A big road trip through a tiny corner of North America

Easter in the Catskills, a breeze through Boston and New York in the springtime; it all sounded so idyllic. 

But we didn’t factor in the April showers. Which were more like sideways sheets in Massachusetts and murky mizzle in Connecticut.

But hey, we’re British! 

Just wish we’d packed the wellies (I mean rain boots).

On the plus side, the few (quite a few) rainy days we had meant we got to discover some pretty cool indoor attractions. The awesome Boston Children’s Museum (our 4yo wanted to go back EVERY. SINGLE. DAY) and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum (with a walk-through life-sized Pequot tribal village perfect for kids) were two highlights. 

And in New York, nothing could dampen our daughter’s joy at seeing the actual, real-life Statue of Liberty. The souvenir crown and torch were firmly fixed to her for days after, and we are under strict instructions to return as soon as she is big enough to climb up inside Lady Liberty’s crown.

We had planned our road trip to end in New York City; so first we headed upstate to the tiny town of Phoenicia (which, it turns out, is a hot-spot for NY’s hipsters); then across to Boston; down to Newport, Rhode Island and finally we took a ferry from New London to Long Island and drove down to Brooklyn.

An easy two-and-a-bit weeks (I’ve decided three-nights in any one place is necessary if you don’t want to feel like a travelling circus).  

Bear Cottage, Phoenicia

Just a couple of hours outside of NYC, Phoenicia had a cute, one-horse-town kinda vibe, but I got the feeling that changed come Memorial Day – the unofficial start of summer. We were too early in the season for the ice cream store, but just in time for the bears coming out of hibernation.

“Bears and ticks, that’s what you’ve got to worry about,” the lady at the local grocery store told us.

It may have been a ploy to get us to buy the $9.99 all-natural anti-tick spray. And it worked.    

Just had to keep an eye out for those bears – especially the ones that had emptied trash all over our back lawn. We were staying in Bear Cottage after all.

But anyway, first things first, and second; breakfast. Second breakfast became a thing on this holiday, and just out of town on state route 28, the Phoenicia Diner serves amazing double-up-as-lunch breakfasts. You’ll need to get there early on the weekend to beat the hipster crowds though. Alternatively, in town, there’s Sweet Sue’s, where the fluffy buttermilk pancakes bigger than your head went down well.

It was fresh air we came for though, so to walk off all the breakfasts we took the 30-minute drive up to Kaatterskill Falls in the Hudson Valley. A half-mile rocky hike from the main road takes you to the base of a 260-foot waterfall, with two drops. 

The waterfall was in full-flow (hurrah for the inclement weather!) and we couldn’t tell whether it was raining or not; the mist from the cascades was all around us. We made our way up to the ledge and poked at a mound of hard snow, left from a fall just two weeks earlier. It certainly didn’t feel like spring, yet. 

The next day, though, the sun was out. So we popped down the road to Woodstock – famous for the festival that actually took place on a dairy farm 40 miles away, 50 years ago. 

On Tinker Street the tie-dye and incense shops jostle with trendy boutiques and artisan outlets. You can still buy a festival t-shirt, but you can also get wood-fired bagels and fresh-roasted single-origin coffee. Which we did, at the cute Mud Club coffee house.  

After a slow few days in the Catskills, we headed to our apartment in Boston’s Charlestown. 

The clapboard-house was on Monument Avenue, which led straight up to Bunker Hill Monument; the start (or finish) of the Freedom Trail. The two-and-a-half mile (4km) walking route is easily do-able with kids; you just need to follow the red line, which, it turns out, is half the fun when you’re four-and-a-half. Throw in a couple of pit-stops for snacks and before you know it, you’ve walked to Boston Common. 

Walking the trail is free, and it’s a great way to explore this super-manageable city, but there are plenty of historic sights along the way which you can dip into, for a fee. 

We took a look inside Paul Revere’s house – the pretty, wooden 17th-century home is downtown Boston’s oldest building.

In Charlestown, we were across the water from Downtown Boston, which meant a fun ride on the passenger ferry. From Charlestown Navy Yard it was a short trip across the water to the harbour area, where the New England Aquarium, the Boston Tea Party Museum and, just across the bridge, the awesome Boston Children’s Museum can be found. 

We headed for the interactive Tea Party Museum, to sit in a town meeting and get involved in some treason; we boarded the tall ship and helped throw tea overboard, all the while trying not to give away our British accents. 

Our next stop was a cute clapboard cottage in Newport, Rhode Island, where the locals seemed pretty surprised to see tourists. But that meant we had beautiful, empty, white-sand beaches to run along (and the absolutely freezing cold Atlantic to dip our toes in…)

It was just what we needed before the craziness of NYC…

More info on our trip…

Our route was Newark Liberty International Airport NJ – Phoenicia NY – Boston MA – Plymouth MA – Newport RI – New London CT (for the Cross Sound Ferry to Long Island) – NYC (Brooklyn).

We stayed in Airbnbs along the way. Our favourite was Bear Cottage, Phoenicia NY.

If you’re in Boston with kids, you absolutely have to check out the Boston Children’s Museum.

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