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Renee Pagnani

Topsfield, Massachusetts

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Edaville Railroad

5 Pine Street, Carver, Massachusetts

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: December 2012 | Submitted: Mar 19, 2013 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

A Train Lovers Winter Wonderland

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Our family loves trains and Edaville Railroad is one of our favorite stops. We made our yearly visit to Edaville on a Saturday in December. This is a Christmas themed amusement park with a splendid train ride which circles the park.We entered the park under a series of arced trellises lit up with Christmas lights. We spent time looking at the old fashioned window displays of Santa's elves making toys. Then my 10 year old braved the cold to go on the outdoor rides. There are a variety of rides for little ones like Jumbo The Elephant and The Little Drummer Boy. My son likes the rides for the bigger kids like The Scrambler. We all went on the Ferris Wheel and were glad we bundles up. Located inside is a train museum featuring antique tractors and lots of John Deere equipment. Kids can visit with Santa, watch part of a Christmas movie in a sleigh and crawl through a maze. Then, it's off with the shoes for dive into a Cranberry Bog ball pit! We love the local flare of this park. The highlight of the trip is the festival of lights nestled in the wooded area around the park. We boarded one of two trains (a narrow gauge or old fashioned steam engine) and sat back for sensory delight. The light displays include moving displays (reindeer leaping or frogs jumping). One of my favorite parts was the lights reflecting off of the pond in the center of the park. It's hard to decide whether to watch the faces of the young children as they marvel at the festival of lights or watch the festival itself. Either way, the wonder of Christmas magic is easily transmitted into our hearts. This is a nice indoor /outdoor escape from the business of the holidays and worth the ride to this remote part of Massachusetts. I am still not sure who liked it more, my husband or my 10 year old!

Tips for Families

There are limited food selections inside the park and the restaurants are few and far between in the area. The rides are outside so dress appropriately Plan to arrive early to make use of day light for the outdoor activities and take the first train ride. It gets dark early that time of year.

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Alice's Tea Cup

102 W 73rd St., New York City, New York

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: January 2012 | Submitted: Mar 19, 2013 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

A Fantasy Tea Experience at Alice's Tea Cup

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We loved our early morning breakfast at Alice's Tea Cup. During our stay on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, we were looking for something different to fill the time between our visits to the museums. Alice's Tea Cup was a pleasant surprise. This fantasy tea experience had something for everyone. My husband is a tea connoisseur and considers this a place for serious tea drinkers. All tea is timed for the type of tea served and served in funky designed tea pots. The menu offers many health conscious choices (oatmeals and granola's) along with their special takes on breakfast sandwiches (salmon eggs benedict). I loved being able to pick healthy choices while dining in a storybook setting. My coffee came in an oversized coffee cup and my son ordered delicious hot chocolate. My 10 y.o. son loved the whimsical, fantasy atmosphere of stepping into the world of Alice in Wonderland. The odd shaped tables and furniture and colorful decor with The Wonderland feel kept his interest and sparked his imagination. The service was friendly and welcoming. The little gift shop offered some adorable gifts but mostly geared towards the young female guest. Overall, this was just our cup of tea. Alice's offered something for everyone and really topped off our stay on the Upper East Side.

Tips for Families

Make reservations as The Tea Cup get full quickly Bring a camera as this is a hot spot for star sightings Be sure to visit the Wonderland themed bathrooms.

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Ninth wave

54R Merrimac Street, Newburyport, Massachusetts

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: July 2012 | Submitted: Mar 18, 2013 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Smooth Sailing on The Ninth Wave

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This is one of my family's favorite water activities.We needed a fun family day activity for my mother's 75th birthday and we hit the jackpot. We boarded the Ninth Wave right from the Boardwalk in Newburyports waterfront area. This lovely, spacious catamaran holds up to 30 people and my family totaled 15 that day. Our ages ranged from a 10 year old, several teenagers to adults. We were challenged to find an activity to please everyone but the Ninth Wave fit the bill. The boat pulls away from the lively boardwalk and allows great visibility of all of the waterfront activity. We heard outdoor music, watched to bridge by Michaels Harborside rise up and down and checked out the other boats in the area. The ride up the river was so smooth and we moved freely around the boat. Even as the catamaran went through the mouth of the river out into the ocean, were comfortable. The boat ride we chose went from 2:30 until 5:00. We sailed up the coast to Hampton NH, Salisbury , Seabrook and back down along the Merrimack River. It turned out that we had the whole boat to ourselves. Once the captain gives the OK, we climbed out on the trampoline nets to be close to the water. We could relax, listen to music and sightsee. The Wave allows carry on food items and you can bring your own drinks. There are also an assortment of food and drinks to purchase on board. We were tempted to book the sunset sail, but luckily saw a beautiful sunset on the way back at 5:30. This was one of the most fun, relaxing days spent outdoors with family. It was a great way to please a varied age range within our family. My mother will remember this day as the ease and fun stand out in her mind.

