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.
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.
Contact: www.VisitPrinceton.com; www.PrincetonTourCompany.com.
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; VisitAnnapolis.org.
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; ocracokevillage.com
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.
Contact: GoStowe.com; TrappFamily.com.
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; VisitMaine.com; topshamfair.net