New England Weekend Getaway Ideas

Growing up it was always funny to me how much some people loved New England. The quaint beach towns and little shops and restaurants, I just thought every town was just like mine. And then I moved to Los Angeles, where you would assume the beaches are better than anywhere else. I was stuck in mobs of people heading to the same beach as me, fighting for a spot, and eating at over priced restaurants that were just ok.

Now as an adult, I appreciate my cute little home town, and I embrace the other towns and areas around me. One thing I’ve learned recently is you really never know where your path is going or where you’ll end up so I believe in living in the moment and taking advantage of what is around you.

I put together some of my favorite spots in New England that are perfect for weekend getaways. I included a few places I haven’t been but are on my bucket list to check out really soon.

My favorite ways to travel is to have no expectations and be shown around like a local (hence the reason I fell in love with Oregon). One of my best friends grew up in Maine on a cute little island. In college we would go up during the summer and explore her town, eat copious amounts of Lobster, shop all of the outlets in Freeport and spend the nights enjoying the lack of light pollution. This was before Portland (Maine) had become such a food and beer mecha. I would love to get up there again and really explore Portland as an adult, and as someone that appreciates food and drinks now.  I also never was able to stop in Kennebunk or explore north to Acadia and Bar Harbor area. There is still so much of Maine to see.

Newport, Rhode Island
Over New Years one of my oldest girlfriends got married in this magical town. I hadn’t been there since my cousin got married in Newport 20 years ago. This beautiful place definitely turns into a ghost town during the winter months, but in the summer the amazing views of the mansions on the cliffs, the legendary Newport Bridge and all of the gorgeous lighthouses in the area really set the stage for a perfect weekend getaway.

Cape Cod and the Islands
This summer I went to the Cape for 24 hours and it was just what I needed to start my summer. Nothing says summer in New England like Cape Cod. Even though I’ve been to this amazingly quintessential New England area countless times, I have never been out to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. Just a quick ferry ride from Hyannis, you can get to either of these islands and enjoy a perfect long weekend away from the rest of the world.

Long Island, New York
I can see Long Island from any beach in my town. The 11 miles across the sound seems so close on a clear day, but the hour and half ferry ride, or nearly two-hour drive through New York’s boroughs to Long Island makes it seem so much further. This summer I took two trips over to Long Island and finally got to see it more than just a shadow in the distance. One day we spent the day exploring Port Jefferson, walking in and out of the shops and eating and drinking our way through town. A few weeks later we took the ferry over again and explored the wineries on the north fork.

Finger Lakes, New York
During our drive across country last year, we stopped at a winery in Virginia and when we told the owner where we were from, he couldn’t stop raving about the Finger Lakes and their wines. I literally have never heard of New York having a wine region outside of the North Fork of Long Island, let alone, had I ever heard of the Finger Lakes. (To us in the Tri-State area, New York is the City and Long Island and that’s about it.) Then when every blogger under the sun went to Aurora last summer to check out the Mackenzie-Childs HQ, I decided I needed to put it on my list. The Finger Lakes area little further away, which is probably why I wasn’t able to get there this summer. A good 5 hour drive north-west of NYC, I would definitely want to take at least a 5-night trip up there. Wineries, beer, good food, and tons of hiking and waterfalls, this seems like it would be my paradise.

Burlington, Vermont
Most people think of Vermont as a winter destination, but for my non-athletic ass, I like Vermont in the summer the most. There are a ton of lakes you can play on and at night, the weather is perfect for a bonfire. Last summer a few of us went up to visit our friend who lives on Lake Bomoseen and it was a perfect end to the summer. But Burlington is an awesome place to check out if you’re not so into the great outdoors. There are tons of restaurants and shops up here on Church St. Definitely on my list of the fall or next spring.

Summer Must Dos in Connecticut

Summer in the Northeast is what we have been looking forward to pretty much since Thanksgiving. Once the weather starts getting cold, New Englanders go into pure hibernation so when the leaves start showing their buds and the flowers start parking out from the ground, everyone goes bananas.

People suddenly start remembering they should have been exercising all winter, ice cream becomes life, and every meal needs to be eaten outdoors… on a patio… with rose. Obviously.

My planner has been getting more and more full, and the Netflix binge watching has toned down a lot. It’s been pretty hard to keep up with my Braverman’s on Parenthood since Mother Nature decided it was time she started being friendlier.

I’ve started making my annual summer to do list.

