New England is a haven for families seeking adventure, beauty, and excitement. From the picturesque coastline to the lush forests, and quaint villages, there is no shortage of day trip destinations perfect for the whole family. In this article, we will explore five exciting day trips in New England for families that promise to create unforgettable memories for all ages.
Whale Watching in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Gloucester, Massachusetts, is known as America’s oldest seaport and is an ideal spot for a family day trip. The highlight of any visit to Gloucester is the opportunity to go whale watching. The waters off Cape Ann are teeming with these majestic creatures, and several reputable tour operators offer trips to get up close and personal with them.
Kids and adults alike will marvel at the sight of humpback, finback, and minke whales breaching the surface, while learning about their habits and conservation efforts from knowledgeable guides. After the whale watching adventure, families can explore the quaint harbor and the Maritime Gloucester museum, where children can engage in interactive exhibits and learn about marine life and the history of the area.
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Connecticut
Located just an hour’s drive from New York City, the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut, is one of the must-do day trips in New England for families, and one of our personal favorites. The aquarium is home to over 3,000 marine animals, including sea turtles, harbor seals, sharks, and jellyfish. Kids can even get hands-on experience by touching stingrays, horseshoe crabs, and other marine creatures in the many touch tanks located throughout the aquarium.
Beyond the aquatic exhibits, the Maritime Aquarium also offers a range of educational programs and IMAX films that cater to all ages. The exhibits are designed to teach children about the importance of conserving marine ecosystems while offering them a fun and immersive experience. After a day at the aquarium, families can enjoy a walk along the Norwalk River or dine at one of the many family-friendly restaurants in the South Norwalk, or Sono, neighborhood.
Shelburne Farms, Vermont
Nestled in the picturesque countryside of Vermont, Shelburne Farms is a 1,400-acre working farm and National Historic Landmark that offers a unique day trip experience for families. The farm is dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture and educating visitors about the importance of preserving our natural resources.
Families can take guided tours of the farm, which include visits to the dairy barn, cheesemaking facility, and organic market garden. Kids can also meet farm animals, including the farm’s friendly cows, sheep, and chickens. For a hands-on experience, children can participate in farm chores and learn about the daily life of a farmer!
After exploring the farm, families can enjoy a leisurely hike on the property’s scenic trails, visit the on-site children’s farmyard, or have a picnic by the serene Lake Champlain. Before leaving, be sure to stop by the farm store to pick up some delicious farm-fresh products to take home.
Story Land in Glen, New Hampshire
Story Land, located in the heart of the White Mountains in Glen, New Hampshire, is a magical amusement park that has been enchanting families for generations. The park features over 30 rides and attractions, all inspired by beloved fairy tales and nursery rhymes.
Younger children will enjoy gentle rides such as the carousel, Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, and the antique cars, while older kids can experience more thrilling attractions like the Polar Coaster and the Bamboo Chutes water ride. The park also offers live shows, character meet and greets, and interactive play areas to keep the whole family entertained.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park, located on the beautiful Mount Desert Island in Maine, offers a spectacular day trip destination for families who love the outdoors. With over 47,000 acres of pristine forests, lakes, and mountains, this national park has something for everyone.
Begin your day by driving the 27-mile Park Loop Road, which offers breathtaking views of the park’s most famous landmarks, including the soaring granite cliffs of Otter Point, the beautiful Sand Beach, and the picturesque Jordan Pond. There are numerous scenic overlooks along the way, perfect for taking family photos or enjoying a picnic lunch.
Families with younger children can enjoy short hikes like the 1.5-mile loop around Jordan Pond or the 0.5-mile walk to the Thunder Hole, where the powerful waves create a thunderous roar as they crash against the rocky shoreline. More adventurous families can tackle the 3.5-mile round trip hike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the U.S. Atlantic coast. From the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the park and the surrounding ocean.
Another must-visit spot in Acadia National Park is the Wild Gardens of Acadia, where families can explore a variety of native plant species, including ferns, wildflowers, and mosses, along the peaceful woodland trails. Kids will also love the Sieur de Monts Nature Center, where they can participate in interactive exhibits and learn about the park’s flora and fauna.
Before leaving the park, be sure to stop by the quaint village of Bar Harbor, where you can find charming shops, delicious seafood restaurants, and boat tours of the surrounding islands.
New England is a treasure trove of family-friendly day trip destinations, offering a mix of natural beauty, adventure, and learning experiences that are sure to create lasting memories. Whether you’re exploring the breathtaking coastline, getting up close with marine life, or visiting a magical amusement park, there’s no shortage of fun and excitement with day trips in New England for families in this enchanting region.