Bar Harbor, Maine
This is how we spent 10 days on tha East Siiiide!! We took this trip in late May/early June so there were advantages and disadvantages to this time of year. Downside: colder weather – like jackets, sweatshirts and hats because it is cold and windy. We are from Nashville, and cold is relative, but for early June – a sweatshirt was a bit of a surprise to all of us and we were definitely ill prepared. Upside: No tourists! This meant that we really got the run of most places because we were before peak season. This also meant that a few things were not running full schedules so we had to plan accordingly. This includes whale watching – it’s not running that early in June.
From Nashville we flew to Bar Harbor Maine! Highlight of this travel day was definitely the TINY plane we took from Boston to Bar Harbor, ME. There were only 8 seats total and we could reach out and slap the captain/control panels! It made our travel day feel truly adventurous on Cape Air. The only bummer was Sam had to sit alone because of the weight distribution requirements. She was not a fan – nor were her ears. Nothing a little Bubble Yum and a nap couldn’t cure.
We landed in the Bar Harbor airport that is roughly the size of a McDonalds play place:) We pre-paid our car rental from Costco because Costco travel should be used whenever humanly possible.
We drove about 20 minutes to the beautiful Harborside Hotel. I picked this because it was RIGHT on the harbor with great views (photo from our balcony ->) and an unbeatable downtown Bar Harbor location. Lot’s of great B & B’s in the area, but with 2 kids under 8, they just aren’t fit with the smaller spaces and noise level expectations. (see days 6-8 in Nantucket for more on this!) I booked this through the hotel’s website and got a good deal because it was late May – around $190/night. They’ll ask “harbor or sea view” – the picture here was our harbor view and I thought it was awesome.
We got a recommendation for a nearby restaurant from the front desk and we headed to get our lobster and crab fix about 30 yards from the hotel at The Lobster Pound. We found out later that the hotel owned the restaurant so it felt a little slimy and I always hate finding that out on my own. However, the food was good and the views of the harbor were fantastic! Best part – the waiter was so kid-friendly. He really went the extra mile and took us out on the pier to pick our lobsters, explaining all the neat things about the process of catching and cooking them, and then letting the kids each hold them. The service was fantastic and so were the views. Food was a little pricy but the lobster experience made up for it.
In the summer this place would have been slammed. So while it was too chilly to sit outside, we got fast/quiet/personal service. Highs and lows of the travel seasons. Split the food and eat outside, if possible.
We woke up and ate breakfast at the hotel. Not a great place for kids and a bit pricey but we had to try it. Beautiful views and the excitement of lobstering made it all ok. We booked our lobstering boat through LuLu Lobster Boat Rides. I was so excited for this and it ended up being my favorite thing from our 10 day trip!! The lobstering industry is so interesting and the animals themselves are fascinating. We got to pull up traps, set traps, hold tons of lobster, see sea lions, and we FROZE our a$$es off. Paul was wearing Chacos and was almost in tears. I ended up giving him my socks, haha! I really loved the knowledge level of the guide and fisherman and I also appreciated the fact that she wore a microphone. This was not cheesy, just super informative but not over the kids heads. There were about 30 other people on the boat with us and I think that was pretty standard. Most companies are comparable but I really enjoyed LuLu. DO NOT miss this, in any form, in Bar Harbor.
We strolled around the quaint downtown and met Paul’s bro and his girlfriend for dinner at Galyns. It was pricey and a little too fancy for the kids but it was YUM! I would HIGHLY recommend this as a “treat yo’self” night but not a go-to for little ones. How fun to hook up with family so far from both of our homes on the same random night?! xo
Back to the hotel for some hot tubbin’, elevator button pushin’ and shut eye.
Instead of the hotel breakfast, we tried a little place downtown, about 4 blocks away from our hotel, called the Side Street Cafe. This was D-LISH, outdoor seating available , and was really reasonably priced. We checked out of our hotel and hopped in our car for the 10 minute drive to Acadia National Park for the day. It’s a BIG park so we drove straight to the guide’s office to figure out the best way to see it in 5 hours. We ended up stopping at 2 different places: one for beach fun and the other for a 5 mile hike (round trip) with beautiful views.
We were lucky to have a sunny day so the kids stripped down to their underwear. We didn’t pack snacks and I’m wishing we thought that through. It makes sense to go to the park for full days as you have to get in your car and pay to enter. Don’t do a half day and then another half day, if you’re thinking “I’ll just run up there”. It’s too much of an undertaking to figure out the map, park, etc.
Lots of people recommend “Beehive Hike” as a fun path. NOT WITH LITTLE KIDS. Too steep. No way.
