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More of the Best New England Summer Vacation Family Attractions

Brown's Old Fashion Ice Cream, York Beach, Cape Neddick, Maine

Brown's Ice Cream stand at Cape Neddick, Maine (photo by Eric H.)

From the editors of VisitingNewEngland.com, submitted information from readers and businesses, and press release

excerpts, here are some more family summer travel attractions (an expansion of our first family attractions page) that are sure to be a fun and integral part of your New England vacation:

Baseball in New England -- Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox, Major League Baseball) and McCoy Stadium (Pawtucket Red Sox, Triple A Minor League Baseball) provides loads of fun, character and atmosphere when it comes to "America's Favorite Pastime."

Ocean beaches In New England -- Ocean beaches are a way of life in New England. Whether the NewEngland rocky
coast of Maine or the warmer waters and sandier expanses of southern New England, we've chosen the best family beaches in New England.

Ice Cream Stands in New England -- Rural or suburban ice cream stands provide a wonderful respite as well as an appetite pleaser to New Englanders. From the beautiful farmland setting of Crescent Ridge Dairy in Sharon, Mass., to the Cape Cod ocean breeze at your doorstep at Four Seas in Centerville, we highly recommend you reading our top 10 New England ice cream stands article, as well as ice cream stands reader feedback.

Pizza in Massachusetts -- When pizza's great, it really great and when it's bad, it's still pretty good. Check out VisitingNewEngland's favorite Greek and Italian style pizza in Massachusetts.

Miniature Golf in Massachusetts -- Here are three miniature golf courses that score a hole in one.

 

Connecticut

Lake Compounce, Bristol, Conn. -- One of the older operating amusement parks in New England has a timeless quality, according to our colleagues who can't say enough good things about the 1911 carousel, roller coasters, ferris wheel, white water raft ride,"Circus World Kiddieland" and 20 other family theme park attractions, entertainment and special events (like haunted graveyard, a Halloween event). Lake Compounce also has a water park, including water slides, spray fountains, tube slides, a wave pool, and a 60-ft. New England Lighthouse! Lake Compounce, 822 Lake Avenue, Bristol, CT. Tel. 860-583-3300.

The Garbage Museum, Stratford, Conn. -- Here, you can meet Trash-O-Saurus -- a dinosaur made out of trash, as well as walking through a compost pile, mingle with compost worms and watch first-hand the sorting of recyclable items. The museum is located in Stratford and is brought to you by the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority., The CRRA Garbage Museum ,1410 Honeyspot Road Extension, Stratford, Conn. Tel.: (203) 381-9571

New England Carousel Museum, Bristol, Conn. -- With more than 300 antique carousels, this is one of the oldest and most complete collection of carousel museums in the United States. New England Carousel Museum 95 Riverside Avenue, Rt. 72, Bristol, Conn.,Tel.(860) 585-5411

Quassy Amusement Park, Middlebury, Conn. -- Thirty rides, miniature golf, a petting zoo, and lake swimming (and boating) on Lake Quassapaug are just a few of the highlights at an amusement park that gets rave reviews from a few people we know who know amusement parks. Quassy Amusement Park, 2132 Middlebury Rd., (Rt. 64) Middlebury, Conn. Tel. 1-800-FOR-PARK

 

Massachusetts

Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield -- Exhibits on the game of basketball and its finest players, movies and an interactive area which allows visitors to try scoring baskets at various heights are just a few of the highlights at this modern museum. The game of basketball was invented in 1891 in Springfield by Dr. James Nesmith; the museum would do him proud, according to friends of VisitingNewEngland.com who have spoken volumes about the educational fun at the Basketball Hall of Fame. Basketball Hall of Fame, 1150 Columbus Ave., Springfield, Mass.. Tel. (413) 781-6500.

Computer Museum, Boston -- History and technology update exhibits, a two-story walk-through computer, films, demonstrations, lectures and more make the Computer Museum a fascinating experience for elementary school students to senior citizens. It's interesting to see how the Computer Museum has changed through the years, as the computer medium has progressed seemingly every other day. Computer Museum, Tel. (617) 426-2800.

Museum of National Heritage, Lexington Spacious, modern-looking museum focuses on American history and culture with permanent and rotating exhibition including history on the Revolutionary War. What better place to have a museum like this than historic Lexington? Museum of National Heritage, 33 Marrett Rd, Lexington, MA, 781.861.6559

Six Flags New England, Agawam-- New England's largest amusement park with the, most sophisticated highest tech versions of amusement park rides, roller coasters and arcade games. Some people say if you can't get to Disneyworld, Six Flags New England is the next best thing (minus the Disney theme, of course). Six Flags New England, Routes 157 and 159, Agawam, MA. Tel. (413) 786-9300

