Enjoy the gorgeous gardens dotted throughout Massachusetts.
Get outside, inhale the sweet aromas of flowers in bloom with your family.
Berkshire Botanical Garden, Stockbridge
Fifteen acres includes display gardens, an arboretum, and interpretive woodland trail. More than 3,000 species and varieties of plants are exhibited. Mother’s Day Weekend is the 34th Annual Plant Sale-- Calling all gardeners! Get a jump start on the gardening season and choose from thousands of plants, shrubs, and trees – many grown at Berkshire Botanical Garden.
The Botanic Garden at Smith College, Northampton
Founded over 100 years ago, the Botanic Garden at Smith College in Northampton has been painstakingly tended to serve as a living museum to plants native to New England and ecosystems all around the world. It is home to thousands of plants and rare blooms, and is the site contains a number of specialty gardens. Free to the public.
The Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls
One of the Commonwealth's most unusual and enchanting "gardens" is found in Franklin County. The Bridge of Flowers is a former trolley bridge that was originally built in 1908, but became weed-covered 20 years later. In 1929, a plan was implemented to turn the bridge into a garden that would span the length of the bridge. Currently more than 20,000 people per year enjoy its impressive and rich floral beauty from the first appearance of tulips in April through the bloom of autumn mums. Free to the public.
Chesterwood is the country home of Daniel Chester French (1850-1931), sculptor of the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Memorial in Washington, DC, and The Minute Man, Concord, MA. Chesterwood’s landscape featuring mountain vistas, woodland walks, and perennial gardens is French’s own design.
Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, Cape Cod
A favorite destination for Mother’s Day, Heritage Museums & Gardens consists of one hundred spectacular acres of labeled trees and shrubs, beautiful flowers and sweeping lawns. There are several miles of passive recreational trails as well as five acres of lawn. Entrance Fees: Adult- $15.00
Lynch Park, Beverly
In the summers of 1909 and 1910, President Taft leased the Stetson cottage which stood on today's Rose Garden. Important leaders from around the world came to "Beverly Massachusetts, Garden City and Summer Capitol of the United States". The Rose Garden at Lynch Park was built in 1910 within the foundation of Taft’s cottage with rare plants and shrubs from around the world. This 85-year-old rose garden, modeled after those in Italy, blooms each spring in brilliant pinks, yellows, reds, oranges, purples and white bordered by rolling lawns and lush greens overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.
Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens, South Deerfield
While this attraction's main claim to fame is its amazing collection of thousands of butterflies, these beauties flutter freely among an expansive 18,400 square foot conservatory filled with tropical vegetation. Magic Wings features a koi pond and a waterfall in its tranquil setting. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for children 3-17 (children under 3 are free).
The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Estate & Gardens, Lenox
This elegant home and its gardens were designed by renowned American writer, Edith Wharton, in 1902. The 49-acre property features one of the most significant formal gardens in New England, including an Italian walled garden, French flower garden, and a lime walk lined with pleached linden trees.
Mytoi, Martha’s Vineyard
Nestled within Chappaquiddick Island on Martha's Vineyard, the intimate Japanese-style garden, Mytoi, offers natural serenity and a place of contemplation to visitors who venture here. Sheltered by a lovely pine grove, the preserve includes a small pond and island, non-native and native flowers and plants, footpaths leading past a birch walk and stone garden, and a trail winding toward Poucha Pond and the salt marsh. Free to public.
5-acre accredited living museum is the "eye-popping showcase for native plants" of New England Wild Flower Society, America's oldest plant conservation organization. Enjoy guided walking tours of gardens and habitats weekdays at 10 am, weekends at 2pm. Featuring over 1,000 native plant species plus unique New England Garden of Rare and Endangered Plants. Open April 15 through October, Tuesday through Sunday plus holiday Mondays 9 am-5pm. Learn, Grow, and Protect! Native Plants for sale at eco-friendly Garden Shop.
A property of The Trustees of Reservations, the Choate family summer estate is distinguished by beautifully landscaped grounds originally designed by Nathan Barrett. With its gracious house, magnificent gardens, and panoramic views, Naumkeag is a quintessential country estate of the Gilded Age.
