Tag Archives: #familytrip #travel

2020 Family Vacations

I love going away and I love planning our vacations.
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This year I really wanted to go to an all inclusive resort with my husband, kids, sister and niece. I priced it out though and it was a lot. The air fare was expensive and since there are 6 of us, either we would need a bigger room or 2 rooms, which doubles the price. So, we’ll have to wait on that. Instead we found a couple places that aren’t super expensive and I am going to start planning these vacations.
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In May there is a gaming event my husband wants to go to in Chicago. I have never been there before, so why not do a long weekend? He wants to go to the ComboBreaker, which looks really fun.
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I think there is something there for all of us that would be interesting. And I want to eat Chicago pizza and hot dogs.
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In June I have always wanted to visit the Science Museum in Jersey City.
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I heard a lot of really good things about it. I figure we can spend the night and also go to the American Dream Mall. There is a Nickelodeon theme park in it so maybe we can swing by there for a day. I think that might be fun.
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In July I think I might rent a cabin at Bear Creek camp ground right next to Lake Compounce.
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We can spend a day at Lake Compounce and a day on the campground. I really like the cabins here. Last time we stayed Friday night and Saturday night after spending Saturday in the park.
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We all agreed that we should stay one extra night next time so we can spend some more time at the camp site.
In August our family friends and us have rented a house in the Pocono mountains.
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I love going on vacations with these people. We always have fun. We’re staying in a condo community so there is a pool and a beach at the lake. There is a tennis court, playground and arcade. Plus, there are places around to do fun things like zip lining and white water rafting. I think we’re going to have a blast.
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In September I am planning on renting a house on the beach in Cape Cod. It’s my birthday trip. Last year I rented two rooms at a hotel and I realized that for the price of 2 hotel rooms I could rent a house. That way my sister, niece, mom and us could be all together and hang out and not in separate rooms. Plus, we can cook to save some money on breakfast and lunch.
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That’s my plan for 2020 Family Vacations! Have you planned any vacations yet?

CT Things To Do- Family

There is a lot to do in Connecticut as a family. Here is a list of some of my favorites.


Maritime Aquarium


We are actually members here because we go so often, and we live close by. This is located right in South Norwalk (SONO). You can easily spend a couple hours here and there’s an IMAX that I would recommend checking out too. The movies are interesting. My daughter, who is 7, loves the seals, otters and turtles. I love the porcupine. My son loves the parrot. They have a jellyfish touch tank and a sting ray/shark touch tank. Check the times for the seal feedings, those are pretty cool to watch too. There is a parking garage across the street, and a smaller lot attached to the IMAX. They’ll be moving the IMAX at some point and expanding the aquarium a bit. There are a lot of places to eat around here (and in SONO in general).

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Stamford Museum and Nature center-


This place is great to explore. There are trails to hike, a farm with lots of animals to walk through and a pretty cool playground. It has multi-story slides, multiple levels for the kids to run around on, and it’s got areas for different age ranges. Seriously, we spent some afternoons here. Check the website to see what’s going on.

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Mill River Park –



Located in Downtown Stamford, CT. They are redoing it and just added a carousel and have started having different events. Normally there’s a large pair of playgrounds, a walking track, tennis courts, handball courts, a basketball court, and some volleyball pits.  On the weekend during the summer they have free fit club with different work outs in the mornings. I have a friend that has gone, and she really enjoys them. If you are in Stamford, it’s worth checking out the park to see what’s going on.

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Chelsea Piers-


Located off I95 Exit 9 in Stamford, CT. This place is huge. It has a pool, basketball, squash, batting cages… There is splash zone, Ice skating, tennis. If you want to be active and indoors, check this place out.

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Mystic, CT

Mystic, CT is really charming. If you are coming to CT for a couple days, spend a night here. We’ve stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites. I’d probably book the Hilton next time because it is directly across the street from the Aquarium, which is really cool. We had a blast here. I can’t find the link now, I don’t think the 2019 tickets are on sale yet, but there’s a special called the Mystic pass that we bought when we went. You get admission for the Aquarium one day and the Seaport the other at a discount.

