The Finger Lakes area of New York is pretty large region that encompasses a lot of great hiking. We traveled up there in December and stayed in Keuka Park, New York, close to Keuka Lake.
A few things I learned about traveling to the Finger Lakes region of New York during the off-season:
MANY restaurants are closed in the off-season (and likely even more than usual due to the pandemic)
The different lake towns are further apart than I realized – many of the hikes we did were about an hour away from our Airbnb.
Some of the popular trails are closed during the winter. We skipped Watkins Glen State Park altogether because only the overlook spots were open.
That being said, it was amazing to experience the beauty of the Finger Lakes with a winter landscape. It made for unique pictures and interesting experiences. My son is a huge cold weather kid, so he loved all of the ice and snow.
Here are some of the hikes that we did up in the Finger Lakes area of Western New York:
Best Hikes in the Finger Lakes: Taughannock Falls
Located in Taughanock Falls State Park, this is located close to Ithaca and Cayuga Lake. The only trail open in the winter to the falls is the Gorge Trail. The trail itself is very easy – it’s basically just a flat path – but it leads to a gorgeous view of the waterfall.
Seeing the falls in winter was extraordinary. The mist from the waterfall created an icy covering over the plants nearby. This was my son’s favorite.
This park is located near Canandaigua Lake, which is to the left of Keuka Lake. We were able to get a (freezing cold) view of the lake as well as explore some trails in the park. The trail itself is about 1.4 miles and has a few overlooks. We stopped to explore near the creek as well.
Best Winter Hikes in Western New York: Chimney Bluffs State Park
Chimney Bluffs State Park is technically located on one of the Great Lakes (specifically Lake Ontario), but it’s only about an hour from the area of the Finger Lakes we were staying. It was freezing and super snowy, which made for a really beautiful landscape.
We opted for the loop trail down to the beach. This gave great views of the bluffs from above and below. It’s super windy on the coast, so be sure to bundle up and make sure you have the appropriate gear if you’re planning to do the hike!
I’ve been doing a lot more local adventuring in Pennsylvania due to COVID-19. Throughout the summer, I cancelled pretty much all of my travel plans that required air travel and focused on drivable destinations (like Acadia National Park). We’ve spent some time exploring some of the local state and national parks in and around Philly.
It’s important to note that it’s best to avoid these areas on busy days, such as the weekends. Depending on the popularity of the park, I try to get up as early as possible to beat the crowds. We bring masks out of respect to other hikers and for our own protection, but the earlier we get there, the less people we see so the less we have to use them.
Here are some of my favorite spots in northeastern Pennsylvania. All of these spots are accessible from Philly – either for a day trip or overnight/weekend trip. Make sure to check the park’s website before going for current conditions and COVID closures.
Valley Forge National Historic Park
Valley Forge National Historic Park is located about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia ( but probably closer to 45 with traffic). In addition to their historical exhibits (which are currently closed due to COVID), they have a TON of trails that you can explore, including a paved loop trail that’s great for bike riding.
This beautiful spot is on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. You can catch some beautiful views of the mountains and Delaware River. The only downside to this beautiful spot is it gets a bit crowded, so plan ahead and get there early!
I’ve written about John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in detail on past posts about hiking in and around Philadelphia. This is our go-to during our usual summer, however, if you’re traveling during COVID, make sure you go early and on the week day. It tends to get pretty crowded during the weekends, making it hard to social distance. The main trail at John Heinz takes you across a boardwalk – which is AMAZING – but a little tricky if you’re social distancing with kids.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is located about an hour outside of Philadelphia in Delaware. It’s a bit of a drive, but worth it. The refuge has a number of trails along the marsh and is very spread out. You can drive through the roads of the park to various different trailheads to hike. The Refuge has a map that you can access here.
This park is about 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia, but it feels like you’re in a whole other world. During the week, the crowds aren’t too crowded. We’ve checked out the Hocking Hill trail loop as well as the Orange Trail and the White Trail. There are lots of trails to try. We usually go with a plan, but if for some reason the lot is full or it looks crowded, we switch it up and try something new.
We did our first camping trip at Hickory Run State Park in the fall. There are lots of great trails, but the coolest part about the park is Boulder Field. It is literally a MASSIVE field of Boulders. I had seen pictures, but it was definitely MUCH cooler to see in person.
