Small towns offer charm, history and an opportunity for adventure.

Here are five communities east of the Mississippi with special experiences of interest to families on vacation.

Princeton, NJ.

This college town is home to more prizewinners than any other community – as in Pulitzers, Nobels and Medals of Honor.  The leafy enclave offers miles of bike paths, canals for paddling and festivals for every season.  The university’s extraordinary cultural offerings include an art museum best known for their Chinese collection and impressive theatre known to showcase pre-Broadway productions.  Take a walking tour, shop in Palmer Square and visit the free Einstein Museum to learn more about another of the town’s bright lights.


Annapolis, MD.

  Work up an appetite kayaking, windsurfing or sailing on the Chesapeake Bay before an evening feast of the region’s famous crabs. Home to the U.S. Naval Academy, this history-rich state capital offers charming restaurants, shops, museums, lighthouses and the opportunity to enjoy watching water-worthy vessels, large and small, slip out to sea. Contact: 888.302.2852;

Ocracoke, NC.

  Revel in the old world charm of this small coastal village, where you’ll walk in the footsteps of Blackbeard the pirate, an early resident of the area. Amble along cobblestone streets, past clapboard houses, art galleries and colorful eateries before heading out for a kayak tour on the waters where the buccaneers once battled.  Feed the local herd of ponies, likely descendants of Spanish mustangs, before spending the day on a pristine 16-mile stretch of protected beach.

Contact: 252-928-6711;

Stowe, VT.

 Do you favor Phish Food or Chunky Monkey? Schedule a family taste test when you tour the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in this scenic New England town. Take a sled dog tour, find out how apple cider is made or consider a stroll on the five-mile long Stowe Recreation path.

Check into the Trapp Family Lodge and Resort to enjoy their 2,400 acre natural wonderland, where hiking, rock climbing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing are tailored to family travelers.


Brunswick, ME Visit this small fishing village where artists and writers have found inspiration for decades. Winslow Homer painted his famous seascapes nearby and Harriet Beecher Stowe crafted Uncle Tom’s Cabin in town. Each year, the Brunswick Outdoor Arts Festival keeps the creative vibe alive offering theatre, music and crafts. Enjoy riverside views from the paved Androscoggin Bicycle and Pedestrian Path enroute to the 150-year old Topsham Fair where family fun includes animal pull events, crafts and harness racing. Contact: 888-624-6345;;

Sign up for our newsletter for more tips and strategies for enjoying time away with your family!

Published in My Travel Style


What’s not to love about a carousel? For many of us, the mere throught of hopping aboard a painted horse or other fanciful creature brings a smile to our faces. For a charming mix of music, whimsy and history, here are five to consider: 

Salem, Oregon.

Located in the city’s 23-acre riverfront park, this vintage-style carousel was lovingly created as a community project. Dozens of locals families worked to prepare the site, even carve and hand paint the horses.  With old-fashioned organ music as the backdrop, families now enjoy seasonal celebrations including breakfast with Santa. The gift shop offers handcrafted ornaments, books and gifts to providing continuing support for the community treasure. Contact:  

North Tonawanda, NY.

Visit the one-of-a-kind Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, housed in the original factory building where you can ride two antique carousels and delve into their history. The largest of the pair is 40 feet in diameter, with hundreds of lights and 36 hand carved horses, some dating to the late 1890s. Rotating at 6.5 revolutions per minute, the carousel was originally intended as a thrill ride for adults. The “kiddie carousel” in the Children’s Gallery was created in the 1940s for the junior set to ride without the help of adults. It has been completely restored. Ask about carving and restoration demonstrations and other family events scheduled throughout the year. Contact: 

Indianapolis, IN.

The centerpiece of the permanent exhibit called Carousel Wishes and Dreams is one of the three oldest surviving Dentzel menagerie carousels in the world.  This revolving gem was originally installed in 1917 at the Broad Ripple Park. After the building in which it was housed collapsed, the animals were salvaged, restored and eventually lowered through the roof to its new home on the fourth floor of the expansive Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.  Contact: 

Westerly, Rhode Island.

in 1876 and a National Historic Landmark, families can climb aboard what many believe to be the oldest flying horse
carousel in the country. Once part of a traveling carnival, the charming carousel in Watch Hill features hand-carved horses suspended from chains. Thus, as the speed increases they seem to “fly”.  Each horse has a leather saddle and a tail and mane crafted from real horse hair. Revelers
can reach for the brass ring near the end of the ride. If you are lucky enough to grab it, you’ll win a
token for a free ride.


