Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up cranky at everything? That was me on Sunday morning. I woke up still feeling exhausted, was sick of eating eggs (thanks Whole30), and in general was just annoyed about trivial things (like having to fold laundry and do the dishes). When Don made a comment about having a bunch of homework to do, I just lost in – cue all the tears. I know that school is his full time job right now, but it’s so hard losing parts of our weekend to schoolwork and group projects.
Thankfully, I have quite an amazing husband who is calm, cool, and collected when I am not. He immediately started getting the kids ready to get us all out of the house. He knows that being outdoors and nature is the best mood enhancer for me, and it’s a plus that Elizabeth gets her energy off. So off we went to another National Park – Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site – just 30 minutes down the road from us in Saugus, Massachusetts.
Driving up was a little confusing because it’s smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood. If it weren’t for all the signs pointing us the way, I definitely would have thought we were lost. Once we arrived though, we found that we had the perfect fall day to explore and adventure.
Saugus is considered the birthplace of the iron and steel industry in Colonial America, and utilized the most advanced iron making technology of its time. Workers used giant waterwheels to make iron and then molded it into bars to be shipped down the Saugus river to Boston Harbor and around the world.
The parking lot leads to the Visitor Center, bathrooms, and the museum which contains artifacts/information and show a 12-minute movie. There’s an open lawn and walkway that takes the visitors on a leisurely stroll along all the structures used in the iron-making process. We crossed over a little stream that fed one of the major waterwheels, and headed into the forge and other building essential for iron-making.
This is such a kid-friendly site! The buildings and iron work tools/equipment kept her attention while we read the signs, and she was able to run in and out of the buildings without being able to venture too far off the path. All the buildings had multiple entrances so she was entertained running in circles while we looked around and took pictures.
We had the option to do a self-guided audio tour, a tour with the ranger, or to just walk the grounds and read the information signs. It should be no surprise that we chose the latter since that fits the best with chasing Elizabeth around and moving at her pace. The information signs did a great job of giving us all the information we needed, as well as pictures to keep Elizabeth interested.
At the end of the property, there’s a 1/4 mile nature trail that skirts the river. From the trail you can see all the historic buildings. This was a great final push to get out all of Elizabeth’s energy before we left. She loved climbing rocks, picking up sticks, and looking at the leaves and nuts falling from the tree. Honestly, this was one of the best combinations of history and nature. Elizabeth was able to access everything without needing to be carried. We spent just over 90 minutes there but could have easily cut our visit short or stayed there longer depending on our needs.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This is a seasonal park, so it only open May-October each year.
- The site is definitely stroller friendly, but there are some steep sections of the path, and the nature path is a bit rocky. We navigated it just fine with our double Thule, but had to get creative in a few sections to get over the rock. A single stroller should do just fine.
- If you can, go in October when the trees are changing color. It is so beautiful!
- Check out the calendar on the website before you go because they do demonstrations of iron casting which I think would be super cool to see.
What National Sites have you been to this year? Which was your favorite?