Tips for Families

Be on time as the boat leaves promptly Dress comfortably Bring a camera as the views are spectacular

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Les Tenement Museum

108 Orchard St., New York City, New York

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: January 2012 | Submitted: Mar 10, 2013 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Tenement Museum

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Our trip to the tenement museum was educational and well worth the time. We waited in the bookstore before our tour and found interesting books and Items. We didn't book our tour in advance and many were sold out. We took a tour of an Irish family, The Moore"s. the apartments were restored to their original condition. The tour included a walk outside to the outhouse. We listened to music of that time and Followed the family's journey through ups and downs. Our tour guide was enthusiastic about her job and provided a wealth if information. Many if the other tours were about Italian families and painted quite a picture of life in that time. We all loved it and plan to go again to hear other stories.

Tips for Families

The tenements can be cold or extremely hot. Dress accordingly. Tours sell out, book early Take a walk around the surrounding neighbourhood. It's funky but fun.

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Rock 'N' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

Sunset Blvd, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: November 2012 | Submitted: Mar 10, 2013 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Upside down on The Rocking Roller Coaster

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This is the Ultimate roller coaster! My 10 year old son talked me into going on The Rockin Roller Coaster while visiting Hollywood Studios in Disney World. The ride draws you in with its gigantic red and white electric guitar lining the entrance. There are flashing lights beckoning you into The Artists entrance where you are greeted with a video of Aerosmith and Ileana Douglas (their manager). You hang out with Aerosmith for awhile and when they head off for their concert, they instruct the manager to take everyone with them. She arranges for a Super Stretch Limo (the roller coaster cars) and you are escorted off for the ride of your life. As we were waiting, a young boy in front of me said "I love this ride because it goes upside down" As I was trying to secure my purse under the seat, the "limo" screeches off on a dark, twisty, highspeed adventure. Aerosmith music is blasting in the background...talk about Sweet Emotion!! My son and I screamed and hollered our way through the maze. I believe the coaster boasts a mere 57 miles per hour which includes twist and a corkscrew. I was so glad when it ended. This ride is not for the weak ....but I was able to keep my title as "cool Mom" I am so glad I did this with my son. We both love rock and roll. It was a great way to rock together.

Tips for Families

Secure your belongings as the ride does turn upside down. Ride more than once as each car plays a different song Go on off times as this is a popular ride.

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Statue of Liberty

Liberty Island, New York City, New York

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: November 2011 | Submitted: Mar 10, 2013 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Lady Liberty...What a Day!

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Lady Liberty is a must see! We started out on an unusually warm November day and took a Ferry to Liberty Island. This famous attraction had something for everyone. We made it through security (similar to airports) and spent some time walking around the outside of the statue. We were spending the day with another family and decided to take a tour of the inside of the statue. We chose an audio tour and were amazed at the facts about The Statue and its construction. There are several great places to take photos while inside the statue. The children loved being inside this beloved structure after viewing it from the shore so many times. We climbed and climbed the stairs and stopped along the way in amazement of the views. It was a little overwhelming for my husband who is not a great fan of heights. Somehow the awe of this historical structure overcomes all else. We had not planned enough time to be allowed access to the crown. You have to arrive on the Island by a certain time and we missed the cut off. This day turned out to be a hands on history lesson for all of children, as well as, ourselves. We loved it and plan to go back again to venture up through the crown.

Tips for Families

Plan ahead and check Ferry schedules and tour times. Be sure to secure your Crown reservations in advance Plan lunch and snacks ahead of time as no food is allowed in Lady Liberty Be prepared for the screening process. Unapproved items can be stored and retrieved but take extra time. Have your children do some research prior to the trip. They will appreciate the historical aspect of the visit even more when armed with knowledge. Be creative with your photos. The Statue of Liberty Facebook Page allows uploads of your images.

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Ellis Island

New York City, New York City, New York

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: November 2011 | Submitted: Mar 10, 2013 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Ellis Island, A day well spent

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Our day at Ellis Island turned out to be one of the most educational and enjoying adventures of our NYC. We visited with another family (children ages 8 and 11). My 10 year old loved the Ferry ride and the views of the Statue of Liberty and NYC. The Ellis Island Museum is full of history. We were pleased to find that there are two versions of the audio tours (one for children and one for adults). The children stayed together and timed their tours to start in synch. The children's tour is narrated from the view point of a rat! This allowed us to listen to our own tours while keeping the children within sight. The stories behind the immigration process were fascinating and kept us all enthralled during our stay. The Ferries departed on time allowing us time to go see the Statue Of Liberty as well. This trip took a good part of the morning as we spent several hours on Ellis Island. My husband even took a photograph of his family name entered into the roster. It helped knowing that his mother and her sister entered the country by way of Ellis Island. My son gained some knowledge of his own history while learning a great deal about the immigration process itself. Talk about bringing a history lesson to life!

Tips for Families

Check the Ferry Schedules and plan a full morning for Ellis Island If you plan to visit The Statue of Liberty, plan a full day as you won't want to miss a thing!