Mystic Seaport Aquarium


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Mystic Seaport


The seaport is cool. Mostly outside although there are buildings to walk into with people reenacting the jobs. There is a blacksmith, printing press, a bank and a whaling ship you can walk on and explore. They have a build-your-own boat hut that the kids thought was pretty cool.

Honestly, we had a blast here and we all want to go back again for another visit.

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Lake Compounce –


This place is a fun trip during the summer. You should plan on spending the entire day here. The water park portion is huge. Usually we’ll rent a cabana and a locker, so we have a base. We’ll go out and play in the water park all day while it’s 100 million degrees out. (We usually go in August). The water park section closes at 6 pm. We change and then go ride the rides in the other half of the park. Last time we went, we rented a cabin at the campground attached:

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Bear Creek


We have cabin camped here and we really enjoyed it. The cabins are pretty cool. It is a newer camp ground, there’s a lot of open space (but not a lot of full-grown trees yet). There’s a store on the grounds, firepits next to the cabins, and a shuttle to Lake Compounce itself. Instead of parking at the park, we were able to park outside of our cabin and unload everything. There was a terrible thunder storm when we stayed and I was really thankful for the roof and air conditioner. It was fun. Next time I want to stay another night just so we can stay on the campgrounds and see what activities are like there.

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Essex Steam Train


This I’ve never done. I do want to try the dinner train at some point though. My coworker brought her Thomas the train engine obsessed son to the Thomas day. That runs end of April, early May, Check it out here:



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Connecticut Beardsley Zoo:


This is in Bridgeport and honestly, I would rather go to the Bronx Zoo, which is 25 extra minutes each way from us (without traffic), and totally worth it. But, if you are looking for something to walk through in an hour or so, then check this place out. There aren’t a ton of animals or habitats here, but I am honestly comparing it to the Bronx Zoo and that really can’t be beat in this area.

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Quassy Amusement and Water Park:


if you’re looking for an amusement park in CT, I prefer Lake Compounce. Quassy used to have a nice picnic area, lots of shade, an arcade, boat rentals and rides. The last time I went I wasn’t impressed. There is a lake to swim in, some waterslides and a splash zone. I didn’t think that there were a ton of rides. It was hot and everyone was kind of fighting over picnic benches that were all squished together. I know some friends who go on day trips here and have a blast.

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Stepping Stones Museum-


To me this museum is more for preschool-aged kids. It also depends on what the current exhibit they have going on might be. The first time we went my kids had a blast. The second time we went, they were kind of bored. Check out the website for what the exhibit is and make sure you can spend a few hours here because it’s not exactly cheap. There is a playground across the parking lot that is pretty cool too. They have areas that are appropriate for different ages. Usually an ice cream truck sits nearby and there is a splash pad.



Bruce Museum-


Located in Greenwich, CT right at the bottom of Greenwich Avenue. This Museum is small but interesting. There is a playground directly across the street too that is really fun. They host a lot of art installations, and sometimes have seasonal events, both indoors and out.


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Sheffield Island Lighthouse


The Ferry leaves from the port at the Maritime Aquarium. It’s a half-hour ride out to the island. They drop you off and you get to explore for a little bit. You can bring a picnic, buy some snacks there, or just check out the light house and walk around. We brought a ball with us and played kickball and bought a couple hot dogs and explored the lighthouse and the shores. It was about a 3-hour trip. I thought it was a fun thing to do.

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Beaches, Lakes, Hiking trails. –

There are too many to list and they are nice. I would take a day, pick one and make a picnic out of it. Seriously, check out the trails. I can’t tell you which one to pick.


I have always wanted to try to hike some of the Appalachian trail. That’s still on my list of things to do:



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My favorite beach is Tod’s point in Greenwich, CT.


