Will and I explored the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. This park was located across the river in New Hampshire, but was only about a half hour drive from our campground in Vermont.
Saint-Gaudens was a sculptor and the grounds contained information about his pieces and life. The house was closed, but the other buildings were open. I would not recommend this one for younger kids, as it was a lot of reading and not really interactive. There were some trails, including the Ravine Trail (which the Ranger told us was really more of a moderate path). However, since there was a heat advisory out (92℉), we did not do that trail.
The park also had a phone audio tour available, which was a nice feature to learn a little more about the pieces shown. Will completed the Junior Ranger program there, and they had a neat looking badge.
TICKETS: $10/adults, children 15 and under free. Can use America The Beautiful Pass. COVID Restrictions: masks required, House closed
HOURS: May 29-October 31 (9am-4pm)
TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-3 hours
*Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.
We went to Yorktown with our friends who were visiting for the weekend, the Piatt’s. I can honestly say that I don’t think any of us had high expectations (except for Will). However, we were pleasantly surprised. The Visitor Center was partially open for the bookstore/gift shop. The store had the passport stamps, but did not have any pieces of paper to use if you forgot your passport (or use in your journal like we do). You could buy a sticker sheet for $0.95 (+tax) to stamp though. All the kids got a Junior Ranger Program booklet to work on. A lot of the museums and houses were closed due to COVID, but there is a free audio app that you can download. The app has some information on different sites in town, as well as the two driving tours.
We walked into the town from the Visitor Center using a nice paved path. It wasn’t a long walk; I think they said 456 yards. We saw the Statue of Liberty, not to be confused with the one in New York. It was a super cute little town with some shops and a coffee shop, and the Historical plaques that Will had missed seeing in Williamsburg.
We stopped at the artists shop at York Hall and found a few nice pieces. Ben found a colorful quilt. It was History Day, so there were a few demonstrations in the front of the Hall, including some children’s games.
We walked down to the waterfront and saw the beach area. There were a few sections of beach and a fishing pier. It was pretty crowded, so we didn’t get near the water.
There are two driving tours you can take in Yorktown: the red (Battlefield, 7 miles) and the yellow (Allied Encampment, 9 miles). After circling back to the Visitor Center, we got into our cars and took the red driving tour. I had downloaded the audio app, so we were able to go to each stop, park in the lot, and listen to the tour. There are parking spots, so you can also get out to look at things and read the historical informational signs.
Yorktown was a neat area with a mix of history, beach fun, and shopping. It ended up being one of my favorite places to visit while in Williamsburg. (In fact, we went to the town twice!)
TICKETS: $15/adults, $0/child (ages 0-15), Free with Interagency or Annual Pass. COVID Restrictions: masks required, some buildings closed
Once we made it into Key West, we checked into our hotel (the Best Western Hibiscus). We had two queen beds and I swear we had more room than in the RV! We were only a few blocks from the iconic Southernmost Point Buoy, so we headed down there first and got our picture.
We wanted to experience as much as we could in the short time we would be there, so we took a tour on the Conch Train. We got to see all kinds of fun sites (Truman’s Little White House, Hemingway’s House), interesting architecture, and fun bits of history of the island. For example, there used to be a Coca-Cola factory on Key West. There was no fresh water there, so the plant used to collect rainwater in order to make their product. We also drove past a 3 story bar. The top floor was clothing optional! Video: Conch Train Tour
After the tour, we walked around and saw chickens and a few small lizards. We grabbed lunch at Caroline’s Cafe where we tried conch fritters. We also grabbed a huge cookie at Mattheessen’s.
While exploring the town, we found ourselves down near the piers. We saw some cool boats, jellyfish, and a few different types of fish.
Key West also had a historic audio tour you could take from your phone. There were markers around the city with a phone number, location number, and some historical information about the site. You could call the number, input the location, and learn about the spot. It was pretty neat. (See the second collage with buoy. There was an audio tour marker regarding the Cable Hut, location #27 on the tour.)
SUPER BONUS – Brought to you by the National Parks. Call (504) 799-0802 and learn about the Barataria Preserve.
We wanted to take a nice walk, so we headed to the Barataria Preserve (part of the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve).
Our first stop was at the Visitor Center at the Barataria Preserve (the Jean Lafitte Visitor Center in the French Quarter is currently closed due to COVID). Unfortunately, we went after work/school, so we didn’t get there until 4:30 and they closed the gates at 5:00pm. We took the shorter Visitor Center Trail, which took about 20 minutes. We really liked the park and decided to come back on the weekend when we had more time. There are several trails that were closed because of damage, so I would recommend stopping at the Visitor Center to see which ones are currently open.
Our second time there, Nick got his Junior Ranger Badge. We took the Bayou Coquille Trail and Marsh Overlook. The trail began as a dirt/gravel path and once you got to the marshy bayou, it switched to a wooden plank trail.
It was gorgeous. We didn’t see any alligators, although we did see lots of caution signs for them. It was probably too cold, as it was in the 60’s. We did see a turtle sunning on a rock, several great egrets, a nutria eating and swimming in the bayou, and a deer.
Part of the bayou was covered in a flotant, which is a floating mass of plants. It looks solid, but is not always strong enough to hold a human’s weight. It certainly looked like you could walk on it, it would be a huge surprise to find out it wasn’t solid and end up in the water!
Although I was disappointed we didn’t see any alligators, going in the cooler weather probably saved us from a few mosquito bites. And as a friend pointed out when they saw the pictures, probably from seeing a few snakes too. (I am glad we missed the snakes, especially since they have cottonmouths and copperheads down here.)
I could spend several days there. I loved seeing the Spanish Moss on the trees and hearing the different bird calls.
The park did a nice job with the informational signs around the trail as well. Several stops had an audio tour that was a great touch. You called a number from your phone and entered your stop number to hear the information. It was really neat (see beginning of this post to experience it for yourself).
There are a few other trails on the other side of the road by the Educational Center. We were told those trails are mostly dirt, so if it had rained recently they would be muddy. We didn’t have the shoes for mud, so we may go back another day.