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Car-Themed Vacations Can Equal Family Fun

For many, the perfect vacation consists of lying carefree on a tropical beach with a good book to help pass the time. For others, it is staying at a fine resort and being pampered by a thoughtful staff that is continually available to cater to every whim. Some vacationers enjoy being active: hiking, camping, parasailing and exploring.

Vacation is set aside for breaking up the monotony of the daily grind and recharging our internal batteries. Whether you travel far away or enjoy a “stay-cation” at home, the goal is to set the world’s problems aside for a period of time, and focus on all the good that is around you. This year, I decided – after consulting my family, of course – to combine my passion of cars and our family vacation into one unforgettable adventure. The goal was to design a trip allowing me and the family to relax, unplug and enjoy some car culture along the way.

Plotting the Road Map

There are so many ways to get your car fix these days. With choices that include visiting car shows, enjoying automotive museums and renting a dream car, it isn’t difficult to find amusing ways to spend a long automobile-centric weekend. For our trip, I decided we’d visit a local hot rodder’s haunt and then head to New England for a newer Concours d’Elegance show. We’d wind things up with a visit to a small but world-renowned automotive museum located just outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

The “Stay-Cation” Option

Located in Ocala, Florida, the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing “chronicles the history of the sport of drag racing.” Comprised of two large buildings, the Garlits museum offers a wonderful exhibit of vintage and classic collector cars, with a combined grand total of almost 300 vehicles on display plus a sprawling collection of engines, vehicle parts and assorted racing and automobile memorabilia. Being about a 90 minute drive from my house, the Don Garlits Museum would technically count as a “stay-cation” destination. In the right vehicle, you could also refer to visiting the home of the Drag Racing Hall of Fame as a “one-tank trip.”

There is a good chance a popular automotive tourist attraction is located within a one-tank distance from your location. Some of my favorites are the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California, the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Owls Head, Maine, and the Miami Auto Museum at the Dezer Collection in North Miami, Florida. My recommendation is to spend a few minutes online locating nearby automotive treasures. Armed with this information, you’ll be ready to fuel up the car and hit the road.

Once-a-Year Gems: The Centerpiece of the Perfect Car-Cation

The car calendar is packed with gems worthy of cross-country travel. From giant week-long events like The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance to one-day delights like the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit, a grand dose of car-nirvana can be well worth the expense of the trip. This year, as a part of our summer vacation plans, my family programmed a fun-filled trip to New England to visit my hometown just north of Boston. To kick off our week, we attended the Misselwood Tour d’Elegance and Concours d’Elegance held on the Endicott College campus in Beverly, Massachusetts.

The Misselwood event, now in its eighth year, transforms Endicott’s beautiful ocean-view campus into a classic car enthusiast’s playground. Set atop a beautiful cliff that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and allows glimpses of famous New England cities such as Salem and Marblehead, the Misselwood Concours d’Elegance offers something for everyone. While I enjoyed the amazing vehicles, my family strolled the beach, collected shells and photographed wildlife.

On the Saturday preceding the main event, owners of the featured show cars gather with members of the local Porsche club for a road tour that runs up the North Shore, winding through little seafarer towns including Manchester-by-the-Sea, Magnolia, Gloucester and Rockport before stopping halfway in Beverly for a picture opportunity and some fellowship with the other drivers.

The following Sunday, the main Misselwood Concours d’Elegance takes place, and it consists of approximately 120 significant vehicles divided into 15 different classes. The beautiful vehicles, the breathtaking setting and the fine people combine to create an unforgettable experience. It was the perfect way to kick off our weeklong trip.

Driving Around Greater Boston

2017 Maxima
(CARFAX, Inc.)

During the week, we spent some time driving around Boston in a brand-new 2017 Nissan Maxima Platinum. The top-trim model, like every 2017 Maxima, is powered by a 300-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine that provides plenty of muscle for moving in and out of the intense downtown traffic and finding the right path along the area’s crowded roadways. The Maxima’s finely appointed cabin and ample cargo space made the sedan an excellent pick for a family vacation, and its good fuel economy (22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway) helped us travel in style while saving a little at the pump. For the record, six large carry-on bags fit nicely in the truck with room to spare.

One thing to keep in mind when visiting the greater Boston area is that parking is considered a luxury and not a necessity. Parking garages can cost a premium and many hotels charge $50 or more on top of your room rate just to park a single car overnight. But don’t let that dissuade you from bringing your vehicle to the area. We stayed at the Hawthorne Hotel in heart of historic Salem, Massachusetts, which offers both incredibly comfortable accommodations and complimentary parking for guests.

Extend the Car-Cation

On the final day of our car-centric trip, we visited the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts, just west of South Boston. Home to “America’s Oldest Car Collection,” the museum “supports the community through a variety of educational programs, exhibits and lectures,” and it’s been in existence for over 85 years. Once owned by philanthropists Larz and Isabel Anderson, the beautiful carriage house contains the Andersons’ personal car collection including an 1899 Winton four-horsepower Runabout, the vehicle that started the wealthy couple’s passion for automobiles. In total, 14 of the 32 cars owned by the Andersons remain in the museum’s permanent collection.

The museum also contains special exhibits, and while we were there, these focused on Porsche performance and BMW M Cars. The specially chosen German sports cars represented some of the finest examples available and ranged from early historic models to a very recent BMW i8 hybrid supercar. The museum also showcases saddles, bridles and other horse-riding implements from the original owners.

When teamed with the beautiful grounds, the significant era memorabilia and the special events that the museum hosts, there is a little something at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum for everyone to enjoy. This made the trip to Brookline an excellent way for us to complete our family car-cation.

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