With spring break right around the corner, you may be wondering where you’re headed if you don’t have a flight to catch. But, just because you live here doesn’t mean you have to leave here to have a memorable family getaway. The next time you get bored with your Google routine, check out the tourism stats on your own stomping ground. Droves of people escape to New England year-round — the region’s compact footprint promises lots to do without covering a lot of ground. From the historical to the Seussical, from rocky coastline to hillside farm, when the peepers start singing and New England is your backyard, there is plenty to opt for that will have the whole family saying “cheese”! So reset the trip meter, ditch the wireless devices and brush up on your classic car games for these winning family getaways. You can even still pack your bathing suits if everyone votes the same way.
Miles from Boston: 98
Mystic Aquarium: Have you ever noticed how beluga whales look like they’re smiling? Get up close and personal at the country’s largest outdoor beluga exhibit and watch them swimming underwater from the glass viewing area. On your way to the African penguin colony, peek into the animal rescue clinic to see the team hard at work caring for and rehabilitating stranded seals. Head to the Penguin Encounter Room next for a special treat and catch a sea lion feeding on the way. In addition to the new Weird & Wonderful exhibit featuring bizarre creatures and exotic fish, the aquarium also boasts a tropical rainforest habitat and a view of the Northern Lights. Sound like a lot to do? The best part is, you can come back the next day if you have your tickets validated before you leave.
55 Coogan Blvd., Mystic, 860-572-5955, www.mysticaquarium.org
In the Vicinity
Just down the road is Mystic Seaport, where you’ll find the renowned maritime museum offering seafaring events and exhibits for the whole family.
The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center has trails open dawn till dusk and always has a spectacular all seasons activity schedule with family-centered events like nighttime fireside stories, full moon walks, scenic nature walks, planting workshops, and creation station.
109 Pequotsepos Rd., Mystic, 860-536-1216, www.dpnc.org
The Hilton Mystic is located directly across the street from the Aquarium and has a modern, super-balmy indoor pool perfect for family relaxing! With Olde Mistick Village also within walking distance (or a one-minute drive away if you don’t want to carry your shopping bags on the return), you can all take a before-dinner stroll through the re-created 1720s New England shopping village, beautifully surrounded with duck ponds and flowers galore.
20 Coogan Blvd., 860-572-0731, www.hilton.com
Miles from Boston: 92
The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum: Brush up on your favorite characters from Whoville and celebrate all things Seuss at this newly opened museum that pays tribute to this hometown’s author and delights children with three colorful floors. Ever seen a life-size Grinch? Step outside to the Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden and find a family photo op. Did someone say holiday card? Don’t stop there, though — the Springfield Science Museum, home to the Seymour Planetarium, the oldest running planetarium in the U.S. will take you all to another realm. After you refuel, drop in on the Hasbro Games Art Discovery Center, where your whole tribe can try on Asian-inspired costumes and armor, test their knowledge of Chinese Zodiac animals and learn about Samurai warriors. You’ll find hands-on art activities, storytelling and interactive displays here to keep the whole family engaged.
Springfield Museums, 21 Edwards St., Springfield, 413-263-6800, www.springfieldmuseums.org
Happy you know: Reserve your timed entry tickets for Dr. Seuss Museum ahead of time online to ensure your entry.
In the Vicinity
With so much to do at Springfield Museums, you may want to consider bundling visits to the nearby Eric Carle Museum and Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory, located about 20 miles down the road. It’s well worth the excursion, The Carle is sure to inspire your next picture book purchase and the kids will enjoy visiting the modern art studio to try their hand at watercolor. Check the event schedule for a chance to meet the Very Hungry Caterpillar and other encounters. The perfect antidote to all of this exploring? Thousands of butterflies, peaceful music, a koi pond and tropical temps.
The Carle, 125 West Bay Rd., Amherst, 413-559-6300, www.carlemuseum.org
Magic Wings, 281 Greenfield Rd., South Deerfield, 413-665-2805, www.magicwings.com
The Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel on the Connecticut River is a six-minute walk away from the Quadrangle museums, and offers an indoor pool and casual family dining.
The Hilton Garden Inn Springfield is another popular choice being located on the grounds of the Basketball Hall of Fame and also features an indoor pool.
The Hotel Northampton, a member of Historic Hotels of America, is located in the heart of charming downtown Northampton with much to explore and is closer to The Carle and Magic Wings.
36 King St., Northampton, 413-584-3100, www.hotelnorthampton.com
Cape Cod, MA
Miles from Boston: 71
Ocean Edge Resort: The Cape during shoulder season is an overlooked near-perfect getaway. No traffic, crowds or lines to fritter away precious moments of your vacation trying to outsmart, and miles of seashore and hiking and biking trails to let loose in the great outdoors. Check in to the Brewster area’s Mansion and surprise your kids with the “Happy Camper” package — a fully assembled teepee, stargazing lantern, and stories and snacks await for the ultimate indoor camping experience. Pack your goggles for some indoor swim time, and throw a soccer ball in the trunk to kick around on the expansive great lawn, which doubles as a Quidditch “Pitch” during school vacation Wizarding Weeks! Check out the full schedule of daily spellbinding events on the website.
2907 Main St.,508-896-9000, www.oceanedge.com
In the Vicinity
Whether you’re on your way down or back, day-tripping or staying, these stops are sure to hold you over until summertime. Love lighthouses? Capecodlighthouses.info will help you map out a couple of walks to soak in the salt air.
Whydah Pirate Museum Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, W. Yarmouth
Brewster General Store, Brewster