Thimble Island Boat Cruise
Years ago my parents would take us to Stony Creek and the Thimble Islands, a little group of islands in Long Island Sound. Someone my cousin new had a house out on one of the islands and I remember running around exploring the little island like it was out in the Caribbean. Now that I’m not 10 anymore I know that Long Island Sound is far from the blue waters of the Caribbean but the little islands are still pretty cool. I can’t wait to take the tour around the islands, and then maybe check out the nearby brewery with the same name.

Connecticut’s Wine Trail
Last year I was able to check out a lot of the Connecticut wineries but honestly, I barely checked off half of the list of wineries around here. This year I am hoping to finish the list, and maybe even move onto some in the North Fork of Long Island.

Sunday morning hikes
There are so many hiking trails in Connecticut and I am looking forward to my Sunday morning hikes at Sleeping Giant and Devils Hopyard. Connecticut has so many good State Parks with awesome waterfalls and trails.

Book club and rose
Last month my girlfriends and I had our first book club of the summer. It’s basically a good reason to get together, spend very little money, and force ourselves to read. More on that next week but I will say, we jumped right in to our first book by asking the author to come join us for our meeting.

Explore NYC
I always say how much I take living so close to New York for granted. This summer I plan on getting into the city more often then I have in the past. Last month one of my friends from California was in New York and we were able to spend the day strolling Central Park and catch a Broadway show together. Earlier this month a few friends and I stopped into the city for an impromptu Monday night dinner. It’s always easier to get into the city in the summer and not have to deal with the snow and cold that the winter brings. Also having a drink, rooftop at Eataly doesn’t hurt either.

Eat all of the ice cream
Like I said, ice cream is life in New England during the summer. My first job was at one of our local ice cream shops but here most of them close for the winter. The spring weather has most of the shops open again and I’m ready for my weekly ice cream cone.



Connecticut Wine Trail Part 1

If you’ve been around here for a while, follow me on Instagram, or have seen even one Instastory, you are well aware I like my wine. In California, I did my fair share of visiting wineries and vineyards… and joined maybe one too many wine clubs. I absolutely love wine country and because of my visits to Temecula, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, and Willamette Valley in Oregon, my friends in Connecticut have dubbed me a little bit of a wine snob.

Now let me be the first to say, I know nothing about wine. Ok, I know a little but in no way am I any type of expert. Just a little bratty when it comes to taste and setting.

So, when I got back to Connecticut I decided I needed to visit all of the wineries out little state has to offer. Wine is defiantly different here. For one thing, I’ve never tried so much fruit wine in my life. And yikes! I don’t know how I feel about it.

Hopkins Vineyard

I went to Hopkins Vineyard during my girl’s weekend up in Litchfield County. We didn’t realize it when booking the B&B but it is owned by the family with the same name and literally right across the street from the B&B in an old 19th century barn. When we first got there, we went upstairs to grab a bite to eat. They had a small selection of only cheese and meats but a charcuterie board and a glass of rose was just what we needed. When we finally got downstairs, there was a little confusion about what time they actually closed. Long story short, they told us we had 2 hours when we sat down upstairs and when we came down an hour later they told us we were closed and couldn’t do a tasting. After way too much debate, they finally let us pay for a tasting, which we completed in about 7 minutes. The wines were ehh. The Lady Rose was definitely my favorite and then they had a summer red called Sachem’s Picnic that I actually bought a bottle of. Served cold on a summer day, it was a good change from the normal Rose I was drinking all summer.

Saltwater Farm Vineyard

This was vineyard was the first of three on a little day trip out to eastern Connecticut this summer. Saltwater Farm’s building is a converted WWII era hanger and the runway of vines outside lead straight to the mouth of the Wequetequock River, which is perfect for the Connecticut coast line. We took a walk down to the water and back, but there is nowhere to sit down there. They should definitely take advantage of the view and put some picnic benches and Adirondack chairs. I would have loved to take a bottle of wine out there. Once we got upstairs, we realized that the tasting room is pretty small. It is in a loft of the hanger, and the main floor is actually where they do a lot of weddings and special events. There were no tables or space at the bar for our group of 5 so we hand to rely on the pourer to come out and bring us our next tasting. Lucky for us she was absolutely amazing and remember what tasting we each were having, and was super informative. My favorite was definitely their Rose (so basic, I know) and their Cabernet Franc Merlot blend. I love a red wine and even though you could taste the blackcurrant for sweetness, there was still an earthiness and smokiness to it that made me want fall… ASAP.

