Although the pretty seaside town of St Andrews (almost nobody calls it by its full name of St-Andrews-by-the-Sea) is in Canada’s province of New Brunswick, it’s so close to the international border you can look out your hotel room window and see the Maine shore across the bay. But there’s so much for families to do here you won’t be satisfied with a daytrip from Maine.
St-Andrews is the whale watch capital of the Bay of Fundy, whose mammoth tides attract 12 species of whales and other marine animals that gather in the summer to feed on the fish and krill swept in by the tides. Minke, Finback, Humpback and rare North Atlantic Right Whales are joined by dolphins and porpoises — it’s like an oceanarium, but in the wild. Depending on the age of your kids and everyone’s thrill level, you have three kinds of whale-watch cruises to choose from.
Younger children will love the Jolly Breeze Tall Ship for its costumes they can dress up in, and other onboard activities. Older kids and those especially interested in sea creatures and wildlife will prefer Island Quest Marine Whale and Wildlife Cruises, accompanied by nature guides who can answer questions and assure the best sightings. For thrills, teens might like a zodiac ride with Fundy Tide Runners. You’ll find kiosks for all these at the waterfront in the center of town. On the way to the best whale watching waters you’ll cruise past lighthouses and islands where sea birds nest.
Meeting Sea Creatures Up Close
You and your family can learn more about the Bay of Fundy through the kid-friendly interactive exhibits and aquarium at the Huntsman Marine Science Center. Here they can discover live intertidal creatures in the large touch pool, and watch fish through underwater viewing windows. Twice each day visitors can see feedings of seahorses, seals and salmon, and daily activities are designed for all ages. For the littlest visitors there’s a sea-themed play area. One-hour tours take visitors, outfitted with rubber boots, “backstage” to see the tanks that house some sea animals not seen in the public exhibits. Kids get to feed some of them, use a microscope to see the smallest and learn how the center cares for its sea animals. New this summer is a half-day immersive experience that leaves the aquarium to gather data along the Fundy shore for the center’s research on invasive species.
Flowers, Goats and a Dutch Windmill
In the 27-acre Kingsbrae Garden there’s a special section for kids with play houses, a miniature castle and farm animals. But throughout the garden are other attractions that will enchant them — a real Dutch windmill, a sensory garden of plants that feel and smell good, a pair of Victorian-era play houses and a sculpture garden with some artful animals and whimsical features. Within a short walk of the gardens stands the imposing Algonquin Hotel, with family-sized guestrooms, a large outdoor swimming pool and an indoor pool with a three-story water slide.
Tourism New Brunswick has more information on what to do and where to stay in St Andrews-by-the-Sea.
If you’re looking for a charming new island escape on the East Coast, get away to a locale many have yet to discover. Daufuskie Island considers itself the Nantucket of the South, a hidden gem off the Southeast Coast, near Savannah, Georgia, and Hilton Head. The luxurious environment is unpretentious, but filled with all the amenities discerning family travelers need.
With technology advancing faster than ever, children globally are becoming attached to devices. Adults too. Our Netflix queue and ever-expanding inbox call our names even when we’re on vacation. We carry distractions with us everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with your loved ones.
A beach vacation is a family favorite in the summertime; the weather is nice, towns are thriving and there are fun activities all season. For families looking for the ultimate summer beach vacation, consider Ocean City, New Jersey.
Prior to any family trip, every responsible adult will have a checklist to ensure the journey and destination can be made as safe as possible for everybody. A packing list can incorporate healthy snacks, bug repellant, a first-aid kit and minor illness remedies (cold and flu meds; anti-diarrhea pills) while pre-trip cautions — depending on the location — immunizations and family discussions on how to avoid injury.
This summer, family travel at The Peninsula receives an upgrade with the debut of Camp Peninsula, a children’s experience that recreates the spirit of camping right in the heart of Beverly Hills. The journey begins with a special welcome from Peter Bear, the hotel’s lovable mascot, at check-in. After taking a picture with the life-sized teddy bear, kids will be whisked away by a Peninsula Camp Counselor to a luxurious guestroom where a charming teepee awaits. An afternoon of camp-themed games and activities, including a hotel-wide scavenger hunt, rounds off the family-friendly experience, fun for children of all ages. Whether it’s a luxe staycation or an extended holiday, Camp Peninsula is an ideal way to ensure the little ones are happy campers.
You don’t need a passport for a family-friendly island vacation — just a car to take you over the Causeway Bridge in Ft. Myers to Sanibel and Captiva islands in Florida. South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island offers sugar white-sand beaches, 20 swimming pools, watersports, golf and more than a dozen dining options.