Fall Festivities in New England

The Fall season in New England brings about a slew of requisite fun family activities.  Below are  my top five favorites not to be missed.

1. Apple Picking! To be honest my older kids kind of roll their eyes at this one, yet I drag them every year, and every year they love it once I get them there.  There a many places to apple pick in Rhode Island, my favorite is Narrow Lane Orchard in North Kingstown because they also have peaches when in season, and a beautiful (but short enough for the kids) nature trail around the orchard.   There is something about picking your own apples and then taking them home to make an apple pie.  I love giving my kids that farm to table experience whenever possible.  My pie recipe is super easy, and the kids love to help.  I buy ready- made Pillsbury pie Crusts, frankly, because I haven’t mastered the pie crust, and mine  have just never come out as good as the ready- made! For the filling:

8 apples cut up into chunks or slices

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 T cornstarch

3/4 t. cinnamon

1 t. vanilla

Mix it all together and bake at 350 until top is golden and the filling is bubbling, about 1 hr.

2. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular! This takes place every October in R.I., this year it will run October 6th through 31st from 6pm to 10pm at the Roger Williams Park Zoo. Similar events are spread throughout the area. In fact  Women’s Day magazine had a great article last year listing these displays around the country.  Thousands of pumpkins are carved, lit and lined up on a trail with music setting the mood to create an enchanting evening experience not to be missed. It is truly unique, and my whole family enjoys it.  I recommend going either on the early or late side to avoid a long wait in line, since this event is so popular.

 

 

3. The RISD sale. Don’t miss the fall student & alumni RISD sale held outdoors on Benefit street between Waterman and Hopkins streets in Providence. October 15th from 10am to 4pm. Be inspired by amazing creativity, meet the artists, and pick up distinctive art at affordable prices.  Also a great place to find gifts of Jewelry, textiles, ceramics, paintings or paper goods, for yourself or others.

4. Pumpkin Picking.  Yes, there is still a place where, like Charlie Brown, you can go to a real pumpkin patch and pick your own pumpkin off the vine. You don’t have to just buy it at the supermarket. (although admittedly, in this area with plentiful pumpkin crops, they can be much less expensive at supermarkets) For the experience, Spring Hill Sugar House is located at 522 Gardner Rd.in Richmond, RI, and is an 8 acre farm that produces it’s own maple syrup and apple cider . It also has a fantastic corn maze and pumkin patch that makes it the perfect fall day family outing. Be sure to bring your camera to capture all the great photo opportunities.

5. Leaf Collecting.  Remember as a kid picking out colorful leaves and bringing them home to iron between wax paper?  I had somehow forgotten to do this for a while, but the beauty of having children is rediscovering some of the simple pleasures we sometimes forget as adults.  Now we go on a leaf hunt, in our yard, the neighborhood, or on a trail, and bring home beautiful leaves.  I iron them between wax paper, punch two holes in the top, tie on a string, and hang them in the windows for pretty (and for me, nostalgic) home-made fall decorations.

 

The air is crisp, time to get cozy and enjoy the beauty of the Fall! What are some of your favorite fall activities?

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Touring New England With a Toddler

Mystic PizzaI don’t know about you, but I feel like the cost of everything lately is outrageously expensive.  Plane tickets? Forget it. Gas? It costs almost 100 bucks to fill up my Tahoe (which is, in part, is why we’ve become a one car family, at least for the time being). Date night (what’s that?) At least 100 dollars a pop. That’s why I was thrilled to find out Mystic Country, CT had so much to offer the entire family…and it’s just a short 45 minutes from our home in Rhode Island.  You could truly have a week’s staycation in the area and not run out of fun things to do.  Unfortunately, as I indicated here, we were in the process of moving, so I guess you can’t really call what we did a staycation.  We had been to Mystic once before, pre-baby, and I’m so glad we went back with Paige this time around,  before leaving New England.  However, because of our time constraints, and some meetings I had in Washington DC, we could only stay for a night.

On our way into town, we stopped in charming Mystic, CT and picked up a pizza to go at the famous Mystic Pizza. It’s a lovely spot, surrounded by quaint shops and friendly people.  We drove about another 10 minutes into Waterford, Ct, where our hotel was located.  On the agenda for our trip was The Dinosaur Place & Ocean Beach Park.   SpringHill Suites by Mariott was conveniently located near both, and was a great place for us to stay.  Bonus that the hotel had free wi-fi, a hearty breakfast, two plasma TVs AND an indoor pool and gym. They were kind enough to give us an early check in, so we could unload and head out to Ocean Beach Park.Fountain

 

Father & Daughter on beach

The first thing I noticed when we arrived at Ocean Beach Park, was the white sandy beach.  Beautiful!  That, coupled with the long, winding boardwalk reminded me of the vacations I used to take to Florida as a kid. My daughter loved running up and down the boardwalk and squishing her toes in the sand.  Next, she made a beeline for the spray park.  We spent two hours getting soaked before heading to the snack bar.

baby at pool

 

There’s also nightly entertainment at the park, shops, a massive waterslide, olympic sized pool, and so much more!  It was roasting hot on this particular day and we were exhausted, so we headed back to the hotel early, grabbed our leftover pizza and salad out of our hotel fridge and called it a night!

The next morning, we had a hot breakfast (included in hotel stay) in the lobby, then headed for the dinosaur place.  I’ve gotta say dino place FAR EXCEEDED my expectations.  In my opinion, the prices are reasonable, especially considering you could literally spend all day here.  I think any child under 14 would enjoy this, with the ideal age probably being 3-10 year olds.  My daughter (17 mos.)  had an absolute blast and she’s not yet two.

Dino

Dino PlaceOutside, kids can explore prehistoric nature trails and encounter life-sized dinosaurs, navigate their way through a huge maze, or have some fun in New England’s largest Splashpad. Dino Place SplashpadBaby at Splashpad Inside, they can take part in a fossil dig, select a geode and be the first to see the inside of something millions of years old, or pan for gold in an indoor stream.  There’s also a large toy shop, bead shop, jewelry shop & mineral & fossil shop!

We were so sad we had to leave and couldn’t spend the entire day there (which you could easily do), but we are doing a huge road trip and we didn’t want to leave all our belongings in the hitch basket attached to our car.  The hotel was already kind enough to extend our checkout; I knew it had a busy week and I wanted to give the cleaning crew ample time to get the room situated for the next guests.

If you live in New England, and you are itching to get away, but want to stay close to home, you should definitely check out all that Mystic Country has to offer.

 

Disclosure: In order to facilitate this review, portions of my trip were comped.

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