It's time for our annual trek to S. Yarmouth, Cape Cod, MA. This will be our 10th year making the four-hour sojourn (that's without traffic) from Connecticut, so here is some of what my husband and I have learned in bringing small children/now young girls on vacation with my mother and her significant other, David.
Plan to stop along the way. Four hours is just way to long for two kids, let alone two adults, to sit next to each other without driving each other nuts. Our favorite place is Seekonk, MA. Why? It's the first exit over the MA state line: Massachusetts has cheaper gas than Connecticut and there's a Friendly's right down the road.
Plan to stop on the way home too. On the way home we take an hour or two and stop at the children's museum in Providence, RI. The kids get to blow off some steam and the adults get to relax a trifle. Because we're members of our local aquarium, we get in free as well.
Staying with your parents is a good thing. Our daughters get to visit with their Nana, my husband and I get to have a night out with each other, and the price is right. David owns four small cottages. He and my mother use one exclusively and we rent another for $100 for the week.
Go to Cuffy's. Every year we go to their outlet store to buy last year's t-shirts as part of their back-to-school clothes. Plus, they have activities for kids while the parents shop and animatronic displays that play oldies and beach songs.
Just go to the beach. Don't plan to drive here and there seeing things. Traffic on Rt. 28 is miserable and slow. Maybe a round of mini-golf on a cloudy day or a movie on a rainy day but all you're going to do is just go to the beach: build a sandcastle; fly a kite; take a walk; swim in the waves. Having said that, there are a few other things to do...
Have a rainy-day plan. If it does rain, sitting in the cottage watching TV can get old too fast. Know where the movie theater is, the local library, a children's museum, or the aquarium in Wood's Hole. Get a free Cape Cod guide at a grocery store and do the research.
Go to Captain Parker's in Yarmouth for lunch. Great seafood, especially their lobster salad roll.
Ride the Cape Cod Railway. It's not cheap but it's worth the ride.
Bring your bikes. There is a great bike trail that goes from Dennis to Brewster.
Attend a local concert. Many of the towns have a summer concert series where you can bring a picnic dinner. We like the concert series at Wellfleet United Church of Christ. Last year we saw the Highland Light Scottish Pipe Band with Celtic Dancers; this year, the Outer Cape Chorale.
And my own personal favorite...
Celebrate your birthday while you're there. Every year, for the past nine, I have celebrated my birthday by going out for breakfast at some local place with my family. Besides, it feels like a birthday week as well as a vacation.
I love Cape Cod, but more importantly, so do my girls.
Be back in a week.