There’s a full trail you can do to access Boulder Field. You can also access it from very easily from the parking lot and do some exploring from there (which is what we did).
Rickett’s Glen State Park: This spot is known for it’s beautiful waterfalls! See more here.
Cherry Springs State Park: This is Pennsylvania’s very own DARK PARK. It’s the only one on the east coast as well. From here, you can get an amazing view of the stars. This trip requires some planning, as the weather conditions have to be right and ideally you go around the new moon. It’s about four hours away from Philadelphia, so it’s probably ideal to stay there overnight. See more here.
We made our first visit to Acadia in August and completely fell in love. I’d planned so much travel for 2020, and like everyone else in the world this year, I had to cancel all but our Acadia trip.
I’ve been to Maine before, but never as far north as Bar Harbor. I loved the scenery of Maine – the cliffs reminded me of Hawaii a little bit, albeit with different foliage and FREEZING cold water.
Here are our favorite spots for hiking and swimming in Acadia National Park. For current conditions at the park, check the Acadia website before you go!
Swimming in Acadia: Sand Beach
Sand Beach is the main beach access within the park. It’s also the trailhead for Ocean Path and Great Head Trail (more on that below). The beach is BEAUTIFUL, but the water is freezing. This did not bother my seven-year-old, who dove straight in. This was his favorite part of the trip by far!
Just FYI, the parking lot here fills up fast, so plan to get here early. They are also rolling out a reservation system. Get updates on that here.
Swimming in Acadia: Echo Lake Maine
You’re not able to swim in all of the lakes/ponds in Acadia. Many are part of the drinking supply, so swimming is prohibited. But Echo Lake is one of the areas where you are allowed to swim. The water was slightly warmer, if that makes swimming in Maine any more appealing!
You can also access the Beech Cliff Ladder and Canada Cliff Trailheads from the Echo Lake parking lot, making the lake a fun spot to cool off after a hike.
Kid-Friendly Hikes in Acadia: Ocean Path to Thunder Hole
This is one of the more popular hikes in Acadia. You can access this from Sand Beach or you can park at Thunder Hole and walk back toward the beach. There are some spots where you can step off the trail and onto the rocks and do some exploring. This was my sons favorite part – it was definitely more exciting for him than walking the path.
Ocean Path continues along toward Otter Cliffs, but depending on your kid’s endurance, you might want to just do a portion of the trail. The trail itself is super easy, but there’s minimal cover from the sun, so by 10am, this trail was HOT.
Acadia with Kids: Great Head Trail
We did this trail on a cloudier day, so the views weren’t as clear, but it was still amazing. There was a range terrain – including some fun spots to scramble over rocks. You get some beautiful views of the cliffs across the water! The full hike is 1.8 miles.
Great Head Trail is also accessed from the Sand Beach parking lot.
Acadia National Park with Kids: Jordan Pond Loop
This was one of my favorite hikes of the trip! Jordan Pond is absolutely beautiful. You can’t swim or go in the water, as it’s part of the drinking supply. But the views are amazing. We did the full loop, which is 3.4 miles. There’s a variety of terrain – parts of it include walking over rocks, which was a lot of fun.
Acadia National Park Hikes: Beech Cliff Ladder and Canada Cliff Trail
This was a great trail that was on the quiet side compared to some of the other more popular trails in Acadia. Parts of the trail had steel ladders that you had to climb. We made the mistake of going clockwise around the loop instead of counter clockwise, so we had to climb DOWN the ladders. If you’re hiking with kids, it’s probably easier to climb up.
There are some great views of Echo Lake and the ocean from the top. This trail is accessed from the same parking lot as Echo Lake, so you can cool off after your hike with a trip to the lake!
Kid-Friendly Hikes Acadia National Park: Day Mountain Trail
Day Mountain Trail was another quiet trail in Acadia. It’s 2.6 miles out and back up and over Day Mountain. The elevation gain is only 564 feet, so it’s a fairly mellow trail, with some uneven terrain. We did this on our last day and paired it with a short trip to Hunters Beach.
