Grandpa is a world traveler, having visited every state in the union and over 30 countries world-wide. I asked him, of all the places he’d visited, which one was his favorite, and he didn’t hesitate in replying, “Acadia National Park in Maine”.
The three kids, ranging in age from 6-16, liked the idea of a vacation in Maine, so I started exploring options. We settled on a week at a family camp near Washington, Maine, called Medomak, which included one “out of camp” day (for that trip to Acadia) and a lobster roast – perfect!
But how to get there from our home in South Carolina? Flying is an option, but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to see all of the East Coast sights along the way, so we started planning the Big Road Trip!
I compiled a list of attractions, historic sites, places of interest along the way and asked each kid to pick their top three. We planned to take five days to drive north and four for the return, so we had to create a tight schedule and allocate our time wisely. My husband couldn’t take more than a week off of work, so I was making the drive with the kids and he was flying up to Maine to meet us. Concerned for our safety, he requested that we had a well thought-out itinerary, which helped in creating a relaxing yet full trip.
It was no surprise that all three kids chose Hershey, PA as their top choice, so I saved that as our final stop on the way home. High on my list was Cliff Walk in Newport, RI, Mt. Vernon in Virginia, and Boston- OK, I tried to sneak in some history, but the kids had so much fun that they didn’t notice!
Our first day, we drove 8-hours to Virginia, arriving at Mt. Vernon in early afternoon. It felt good to stretch our legs and see George Washington’s home in person. Overnighting in D.C., we then checked out the Smithsonian Air and Space and Natural History Museums. My 14-year-old daughter was slightly disappointed when, having asked where we were going and hearing the reply, “to the Mall”, we popped up from the Metro on “the National Mall”, instead of a shopping mall! She forgot her disappointment after seeing all of the cool exhibits, especially the dinosaurs and the Hope Diamond.
Back in the car, we drove on, through Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. Not wanting to venture into NYC with three kids and a minivan, we opted to stop at the Statue of Liberty Park in New Jersey for a breath-taking and uncrowded view of the city, Ellis Island, and The Lady. I highly recommend it.
Traffic crossing the bridge into NYC got us behind schedule and delayed our arrival into Mystic, CT, cutting short our sightseeing time. We were headed to Newport, RI and I wanted to stroll the Cliff Walk. None of us were disappointed, even though we arrived as the sun was setting. Newport is a place we’d all like to spend more time, but we were on a schedule, and Plymouth Plantation and Boston were up next on our agenda.
Both sights exceeded our expectations. The final leg of our drive awaited us, and we had a flight to meet in Portland, so we pressed onward. The kids couldn’t wait to tell their Dad about our big adventure over a lobster dinner in Portland. After checking out the outlet shopping in Freeport, we all drove the last few hours to our final destination in Maine and shared a completely relaxing week at Medomak.
We never did make it to Acadia, opting for sightseeing closer to the camp at equally beautiful (we were told) and less crowded beaches and towns. With all we had experienced on the road trip to Maine, we didn’t feel like we missed a thing.
The drive home didn’t include as many stops but we did spend two nights in Hershey, PA. Big cities, quaint villages, a secluded lake, historical sights, museums, and a huge bag of chocolate- what more could you want?
Terri Pignone is from Hartsville, South Carolina.
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