Recently back from a long weekend in the Boston-NH-Maine region. While the primary purpose of our trip was to look at sleep away camps for my children, we took the opportunity to make a mini-vacation out of it. Despite the short timeframe – 4 nights – our journey felt unhurried and very “full”.
Brief outline immediately below; read on for details!
Mode of transportation – car! approximately 4 hours from NYC to Boston, and approximately 5 hours from Ogunquit, Maine, to NYC. All other timeframes are tricky to calculate as we made many stops along the way.
Hotels – Intercontinental Boston; Hanover Inn, Hanover, NH; Lodge on the Cove, Kennebunkport, ME – part of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection (http://www.kennebunkportresortcollection.com/), which has a great assortment of hotels at different price ranges. For a huge treat, check out Hidden Pond, their most high-end option.
Our first stop was Boston. We began with a walk through the Boston Commons and the Public Gardens. Between petting dogs and pausing to listen to live music every few feet, my kids could have spent the entire afternoon there.
It was exciting to be in the place that is the backdrop for one of our family’s favorite books, “Make Way For Ducklings” – to actually see the mallard ducks and the swan boats was exciting.
We made our way to Commonwealth Avenue long enough to marvel at the beautiful green mall that runs down the center of this residential street.
We then then shot over to Newberry Street (the Madison Avenue of Boston) for some locally made ice cream at Emack & Bolio’s (http://www.emackandbolios.com).
With tons of alluring boutiques, we (or should I say, I) could have done some serious damage there in a hurry but we had already booked the Duck Boat Tour (http://www.bostonducktours.com/) and had no time to spare. We boarded the Duck Boat at the Prudential Center and thoroughly enjoyed the 80 minute trip around the city, both by land and by water, on the Charles River.
After the Duck Boat, we went for dinner at Trade (http://trade-boston.com/), a Mediterranean restaurant near the waterfront. After a satisfying meal al fresco we decided to take a walk. We accidentally, and very fortuitously, discovered the Rose Kennedy Greenway (http://www.rosekennedygreenway.org/). We spent hours along the Greenway uncovering many of its little treasures.
Aside from the beautiful open green spaces, we discovered a “free” library box with fun books to browse through, a harbor fog installation with cool lights, all triggered by movement, a choreographed water fountain/light show and an adorable carousel at the end of the Greenway near Faneuil Hall.
We finally checked into our hotel, the Intercontinental Boston (http://www.intercontinentalboston.com/), late in the evening and had a sound night’s sleep after such a full day. The Intercontinental is a very nice hotel, though more corporate than I would opt for on my next visit. We initially booked there because they are pet-friendly, but then ended up leaving our pooch at home. Its location was convenient to the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Faneuil Hall and the waterfront, and a short cab ride from most other areas of town.
We left Bean Town early the next day to visit a couple of camps in New Hampshire and then settled in for the evening in Hanover, NH, home of Dartmouth College. After checking out this adorable little town, we had a dinner that hit the spot at Market Table (http://www.markettablenh.com/) – try to get an outdoor table if you are going in the warm weather – followed by freshly made gelato that made me feel like I was back in Italy, at Morano Gelato (http://www.moranogelatohanover.com/). The night was not complete without a game of tag and relay races with the kids on the beautiful Dartmouth Green, located directly across the street from our hotel, the Hanover Inn (http://www.hanoverinn.com/).
We had heard mixed reviews about this hotel but we were so pleasantly surprised. It was modern with a rustic flair and our room was clean, spacious and comfortable. The limited contact we had with the staff was very cordial. We did not get the chance to try the hotel restaurant, Pine, but it looked very pretty and the farm-to-table menu was inviting (http://www.hanoverinn.com/dining.aspx).
Next morning we grabbed an early, hearty breakfast at Lou’s (http://lousrestaurant.net/), a throwback restaurant opened since 1947 (check out their original menu in the bathrooms!) located 1/2 block from the Hanover Inn. We then loaded into the car again, this time headed for Maine where we visited another camp in the north and then shot down to Portland for the afternoon. We quickly got into the Maine state of mind by making our first stop at Becky’s Diner (http://www.beckysdiner.com/) for lobster rolls. We practically inhaled them and agreed with the reviews we had read about them being some of the best lobster rolls in town. Then we enjoyed a leisurely stroll through town checking out some of the local shops. That evening we took a short drive down the coast to the sweet town of Kennebunkport. We knew we would enjoy The Lodge on the Cove (http://www.lodgeonthecove.com) the moment we checked in. It’s a hip, modern motor lodge with a great common area. From the spacious, light and airy Jonathan Adler-esque living room we could see the fire pit, ping pong table and pool just steps away. The kids were particularly excited to warm up by the fire pit each night and roast marshmallows to make s’mores (all ingredients provided by the hotel). The rooms were nothing to write home about, but they were perfectly clean and sufficient. Its proximity to town was a pleasure.
On our first full day in Kennebunkport we drove to Mother’s Beach (about 5 minutes from town), where the kids spent hours on the playground and then making sand art and catching snails by the water.
We went for lunch at David’s (http://boathouseme.com/dining/), located right in the middle of town.
David’s has the best water views in Kennebunkport with a great outdoor terrace, but don’t expect the food to match the setting. That said, it was decent and our server was very accommodating (she brought the kids blankets to keep them warm when the breeze got to be too much).
Another day we went out on a lobster boat tour, which departed from the center of town (http://www.firstchancewhalewatch.com/kylieschance.php). We all enjoyed the tour, although we spent more time cruising on the boat and spotting harbor seals than actually catching lobsters. I have heard that the Rugosa does a terrific lobster tour but it was booked when we were there (http://www.rugosalobstertours.com/).
After the tour we grabbed lobster rolls at the award-winning Clam Shack (http://theclamshack.net/) right next to the port where our lobster tour started and ended. They were simple and tasty!
After spending the afternoon swimming and playing games at the hotel, we headed back to town for dinner at Abbondante (http://www.abbondanteme.com/), an Italian restaurant that we all enjoyed.
Food and décor were great, though the service was slow. Luckily there was a lot of wall candy to keep us occupied during the wait.
The next day, before driving home we stopped in Ogunquit where we all fell in love with the Marginal Way, a paved path surrounded by a massive, beautiful beach on one side – replete with great rock climbing opportunities for all and huge tidal pools for the kids – and lovely homes and hotels on the other side.
We grabbed a quick dinner at Caffe Prego, where the food was mediocre but the outdoor seating and abundant Italian menu made for an easy meal. After filling our bellies, we settled into our car for a long ride home. Luckily we had many fond memories to reflect upon during the drive.
If we had more time, I would have loved to have hit Portsmouth, NH, Newburyport, MA, Watch Hill, RI and Stonington, CT on the way home…guess that could be another itinerary!