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.

Maine
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.

24 Hours in Cape Cod

Spring has been busy! When you hide up for five months of winter, as soon as that first sign of warmth and sunshine comes through you’re all about getting out there, filling your schedule and living life. Especially for this California girl! My first winter back in Connecticut was a bit of hibernation. I forgot what it was like to literally turn into a bear and not want to leave your couch.

Now that spring is here and summer is around the corner, I barely have time to keep up with my shows. I am finding every excuse to get outside, go explore somewhere, and then when I do have the time to sit and relax, I am enjoying it and appreciating it so much more.

The past three weekends I did three random, last minute weekend getaway trips. More on those in other posts but this past weekend a friend and I decided we were going to take thirty minutes to pack a back and drive up to Cape Cod to visit a few other friends who were in town for a wedding. It was so spur of the moment and last minute I barely had all my toiletries in a bag before we had to go.

So we spent a whole 24 hours on the Cape and packed as much as we could into the time we were there.

What we did
If you’re from New England, chances are your family has some connection to Cape Cod, and you have your specific area that your family has history with. As teenagers, my friends and I would spend summers on a cute little lake in the middle of the Cape. The beaches are much better than what we get down here in southwestern Connecticut. There is something about the ocean that just doesn’t compare to Long Island Sound.

Saturday night when we got in, my friend Katy and I headed out to Main St. in Hyannis. It is so quintessential New England with all of the restaurants with street seating, beachy décor and souvenir stores, and ice cream and candy shops. I couldn’t get enough. I haven’t been to Hyannis in probably close to 15 years and it definitely lived up to my memory.

Sunday, we woke up and headed over to a beach in Wellfleet. It was perfect. The sun was out but it was still cool since it’s June. The tide was low so we were able to head out on a sandbar which is the perfect spot for seal sightings. There were a few that were playing about 20 feet out and obviously I couldn’t get enough.

After the beach we headed north to Truro to check out Truro Vineyards. (You know I can’t help myself when it comes to a Vineyard. I need to see them all.) Honestly, Truro is beautiful. As long as you don’t mind the drive, I can’t recommend this winery enough. It’s super easy to get to and absolutely stunning. And bonus, the wine is amazing.

We did a tasting of 5 wines for $10. And if you go with a buddy, they’ll let you share your tasting. You each try 5 so you can get a taste of all of their varietals. They do group tastings every 30 minutes, on the hour and half hour mark. This wasn’t my favorite way of tasting, but I can defiantly see how it keeps things running smoothly in the summer when the Cape is packed. I just really love that one on one experience you usually get when doing a tasting at a tasting counter. A good pourer can really make or break the experience.

The Vineyard also has a Distillery on site. I wasn’t able to check this out during this trip. We were heading home and I was prioritizing a wine tasting over the rum tasting, but I can’t wait to check out South Hollow Distillery during my next visit. South Hollow has tastings every half hour as well for just $10. And according to their website, they have two tours a day throughout the summer.

Where we ate
Where didn’t we eat!?? In just 24 hours we went ham!

Friday night the friends we were meeting were at a wedding, so my copilot, Katy, and I had a little dinner date in Hyannis. We walked up and down Main St. before settling on Alberto’s Ristorante. We were able to get a cute, little table along the street so we could sit outside and people watch. We started dinner with a truffle gnocchi appetizer that was literal heaven. We joked later that we should have canceled our dinners and just each asked for another dish of the gnocchi for our meals. Hands down the best gnocchi I’ve ever had. For my meal I had the Shrimp & Scallop Fiorentina over linguini. It was amazing.

Sunday morning we were pretty late to rise so we skipped breakfast (and coffee…. Gasp) all together. At noon we headed over to Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar in Eastham for some real deal lobster rolls.

*Fun fact: The lobster roll was created in our town, Milford, CT back in the early 1900s. We take our lobster rolls very seriously around here and there are a lot of debates as to who makes the best rolls, and whether it should be served warm or cold.

