Getaways with Children - Southern Tour
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut
From hi-tech thrill rides and water parks to living history museums and zoos, experiences for children in Southern New England never end. Where else can you explore the mysteries of the deep, come face-to-face with beluga whales and sea lions and get to know the brave adventurers who settled this corner of America?
Trip ideas and itineraries are meant as suggestions only. They are intended as ideas and to highlight all there is to see and do in New England.
- Boston, Massachusetts: Museum of Science / Boston Duck Tour
Find out about anything from acting to Japanese life at the Children’s Museum. See bolts of lightning at the Museum of Science. Count the eight duckling statues, from the Make Way for Ducklings story, in Boston’s Public Gardens. Ride in the unique, 125-year-old Swan Boats or on an amphibious Boston Duck Tour.
- Plymouth, Massachusetts: Plimoth Plantation
Clamber aboard the Mayflower II, the replica of the tiny ship that brought the Pilgrims to America in 1620. At Plimoth Plantation, costumed interpreters explain what everyday life was like in the 17th century; Native Americans at Hobbamock’s Homesite carve out canoes.
- Side trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Sandy Beaches and Whale Watching
On Cape Cod, watch a miller grind corn at the 1640 Dexter Grist Mill (Sandwich) or spuds transformed at the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory (Hyannis). Go whale watching from Provincetown. The Cape’s homemade ice cream stands are legendary.
- New Bedford, Massachusetts: New Bedford Whaling Museum
With its skeleton of a blue whale and the half-scale model of a whaler ship (children can climb aboard), the New Bedford Whaling Museum is entertaining and educational. The Moby-Dick display recalls that author Herman Melville once lived and sailed from Bedford.
- Portsmouth, Rhode Island: Green Animals
With more than 80 neatly clipped shrubs, Green Animals is all about topiary, shapes 'carved' from live privet. The century-old display includes a couple of cuddly bears, a camel and even a giraffe!
- Providence, Rhode Island: Roger Williams Zoo
The Roger Williams Park Zoo is rated in the top ten zoos in the USA. Among the more than 100 species on 40 acres are kangaroos, snow leopards, elephants and cheetah. In the city’s Children’s Museum, youngsters can climb through sewers and see what was cooking in a Colonial kitchen.
- Newport, Rhode Island: International Tennis Hall of Fame
At the International Tennis Hall of Fame, see video clips of great players in action, then play on the oldest grass tennis courts in the world! At the Newport Mansions, tour the grand 19th century "cottages" of the rich and famous. Go on a formal tour or a self-guided audio tour (available in English, French, German, and Spanish).
- Kingston, Rhode Island: New England Basketball Hall of Fame
An inspiration to youngsters, the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame & Museum honors star sportsmen and women who have also excelled academically. In 2002, the New England Basketball Hall of Fame inducted its first class.
- South County, Rhode Island: Sandy Beaches and Fairground Fun
Known for its beaches, this stretch of Rhode Island coast also offers whale watching (from Galilee) and perhaps the oldest carousel in the USA. In Watch Hill, the carved wooden horses, with real tails and manes, have been whirling round since 1879.
- Mystic and Mashantucket, Connecticut: Mystic Seaport & Mystic Aquarium / Mashantucket Pequot Museum
Choose from three terrific family attractions. Mystic Seaport is a lively recreation of a 19th century fishing village, with busy craftspeople and fine old ships. The Mystic Aquarium has recently combined with Dr. Bob Ballard’s Institute for Exploration to present the wonders of marine life as well as the thrill of undersea exploration and archaeology. Nearby, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum is the nation’s largest Native American museum, with a life-size 16th century Indian village.
- Groton, Connecticut: World's First Nuclear Submarine
At the US Navy’s Submarine Museum, in the Submarine Capital of America, compare a model of the world’s first sub, the American Turtle (invented in Connecticut in 1776), with USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear sub and the first sub to sail under the North Pole.
- Essex, Connecticut: Essex Steam Train Ride / Gillette Castle
The Connecticut River Museum is a treasure trove of ships and shipbuilding lore, including the only working model of American Turtle (see Groton). Side trips: the Essex Steam Train steams up to Deep River where you join a river cruise; eccentric Gillette Castle was the home of an actor, famed for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.
- New Haven, Connecticut: CT's Children's Museum
Music, math and mirrors are among the displays at the CT Children’s Museum (New Haven). The Eli Whitney Museum (Hamden) reflects the creative genius of the inventor of the cotton gin and a major influence in the Industrial Revolution. See 100 trolley cars and ride the three miles of century-old trolley line at the Shore Line Trolley Museum (East Haven) that featured in several movies.
- Bridgeport, Connecticut: Barnum Museum
The New England farmyard and South American rain forest are clues that Beardsley Zoo concentrates on North and South American birds and animals, such as condors, wolves and bears. The Barnum Museum celebrates circus impresario P.T. Barnum, the founder of The Greatest Show on Earth.
- Norwalk, Connecticut: Maritime Aquarium Norwalk’s Maritime Aquarium specializes in what goes on beneath the surface of Long Island Sound. Did you know that one in ten Americans lives within 50 miles of Long Island Sound?
- Bristol, Connecticut: Oldest Amusement Park in the USA
With a history going back to the 1840s, Lake Compounce is the oldest amusement park in America. Top ride is Boulder Dash, winning the 2013 Golden Ticket Award for Best Wood Coaster – it's the fastest, and longest wooden coaster on the East Coast. By contrast, the carousel dates from 1911.
- Hartford, Connecticut: Bushnell Park Carousel
Nearly 90 years old, the Bushnell Park Carousel, in the heart of the city, is a working antique. With 48 horses, two chariots and a Wurlitzer organ, a ride is a bargain at $1.00.
- Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks, Connecticut: New England Air Museum
As well as helicopters galore, the planes in the New England Air Museum range from a 1909 Bleriot monoplane to a Russian MiG-15.
- Agawam, Massachusetts: Six Flags New England
Six Flags New England is one of the Northeast’s most exciting theme parks, with more than 20 concerts and events, and Superman, Ride of Steel, rated No. 1 coaster on the planet by fans. At night, the Glow in the Park Parade features state-of-the-art floats, great music and thousands of sparkling lights. Families love Wiggles World, Thomas Town, New England’s largest water park and the Looney Tunes-themed rides.
- Springfield, Massachusetts: Basketball Hall of Fame
Bigger and better than ever is the Basketball Hall of Fame, celebrating the invention of the sport at what is now Springfield College, in 1891. Kids of all ages enjoy Dr. Seuss stories. See statues of the author and his creations, such as the Grinch and the Cat in the Hat at Springfield’s Quadrangle.
- Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts: Old Sturbridge Village
With costumed shop keepers, housewives, farmers and craftsmen, Sturbridge Village recreates rural life in New England back in the 1830s. Hugely popular for more than 50 years, this is a delightful insight into how people lived in days gone by.
- Side trip - Blackstone River Valley, Massachusetts: Heritage Corridor
The Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor is unique in the USA, embracing towns like Pawtucket, Woonsocket and Smithfield, plus villages, old factories and countryside on both sides of the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border. A vast range of activities, with regular guided boat trips on the river.