Acadia with Kids: Hunters Beach Trail
This is a short path to a beautiful beach. We did this after doing Day Mountain Trail. The walk down is only .3 miles, and the beach itself is gorgeous. We did some walking on the rocks. The wet rocks are super slippery, so be very careful!
Traveling to Acadia National Park?
For more Acadia, stay tuned for my post Vegan Acadia (coming soon!).
We drove from Philadelphia to Chicago to visit family. The drive was long – 13 hours when all was said and done – and we did an overnight stop just outside of Cleveland near Cuyahoga National Park. We wanted to burn off some energy before we drove 6-7 hours the rest of the way to Chicago.
Fun Things to do in Ohio: Cleveland’s National Park
We headed to Cuyahoga Valley National Park mid-morning to squeeze in a quick hike and get some time in nature. Since we only had a few hours to explore and my son loves spotting animals, we decided to hike to Beaver Marsh and try to spot some birds and beavers from the boardwalk overlook.
One thing that I found really interesting about Cuyahoga Valley National Park is that the park is really spread out. To get from one area to the other, we drove through some areas that were residential and didn’t seem connected to the park. I’ve never experienced that before and found it really interesting.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trails: Beaver Marsh
We parked at the Ira Trailhead and walked along the Towpath Trail until we got to Beaver Marsh. It was an easy hike that’s great for all ages, but especially younger kids. The path is flat and it’s a pretty quick walk (depending on the pace of your kiddos).
Once you get to the boardwalk, it crosses the marsh and you can look and spot all kinds of turtles, fish and frogs. There are also birds like great herons and other water birds. Unfortunately, we did not see any beavers as we’d hoped, but we did see their dam and various trees that had been felled/chewed by them, which was cool.
There’s also beautiful water lilies and lily pads, which I think are so cool to see!
We hung out for about an hour and walked back and forth along the boardwalk looking for turtles, fish and frogs. After that, we headed back to the car to get on the road to finish our road trip to Chicago.
The Outer Banks is a fairly popular summer destination. I’m from the Jersey shore (near Ocean City, NJ), so I’m no stranger to east coast shore towns. My perception of the Outer Banks before we visited was that it was similar to what I’d experienced in New Jersey and not worth the drive down. However, I was totally wrong and I completely fell in love with the Outer Banks when we did finally visit.
Outer Banks for Kids: When to Go
The summer months are the obvious choice, especially if you have kids in school. However, if you have a more flexible schedule, I’d recommend going down in the shoulder season.
We went twice in September and it was gorgeous. It’s always a gamble with hurricane season, but we lucked out with decent weather both trips. The prices on home rentals are significantly cheaper and the crowds are minimal, but it’s still busy enough that the majority of smaller stores and restaurants are still open.
Where to Stay in the Outer Banks with Kids
There are a lot of places to stay along the islands of the Outer Banks. We stayed in Kitty Hawk on our first trip and Kill Devil Hills on the second. This put us close to lots of stores and restaurants, which was great.
If we went back, I’d probably try staying in Nags Head, which is south of Kill Devil Hills. It would put us closer to the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Things to do in OBX: Outer Banks Activities for Kids
There’s so much to do in the Outer Banks besides the beach. Here are my favorite things:
Things to do in OBX: Cape Hatteras National Seashore
My favorite thing to do, in general, is to go to the beach. We ventured down past the beaches of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head to the protected areas that fall under the umbrella at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It’s WORTH the drive for sure.
The beaches are more secluded, so you’ll to bring a picnic if you’re planning to stay all day. But to be honest, that’s what I loved about it. There were fewer people on the beach with us, so we really got to enjoy the peace and beauty of the ocean.
We went to Coquina Beach, but I imagine there are lots of great beaches to explore along Cape Hatteras National Seashore!
The famous Wright Brothers took their first flight in Kitty Hawk. We visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial on our first trip to the Outer Banks. It was definitely cool to see – they have a memorial at the top of the hill and markers that show the actual distance of some of the first test flights.
There was a model of the first plane and some interesting exhibits. However, I’d recommend saving this activity for a rainy or cloudy day, as there’s NO tree cover outside so it was super hot when we did the walk around.
It’s definitely worth a visit though, if you have some extra time, your kids are studying history at school or you’re just a major flight enthusiast!
