New England can be the best of all worlds. Certainly one of the most beautiful regions of the United States, it combines big-city life (in Boston) with rural beauty (just about everywhere else) and lovely beaches. It stretches out into six states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine), but you can enjoy a decent cross-section via a leisurely road trip that takes in just two. Children will love the history of Boston and Salem – but also the active antics available further north. Further information: discovernewengland.org; massvacation.com; visitnh.gov
New England’s key city and the Massachusetts capital, BOSTON can often seem stuck in the late 18th century – when it played a pivotal part in the American Revolution. The 2.5-mile Freedom Trail (thefreedomtrail.org) pinpoints 16 key sites in the USA’s bid for independence and there are also plenty of ice-cream stops en route for your junior historians.
Alternatively, if your offspring are unexcited by the past, they may be drawn to Boston Children’s Museum (bostonchildrensmuseum.org; general entry £10), which is aimed at visitors aged up to 15. An art studio offers chances to be messily creative, a Construction Zone encourages brick-by-brick endeavours, and Healthyville helps under-12s to understand their bodies. KidStage, meanwhile, gives would-be thespians their opportunity to tread the boards and shine. Elsewhere, the New England Aquarium (neaq.org; adults £17; children, three to 11, £13) keep things varied with soft nature in its butterfly garden and the rough-and-tumble of Science in the Park, where kids learn about balance and momentum yanking levers and running up ramps.
Take the 107 out of the city and shadow the coastline north to Salem. This little dot on the Massachusetts map became notorious in 1692 thanks to the shambolic witch trials which tore its colonial community apart. Three centuries on, it has embraced its infamy – standing as a town where it is effectively Halloween for the entire year. There are spooky thrills to be had at a number of ghoulish attractions. Salem Wax Museum (salemwaxmuseum.com; adults £5; children, six to 13, £4) is a chaotic cluster of frightful waxworks – while Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery (nightmaregallery.com; adults £5; children, six to 12, £4) descends into the horror-movie realm of vampires and monsters. It is all a little tacky, but perfectly enjoyable, especially if you are yet to enter your teenage years.
Distance in the day: 15 miles.
Pick up Interstate 95 on the west edge of town, and follow it north across the state line into New Hampshire. Pause in Portsmouth – a historic seaport, and one of the most fascinating cities on the long New England Oceanfront. Here you can entertain junior minds by taking a tour of a decommissioned naval submarine, the USS Albacore, which prowled beneath the waves in the dark days of the Cold War (ussalbacore.org; adults £4.50; children, seven to 17, £2). Or for a brighter day, head to Water Country (watercountry.com; general entry £25) - a pleasing enclave of slides, chutes, pools and splash-happy afternoons.
Distance in the day: 55 miles.
Take the 4 and the 202 west to Concord. The pretty state capital of New Hampshire offers a chance to gaze upwards in the form of the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center (starhop.com; adults £6.50, children, three to 12, £4.50) – which should draw youthful eyes to the stars in its planetarium and observatory. Replica rockets also bring space travel to life.
Distance in the day: 47 miles.
You could feasibly drive straight through Concord on day six and head right into the arms of White Mountain National Forest (fs.usda.gov/whitemountain). This vast expanse (some 1,225 square miles) is the prime natural attraction in New Hampshire – great for hiking, cycling and lungfuls of fresh air. It also shelters the tallest mountain in the north-east of the USA – Mount Washington, which pokes its head into the clouds at 6,288ft. Somewhat quirkily, you can drive to the summit via a broad toll road (mtwashington autoroad.com; car and adult £18; additional adult £5; children, five to 12, £4) – where you can peer across the roof of New England and, on clear days, see the Atlantic.
Distance in the day: 58 miles.
You can drive the I-93 all the way south to Boston. This should take two hours, depending on traffic. Or, if you did not stop on the way up, break the journey in Concord.
Distance in the day: 131 miles.