Saturday, August 22, 2009

Daycation in South Eastern Maine

We are parents to a VERY active 17 month old son, Patrick. We have found that traveling with him brings its own slew of challenges. We plan, research, and anticipate activities appropriate for his age but often find that our preparation falls short. For instance, taking a stroller to certain places is not always easy. It would be nice to know that in advance! A friend suggested I begin blogging about our family's budget friendly travels in New England. I have often wished for a non-biased opinion on where to go for toddler-friendly fun, so why not "be the change you want to see in the world"?

We live in eastern Massachusetts and often get smothered by the dense population. This leads to spontaneous trips into the country in search of open space. Today we decided to drive up to Kittery, Maine. For those in the New England area, Kittery is nothing new. For those outside New England, you will be happy to learn Kittery is an outlet shopping extravaganza!! It's a quick 90 mintue drive up I-95N to ME exit 3, (Kittery), and then BAM...there are literally miles of discount shopping waiting for you. Here's a list of retailors: I feel I must have been a hunter in a former life because the smell of a sale can send me into a frenzy not equaled since Jaws.

Now, the limitation to Kittery is that the stores are spread out in mini-clusters, which means you are constantly moving your child from car seat to stroller when you drive to the next cluster. There really isn't a great sidewalk linking all the stores, so parking and walking the entire length of the developement is a no-go. That said, if you know where you want to go you can limit your car/stroller actvity by strategic planning. (There are cross-walks and most buildings are close together). So today our frenzy resulted in 5 pairs of shorts from Hartstrings for $55. I tend to dress Patrick in the basics, so when I find a steal like this I try and get all the sizes I can. (Did I mention I like a sale?)

If you keep driving north on Rt 1 you will find a treasure trove of family fun. There are miles of beaches, each bringing its own unique adventure to the trip. We went to Ogunquit when Patrick was 3 months old and LOVED it!! That said, it is a place better suited for older children or for a child free vacation. We have not had a chance to explore other beaches, but are tackling them bit by bit as we can.

Today we went up to Wells to our favorite place to eat, the Maine Diner. From the looks of it you would think it's nothing special. When you go inside, you will also think the same. However, when you see the menu and taste the food you will be a quick convert. Today I had a lobster roll, my husband a crab cake melt and Patrick a hot dog. Yuuummmmm......The wait staff was as accomodating as ever to our toddlers needs and the food was prompt and perfect. We topped off our dinner with homemade blueberry pie and ice cream. A yummy treat for all. (There is also a small grassy area with picnic tables to let the little ones run off the sugar from the pie before getting back in the car)!! My only heads up about the Maine Diner is that it's a popular place. It's best to go on off-meal hours during tourist season, (May-September).

We loaded up the car after dinner and got home just in time for Patrick to get to sleep.

Budget Rating: 9/10 (Spent just over $100 on clothing and dinner. Used about $40 in gas for our 17 mpg SUV)
Child Rating: 8/10 (Could have used a little more outdoor space for getting the wiggles out)
Time Spent: 10 Hours

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