A Tank Away

Tips for April school vacation week around New England

Ideas for outings in southern Maine, Cape Cod, R.I., or Conn.

Boutiques and restaurants line the streets of Dock Square in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Boutiques and restaurants line the streets of Dock Square in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Call it where the buoys are. April school vacation week nears. Admittedly even in a blessedly unseasonably warm year, it’s probably a little early to break out swimwear but that should not keep families from going down to the sea in trips. Here are some options.


Ogunquit celebrates Patriot’s Day Weekend ( April 13-15 with concerts, historical reenactments, food and wine tastings, children’s activities, and a beach bazaar. Play on the beach or download the Kids’ Guide to the Marginal Way ( and explore the mile-long, path edging the ocean from Shore Road to Perkins Cove. Dinner, from hot dogs to lobster, is served at Barnacle Billy’s (Perkins Cove, 800-866-5575,, $3-$33), an area institution.

Wells has two spectacular places to immerse in unspoiled coastal beauty. The 1,690-acre Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm (207-646-1555, www. is laced with seven miles of trails, including Barrier Beach Walk, a 1.3-mile trail through multiple habitats to lovely Laudholm Beach. The mile-long, wheelchair-accessible path at the nearby Rachel Carson National Wildlife Reserve (321 Port Road, 207-646-9226, is especially fine for bird watching.


Pop into Kennebunk’s Brick Store Museum (117 Main St., 207-985-4802,, $5 donation suggested) for a sampling of the town’s rich history or poke around the fishing shacks-turned-boutiques and restaurants in nearby Kennebunkport’s Dock Square. Alisson’s Restaurant (11 Dock Square, 207-967-4841, www.alissons
.com, $9-$23) has chowder, lobster, burgers, and steak, and there’s a kids’ menu, too. River Tree Arts (35 Western Ave., Kennebunk, 207-967-9120, offers two- to six-hour, multi-day April-vacation day camps in theater and art for kids ($25-$110).

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Thirty minutes north in Portland are the Children’s Museum of Maine (142 Free St., Portland, 207-288-1234, www.childrensmuseumof and Hadlock Field, home of the Red Sox AA-affiliate Portland Sea Dogs (271 Park Ave., 800-936-3647,

Good lodging options include Ogunquit’s Beachmere Inn (800-336-3983, www.beach and Kenebunk’s Seaside Inn (800-967-4461, www.kennebunkbeach; kids 12 and younger free).



Delight in a candy-making workshop April 16 at Green Briar Nature Center (6 Discovery Hill Road, 508-888-6870, Programs on woodpeckers, amphibians, and wildlife food chains round out the vacation week schedule. Hidden Hollow, the discovery center tucked into a dry kettle pond at Heritage Museums and Gardens (67 Grove St., 508-888-3300,, opens for the season April 14. Vacation week activities include a family scavenger hunt and programs on music, recycling, and worms. Savor the tastes of summer at Seafood Sam’s (6 Coast Guard Road, 508-888-4629, www.sea, where the fried seafood is fresh and crispy. Stroll the 1,350-foot boardwalk across the marshlands to the sea, beginning at the end of Harbor Street. For lodging check out Earl of Sandwich Motel (378 Route 6A, 508-888-1415,

In Eastham, April is one of the best times of year to see whales and seals from shore. Join a National Park Service ranger at Coast Guard Beach ( April 15 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children can become Junior Rangers by participating explorations of weather at Doane Rock Picnic Area, Coast Guard Beach, and the Salt Pond Visitor Center on April 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. If all this beachcombing makes you hungry, indulge in one of nearly 30 varieties of pizza at The Red Barn Pizza & More (4180 Route 6, 508-255-4500, www.thered Four Points Sheraton (3800 Route 6,
408-255-5000, www.starwood
ID=786) has an indoor pool and is planning activities, such as a magic show, for vacation week.




At Misquamicut State Beach (257 Atlantic Ave, families can take a walk or a run and see what the winter waves have washed up. After burning some calories, hit Hauser Chocolates (59 Tom Harvey Road, 401-596-8866,, opened by Swiss-born confectioner Ruedi Hauser in 1983. Take a self-guided tour in a room showing the history of the company and machinery used in production. Kids can look into the factory to watch chocolate treats being made, and visit the retail store for free samples. Stay in style at Ocean House (1 Bluff Ave., 401-315-5599, www.ocean, a grand dame hotel with ocean views that offers child-size bathrobes, free infant and children’s toiletries, and nightly gifts for the little ones. With mermaid decor and knickknacks, the Mermaid Cafe (19 Margin St., 401-637-4225, on the Pawcatuck River features Rhode Island favorites such as johnnycakes made from corn meal grown across the river at Davis Farms.



While not literally on the ocean, Mystic boasts a seaside flair. Mystic Aquarium (55 Coogan Boulevard, 860-572-5955, unveils a new multimillion-dollar exhibit April 12 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking. “Titanic – 12,450 Feet Below” includes bi-level adventure area inspired by Titanic’s engine room, interactive exhibits, Titanic video footage wall, and explorer kiosks. Beyond its 19th-century re-created village and explorable tall ships, Mystic Seaport (75 Greenmanville Ave., Stonington, 888-973-2767, presents souvenir workshops and high-seas planetarium shows. Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center (109 Pequotsepos Road, 860-536-1216, has 10 miles of trails for families to explore, a natural history museum that includes live frogs, fish, turtles and snakes, and a nature center store. In and around Mystic, lodging options — some with indoor pools — abound. And no trip to the area would be complete with a stop at Mystic Pizza (56 West Main St, 860-536-3700, www.mystic