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Family Vacation 2016: Bar Harbor, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts

Family Vacation 2016: Bar Harbor, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts

Like our Myrtle Beach vacation, this would be another week long trip spanning from May 21st to May 29th. Our itineraries in hand, hotel reservations printed, and bags packed – we left our house at 10:30 am. We were expecting an (approximately) 8-hour drive (per Google – 471.7 mi via I-95). Given that we had a few stops to make, we were expecting a 10-hour long trip or so, with an expected arrival time of 8:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Boy, were we wrong. We ended up arriving at close to 10:00 pm that evening. But what a fun drive it was! We were to make our way to Bar Harbor, Maine on Acadia/Mt. Desert Island – our first time ever in Maine – for 2 evenings, followed by a 6 day stay in the Boston area (Saugus to be exact).

Saturday, May 21st – From The Bronx to Bar Harbor, Maine

We loaded up our Chevy Cruze, and off we were. We had home brewed coffee and tea in to-go cups, so we skipped our usual Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts pre-trip fillup. We made our way to Kittery, Maine via I-95N – our first stop: Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery Maine. We first heard about Bob’s Clam Hut on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, so we figured, why not add it to our map. We ordered the clam basket, amongst other goodies – highly recommended.

We then took off to our first “sightseeing” spot – Portland Head Light, located at 1000 Shore Road in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Portland Head Light 2016

Considering we were out of coffee and were near Portland – we made a pit stop at the Starbucks located at 594 Congress Street in Portland, Maine. Following that, we drove towards Brunswick – where we came across our waypoint to switch from I-95N to Route 1 – which offers a more scenic drive along the southern coastline of Maine.

Now, maybe clams and coffee aren’t best of friends in the tummy, or maybe it was just eating clams atop coffee, followed by more coffee, but we had to make a little detour by the time we made it to Newcastle, Maine. But after a quick refresher at Mike’s Place (557 US-1, Newcastle, Maine) we were off again.

Our drive along US-1 was spectacular. Postcard perfect vistas came in and out of view as we made our way through roads lined with old-timey houses.

Because we were rather late, we ended up calling Side Street Cafe – located at 49 Rodick Street in Bar Harbor, Maine – and ordering dinner to go. It was a neat little music venue/restaurant/bar.

We then proceeded to check in at the (very luxurious, and highly recommended) Bluenose Inn.

Frenchman Bay from the Bluenose Inn, Mizzentop View

They offer two buildings where you can stay in – Stenna Nordica and Mizzentop. Both offer views of Frenchman Bay and Mt. Desert Narrows, but the Stenna Nordica views are a little obstructed by the Mizzentop. We chose to stay at the Mizzentop when we made our reservation and being that this was before the “summer rush” of tourists to Bar Harbor, it was a very relaxing and quiet stay.

Frenchman Bay from the Bluenose Inn, Mizzentop View

Sunday, May 22nd – Acadia

Our itinerary for the day was fairly simple: sightseeing and driving around Mt. Desert Island. We were supposed to drive on the US-1 Schoodic National Scenic Byway. But, we didn’t. Dinner at either Fisherman’s Galley or Chase’s Restaurant, or The Looking Glass at the Bluenose Inn? Nope! Sunset at Schoodic Point like we planned? Nah.

Rather, we ended up driving into Acadia National Park, at stopping at Thunder Hole – which, when the waves crash in its interior makes a thundering sound (hence, the name). But when we went, it was low tide. Granted, the views were amazing in person.

Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park
Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park

We then made our way all the way up to the peak of Mt. Cadillac. We had not planned for this and were taken aback by the vistas that were bestowed upon us from the tallest mountain (1,528 feet) on Mt. Desert Island.

Mt. Cadillac Summit
Sunset at Mt. Cadillac Summit

Considering it was almost sunset, and there was no way we were going to make it down, around, and over to Schoodic Point to catch the sunset, we stopped to watch the sunset at the next best spot (which turned out to be THE best spot): Blue Hill Overlook, just a few hundred feet down from the Mt. Cadillac summit.

Sunset at Blue Hill Overlook
Sunset at Blue Hill Overlook

We then proceeded to finish the drive around the ring road of Acadia National Park.

Acadia National Park Ring Road

Following, we made our way to Fish House Grill in Bar Harbor – only to find it was closed at the time. Eventually, we googled around to find the Dog & Pony Tavern, on 4 Rodick Place in Bar Harbor. While we waited for our phone order to be ready, we parked in front of Testa’s (54 Main Street) and walked over to Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium (66 Main Street) for some chocolate and ice cream goodies (don’t judge us).