Santa Ana, California.

Kids learn about environmental conservation and preservation when they climb about this eco-minded carousel at the Santa Ana Zoo. Rather than hand-carved horses, the Conservation Carousel is comprised of endangered species. After circling aboard this unique ride, kids receive a collectible educational card with information about at risk creatures. The zoo, founded in 1952, is located on a 20-acre urban oasis. A request from its original benefactor means you will find 50 monkeys in residence at all times. Contact:

Do you have a favorite carousel? 

Published in Find Trips by Age

 ft ts fall foliage

As nature parades her fall colors, share the glory with your family. Here are ten spectacular places where the crisp air will invigorate every member of your crew:

1.Purity Spring Resort. East Madison, NH.

Check in to this family-owned getaway and enjoy apple picking, country fairs, and antique shopping in the picturesque White Mountains of New Hampshire. The kids will love racing through the Sherman Farms corn maze and exploring nearby hiking, mountain biking and sunset paddling on the Saco River; all with spectacular fall colors as your backdrop. Grab your cameras and visit nearby covered bridges and waterfalls. Contact: 800-373-3754:

2.South Carolina Upcountry.

Choose from a wealth of scenic side trips off Highway 11, the 112- mile long Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway. Ride a zip line through the changing colors and picnic near Campbell’s Bridge, South Carolina’s only remaining covered bridge. Kayak at Paris Mountain State Park then stop for homemade fudge or visit local apple orchards. Don’t miss Devils Fork State Park for wildlife watching and to marvel at the half-dozen waterfalls that spill into Lake Jocassee. Contact:;; 

3. Oregon Orange.

Enjoy the changing hues as you and your family explore the 44-mile trail that winds through Oregon’s National Wild and Scenic Rogue River Canyon. The pathway, originally carved by miners, offers respite along the way in the form of five historic lodges that enable trekkers to explore by day and relax in comfort come nightfall. What’s more, your gear will be transported via river raft during the four-day, three-night outing, enabling hikers to catch a ride when weary and to enjoy the scenery with only a camera and binoculars to weigh down your packs. Contact: 1-800-336-1647;

4. Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. Arkansas.

Visit Ozark country for purple, gold, orange and red fall colors set against stunning sandstone bluffs. Make time for horseback riding, a rock climbing challenge, hiking, archery, family games, elk viewing, and skeet shooting. The whole family will enjoy time in the petting zoo. Family cabins make for a cozy retreat at day’s end. Ask about discounts for four or more. Contact : 800-480-9635;

5. Spectacular Sedona.

Marvel at the splendor of the season in Northern Arizona, savoring the rich, visual treat from a Pink Jeep, a helicopter or a hot air balloon. With the Red Rocks of Sedona providing their own rich hues, take advantage of world class hiking amidst shimmering aspen leaves, check out canyon petroglyphs and shop for local arts and crafts. Stay at the pet friendly Bell Rock Inn and enjoy studio accommodations where families can spread out, cook in and enjoy a warming fireplace on a cool Autumn evening. Contact: 877-444-8044

6. Southern Utah.

Pile into the car for a Fall foliage road trip that includes brilliant color set against the backdrop of some of our country's most stunning national parks. Travel along Utah State Route 143, a recently designated Scenic Byway. Also known as the Patchwork Parkway, the path runs from Parowan through Brian Head to Panguitch and commemorates a time when pioneer travelers used handmade quilts as protection from the winter cold. The region includes Cedar Breaks National Monument, Zion and Bryce National Parks, as well as lava fields, historic and petroglyph sites. Take advantage of scenic overlooks and pull out to view aspen stands. Contact: 1 (800) 354-4849;

7. Leavenworth, WA. Celebrate Fall at the Washington State Autumn Leaf Festival tucked in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The kids will enjoy a Main Street parade, clowns, a climbing wall and air trampolines. The town's longest running festival also features Bavarian brass bands and other musical entertainment for all ages. Contact: 509-548-5807;

8. Canadian Color.

Visit New Brunswick for spectacular fall foliage and family fun. The Miramichi River region is home to the elusive Atlantic salmon and a popular haunt for fishing enthusiasts.   Doaktown's Fall Frolic festival includes a lumberjack contest as well as home tours, quilt shows, and canoe runs. Stop by the Atlantic Salmon Museum and the historic Doak House to see how early settlers to the area lived. 1 (506) 365-1105;;

