Lee and I took our grandson, David, to Acadia National Park in Maine in the summer of 2001. We left early in the morning for our 6-7 hour drive to Bar Harbor, the gateway community for the park. When we arrived, we simply strolled the quaint and crowded streets of this coastal village, stopping in numerous shops and checking out the harbor (Dave was particularly interested in the "Cat" a high speed catamaran/ferry which links Bar Harbor with Nova Scotia, Canada).
The next morning we began our exploration of the park. We signed Dave up for the Junior Ranger Program, picked up an Activity Book and then began our drive along the Park Loop Road. We stopped at a number of sights, including Cadillac Mountain, with its stunning vistas of the Maine Coast and offshore islands, Sand Beach, although the water was too cold for swimming, Thunder Hole, where incoming waves maneuver into a narrow inlet and make a loud sound, and Otter Cliffs, where we walked for a while along the rocky shore.
Dave’s Activity Book provided many opportunities to observe the nature of the park and kept us quite busy all day long. That evening, we had hoped to participate in the "Stars Over Sand Beach" program, but the weather did not cooperate.
The next morning we did some more walking in the Jordan Pond area, and also walked the Cadillac Summit Trail. That afternoon, Dave participated in the Life Between the Tides program, an exploration of tide pools and the creatures that inhabit them. We then turned in Dave’s Activity Book and he was awarded a Junior Ranger badge and certificate in a cute little ceremony at the Visitor Cener. Later that day we went on a Harbor Cruise, from the dock in Bar Harbor. It was fascinating — we were able to see several groups of seals, and a bald eagle. This was a very enjoyable trip and a great way to end our stay. We returned home the next morning.
Lessons learned: Traveling with kids requires that activities must be greatly modified. In your research prior to the trip, search for fun things to do, and incorporate them into the itinerary. Keep sightseeing to a minimum unless the location has kid-appeal. Fun things might include places for kids to "get wet", activities that involve some type of ride (such as a boat ride, chair lift or gondola ride, etc), and active things, such as walking, especially out in nature (as long as the walk is not too long). Also, be sure to book a hotel with a pool.