with a toddler? Let me know in the comments below!