9. Empire State Beauty.

See New York State's fabulous Fall foliage from aboard a unique vessel. Get comfortable on the Esperanza Rose, an elegant 65-foot wooden boat offering leaf peepers dinner and lunch cruises on the waters of Keuka Lake. Or consider viewing the colors while traveling through century -old canal locks and passing through historic towns aboard vintage water craft. Take part in the non-profit and education focused Sam Patch and Mary Jemison Cruises and you and the family will learn about the legendary Erie Canal and adjoining Genesee River, the development of which many consider to be an engineering wonder. Contact: 315-595-6618; ; 585-662-5748;

10. Rocky Mountain Wonderland.

Glimpse Colorado's golden aspen leaves by taking advantage of a Fall bike packages that includes rooms in Breckenridge, rental bikes and a free shuttle ride to the top of a mountain pass so you and the family can enjoy a downhill cruise and stunning Fall scenery. Or change saddle strategies and appreciate the beauty of Fall in the Rocky Mountains on horseback. Beaver Creek-based one and two hour trail rides or a three hour picnic ride will provide the family the chance to enjoy the crisp mountain air and time to wander through the splendid aspen stands. Contact: (888)906-6303;; 1(970)845-7770

Photo: Copyright Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Learn to sail or relax and let the wind ( and your ship’s captain ) set your course. Spending time on the water gives family travelers a chance to reconnect and see the world from a different point of view.

Here are seven ways to set sail with your family on board:

1.Out The Front Door.

Beautiful resorts like the Palau Pacific Resort, in Micronesia, offer colorful sailboats for the use of their guests. Relax on the beach, then invite one of your family members to share time on the water. (Go ahead. Race! ) This enchanting 160-room resort opened in 1984 on the site of a WW2 Japanese Seaplane base. Abiding by Palauan law, it was constructed no higher than the tallest coconut tree on the property and provides a picturesque, natural setting for a family holiday. Plan to spend time at the spa, snorkel, dive, kayak, hike nature trails and of course, sail!


2. Hop on a Maine Schooner.

Uniting their passion for historic windjammers with delectable food and top side fun, this “mom and pop” entrepreneurial pair (mom is the gourmet chef, pop is on deck) will share their love for the Maine coast with you and your family aboard the J&E Riggin. Book three, four or six day outings. Pitch in or chill out – the choice is yours.

Contact: 1-800-869-0604; 

3. Darwin’s Destination.

Have you seen the blue-footed boobies? If not, set sail through the Galapagos Islands where the water and islands are teeming with exotic and colorful wildlife. It’s a trip of a lifetime.

Contact: 1-800-941-8010; 

4. Turkish Delight.

Wander through small coastal villages. Explore hidden rock coves, wooded inlets and magnificent ruins from the Roman, Greek, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Guests explore the coast and learn from local guides. This 15-day adventure is hand-crafted by ROW founder, Peter Grubb, and provides active exploration on the Aegean Sea and Lycian Shore. Departures: June, September, October.

Contact: 800-451-6034; 

5. On Your Own.

Sail from Tortola , St. Martin , St. Lucia , Canouan , Belize , Baja or the Bahamas and enjoy relaxing days on tranquil seas. The Moorings provides sea worthy vessels, enabling families to sail on their own or hire a crew.

Contact: 1-888-952-8420;

6.Small ship. Big luxury.

Board a small ship and set sail for the Mediterranean, Greek Isles, Caribbean, Costa Rica, Polynesia

or through the Panama Canal. Windstar Cruises operates three sailing yachts known for their pampering without pretense and their ability to visit the hidden harbors and secluded coves of the world’s most treasured destinations. Best for older children.

Contact: 1-800-258-7245;

7. Great Lakes Getaway.

Spend a few hours or a few days aboard a charming, but floating “bed and breakfast”. Sailing from Traverse City, Michigan, you’ll enjoy the grandeur of the Great Lakes from a majestic sailing vessel.

Contact: 1-800-678-0383; 

When I’m traveling on my own or with family, I always learn something. That’s part of the thrill for me. 

In an era where politics and history are playing an important role, why not fold the notion into your travel planning. 

Here are a few places where you and your clan can learn about some of the people and events that shaped our nation. 

Mount Rushmore, SD -

Tucked within the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is among the more famous monuments in the country. The whole family will 

enjoy seeing the faces of four of the most important presidents -George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln -ever to hold the office, carved into rock for the ages. Hiking, biking, wildlife and other tourist sites are nearby.