We left Acadia and headed for Boston. The 4 1/2 hour trip was sunny and the coastal drive leaving Bar Harbor was beautiful. We stopped in Kennebunkport, ME just to check it out and stretch our legs. It was a little off the beaten path but it was fun to walk downtown and get out of the car. We could have stopped in Portland, ME but we just wanted to make it quick without getting overwhelmed with feeling like we were missing cool stuff.
We were too late to return our rental car and the drop off location was closed so we headed straight to DoubleTree by Hilton for our free warm cookies in downtown Boston. It was a great location with a Panera a block away for breakfast.
We woke up ready to tour Fenway Park. It was a must see for the boys but I ended up thinking it was pretty cool too. You get to walk all over the park and it’s a great length for kids attention span because they keep it moving. There’s a tour that starts at the top of every hour so you can plan around this easily.
A short 6 block walk from Fenway is a trio of small, affordable, and delicious restaurants that are must trys! It was hard to pick amongst Thai, Neighborhoods Coffee & Crepes, and mexican but there is something for everyone, side-by-side on Peterborough Street and we all got what we wanted but ate outside together.
After lunch, we took an Uber to the USS Constitution shipyard. How FUN! Everyone was dressed in colonial garb and it was really informative and interactive. Max is a history buff so he was really loving it. We climbed all over the ship and this is a really easy thing to squeeze in if you have an hour or 90 minutes. The museum is great too but the ship itself is really all we had bandwidth for.
Dinner was with friends at the delicious Orinoco, an amazing and authentic latin joint, after apps at their lovely home, and then a romp in the park with the rugrats. Loved being able to our friends in their natural habitat;)
Breakfast at a fun diner with Aunt Zibby and then we headed to take the obligatory cheese-ball tourist trap: The Duck Tour. Who cares. We got a lot of great history, covered some good ground, and of course both kids got to be captains in the river! Such a great kid activity and a nice seated and thorough tour. If you reserve online and book the first trip of the day you get a great discount.
We took an Uber to Harvard Square where we stopped by the Curious George shop – we’re big fans. We then ate on the sunny patio at Russell House. The food was tied for my favorite with the cuban from day 5. This was conveniently on the square, where we met up for the Harvard walking tour. Led by students, this is a really fun way to see Harvard. We heard about famous alums and the kids got to ask questions about anything they wanted because it was kept to around 10 people per tour.
We grabbed dinner “to go” and ate in bed and binge watched The Disney Channel, including junk food from the lobby!! If not on vacation, then when?
We had a noon train to Nantucket but we wanted to get a fun activity in before we got on the bus so we headed to the Boston Tea Party Museum but they only do specific tours at certain times. I was bummed about this because it looks awesome so add it to your trip but plan accordingly – you can’t just go in like most museums. Luckily juuust next door was the Boston Children’s Museum and we had an hour to run around crazy. We could have stayed a little bit longer but 1 hour was just about right. We headed to the train station and boarded a brand new coach for a 90 minute ride to the port of Hyannis.
I bought these bus tickets ahead of time but I didn’t need to. There were plenty of spots on the bus and lots of choices of departure times to the port. Don’t balk at a bus ride! The coach was brand new with great wifi and a nice bathroom.
DAY 6 (continued)
We jumped from the bus to our ferry to Nantucket via Hy-Line Ferries Foggy but cool views and some good card game time in on our way to the island. This ferry company also goes to Martha’s Vineyard and I spent a lot of time deciding between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Ultimately, the only tie breaker was that Nantucket had an airport to get us to NYC for half the cost and half the time compared to Martha’s.
We hopped off the ferry and onto the island – insert CHARM! Our B&B The Brass Lantern Inn was a quick 3 minute walk from the port. We put our stuff in our room and Sam fell in love with the place.
We got great recommendations from the Brass Lantern for things to do and places to eat, one of which we tried for dinner: Cisco Brewery. It’s not a restaurant per se but there are food trucks, live music, oyster bar, picnic tables, and wine tasting. It’s a little off the beaten path but the vibe is so easy going, dogs everywhere, and lots of food to pick at. There’s a free shuttle on the island that runs from Cisco to the Visitor’s Center downtown on Federal Street.
Our first night at the B&B was a little nerve-racking – for me. The kids and Paul, not so much. They were wired and loud and jumping around and the floors were 100 years old and the walls were paper thin. I can imagine how annoyed our neighbors were and I couldn’t relax. If Paul took a shot for every “Shhhh” and “quiet” I said – he’d no longer be with us – let’s just say that.