South Shore Music Circus, Cohasset, Mass.All seats are within 50 feet of the stage at this tent-like concern summer series located in the pleasing seaside town of Cohasset, Mass.., 21 miles south of Boston. Well known musicians and comedians as well as children' shows make the South Shore Music Circus a traditional favorite. This summer's highlights include country star Trace Adkins, former American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, southern rock legend The Charlie Daniels Band, new wave icons the B52s, comedian Bill Cosby, the Boston Pops, The Beach Boys, soul star Aretha Franklin and for the kids, presentations of Snow White and Cinderella. South Shore Music Circus, Take Route 3 to exit 14, Route 228 north.
From Route 228 take Route 3A south to Sohier Street,.3/4 mile on the right. Cohasset, MA

USS Constitution, Boston, Mass. -- The oldest commissioned Navy ship in the world can be seen in a 20-minute tour. It's amazing to see the enormity of "Old Ironsides," which first launched in 1797 and never lost in its 40-plus battles. USS Constitution, Exit 28 follow signs from Sullivan Square, Charlestown, MA. Tel. (617) 426-1812.

The Cape Codder Resort, Hyannis, Mass. -- The Cape Codder features an indoor wave pool with two foot waves, dancing water fountains, waterfalls, soothing oversized whirlpool, saunas, and a state of the art fitness center as well as a full service spa offering a complete selection of services including massage, body wraps and treatments, manicures, waxing and more. Every room has Nintendo 64 and in room movies. The beautifully manicured courtyard offers outdoor dining, a clambake beach and pit area, volleyball and tennis courts. Enjoy Hearth N Kettle Restaurant and Tavern, a local favorite featuring renowned Cape Cod cooking, VJs Grille Room (awarded 4 diamonds By AAA, specializing in fine cuts of steak and native seafood. The Cape Codder is near ocean beaches and all that Cape Cod has to offer. Cape Codder Resort and Spa, Hyannis, Mass.

 

Maine

Camden Hills State Park -- Eight-hundred-foot high Mt. Battie affords amazing views of the Maine coast. This well-kept State Park is a pleasant place to picnic, hike or camp and is located in one of Maine's most beautiful coastal towns. Camden Hills State Park, Route 1, Camden, Maine. Tel. (207) 236-3109

Childrens' Museum of Maine -- Interactive family exhibits and exhibitions include a lobster boat, an interactive, Hannaford supermarket, a vet clinic, a fire truck, a farm, a soft gated play-and-learn area for toddlers, a car repair shop, a dress up theater, an outdoor shipyard and interactive science exhibits depicting the natural resources of the State of Maine. This is one of our favorite museums in all of New England. Plan to spend several hours here! Childrens' Museum of Maine, 142 Free Street Portland, ME 04101. Phone: (207) 828-1234

York's Wild Kingdom Zoo and Amusement Park , York, Maine One part zoo, one part amusement park makes for one of the biggest and most fun family experiences in New England. There's even unusual flourishes like a White Bengal tiger and a free roaming deer area. York Wild Kingdom is in the thick of York Beach, where you can add an ocean beach, interesting little shops, great seafood and a salt water taffy manufacturing restaurant (Goldenrod's) to add to your fun list. York's Wild Kingdom Zoo and Amusement Park, Route 1, York Beach, Maine, Tel. 207-363-4911 

 

New Hampshire

America's Stonehenge, Salem -- 4,000 year old megalithic site with stone buildings featuring chambers, stone walls and an astronomical calendar built by an ancient culture make this an exciting pilgrimage. America's Stonehenge also has a new visitors' center and gift shop. America's Stonehenge, 105 Haverhill Rd., Salem, NH, Tel. (603) 893-8300  

Children's Museum of Portsmouth -- The Childrens Museum of Portsmouth is one of the regions premier attractions for families with children of all ages. The museum offers a range of informal learning opportunities in the areas of science, art, music, math, and more. Most of the museums exhibits have been designed and created by the staff in conjunction with local artisans, and all are based on important developmental and educational principles. In addition to its on-site programming, The Childrens Museum also brings authentic museum experiences to children throughout New Hampshire via the award-winning Museum To You program, and currently provides after school learning activities in twelve 21st Century Learner sites in Nashua, Manchester, Winchester, and Hillsboro-Deering schools. Childrens Museum of Portsmouth, 280 Marcy Street, Portsmouth, NH, Tel. (603) 436-3853

Miller State Park, Peterborough -- What a view! Whether hiking or driving 1.3 miles of paved road to the 2,288 ft. Pack Monadnock summit, it's truly an elevated scenic delight for your picnic, or chance to see panoramic views of beautiful rural New Hampshire and its surrounding hills and mountains. Miller State Park, 4 miles east on Route 101, Peterborough, NH. Tel. (603) 924-3672

Mt. Washington Cog Railway, Bretton Woods -- This mountain railway offers amazing vistas en route to the summit of New England's highest peak at 6, 288 ft.! Open late April to early November. Museum, restaurant & gift shop. Mt. Washington Cog Railway, Rt. 302, Base Road, Bretton Woods, NH. Tel. (603) 278-5404 (800) 922-8825 (outside NH).