Contact: www.; 1 (800) 732-5682. 

Charlottsville, VA.

Monticello, the mountaintop home of Thomas Jefferson is the only home in America on the elite World Heritage List of the United Nations. There are numerous tours available including one designed for children ages 6 to 11. The 30-minute tours feature hands-on opportunities and a glimpse of what life was like for the children who lived at Monticello in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Contact:; 1(434) 984-9822. 

Philadelphia, PA 

In this historical city, known as the birthplace of democracy, the whole family can stand on the ground where the Liberty Bell first tolled and the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed. Visit Independence Hall, see the famous bell, George Washington’s chair, and check out the Betsy Ross house. Take in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Constitution Center.

Contact:; (215)636-3300.

Plains, GA. 

Stop by for the Peanut Festival and get to know the town made famous by former President Jimmy Carter. Visit his boyhood farm, shop for antiques and learn about his Nobel Prize winning programs. Ride the SAM shortline excursion train.

Contact:; (229) 824-5373.

Hyannis, MA – With miles of beautiful beaches and bike paths to explore, visitors will enjoy this community known by many as home to the Kennedy family, a clan famous for decades of political involvement. The picturesque coastal haven served as the backdrop for the now famous images of President John F. Kennedy sailing the local waters with his young family. Contact:; 1 (877) 492-6647.

Published in School Age

On your next holiday, stay somewhere surprising. Here are a hand full of out of the ordinary options:

Kokopelli's Cave Bed & Breakfast, Farmington, NM.

Not far from the Four Corners where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah converge, you’ll find this underground sanctuary, originally created as a one-of-a-kind office for a geologist. Expect plenty of creature comforts including a waterfall-style shower and Jacuzzi tub. Southwestern style furnishings fill the 1650 square foot haven carved into sandstone 70 feet below the surface. Breakfast items, including oatmeal, fresh fruit and muffins, are provided. You’ll also find plenty in the cave fridge to create a picnic style lunch, assuming you’ll be exploring the surrounding area. Bring your own grill-friendly food and enjoy cooking on the balcony while enjoying sweeping views of the surrounding mountains. The cave entrance is a ten minute hike from the parking area. Recommended for children eight and older.

Contact: 505-860-3812; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (their website is under development) 

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.

No oxygen masks required when you check in to stay inside this refurbished Boeing 727 fuselage. Located in the jungle, minutes from the Manuel Antonio National Park, the whole family will enjoy the unique lodging that once served as transport for South Africa Air. The aircraft now rests atop a 50 foot pedestal, offering magnificent views of the treetops and ocean in the distance. Kids will love telling their friends about relaxing on the deck and communing with the local residents that include toucans, squirrel monkeys and sloths. Sleeps six in two air-conditioned bedrooms.

Contact: 1 (866) 854-7958; 

Big Bay Lighthouse, Big Bay, and MI.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this lighthouse is run by three avid preservationists eager to share local history. Their goal is to maintain the romance of an era when mariners relied on the skill of a Light Keeper to bring them safely through this challenging stretch of Michigan coastline. Today visitors enjoy the peaceful solitude of the pristine location on Lake Superior. Hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are available on 40 acres of trails. A full breakfast is included. For safety reasons, children must be 16 or older.

Contact: (906) 345-9957; To discover other lighthouses that welcome overnight guests visit:

Houseboat Holiday, Boston MA.

Book the 58-foot Cuckoo’s Nest house boat docked in Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard to begin your floating holiday. Fall asleep to the sounds of waves gently lapping in the harbor. Relax on the roof top sun deck then hop aboard a free shuttle bus, water taxi, or water shuttle and head into the city for sightseeing and dinner. Children and pets are welcome. Explore houseboat getaway options in Baltimore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Contact: 413-652-1400;

Mary Jane’s Farm. Moscow, ID.

Check into a stylish wall tent on Mary Jane Butters’ farm and the worries of the world will melt away. Gather your own eggs for breakfast. Pick vegetables you’ll enjoy for lunch. Visit the library housed in a barn. Burn calories helping out with farm chores. Relax in the outdoor living room area nestled in a grove of plum trees. Go for a hike or play cards or board games. Later get clean in the outdoor tub or showers.

Contact: 888-750-6004;

Published in Sleep

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, Stockbridge
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.

New England Wildflower Society’s Garden in the Woods, Framingham

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.

Naumkeag, Stockbridge
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.

