Tagged with "road trip"
2 Oct
2017
Posted in: travel
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Take a Trip: Boston

View of Boston from Bunker Hill Monument

Go visit Boston, sooner rather than later. Trust me on this one.

We’ve visited an array of U.S. cities…Portland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Chicago, Savannah, and Louisville to mention a few. None of the American metropolises have won my heart quite like Boston. She’s unique.

North Bridge - The shot heard round the world

We visited Boston this summer as part of our epic road trip to the East Coast. Cities are not my favorite vacation destinations. I prefer mountain tops and beaches to sidewalks and buildings. This road trip had several major U.S. cities on the itinerary. My only experience in Boston before July was inside Logan International Airport for a long layover before flying to Europe over 20 years ago. I’m a history nerd raising pint-sized lovers of history. Our oldest had just finished studying the early years of American history in school, so Boston was a the perfect spot for him to show off what he had learned. More than once I was impressed with how much knowledge he had about events that happened in and around Boston.

Witness house at Minute Man National Historic Park

Musket reenactment at Minute Man National Historic Park

We began our visit to the Boston area at the Minute Man National Historical Park in Lexington and Concord. Walking the area where witness houses and stone walls still stand on the road where the battle occurred April 19, 1775 puts history in perspective. We’ve heard the story of Paul Revere’s ride and the “shot heard around the world” to start the American Revolution, but to stand where those stories occurred was more powerful than words on a page. Walking through militia battle formations and understanding what worked and didn’t work in 1775 was illuminating. The life and training, or lack thereof, for minute men left me in awe of the conviction and determination of the people who fought in the American Revolution.

Freedom Trail medallion on a Boston sidewalk

Children walking the Freedom Trail line in Boston

I could wander Boston for days. The juxtaposition of historical buildings dating to the 1700s next to modern architecture in the downtown area had me continuously reaching for my camera. The 2 1/5-mile Freedom Trail connects significant historical locations, museums, churches and burying grounds in downtown Boston. The trail is marked by a red line guiding tourists from location to location. Visitors can pay for guided tours of the trail or traverse it self-guided. We chose to go at our own pace and walk the trail without a tour guide. The Freedom Trail ranks as an all-time favorite activity we’ve done on vacation.

We walked the entire trail which includes 17 official sites ranging from the USS Constitution to the Bunker Hill Monument to the Boston Massacre site to Paul Revere’s home. We didn’t tour the inside of every site. We researched the sites and then chose which ones to spend our time in that were historically the most pertinent in our minds and fit our interests.

Stained glass at the old Massachusetts State House

We started at the Massachusetts State House that visitors should give at least a short tour of to see the beautiful stained glass windows. It’s quite stunning inside the massive building where we started our walk of the Freedom Trail. I’m not going to write about each of the places we visited, but touch on our favorite spots from the trail. This could be a wordy post if I covered everything.

Downtown Boston

Side note: We stayed outside of Boston and took public transportation into the city. Everything we read and heard about Boston traffic was true. I would never drive in that city. There were times we felt crossing streets was dangerous. Word to the wise, double and triple check streets before crossing, even at a crosswalk with a blinking walk signal. Back to the history tour…

Paul Revere house - Boston

The Paul Revere House was built in the late 1600s and is the oldest building in downtown Boston. Revere was living in this house when he made his famous ride in 1775. A tour of the house costs $3.50 per adult and $1 per children. It doesn’t take long to make your way through the home and attached museum. Our kids find it interesting to compare home and furnishings from times gone by to what we have now. There were a lot of differences to discuss after touring this house. My favorite spot in the tour is a display of different silver pieces Revere made — a silversmith being one of his many occupations.

A cannoli from Mike's Pastry in Boston

After touring the Revere House, we made a slight detour off the trail to visit Mike’s Pastry for homemade Italian goodies. This bakery was filled with a copious amount of the choices and a large crowd eager to make purchases — cash only. Don’t be daunted by the crowd. There are several “lines” inside the bakery with numerous people working behind the counter to help patrons. It took us longer to choose what we each wanted than it did to purchase the delectable treats. If I make it back to Boston, Mike’s will most definitely be on the list of places to visit again.

Bunker Hill Monument climb ticket

The Bunker Hill Monument honors the site of the first major battle of the Revolutionary War. Tickets to climb the monument can be obtained across the street at the National Park Service office for the Boston National Historical Park. The 294-step climb to the top of the monument was a hot and sweaty ordeal in July when we visited, but the views of Boston from the top were worth the trek. I recommend listening to a ranger talk about the battle. Our ranger was passionate about the topic and taught us a great deal more on the battle in 15 minutes than I ever learned in a classroom.

USS Constiution - Charleston Navy Yard

We have a deep love for touring battleships and the Charlestown Navy Yard did not disappoint. The yard has the USS Cassin Young and the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship in the U.S. Navy. We didn’t tour the Cassin Young because of a planned visit to Battleship Cove in Massachusetts and allotted our time at the yard to the USS Constitution, aka Old Ironsides, and the USS Constitution Museum.