The Brass Lantern breakfast was a full spread and it was delicious – fresh baked croissants and scones from a local bakery in an adorable dining room.
Right around the corner from our B&B was the Historic Whaling Museum. It came highly recommended but I wasn’t understanding why…until I went. SO cool. Scrimshaw, antique oil presses, harpoons, life-size whale replicas, and just a well-done museum overall. It is THE thing to do – I totally got the hype. It will only take about an hour to do the full museum.
That afternoon we took a long chilly walk to the Brant Point lighthouse and we had to stop in a shop and buy a hat for Sam because we were freezing. On our walk home, we were starved and stopped at the first restaurant we found.
We shopped around a bit and wandered the streets after a rest at our hotel and landed on a small sushi joint called Sushi by Yoshi for dinner that was really cheap but delicious and fast. It is BYOB and because we were off peak – we were seated immediately. The service was fantastic and they had great choices for kids. Highly recommend.
Last day in Nantucket so I had to see a lighthouse! This was an expensive Uber ride but it was worth it. Paul and Max were playing catch, there was a huge black and white lighthouse in stark contrast to acres of empty fields and the sounds of the ocean on the other side of the steep cliffs. I literally said “Wow, guys thanks for indulging me and coming out here to this lighthouse, I am SO hap…
- BOOM, I was hit directly in the face with Max’s baseball.
Pretty funny now but I was hit square in the face while saying that I was having the time of my life, hahaha!
We took a walk from the lighthouse (that we couldn’t climb but it was beautiful nonetheless) down the road and found a ladder that led down the cliff to the water! It wasn’t on private property so we started to trek down. When we got to the beach we spotted a sea lion!! So neat, he was jumping in and out of the waves about 25 feet from us all. Too fun. We hopped in an Uber to the Nantucket airport to head to NYC. Only needed to be there about 45 minutes early because it was so small.
New York City, New York
The big apple! Our hotel called the NYMA is not a recommendation. It was a dirty 1970’s college dorm at best. Don’t trust pictures online and don’t think that NYC is your spot to make hotel budget moves.
We woke up and headed straight to the Today Show. I wouldn’t recommend this for kids. They are too short to see anything unless you are there at the butt crack of dawn and even then, the gates are really high for kids. We ended up sitting in the cozy and adjacent Bouchon Bakery which was a great view from the bar window with a delicious croissant.
We walked a few blocks to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and checked that out quickly before walking to Times Square. Not a long stop here before we found the M&Ms store and made some custom printed M&Ms. Super cool souvenir but not a “must go” in my opinion.
We strolled a bit and found people promoting bikes in Central Park. This was SO much fun!!! We rented the bikes for 5 hours and rode around the park about 15 times. The traffic is very light and safe. You’re amongst horse-drawn carriages and bikers so it’s a pleasant ride. We stopped at Tavern on the Green for lunch and continued riding until the early evening – stopping for fresh crepes with Nutella;) Max was over the moon for the entire 5 hours and it’s probably my most treasured memory of this trip. “This is the best day ever mama!!”
As if THAT wasn’t enough, we went back to the hotel, rested for a bit and took the subway to the Yankees game. Aaron Judge hit some homers, I ate a stadium dog and Sammy passed out on the train home. Don’t take the subway home OR don’t wait until the game is over. Leave early. The train was extremely crowded, ticketing lines were over an hour long, and there were hardly any seats. The fans were hammered and happy though so that was entertaining.
We grabbed an Uber to Battery Park to hop onto our ferry to the Statue of Liberty (no advance tickets necessary). I wanted to go up to the crown of Lady Lib. but those tickets were sold out like 5 months in advance. I was able to pre-purchase a “Pedestal” ticket 5 months out though so I grabbed that. It was $55 for all 4 of us and it was neat to not only bypass the lines but go up a bit higher than her feet.
We ate lunch on the island and the food was to be expected. Such an iconic piece of US history – the kids loved it. We hopped on the ferry to Ellis Island afterward. There’s a LOT to take in on Ellis Island so I suggest go straight to a Park Ranger and get a tour. The guide walks you around the museum in a small group, including a stroll outside under the shade of the trees with a view of Manhattan. Our guide told us the story of a woman who came over from Ireland and all of the turmoil associated with the journey. At the end he revealed that person was his great grandmother and it was just TOO cool. He was the bees knees. Find this ranger!
Journeyed home to shop a little and pack. That’s a wrap on the east coast. Day 10 was travel home. But not before Max got locked inside the one-er bathroom at the hotel and we couldn’t find him. Traumatizing – and now funny.