Monday, May 23rd – Acadia to Boston

Well, more like Acadia to Saugus. We checked out of the Bluenose Inn (with promises to return again one day), and made our way back down route US-1, over the Penobscot Narrows Bridge (a beauty). We then stopped at Dots (2457 Atlantic Highway in Lincolnville Maine) for a quick to-go snack of sandwiches and other goodies.

Bar Harbor to Saugus

Following that, we proceeded down to Rockland Breakwater Light (Rockland, Maine) – a lighthouse set far out on an approximately 3/4 mile long breakwater.

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, 2016
Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, 2016
Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, 2016

Following a few picture taking sessions and a nice walk along the precarious breakwater (mind the gap!), we drove over to Starbucks for our coffee fill (256 US-1, Falmouth Maine). We then had planned on having a Drunch (Dinner + Lunch, get it?) at The Little Depot Diner, but changed our minds mid drive and decided we’d just check-in to our hotel (Holiday Inn Saugus – Logan Airport) and order takeout.

Tuesday, May 24th – Saugus

Not much to report on this day. We had planned on taking our daughter to Legoland in Sommerville, followed by a visit to the Bunker Hill Monument, and a quick lunch at Boston Burger Company and JP Licks Ice Cream. Rather, we drove to Five Guys at 227 Andover Street in Peabody and drove back to the hotel. We spent the rest of the day there, relaxing.

Wednesday, May 25th – Boston

When in Rome…er, Boston – catch a Red Sox game at the Historic Fenway Park. Having secured some really nice seats directly behind first base, we watched a thrilling game between the Bosox and the Colorado Rockies. A fantastic game as we walked away happy after our Sox beat the Rockies 10 to 3.

David Ortiz, May 25th, 2016
Us at Fenway Park, May 2016

Thursday, May 26th – Boston

Another lazy day – having planned on going to Wahlburgers, Alma Nove, and World’s End – south of Boston, we did none of the above.

Rather, we went to the Starbucks at the Shops at Saugus (366 Broadway in Saugus), then proceeded to Charles Bank Playground (251 Causeway Street, Boston) to let our little munchkin run around a bit.

Charles Bank Playground

Finally – we proceeded to do what we had planned to do on May 24th: Boston Burger Company, and JP Licks Ice Cream in Davis Square (Somerville). We got the famed Mac-and-Cheese burger (which was good), along with a few other burgers (which were great). At JP Licks, we got the standard fare of vanilla, strawberry, and coffee flavored concoctions.

Friday, May 27th – Saugus

Plans: New England Aquarium, Lunch at Saus Boston, Boston Children’s Museum, Dinner at Yankee Lobster.

Reality: Lazy day in our hotel.

Saturday, May 28th – Hingham

The day we were looking forward to. Whale Watching! We drove over to Gloucester, Massachusetts for our scheduled whale watching excursion via Cape Ann Whale Watch (415 Main Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts). We had a fun time, but beware sea sickness – oh, and don’t sit in the back of the boat, fumes fumes fumes.

Cape Ann Whale Watch
Juan Sanchez

We then drove back to Saugus via Scenic Route 127 – which took us through a beautiful little town by the name of Manchester-by-the-sea.

Sunday, May 29th – Saugus to the Bronx

So, the funny thing about life – it’s completely unexpected. We checked out of our hotel at 11:00 am and were on the road by 11:24 am (having loaded our bags and stopped by a nearby Starbucks). By 11:38 am, we were sitting on the side of Broadway and Main Street, as we had been rear-ended by another motorist. On the bright side, our car was still driveable and it was the last day of our trip.

But before we headed home, we had a pitstop to make: Foxboro. We aren’t in the area very often, so whenever we are, we stop by 1 Patriots Place: Gillette Stadium, home of the (best team ever) New England Patriots. We stopped by the Patriots ProShop for a few goodies, followed by a 2 dozen outtake of cupcakes at Cupcake Charlies (ok, judge us).

Gillette Stadium Gate
1 Patriots Place

Following a little photoshoot for the munchkin, we made our way back home. Though, we did stop at a Starbucks in Connecticut (Groton Shoppers Mart – 985 Poquonnock Rd in Groton).

 

 

Family Vacation 2015: Hershey (Hersheypark) & Reading, Pennsylvania

Family Vacation 2015: Hershey (Hersheypark) & Reading, Pennsylvania

So this was a mini vacation to Hersheypark over the course of a weekend – so this will be a rather short post. We took off from our house in the Bronx headed due west, towards Reading, Pennsylvania. Now, we tried to book an affordable hotel closer to Hersheypark, but that didn’t pan out. So, we ended up staying at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Reading, right next door to Reading Regional Airport.

