The Lively Little Campers: The Perfect Day in Belfast, Maine
The Lively Little Campers: The Perfect Day in Belfast, Maine avatar

Jayco

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Over the last four years, we have had many wonderful days of camping, and a handful of perfect ones. Our first full day of vacation in Belfast, Maine was stunning from beginning to end. A perfect summer day if we’ve ever had one.

So here is our set of instructions for enjoying your own amazing day in Belfast, Maine.

1. Wake up early at the oceanfront Moorings RV Resort, drink in the view, and do your morning stretches.

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2. Head down to the rocky beach and do some exploring.

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3. Launch your kayak from the beach and enjoy the quiet, picturesque scenery of the Penobscot Bay. If you give your kids the camera, this will keep them entertained spotting loons, lobster traps, sailboats, and fish. Some of their pictures might even be pretty cool. Can you figure out which photo Theo took?

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4. Clean up and head into town to check out the beautiful playground at Belfast City Park. With water views and a design that ties into the landscape, this place will be appreciated by the whole family. Chat with the very friendly local parents and you will know exactly what to do with the rest of your stay in Belfast.

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5. Eat lunch at the Belfast Co-op Cafe to experience great food and local culture. The soups, sandwiches, and quesadillas were phenomenal. With everything from pizza to hotdogs to vegan burritos, there is something on the menu for everyone.

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6. Walk off lunch by strolling along the Harbor Walk. This path takes you through working shipyards and across the bay on a wonderful footbridge.

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7. Shop Downtown Belfast where you can visit an olive oil tasting room, a gourmet cheese shop, the oldest shoe store in the country, or one of the well-curated book stores.

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8. Return to the campground, where just a short stroll up the hill will land you at one of the best restaurants in this area. Papa J’s has all of the standard fare you might be looking for on your trip to the Maine Coast—whole lobster, lobster rolls, and a long list of seafood options. However, this place also offers so much more. The steaks are perfectly seasoned and cooked, and we could eat the scallops appetizer every day for the rest of our lives. Our waitress told us that the lobster pizza is a runaway favorite. We will have to return to try it. An added bonus is that all campers get a 5% discount. Thank you very much.

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9. Take an evening walk on the beach and watch the moon rise over the bay.

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10. Pile on the layers for stories around the campfire. S’mores will work just fine, too.

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Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi blog about camping and traveling with their three young children at livelylittlecampers.com.

Posted in Camping, Fun, Jayco, Lively Little Campers, RV, RVing, Travel Trailers, Trip Planning | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Lively Little Campers: A Jayco Family’s Adventure Guide to the White Mountains, New Hampshire
Lively Little Campers: A Jayco Family’s Adventure Guide to the White Mountains, New Hampshire avatar

Jayco

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We were so excited to visit the White Mountains of New Hampshire for the first time this summer. This is truly a perfect RVing destination, offering gorgeous landscapes with an abundance of hiking, biking, fishing, and kayaking opportunities. Top it off with a wide variety of popular theme parks and attractions, and you have all the ingredients for serious family fun.

Where to Stay

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The Lincoln/Woodstock KOA was the perfect place to stay while exploring Franconia Notch. Close to many area attractions, the campground itself also offered plenty of activities and amenities. The pool, jump pad, huge playground, and miniature golf course kept the kids busy along with face painting, tractor rides, and candy bingo. Rob and Darlene are gracious hosts, sharing helpful local knowledge and great conversation.

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If you are looking for a quiet, secluded camping experience, the Twin Mountain KOA will deliver. This campground is located near Crawford Notch State Park and is also less than an hour from the Mount Washington Auto Road. We recommend the row of full hook up, back-in sites at the rear of the campground. They are the perfect setting for peaceful campfires under a star-filled sky. 

What to Do

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There are amazing hikes for all skill levels in the White Mountains, but we were impressed by how many kid-friendly hikes offered fun rock scrambles, water features, and stunning views. Get to the Flume Gorge in Franconia State Park when it opens at 9 am, and you will have the place mostly to yourself. The Flume Gorge Loop Trail is a great 2-mile hike taking you up one side of the Flume and down the other. Be prepared to get a little wet while walking under the falls.

