I’ve had several requests from parents looking for summer road trips and activities that children might find enchanting and magical (although I’m not going to pretend that I don’t enjoy these activities myself). To me, enchanting activities are those that have a fairytale-like element to them. They evoke wonder and ignite the imagination. So here is a starter list, and it’s written with Maine locations in mind (although there are a few noted in other New England states, too).
Gather mermaid tears on an island (sea glass is also known as mermaid tears).
Have a conversation with fireflies
Board a pirate ship
Salem, MA www.piratemuseum.com/pirate.html
Explore a secret, hidden, or sunken garden
Fuller Gardens in North Hampton, NH; The grounds of College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, ME; The Sunken Garden, Wiscassett, ME; Maudslay State Park Newburyport, MA (cost is $20 for non-resident day pass)
Grow magic beans
Visit your local library and bring home a stack of books that your child can delve into all week. This is a wonderful way for kids to explore their interests, ignite their curiosity, and discover new muses. Bonus points for libraries that have enchanting reading rooms for kids such as the one at Louis T. Graves library in Kennebunkport.
Hum for periwinkle snails
Make tin can lanterns and take them on a night walk
Walk a labyrinth
The Labyrinth in the Woods in Brunswick, ME https://www.btlt.org/labyrinth-in-the-woods/ ; Kennebunkport Conservation Trust in Kennebunkport, ME https://www.kporttrust.org/labyrinth
Chase a rainbow
Visit a fairy community and build fairy houses
Mackworth Island in Falmouth, ME https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/maine/fairy-island-mackworth-me/
Find a four leafed clover
Visit a Children’s Garden
Strawberry Banke Museum, Portsmouth, NH; Brewer Children’s Garden, Brewer, ME; Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, ME; Children’s Garden at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, ME
Find a fairy ring of mushrooms
Discover all the different gardens and sculptures at Bedrock Gardens in Lee, NH. They even have their own Fairy Godmother that visits on Saturdays. The gardens are full of imagination and rich detail.
Explore The Desert of Maine in Freeport and bring a desert-themed lunch/snack
You can google “deserts of the world”, choose a location, and then google the local foods of that area. Here is an example https://tripinmorocco.com/traditional-foods-desert-nomads/
Have a tea party in the woods
Read fairy tales around a rainbow fire
Google “rainbow fire” to view products
Plant a miniature landscape or container garden for playing with figurines. i.e. create a miniature dragons lair ; a moonscape; a swamp; a desert…what other miniature landscapes would your child’s figurines like to be in?
Find bioluminescence in the sea
(Ultimate splurge = going sea kayaking at night in Castine, ME to see the bioluminescence around various islands) https://www.castinekayak.com/bioluminescence-trips.php
Visit a fairy glen at Jagolinzer Preserve in Limington, ME
Steep but brief hike into the woods to a place that can only be described as a fairy glen with a small cave next to the water. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/maine/jagolinzer-preserve
Find all 5 of the giant trolls (aka The Guardians of the Seeds) at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, ME
Hike in the woods with goats at Ten Apple Farm in Maine
Tour a castle at night
Hammond Castle in Gloucester, MA https://www.hammondcastle.org/product/candlelight-tours-3/
Look for gems and visit the fish at the top of Mount Apatite in Auburn, ME
Notes: Bring hammers and protective eyewear (and bug spray!); catfish are at the quarry on right near top of mountain; last I was there was also a stone spiral at top of mountain. Steep drops near quarries (close supervision of young children advised). Do not leave valuables in your car.