Who doesn’t love a summer roadtrip? We do a big 2 week trip every couple of years to break up our work life and to spend lots of uninterrupted time together as a family. Crazy? Maybe, but we love it! We’ve been lucky enough to do an East Coast trip not once, but twice! Our main purpose was to visit family near Halifax but we chose a few stops along the way to sightsee, explore and break up the drive so we weren’t sitting in the car for 20 hours straight. Luckily, my kids, 9 and 6, aren’t terrors in the car. They’ve been conditioned over the years. Sure they fight but we do whatever it takes to keep it enjoyable for all of us. For example, we stop for bathroom breaks often which is great for them to stretch their restless legs, but also for me, so that I can drink water and not have to hold my pee. Holding it = bladder infection = Sad Mommy.
I stressed over how to make it a smooth ride. No one wants to keep hearing, “Are we there yet?’ or, “I’m bored.” So, of course, I headed to Pinterest to look for ideas. That app never disappoints. After I found a few doable (i.e. Low effort) ideas, I put together a car backpack for each of us. The kids would each have an iPad loaded with movies and music. Their backpacks were full of snacks, reading books, activity books, markers, mini car games, travel bingo and the license plate game. Was it perfect? Hardly, but that’s how it was; we were going to be stuck together in a confined space for hours at a time. I tried to keep them busy and we must’ve watched Minions a million times. The. Most. Annoying. Movie.
The “parent” bag had similar games to play along and ukulele music sheets so they can hear us butcher Vance Joy (payback for the above). I had my phone stocked with playlists, podcasts and audiobooks. We had a binder with all the reservations, things of interest at each site, and our spreadsheet. I’m a planner, but my husband is next level. He made our Excel spreadsheet that had our driving times, check in/out times all mapped out. Yes, it sounds crazy anal, but beyond knowing when we’re showing up and knowing where we were sleeping, most days we decided what to do that morning. Need a packing list? Hit me up.
To keep it budget friendly we tented, glamped in Otentiks, and stayed in hotels. It definitely takes some planning (compared to an all inclusive) but when it comes to a vacation, I’m happy to put in the work! I would be booking camp sites 6 months in advance. As my husband says, the lead up to the event is almost just as exciting to the actual thing. Truth!
I want to share some of the places we visited and the highlights because I want everyone to visit them. They were awesome.
Old Quebec, Quebec
The only walled city in Canada has a European feel with its windy cobblestoned streets and horse drawn carriage rides. In the summer, Flip Fabrique Circus show, http://flipfabrique.com/en/calendrier/, puts on one hell of a performance at Place Jean-Beliveau; a beautiful outdoor amphitheatre for FREE. If you visit in August, make sure you check out Les Grand Feux Loto-Quebec. The fireworks show is incredible and having the Chateau Frontenac as your backdrop is extra magical. We didn’t know any of this existed, but our Hotel concierge was super helpful suggesting these things to do!
Fundy National Park, New Brunswick
The park is massive but it’s well organized and there are a million activities to do. We stayed in an Otentik at Point Wolfe. I thought all the national parks we visited were immaculate. I’ve never seen washrooms so clean. We did multiple hikes, cooled down in the giant saltwater pool and went on a late night moth learning adventure. Don’t miss the sticky buns at Kelly’s Bakery in Alma. They’re delicious! The must-do is walking the ocean floor at Hopewell Rocks where they have the highest tides on earth. It’s pretty mucky and another person thought it was great we brought our rain boots.
Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park, Maine
We loved this area so much we went here twice. Both times we camped at Mount Desert Campground https://www.mountdesertcampground.com/. They rent out sea kayaks and my daughter had a full on meltdown because she was really scared of falling into the water. She gets really overwhelmed with new things and we have to coax her. We’re not above bribing her with candy though. Swedish berries it is!
Many dried tears later, we were hyped up on sugar and finally sea kayaking. We heard a noise and a couple of harbour porpoises swam right beside us. This pretty much made my entire year.
Bar Harbor is a beautiful area. Main Street is quaint and has some really tasty restaurants and many shops to explore for souvenirs – like Willis’ Rock Shop where my kids each bought a special rock to take home. Cadillac Mountain has some great hiking trails if you’re up for it. If not, the drive to the summit is quick and there’s plenty of parking at the top. The view is breathtaking.
Saguenay & Tadoussac, Quebec
When I asked my coworker where else should we go, he mentioned whale watching in Tadoussac. Whales you say? I am down! Doing more research in the area, they have a protected estuary and fjord marine park. We took a short ferry ride over to the small town and waited for our whale watching tour by Croisieres AML https://www.croisieresaml.com/en/our-boats/aml-grand-fleuve-1/.
So. Many. Whales. We loved every minute.
Then we took 2 days to drive the Saguenay loop. It’s not Norway or Alaska but I’ve never seen a fjord before and I thought it was a beautiful drive. We visited Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux https://www.capjaseux.com/en/activities/. They have super unique accomodations available – suspended domes and tree houses. We hiked a few challenging trails but we saw people doing the Via Ferrata (hiking/rock climbing)and my legs were shaking watching them, and I was still on the ground. Check it out: https://youtu.be/jYCkXGOPnqs. Holy smokes! After all that adventure, we stayed at a modern hotel https://www.otlhotelsaguenay.ca/ and spent time swimming and relaxing.
Other stops on our roadtrips:
- Cape Breton, NS – Cheticamp and Ingonish camp sites
- Halifax, NS
- Cavendish, PEI
- Kouchibouguac National Park, NB
- Moncton, NB
- Boston, MA
After 2 weeks, my kids were done sitting in the car and were bickering more than normal. We were all tired. We missed our dog, sleeping in our beds and not living out of a bag. I felt rejuvenated and relaxed though. We had a million new experiences to talk about and bond over. It was a great trip but we were so happy to be home. We needed a vacation from our vacation 😉
Where are you heading this summer? Drive safe and make some memories!