Monday, October 29, 2012

Salem with a Toddler, revisited

At this time of year, my thoughts naturally turn to fond memories of visiting Salem, Massachusetts this time last year.  Salem certainly has their hands full THIS year, not only with all the Halloween festivities but also with Hurricane Sandy.

Salem is best known as the location of the witch trials in which over 150 people were arrested and imprisoned between February 1692 and May 1693.  In all, 20 people (14 women and 6 men) were executed in the mass hysteria. As a result of it’s history, October, and Halloween in particular, is Salem’s busiest time for tourism. 

Many of the attractions in Salem aren’t suited to babies or toddlers, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t activities and sights for them to enjoy.  It just meant saving the graveyard visits until B was napping and skipping the haunted houses. October’s Haunted Happenings is a month-long series of events leading up to Halloween, including many family-oriented events such as trick or treating and children’s costume parades.
Things to do

The Salem Visitor Center  is a good starting point for maps and ideas, and is right across the street from Salem’s main parking garage.  Kids can check out models of sailing ships and the wharf area, and there is a small activity center with games, coloring pages and crayons.

Red lines painted on sidewalks make Salem an easy place to explore and they are marked on most tourist maps.  The red lines create four loops through town, passing the majority of Salem’s most important and interesting sites.

Salem Common is a large, well-tended green space; lots of space to run around and a large play ground.  Grab a delicious latte and chocolate chip cookie from Jaho Coffee & Tea on Derby St. and admire the attractive, historic homes along the park’s perimeter while the kids play.

Salem Trolley Tours - B was thrilled to ride on a red trolley bus for a tour of the town.  It’s a hop-on, hop-off tour, so if the kids get antsy, you can hop-off and rejoin the trolley later if you wish.

Great food
We enjoyed lunch at Red's Sandwich Shop on Central Street, a popular and friendly restaurant which serves enormous servings of delicious food.  B asked for pancakes.  At $3.50 for one, this pancake was a bargain… a foot in diameter and an inch thick… B had a big meal for lunch, we ate the leftovers for dinner that evening and still had some left!

Victoria Station on Pickering Wharf has great seafood and a good kid’s menu.  We skipped the offerings on the kid’s menu and ordered B the Boathouse 5-cheese mac and cheese from the appetizer section of their regular menu.  B enjoyed it, and so did we – it was probably the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had, so it was easy to polish off what B left behind.

Yummy treats

Ye Olde Pepper Candy Company on Derby Street is America’s oldest candy store, and is filled to the brim with tempting chocolates, candies and fudge.  Try their famous Gibralters, sugary chunks of rock candy available in lemon and peppermint flavors.

Maria's Sweet Somethings on Front Street has super-cute Frankenstein petit fours, chocolates and ice cream.

Fun shopping

You won't be able to fit a stroller in the shop, but the Derby Square Book Store on Essex Street is definitely worth a visit for discounted books for adults and children. The tall stacks of teetering books bring to mind Dr. Seuss, though the shelves are strategically secured with bungee cords so they won’t fall over.

You can’t beat Witch Tees for cute souvenir t-shirts of your visit.  There is a branch along the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall and another in the Museum Place Mall next to the Visitor Center.

The Happy Sunflower on Pickering Wharf has a huge selection of ornaments, perfect for topping off a gift or decorating your Christmas tree and personalization is free.


Depending on traffic, Salem is about a 45 minute drive from downtown Boston.  There are only a couple of accommodation options in Salem itself, and many more options in nearby Peabody.  

A sturdy stroller is a must for the cobblestone and brick streets.  Automatic doors and wheelchair ramps are few and far between though I found there was never a shortage of people to hold a door or lend a hand getting B’s stroller up or down steps.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A change in KLM's car seat policy

An interesting change in KLM's on board car seat policy has been identified by Corinne at Have Baby Will Travel... You now have to make a reservation to bring your car seat on board.
On the plus side, hopefully this will alleviate some of the issues that arise when the passenger in front can't recline their seats!  But I can't help wonder if this is a veiled way to limit the number of infants and toddlers on board flights.
With all the griping about kids on planes, I wonder if other airlines will follow suit? 

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Favorite Travel Stroller - The UPPAbaby G-LUXE

We bought our UPPAbaby G-LUXE stroller when B was just over a year old.  While we loved his Bugaboo Bee, it was far to heavy and cumbersome for airline travel and we were looking for something more compact for an upcoming trip to Hawaii.  The G-LUXE turned out to be so convenient, we never bothered to use our other stroller again.  Not only is it the perfect travel stroller, it is a great choice for everyday use.

Here's why I love it:

It is durable and reliable - Our G-LUXE has been gate-checked on over two dozen flights, bounced over miles and miles of cobblestones, been folded up and unfolded hundreds of times and it works as well today as the first day we had it.  Over the last two years, it has taken a real beating and it still keeps going!

Easy to clean - The fabric is easy to wipe clean and the latest model has a removable cover that can go in the washing machine.  We help it continues to stay clean by using an airport gate check bag when flying.

Comfortable - It reclines almost all of the way back so it is easy for B to sleep in if we are waiting to board a late-night flight or wandering around during nap time.  The foot rest is adjustable and the sun canopy effectively keeps the sun out of B's eyes.

Lots of storage space - The large mesh basket below the seat is big enough to store pretty much everything we need along the way.

Functional - It is fast and easy to open and shut.  And it STANDS easily when folded!

Lightweight - According to the manufacturer, it is the lightest reclinable full-size umbrella stroller available in the U.S.  At only 11 lbs, it is easy to tote about when not in use with the convenient shoulder strap.

Compact - When folded, it is very compact and easily fits through airport x-ray scanners and in the smallest cruise cabin closet.

It retails on the manufacturer's website for $189.99 and I have found it is worth every penny.

Do you have a favorite travel stroller?