Polly Hill Arboretum, Martha’s Vineyard
The Polly Hill Arboretum, a Martha’s Vineyard horticultural and botanical landmark, was developed by the legendary horticulturist, Polly Hill (1907-2007). Rare trees and shrubs from around the world are set among stone walls, meadows, and fields, including Polly’s famous North Tisbury azaleas, the national stewartia collection, camellias, clematis, crabapples, magnolias, and many more. Admission donation.
The Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain
Of the thousands of flowering plants in the Arboretum, only one, the lilac, is singled out each year for a daylong celebration. Tours of the lilacs, dance performances, picnicking (allowed on this special day only), and family activities make for a memorable day. Be a part of this beloved Boston tradition! Lilac Sunday is May 8, 2011.
The Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum, New Bedford
Built in 1834 as a Greek revival mansion, the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and its grounds represent the period of New Bedford's history of immense prosperity, due to the whaling industry. The property encompasses a full city block with an historic 19th century wooden pergola surrounded by formal boxwood rose parterre garden, boxwood specimen garden, civic garden and an award-winning woodland walk. On Saturday, May 7 children ages 4 through 10, accompanied by an adult, are invited to create a floral arrangement and card for mom’s special day.
Scituate Wildflower Garden, Scituate
This award winning garden has been established and maintained by the Scituate Garden Club and open to the public. On the first Saturday of June the club holds its famous Plant Sale on the grounds between it and the Historic Mann House on Greenfield Lane in Scituate. This hidden gem is not to be missed by anyone visiting Scituate on Mother’s Day or any day throughout the year.
Seaside Gardens at the House of the Seven Gables, Salem
The seaside gardens at The House of the Seven Gables capture the charm of colonial America period plantings. The Wisteria Arbor was added in the 1920s and is covered in a variety of wisteria introduced to the U.S. during the height of the China Trade in the 19th century, while the property’s horse chestnut tree dates to 1830 and is one of the oldest specimens on the North Shore. $12.50 for adults, $11.50 for seniors (65+) and AAA members, $7.50 for children (5-12)
Sedgwick Gardens at Long Hill, Beverly
From 1916 to 1979, Long Hill in Beverly was the summer home of noted author and editor of The Atlantic Monthly, Ellery Sedgwick and his wife Mabel Cabot Sedgwick. An accomplished horticulturalist and gardener, Mrs. Sedgwick designed and planted the original gardens. The five acres surrounding the property’s house are laid out in a series of separate garden “rooms,” each distinct in its own way and accented by garden ornaments, structures and statuary. Free entrance.
Spohr Gardens, Falmouth, Cape Cod
For more than 40 years, these privately owned gardens have been open to the public. The owners, Margaret and Charles D. Spohr began creating this wondrous setting around their home in the 1950s and welcomed the ever-growing number of visitors who heard of its beauty. Five acres of gardens, gracefully wrapped around Oyster Pond, provide the perfect setting for a June stroll. With more than 50 species of flowers, 75 types of trees and 100 varieties of shrubs, this lovely locale is in perpetual bloom. Free to the public.
Stanley Park, Westfield
The American Wildflower Society Display Garden Winner of the A.A.R.S. "Outstanding Public Rose Garden" Award, Westfield's Stanley Park offers more than 50 varieties of roses and 2,500 rose bushes. Another popular park attraction is the Herb Garden, which includes numerous varieties of fragrant, culinary, and medicinal herbs as well as large old-fashioned formal perennial gardens.
The Stevens-Coolidge Place, North Andover
The Stevens-Coolidge Place was the summer home of diplomat John Gardner Coolidge and his wife, Helen Stevens Coolidge. The estate includes a perennial garden, a kitchen and cut flower garden, a rose garden, a French potager garden with brick serpentine wall and a greenhouse complex. Gardens are free, donations are welcome.
Three Sisters Sanctuary, Goshen
Located in Goshen, Three Sisters Sanctuary is an outdoor space bursting with gardens, sculptures and landscape art. There are several concept gardens linked together on the grounds, including the imaginative Energy Garden, which features a 15,000 pound, seven foot stone surrounded by crystal-topped stones that lean on a 45 degree angle out towards the universe.
Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston
A living museum of plants, featuring 132 acres of a hilltop garden paradise with a panoramic view toward Mt. Wachusett and the reservoir. Distinctive sections include a Lawn Garden with more than 350 varieties of trees and shrubs, a Secret Garden with fragrant and textured perennials, a Cottage Garden, Systematic Garden, and in winter an Orangerie filled to capacity with fragrant, blooming plants; special events, guided tours, lectures, and workshops.
Lately, I have been thinking about and discussing with friends, family, and colleagues, the delicate balance we seek when managing risk, fear, preparation, wisdom, loss, knowledge and exploration.
Perhaps our formula is different when the situation involves our children.
re you ready for a getaway?
Plan your own classic American holiday. Here are fun-filled ideas to help you create an iconic family vacation:
Take a Road Trip.
A concept often parodied on television and in the movies, the family road trip continues to be a source of fun and happy memories for clans across the country. Play games, sing songs, tell stories along the way. Access the American Automobile Association’s plentiful and user-friendly information on road conditions, weather, deals, discounts, and gas prices. They can also help with roadside assistance, travel planning and maps.
Contact: 1 (800) 332-6119; www.AAA.com.
Make your way to the Mountains.
Fill your lungs with pine scented air. Raft the rivers, wonder at the wild life or travel by horseback into the backcountry. A visit to a mountain destination like Jackson, WY will offer you and your family the best of the great outdoors paired with a glimpse into our western heritage. Take in the rodeo, a cowboy cookout, visit the hot springs and the Grand Teton National Park.
Contact: 1 (888) 838-6606; www.jacksonholewy.com.
Head to the Beach.
You may have a family favorite or build sand castles on the beach closest to home. However, if you are looking for a new sandy spot, consider the annual list created by coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, Director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research. For the last 20 years, “Dr. Beach” has used 50 criteria, including water, sand quality, safety and environmental management, to rank seaside playgrounds. Beaches in New York, Florida, California, Hawaii and North Carolina top the lists. Contact: www.DrBeach.org.
Relax at the lake.
With more than 1,000 miles of shoreline, Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks is a family favorite. In addition to boating, swimming, fishing and a wide range of water sports, generations of lake lovers enjoy hiking in the nearby state park, biking, mini-golf and water parks as well as access to plenty of restaurants, music and other kid-friendly attractions.
In Montana, Whitefish Lake is a family favorite. With Glacier National Park in the neighborhood, you can't go wrong.
Visit a National Park.
Celebrate our freedom and the beauty of our land within one of our 392 national parks. With so many historical and natural wonders to discover, consider heading to the National Park Service’s web pages, specifically designed to help regular and first time visitors plan a meaningful trip. There you research park activities as well as camping, back country, lodging and educational options. Across America each day there are special events, institute and field schools as well as volunteer opportunities. Check for fee free days and Junior Ranger programs for the kids.
Get Sporting at the Wintergreen Resort. Wintergreen, VA.
Parents can join their kids for group golf lessons and then head to the course to refine their skills. This is a family-friendly resort on the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers up a range of easily accessible sporting options. With 45 holes of championship golf as a cornerstone, families can enjoy a holiday that includes a children’s program at The Treehouse, hiking, fly-fishing and an award-winning tennis program.
Contact: 800-926-3723; www.wintergreenresort.com
Family adventures abound north of the US border. Visit Canada for outdoor adventure and yet another view of the natural world. Here are five places to explore with our northern neighbors:
Heli-hiking in British Columbia.
Chopper, chopper, chopper. The thrill begins when your crew boards the spacious helicopter bound for your high mountain lodge. Within just a few days every member of the family will push their high altitude limits while rock climbing with world-class mountain guides or simply enjoying colorful wildflowers aside stunning glacier lakes. Designed to engage children of all ages, families can choose to divide by ability and interest during the day and gather for the evening or choose to explore together for the week. CMH also offers heli-skiing adventures during the winter months. Contact: 1(800)661-0252; www.CanadianMountainHolidays.com.
Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia.
Olympic alpine ski coverage may have stoked your interest in this pair of charming ski resorts. Throughout the year, families will find plenty of activities to engage each member of the clan. In summer, enjoy kayaking, rafting, and horseback riding. Try out the bungee trampoline, the Core climbing center or just stroll through the village. When the snow falls there is plenty of downhill and cross-country skiing as well as snowboarding, snowshoeing and dog-sledding to keep an active family engaged. Check out deals, packages and last minute offers on the website.
Kids love the chance to ride the rails. A good option for reunions or multigenerational travel, this family owned company offers more than 70 Canadian train vacation packages through British Columbia, Alberta and the Canadian Rockies. Unplug and relax while taking in spectacular scenery from the comfort of your seat. Onboard attendants provide colorful commentary and make sure every member of the clan enjoys the ride. Best known for their two-day, all daylight train excursion and rail tour through the Canadian Rockies, this year the company celebrates their 20th year in business.
Contact: (800) 665-7245; www.Rocky Mountaineer.com
Find your way to the remote community of Churchill for a chance to see the magnificent polar bear, which migrates to this icy seaport on the Hudson Bay in search of the ringed seal. As night falls on the “Polar Bear Capital of the World”, glimpse the amazing aurora borealis or northern lights for an added thrill. During the summer months, Beluga whale-watching is possible in small boats or zodiacs.
Contact: 1(800)665-0040; www.travelmanitoba.com.;
Klondike Gold Rush Route, The Yukon.
Relive one of the most exciting and colorful eras in Canadian history when you step back in time along the route of the Klondike Gold Rush. Be sure to make time for Dawson City, where dusty streets lined with old-time boardwalks and historic buildings evoke a sense of what life was like in the Wild West. You’ll also learn about First Nations cultures, and have plentiful opportunities to view wildlife, fish and hike. Take advantage of visitor centers along the way to maximize your journey. Come winter, snowshoe, cross- country ski or join in a dog sled race.
Contact:1 (800) 661-0494; www.511yukon.ca/; www.TravelYukon.com.
Lynn O'Rourke Hayes is a writer, photographer, and a passionate traveler. She is the Editor and owner of FamilyTravel.com.
Each week, she writes a syndicated travel column that appears in the likes of the Dallas Morning News, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, Newsday and many more. She also contributes to other print, online and broadcast outlets. She believes travel has the power to change lives and to serve as a pathway for personal growth and self understanding. She has spent more than 30 years writing and speaking about travel and family issues.
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After more than a decade of providing family travel resources, we decided it was time to update our editorial focus. Whether you are an armchair traveler, a city seeker, a National Park explorer or a global adventurer, we want to be your wellspring of Family Travel information.
You will also note that our definition of “family” has expanded. The game has changed. Combine the geographic spread with the multi-layered demands of the modern family and what do you get? Folks who are time-starved and hungry for connection.
Often the only time we see our extended tribe is when we gather at a beach house, a ski resort or a high mountain camp ground to celebrate a special family event. So we plan to provide plenty of creative suggestions for gathering the clan in ways that will be as much for Aunt Gloria as Baby Ben (and his parents).
In between those multigenerational meet-ups, we hope you take time to plan travel with your children, your siblings, and those friends who are often more like family than…well, you know, those truly treasured friends!
Expect thoughtful travel writing and inspiring photography provided by our intrepid crew of professionals. Browse our pages for tips and ideas for planning great weekend getaways, thrilling adventure trips, traditional summer vacations and off-the-beaten path exploration.
You’ll also find gear and book reviews, luxury and budget booking options, great travel deals and opportunities for trading travel secrets.
We hope you enjoy FamilyTravel.com and will share our news with your friends and family.
We invite you to return time and again to enjoy our window onto an amazing world.
Go far. Grow close.
Lynn O’Rourke Hayes
Editor and Owner
This page is brought to you by Pride of Maui offering fun-filled, action-packed snorkeling/sailing trips to Maui's Molokini.
