Travel

No school vacation plans? We’ve got you covered

Spend some time with Santa on the old-fashioned Conway Scenic Railroad.
Spend some time with Santa on the old-fashioned Conway Scenic Railroad.

Well, the hype is over. All those thoughtfully chosen gifts have been opened, and depending on what time you’re reading this, new toys are either a) in a heap waiting to be assembled; b) already assembled, played with, fought over; or c) already broken.

And school doesn’t start until next year.

If you don’t have ski passes or Disney tickets, panic may be settling in. But we’ve got some family-friendly school-vacation road trips ideas to burn off that cabin fever.

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A trip to Old Sturbridge Village might be just the right antedote to too much time with a new iPad. Kids feel like they’re walking into another time to explore life as it was in 1830, with live costumed characters, including farmers, blacksmiths, and shoemakers. Wander through some 40 original buildings — homes, a meetinghouse, school, country store, bank, working farm, water-powered mills, and shops — set on some 200 acres that are also home to chickens, sheep, pigs, oxen, and cows. And, a school vacation special: The National Marionette Theatre will be on site for puppet entertainment, a la 19th century, from Dec. 28-31. (Village admission: under 3 free; under 18 $14, adult $28. 14 Stallion Hill Road, Sturbridge. 800-733-1830. www.osv.org.)

Old Sturbridge Village
Old Sturbridge Village.
Old Sturbridge Village

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Make an overnight of it and stay adjacent to the museum at the Old Sturbridge Inn & Reeder Family Lodges, which boasts 21st century accommodations, including flatscreen TV, iPhone docks, and free Wi-Fi. Rates vary. 369 Main St., Sturbridge. 508-347-5056 or 774-304-1011. www.osv.org/inn.

If they loved “Finding Dory,” go see a blue tang fish up close — along with a supporting cast of thousands, including exotic fish, sharks, beluga whales, African penguins, moon jellies, harbor seals, sea lions and more — at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn. Free for kids 2 and under. Ages 3 to 12, $24.99; ages 13 to 17, $28.99; adult $34.99. 55 Coogan Blvd., Mystic, Conn. 860-572-5955. www.mysticaquarium.org.

Or, they might find Nemo and gang at ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center in Burlington, Vt., which boasts interactive exhibits and science education programs that include over 70 species of fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and reptiles. Also, on Dec. 26, Vermont Reindeer Farm makes a special appearance, so kids can meet Dancer, Prancer, and crew. Free for kids 2 and under; ages 3 to 17, $11.50; adults $14.50. 1 College St., Burlington, Vt. 802-864-1848 www.echovermont.org.

Think “Polar Express” and hop aboard a vintage train that departs from a circa-1874 Victorian station. The old-fashioned Conway Scenic Railroad departs from the station in the center of North Conway Village, N.H., twice daily through Jan. 1. Both excursions are about an hour round-trip, departing at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. 38 Norcross Circle, North Conway, NH. 603-356-5251. http://conwayscenic.com. Coach prices: under 4 free, kids 4-12 $12, adults $17.

Deb Hill
The Conway Scenic Railroad.
Deb Hill

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If you’ve ever wanted to go dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh, well, you can. Snow or not, Gentle Giants Sleigh Rides & Carriage Rides will take you along woods and stream, by a covered bridge, and to meadow with a spectacular view of Mount Mansfield. Free for 4 and under; $27 for 16 and under; $53 per adult. 4000 Mountain Road, Stowe, Vt. Must call to reserve: 802-253-2216. http://www.gentlegiantsrides.com/

See where your Cherry Garcia is made on a Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Tour, and receive a free sample of ice cream. Free for kids 12 and under. $4 adults. 1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury Vt. 802-882-2040. Closed Jan. 1. www.benjerry.com

Ring in 2017 on ice at the Alex & Ani City Center outdoor skating rink in Providence, R.I. The rink is open until 1 a.m. New Year’s Eve, if they — or you — can stay up that late, or starting at 10 a.m. New Year’s Day. Little skaters can hold steady by gripping a penguin skate-aid. (Penguin $11. Four-hour admission is $4 for kids 12 and under; $7 adults. With skate rental, $10 for kids, $13 for adults. 2 Kennedy Plaza. 401-331-5544. alexandanicitycenter.com.)

They’re still obsessed with“Jurassic Park”? Dinosaur State Park contains some 2,000 dinosaur tracks — 500 of them enclosed in a geodesic dome — dating back to the Jurassic period, 200 million years ago. Trek more than two miles through a red maple swamp to a traprock ridge with basaltic rock that was once flowing lava. On Dec. 29, see descendants of dinos with a live birds of prey show at 1 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, closed Jan. 1. Free for kids under 5. $2 for kids 6 to 12. Over 12, $6. 400 West St., Rocky Hill, Conn. 860-529-8423. dinosaurstatepark.org.

Go tubular at New England Sports Park. Grab an inflatable tube and slip slide away down the tracks. Call ahead, as this one’s weather-dependent. Three-hour pass, $25. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 12 South Hunt Road, Amesbury. 978-388-5788. www.newenglandsportspark.com.

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Make it a Cape holiday and explores natural wonders at The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, including a special live owl show on Dec. 27, and a “Blizzard of Critters” series of learning events throughout school vacation week. (Under 3 free; 3-12 $5, Adults $10. 869 Main St. Brewster. 508-896-3867. www.ccmnh.org) If you go before Jan. 1, book a room at nearby Ocean Edge Resort, a historic Cape mansion atop bluffs overlooking Cape Cod Bay. Kids can make a splash in the heated indoor pool, and mom and dad can kick back with hot cocktails. (2907 Main St., Brewster. 508-896-9000. www.oceanedge.com. Rates vary.)

Ocean Edge Resort
Ocean Edge Resort on Cape Cod.
Ocean Edge Resort

Lauren Daley can be reached at ldaley33@gmail.com. She tweets @laurendaley1.