Tuesday, April 14, 2015

East Coast Travels- We'd Love Your Help!

So next month we will be flying out to Boston to travel up and down the Northern part of the East Coast through the end of June, and we thought it would be fun to ask all of you what some of your favorite places are! Most of you probably know by now, but I was born and raised in New Jersey (until I was 13) and we still try to go back East every summer. Most of our family is out that way so we've been able to experience a lot of delicious food and visit cool spots over the years, but I it would be so great to hear your favorite places too!

I'll leave a list of some of our stops, and if you have any input on great places to play tourist, must-see spots, fun ideas for kids, or must-eat, local restaurants, I'd be forever grateful! I'll be posting photos throughout our entire trip on Instagram of course, and I'm looking forward sharing our trip with all of you!

Here's where we will be headed:

Boston, Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts
Rockport and Gloucester, Massachusetts
Portland, Maine
Wakefield, New Hampshire
Shelburne, Vermont
Burlington, Vermont
Northeast Kingdom, Vermont
Poughquag and Upstate New York
New York City
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
North Jersey
Seaside, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey

Can't wait to hear your recs! Thank you so much in advance. :)



  1. For Philly, Check out Nest at 13th and Locust. They offer day passes and it's a great place to let the kids run around and be kids! Smith Memorial Playground in Fairmount park is also amazing! Green Eggs has good food, and Lucky Strike is super fun and actually very kid friendly. Nomad Roman Pizza is so great too. Spruce St Harbor Park is really cool, opening for the summer. For Cape May, you have to go to the zoo! It's one of the nicest zoos I've ever seen, the animals seem so happy and free.

  2. Troy, NY is pretty awesome! And is a great stop in between Boston and Burlington! The Farmer's Market in May-August is the best in the Capital District, with plenty of small businesses and restaurants to visit.

  3. I didn't know you were born and raised in New Jersey!!!! I live in Jersey too :) I imagine those are the places you don't need recs for since you are from here haha I live next to Philly / an hour from Atlantic City! Ocean City, NJ is my very favorite beach town.

  4. Long time reader, first time to comment! I know it's farther from Portland, but Acadia National Park is up that way with some awesome hikes and beautiful rocky coastline. I'd also have to recommend Long Beach Island as my favorite NJ beach town (I live in Philly). The Franklin Institute is a fun kid friendly museum in Philly, as well as the Please Touch children's museum. More touristy things but fun nonetheless. Definitely make time for a meal at Reading Terminal Market, my favorite is DiNic's! Sounds like an awesome trip! I love living on the East Coast but really love the scenery of the Southwest as well. We're just lucky to live in such a beautiful country with such diversity in landscape!

  5. I was born and raised in NY, my mother is from NJ, I went to college in PA (and lived there for four years after) and now I live outside of Washington, DC. There's so much to do! So much!

    First off, for PA I would suggest checking this out for the kids: http://www.strasburgrailroad.com/train-schedule/events/day-out-with-thomas/ I'm not sure if your children are at all interested in Thomas or trains but it's a big hit for family and friends in that area. Jim Thorpe, PA is also a really beautiful spot (it's about 2 hours north of Philly--closer to Bethlehem and Allentown) but it has a lot of hiking and biking trails, water rafting, trains, and the town is super adorable.

    Also, outside of Philly is Hershey Park (a bit away but still) which is fun although the town doesn't smell like chocolate much anymore since they stopped roasting the cocoa beans on site. There's Gettysburg battlefield (which I loved as a kid and it helped me become a history nerd) and further north is Intercourse--there are a lot of Amish families that live there so it's quite the experience if you haven't any Amish in Arizona.

    Upstate NY, where I grew up, is spread out but beautiful. The Catskills is breathtaking in the fall but I certainly have a soft spot for the area in the summertime. There's Bethel, of course, where Woodstock was held. You can still visit the site and nearby there's a new performing arts center where they do a lot of shows. Woodstock (the town) is further north but is a cultural beauty. Super small, quaint, full of art and music, it's pretty sweet.