I grew up there. There are trails, old buildings to explore, a beach, a concession stand. Tod’s Point is dog-friendly in the off season (October through March where entry and parking is free). Low tide is awesome for finding crabs in the tide pools. During the summer it can be pricey. There is a parking fee and a per-person fee. I usually go with my friend who has a parking sticker and I just pay for a day pass for us. I think that’s like $7.00 a day and you can get them on the town website. Or pay at the gate.

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Farms: For Berry, pumpkin picking:

Lyman Orchards-



Silverman Farm-



Calf Pasture Beach is in Norwalk, CT. Pretty much any town on the coast will have a beach. Westport has a nice beach. Check the websites to see about fees and hours.


Places to eat in Fairfield county: It depends what you like but here are a few of my local favorites in Norwalk, CT:


Mecha – is a Japanese noodle bar. House specialties include ramen and Vietnamese pho. They have really good specials, so I usually get those. My kids love the regular ramen bowl; just noodles and broth.

Kazu – Is really good for sushi. I go here for a lunch date with my husband sometimes. Their lunch specials are pretty good and reasonably priced.

Cafe Social – Has sandwiches. I have had a few pressed sandwiches and a burger. Really good with a laid-back atmosphere.

Makondo- Columbian food. This is a new spot for my husband and me. The chicharron is amazing and the soup is really good.


If you are planning on visiting shoot me an email at jess@SIRJstudio.com and I can give you some recommendations.

Our Trip to Boston. Reviews!

