Posted June 14, 2010 by Jaclyn Liechti
Cape Cod is a collection of 15 towns in southern Massachusetts that promise New England beachy fun. From Sandwich to Provincetown, this area evokes days gone by and quaint traditions that shouldn't be missed. Whether you want to chow down at a local clambake, shop in funky art galleries and stores, or listen to the sound of the waves hitting the shore, Cape Cod is a favorite destination.
Scargo Cafe: Pull up a bar stool at the colonial-inspired Scargo Cafe in Dennis Village, where you'll feel right at home next to the roaring fireplace or on the deck for sunset cocktails. Try a Crantucket Lemonade, made with Triple Eight Nantucket distilled vodka, limoncello, and cranberry juice; or a local craft brew named Whale's Tale. Cocktails start at $6, craft beers start at $8.
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(Photo: iStockPhoto/Christopher Bradshaw)
Posted March 19, 2010 by Amy Westervelt
Surround yourself with natural beauty in the picturesque fishing village of Port Clyde, Maine. Artists such as N.C. Wyeth have long been inspired by the charming downtown, busy harbor, and gorgeous views. Find out why at a cozy bed and breakfast, an idyllic island cafe, or at the most photographed lighthouse in Maine.
Seaside Inn: Snuggle up at the Seaside Inn, an 1850s sea captain's home converted into a welcoming bed and breakfast. Help yourself to complimentary coffee, tea, and cocoa before turning in for the night in one of the nine cozy guestrooms.
The Barnacle: An easy day trip from Port Clyde is a visit to Monhegan Island and the popular local cafe The Barnacle. The cafe is in a building dating back to the early 1900s when local fishermen and tourists enjoyed tea and goodies there. Not much has changed, and visitors and locals alike pop in for award-winning locally-roasted coffee, tea, and homemade goodies. You can also take your java to go along with a picnic lunch to munch while you explore Monhegan Island's local art galleries and 17 miles of hiking trails.
Marshall Point Lighthouse: Marshall Point Lighthouse has two claims to fame: It was featured in the movie Forrest Gump and in the popular children's story Nellie the Lighthouse Dog. A short, scenic walk from Port Clyde, the lighthouse has been warning boats of the rocky point since 1857. Walk the long ramp connecting the lighthouse to the mainland for a picture-perfect moment, then wander the beautiful grounds. The lighthouse keeper's cottage, built in 1895, houses a seasonal museum highlighting Port Clyde's history and the lives of the lighthouse keepers.
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(Photo: iStockPhoto.com/S. Greg Panosian)
Posted March 5, 2010 by Kate Hamman
With a red covered "honeymoon" bridge leading to its small colonial village, Jackson, New Hampshire, may be the quintessential New England town. However, a blanket of white in the winter turns its charming exterior into a playing field for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Come experience the trails, and then fill up on hearty dishes before falling asleep to the sounds of a river at a romantic inn.
Jackson Ski Touring Foundation: As one of the top destinations for cross-country skiing in the Eastern U.S., the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation (JSTF) will get your heart racing with nearly 96 miles of trails that wind through the village, over covered bridges, and into the forest. Here, you can rent snowshoes for $12 per day and cross-country skis for $16 per day. A daily membership, which allows access to the trails, costs $19 for skiing and $10 for snowshoeing. If you arrive after 2 p.m., you can ski for $12 or buy a Go-Ahead pass for $30 that includes skiing the next day as well.
Red Parka Steakhouse & Pub: After traipsing through the snow-covered valley, there's no better place to warm up than the Red Parka. For more than 30 years, this après-ski restaurant and pub has been a favorite among winter enthusiasts for its tender steaks and ultimate comfort foods. Entrees start at $10.95, and the mud pie can't be beat.
Inn at Ellis River: Nestled alongside, you guessed it, the Ellis River, this inn screams romantic retreat. The morning is a delight with dishes like cinnamon crepes stuffed with apple filling and orange croissant french toast with fresh strawberries. Each room is unique, and some come with whirlpool tubs or fireplaces, or both. The inn offers packages throughout the year, such as the Midweek Stay & Ski, Ski, Ski package that includes one- to four-nights' lodging, daily breakfast, afternoon refreshments, and skiing for two from $199 for a one-day ski package. Room rates typically start at $119 per night, and include breakfast.