    If you head off into the woods, so to speak, there's the Blue Hole in Peekamoose. It's in the middle of no where, down a road that has no painted lines, and deep in the shade of the trees. It was a favorite spot to visit when I was a teenager and much cooler than the heat outside. Hippie's falls are near there too.

    Going East toward New Paltz, there's the Mohonk Mountain Resort (http://www.mohonk.com/) that place is super cool but what's even cooler is the Mohonk Preserve. It's so beautiful! I mean look at this: http://www.mohonk.com/

    I just love, love, love the areas and miss it so much. I can't wait to go back to NY to visit, hopefully soon!

    I went to Boston/Salem for a week during a visit with my friend who is a Boston native. Salem is just awesome to meander around and it's relatively small. Worth a day trip (we went there by train and still had time for running around Boston when we got back that evening). In Boston, most definitely hit up their Little Italy and just go to any Italian restaurant you spot, it's all delicious. Mike's Pastry is a must, it apparently has stiff competition with locals of whether that place or another is the best place to get cannoli. My Boston friends were fans of Mike's and so we went there and I definitely don't regret it.

    You can follow the Freedom Trail through Boston that will take you to all the exciting spots. Also, shell out the money for the Duck Tours. They're awesome. We had a lot of fun going on the tour and it was extremely informative. They're driven by comedians that make both good and bad jokes but they are very child-friendly. I would basically suggest duck tours in any city. They're awesome.

    Of course, I suggest making the trek south to DC as we have plenty of family friendly things down here. With the National Mall and all the (free) Smithsonian museums and the air and space museums (one on the mall, the other by Dulles Airport which you have to pay a parking fee for). I could go into great detail about DC and food options but since it's not on the list, I'll spare you.

    If you're at all interested in any of those places or want more details, you're more than welcome to hit me up (soonrememberedtales@gmail.com) and I'll give as much info as I can. :-)

  6. The crayola factory is in Philly (actually, as a Philly gal, I love all their museums.) The science museum has an amazing enttryway and the fountain/park between Love Park and the art museum is my favorite place to soak in a summer day. Also, right across the river is the Camden Aquarium. I highly recommend (though you MUST take the ferry and not drive over). As a Jersey Shore lover, on your way into Cape May make sure you stop at Lucy the Elephant. It is a photo staple. Also, rent the serry bikes, eat waffles and ice cream and go on a whale watching trip in Cape May!

    In NYC I highly recommend walking through Central Park. We stayed at a Pod hotel and the food was great as was the rooftop deck.

    In upstate NY stay one night on a finger lake! Kueka or Seneca. And when traveling into VT make sure to take the boat across. I love it there in the summer

    1. I would highly recommend the Finger Lakes region of New York as well. In fact, the view from our deck is a long stretch of Keuka Lake. There are a lot of wineries and breweries in the area, and Seneca Farms in Penn Yan serves the best homemade ice cream I've ever tasted. Ithaca and Watkins Glen have some amazing hiking spots too.

      If you do decide to visit the area, let me know. I'd love to give you an even longer list of my favorite places and spaces.


  7. I grew up in Maine and I think you'll love it! I wrote a guide for Conde Nast Traveler for Portland's restaurant scene -- http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2015-02-05/restaurant-guide-portland-maine-eventide-oyster-co
    But Map and Menu blog is another great bet for the restaurants up there. There are billions! Camden and Rockland are pretty sweet little towns as well! Enjoy your east coast travels!

  8. For slower paced portland, you can grab one of the ferries for a afternoon picnic cruise or head out to peaks island ($10ish) per person. On peaks theres a couple of small restaurants and you can rent bikes or a golf cart and explore the island. As for portland the first friday of the month is the art walk, there is live bands and its fun to walk around and look through the galleries. The best place to get doughnuts is the holy doughnut! If you head a bit north there is freeport, where theres llbean and the desert of maine. And then in yarmouth is the Eartha which is the largest globe in the world!