In Connecticut we are used to warm lobster rolls and at Arnold’s you have your option. So naturally all five of us got a warm roll served on a hot dog bun with butter. We also had to try their lobster bisque and clam chowder, and without question, the chowder defiantly won as far as the soups go. Delicious!

After finishing at Arnold’s we made our way up the coast to the Beachcomber in Wellfleet. This restaurant is built on top of a sand dune with direct access to a pretty quiet little beach. It was gorgeous! We grabbed a Bloody Mary and some amazingly, fresh oysters for a little snack before heading down to the beach.

*Tip: Parking is $20 and cash only. But you’re given a voucher worth $20 that you can use for food or merchandise inside the restaurant so it is well worth it. Just remember your cash!

Before hitting the road for our three hour ride back to Connecticut, we stopped at Baxter’s Boathouse in Hyannis. It was the perfect ending to our trip. We decided to be healthy and get the broiled seafood platers instead of the fried seafood. You know, trying to be healthy. But this is the perfect spot, right in the heart of Hyannis port. We were able to watch fishing boats pull in while we ate some of the freshest fish we’ve had.

Where we stayed
Like I mentioned earlier, Katy and I met a few of our friends who were in the Cape for another friend’s wedding so we were lucky enough to crash in their suite for the night. Especially since we decided to go so last minute. We met them at Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club. There are two sides of the resort, and we stayed on the Villages side of the resort. It was perfect for a group, family, or a longer stay since there were multiple bedroom options, a full kitchen, and living room area in each unit. We were on the first floor so we also had a pretty nice little back yard where kids were playing in the evening.

If you’re a golfer, the Villages are the place you want to be. The different room villages are scattered around the golf course.

I wasn’t able to head over to the Mansion side but there are two large mansions on the property full of guestrooms and suites to accommodate up to four guests per room. This side of the property is bay-front, with beach front restaurants, a pub and a pool my friends couldn’t stop raving about. Definitely a little more on the romantic side compared to the Villages.

Cape Cod Tips:

  • Have cash handy. A lot of these places are only open during the tourist seasons so they are pretty small operations. More than one restaurant we stopped at was cash only.
  • During the summer months, Route 6 is jam packed with out of towners. If you plan on going to the Cape in July or August make sure you have good local restaurants to wherever you are staying because you don’t want to be driving up and down Route 6 every day.
  • If you get a chance, stop at a Cape Cod League baseball game. You will see some amazing college baseball players who are looking to get drafted within the next year or so.
  • For you history buffs, the JFK Museum in Hyannis is a must do. The Kennedy’s famously have an amazing compound in Hyannis and locals are very proud of the Kennedy legacy.

Weekend in Boston

Growing up in Connecticut you are one of two types of people. Red Sox or Yankees, Pats or Giants (ok, there are the few, like my family that shamefully love the Jets also), Boston or New York. I have always been a New York girl. My family are hardcore Yankees fans and the quick 90-minute train ride into the city always made it easy to go watch a play on Broadway, explore China town, or window shop on Fifth Ave.

I can count the number of times I’ve been to Boston on two hands, and each time I was with someone else who knows Boston much better than I do. I always took the back seat on planning, exploring, and leading the way. So basically, I feel like I have never been there until last month.

In December my sister and I took a weekend trip up to Bean Town to experience their winter activities, check out the historical sightsee, and find some amazing foodie spots. It was the perfect, preholiday getaway.

Where we stayed:
If you’ve been around here a while you know I love me a good hotel and here we hit the jackpot. Since becoming a travel agent, I have become quite the hotel snob. We spent two nights at Boston Park Plaza hotel, a AAA Four Diamond hotel that is registered with the Historic Hotels of America. We had a Deluxe Room that gave us an amazing view of Park Plaza and sunrise views over Boston Public Garden and Boston Common.

For the most part, everything was within walking distance to our hotel which was great because I don’t like driving through cities I don’t know too much. Also, lucky for us, it was easy on and off of the Mass Pike (Route 90) and Route 93. And while they had easy Valet parking just outside the door to the hotel, there was also an off-site garage about a half a block down the street where we parked.

