Before kids, my husband and I were adventurous: We had both travelled the world and managed to tick off many of those sights on the ubiquitous bucket lists. We travelled by plane, train, car, automobile, rickshaw. But when kids came along, we needed holidays where we all got a bit of respite: Good childcare, food prepared for us and on-our-doorstep facilities.
However, now they are older (6 and 8) we yearned to go back to our adventurous ways. As a family, we talked about where we would like to go and see, and high on our list for all of us was The East Coast of America. Unbelievably, my husband and I had never been to The States and the children really wanted to go to New York and see this place that featured in so many movies.
So my brain got whirring. When I travelled in my twenties, I used Trailfinders to help me create an itinerary. Could they do a similar job now I was travelling as a family as oppose to as a singleton? Indeed they could.
As soon as I called up, there was a wonderfully helpful person on the other end of the line. Depending on where you travel, you will be matched with a consultant who has knowledge of that part of the world. What was even more pleasantly surprising is how much knowledge they had about travelling with children, and ensuring our journey and holiday was as smooth as possible. We talked through what we wanted to do, and we settled upon an itinerary flying into Boston, going out to Cape Cod, then down to New York City and flying home.
We flew from LHR out to Boston with Delta Airlines. Trailfinders booked us with 2 rows of 2 seats, which is ideal: One child each! They also ensured we had kids meals booked (which unfortunately didn’t materialize on our journey home – my only flaw with Delta). The seats are comfy enough for economy with good legroom. The children loved the on demand entertainment and games. With great Disney films on tap, they were more than occupied for the 7 hour journey.
First stop: Boston! We were booked into the Hilton in Back Bay. Back Bay is quite a chi chi area, with fabulous shops and restaurants so this was a great with kids. We found the hotel very comfortable, with a good sized room. The hotel boasted a pool too, which was great for the early starts (jetlag!) and chilling out when we got back.
Boston is easily walkable – with lots to discover with the kids. The city teems with history of the Pilgrim Fathers, and the Freedom trail is easy to follow. A highlight for the children, was definitely our visit to The Boston Children’s Museum. The museum is completely child centered with lots of play and hands on activity that encouraged the children to explore geography, history, and science. Well worth a trip. Alongside the sights and museums, we had fabulous autumnal walks through Boston Common and along the Esplanade.
However, the top trip in Boston was hands down – Whale watching! We took a boat from the harbor with Boston Harbor Cruises, next door to the Aquarium. As we sailed out of Boston on a clear, sunny day, I had a feeling we were in for a treat.
The whale watching season is nearing the end in October, but this worked in our favour as whales are beginning their journey south to warmer waters. We saw 7 different hump back whales, who all gave us a fantastic show. The kids experienced whales blowing their spouts, and best of all giving us a fantastic show of their flukes. It was truly remarkable, and thrilling that we could give our family such an opportunity.
After three nights in Boston, we collected our hire car from Alamo – a Chrysler, and headed out to Cape Cod for a couple of days of r’n’r. Here, we stayed in Hyannis in the Cape Codder Resort. Although out of season and quiet, the resort was great for the family – we enjoyed the outdoor hot tub and the indoor pool with waves and slides was great for the kids,
Cape Cod was all we could have imagined: Wild, rugged, windswept and beautiful. The long beaches and endless skies made perfect settings for sunsets. Best of all was heading down to Lifeguard beach and seeing the dozens of seals swimming in the sea just metres from where we standing on the beach.
Also, The Cape was a fantastic place to witness the incredible New England autumnal trees. The Old Kings Highway, route 6a, provided us with not only beautiful autumnal foliage, but also magnificent vistas across the salt marshes alongside the lighthouses and the archetypal New England shutter board architecture.
Then, time for the big apple! We drove down, it took us 5 hours approximately, The bubble of excitement rose in all of us, as out of the foggy afternoon we saw the sky scrapers of NYC appearing. Although, driving through Manhattan was somewhat hairy (!) Trailfinders had arranged our drop off point a couple of blocks from our hotel, so it was as easy as possible.
We stayed in The Times Square, Westin. Although, we were staying in an immensely busy, touristy part of town (it reminded me of Oxford Circus), the hotel was perfect for a family. Our room had 2 comfy double beds, and a bathroom with a tub. Best of all, we were up on the 26th floor and the views across Manhattan to the Hudson were stunning. We were also in a prime position for the awesome sunsets.
We hit New York on Halloween night – the city was in full party mode with everyone dressed up. We took the kids to trick or treat in Greenwich, so we could then stand and watch the infamous Halloween Parade. It was wild, wacky, entertaining and colourful. If you find yourself in New York on Halloween, make this parade a must do.
Then to sight see: We packed as much in as we could and little legs would allow. They particularly loved seeing all the things they’d seen in the movies: The Rockefeller Centre, Grand Central Station (remember Madagascar?!) and FAO Schwartz and their BIG piano, proved a massive hit!
But we all loved park life. We barely covered any of it, yet what we saw and did there is still lengthy: The Alice in Wonderland statues, the boating pond (where we sailed a remote control boat), the arch, the ice rink and so it goes on … It is a perfect place for families, and also a nice respite from the busy Manhattan streets. We were also treated to the NYC Marathon runners on the Sunday – so we really lucked on events while we were there!
On the Saturday, we took the ferry out to Staten Island so we could see the Statue of Liberty. This is a great, free way to see the harbour, the city scape behind as well as the statue as well. The area around harbour is great too, you can easily while away some time sitting on the chairs taking in the view, the old clippers and people watching. Not far from here, is also the Twin Towers memorial site, and the Freedom Tower. Although we didn’t visit the site, we did tell the children about 9/11 and how is has shaped modern day history.
The afternoon was spent idling along the High Line. The former railroad has been turned into an elevated park. It really is inspired, and to see this abandoned railroad turned into something the city can enjoy is amazing.
That evening we decided to ascend The Empire State Building. We went up at about 930 /10, which turned out to be great as the queues were really not bad at all. The night was clear, so the view from the top was nothing more than spectacular. This was a real high light of my trip and an absolute must do for any NYC visitor (or resident)
Flying back, was easy too. The subway / train out to JFK is simple and cheap. We boarded the redeye back to LHR with our memories of an awesome trip. We all loved it, and it really was a holiday with something for all of us. It was an adventure, we explored, we experienced, we laughed, we learnt. And we did it all together as a family.
Now, where to go next …?