Ruggles Mine, Grafton, NH -- Ruggles Mine has been around for generations for those interested in mineral collecting permitted, including lots of mica. Additionally, the views are terrific and there is a gift shop, snack shop, museum and places to picnic. Ruggles Mine, Rte 4, Grafton, N.H. Tel. (603) 523-4275

Weirs Beach -- Honky tonk fun and Lake Winnipesaukee recreational opportunities highlight this popular New Hampshire summer destination, which includes swimming, boating, water skiing, sailing and the Surf Coaster water park. There's also a scenic railroad train ride that boards at Weirs Beach (or Meredith) with nice views of the Lake. Weirs Beach, five miles north of route 3, Weirs Beach, Lake Winnipesaukee, Laconia, N.H.

Water Country, Portsmouth, N.H. -- Friends tell us that during the most humid hot days in the area that Water Country -- New England's largest waterpark" -- is the place to go for the day. It does get a little expensive, but one or two trips a year is well worth the thrill of water motion. From beginner to "Not for faint of heart" water rides and slides to wave and kiddie pools, Water Country is a refreshing aquatic respite from the day. Water Country, 2300 Lafayette Road. Portsmouth, NH, 03801 (603) 427-1111

The Yum, Yum Shop, Wolfeboro, N.H. -- The Yum Yum Shop dining room, with its gingerbread man designed seats and tables, offers one of the most family fun -- and delicious -- dessert experiences in New England. Upon entering this delightful room overlooking the serene eastern shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, countless gingerbread men chairs wave at you (in a inanimate way, of course), enhanced by New England village green wall art and some pretty stained glass. There's a captain's ship wheel for the kids to play with and a very tall gingerbread man, almost as tall as the ceiling. The Yum Yum Shop Web Site states its offerings are "Just like...Grandma used to make!" This is a truly accurate statement as quick scan across the room makes one realize that several trips back to this landmark establishment are in order -- gingerbread cookies, countless other cookies, puff pastries, cakes, donuts, muffins, danishes, turnovers, breads, whoopie pies and more incredible baked goods have that profound effect. The Yum Yum Shop, Main St., Wolfeboro, N.H. Tel. (603) 569-1919

 

Rhode Island

The Cliff Walk, Newport -- The Cliff Walk is one of New England's great "strolls," with scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean, and some truly amazing homes, cottages and famous mansions along this four-sectioned, 1.3 mile hike. Cliff Walk, Newport, RI

Waterplace Park, Providence, RI -- Waterplace Park is a four-acre oasis in downtown Providence with a one acre pond (leading to three city rivers), cobblestone promenade, an amphitheater with events and entertainment, arched Venetian style bridges over the water and charming, authentic gondolas and water taxis to tour this great area. What really enhances Waterplace Park , however, is "Waterfire" described on the Waterfire Web Site as having "sparkling bonfires, the fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, the flickering firelight on the arched bridges, the silhouettes of the firetenders passing by the flames, the torch-lit vessels traveling down the river, and the enchanting music from across the world all engage the senses and emotions of those who stroll the paths and bridges of Waterplace Park." Waterplace Park, Providence, R.I.

Newport's historic mansion tour, Newport -- The architectural splendor of these oversized homes and their histories make for a fascinating tour, which includes the famous Breakers, Elms and Rosecliff estates. There are many more incredible mansions and homes in Newport, one of New England's most busy coastal seaside vacation cities. Newport Mansion Tour

Roger Williams Zoo, Providence -- More than 600 animals and a children's nature center highlight this famous destination generally regarded as the best and largest zoo in New England. Roger Williams Zoo,1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, R.I. Tel. 401-467-0150 Providence, RI

 

Vermont

Cabot Creamery Factory Tour -- The famous cheese company offers tours of its cheese making facility, information on the company's history and a chance to taste some of its cheeses. Cabot Creamery, 2878 Main Street, Cabot, VT 05647 1-800-837-4261

Smugglers' Notch Resort, Jeffersonville -- America's Family Resort" delivers fully on its message with swimming pools, tennis, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, a golf driving range and so much more. The cozy condos and panoramic mountain views make Smugglers' Notch one of New England's most beautiful locations, close to beautiful Stowe and its myriad shopping, dining and recreational attractions. Smugglers' Notch Resort, Jeffersonville, Vt.

Maple Grove Museum and Factory Tour -- The manufacturers of one of America's best loved maple syrup offer a tour of its two stories of the maple syrup making process, a video presentation and samples of this delicious, sweet Vermont delicacy. Maple Grove Museum and Factory Tour 1052 Portland St., St. Johnsbury, VT 05819 USA ยท 802.748.5141

More New England family attractions...


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