Where we ate:
Directly next to our hotel was an awesome little Irish pub, MJ OConnors where we ate the first night we got there. Staying true to Boston’s Irish roots I got Fish and Chips. Okay, okay, I know this is a little more English but I’m an Italian girl so that’s as close as you’re getting me to meat and potatoes. While the food was great the drinks were just okay. Stick with what the Irish like and you’ll be good: beer and whiskey.

The next morning, we started with a cold brew from Ziggy’s Coffee Bar before eating an early lunch at 21st Amendment on the north-east corner of the Common. This little, prohibition era themed, whole in the wall reminded me of anyone’s neighborhood bar. I had the 21st Hangover Burger which was topped with a fried egg. Put a fried egg on a burger and I am a happy girl. But they also had a braised short ribs grilled cheese which is defiantly what I will be trying next time.

That night I wanted Italian. Boston is supposed to have fantastic Italian food and I wanted a taste. We headed down Newbury St. to Papa Razzi Trattoria where I started with a Caprese salad. Stepping outside of my normal, penne ala vodka for my first time at a new Italian restaurant, my sister and I both ended up having Porcini Agnolotti, a lightweight pasta with wild mushrooms in a sherry sauce. A. Maz. Zing. UH! Literally probably one of the best dishes I’ve had in a long time. The food was amazing, the service was fantastic. We had to wait a while for a seat, but in the city on a Saturday night, we didn’t expect anything less. Hands down most fantastic meal of the weekend.

We spent the night at Sip Wine Bar and Kitchen and then headed over to Off the Common, our hotel’s lobby bar for a night cap. The next morning, we headed back over the Newbury St. to the Thinking Cup. A cut little local coffee shop with three locations throughout the city.

What we did:
Saturday morning, we woke up pretty early and started exploring the city. We walked through Boston Public Garden and Boston Commons. The cold weather kept the Swan Boats out of the water but was perfect for the ice skaters on the Frog Pond.

We headed east out of the Common. past Granary Burying Ground where Sam Adams and Paul Revere are both buried, past the Old South Meeting House and to Faneuil Hall where we browsed the shops and debated on stopping for another cup of coffee. Tip: If you are visiting Boston to explore the historical aspects of the city, get a Freedom Trail map. We pasted by a lot of important spots like the Boston Massacre Site and the Old State House and had no idea until we were looking at a map later on in the day. Also go out near Faneuil Hall at night. It was freezing so we stayed pretty close to our hotel at night but I’ve been out in that area before and it’s a ton of fun. The Black Rose is fantastic and so much fun.

Across the street from Faneuil Hall is Boston’s City Hall where just behind there was a holiday market with an ice skating rink built for visitors. Boston Winter is open through February and has booths selling all sorts of homemade goods. Olive wood kitchenware, family crest historical pieces, homemade lotions, soaps and candles, and so much more. I loved it.

After spending the morning walking around and exploring, we took an Uber over to the Sam Adams Brewery for a quick little afternoon tour. While I have been on much more in depth brewery tours (Hey Guinness Storehouse!) the tour ended with a half hour long tasting which was super informative and delicious. Super interesting: the Boston brewery on Germania St. is the smallest location of all Sam Adams’ breweries. Because it’s so small, they can’t mass produce much so they use the location to test experimental beers on guests that sometimes go to make bigger batches, and sometimes don’t. We tried a Marzen style nano brew, which I loved.

Boston is a perfect getaway for anyone from New England or even just flying in for a couple of days before heading over to Europe. The food options in Boston were way better than I had anticipated and the coffee shops and little bars were perfect. And for the historians out there, is there anything more historical than Boston? Where’s your favorite spot in Boston? I’m hoping to get up there again this summer and would love some more recommendations!