  9. Beckaklee from InstagramApril 14, 2015 at 12:12 PM

    Been following you for 2-3 years (that sounds super creepy eh lol), live in NH.

    Warren Falls in Warren VT are gorgeous, Google pix. Awesome swimming spot.

    The Wakefield Diner was decent, they have such a cute candy store.

  10. I grew up in Vermont!! My favorite places in shelburne are the shelburne museum and shelburne farms! The boys can milk cows there!! Also in burlingting church street is a must and the waterfront! When I was a kid we always rode the Ethan Allen ferry which could be fun since we don't have any in AZ! Also I've hiked mt. Mansfield a few times and it's a really fun hike! It's fairly steep and can be lengthy but doesn't have to be! I've seen a bunch of kids on there they love all the steps incorporated into the mountain! Although that isn't in shelburne or Burlington you should still try to go!

  11. If you are in NEK, VT, you should head over to Littleton, NH and visit Chutters. It has the worlds longest candy counter.

  12. I know that it is not on your itinerary, but you'll be super close to Montreal, Quebec. It is a super cool city with a lot of history and a tonne to see, do, and eat!

  13. I know that it is not on your itinerary, but you'll be super close to Montreal, Quebec. It is a super cool city with a lot of history and a tonne to see, do, and eat!

  14. My former curator is now the director at the Shelburne Museum. And I have several friends in Phill...too much to name. Enjoy!

  15. If you're near Syracuse, New York you have to try Dinosaur Barbeque, it's the best place there. And in New York City, Doughnut Plant is a MUST. They're amazing! Hope you guys have a great time!

  16. Hurray for coming to NH! I've been a longtime reader (since before you had kids!) :)

    Here is a link of the top 10 attractions in NH. They are all really great. (Castle in the Clouds is a very neat place!)


    Also Portsmouth is a very cool coastal town here in NH and it has a great downtown area with lots of shops and restaurants on the pier. Strawberry Banke is a neat historical attraction its a town set in the pioneer times.

    Good luck and safe travels!

  17. I lived in Portland, ME for two years and now in Salem, MA for about one year. Love both cities sooooo much.

    I recommend going to Fort Williams Park in South Portland/Cape Elizabeth. It has the "most photographed" lighthouse, a little beach and some fun paths to walk along. For food, I suggest the Thirsty Pig for sausage and beer and the Grill Room for dinner (known for their amazing steak).

    In Salem, the Peabody Essex Museum is an excellent art museum to bring kids, since they always have some fun activity for kids to participate in and make their own art. For unique tasty food, you should definitely do the Ugly Mug Diner for breakfast and hit up Opus for dinner. The Gulu Gulu Cafe is a great lunch spot.

    My husband really likes the Cape Ann Brewery up in Gloucester, MA. Have fun! -Justene (justenepresley@gmail.com)

  18. So much fun! If you're up in that area I wouldn't miss Portsmouth, NH - cutest little town you ever did see ;). And you have to plan on eating your way through Portland (split every meal into 2 so you can cover more ground!) - Duckfat is a favorite. Have a great time! http://6000milestohome.blogspot.com/


  19. In VT, def walk around church street in Burlington and for hiking I agree, Mt. Mansfield is great! Maybe a little much for young kids, Mt. Philo, closer to Shelburne, is easier and also very pretty.

  20. I fly into Worcester June 3rd. Hope that helps ;)

  21. For Portland eat at Central Provisions or Two Lights Lobster Shack!

  22. Aww snap! Jealous of this trip, you're hitting so many great NE spots!

    Salem, Massachusetts - The witch trial stuff is super cheesy, but I recommend the House of Seven Gables, more historical and interesting for adults and kids. The Peabody Essex Museum is a must-see. Pay the extra to see the Chinese House, it's worth it! Red's diner is a local favorite. If you have time, hop on over the bridge to Beverly and stroll down Cabot Street. There are usually free gallery shows to see at Montserrat College of Art (my alma mater) and then grab a coffee and a sandwich at Atomic Cafe (the best).