Snorkeling is a great way to explore the beauty of our underwater world.
Here are six places the family can learn about coral reefs, colorful fish and more:
Join your family in a Northwest coastal adventure. Explore the craggy coastline, the beauty of the saltwater beaches, play a round a golf or spot a tufted Puffin. Here are five ideas to consider:
Bandon Dunes, ORE.
With Oregon’s rugged Pacific coastline as a backdrop, a family holiday or reunion at this seaside resort provides a top-notch experience for avid golfers in the group as well as an extensive menu of other on-property and nearby options. Upon check-in, ask about the mapped trail system that winds through sand dunes to vistas of the ocean and the resort’s four golf courses. Expect to enjoy whale watching, horseback riding, fishing, sea kayaking and kite surfing. Birders will be excited to know hundreds of species nest in the area, including the tufted puffin. Golf lessons, including those for Juniors, are available.
Contact: 1-800-742-0172; www.BandonDunesGolf.com.
Visit the complex landscape that is protected within the Olympic National Park & Forest. For bird watching, including the most significant habitat for bald eagles in the lower 48, beach combing, hiking and fishing, there are few destinations where families will find more beauty and opportunity to bond with nature.
Consider the Kalaloch Lodge as a cozy home base. Serving up rustic yet charming accommodations, the Lodge offers tremendous views of the Pacific as well as the opportunity to spot puffins, sea otters, seals and a long list of other sea birds. Tap into rich history by asking about the dozens of shipwrecks that have occurred in the area.
Contact: 888-896-3818; www.OlympicNationalParks.com.
Four Seasons, Seattle, WA.
Venture off to high-energy Pike’s Place Market where the kids will be amused by the famous ,fish-flinging market crew. Stroll the waterfront, visit the original Starbucks and tour the Seattle Art Museum. It’s all within a few minutes walking distance from the luxurious hotel, which offers stunning views of Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. The hotel’s Kids in the City package insures in-room movies, pint-sized bathrobes, and age-appropriate welcome amenities. If needed, book a second, adjoining room at half price. Kids will also have the sweet opportunity to join the chef in the pastry kitchen to craft their own cotton candy. Contact: 1 -206 -749-7000; www.fourseasons.com/Seattle.
San Juan Islands, WA.
Hop the ferry from Seattle and explore the San Juan Islands. The destination is comprised of three islands; Orcas, Lopez and San Juan, each with its own distinctive character. An outdoor family’s paradise, your active crew can choose from hiking, road and mountain biking, kayaking, sailing and scanning the sea for the more than 85 orca whales that make their home in this northwest sanctuary. Hike to waterfalls, snack on local produce at farmer’s markets, and enjoy regional creative endeavors at local art galleries.
Contact: 888-468-3701; www.VisitSanJuans.com.
Explore sand dunes, coastal forests, estuaries, and trout rich rivers as you sample the delights of the Oregon coast with the kids. The Forest extends from the coastal town of Tillamook to Coos Bay. Dine on local seafood served up in casual settings. Hike on more than 200 miles of low elevation trails, making it more appealing to both the junior and senior members of your family. Consider camping along the way at one or more of 40 developed campgrounds. The sea breeze and overhead stars are complimentary. Contact: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/siuslaw/ 541-750-7000 For campsite reservations: 1-877-444-6777;
Take a break from work, school and routine. Add a healthy dose of sunshine or snow, or better yet, both, as a quick-fix remedy for those eager to explore. Here are eight great ways to recharge.
Road Trip. If you’d like to cover some country with your kids consider teaming up with the folks at Tracks & Trails. They create custom, self-drive RV vacation packages that take the guess work out of an adventure-filled road trip. Specializing in the western U.S. and Canada as well as Florida, these travel pros make all the National Park and activity reservations and chart your itinerary from start to finish. You’ll receive your own “Adventure Kit” chock full of detailed maps and travel tips as well as suggested family-friendly hikes, points of interest and outings along your route.
