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Refine our Chicago-Boston road trip in August w/ 2 kids

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Chicago, Illinois
posts: 41
Refine our Chicago-Boston road trip in August w/ 2 kids

2 adults, 2 boys age 8 & 11

We are trying to plan a road trip during the first 2 weeks of August. We are tentatively planning 8 or 9 days, depending.

Our boys are getting very interested in American History, so we are trying to focus on that this trip. We have no burning desire to visit big museums (Science, Childrens, etc) as we frequent the ones at home and I have been told no Fenway.

So far, we want to do the Freedom Trail, Paul Revere's house, Whale Watching Tour, and Faneuil Hall. We have 3 full days planned for Boston.

We would very much like to hit up Salem/Marblehead and Lexington/Concord. Would it make more sense for us to come directly in to Salem and stay there first before coming into Boston and stashing the car? Or should we try to book a condo or something and just day trip out?

Thanks for any/all advice!!

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 41
1. Re: Refine our Chicago-Boston road trip in August w/ 2 kids

Oh!! Forgot to add we are going to do Mt. Auburn cemetery and Sam Adams brewery.

North Shore, MA
Destination Expert
for Salem
posts: 3,471
reviews: 83
2. Re: Refine our Chicago-Boston road trip in August w/ 2 kids

Salem is an easy day trip from Boston by ferry or commuter rail. However, it is much easier to visit Marblehead by car (and you should! - for one reason, the many layers of history at Fort Sewall) so the car will make sense for Salem as well. A trip to Lexington and Concord is also possible by public transit, but much easier by car. A car will also allow you to visit points along the Battle Road.

Georgia
posts: 1,301
reviews: 1
3. Re: Refine our Chicago-Boston road trip in August w/ 2 kids

Depending on how in depth you want to tour and how long you might want to linger, plan the better part of a day touring the Freedom trail (2.5m) and of course, the Revere House and Fanuiel Hall are stops along the way. Alternatively, you could cut the Trail in half and do it on 2 different days. 1/2 way is appx. The North End/Revere House or Fanueil Hall/Quincy Market. Make sure to plan at least one good meal or more in the North End for Italian Food and also a stop at a bakery for canollis or what have you and a cappucino.

Also about half way is Chistopher Columbus Park and the Long wharf where you could catch a whale watch. Alternatively, perhaps skip the whale watch (especially is the oceans are rough) and/or take the Harbor Ferry to George's Island to visit Fort Warren. Lots of underground and dark corners for an 8 and 11 to explore. A sunset cruise is also a good idea, they usually will stop in the harbor near the USS Constitution for the sunset/evening gun.

So.... maybe 1/2 the trail and then 1/2 a day in the harbor or vis-a-versa.

I agree, coming from Chicago, giving a pass on the Science, Children or Museum of FIne Arts is OK. Not that they aren't great, but Chicago's museums are a match. No worries about missing Fenwaya either if it's not a major draw for you. And nice call on Mt Auburn Cemetary, make sure you find the tower and climb to the top for a unique view of the city.

You mention Sam Adams brewery, perhaps take the MBTA down to Quincy for a visit to the John Adams Homesite. He's one of the most under-appreciated founders, IMHO!!! Also consider a tour of the JFK Museum. It's a bit of a chore to reach my MBTA so maybe take the car. Perhaps tie a visit there and to the John Adams home together, sinvce they are both a bit south of downtown. Maybe hit them coming into the city and visit Salem/concord heading out.

Salem is reachable via train or ferry. Lots of witch stuff, but for my money and for history buffs, The Peabody Essex Museum is a real gem!!! Lots of whaling, maritime, far east and china trade exibits. I must repeat, PEM Museum!!!!

I'd stash the car during the whole time in Boston, but maybe check out of you hotel drive out to Salem instead of the train, and then plan to get a hotel out near Concord (lots on rt 95/128).

On the way to/from, I couldn't recommend a stop at Gettysburg more highly!!! And while at it, a swing thru Valley Forge closer into Phily is worth a stop.

Have a great trip! BTW, I love Chicago, done a lot of work out there and almost moved there yrs back.

