Posts Tagged ‘traveling with kids’

My 12-year-old daughter’s at the age where she’s fascinated by the world of music. Working in radio, I’m lucky that I’m able to offer her some great experiences. Thanks to my boss, Rob, the man with all the connections, she got to meet her favorite band, AJR. She went backstage and met the guys from Imagine Dragons. She received a hand-written birthday greeting from Brendan Urie of Panic! at the Disco.

I saw my first concert at the age of 17. It was Three Dog Night and T.Rex at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. My daughter has already seen more concerts than I did in my teens.

As touristy as they are (and as mediocre as the food is), Hard Rock Cafes and their walls full of pictures, guitars, photos and other memorabilia, offer a glimpse into the world of music that fascinates my daughter. Once she visited her first Hard Rock, the world’s largest at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, she was hooked. If we were traveling anywhere near a Hard Rock Cafe, we had to go.

The Hard Rock at Universal was followed by New York City, Washington DC, the Cayman Islands, Paris, and Reykjavik. Yet we never made to the one in Boston, closest to our home in Rhode Island. It was time to go.

Hard Rock Cafe, Boston.

 

Our stay in Boston began with lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, near Fanuel Hall. Nothing particularly amazing about the venue, but we could now scratch it off the list.

I clearly don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

 

Because our main point of going to Boston was to visit the New England Aquarium, I chose to get a room at the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel, located right on the water and literally a few steps from the aquarium. The area around Long Wharf includes many restaurant and shopping choices.

The Marriott Long Wharf is a huge hotel, and I was surprised at just how clean the property was, despite the vast numbers of people who were moving through the lobby and hallways. Our room was clean and technologically up-to-date: everything you’d want in a hotel room. Beds were comfortable, towels were plentiful.

The only complaint I had about our hotel is one that I have with most of the Marriotts and Westins that I’ve been to recently. They’ve decided to make the move away from old-fashioned room service with carts, real plates and silverware, and decent food. Now they all offer what amounts to take-out service. You get a bag full of cardboard boxes that contain your meals….paper napkins…plastic utensils…and crappy food. I highly doubt all of this gets recycled. So in a world where we’re supposed to be thinking about how not to overload our landfills, these guys came up with the idea to make everything disposable. Really dumb. Goes without saying that we didn’t eat at the hotel.

No carts. No fuss. No thanks.

 

The New England Aquarium is a great place to take the family and see penguins up close. We arrived at feeding time, and it was fun to watch them eat; some of them fussy, some of them devouring their offerings of fish. The center of the building is a spiral, and inside the spiral is a huge 4-story aquarium. So as you slowly walk up the spiral, you get a constantly changing view of the aquarium and the thousands of fish and other sea life (manta rays, tortoises, sea horses, jellyfish, starfish, eels, seals, and lots more that thrive there. Again, you might be lucky to catch them at feeding time, when workers in scuba gear swim down to the different groups of fish and make sure they get fed.

One note: buy your tickets online before you go. The outdoor line for last-minute ticket buyers was huge, and we visited on a bone-chilling winter’s day. Those people standing in line were very unhappy. We just walked right in with our online printed tickets.

 

The Red Lantern in Boston.

 

We don’t have many great Asian restaurant choices in Rhode Island, so when we go to Boston, it’s almost always on our list. This time, we decided to skip Chinatown and go to a restaurant that was as much about the atmosphere as it was about the food: The Red Lantern. Great music, cool lighting, awesome design, very good food and a huge cocktail menu. My daughter had miso soup and a massive delicious bowl of beef lo mein. I shoved a few large chopstick-fulls into my mouth “for blogging purposes.” Really good. I started with a plate of boneless ribs, sweet and sticky. My main dish was a huge spicy tuna toro maki roll: a tempura fried roll with avocado, cucumber, chili soy and toro tuna, slightly torched. Over the top. The Red Lantern has a beautiful bar, and my original mai-tai was well-made, though very sweet.

Dessert selections weren’t what we wanted…and we needed a breather…so we Ubered over to Newbury Street, where we found a wonderful gelato shop: Amorino. It’s an Italian chain, and they know how to do gelato!

I suppose if I wasn’t hanging out with my daughter, I’d take this opportunity to go to a bar for one last cocktail, but instead, we just went back to the hotel and focused on the next day, thinking we’d hit the indoor pool. Turns out it wasn’t a great idea, because the pool last the Marriott Long Wharf was really small and full of screaming little kids. Plan B: find a really great Sunday brunch.

Mooo, in Boston.

 

Mooo is a steak restaurant inside the beautiful XV Beacon Hotel, on historic Beacon Street. As I was searching for brunch possibilities, I saw the tempting list of freshly-baked treats on their menu, very different from those offered elsewhere, and I knew this was where we needed to go. We were not disappointed!