Contact: (800) 247-0970; www.tracks-trails.com
Volunteer in the Virgin Islands. Give back during your beach holiday and receive a $100 resort credit. Stay at the Westin St. John Resort & Villas and everyone benefits when you join the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park for a day of beach cleaning and trail maintenance. Junior guests receive a free sports bottle or tippy cup when checking in to the resort. Later the containers will be filled with free beverages. The Westin Kids Club also offers a full range of outdoor activities as well as arts and crafts and movies. Teens have their own special place to convene, a 1,200 square foot Teen Center where young people can make plans to enjoy water sports, watch movies or play volley ball on the beach.
Contact: 888.627.7206; www.westinresortstjohn.com
Barbados Bound. With 3000 hours of sunshine each year and an average temperature in the mid-80s, sun-seeking families will find plenty to smile about when visiting this 166 square mile destination in the Caribbean. Expect history, culture, food, music, beautiful beaches and the chance to see Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles. Book the Take me to Barbados package and receive one free when staying for five nights. Also, children 16 and under stay and eat free at participating hotels. This and other value-added packages are available through travel agents. American Airlines has nonstop service from Dallas-Fort Worth to Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Beech Mountain, NC. Visit “Eastern America’s Highest Town” . The resort, which rests at 5,500 feet, offers 13 runs and two terrain parks on 95 acres, as well as views of four different states. If slope-side skiing or snowboarding wear out the younger bunch, head to the free youth sledding hill, sponsored by the Town of Beech Mountain for the benefit of those 12 and under. Check out the tubing park and the 7,000 square foot ice skating rink for more winter weather fun. Receive two free lift passes with a three night stay. Some restrictions apply. In summer, hike, bike and enjoy the natural beauty.
South Beach, FL. After a full day splashing in the surf, what could be more fun than building a tented fort in your hotel room? Loews provides extra in-room sheets plus flashlights so kids can get creative once they’ve emptied the sand from their shoes. As part of their Sundown Survival Kit for Kids, junior guests can also take advantage of movies and enjoy a milk and cookie nightcap. Youngsters will also want to visit SoBe Scoops, a retro ice cream parlor, decked out in vintage style and offering old-time favorites like rock candy, candied apples and crème soda. Kids can invite their parents to join them at SushiSkool, where the whole family can learn how to roll sushi and maneuver chopsticks. The resort also offers camps for kids of all ages, healthy menus and swanky Kidbanas by the pool. Pets are welcome too.
Contact: 1-800-235-6397; www.loewshotels.com/en/Miami-Beach-Hotel
Aruban Holiday. Enjoy family travel specials at this all-inclusive resort where meals, snacks, resort activities and the Kids Club are all included in your rate. The whole clan will also enjoy an Aruban Beach Party featuring live entertainment, festive music and local food. Enjoy snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, tennis, pool play or building sand castles on the white sand beach.
Contact: 1-800-858-2258; www.occidentalhotels.com/grand/Aruba.asp
Big Bear Mountain. Southern California’s Big Bear Mountain sees plenty of the big white flakes during the winter season, bringing smiles to the faces of skiers and snowboarders who always want to make tracks during the snowy season. During the off years, the resort has top notch snowmaking systems providing quality snow for thousands of skiers and snowboarders in the region. Who knew you could enjoy mountain life just two hours from Downtown Los Angeles?
Contact: 909.866.5766; www.bigbearmountainresorts.com
Limelight Lodge, Aspen, CO. Join your college-aged kids and take part in the Limelight Lodge’s Insider Tracks tours, designed for experiences skiers. Professional adventure specialists will show those with intermediate to advanced ski or board skills, the local take on the four mountains that make up Aspen and Snowmass. Participants will find the best powder and the secret chutes along with tips on how to make the most of a day on these famed Rocky Mountain slopes. Back at the lodge, enjoy homemade granola, a soak in the hot tub, a family dinner and the use of multi-lingual computer stations. Ask about the Ski Free package which includes up to two lift tickets per day in the room rate. Pets are welcome. During the summer months, hike into the hills, stroll through town, catch the latest at local museums, check out the mountain biking trails and be on the look out for Hollywood stars who like to relax in the mountains just like you.
Contact: 1- 800-433-0832; www.LimelightLodge.com