Park in the Echo Lake parking lot for a great hike up to Artist’s Bluff. This 1.5 mile loop trail is just perfect for a family hike. It has all of the changing landscape, kid-friendly challenges, and stunning views that we look for in a trail.

From the same Echo Lake trailhead, you can also head up to Bald Mountain, which offers the best views of Franconia Notch. Bring a picnic lunch so you can hang out at the top and enjoy the scenery.

Elephant Head Trail has just enough mud and small streams to keep things interesting. The rugged hike is fun but short (less than a mile) and leads to a sweeping view of Crawford Notch.

After the hike, head over to the AMC Highland Center where you can eat a delicious lunch and play on the most unique playground we have ever seen.

Arethusa Falls is the most challenging hike we did in New Hampshire. We recommend taking the Bemis Brook Trail on your way out to the falls, which offers lots of great spots to splash and play. The rocks and roots demand concentration, but arriving at the highest waterfall in New Hampshire is worth the effort. Bring a change of clothes for the kids.

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Alpine Adventures in Lincoln offers a great zip lining course for beginners and families with younger children. They also have the Thrillsville Aerial Adventure Park with rope courses and climbing challenges.

Cannon Mountain Tramway is an aerial cable car that rides to the summit of Cannon Mountain in under 10 minutes. The short Rim Trail at the top will take you to the summit observation tower, or you can just relax and have lunch in the visitor’s lodge.

The sandy beach and crystal clear water of Echo Lake make it a wonderful spot for a summer swim. Eat lunch at the picnic tables or rent paddle boats right on site. There is also an easily accessible launch if you have your own kayak or canoe.

The sparkling and secluded Pemigawassatt River offers numerous kayaking options for the more adventurous family. The “Pemi” is swift in some places and quiet in others. The length of river that runs behind the Lincoln/Woodstock KOA is particularly beautiful. Ask Darlene for directions.

The eight-mile drive to the top of Mount Washington on the Mount Washington Auto Road is white knuckle driving at its best. There are awe-inspiring views of the Presidential Range along the way and the view from the top is nothing short of spectacular. We visited on a beautiful summer day. It was 55 degrees with 30 mph wind gusts at the summit. Wear your layers.

Take a couple of hours to drive the Kancamagus Highway and it may end up being your favorite part of the trip. The secluded beauty of this National Forest is breathtaking and should not be missed.

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When you want to reward your kids for being troopers on the trail, take them to Santa’s Village in Jefferson. This pristinely clean theme park has great rides for younger children and also a large water park area with big, fun slides. We went after 3 pm on one day, which gave us a pass for reentry on another day. That means we got two days of rewards for the price of one!

Clark’s Trading Post in Lincoln has all the campy fun you could hope for in a family theme park. We were introduced to a wild wolf man on the train ride, watched a bear show, rode Segways, had water fights on blaster boats, and scaled a climbing wall. Bring your sense of  humor and you just might reconnect with the child inside. If you want something better than the typical theme park fare, eat lunch a block away at the Sunny Day Diner.

The White Mountains of New Hampshire is the type of destination that you could return to again and again, discovering new treasures every time. We know that we will return with our boys when they are older and ready to take on more challenging adventures.

Has your family visited the White Mountains? What would you add to our adventure guide?

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi blog about camping and traveling with their three young children at livelylittlecampers.com.

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Lively Little Campers: A Jayco Family’s Adventure Guide to Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Lively Little Campers: A Jayco Family’s Adventure Guide to Cape Cod, Massachusetts avatar

Jayco

Image1CapeCod Everyone in the family agrees: Cape Cod is our new favorite beach camping destination. We spent a magical week there this summer and can’t wait to return. Here is our list of suggestions for where to stay, what to eat, and how to have tons of family fun!