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FAO Schwartz

757 5th Ave, New York City, New York

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: November 2011 | Submitted: Mar 9, 2013 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Upscale Toy Store Adventure

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No visit to NYC is complete without a visit to the world famous FAO Schwartz. The store is located on Fifth Avenue in a posh section of town. We were greeted by real life toy soldiers who will pose for photos with your family. The store boasts the best toy collection on the planet and it is hard to disagree. One of our families favorites is FAO Schweets which offers old fashioned candy such as Malo cups, Sky Bars and Zagnuts. What a sweet way to bring back childhood memories! The oversized piano keyboard ( used in the movie BIG, with Tom Hanks) provided a dream come true activity for my 9 y.o. musician son. He loved kicking off his shoes and making music while dancing on the keys. There are plush, life size stuffed animals throughout the store. We all loved the lego section which had large statues of Star Wars characters. FAO provides a fun family experience with a walk down memory lane for parents while kids discover new and fun toys to explore.

Tips for Families

Bring children before Christmas to get a new ideas for Santa! If you visit at Christmas, be prepared. Lines can form for an entire city block!

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Central Park

59th St to 110th St, between 5th Ave & 8th Ave, New York City, New York

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: June 2011 | Submitted: Mar 9, 2013 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Cental Park A trip within a trip!

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Spending the day in New York's Central Park can be the highlight of your trip but you should plan in advance. The park covers over 800 acres and once you step in, having a map in hand is helpful. Be sure to visit Strawberry Fields. My 9 year , old Beatles fan, wanted to see the John Lennon mosaic. On that day, several musicians were playing various Beatles songs and visitors had placed bouquets of flowers on the mosaic in memory of John. There are large bronze statues of Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christen Anderson which easily turn into climbing structures for the children. They make great photo spots , too. The zoo is a must see and provides an easily navigated zoo experience that doesn't take up the whole day. The aviary is phenomenal...just stand and listen. The other animal exhibits allow for close up viewing of a variety of animals. The Delacorte clock chimes on the hour and provides a whimsical feel to the zoo. The zoo is small but allows you to linger with the animals for as long as you want. There are musicians, couples, kids, dogs, kites, bikers, strollers, artists, locals , tourists and visitors from every corner of the world in the park.It is fabulous and free multicultural experience There are vendors along the edge of the park selling everything from hot dogs to photos of NYC to jewelry. My son loved the Chess and Checkers house and The Obelisk, a 71 foot structure. No trip is complete without a ride on the carousel. We were just glad that our son still agrees to go on rides with us!! We ended our visit on 5th avenue so that we were close to pubic transportation and could easily continue our day by visiting FAO Schwartz and other boutique stores in that area.

Tips for Families

Point out a view of Central Park from one of the cities vantage points (Empire State Building or your hotel room) so that the children can gain an idea of the magnitude of the park. Bring water with you. The vendors tend to be along the edge of the park and there is so much to expolore. If you decide on a pedicab, make sure you bargain for the best price. Plan your entry and exit points in advance to maximize your time in the city Try Big Apple Greeters. They will provide a free walking tour of the park if booked in advance.

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Story Land

850 NH Route 16, Glen, New Hampshire

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  • Little kids (3-5)
Visited: June 2008 | Submitted: Mar 9, 2013 | I traveled with little kids (3-5)

WE LOVE STOR YLAND

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Our trip to Story Land turned out to be one of the highlights of our family adventures. The park is designed with the little ones in mind. Story Land is a nice way to combine reading skills with family fun. Most of the attractions are designed for the young traveler and they all seemed to love the simplicity of it. The park features story book characters such as Cinderella, The Three Little Pigs and Pinocchio. My son loved telling the story of The Three Little Pigs while looking at 3 real live pigs in their respective houses. He got to climb inside a huge pumpkin while he recited Peter , Peter , Pumpkin Eater. The Three Bears house allowed him to act out the whole story in which he is the star. The attractions are large and brightly colored against the backdrop of NH's White Mountains. The Polar Coaster is a fun penguin themed "starter" roller coaster. One of my son's favorite rides was The Farm Tractor where the cars are propelled along a track and he really thought he was driving. The whole family loved climbing up the hill to visit Heidi's grandfather and go on the Cuckoo Glockenspiel ride ( spinning cups). We found the food prices to be quite reasonable. There was very little "extras" to pay for so once in the park, you don't have to keep shelling out money. The park offers shows and play areas too. Overall, we were thrilled with Story Land. One of the best pieces of advice i received when my son was young. "Don't go to Disney, Go to Story Land instead." The lines are shorted, the admission is cheaper and the little ones enjoy it as much as the Big Parks.

Tips for Families

Take advantage of entering the park after 3:00 and getting a full day the next day for the price of one admission. When the park first opens, head to the back and work your way to the front. You will be going against the crowds and save time. Bring a stroller as supply is limited. Practice your rhymes and classic stories beforehand so that you can recite them along with your child as you visit the attractions.

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