Jockey Ridge State Park has the tallest active sand dune on the east coast. It’s a really cool place to explore – and it’s free of charge! They have an interactive visitor center, where you can learn about how sand dunes are formed as well as some of the history of the islands.
After the visitor center, you can walk along the boardwalk trail to the sand dunes. You can hike up the dunes and get some really beautiful views from there. It’s a great place for kids to explore.
OBX Activities: Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
This is technically the visitor center for the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, but they have lots of information about the other refuges in the area. This is located on Roanoke Island, and it’s worth a trip to visit, even if you don’t visit the any refuges! It’s free, and they have a TON of interactive exhibits about the wildlife of North Carolina.
Things to do in OBX with Kids: Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge was a bit of a hike. We went to try to see black bears. There’s a small paved trail and a drive you can do through the refuge. Sometimes, you can see black bears walking around. We were not so lucky, but it might be worth checking out if you’re interested in black bears!
It’s inland, so you have to drive from the Outer Banks to Roanoke Island and from there, drive across another bridge to the mainland of North Carolina. In hindsight, I’m not sure if it was worth the drive, but it was definitely an adventure!
Winter hiking is one of those things that I WANT to do more of, but I feel a little intimidated by. I’m determined though to step out of my comfort zone and do more of it.
One of the things I’ve learned – as someone who is ALWAYS cold – is that I need to be wearing appropriate gear. This means, if I’m doing a hike in the winter, I’m likely wearing snow pants, layers, warm socks, gloves and a warm hat. Before I made the trip to Vermont, I invested in a pair of warm, water resisstant hiking boots that proven itself to be a worthwhile investment!
Green Mountain National Forest: Where to Stay
We stayed in Wallingford, which is really close to the White Rocks National Recreation Area, which is where we hiked. There’s not a lot to do in Wallingford in terms of supermarkets or restaurants, which led us to drive to Rutland to visit the Rutland Area Food Co-op for groceries.
Rutland is super cute – there’s shops and restaurants and an awesome food co-op. We took a walk around and saw all kinds of murals throughout the city. If I came back to Vermont, I would definitely opt to stay in Rutland over Wallingford.
Green Mountain National Forest Hiking: White Rocks National Recreation Area
We opted to try out one of the trails in the White Rocks National Recreation Area, which located in the Green Mountain National Forest. There are two trails in White Rocks, the White Rocks Ice Beds Trail and the White Rocks Cliffs Trail. We opted to try the White Rocks Ice Beds Trail.
You could probably do both trails in one day, but we took our time on the Ice Beds Trail and hung out at some of the vistas, so we opted to do only one.
Best Views in Vermont in the Winter: Hiking the Green Mountains
The Ice Beds Trail was really great. We walked about .2 miles and were able to get some great views of the Green Mountain National Forest.
We continued along the trail to the ice beds. It was a beautiful walk. We saw the ice beds, but since it was snow covered, we couldn’t really see much. The full trip is 1.8 miles if you go all the way to the ice beds.
Green Mountain National Forest: Hikes for Kids
All in all, this is a great hike for kids. The vistas were close enough that small kids could walk to it, but there were also longer trail options for older kids.
I’ve never tried this trail in the summer, but it was pretty empty in the winter, which was awesome. You could really enjoy the silence of the mountains!
Want more trip ideas for New England and the Northeast with Kids?
I love hiking in the winter. First of all, it’s usually not crowded (unless it’s an unseasonably warm winter day). Second, there are no mosquitos. And third, it always feels so good to breathe some fresh air after spending so much more time indoors during the colder months of the year.
Philadelphia has pretty accessibly hiking trails, depending on where you are located in the city. Here are some of my favorites, that I’ve visited time and time again. They make for great winter hikes!
Hiking in Philadelphia: Walk the Wissahickon
Wissahickon Valley Park is by far my favorite section of trails in the city. The main trail is forbidden drive, which runs along Wissahickon Creek. There are many different trails with many different entrances that run through the surrounding forest and feed into Forbidden Drive.
Our favorite entrances are at Ten Box (quick access to forbidden drive), Bells Mills Road, Valley Green Inn (you can feed the geese and eat at the nearby restaurant) and the Mount Airy Trail entrance.
