Toronto to Tampa + 3 year old, sites/activities?
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Mar 7, 2013 8:47 AM Last Post By: LongIslandBob
Mar 6, 2013 10:05 AM
Mar 6, 2013 10:43 AM
Mar 6, 2013 1:21 PM
2About an hour north of NYC (before hotels get expensive) is a lake next to Bear Mountain where you can paddle around on a canoe or get a 2-person peddle boat.
From there it's basically a straight shot south in I-95 with short side trips to sites and attractions (although I'm guessing 3-year-olds have very little interest in historic sites.)
About 2 hours south of NYC is philadelphia. Somewhere in its suburbs it has an amusement park called "Sesame Place" that is specifically oriented toward very kids. All the sesame street characters are there. all the ride and games are oriented toward pre-schoolers etc..
Often times near a Pennsylvania borders you can find a fireworks store. They sell the really good stuff but you have to prove you are not a Pennsylvanian, have to sign an agreement not to ignite them in Pennsylvania etc.. As you travel south the igniting fireworks laws generally become more lenient, but no place in America allows you legally to lignite the really good stuff they sell in PA 9unless you have a license).
Baltimore has a great (but somewhat pricey) aquarium, and Washington DC has a nice zoo, but parking in DC is sometimes a hassle and if you spent the night near Philadelphia then spending a night near DC means you are not making much driving progress.
I'm not sure where to stop south of DC. Virginia is one of my favorite places, but my kid is 13, not 3. I guess it depends on your driving tolerance.
Just over the border from N. Carolina inot S. Carolina is a place called "south of the border." From everything I've heard, you should stop there for a hot dog and take a few photos just so you can laugh and joke about this ultimate monument to Americana tourist trapism. It won't kill ya, it's just the world's most famous truck stop, with all sorts of weird signs.
Further South, almost on the So Carolina to Georgia border are Charleston (an historic town) and Myrtle beach (a beach and golfing town). Hey, sometimes mom and dad need a vacation too. Those are kinda close to South of the Border, so again the "making progress" question arises and it doesn't make much sense to stop at both.
I have no personal experience in Georgia whatsoever, but Savannah comes highly recommended and the BBQ is said to be sweet, but pretty good.
About 1.5-2 hours before you each Tampa you'll pass by Orlando, FL, home to Disney World and some of the worlds greatest water parks. Fortunately 3-year-olds cannot read road signs because it's hard to pass there without going to a water park or something. I'm just saying.
Florida is so hot in July a lot of the locals leave,
Tampa is on Florida's west coast which has a reputation for fancy dock restaurants over-looking the water. Florida's east coast has a reputation for hot beaches and the hot bodies that inhabit them. I am sure making too many assumptions about those ideas would be a gross over-simplification, but in a grossly over-simplified way, that's how we Americans tend to picture the 2 sides of Florida.
Enjoy your journey.
Mar 6, 2013 9:00 PM
3If you are swinging through upstate NY and then heading east to I-95, definitely stop in the National Museum of Play in Rochester: www.museumofplay.org/ That is about as awesome as it can get for a 3-year-old.
If you go to NYC, there is a ton of great stuff. There are some killer playgrounds in Central Park, especially on the UES near the Met. The American Museum of Natural History is great for people of all ages.
I would say DC is a good place to stop. The museums and National Zoo are all free, so even if you have to pay parking, you're not spending that much. Even running around on the National Mall near the GW monument should be enjoyable.
There are a number of Civil War battlefields in Virginia that would be fine for a 3-year-old. Parents can enjoy the history while the kid can run around the open fields and look into the old cannons. If they do a demo shooting a cannon, even better! Richmond is a big enough city that it might have a children's museum.
The whole way south you're near great beaches, but will be paying high-season prices for lodging. I'm partial to the North Carolina coast. Wilmington, NC, is a very pretty town and not that far off I95. Savannah and Charleston are supposed to be nice for lounging around, too, as the previous poster indicated.
The Atlanta aquarium is another great place for kids and I bet Atlanta has a Children's Museum.
I like St. Augustine, and there are a number of lighthouses on the northeast shore of FL that would be fun to climb if your child has the stamina (or if you have the stamina to carry your child). Just google Florida Lighthouses and you'll get lots of hits.
Orlando has lots of fun things for small children, even just the playground in Lake Eola Park in the downtown area is nice. I think Disney is a bit much for a child that young (especially given the $80 per day price tag!). You could do Disney's Animal Kingdom. For a cheaper thrill for a little one, I'd go to the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford, north of Orlando. Between Orlando and Tampa there is Dinosaur World, which looks incredibly cheesy from I-4 but is actually quite fun for little ones: it's basically a pretty subtropical park with some dinosaur statues tucked away amidst the palms.
Mar 6, 2013 9:02 PM
Mar 7, 2013 7:49 AM
Mar 7, 2013 8:12 AM
Mar 7, 2013 8:47 AM
Bear Mountain is a neat mountain to hike, especially if you are excited about visiting NYC. The trail is a little washed out in places but considered “beginner friendly.” I’ve done it with a 5-year-old but there were few spots where mom had to take him by the hand and be careful. I’m not sure I can recommend it for a 3-year-old, but if mom or dad can carry him in places, it’s a nice doable hike.
If you jaunt a little west while in New Jersey you can get to Easton PA, an otherwise worthless (traveler wise) town that houses something my son used to call “Crayon Heaven,” (the Crayola Crayon museum.) It’s not really a museum, more like a play-center. It won’t add a lot to your travel time, (because there are other routes south from near there) but it is not the most direct route. They have really stepped it up there. It’s cool for any kid who likes crayons or art etc..
Yes, DC’s museums, Air and Space, Natural History, (rocks and dinosaurs), US History, lots of art museums) are among the best in the world and they are free. Many of them have a section that is designed for kids, but in general I think mom and dad will enjoy them while trying to keep your 3-year-old not-too-bored.
Note that both in DC and nearby Baltimore (the aquarium place) finding affordable lodging can require some shopping around. . . or you could just drive away and look for a cheapo-tel further south.
In Virginia, if you really like scenic nature drives, you could include the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. They are a little far to the west and generally considered more like destinations than travel routes. Still, they include everything from mountain scenery to caves, to waterfalls, to weird geological features that just kinda make you go “haw? how did that happen?”
Yes, in North Carolina, the beaches are absolutely famous. They are a little off the through-path (though not quite as far as the Virginia routes I just mentioned above). Right now, I’d rather be there than here in suburban NYC, but they are more like a day-plus travel break than a simple stopover or side-trip. Could be some good fishing.
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