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(Photo: Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce)
Posted February 23, 2010 by Nicki Krawczyk
Providence may not get credit for being an arts mecca the way her sister cities in the Northeast do, but visitors, especially in the summer and fall, soon discover a unique venue for thrilling art appreciation. Stroll next to a famous and fiery waterside art installation, sate your thirst for self-expression with drinks alongside graffiti-covered walls, and end your evening tucked in tight in a former Masonic temple turned art-enthusiastic deluxe hotel.
WaterFire Providence: Burning bright and 100-bonfires strong, this annual art installation along Providence's three downtown rivers has grown into a full-fledged festival of fire. As the scores of small bonfires illuminate the night from May through October, expect to be treated to live music and all kinds of tempting treats. Food prices will vary of course, and WaterFire attendance is free, but a $5 donation is strongly recommended to help carry on this dazzling tradition.
Temple Downtown: When a former Masonic temple was abandoned, local graffiti artists made this locale their digs. Now a part of the Renaissance Providence Hotel (see below) and re-styled as the ultra-chic Temple Downtown, this restaurant and lounge retains nearly all of the original graffiti works along its walls and a offers refreshingly original menu. And what better way to get into the spirit than with the appropriate spirits? With a new, Mediterranean menu debuting March 8, this unique eatery remains fresh and hip.
Renaissance Providence Hotel: Just upstairs from the Temple Downtown, you can experience the former Masonic Temple in all of its Greek Revival glory. Now a luxurious Marriott-owned property, this hotel's imposing exterior columns give way to a chic art-themed interior with a dash of neoclassic style. If the temperature turns chilly and you haven't had enough fire for one night, you can end your evening lounging next to the hotel's period-appropriate common fireplace before retiring to your thoroughly modern room. Rooms start at $179 per night, and packages are available.
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(Photo: Marianne Groszko/Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Posted February 22, 2010 by Nicki Krawczyk
As autumn arrives in Amherst, Massachusetts, so do the crisp crunching of leaves underfoot and the droves of students returning to the area's Five Colleges. Pay homage to these scholastic-inspiring events with a literary getaway. Stroll through the secretive sanctum of a famous poet, treat your inner child to an array of biblio-delights, and stamp "The End" on your day in authoress-named accommodations.
Emily Dickinson Museum: The reclusive poet rarely welcomed visitors to her home, but now here's your chance to get inside. Tours of Dickinson's residence and that of her brother and sister-in-law are conducted by knowledgeable Emily-phile guides several times each day, Wednesday to Sunday from March through December. See just her home ($8 for adults) or both houses ($10 for adults), but leave with a deeper appreciation for this solitary woman of letters.
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art: It's little-acknowledged among adults, but kids know that gift shops are sometimes just as good as the museums. Case in point: The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Certainly, tour the spacious museum ($9 for adults, $6 for kids) to see the illustration exhibits, but then make a beeline for the gift shop. There, you'll find hundreds of exceptional picture books, lithographs, and even bath toys. Purchasing? Never fear, you can always pretend that copy of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar?" ($22) is for someone else.
Emily's Amherst Bed & Breakfast: At day's end, you'll want to settle in at a comfy homestead with a few great nooks for reading. Emily's B&B, nestled in a spot perfect for watching the leaves turn to gold, offers just such a respite. Cozy up with a book in either the main house or the carriage house ($85 to $125 per night) where each room is named after a famous female writer. What better place to delve into Dickinson's poetry than in the Emily Suite?
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Posted June 4, 2009 by Kate Hamman
For many people, Maine is characterized by rocky cliffs, fishing villages, and lobster. Located on Mount Desert Island, the small coastal village of Bar Harbor surpasses these expectations. With local restaurants and comfortable inns, the town acts as a home base for those exploring the mountains, wildlife, and scenic drives through Acadia National Park.
Cadillac Mountain: At 1,532 feet, Cadillac Mountain lays claim to being the highest point along the Atlantic seaboard. From its peak, early risers can be the first in the U.S. to witness the morning sun. For the late sleepers, breathtaking views of the surrounding islands, Bar Harbor, and ocean still make the trek worthwhile. The Park Loop road covers three-and-a-half miles to the top of the mountain, but also navigates through 27 miles of Mount Desert Island. Entrance to Acadia National Park is free November through April, but costs $20 per vehicle for seven-day admission from mid-June through early October and $10 from May through mid-June and early October to the end of the month.
