Ah, the summer family road trip, motoring forth for one mile, or two, before the primal chorus rises from the squirmers in the back seat: “Are we there yet?’’
Here are 10 kid-friendly destinations around New England that provide everything from enlightenment to exercise and are worth the wait.
Indoor imagination The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
enjoys a larger home than the cozy house it once occupied in Portsmouth, and with it comes room for kids to build flying machines, study a river’s story, measure brain waves, and more. Open seven days a week in summer. Highlights include mini-camps, a summer fun week in July, and a science week in August. 6 Washington St., Dover, N.H., 603-742-2002, www.childrens-museum.org
Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art
features works made by adults, but special programs and the Poss Family Mediatheque inform and inspire children to get into the act. On the last Saturday of each month, free Play Dates provide themes for creativity. July 25: “Your Body and Art’’ offers dance, video, and songs from around the globe. Aug. 29: “By the Sea’’ features outdoor music and hand-printing following the ocean’s movement. 100 Northern Ave., 617-478-3100, www.ica boston.org
The days of pirates, it turns out, may not be so distant. But from Pickering Wharf Marina in Sa lem, a replica of the schooner Fame
, among the first American privateers during the War of 1812, sails several times a day to give families a time-worn tour of coastal adventure. Hope for steady wind as the three sails fill. Pickering Wharf Marina, Salem, 978-729-7600, www.schoonerfame.com
, Adults $25, $15 for children under 13.
A good catch
Get a different taste of the coastline by climbing aboard a working lobster boat
for a trip to check the traps. In a two-hour tour from Millbridge Marina, a bit down east from Bar Harbor, Captain Jamie Robertson will work away with families aboard. You never know what will turn up: One 8-year-old boy nicknamed an 18-pound lobster Frankenstein. Robertson Sea Tours, 207-483-6110, www.robertsonseatours.com
, adults $50, children $30.
Interested in other animals? Giant anteaters, snow leopards, and red wolves wait at Roger Williams Park Zoo
in Providence. The zoo has exhibits featuring flora and fauna from Africa, the Americas, and Australasia, and a temporary exhibit celebrates hundreds of butterflies. They’ll flutter away Sept. 7. 1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, 401-785-3510, www.rogerwilliamsparkzoo.org
, adults $12, children $6.
Once upon a time . . .
Take a turn in Alice’s teacups or whirl in a whale at Story Land
, the early childhood mecca nestled in the White Mountains. In the fairy tale land where things are upside down and 4-year-olds reign supreme, take a break in playgrounds, chill with storybook characters, or sit ringside at the circus. The show, it seems, never ends. Story Land, Route 16, Glen, N.H., 603-383-4186, www.storylandnh.com
, ages 3 and up $25.
Arms in the air
If you like an adrenaline rush, or have older kids who do, then head to Lake Compounce Family Theme Park
, an old-school amusement park that is home to roller coasters called “Thunder N’ Lightning,’’ “Boulder Dash,’’ and “The Wildcat.’’ If things get hot, you can float along the gentle river of Lazy Bay, or ride a tube into the lake. Make sure to hit the rides before stopping for cotton candy. 822 Lake Ave., Bristol, Conn., 860-583-3300, www.lakecompounce.com
Out to the ball game
Red Sox hopefuls hope for their best all summer long at Hadlock Field, home to the Portland Sea Dogs
. Tickets down low cost $9, and home and visiting players linger by the railings for autographs before the first pitch. Not sold? Tuesday is Justin Masterson Bobblehead Night. Hadlock Field, Route 1, Portland, 800-936-3647, www.portland.seadogs.milb.com
Oh, the places you’ll go
If your youngster is not yet game for the Presidential Range, the tree-shrouded Mount Willard Trail
delivers big rewards after a mile-and-a-half of hiking. A drop-away view of Crawford Notch provides a long glimpse of what the White Mountains offer, and plenty of terrain to set sights for another day. The trail gains 900 feet in elevation. Plan on three hours for a leisurely round trip. Trailhead behind Crawford Depot Information Center, Route 302, Crawford Notch, N.H., www.outdoors.org/recreation/tripplanner/ideas/mt-willard.cfm
Kid, you’ll move mountains
If you’re ready for a step up, then head to the western edge of New Hampshire and climb Mount Moosilauke
, where views carry into Vermont’s Green Mountains. The hike (8 miles round trip) opens to a vast view of northern New England, and the bald summit is a powerful place for a family to linger on a fine day. Multiple trailheads, White Mountain National Forest, www.hikethewhites.com/moosi
Tom Haines can be reached at email@example.com.
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