We’ve moved back to the States from two years abroad in Spain. Unsure of our next destination, we opted to spend the summer on the east coast with family.
My husband envisioned a quiet summer spent with the grandparents – the kids happily entertained. We’ve been together for 16 years. He should know better!
Our quiet summer turned into a crazy tour of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard (plus, a parents-only, 6-day trip to San Francisco). Based between New York City and Philadelphia, we traveled to Duck, North Carolina (future post to come), Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.
The only itinerary new to us was southern Maine. It turned out to be a great destination with kids. My aunt and uncle own Beech Hill Farm & Bison Ranch in North Waterford, Maine, which was our launching point for just short of a week.
The “town” of North Waterford, located in southern Maine has not a single store, restaurant or stop light. In the surrounding towns, as is the case with most of New England, however, we were able to find everything we needed plus some little luxuries, including a toy store, a wine shop, and a cafe.
New England has plenty of quaint, small towns that are worth a visit. Do a little pre-departure research and ask for advice from friendly locals. You’ll be strolling down “Main Street” like a resident and popping into the local wine shop like an old friend.
If you can find lodging on a farm, do so. Chances are there will be tractors to climb on, pets to tend to and gardens from which to pick fruits and veggies.
Attractions and Activities
There are berry farms and orchards all over New England. There is likely to be somewhere to pick fruit at any given time between June and November.
Visit a local farmers’ markets. Find the local library and check to see if they have story time for kids (this is a great chance for your kids to meet other kids). Check out a nearby lake and go for a boat ride or a swim.
Across the US and in many other countries, the buy-local movement is trending. People are following their dreams, hanging a sign and selling some really great, artisanal goods.
Visit those shops! Not only will you find some unique items but you’ll discover a human element and maybe a new knitting pattern, wine producer or clothing designer.
Food and Wine
There may not be any restaurants, cafes or wine shops in the town where you’re staying. Gasp! You won’t be left cooking dinner every night and drinking wine from the local grocery, though. There is sure to be a decent, maybe even great, place to eat (and pick up a few bottles) in another nearby town.
Ask for recommendations from locals. Cafe Nomad, in the nearby town, had recently started offering dinner on the weekend. We would not have known about this dining option had a town resident not mentioned it.
Go with the flow
Life in these small towns tends to be slower. Enjoy it! Adopt the pace as your own. Let your kids wander, explore, dilly-dally with no time constraint.
And, do the same yourself. If it rains, grab an umbrella and head outside. If it’s hot, take a dip in a nearby lake. Snow? Find a sled and a hill.
Have you been to any small towns in New England (or elsewhere)? Found any cool, local shops or restaurants? Met any locals with whom you’ve kept up? We’d love to hear about it in the comments! We are always looking for new places to check out.
* This post was also featured on Walking on Travels , where you can find more inspiring travel posts and tips.