Kevin

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 41
4. Re: Refine our Chicago-Boston road trip in August w/ 2 kids

Thanks for all the help!! There's so much info and we really like playing it fast and loose but feel like this isn't the time/trip to do that.

Our current itinerary stands:

Day 1: Leave Chicago to Erie, PA - Overnight

Day 2: Erie, PA to Niagara Falls

Do Maid of Mist

Drive Niagara Falls to Ithica, NY (overnight)

Day 3: Sciencenter and/or Taughannock Falls (weather/time/attitude depending)

Drive Ithica to Salem (overnight)

Day 4: Explore Salem/Marblehead (overnight)

Whale watch here??

Day 5: Salem to Lexington/Concord

Minute Man National Park/Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Mt. Auburn Cemetery

Drive to Boston (overnight)

Day 6: Boston

Freedom Trail/Revere House/USS Consitution/Bunker Hill/North End

Day 7: Boston

Freedom Trail/Faneuil Hall/Boston Common/Sam Adams

Day 8: Boston

Whale Watch? if already done head to Plimoth Plantation?

Stay outside of Boston overnight to get jump on drive in morning?

Day 9: Drive to Cleveland (overnight)

Day 10: Drive home with short stop at Notre Dame :)

North Shore, MA
Destination Expert
for Salem
posts: 3,471
reviews: 83
5. Re: Refine our Chicago-Boston road trip in August w/ 2 kids

The itinerary looks good overall to my eye, but I'll confine my comments to Salem and nearby areas. Salem doesn't offer whale watching trips. The closest would be Gloucester (or Boston). If you were to do a trip out of Gloucester, you'd only have a few hours left in that day for Salem and Marblehead. What are your interests in Salem? I wholeheartedly agree with Kevin about the Peabody Essex Museum. He didn't even mention Yin Yu Tang, a house that was disassembled in China and reassembled at the Museum! There is also Salem Maritime National Historic Site with the tall ship, Friendship. And, since you have some cemeteries on your agenda, I'll add the Old Burying Point (and Witch Memorial).

Central Maine
Destination Expert
for Maine
posts: 5,220
reviews: 112
6. Re: Refine our Chicago-Boston road trip in August w/ 2 kids

To combine some basic history, get a bit familiar with Boston geography, and have some fun at the same time, consider a Boston Duck Tour for your first day in the city.... boys should love it (and adults too)....

You can Google them for more info and details.

Winchester...
posts: 5,135
reviews: 64
7. Re: Refine our Chicago-Boston road trip in August w/ 2 kids

Given your itinerary. interests, and two boys aged 8 and 11, it would be a shame not to stop at Fort Ticonderoga on your way to Boston. I would also try to work in a visit to Saratoga National Historic Park.

Birmingham, Alabama
posts: 553
reviews: 6
8. Re: Refine our Chicago-Boston road trip in August w/ 2 kids

Two other places to consider: Lowell's National Park on the Industrial Revolution.

Fall River's Battleship Cove including the USS Massachusetts.

Both are very interesting, laden with history and well worth a visit.

I would go to either or both of them over Salem.

Edited: 9:18 am, June 24, 2013
Chicago, Illinois
posts: 41
9. Re: Refine our Chicago-Boston road trip in August w/ 2 kids

Thanks for all the suggestions!! My boys love the duck tours that we've been on other parts of the country, so we'll probably go here as well.

The Peabody Essex Museum looks wonderful, but given that we go regularly to the Art Institute of Chicago, I think it would be lost on my boys. Part of the reason for the visit to Salem. Yes I know it's kitschy, but so is Wisconsin Dells and we enjoy that as well.

I like the Battleship Cove idea, but am trying to be careful I'm not overdoing the ship tours. Having been about the same age when my parents dragged us all over CT & RI to ships and maritime museums, I know the pain.

Ideally, I'm looking for experiences we've never had previously on vacation (primarily Hawaii, Florida and all of Midwest) nor will we see in the Lake Michigan area.

Boston
Destination Expert
for Boston
posts: 12,863
reviews: 1
10. Re: Refine our Chicago-Boston road trip in August w/ 2 kids

How are going to do all this in your 3 days?