    Rockport and Gloucester, Massachusetts - Rockport is gorgeous in the summer but can get crazy. Grab an ice cream and stroll over to Motif #1, it's a famous landmark that is frequently painted by artists (and was also featured prominently in the film The Proposal, you know, if that's your thing). If the boys are into boats, check out the Essex Shipbuilding Museum - I used to teach there!, it's over in Essex, but it's a quick drive and on the way if you're going up 128. There's a working boatbuilder next door who builds large two-masted schooners. Another great spot near by is the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary - tons of easy hiking trails, and if you bring some birdfood (I think you can buy it there if I remember correctly), birds will come and land on your finger. It's pretty magical and makes for some excellent 'Snow White'-esque photos.

    Portland, Maine - Portland is the best!!! If you're driving up, you might want to also consider stopping in Portsmouth, NH. Another gorgeous sea-side city that is also home to The Friendly Toast, a really wonderful lunch spot. A few spots for food in Portland: Silly's Diner (funny name, amazing food and fun stuff for the boys to look at), Becky's Diner (a local's favorite), and if you're into Italian sandwiches, there's no other place than Amato's (any Amato's - it's a local chain but really good). Obviously I'm motivated by food. Grab some sandwiches and take the ferry out onto Casco Bay to Peak's island for a beach day (locals will usually be more than willing to give you directions or recommendations). If you're looking for some non-island beach time, there are always surfers to watch at Higgin's Beach and Pine Point is a nice big one with restrooms and parking. Ferry Beach is also full of hermit crabs (kids like hermit crabs, right?).

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - I love walking around Old City and I've heard that the Please Touch Museum is great for kids. For food, we love Honey's Sit and Eat for breakfast or lunch (both locations are great), and there's always Shake Shack, haha.

    Hope you have an incredible trip!!

  23. For NYC, check out the carousel at Chelsea Piers (also a fun park for them), then walk down the Hudson River promenade to Battery Park City and Pier 25 for more playgrounds and mini-golf (also gorgeous views and Blue Marble ice cream) plus a skate park.
    On the east side, you can take NY Waterway ferry over to Brooklyn Bridge Park for more fun and a gorgeous view of the city.
    Central Park boat basin is fun to rent a remote-controlled boat and get a hot pretzel while you wait. From there you can walk to the Central Park zoo and visit the ever-popular and hilarious sea lions.
    Finally, for adventurous little eaters, walk through Chinatown and pick up some dumplings, and be sure to visit Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (flag has a big dragon with an ice cream cone) for amazing flavors you won't find in your local freezer section, like black sesame, almond cookie, ginger, and more.

  24. I'm originally from Massachusetts, and it's cool you'll be going to my old New England stomping grounds! In Boston, you have to go to Mike's Pastry, and do the Duck Tours. The Boston Commons is a great area, with lots to do (it's the home of the story, Make Way for Ducklings). I always enjoy the Boston Aquarium, and Fanueil Hall is great place to soak up some history.
    Salem, MA is near the beautiful Walden Pond (about 25 mins), and it so picturesque and calming (home of Ralph Waldo Emerson). I highly recommend the Lexington/Concord area where Walden Pond is located. To me, it's quintessential New England.
    Rockport and Gloucester are beautiful seaside towns. I remember the seafood there is outstanding!
    While in Shelburne, please visit the Shelburne Falls Bridge of Flowers. Very pretty!
    I've only been to NYC a couple of times (touristy stuff), but if you want some great recommendations, you should check out this blog: http://lovetaza.com/. They live there and have the inside scoop! They could probably hook you up.
    While in Philly, my kids enjoyed the Please Touch Museum, and my mom and I enjoyed the incredible food at the Reading Terminal Market. You also need to visit the "Love" sign, just to say you've been there (http://www.visitphilly.com/music-art/philadelphia/love-statue/). ;^J Seeing the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall was pretty cool, too. On the Jersey side of the river (across from Philly), the Camden Aquarium was very enjoyable. Not as good as Boston Aquarium in my opinion, but I might be biased. :^) Have a great time in your adventures!