Published in Explore


Every day should be Earth Day celebration. Here are some special ways we can honor our beautiful planet. Take part!

Enjoy a Farm Stay.

Get close to the land by planning a farm stay. You’ll wake to a rooster call or the sounds of other barnyard animals welcoming in the day. Share in the chores or simply observe a lifestyle that is likely quite different from your own. Enjoy farm fresh eggs for breakfast before pitching in to help with the day’s chores. Depending on the farm you choose, you can relax on a hammock, go for a horseback ride, pick berries, fish the local stream or read a book under a shade tree. Animals and activities vary by farm. Contact:;

Kids to Parks.

Join your children in a grassroots movement to celebrate our country’s local, state and national parks  The following day, grown-ups are encouraged to take their children and grandchildren to one of thousands of treasured parks across the country. Kids can tweet about their participation or send photos that will be posted on a national map. Check the site for park activities and other family-friendly suggestions. Contact:;

Be an Eco-traveler.

Costa Rica was an early leader in the ecotourism movement. Visit Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the country’s Osa Peninsula, for an intense wildlife and biologically diverse experience. Choose to embark on this Tropical Adventure and you’ll find your family on the “Twigs, Pigs and Garbage Sustainability Tour”, joining wild cat researchers in their efforts to conserve jaguar and pumas and exploring nearby tide pools. Contact: 800-345-4453;;

Aldo Leopold Nature Center. Monona, Wisconsin.

Visit the nature center inspired by Wisconsin naturalist and author Aldo Leopold for outdoor activities designed with the busy family in mind. Explore walking trails supported by season specific backpacks, offering exploration guides and an activity kit. Visit the Leopold Interpretive Trail and the special “touch table” that encourages young children to get a feel for nature items like feathers, bones, fur and rocks. Ask about spring break and summer camp programs just for kids. Contact: (608) 221-0404;


Published in Adventure

First time casters and veteran anglers enjoy the natural places that enable a fly fishing vacation. Test your tippet deep in the wilderness or perfect your back casts on the resort lawn.

Gather your gear. Then enjoy the beauty and art of fly fishing: 

LL Bean Outdoor Discovery School. Freeport, ME or Columbia, MD. The knowledgeable instructors at LL Bean can jump start your family into the wonderful world of fly fishing with their one or two-day introductory courses.  You’ll learn about fly-tackle, delve into knot tying, fly tying, and fish-food identification, then move outside to practice casting skills in a nearby pond.  Continue the analysis and improvement at home once you’ve viewed their video of your newly acquired skill. Contact:  LL Bean experts are available for fishing advice on their hotline between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m EST every day; 1-800-347-4552.  For class registration:  (888)-552-3261); 

Painting the picture. Nye, Montana. If not casting color onto a canvas, Tom Wolfe can be found throwing a line streamside somewhere in the Montana backcountry. Mixing his love of painting with a passion for wild places, Wolfe paints through the winter in his log cabin tucked in the Absaroka foothills. Then, when spring melts into summer, he happily leads week- long pack trips or day excursions into to some of the best trout fishing water in America. When not teaching the kids how to tie a fly, he might be working on a watercolor of your family’s high altitude adventure. Contact: 406-328-4694: 

Chetola Resort. Blowing Rock, NC. The only Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing lodge in North Carolina has plenty to offer the entire family. Pack a rod for a half day trip to “The Refuge” on Boone Fork Creek, a destination deemed ideal for beginners and families.  When not casting a line, check out the children’s camp, a heated indoor pool, fitness center and nearby rafting and golf. Contact: (800) 243-8652;

Match the Hatch. Livingston, MT. Spend a day on the Yellowstone River with Eric Adams and your family members will go home with more than basic casting skills. His educational background in ecology means you’ll learn to “match the hatch”, fish pocket water from a raft and how to maximize a day on the famed Yellowstone River or nearby spring creeks. You are sure to enjoy time on the Yellowstone, the longest stretch of blue-ribbon trout habitat in the nation.  Contact: 406.223.2488;

 Fishing on the Farm.  Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN. With two ponds and a stream on site,  plus more than 700 miles of fishable trout streams in the neighboring Great Smoky Mountain National Park, this gem of a property offers the novice or experienced fly fishing family the opportunity to enjoy great water as well as a sea of additional activities. Horseback riding, mountain biking, cooking schools, the Farmhouse Spa and charming accommodations on 4,200 pastoral acres, combine to create a picturesque haven for a gathering clan. Contact: (800) 648-4252;

Published in New England