Just thought I’d send some feedback on the trip we made up and down the east board this August. We brought along our 16 year old son and daughters aged 13 and 4.
We wanted to fly to the US non-stop and from our homebase in Portugal, Newark was the best option. TAP, the national carrier, has a fleet of airbuses. They are fairly basic – no screens in the back of the seat in front of you – but we survived the 8 hour flight fairly well, despite the fact that the 4 year old did not sleep one wink! Bringing along some little presents to unwrap once in a while was a great tip and we painted our nails too, before she made friends with the girls sitting in front of us. My own tip: bring extra snacks – and a garbage bag!
We fell into our booked stretch limo (great extravagence, but well worth it). Our apartment in West Chelsea (booked through www.nyhabitat.com) was great, especially once the airconditioning kicked in! The concierges were super helpful and the apartment provided much more space than hotel rooms would. It was a great base to be able to come back to any time of day. The NY Times was delivered every morning – special treat for us. We spent much time in many of the great little playgrounds with our 4 year old, but (some of us) also managed to visit the UN (I’m glad we went, but the queues were very slow-moving to get in), take the ferry past the Statue of Liberty, visit Bloomingdales, the fun Museum of American Finance on Wall Street, and go to the Shake Shack (more queuing here!). One thing was obvious: the place has really cleaned itself up since our last visit 8 years ago (and even more since I lived there 20 years ago)! Definitely a family destination now. Tip: If visiting in a (family) group, don’t all try to do all of the same things – splitting up into smaller groups worked really well – we could cater to different interests and there was lots to tell each other at the end of the day.
After 4 days we put our son on a flight to visit friends in Alabama and New Orleans (in between storms, luckily). We picked up our hire car at LaGuardia and eventually found the I-95 to Rhode Island – wish we had booked a GPS, the map was not enough! Had a stop in Mystic – after the museum closed, so fairly quiet – the ice cream place by the bridge was a fun spot to sit and we even saw them raise the bridge to let a ship pass.
We drove on to Crosswinds Bed and Breakfast just outside Wickford. Very pretty, and with amazing breakfasts, but a little closer to the road than expected – a peril of online booking. Still, only a short drive or ferry trip from Newport. There, we especially enjoyed a beach trip – locals assured us ‘Second Beach’ was far superior to ‘First’ – we took their word for it. Enjoyed dinner in cute Wickford and huge ice creams in the little harbour town of Jamestown.
Then we drove up to Lake Sunapee. Georges Mills Cottages were very disappointing – on a busy road and none too clean – so we cancelled our booking and moved to Mountain Edge Resort. Somewhat bland, but a very spacious room and close to the public beach. Also very close to the chairlifts at the ski resort – must be a great place in winter. Loved the canoeing – and yet more ice creams at the Quack Shack – in the pretty town of Sunapee Harbour.
On to Boston – very good service at the Double Tree Suites on Soldiers Field Road. The hotel is built round an atrium, so is a bit noisy, and surrounded by highways, making it a challenge to walk anywhere with kids in tow. Luckily there are frequent free shuttle buses. Also a small indoor pool and great room service!
Loved the city too: the DuckTour was a cut above, thanks to the deadpanning driver, we had fun shopping on Charles St and Newbury St, and there is a great playground and wading pool on Boston Common. Also took the shuttle to Harvard Square – very buzzy. Small thing: the Ducktour company charges extra for online bookings.
Even the airport was great – calm, spacious, good shops and restaurants. We flew to Dulles airport, Washington DC. The taxi to our vacation rental on I St SW – ie the centre – took over an hour – wish we had flown into Reagan. Here, unlike in the other cities, we had to trek to find fresh food, and we never did find a playground for Beth. Nevertheless, we had a great time, thanks to all the fantastic museums (loved the Amerian Indian (fun restaurant for lunch), the Natural History and the Spy museums especially.)
Distances were deceptively long – trekked along the Mall to the White House and the Monument and, it being August, it was hot. Even the tour (Old Time Trolley) was exhausting (no air conditioning). Lots of things we didn’t get round to seeing. However, we did manage multiple visits to the carousel and to the fountain in the Sculpture Garden next to the Gallery.
Beginning our journey home, we rented a car (with GPS this time!) to drive up to New Jersey. Drive was a bit grim, but the most efficient way to get 5 people from A to B in this case. Our hotel, the Summerfield Suites in Bridgewater, was fine, with a nice outdoor pool and buffet breakfast included. The food delivery service, by Delivery Now, was a rip off – with nearly $30 of charges on top of a bill of $56.25, only spotted when the delivery person had driven away. Note to self: always check the bill before you sign!
The next day we had an easy drive to Newark airport to catch our flight home. Tip: spend as much time as you can inside the terminal, before going through security, as there is a much wider selection of shops and restaurants and, who knows, other facilities – certainly than at our gate, where we had 3 hours in limbo with 2 shops, a small restaurant and a cart selling stale sandwiches for company!
A fantastic trip – hope to come back soon.
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