Nature Near Philadelphia: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
This wildlife refuge is on the south side of the city, very close to the airport. It’s considered America’s first urban wildlife refuge.
There’s a visitor center with some great exhibits for kids. We usually spend a little bit of time in there before heading out to the trail. Bonus: there are also bathrooms here.
Our favorite trail at the refuge is the boardwalk trail. A pretty short walk will lead you to a boardwalk that stretches across a freshwater tidal marsh. It’s beautiful during all seasons – and depending on when you’re there, you’ll see various birds and mammals.
Carpenter’s Woods is like a little oasis of forest in the midst of the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. It’s considered America’s first bird sanctuary and is part of the old growth forest network.
There’s ample street parking and plenty of entrances to the park. It’s a great place to take younger kids who might not have the stamina to walk long distances. You feel like you’re deep in the forest after a few minutes of walking.
Morris Arboretum is in northwest Philadelphia. Morris is an arboretum (which is a collection of trees) and a public garden, so you can expect to see some really interested and well-maintained plant life on your walk. There’s a paved loop that goes through the arboretum. There’s admission to get in, but there are also gardens to enjoy and an indoor fernery – which is a super warm building filled with all kinds of ferns.
For kids, there’s a really cool tree top area with a life-size nest complete with giant robin’s eggs and an area where they can climb like squirrels.
Block Island has been on my bucket list for a long time. Block Island is an island off the coast of Rhode Island. A large percentage of the island is wild/protected, which is pretty cool.
I had been nervous to go to Block Island during the summer months, because it seemed to be a very popular destination in New England during the summer months. However, this particular year that we went, my son’s spring break fell on the last full week in April, so we decided to attempt a day trip to the Block Island to our New England spring break trip itinerary. The main thing I wanted to see on Block Island were the Mohegan Bluffs.
Block Island and Mohegan Bluffs: How to Get There
Our full trip was about a week long – we did four nights in Boston (see my post on great winter activities to do in Boston, because it basically rained our whole visit) and two nights in Narragansett.
We chose Narragansett because it was only a short 5 minute drive to the ferry port in Galilee. I scheduled our Airbnb for two nights, so we would have one full day dedicated to exploring Block Island. We found a great location, right on the bay that had its own private dock to enjoy the view.
Because we were there during the shoulder season, there wasn’t a lot of restaurants open in Narragansett. We were able to visit Salty Brine State Beach, which was a short drive from our Airbnb with lots of parking. The water was FREEZING, but my son still played in the waves.
Ferry to Block Island
We took the ferry from the Point Judith port in Galilee. The ride takes about an hour each way. During the high season, starting mid-May, there is a high-speed ferry that takes about 30 minutes each way, which I would recommend.
I booked our tickets online. I didn’t have access to a printer, so I had to get there early to get our tickets printed at the ticket window.
There are parking lots near the ferry. There’s no street parking to leave your car. Most places are cash only.
For the ferry: if you’re going to ride on the deck (which my son insisted on for the trip there), bring a wind-resistant jacket. The ride is beautiful, albeit windy.
Things to do on Block Island: Block Island Taxi, Car and Bike Rentals
As soon as you dock on Block Island, I would head straight to the visitors center. We went there and there was a very informative person working who told us exactly which restaurants were open (since it was off season, many were closed) and gave us great recommendations on different routes to get to the Mohegan Bluffs and what we could see along the way.
We also got information on taxi cab companies, as there’s no Uber or Lyft on Block Island. You can also get bike or car rental information.
Mohegan Bluffs: How to Get There
We opted to walk to the Mohegan Bluffs and take a cab back to the ferry port. It was a bit of an ambitious walk for a 5-year-old, but it made for a fun day.
If I had to do it again, I’d probably take a cab straight to the Mohegan Bluffs so that we could spend more time enjoying the beach. But the walk was really nice too.
Block Island Points of Interest on the way to the Mohegan Bluffs
Block Island Things to Do: Abrams Exotic Animal Farm
This was recommended to us at the visitor center. It’s on the way to the Mohegan Bluffs and was a fun (and FREE!) stop along the way.