  25. Lobster Shanty in Salem offers a dish I still dream about (honeymooned there 3 years ago) called Fisherman's Stew. It is marvelous. They also have a lobster martini if that's the kind of thing you're into.

    Second Mike's in Boston for cannoli galore.

  26. I second Shelburne Farms! The children's farmyard is great... the tractor ride to the farm from the welcome center is a thrill in itself, and then once you get there there are a bunch of animals running around, beautiful hiking trails, cheese making...All that of vermonty stuff. In Burlington you of course have to do Church Street. Also, Maglianero on Maple street (a block up from the waterfront, get a Maple Creemee at the Burlington Bay Market while you're down there) has the best coffee. For hiking, I'd do Camel's Hump over Mansfield, but I'm biased (because I grew up 10 minutes from the Hump). I agree that Philo is the best choice for kiddos, though... Camel's Hump and Mansfield both have steep sections. God I miss VT, have so much fun!

  27. Philly here, I second Smith Playground, Spruce st harbour & Please Touch museum.

  28. I loved visiting the Ben and Jerry's factory tour in Vermont. You get free samples at the end of the tour. :P

  29. I'm from Portsmouth, NH. Now I'm living right outside Providence, RI. I also agree with stopping in Portsmouth, NH! It's only about 50 minutes south of Portland, and easy to get from Portsmouth to Portland. Portsmouth is the cutest little town, with lots of adorable shops, brick buildings, tugboats in the harbor, etc. I also went to college in Beverly, right between Gloucester, and Salem, so I will say that that whole "Northshore" area is also just gorgeous. Then my brother went to school in Burlington, VT. I can't even tell you how I love it there. From NH its the most beautiful drive (especially in the fall with the foliage). Oh my, I am starting to becoming super jealous of this trip you're about to have! I would SO love to bump into you on this adventure!! Boston is also an hour away from where I'm living now. I realize I didn't give you any recommendations, but hey, just wanted to let you know that you're in for an amazing trip!

  30. I always forget to think of things from a mothers' standpoint, but some of my favorite places in Philadelphia these days are Good Karma Cafe for a great cup of chai, Tria for delicious wine and cheese, Capogiro for gelato, Scoop De Ville for icecream, Pop Shop for popsicles, and Pamcakes for the best buttercream frosting on cupcakes I've ever had. And if you're looking for a good beer I'd recommend Dock Street Brewery or Frankford Hall, both great experiences. I'm a food girl, clearly. I'm sure there are other things to do, I'm just not quite sure what they are :). Oh, and as somebody who grew up in Connecticut, solid choice on skipping it, there's not too much there that you can't get anywhere else. Except for maybe some damn good pizza in New Haven, followed by some Italian Ice.

  31. New Harmony for delicious vegetarian food in Philly :)

  32. Sounds like a fun trip, and yay for visiting MA (my home!). I'll second some things a few other commenters have said, and add some more.

    For Boston, definitely take a stroll through Boston Commons. If your boys are familiar with the story Make Way for Ducklings, they'll probably really like seeing the statues. The Freedom Trail is also a nice walk - it gets lengthy, but you can start in the Commons and stop wherever. The stop at the cemetery is my favorite (and so historic!).

    I'd also highly recommend checking out Lexington/Concord if you have the time - it's about 20 minutes north of Boston and full of historic sites - and my favorite bike path. ;) Concord center has really quaint shops and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is right nearby. You can also tour the Louisa May Alcott and Emerson homes as well, and of course Walden Pond. This whole area is so lovely and definitely a nice representation of New England - I live nearby and never grow tired of it. And bonus, my favorite ice cream place (Bedford Farms) is right next door in Bedford on Rt. 4. So good!

