Instead of letting your kids’ next school vacation zip by in a blur of sleeping, texting, gaming, and hanging with friends, why not do something as a family that they’ll never forget? New England is full of educational attractions for young folks that don’t cost megabucks. Here’s a sampling of ideas to get you started. (Check online to be sure a particular location is appropriate for your kids’ ages.)
The Undersea World
Despite our region’s fishing heritage, many kids have never seen a seal or a sole up close and personal. Two of the nation’s best aquariums are right here in the Northeast: Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn., and New England Aquarium in Boston. Whale-watching excursions also start in mid-spring (for day trips from Maine ports, click here.).
If you haven’t been to Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Mass., take this chance to see how folks lived here around 1800. Or give your kids a whole new perspective on Moby-Dick by visiting the old seafaring village and historic ships of Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Conn. In Fall River, Mass., Battleship Cove lets your fledgling John Paul Jones clamber through a battleship, submarine, and other real but retired vessels.
Arts and Sciences
Spark creative genius in your kids with a visit to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts ; the Boston Museum of Science ; the Harvard Museum of Natural History ; or the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium in Providence.
Hiking and Camping
Some New England standouts: Acadia National Park ; Mount Katahdin in Maine’s Baxter State Park ; and Monadnock State Park, Jaffrey, N.H. Or for a different – and awesome – look at nature, stroll with your children in a garden full of free-flying butterflies at the Butterfly Place in Westford, Mass.
Hands-on discovery and exploration features can turn even the most blasé kid into a curious participant. Among the many fine children’s museums in New England are those in Portland and Bangor, Maine ; Boston ; Dover , N.H. ; and Providence . In Worcester, Mass., the EcoTarium is dedicated to interactive exploration of natural and physical sciences and the New England environment.