The woman we spoke to at the visitor center showed us a point on the map where there are seals. April is a shoulder season for seals – they’re more common in the winter. We saw one, single seal, which sounds like it would be a letdown, but it was still VERY exciting for my son.
This was the main reason for our visit. Once you get to the parking lot, there’s a long staircase that leads down the trail to the Mohegan Bluffs. You can get some stunning views, just from the top of the stairs.
Because we were there in the shoulder season, there were very few people there, so we really got to enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of this location. We probably spent an hour or two playing on the shore and stacking rocks. It was a bit chilly by the end of the day, but the solitude of the shoulder season is definitely a huge perk.
Block Island Ferry: Heading Back to Narragansett, Rhode Island
We walked a little down the road until I could get cell service. Then we called a cab to take us back to the port to catch our ferry. The cab was a little pricier than I expected and cash only, so plan accordingly! It was worth it though to get some extra time to enjoy the Mohegan Bluffs.
Looking for more on traveling to New England with kids?
One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was to take my son to the Haleakala Summit. I was here on my first trip to Maui in 2000 and again in 2017 with my sister where we came early for the sunrise, which was beautiful (post coming soon!). This time around, I was hoping to do a little hiking. I wanted to stay nearby to minimize the drive to get up the mountain.
Makaweo Upcountry Maui: Where to Stay if you’re visiting Haleakala National Park
After a little research, I decided to stay in Makaweo in Upcountry Maui. It flies a little under the radar due to the fact that it’s not on the beach. However, it’s up the mountain and about a 20 minute drive from the coast. So, once we arrived, I realized it’s actually really convenient to the beaches on both sides of the island as well as Haleakala National Park.
Baby Beach and other local beaches along the coast
Maui Ocean Center (which we did not make it to because we ran out of time)
Haleakala National Park
What to see in Haleakala National Park
Kid-Friendly Hikes in Haleakala: Leleiwi Overlook
From Makaweo, we made the drive up to the summit at Haleakala National Park. It’s about an hour drive from Makaweo along a winding curvy road. At one point, we literally drove through the clouds so visibility was low, which was a little treacherous. But at long last, we made it!
We made a stop at the , a scenic point, on the way up. There’s parking and it’s an easy 5-10 minute stop.
Get Acclimated at the Haleakala Visitor Center
When we arrived at the summit, we made a stop into the visitor center to get recommendations. It’s worth noting that the summit visitor center closes at 12:30pm, because the park opens before sunrise. So if you have questions, or want to get your national parks passport stamped, plan to get there early!
Kid-Friendly Hikes in Haleakala: Pā Ka’oao overlook
They gave us some tips and we did the (very) short hike to Pā Ka’oao overlook.
After that we drove to the summit (10,023 feet above sea level).
At the top, you can see the Hawaiian Silversword plant (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum). This plant ONLY grows at the summit and can live up to 90 years. It’s important to respect the park and NOT pick or take the silversword plants. They’re rare and take a long time to grow. You can learn more about them here.
Altitude Sickness at Haleakala National Park
Unfortunately, despite hydrating throughout the drive and eating a big breakfast, as SOON as we got to the summit, my son started complaining about a headache. I had done enough research to know that he was experiencing altitude sickness, so we immediately headed back down the mountain to eat lunch and hydrate.
I’d recommend doing some research into altitude sickness if you’re planning to visit, or talking to your doctor who can give professional medical advice (I’m not a doctor). I had done some research prior to our trip to learn that the symptoms can be subtle and come on quickly.
Haleakala Crater with Kids
The park entrance visitor center is only located at 7000 feet above sea level. So that might be a good place to stop and acclimate a bit before heading to the top. We stopped on the way out to get my son’s national park passport stamped. In hindsight, I would have made this my first stop!
Despite our abrupt exit, the views we experienced at the top were amazing and worth the two hours round-trip drive.
I’m a nervous driver. I get nervous on the highway, I get nervous over bridges and I get nervous on narrow roads. So driving the Road to Hana was a HUGE step out of my comfort zone.
We flew in from the Big Island and headed right to Hana. I planned to explore the coastal portion of Haleakala National Park, so I wanted to stay two nights in Hana to spread out the driving we would do each day. Even still, it was a LOT of driving compared to the other islands.