Where to Stay

Image2CapeCodAtlantic Oaks RV Park is perfectly situated for exploring the best Cape Cod has to offer. With direct access to the famous Cape Cod bike trail, the campground is only minutes away from beautiful bay beaches and the stunning National Seashore. Located in the quaint town of Eastham, it is a beautiful drive to Provincetown. Famous seafood shacks, miniature golf courses, and a drive in movie theater are all close by. The campground has friendly and welcoming staff, clean facilities, and a well-stocked camp store. We also loved the comfortable lounge and updated game room. The full hook up sites were spacious and well maintained.

What to Do

Image3CapeCodIt is a short and scenic bike ride from the campground to the Coast Guard Beach in the National Seashore. Along the way we enjoyed spotting foxes, rabbits, and birds. Go in the evening, climb up on the life guard stand, and soak in the quiet beauty of the wind and the waves.

Image4CapeCodThe bay beaches are particularly wonderful for families with small children. If you go during low tide, kids will have a blast exploring in the islands of sea grass and tidal pools. The water is surprisingly warm and crystal clear. We recommend bringing along your kayaks, kites, and a picnic lunch for a perfect day on the Cape.

Image5CapeCodThe five dollar entry fee to this state park is the best bargain on Cape Cod. Hike around one of the many kettle ponds, or take a swim and a kayak ride in Flax Pond, where boat and stand up paddle board rentals are available. The park is also famous for biking, birding, and catch and release fishing. There are over 400 sites at the beautiful and secluded campground.

Image6CapeCodOur boys are still learning to ride bikes and the bike trail was a wonderful way for us to embrace this fun, family activity. We can’t wait to return without the training wheels. The 26-mile trail, directly connected to the Atlantic Oaks RV Park, glides through tunnels and over bridges, pass quiet ponds, noisy miniature golf courses, and sinfully delicious seafood shacks. We recommend rewarding yourself after a bike ride with ice cream at Arnold’s.

Image7CapeCodAfter spending several days enjoying the beach, the bay, and the kettle ponds, head over to the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary run by Mass Audobon. Visit in the morning or late afternoon since many of the trails are not shaded. If possible, go at low tide so you can enjoy the beautiful Boardwalk trail. The nature center has puzzles, books, and lots of tanks with fish, turtles, and rare blue lobsters. The variety of landscape was stunning, with salt marshes, wooded areas, and ponds full of frogs and lily pads.

Image8CapeCodThe Cape Cod Baseball League calls itself “the premier amateur baseball league in the nation,”  and after enjoying a warm summer evening watching the Harwich Mariners competing against the Orleans Firebirds, it is easy to see why.  The collegiate talent is top shelf and so is the clam chowder.  Admission to this wooden bat league is free, but donations are welcome.  Take home a team cap or t-shirt for the perfect souvenir.

Where to Eat

Image9CapeCodAt least one morning of your vacation should start with donuts from the Hole in One Donut Shop in North Eastham. Get in line early for Cape Cod’s best breakfast splurge, the Glazed Old Fashioned. Yum.

Buy enough coffee for your whole trip at Beanstock Coffee Roasters in Eastham. Then buy some to bring home. We loved the dark and robust Wellfleet Blend and the Vineyard Blend.

If you are on the hunt for the perfect lobster roll, you’d better try one at Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar. Bring cash…your cards are not excepted here.

Let the kids romp on the playground at the Friendly Fisherman while you enjoy lobster rolls and crab cakes. If you listen to the locals, this may be the best seafood shack in Cape Cod.

The Marconi Beach Restaurant is perfect for lunch after hiking at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Ask for Janine as your waitress, since she will gracefully clean up if your kids knock over a huge glass of milk like ours did. She might also recommend the Cape Cod Reuben. Make sure you order it.

Cape Cod had everything we look for in a family-friendly RV vacation. Has your family traveled to Cape Cod? What were your favorite things to do and places to eat? Drop us a comment so we know where to go when we visit next summer! We would love to add to this list…

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi blog about camping and traveling with their three young children at livelylittlecampers.com.

Posted in Campground, Camping, Campsite, Fun, Jayco, Lively Little Campers, RV, RVing, Trip Planning | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed
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