Stonington Vineyard

Stonington Vineyard was stop number two that day and I actually really enjoyed it. The building is absolutely stunning even though there isn’t an actual view. The property is surrounded by trees which definitely made it feel pretty secluded and quaint. You could tell the building is either pretty new or recently renovated because it defiantly had that clean, cookie cutter feel, and just didn’t make me want to stay and get comfortable there. On the other hand, I feel like out of the three wineries we went to this day, here had the biggest variety that I liked. I tend to lean toward drier wines, usually reds, and NEVER Chardonnays. A few different wineries in Connecticut have told me that their Chardonnay is Sauvignon Blanc inspired. Out of the wines I have tried so far, this one is the only one that I could actually say is. It didn’t have that buttery taste that I am used to with California Chardonnays, which is actually what I hate about it. This was much lighter and crisper. They also had an amazing Riesling that I enjoyed, but it was defiantly a wine you just want a small class of because it is very fruity and sweet.

Hawk Ridge Winery

Ohh my new favorite place! I don’t know why, but I just love me a farm house and farming landscape. I mean take away all of those nasty animal smells and I am in love. This winery was just absolutely amazing because it definitely has that farm feel. I love visiting vineyards during the week because the pourers get to actually talk to you about the wine making process, history of the wine and you get a lot more than the typical here is our two-sentence description of what you’re tasting. My sister, friend and I all had the same day off one Wednesday and headed up north to check out two wineries.  Hawk Ridge had two options for Rose, I preferred All Day Rose over the Rose Bublé, although both were really good. The Talon Red was my favorite because of its equally earthy and fruity flavor. I will definitely be back for more of this.

Next month I plan on doing another round up of some more of the Connecticut wineries so if you are from Connecticut or going to be visiting, check it out. I’d love to try some vineyards out for you.

Litchfield County and the New England Hot Air Balloon Festival

Ok, lets be real. I am pretty picky when it comes to heights. I can do rollercoasters, for the most part. But put me on the swings at a fair and I’m losing my mind. Mickey’s Fun Wheel at Disney’s California Adventure… I pretty much lost my shit. But when it comes to looking at views, the higher the better. In my early 20s my friends and I went to Punta Cana and we parasailed. The entire time I kept asking my tandem parasailer: “what if the ropes break?” A little morbid, I know. She still gets mad when I bring it up.

Hot air balloons? I just don’t know if I can do it, but from the ground… I am all about that view. A few months ago I watched the Bucketlist Family go to Cappadocia and now I am obsessed. I need to get there and see the balloons over the desert sky. It looks absolutely amazing. But for now, I will spend a weekend in upstate Connecticut at the hot air balloon festival.

My friend and I went up on a Saturday afternoon to Litchfield County where we checked into the cutest little bed and breakfast. This was our first B&B experience. The old house at the Hopkins Inn was a 19th century country home overlooking Lake Waramaug in Warren, CT. We were lucky enough to get one of the front bedrooms and have a lake view room. Also lucky for us was that no one else was in the room that shared the semi-private bathroom with us.

One thing that I learned about B&B life is there are no frills. You just get the bare bones compared to the fancy hotel I was staying in earlier in the week for my work trip. Our kitschy little room was a pretty good size and simply just had one king sized bed, a chair in the corner and a dresser.

We had no idea when booking the bed and breakfast but it was right across the street from a winery with the same name, which ended up being the perfect hiding spot when it spontaneously down poured for about an hour before we headed over to the Hot Air Balloon Festival. We headed over to Goshen Fairgrounds but unfortunately because of the unpredictable weather, the balloons weren’t able to go up. But they blew up and in front of the stormy sky, the views were absolutely stunning.

The next morning we woke up at 5am and headed back over to the fairgrounds. (You see why we needed a place to crash up there?) Anyone who has been in a hot air balloon knows that most of the launches are at a crazy godforsaken hour. But we literally rolled out of bed in our PJs and headed over and up they went. There was about 9 balloons and they blew up and launched one by one. It was gorgeous. My only complaint: where was the coffee trucks!!

We zoomed back to the inn to crash for a few hours and when we got up we headed down for breakfast. Amazing. And when you eat any meal with my bestie, Michelle, you know you are going to get one of everything, so that’s what we did. We got pancakes, hash browns, toast, an omelet and eggs. I wasn’t complaining. Everything was delicious and sitting outside on the front porch of the house, overlooking the lake was a great way to wake up.

CA to CT Road Trip… Days 3, 4 and 5

When I was looking for places to stop along the way for my move from Orange County to Connecticut, I really didn’t even know where to begin. It got to the point for our second night on the road where I just picked the town with the biggest font on the map. And I was I was joking even a little bit, but would you know where to stay between Oklahoma City and Nashville?