The road to Hana is twisty and turny and NARROW. We stopped at a few spots along the way. I had driven the road before, so I didn’t want to stop at every place along the way – and, since we had time, I wanted to split up our stops so we stopped at a few on the way there and a few on the way back.
Kid-Friendly Road to Hana Tips:
Road to Hana Guide: You don’t have to stop at every stop on the road.
There’s a point, where every trail, every hike, every overlook, every waterfall starts to look the same. To keep kids engaged and interested, sometimes it’s better to pick a few highlights and spend some time exploring and enjoying them rather than try to see everything.
Road to Hana Guide: Watch out for crowds!
Depending on the time of the year you are traveling the road to Hana, some of the stops can be crowded and the parking lots fill up fast. It’s good to be flexible about where you stop, especially on the drive there. You’ll waste time waiting for spots to open up, when you could be enjoying another – quieter – spot along the Road to Hana.
Road to Hana Guide: Fill up your tank before you leave!
Gas is also crazy expensive in Hana, so fill up your tank before you head out on the road to Hana!
Road to Hana Guide: If you’re staying the night, plan ahead and bring some food!
If you’re staying in Hana, there aren’t a lot of restaurants or stores. I’d recommend buying groceries in either Kahului or Paia if you have a kitchen/fridge where you’re staying in or near Hana. I did not do this and I wish I had!
Road to Hana Stops for Kids
Kid-Friendly Beaches in Maui: Ho’okipa Beach Park (Mile Marker 9)
This is right at the start of the Road to Hana. We skipped it on the way out, but visited on our way back. It was one of my favorite spots. You can park either at the lookout and walk to the rocks and get a great view. If you’re ambitious, you can walk around on the rocks and check out some of the little tide pools (I don’t know that they’re actually tide pools by definition, but my son loved this!).
You can also park down by the beach. There is snorkeling (which we did not partake in) and there were five or six sea turtles on the beach.
The ambiance here is amazing. I’d recommend making this stop at some point on your trip.
Maui Hikes with Kids: Waikamoi Ridge Trail (Mile Marker 9.5)
If you’re looking for a quick trail to break up the trip, this is a great stop along the way. There are two loop trails with some nice views. It’s definitely worth a stop if there’s parking.
Maui Hikes with Kids: Kaumahina State Wayside Park (Mile Marker 12)
I’ve driven the road to Hana twice and stopped here both times. It’s got decent bathrooms and a beautiful view. There are trails in case you want to do a little exploring, but I have not had the opportunity to explore them.
Black Sand Beach in Hana: Wai’anapanapa State Park (Mile Marker 32)
This is my favorite spot along the road to Hana. We stayed the night in Hana town and got an early start the next day, so we were some of the only people on the beach.
There are a lot of different things to do here, but each time I’ve gone I’ve just come and enjoyed the black sand beach. My son jumped waves and (tried to) skip stones into the ocean. If you’re more ambitious, you can hike some of the trails, explore caves and even see pictographs and other interesting artifacts.
The nice thing about this spot is there’s a ton of parking, so you don’t have to fight (too much) for parking spots.
Eat in Hana: Maui Food Trucks
We stayed overnight in Hana town, so we had some time to explore. There’s not a lot to do in Hana – many of the restaurant shut down early. There’s a food truck spot, but many don’t have definitive hours. They close down when the food runs out for the day!
We ate mostly at the food trucks. In the morning, they had coffee, banana bread and smoothies and I was able to get a vegan bean burrito from a food truck.
(Stay tuned for my post on vegan restaurants in Maui!)
Kid Friendly Beaches in Maui: Hana Beach
We also stopped at Hana Bay Beach Park a few hours before sunset. The water is pretty calm so my son was able to jump some waves and we enjoyed the sunset before heading home!
The Red Sand Beach in Hana: Something to Note
One of my “must-do” items for the trip was to see the Red Sand Beach in Hana. However, after a conversation I had with a Hana resident, I opted to skip it. Why?
The beach is actually very dangerous to access, and a number of tourists have had to be rescued. With that information, I decided that it was not appropriate for us to visit the Red Sand Beach. I’m including this, because I hope other people will take that information into consideration when planning their trip!