Day Trip to Salem, MA

Salem, Massachusetts is full of history. From being one of the first fishing villeges in the new world, to the infamous Salem Witch Trials less than 80 years later, there’s so much to see and do in this quaint little New England town. Last weekend I woke a few of my friends up early and made them join me for the three hour trek to Salem. We are lucky enough to be able to make this trip a quick day, but I would recommend a weekend if you really want to imurse yourself in the witchary.

October is the busiest month for tourism in Salem for obvious reasons. So definitely be prepared for a lot of people, and a lot of strollers.

What we did:

the Old Burying Point Cemetery and Salem Witch Trials Memorial
First touristy spot we stumble upon was the Old Burying Point Cemetery and the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. I have this weird little love for ridiculously old cemeteries. It’s so crazy to see the families together, and try to figure out what their family relationships were like. Like why are there three *** buried next to each other.

Then we headed just outside the cemetery to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. This is a memorial to the 19 women who were killed in 1693 after being accused of witchcraft.

Haunted Biz Baz Street Fair
Right on the other side of the Peabody Essex Museum is Essex Street where vendors lined the streets selling homemade goods. But if you aren’t there on a weekend they are having the Biz Baz Street Fair there are plenty of stores and museums to wander in and out of. We visited the first weekend of October, which is also one of the busiest weekend of the season. There were strollers and people everywhere. This area is somewhere I would probably not run too next time. Instead maybe visiting during a slower time of year would be better.

Artists’ Row and Salem Town Hall
This beautiful area was a great place to stop inside a few shops, snap a few photos and check out local artist’s work. Starting on coble stone Front St. where there are clothing shops and souvenir shops, we stopped in front of Salem Old Town Hall. Directly across the street we headed down the small ally known as Artists’ Row. A few small shacks line the ally with wood carvings, ceramic pieces of art and plates. This was such a good little find if you like supporting and appreciate local artists.

Where we ate:

Salem Beer Works
For the past 25 years this restaurant has been brewing beer throughout their seven locations in Massachusetts. We headed straight here after parking our car in Salem, and started with a spicy Bloody Mary while we waited for our table to be ready. With bacon mac and cheese on their specials menu the weekend we were visiting Salem, we knew exactly what to share as an appetizer as soon as we sat down. Absolutely amazing. For our meals, the three of us got a burger, a haddock sandwich, and a fried chicken sandwich. All of which were ehhh. Nothing great. I didn’t get to try any of their beers while we were there, but definitely something on my to do list for next time I visit.

Sea Level Oyster Bar
After walking around all day we needed to take a seat for a minute and grab a small bite before we headed out on our three hour drive home. We stopped over by the Derby Waterfront District to get something to eat at Sea Level Oyster Bar. This duel level, inside-outside oyster bar was delicious and I wish we had found it earlier to enjoy a full meal. Two of us had their New England Clam Chowder was fantastic, and I’m not a raw bar type of girl, but the size of the oyster’s my friend got were out of control! This is absolutely a place to head over to, if not for food, at least for a drink with a  view.

Brew Box on Essex
I love me a good coffee shop. Being as basic as they come, I am always be happy with a Starbucks, but when I’m able to find a mom and pop coffee shop, I take advantage. This cute little shop along Essex St. is worth a stop in. And supporting local mom and pop shops is always a good thing.

Parking Tip:
Depending on the time of year you are visiting Salem, parking can be a definite issue and hassle. As we headed toward Derby St. we took a right on Margin St. and parked at a Napa Auto Parts for $20. Across the street the high school cheerleaders were also running a parking lot. While a little out of the way, the walk wasn’t too bad and not fighting the line of traffic to find parking was worth the walk.

Next Time:

Salem Willows Park – At the tip of the peninsula in Salem sits Salem Willow Park. I looks absolutely beautiful and next time will definitely be on my list of places to check out.

The Witch House – The home of Judge Corwin, known for the Salem Witch Trials, his home offers guided and self guided tours with seasonal hours of operation.

The House of Seven Gabels – This famous home of merchant John Turner is a staple in Salem history and deserves a visit.