I had the opportunity to take my 9 year old son on a very special escorted tour of the US East Coast with Trafalgar. The itinerary was called the Trails of Liberty. This family focused guided tour from Trafalgar is a great option for families looking for a vacation packed with learning opportunities as well as safe & fun activities for the kids.
Trafalgar has put together a select number of itineraries where the activities are geared towards both adults and children. This particular itinerary included visits to important places in American history and the story of the people who shaped it, especially in the early years of the Republic.
There were 38 people on this tour, which included 12 children from ages 8 to 15 years old. The tour began in the nation’s capital, Washington DC. The three night stay was a perfect starting phase. It had a combination of tours, and free time to explore the amazing places.
The hotel was centrally located, which made it very convenient. On the first night, we met our fantastic trip director. He was a history enthusiast who specialized in the revolutionary and civil wars, which made him a perfect fit for this trip. My son couldn’t get enough of all the stories he told about the early days of the nation, the founding fathers, and early presidents.
The list of monuments and historic buildings we viewed and visited in Washington DC, included sightseeing, optional excursions and extensive free time. I can hardly believe we did all of this in 4 days. Starting with the White House, we went on to see the Capitol, Lincoln memorial, Vietnam and the Korean War memorials, Thomas Jefferson memorial, Martin Luther King memorial, Washington Monument, Smithsonian Museums, Botanical Gardens, the World War II memorial, Iwo Jima memorial, FDR memorial, Arlington Cemetery, JFK memorial, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Kennedy Center for the Arts, the Supreme Court building, the spy museum and other sights that we saw while driving around Washington DC.
Trafalgar includes a surprise activity in each itinerary; this time it was a visit to the Einstein statue, the only monument on the tour, where kids were actually allowed to climb on top of it. They had a great time doing so, and it was a great photo opportunity.
After departing Washington DC, we headed towards Philadelphia. Again, our hotel was centrally located, within walking distance of the main attractions. We spent 2 nights in the “City of Brotherly Love.” We started with the visit to the state- of -the -art Constitution Center, which was very informative and a great learning experience about the founding of the nation. This was followed by a walking tour of old town Philly, which at one time, was the largest city in North America.
During our second day in Philadelphia, we had free time to plan our activities, and our travel director had some great suggestions. We decided to visit Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and afterward, we visited the Liberty Bell exhibit. Lastly, we wrapped up the day by visiting one of the best children’s museums in the US; the Franklin Institute. This museum, dedicated to Benjamin Franklin, has great and interesting exhibits for kids. Lastly on our way out of town, we stopped at the “Rocky steps” for the kids to climb and do a victory celebration.
The most anticipated visit of the itinerary was next; the Hershey Chocolate Factory, but prior to that, we had a unique lunch experience on an Amish family farm. The family shared their stories and answered questions about their way of life.
At the Hershey Chocolate Factory, we were able to design and produce our own chocolate bar. This was a highlight of the tour for the kids. They enjoyed it immensely!
The last night was spent at the historic town of Gettysburg. Earlier in the day we had a guided tour of the battlefield which was enlightening, plus, it made us appreciate the importance of this battle. We finished the tour with the opportunity to visit the visitor’s museum, which had a great number of artifacts and weapons from the battle. On this night, we had our farewell dinner, which was, like the other meals included on the tour, hearty with generous portions of typical foods of the region.
During the last day we had a stop on our way back to Washington at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s house. This was a tremendous inside look at the life of the first president.
Upon our return to Washington, we each realized that we had experienced a great vacation that would be remembered by the kids as one of the highlights of their childhood.
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