Day 3: Ft. Smith to Nashville, Tennessee

We woke up on day three in Ft. Smith, AK and what I thought would be a random town, turned out to be absolutely beautiful. This town is a Midwesterner hipster’s heaven. We woke up at our Courtyard Marriott in downtown Ft. Smith not knowing really what we drove into the night before but we did a little googling and found out that Ft. Smith had 19 murals painted throughout the town by one artist. We loved it! So we started our morning off at the brand new Ft. Smith Coffee Company which had just opened 3 weeks prior. Too cute! And then we took our coffees on a morning stroll throughout the town. Coffee in one hand, cameras in the other. We found about half of the 19 pieces of art. Definitely such a random town that I’d love to go back and visit. There were tons of restaurants, breweries and little mom and pop shops.

But we got on the road and headed toward Tennessee because we knew we wanted to have lunch at a BBQ spot in Memphis and be in Nashville by the start of the Stanley Cup playoff game, which was in downtown Nashville.

Until I locked my keys in the car at a gas station. Oh Arkansas, your people are amazingly beautiful people. Just about an hour, and small little rain storm later, we were back on the road and lunch turned into a 4pm stop in Memphis. Not going to lie, next time we will have to do a little more research on the whole BBQ stop. The food was good but definitely not what I was expecting to get in the best city for BBQ in the country. Also, the setting was not what I was expecting. I wanted picnic benches and beer, not downtown Memphis. By the way, many of the mom and pop BBQ restaurants are closed on Mondays, and guest what! It was Monday.

So moving onto Nashville, TN. We ended up stopping at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel a little later than expected thanks to our extended stay at the gas station back in Arkansas. A whole post will come later this month about this amazing hotel, but because we arrived later than expected, we debating on going out or staying at one of the many hotel bars. We were traveling right in the middle of the hockey playoffs and that Monday night just happened to be the night Predators beat the Penguins at home. So celebrating the home team’s victory a block from where the game was played definitely trumped staying at the hotel.

So we headed out to Broadway and let me tell you… this night was the icing on the cake that was our cross country adventure. We stopped at a few bars including Tin Roof, the Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar and Honky Tonk Central and really there were so many options, but besides Tin Roof which was a recommendation, we stumbling into the others. Honky Tonk Central was definitely a favorite of the night.

We ended the night eating at the Diner Nashville which is a 24 hour diner with 6 floors of amazing views of downtown Nashville. Besides normal diner food, they also had a full bar, sushi, oysters and small bites. Hello foodie lover’s paradise. Oh and they serve alcohol for 23 hours of the day, but if you’re not done with your drink at 3am they will take it from you. But don’t worry, you can order another one at 4am. That was defiantly our sign that we had to go home.

Day 4: Nashville to Knoxville, Tennessee

Yes you saw that right. We drove a measly 3 hours on day 4 simply because we were recovering from our 4am return to the hotel. Like I said, I’m going to do a whole post on this amazing resort but we spent the entire day at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort and then headed through Tennessee to Knoxville where we had a good old fashioned sleepover. We knew it was our last night of our drive and the next day would be our longest driving day so we ordered way too much pizza, got wine and watched HGTV until we fell asleep. Mellow Mushroom, for picking a random pizza place off of google, these girls who grew up on New Haven pizza were pretty impressed. My favorite was the Holy Shiitake Pie, but we also got the Loaded Potato Pie and the Great White. All of them were amazing.

Day 5: Knoxville to Connecticut

When I tell you I never thought we were going to get out of Virginia, I mean it. Ok, so we stopped at a winery for two hours for a tasting and lunch, and then also detoured onto the Blue Ridge Parkway but damn, Virginia is big! We stopped at WhiteBarrel winery in Christiansburg and it was well worth it. The wine was fantastic, food was delicious and the views were absolutely breathtaking. I had never thought of Shenadoah Valley as a place to go for wineries but was I mistaken. Definitely much smaller than the California and Oregon wine countries I am used to but beautiful. I did a tasting of just reds and loved every single one, but the Cabernet Franc was my favorite. We left with a case of wine and orders from the owner of the winery to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way home.

So we took an hour long detour off of Route 81 and headed into Shenadoah National Park. Just a warning this is a super windy, narrow drive for much of it. And also there is no quick way out. This route is definitely a commitment, so if you’re in a rush I wouldn’t recommend it.

Six hours later we were finally out of Virginia and on our way straight through New York City and home into Connecticut.

This trip was the therapy I needed to spend time with my sister and best friend before heading home after seven years. We had such an amazing time and got to see so many areas of the country that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to see. It gave me a lot of respect for the middle of the country. I never knew how beautiful Oklahoma, Arkensas, Tennessee and Virginia were and I am so glad I didn’t just fly over these amazing parts of our country like I have so many times in the past.