Ordering the cinnamon buns was a no-brainer. The moment they say on the menu that you “need to give it a little extra time,” you know it’s going to be worth the wait! as we slowly pulled apart the gooey rolls, shoving them into mouth, I moaned like Patton Oswalt in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: “Cinnnabonnnn……” (Though it was way better than any Cinnabon I ever head!)

The incredible cinnamon buns at Mooo.

 

My daughter knew almost instantly that she was going to have the chocolate chip pancakes…with a side of bacon, of course. I was contemplating the lobster eggs Benedict (I’m a huge fan of bennies), but then I said to myself: “Wait…this is a steak restaurant. They have half-a-dozen steak and eggs offerings on the menu. Have a steak, for crying out loud!” My inner voice served me well.

I had a choice of 2 ribeyes: either a 12-oz. American corn-fed ribeye, or a 14-oz. pastured, grass-fed Australian ribeye. I’m a grass-fed guy, so the larger Australian ribeye (which was also less expensive) was a no-brainer. It was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, and was one of the best steaks I’ve had in a very long time. A couple of eggs and a side of perfectly cooked potatoes made for an ideal meal.

Brunch is served!

 

Mooo was such a great choice for brunch that I will keep it in mind for dinner on a return trip to Boston.

 

We returned to our hotel after brunch, simply to pack up and head home. A nice 24-hour getaway with wonderful food and a fun time with my daughter. I know my daughter and I will be back in June to see a Billie Eilish concert at the Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion, so we’ll have more opportunities to hit a couple of restaurants, this time in the Seaport District, which, sadly, is being overrun by so much new construction that you can’t even see the water anymore. It’s sad because Boston’s traffic has just been rated the worst in the country, and this will only add to a crumbling infrastructure that is already overloaded.

 

 

 

Before our daughter was born, my wife and I traveled the world. We got engaged in Paris. We honeymooned in Thailand. We swam with dolphins in Moorea. We rode camels along the Mediterranean in Morocco. So when our daughter was born, many of our friends thought our traveling days would be over.

At the Kaikoura Lavender Farm, South Island, New Zealand

 

One of the biggest sources of inspiration for me, personally, was a moment on our honeymoon in Thailand. We left our luxurious resort on Koh Samui to spend a few days on a remote island called Koh Nang Yuan, a destination for adventurers and serious scuba divers.

While waiting for our ferry to arrive, a bunch of us were packed like sardines in a small area. Around the corner came a young man, carrying 2 very large duffel bags–clearly a scuba diver with all his gear. But a moment later, his wife appeared from around the corner, and she was pushing a baby in a stroller. She whispered something to her husband, and he unzipped one of the large duffel bags to reveal a huge stash of diapers! He pulled one out, handed it to his wife, and she headed toward the restroom.

In that moment I realized: you can travel with a kid…and you can still have the adventure of a lifetime! It changed my attitude toward travel forever.

Snorkeling in St. John, USVI

 

It’s understood that not everyone can do this. Traveling is expensive. We gladly trade material things (that fancy SUV will have to wait) so that we can share some amazing memories.

In the crown of the Statue of Liberty, NYC

 

By the age of 12, my daughter had traveled to France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Lithuania, England, New Zealand, Iceland, Canada and the Caribbean.

London, England

 

The first time our daughter’s feet touched salt water, it was as an infant in the Adriatic Sea in Puglia, Italy. The first time she had a steak, it was steak frites in Paris.

Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, Spain

 

Though she didn’t always realize it, her travels gave her an incredible education. The people she met, the foods she (sometimes) ate, the places she saw that her friends would only read about. It has made her wise in ways we never could have expected.

A mountain top view of San Sebastian, Spain

 

Swimming with stingrays at Stingray City in the Cayman Islands

 

Sure, once in a while my wife and I still travel alone for a romantic getaway. But to see the world through our daughter’s eyes has been a real joy for us, especially now when I can share my love for music with her.

Hard Rock Cafe, Paris

 

Hot dogs in Reykjavik, Iceland

 

We have friends that tell us they can’t afford to travel the way we do. Then they blow thousands on a Disney vacation or cruise.

Washington, DC

 

Everyone needs to make that choice on their own, but we decided a long time ago that we’d skip places like Disney World for the real world.

Sharing an artsy moment with Mom in Santorini, Greece

 

…and a silly moment with Dad in Vilnius, Lithuania

 

 

Even local trips can make a tremendous difference in a child’s life.

Block Island, RI

 

Fishing off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

 

Camping in the Berkshires, Massachusetts.

 

Rafting on the Kennebec River in The Forks, Maine

 

Never underestimate the power of travel! It’s not just great for the kid…it’s great for the whole family!