Coach Stop Inn: Take a step back in time with Bar Harbor's oldest inn, which has hosted visitors for more than 200 years. Surrounded by antique apple trees, the New England-style B&B combines the past with modern amenities. Breakfast gives new meaning to "rise and shine," as the award winning chef and owner prepares three courses each morning. Choices include items such as Pistachio Stuffed French Toast, Wild Maine Blueberry Fritters, and Eggs Peloponese. For an afternoon or midnight treat, you can snack on tea and confections from the 24-hour hot bar. Rooms start at $125, but discounts are available at different times throughout the year.
Poor Boy's Gourmet: Serving hungry patrons for more than 21 years, Poor Boy's Gourmet combines classic New England cuisine with affordable prices. Early-birds who come between 4:30 and 6:00 p.m. can take advantage of the $8.95 special featuring a range of dinner options such as Apricot Chicken or Baked Stuffed Haddock. The "Bottomless Bowl of Pasta" is also a favorite for $9.95, and includes a variety of choices such as Pasta Alfredo or Linguini Genovese. Most people come for the "Lobster Feast," however, which includes a boiled lobster, cup of lobster bisque or clam chowder, baked potato or pasta marinara, and a brownie a la mode for $18.95. Whatever you order, leave room for a selection of freshly made desserts like the seasonal wild blueberry pie.
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(Photo: Index Open)
Posted June 2, 2009 by Kate Hamman
Blink and you could possibly miss New Hampshire's coastline, and the city of Portsmouth right along with it. Take the time, however, and you'll find yourself in a New England coastal village perfect for a late-summer or early-fall stroll. This once-industrial city has a revamped downtown area that houses fashionable boutiques in old brick buildings, as well as funky and fresh cuisine alongside the staples of fried seafood.
Friendly Toast: The only word that comes to mind when describing this retro-funky-alternative-artsy diner is "wow." The ambiance here consists of one part obscure (spaceman bottle collection), one part bizarre (gigantic Kewpie doll), and a reasonable dose of color (crimson walls). Now it only makes sense that a place this eclectic would follow suit with its food, and that it does, but with the most delicious results. For example, the Orleans Fries—thin sweet potatoes sprinkled with brown sugar and Tabasco served with sour cream—are bits of deep-fried sweet and spicy for $8.25. Portions are massive across the menu, so visit when you're hungry.
Breaking New Grounds: When God invented coffee shops; Breaking New Grounds must have broken the mold. This is not your traditional, run-of-the-mill chain coffeehouse. People behind-the-counter feel like long-lost neighbors, the fresh pastries are flaky and fruit-filled, and the coffee is rich and thick. No one is rushing or pushing, and there are plenty of places to sit and contemplate life, either at one of the many tables inside or outdoors on the brick sidewalk. Espresso drinks are comparable to the pricey drinks at major chains, but well worth it for the peace of mind.
Gulliver's Travel Books & Maps: When it comes to travel, this little bookshop is your ticket to a trip around the world. Located down a side alley, it may be a little difficult to find. But once you descend the stairs, you'll be greeted with maps to almost anywhere in the world and will probably never get lost again. This basement of books is also filled with guides to, tales of, and advice on different destinations across the globe, so if you suffer from perpetual wanderlust, this is the place to get your fix. Books are priced accordingly, but browsing doesn't cost a thing.
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(Photo: Friendly Toast-Robert Jasper)
Posted April 30, 2009 by Nicki Krawczyk
It may not be my job to be your go-to girl for potential pandemics, but there seems to be so much crazy information out there regarding the swine flu and the ins and outs, ups and downs of travel, that I thought it might be a good idea to compile a bit of useful information.
First of all, three cheers for new media! Through the uber-easy-to-use media-darling Twitter, real information from valid sources can be disseminated quickly and easily to those who want to hear it. Case in point (and as reported by NPR) the Center for Disease Control has been tweeting like crazy to keep the public up to date about outbreak information.
Also, our good friends over at SmarterTravel have put together a very helpful and regularly-updated article for those travelers who are concerned about swine flu and equally concerned about how it will affect their trips. Find information about current warnings, which airlines and hotels aren’t charging change fees, how to protect yourself en route, and more.
