Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park was not on our original itinerary. Of course. But I am SO.GLAD. we ended up there. The islands are beautiful, full of history, and include the crowd favorite – Junior Ranger books and badges.
Day four of our New England road trip is when we finally settled into a really good rhythm together. Honestly, I think it was camping. Here’s the thing about camping with kids – they can run around like wild animals without getting in trouble, plus everyone has to pitch in and help. I think to give the kids a job and responsibilities help them feel like a part of the team.
Heading into Boston
Because we (again) woke up with zero plan, we took our time getting out of camp. This meant the kids got to spend a little time on the giant jump pad. Why spend money on fancy activities when you can let your kids jump on the grossest bounce pad on the planet, complete with older kids blaring wildly inappropriate music and dropping lots of language?
The kids really learn a lot on family trips.
Miracles abound because we made it on time, and found parking near where the ferry departs. We made it just in time to hastily grab our tickets and some Starbucks. #priorities. Because I’m a cool mom I also treat the kids to those adorable cake pops. I also let the girls pick their seats on the ferry.
They declared me “the best mom” ever and I’m hanging on to that for life.
Ferry Ride to Spectacle Island
I was a little nervous to solo parent two young kids on a ferry boat, but the universe threw me a bone and it was actually quite lovely. The girls seemed to inherit my love of the bow of the boat, and even though the wind was a bit chilly we spent the majority of the 45 minute ferry hanging out watching for wildlife.
We didn’t see any. But we *could* have.
Spectacle Island Visitor Center
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Spectacle Island was breathtaking. We lucked out with the weather, and the island boasts an elevation just high enough to score some major views.
Our first stop was the visitors center, to grab our Junior Ranger books. Seriously, the Junior Ranger books are one of the best ways to get the kids engaged with and learning about so many amazing places.
The visitor center here is impressive, considering it’s on an island. They have a pretty solid display about the history of the island, a sweet little kids area, a snack bar, and a huge front porch with lounge chairs that faced a stunning view of the city across the water.
Spectacle Island Beach
Our first “activity” in our Junior Ranger book was a beach hunt – fine by me!
We had the absolute best.time. enjoying the sunshine and the city views in the distance while we looked for crabs, shells, and sea creatures. Both girls were very frustrated to learn that they needed to wear their shoes on the rocky beach, but a mom’s got rules. Watching them delicately walk across the beach (while clearly in pain), claiming it was fine was equal parts sad and amusing.
Hiking Spectacle Island
After successfully finding some shells and a very near death crab, it was time to venture off the beach.
Which meant cleaning the sand off their feet and shoes. HOLY. MOSES. It’s like the concept of sand sticking to wet feet is insanely shocking to them every single time. I don’t know how many times I can explain that if you rinse your feet in the ocean, they will just get more sandy on the walk off the beach. It’s why they invented beach showers guys.
Once that hurdle was cleared we headed off to hike to the summit of the island. Two paths circle the island, reaching both summits and crossing the saddle. These are short and sweet little hikes, but with amazing 360 degree views the entire way.
As with the rest of the trip, here is Olivia – Running past me, determined to be in the lead and be on her own. So many feelings about this. Mostly annoyed when she cuts me off, but insanely proud watching her confidence grow.
Oh, and guess what? She found friends. Because of course.
There was another family on a hike with young kids and my girls left me in the dust to run up the path with these other kids. I barely saw them the entire time and was mostly left to enjoy the views and the quiet.
We did stop for another dance party photo session. Why not right?
Eventually the kids got hungry, so they reluctantly rejoined me on the trail in hopes of scoring a snack. I mistakenly promised a trip to the snack bar when we got back to the visitors center. I really hyped it up… only to find it closed.
The kids were less than impressed with my lackluster options dug from the recesses of my backpack. To be honest, so was I. But no one starved, and the kids were quickly distracted by the crayons in the kids area of the visitor center. While the the kids colored I took a few minutes to sit on the porch and enjoy the sunshine and sea views.
Have I waxed poetic enough about the views? In cased you missed it… they were divine. The whole island was pretty laid back and relaxed. Just what I needed.
Boston Harbor Islands Ferry
The ferry ride home was just as fun, proving to me that while it’s not always easy to travel with kids – some memories are just worth it. The girls performed epic dance moves for about half the journey, then sat and entertained a Russian speaking toddler for the rest of the trip.
Full disclosure – they are wayyyyy better at talking to strangers than me. It’s a good reminder that most people are generally friendly and helpful, and something I always take away from our travels.
Anxiously awaiting the husband
We wrapped up the night with a glorious grocery store salad bar dinner on the hotel bed and swimming in the hotel pool. I could go the rest of my life without swimming in a hotel pool, but the kids think it’s a major travel highlight, so into the pool I go.
After four days of solo parenting and travelling, I was READY for Jake to join us in Boston!