    And then for the North Shore - another of my favorite areas (I went to college up here!). For Beverly, I'd also second the stop at the Atomic Cafe for a sandwich and coffee. I'd also highly recommend Nick's Roast Beef, which is fantastic. There are some great museums up here too, but The House of the Seven Gables in Salem is one of my favorites - historic and super interesting. I think you'll enjoy just walking around both downtown Salem and Beverly, too.

    Driving up to Rockport/Gloucester, I'd recommend getting off 128 and taking the scenic route. You can drive through neighboring towns with views of the water on Rt. 127, and stop at Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea. It's so lovely, and one of the prettiest beaches in the area (this small town is awesome too). From there you can easily make your way up to Rockport, which is another small area, but so nice - the kind of place you'll just want to meander through to check out the shops and views. There's a little public footpath I love that brings you to a spot overlooking the town and ocean called The Headlands: from Downton Rockport, just walk down 127 to Atlantic Ave. and you'll see a little path through the woods that will bring you to a rocky overlook with benches. It's a perfect spot. Hope you guys have an awesome trip - I'm looking forward to following along on Instagram! And feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions at all about the area. I'd be happy to help out. :)

  33. I'm from Central Jersey, but I spent a lot of time up in Hackensack and Bloomfield -- When you're in North Jersey, you've got to check out Senorita's Mexican Grill in Bloomfield (chipotle wings, pork tamales and arroz con pollo were my go-to dishes), White Manna in Hackensack (classic burgers and fries), Hank's Franks in Lodi (chili dogs and chocolate egg creams should not be missed!) and Chit Chat Diner, also in Hackensack. I've heard that Chit Chat has changed its (seriously!) extensive menu over the last year or so, but I -love- everything on the brunch menu and always ordered the Caffe Sokolata (hot espresso mixed with Nutella and frothed milk and topped with two toasted marshmallows)! Safe travels!

  34. This makes me happy! I'm a Jersey girl down to my core but I made the move to North Carolina this past summer and I miss some Jersey things. So in Cape May--the zoo is free and so much fun and it's right by the beach which is great! Also while you're there you can go see the lighthouse. A favorite place to eat is The Washington Inn--great food. I'm from a little while north of Cape May; a little town on Long Beach Island. If you need more suggestions (but it doesn't seem like it with all these comments), please let me know! I'll do my best to be helpful :)

  35. How exciting! I live in Beverly, the next town over from Salem and have little ones myself. Downtown Beverly has really undergone a huge face lift. We have a ton of fun parks as well, Lynch Park is a great spot to grab a lobster roll and have a picnic. There is a rose garden, splash pad, beach, and playground. It's my favorite place to take our kids. I know Henry likes to skate and there is a great skate park on Park Street as well. When you head over to Salem, Flying Saucer is a fun pizza place to take the kids it has a sci fi theme that my five year old son loves and great pizza! So many great hiking areas around here, too. One of my favorite is in Rockport, Halibut Point State Park. So beautiful to hike along the quarries and then the ocean. It's beautiful. Coolidge Corner in Magnolia is breathtaking as well and has an enormous field for the kiddos to run and play while you and the mister relax on the water. Safe travels and hope you love our little hometown! :)

  36. Definitely check out long wood gardens right outside of Philly in Kennet Square !! It's my fav and so gorgeous this time of year !

  37. Poughquag?! What is the special reason for stopping here? ;) Barton Orchards??

    I'd go to Poughkeepsie to the Walkway, some gorgeous views over the Hudson. Maybe up to the CIA to stop in at the Apple Pie Bakery if you don't have time for a restaurant. Or in Poughkeepsie, the Millhouse Brewing Co is SO good!


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