In an effort to come to your aid in as broad of a spectrum as possible, I’ll even present to you information on how to get into Mexico for less. Please note that the government has recommended that you not visit this country for non-essential trips. However, that means that there are lots of empty planes and plenty of cheap flights to Mexico to be found. It goes without saying, of course, but you'll be traveling at your own risk.
Speaking of which, if you’re willing to hedge your bets a bit, right now might be a great time to try to nab a flight to Mexico for several months into the future after (hopefully) the furor has calmed down. It’s somewhat risky in terms of timing and pricing, but I just found a round-trip flight leaving September 21st and returning the 28th from Boston to Cancun starting at $255. I’m certainly no prophet and prices could always go lower if airlines get desperate about trying to recoup losses, but just keeping your eyes open is never a bad idea.
Posted April 28, 2009 by Kate Hamman
Located in Mashantucket, Connecticut, Foxwoods is one of the largest casino in the world a destination unto itself. But, it has more to offer than just gambling. While here, you can learn about the Pequot Tribe that runs the massive casino by exploring a nearby museum devoted to the Tribe's history. Then you can get your fill of all types of food at an affordable buffet, before returning to your room across the street from the noisy slot machines.
Pequot Museum: Not far from Foxwoods, you'll find a tribally owned and operated museum featuring exhibits on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe's history and culture. Through a series of dioramas, text panels, computer programs, and films featured in the permanent display, you'll come to understand the evolution of the tribe. On top of this, the museum features native crafts and artwork in the galleries. Plus, walk through the life-sized Pequot Village and literally step back in time as you follow the tribe's movements from the Ice Age through the 18th century. Admission costs $15.
Festival Buffet: No matter what type of food you're craving, the Festival Buffet in the Foxwoods Casino is sure to deliver something that will satisfy your needs. Here, you can dine on Asian, BBQ, Italian, seafood, and pastas all in one sitting. Plus, you can get fresh made-to-order risotto, steaks, and hot snow crab legs. The breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus rotate, so you can eat here almost every day without having the same thing twice. Prices for all-you-can-eat lunch and dinner start at $16.95, but the real bargain is breakfast for $10.50.
Two Trees Inn: With four hotels to choose from, Foxwoods offers options for any budget. You'll find affordable country-style comfort at the Two Trees Inn, where you can relax by the inviting fireplace in the lobby. Located close to Foxwoods, the hotel provides a 24-hour courtesy shuttle that makes it easy to get to the action of the casino. Rooms start at $57 per night during the spring season.
To search for flights and compare prices to Hartford and Providence, the nearest major airports, please use our price-comparison tool. (Photo: Index Open)
Posted April 14, 2009 by Kate Hamman
Hartford may have a reputation as the insurance capital of America, but the only numbers you'll think about while visiting is how much money you won't have to spend. Come discover the cultural side of Hartford in a museum filled with priceless works of art. Later on, dine in a wine bar serving delicious affordable dishes, or sip freshly roasted coffee in a local cafe.
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art: Step inside America's oldest public art museum for the greatest show in Hartford, with more than 45,000 pieces of art. You'll find works by Dali, Picasso, Monet, and Van Gogh, plus way too many other artists to list. The castle-shaped museum features special exhibitions, lectures, tours, and educational programs designed to help you immerse yourself in art. Admission costs $10, but residents can get in free with an Art Pass from the local library.
Bin228: Though Bin228's wine list might give Bacchus chills, you don't have to imbibe to appreciate everything the restaurant has to offer. The Italian-focused menu earns Bin228 a visit in its own right. You can choose from a dazzling array of bruschetta, including a fig compote and prosciutto for $4. Or for something a bit heartier, try one of the many paninis for $8. If you do feel like sampling the wide range of red and whites, come on Mondays, when all bottles are half-priced.
Jojo's Coffee and Tea: You'll instantly smell something different at this locally owned coffee shop. Jojo's roasts its own beans on-site each day to give you the freshest coffee possible. And with a unique lighter roast, the coffee has a taste all its own. Tea is also a point of pride for Jojo's, which offers more than 50 varieties. Come experience how a coffee shop should smell, while you sip on a freshly brewed cup of joe.
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(Photo: Laura Stone/iStockphoto)