USS Constitution top deck

The USS Constitution was dry docked during our visit for refurbishment. It being out of the water allowed us to see the copper plating on the bottom of the ship which is not normally visible. The ship, first launched in 1797, can still be deployed in times of conflict. Naval officers educate visitors about the history of the ship. We walked the deck of a ship that’s served our country for 200 years. The stories that ship holds are countless. Experiences like that are why we traipse thousands of miles around this country to not only tell our children about the history of this place we call home, but show them where the history happened.

Acorn Street Boston

From Faneuil Hall where people have met and debated issues for 275 years, to Old North Church where two lanterns were hung in 1775, to the graves of Benjamin Franklin’s parents, Boston is home to important pieces of our country’s history. If you have the means and love of travel, especially with children, make Boston a future destination. I hope to make a repeat visit in the future.

 


 
Take a Trip: Ben & Jerry’s Factory
By     |    Aug 9, 2017
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Take a Trip: Ben & Jerry’s Factory

During the initial planning stages for our epic road trip this summer, I made a list of all of the states we’d travel through and researched top destinations. The Ben & Jerry’s Factory continually popped up in my research as a fun family destination in Vermont, but it was more north than we planned to be in Vermont and seemed out of the way. We were making the trek to the Northeast to see first-hand where important beginnings of our... [Read More]

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Cuyahoga Valley: An Urban Park
By     |    Jul 20, 2017
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Cuyahoga Valley: An Urban Park

I had predisposed ideas about Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. I knew it was large with an extensive trail system, waterfalls and a covered bridge. What we found was the most urban national park we’ve visited. The park, our first major stop on our epic road trip, is not far from both Akron and Cleveland. It’s a refuge for animals and people alike in the bustling urban sprawl. We visited on a weekend, and the park was busy. The... [Read More]

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East Coast Road Trip Debriefing
By     |    Jul 18, 2017
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East Coast Road Trip Debriefing

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Fighting Through Travel Anxiety
By     |    Jun 16, 2017
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Fighting Through Travel Anxiety

I’m at the point in vacation planning where I think it’s best to cancel our plans. This happens every time we travel, whether we’ll be gone for five days or three weeks. I’m overwhelmed by the planning process and dreading the packing. My anxiety has me worrying about everything from flat tires to lost hotel reservations to vomiting children to terrorists and everything in between. I can’t even think about the crowds of people and lines we’ll encounter. We’ll stay... [Read More]

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Five Favorite Family Vacation Destinations
By     |    May 25, 2017
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Five Favorite Family Vacation Destinations

My list of places to vacation is extensive while the allotted vacation days are finite. I like picking the brains of fellow travelers for tips on destinations we have planned and will talk your ear off if you venture to ask for ideas of places to visit. This is the time of year I’m asked quite often for vacation ideas. Most of my suggestions are for outdoor lovers and those who don’t have a fortune to spend on vacation. We’ve... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Badlands National Park
By     |    Apr 3, 2017
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Take a Trip: Badlands National Park

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Joy in a Staycation
By     |    Mar 27, 2017
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Joy in a Staycation

My preference is to leave town whenever possible. I like to explore and discover new places. We’re on a staycation this spring break, and I was dreading it. I longed to spend our five school-free weekdays somewhere other than here. We’re stockpiling vacation days for an upcoming summer road trip, so home is where we are for the week. Technically we have small getaways planned for the weekends buffering spring break week and a small excursion mid-week. We’re only partially on... [Read More]

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Different Side of Las Vegas: Valley of Fire State Park
By     |    Feb 12, 2017
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Different Side of Las Vegas: Valley of Fire State Park

Quite a few people in our circle of friends will be spending Spring Break in Las Vegas. I’ve replied to a few inquiries about family-friendly ideas in Vegas on the cheap and outdoor activities that don’t include sitting poolside. We’ve been through Las Vegas numerous times one our way to and from other adventures like Disneyland, Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park. My go-to suggestion for people staying in Vegas who want an outdoor adventure is Valley... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Great Lakes Love
By     |    Dec 29, 2016
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Take a Trip: Great Lakes Love

For someone who has spent almost 40 years living near mountains, I sure do love the beach. I love the sound of the waves crashing. I love the feel of sand in my toes. I love the pure joy my kids have in the water. However, I don’t love what the salt does to skin or hair. I don’t love the smell of the saltwater-soaked towels or swimsuits. This summer I learned the perfect substitute for the ocean is the... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Discovering History
By     |    Dec 28, 2016
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Take a Trip: Discovering History

We’re only a few weeks into winter in Wyoming, and I’m over it. The mounds of snow followed by hurricane-strength winds, seriously 70+ miles per hour, wears me down and makes me irritable. I’m finishing 2016 with a few posts looking back on our summer adventures while I begin planning our 2017 vacations. For me, gifting our children with experiences is the most ideal way to teach them. We travel a lot by car because it allows us to see... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
By     |    Nov 10, 2016
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Take a Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

All outdoor enthusiasts or lovers of beautiful landscapes should place Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan on a must-see list of places to visit. The foliage-covered sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rocks rise above the aquamarine water of Lake Superior lending itself to picturesque views around every bend. I couldn’t get enough of the landscape. While the view was truly mesmerizing, our nemesis on the trip, stable flies, were in full-force. Stable flies are quite possibly the worst insect we’ve encountered... [Read More]

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