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Monday, September 20, 2021

Chatfield Hollow State Park - Killingworth, Connecticut

As many mourn the official end of summer, avid hikers are eagerly awaiting the cooler temperatures and disappearance of bugs, excited for fall on the trails. The end of summer/early fall is the best time to hike as the humidity drops and the black flies are no more. It's a time for backpacking trips and day trips, weeklong road trips and weekend adventures. 

Today, KW is sharing a popular Connecticut State Park loaded with a swimming pond, picnic areas, a fishing brook and of course, hiking trails. 



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Very beautiful park that is a popular spot to walk (a lot of families with strollers or small kids on bikes). A paved road loops around the lake and extends to the end of the park. The park has a lot of interesting sights including a restored water wheel, a covered bridge, a large pond and stream, and wooded areas. There are a lot of day-use areas with picnic tables and grills spread through the park. You can also rent an open-air shelter for private events. There is a beach and designated swimming area at the pond with large newly renovated bathrooms. An impressive boardwalk weaves its way through the marsh. There is a small network of hiking trails that runs through the park. The park also borders Cockaponset State Forest which adds additional trails to the area.  We hiked a 4-mile loop around the park and only saw two other people. While we had a nice hike and enjoyed the quiet, there was nothing "special" about the trail system (no great vistas or scenic areas). Great place to picnic or spend some time in the park but there are a lot more interesting hiking trails in the state. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Green Animals Topiary Garden - Portsmouth, Rhode Island


I have spent plenty of time in Newport, almost always stopping at the mansions to walk the grounds in the summer or see the mansions decorated for the holidays. The Green Animals Topiary Garden was always on my list but for one reason or another, we never made the trip. We were planning on visiting my grandparents in Fall River, a quick 15 minute drive from the gardens and the perfect opportunity to finally get out to the gardens. 

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The gardens are in Portsmouth, Rhode Island (the top of the island, 25 minutes north of the Newport Mansions) so be prepared for a bit of a drive if you are coming from the mansions. 

We enjoyed our visit and the lovely grounds.  It's a great place to walk around (bring a picnic), relax, and enjoy the gardens and the view. The property has a large lawn that stretches right down to the water (Narragansett Bay). The topiaries are the main attraction and it is fun to walk around and try to identify the sculptures. The rest of the garden is also beautiful, with all different types of trees, shrubs, flowers, and even vegetables. There is a large Victorian house (closed to the public) with chairs on the shaded wrap-around porch to sit back and enjoy the views. The property also abuts a railroad where you can do one of those rail bike excursions too (extra fee). 

I thought it was a bit pricey for the short amount of time you spend in the garden and the topiary area was smaller than we thought. At $20 a person, it was a bit steep for the hour we spent. If you are a member of the Newport Mansions/Preservation Society, admission is included in the membership (they offer student discounts and some great perks if you are in the area or visit often). 

If you want to stretch your time at the garden, bring a picnic to enjoy on the lawn, in the chairs on the wrap-around porch, or one of the benches or picnic tables throughout the garden. Your ticket also gets you admission to the gardens and grounds of The Breakers, Marble House or The Elms. I would pair this visit with a trip to the grounds of the other Newport mansions (10 miles south) or, visit the nearby Greenvale Vineyards (6 miles southeast) or an afternoon at the Newport Polo grounds to watch a match (4 miles south) 

Great spot for kids as they can play on the lawn, see the gardens, and enjoy being outside. Everything is outside so it is a safe place to be during the pandemic. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

New England (and New York) Fall Road Trip - Must See Sights


Once September hits in New England, I start planning my favorite getaways. Days spent hiking, evenings spent camping, nights in cozy cabins and morning in the crisp New England Air. Leaf peeping and scenic drives, apple picking and fairs - all the good things we are so ready for after a toasty humid New England summer.

Last month, someone asked for some advice on planning a fall New England road trip and I was embarrassed to admit that post didn't exist yet. I quickly got to work, going state by state to share some of my favorite places in the northeast.


Waterville Valley Ski Resort/Mount Tecumseh

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Beaching with a Baby - Long Beach Island, New Jersey


I went to Long Beach Island, New Jersey for three days/two nights with the hopes of writing a weekender's guide. But the reality? It was a few days spent relaxing at a beach house with friends - days spent on the sand and evenings spent back at the house cooking dinner together. 

It's a family-friendly beach vacation destination, the place you go to be with friends and family, to relax and unwind. 

I can't tell you a ton about what to see, where to eat, or what to do on the island but I think that's the beauty of it all. I can tell you a bit about the beaches and the island, a few popular things to do, and most importantly, how to make a beach vacation with a baby a little bit easier.