We went to Boston Last weekend. We stayed at  Homewood Suites Boston Logan Airport Chelsea . I chose this hotel because we were bringing my Mom, sister and niece with us so we needed 2 cars and 2 rooms. There is a pool and the breakfast and parking is free. Originally, I wanted to stay more in Boston and I look for Hilton because we are in the Hilton Honors program. I looked at hotels in Boston and the rates weren’t so bad, but the parking added almost $100.00 per night and then we would have to find breakfast because it’s not included.  So we went with the Homewood Suites. We stayed for 2 nights and my total bill was a little over $900.00. I got us both the 2 queen studio suites. The rooms were really nice. The pool was really small. With my husband, me, our 2 kids and my sister and niece in the pool, it was tight. The pools capacity is 11 people. It was warm though and my kids loved it and got to swim and jump and they had a blast. That’s what matters to me.
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The rooms were really cool.  I thought they were well thought out. I loved the little kitchen area because I was able to make dinner Friday and Saturday night and save us a little money for the other fun things that we were doing. I also brought lots of snacks that I loaded in the full size fridge because a 7,9 and 13 year old can eat all day and still be hungry.
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I bought a 2 day pass of the Boston Go cards. You get access into a lot of places. It was $430.00 through the plumb benefits site through my job. My niece is considered an adult because she is over 12, weird, right?
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We got there on a Friday afternoon around 1:00. Luckily there were rooms available so we were able to check in and bring our things in. Then we all hopped in my pilot and drove into town. It was about a 7-10 minute drive. I have driven in New York and Boston highways are something else! We were up, down, underneath, driving in a circle to get on other highways…. Make sure you have your GPS. After the first day though, we got the hang of it and it wasn’t bad at all. Our first stop was Quincy Market. It’s pretty cool. We parked around the corner at a garage. Monday through Friday the garage is $42.00 and Saturday and Sunday the garage is $20.00.  The first day we walked around and went to Union Oyster House for lunch. Lunch was great.
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I highly recommend this place. The kids liked their food and my mom loved her clams and fish and chips.  Afterwards we walked around and watched some of the street performers. We headed over to the Aquarium and walked though. We all enjoyed the Aquarium. Then we walked back to Quincy Market and got some Ice cream at Sprinkles and headed back to the car. At that point it was a long day already with all the driving so we took the kids to the pool for an hour and my mom went back to her room to rest. I made the kids Spaghetti and we played Uno and then crashed. The beds were very comfortable.
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Saturday, we met for breakfast in the lobby… It was regular coffee, breads, eggs, sausage, yogurt, waffles, fruit and juice. So everyone found something. Then I took the kids for a quick swim and we got ready to head out for  a day of exploring. Again we drove in to where Quincy market is and parked where we parked the day before. We hopped the trolley ( on the Boston go pass) and took it around Boston. It’s really cool to see everything. The architecture. Everything is so old and squished together but pretty. It was just cool to see to me. The trolley driver will tell you the history of certain buildings and it’s interesting. We hopped off at the 9th stop which is the last one before they bring you back to the beginning and we walked over to the children’s museum (included in the pass) . The kids loved that. We didn’t spend a ton of time here, but they did get to do a few things.
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We stopped at Hopsters Brewing Company for lunch. Everyone enjoyed their meals. Then we headed over to the museum of contemporary Art. This is where I found out that my mom does not care for Contemporary art. Not even a little bit. The rest of us did enjoy it and they had a little kids area set up so the kids could make their own art. That was pretty cool. After the Art museum we walked back to the trolley and went to the USS Constitution.
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To get on the ship is free and we ran out of time to go into the museum that would have been included on the Boston go pass. We would have been able to go but then we would have missed the last trolley and I had no idea how to get back to where we were parked. So we skipped the museum and hopped the trolley back to Quincy market, stopped at Sprinkles for some more ice cream and then headed back to the hotel for swimming, dinner, uno and Wine for me and my mother!
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The Boston Go card wasn’t worth it for what we did, in my opinion. We did get our monies worth, I think, but I am not sure we actually saved anything. Then again, if we had gone to the Fine arts museum and the science museum, it totally would have been worth it. So maybe if we stayed an extra day and bought an extra day pass.
The hotel was nice, I think next time I would spend an extra day and maybe get a room in Boston so we could just walk everywhere or take the T.
Boston is amazing. You should definitely go and spend at least a few days here. There is so much to do and it’s all fairly close together.  We went in March and maybe next time I would go more in the spring so more outdoor things would be open and it would be nicer weather to be outside. We did have pretty good weather when we went but as it got dark, it got a little chilly. We will be back!
Family Reviews:
Husband: I know it’s an old city but it didn’t seem like it was an old city and there is so much history there. It’s very well wrapped up and preserved. Taking the Trolley was a favorite part and being able to see the sights and learn about everything was fun. I will definitely go back there is a million more things to see and do. I wouldn’t mind staying were we stayed because you liked the amount of space and options and it’s only 10 minutes away but I wouldn’t mind being in the city and being able to walk everywhere.
Daughter Review: I liked Boston. My favorite part was the USS Constitution and the penguins are the aquarium. I definitely want to go back and explore more. I liked the hotel I wish the pool was bigger.
Son Review: I liked Boston. My favorite part was eating the oysters and clams at Union House restaurant. I liked the Children’s museum and wish we could have stayed longer. I liked the pool when it was just us in it.
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Have you been to Boston? What are some of your favorite things to do, eat, see?

Boston Family Trip Planning

I am planning a trip to Boston in the next few weeks. We are taking my Mom and Sister and Niece with us. I have booked the Hotel and we plan on driving up and then all getting around in my Honda Pilot.
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So far the only thing I really have planned is to eat at Quincy market because that is what my mom has asked for. I am thinking about buying the Boston Go cards because it’s one price and you get access to a bunch of stuff. I don’t like to create itinerary’s because I get stressed when we are late for things so I like to have an idea of what there is to do and then kind of go with the flow.
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I am planning on The Aquarium and the Trolley sightseeing tour. I think the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of fine arts sound really cool. The Museum of Science sounds interesting too. Then there is the Skywalk Observatory and the Fenway Park Tour that my mom might be interested in.
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Anyone from Boston? What are things that you need to do? We are only there for 2 nights, 3 days and I want to pack in as much as possible. I heard there is another Market in the Bay Back area, so I think we are going to stop there on the way home.