Now, you would think that would be a downside – who on earth would want to stay in a hotel right next to an airport?! Well, me and my daughter love planes. I once attempted to attain my PPL but was eventually dissuaded by the exuberant costs of getting a PPL. Perhaps later on in life. But I digress – my daughter also loves planes (and fast cars, go figure – took after her daddy). As for noise – there was near no noise at all. The glass at this Holiday Inn Express had to be thick, because we could see the planes, but couldn’t hear them. Also helps that it was mostly small single engine prop planes, we saw no jets. That being said, we fell in love with how laid back and relaxing the town is. It also helped that there was a Starbucks within a short drive of the hotel.

Now, on our first day there (Friday) we just chilled in the hotel and explored the town. We always try to locate nearby points of interest: Starbucks (or other coffee shops), small grocery stores, and a pharmacy or two. Why? Bare necessities. We found a nice little strip mall on State Hill Road and Berkshire Boulevard (from the Holiday Inn Express, take the 183 southbound to the 12 southwest bound, to the 422 southwest bound and get off at the State Hill Road exit). This strip mall became our “go to” destination whenever we needed anything – a Starbucks, Taco Bell, Burger King, and a Rite Aid in one place? Sold! There was also a pretty decent Thai place – Thaiwat. We ordered from here once – and would order again whenever we’re back in Reading. As for the other days – we ordered pizza delivered to the hotel, but I completely forgot the name of the place we ordered from.

Hersheypark we did on Saturday, and boy was that fun. By now our daughter was old enough to fully enjoy most rides, and she had a ton of fun. We were absolutely tired by the end of the day. Highly recommended if you’re ever on the east coast!

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Now, on Sunday we were to head back home. BUT, we had a pit stop to make 🙂 Dutch Wonderland. Our daughter had a ton of fun a Hersheypark – but as with Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire, there were some rides that she was either just big enough for (read: big enough to fit, not big enough to enjoy) or others that she wasn’t allowed to ride at all. Dutch Wonderland on the other hand was a much smoother experience, and much more catered to the under 3 crowd. We had a ton of fun here – particularly because our daughter had fun – finally. We stayed until around 4pm that day, and did most of the rides. Since we had a short drive home (about 3 hours all said and done), it was a good bookend to our small weekend vacation. Rating? Would do so again (and again).

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Family Vacation 2015: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Family Vacation 2015: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Up to this vacation, we mostly did short drives. Two hours here, three hours there – stretching to three and a half hours with traffic. Never had either of us been to Myrtle Beach, or South Carolina. My wife though, lived in Atlanta, Georgia for a short while – so she knew the south. I, on the other hand, had always been a Northeast boy.

This was a hard departure from previous trips – a ten and a half hour drive. We took off later than we expected, which only compounded time issues. As planned, we were to take off at 6am – only to take off at 8am. Now, this wouldn’t have been too bad…but we had to make a pitstop in Manhattan.

We made our way down – Starbucks in hand. After approximately two and a half hours of driving on I-95 south, we reached our first pitstop: Maryland House Rest Stop in Aberdeen, Maryland. We picked up some food, and a toy for the munchkin, used the rest rooms – and off we were again. The Maryland House Rest Stop surprised us – we weren’t used to rest stops of that size – it was huge.

This time we were headed to another rest stop – the Virginia Welcome Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This was also another two and a half hours away from the Maryland House. For this one, it was purely a bathroom break.

Family Vacation 2013: Boston, Massachusetts

Family Vacation 2013: Boston, Massachusetts

While we had taken day trips to locales here and there prior to the birth of our daughter in 2012, this vacation to Boston in July 2013 counted as our first official family vacation. We left our house in the Bronx around 8:30am, heading towards Brookline. Brookline is a town in Norfolk County Massachusetts just south west of the famous Back Bay. We planned to make the most of our first trip to Boston: the famous Duck Boat Tour, the Museum of Science, and catching a game at Fenway Park. Yes, we’re from the Bronx but are Mass fans across the board: Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, Celtics – and Revolution. With tickets and itinerary in hand, we piled into our rented 2012 Chevy Equinox and off we were.

We had planned a small pitstop for breakfast and Orem’s Diner in Wilton, CT – just north of Norwalk, CT. Absolutely the best fried calamari around, or so we had heard. Unfortunately, we were unable to go this time around – though, on our day trip to Lawrence, MA for a birthday in August, we did stop here and were proven correctly: best fried calamari. We ended up grabbing lunch at a McDonald’s and going from there. Our drive was fairly uneventful, and we got to our Holiday Inn Express in Brookline just before 1pm. Not bad for a pitstop here and a pitstop there. We then shucked all of our stuff  into our hotel room, and grabbed a cab (thanks to Hailo) over to Fenway Park.

Our seats along the right field, field level
Our seats along the right field, field level

We were set to watch the Red Sox vs San Diego Padres game at 1:45pm on July 4th. We ended up winning 8-2, and had a great time.  Granted, the munchkin was not having it with the heat that day (high of 94F).

