Dreaming of Nantucket

Thirteen years ago in a farmhouse in Madaket, Nantucket that coruscated with magical candlelight, we celebrated the wedding of our close friends Jeff and Lisa.    Between moves and babies, and budget, we had not been back to the enchanted island since.  This summer, when my husband and I convinced his Northern Virginia residing, Outer Banks loving,  family to vacation in New England, I knew we needed a plan.    Another friend, Linda, has been to Nantucket every year with her family, and gave me a list of her favorite things to do.  Each suggestion turned out to be better than the last, and her list quickly became our guidebook.

We rented a house in the Tom Nevers area that did not allow dogs.  But Nantucket is such a dog friendly island that we decided to board our dog there so that we could take him out to play during the week.  The Nantucket MSPCA where he stayed, is located just across from the gorgeous Tupancy  Links dog park, and close to dog friendly beaches where he could swim.  This worked out perfectly. Surprisingly, the cost would have been comparable had we boarded him back home.

Vacation began when we stepped on to the ferry,  since we brought our car we made reservations months in advance to secure a spot.  Our week was filled with incredible experiences, not the least of which was just relaxing in adirondack chairs with family,  but here are some recommendations to get you started if you go.

1. Our first night we celebrated my husband’s birthday at The Jetties restaurant, situated at the edge of Jetties Beach.  Live music complemented the delicious food, and my toes were dug in the powdery sand. Heaven. We washed dinner down with sangria full of fruit, which we took over to beach chairs when we were done with our meal.  The children played at the adjacent playground while we soaked in the fabulous setting.

2. ‘Sconsett is an idyllic village by the sea with cottages covered in flowering vines.   We spent the day at the beach, visited the Sankaty Head Lighthouse, and had an excellent dinner at the ‘Sconsett Café.

3. On your way to the beautiful beaches in Madaket, on the far west end of the island, you must stop at the dock near Second bridge, and spend some time catching snapping turtles with your kids. You will need to bring string and some chicken legs from the supermarket. To watch your kids dangle a chicken leg over the dock and pull up a big turtle is extraordinary!

4. On your way back into town stop and have lunch at Something Natural, for yummy sandwiches to be eaten outside at picnic benches in a park like setting. Tucked away at 50 Cliff Rd.

5. The Whaling Museum gives a great overview of the fascinating history of the island, and a few of us early risers took a walking tour around town that further detailed its rich historic past.

6. I think the highlight for us all was chartering a sailboat (the Endeavor) for an evening cruise. It was a spectacular setting, and a great way to view the harbor and the sound.

There were things we had wanted to do, but never got around to, like biking along the extensive paths that criss-crossed the island.  Of course we did manage to squeeze in some shopping at the fabulous boutiques, and have an exquisite grown up meal at The Pearl in town. We love having the opportunity to be all together as a family for a vacation every year, and cherish our time together. If anyone has recommendations for our next visit to Nantucket, please let me know, because after our fantastic experience there, I think we will be able to convince our mid-Atlantic family members to come back.

 

 

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Doing Disney World with a Toddler

Strollers are a must for a young toddler at Disney.

I grew up an hour from Disney World and went to the parks far less than my husband did as a Rhode Islander.  His family made the trek to the parks every year and absolutely LOVE parks.  I am less excited about theme parks, but since it is important to my husband we decided to brave Disney World with our 16 month old son this year.

I’ve always thought 16 months was way too young for a park, but you know what? It isn’t. My son had the time of his life for the two and a half days we were in Orlando. The keys to our success were this: stay at a hotel at the Magic Kingdom, go to the park EARLY, plan which rides are suitable for a toddler before your trip and book a character breakfast.

Staying at the Magic Kingdom is more expensive, but you can save money by booking in the off season. If you only have a toddler, don’t go school vacation week: prices double at hotels during this time. The park also raises prices across the board for busy weeks. The main reason I loved staying at the Magic Kingdom (we chose Wilderness Lodge this year) was convenience and the fact if my little guy needed a nap I could get him home in minutes and the rest of our group could stay at the park.

I am not a morning person, but my son is up bright and early between 6 and 6:30 am every day. Another benefit of staying at a Disney hotel is the Extra Magic Hour you receive- you can get into all of their parks one hour before the rest of the park-goers! This is huge with a toddler because you can get to all of the popular rides for them with little to no wait. We made a bee-line to the Winnie the Pooh ride and had less than a 10 minute wait. My son’s favorite ride was the carousel, which he asked to go on “more please” repeatedly. If you’re a night owl, you can also stay later at the park with your hotel key– which could be fun if you have family to babysit or your child is old enough for Disney babysitting.

My husband had the trip thoroughly planned out with what rides were appropriate for our son and had a plan. You can download apps for ride wait times and other Disney tips for your smart phone to make your trip more efficient. We checked out the web site MouseSavers and learned some great Disney World tips and tricks.Micky waffle

My last suggestion for toddler Disney fans is to book a character breakfast. We booked a late morning breakfast at the Polynesian hotel and my little guy absolutely loved meeting Stitch, Mickey, Pluto & Lilo. He wasn’t scared a bit and wanted to chase the characters around the restaurant!

If you were considering taking your toddler to Disney, I say do it! This is coming from a non-park loving, “not a big Disney fan” Mom. Seeing the joy in my son’s face was priceless and he had a fantastic time! Disney might have finally won me over!

What are your tips for traveling with a toddler?

 

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