The Family at Fenway Park, 2013
The Family at Fenway Park, 2013
The little one was not enjoying the heat
The little one was not enjoying the heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

With our first Red Sox game under our belts, we headed back to our hotel to cool off and relax for the evening. One thing you’ll notice with us on vacation – contrary to most people on vacation, we try to do at most 2 to 3 things a day, or less. After all, a vacation is supposed to be relaxing – not a mad rush to see 50 things in one day. At least, for us.

The day after, we drove up to Lawrence, MA – where we picked up two family members and drove up to Salem, New Hampshire. This is not the “Witches” Salem – rather, we visited a child friendly amusement park here – Canobie Lake Park. Rather unfortunately, our daughter was still a bit too young for the majority of the rides here. First time parents, and all.

The next couple of days we did the Boston Duck Tour, where we saw quite a few places. But first, our seats were right behind the driver, so we had a fantastic time:

Duck Boat, Boston
Duck Boat, Boston

 

We were treated to quite a few sights…but me being me, and knowing my sophomoric humor – this made perfect sense for a photo op: General Hooker Entrance (go on, chuckle):

Ashburton Park Entrance - General Hooker Entrance
Ashburton Park Entrance – General Hooker Entrance

Right opposite General Hooker Entrance (heh) is the Old State House (and current State Library). We also had the pleasure of seeing the oldest church in Boston – Old North Church. Though, I wasn’t able to get a clear shot of it.

Massachusetts State HouseMassachusetts State House

Speaking of old – we saw the Old City Hall

Old City Hall, BostonOld City Hall, Boston

and old Trinity Church in Copley Square – which was destroyed in 1870 to relocate it, and rebuilt by 1872 on a lot enclosed by four public streets – the only such locale that offered this amount of visibility to the church. Later that same year however, the Great Fire of Boston burned the second church down. A carved granite stone from the facade of the burned church is preserved to be installed in the cloister wall – which can be seen from the Clarendon street entrance. By 1876, the newly rebuilt building (as seen) is finished.

Trinity Episcopal Church, Boston
Trinity Episcopal Church, Boston

And lastly, in our tour of Old  – Ol’ Ironsides – USS Constitution. Now, a history lesson courtesy of Wikipedia (Remember to donate to support this wonderful archive of human knowledge and history):

USS Constitution is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy, named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America. Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Constitution was launched in 1797, one of six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794 and the third constructed. Joshua Humphreys designed the frigates to be the young Navy’s capital ships, and so Constitution and her sisters were larger and more heavily armed and built than standard frigates of the period. Constitution was built in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts at Edmund Hartt’s shipyard. Her first duties with the newly formed U.S. Navy were to provide protection for American merchant shipping during the Quasi-War with France and to defeat the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War.

Constitution is most noted for her actions during the War of 1812 against the United Kingdom, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated five British warships: HMS Guerriere, Java, Pictou, Cyane, and Levant. The battle with Guerriere earned her the nickname of “Old Ironsides” and public adoration that has repeatedly saved her from scrapping. She continued to serve as flagship in the Mediterranean and African squadrons, and circled the world in the 1840s. During the American Civil War, she served as a training ship for the United States Naval Academy. She carried American artwork and industrial displays to the Paris Exposition of 1878.

Constitution was retired from active service in 1881, and served as a receiving ship until designated a museum ship in 1907. In 1934, she completed a three-year, 90-port tour of the nation. Constitution sailed under her own power for her 200th birthday in 1997, and again in August 2012 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her victory over Guerriere.

USS Constitution, Boston Harbor
USS Constitution, Boston Harbor

Prior to our Duck Tour, we took a small walk through of the Museum of Science in Boston. We had a wonderful time. Although, we did not take any pictures. Also, our munchkin was far too young to truly enjoy and understand all the wonderful stuff there. Only reason we went was because we had time to kill before loading our Duck Boat right outside the museum, but it was totally worth it. The cafeteria at the MoS is pretty good too.

The day after, we took in a bit more sightseeing – though, from a bit further up: The Skywalk at the Prudential Tower, Boston.

View from Prudential Tower Skywalk
View from Prudential Tower Skywalk
The Charles River from the Prudential Tower
The Charles River from the Prudential Tower
Christian Science Plaza Reflecting Pool
Christian Science Plaza (top right). The William Morris Hunt Memorial Library (top middle, closest to water). The Christian Science Plaza Reflecting Pool (middle), as well as 177 Huntington Street
View from Prudential Tower Skywalk
View from Prudential Tower Skywalk
Our munchkin
Our munchkin


The rest of the time we spent mostly driving around looking for food. We also got lost in Cambridge…also looking for food. We love Boston, and always try to make it back at least once every two years.

Our drive back was fairly also uneventful thankfully.