Long Weekend in New England

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.

IMG_1771It 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.

IMG_1778We made our way to Commonwealth Avenue long enough to marvel at the beautiful green mall that runs down the center of this residential street.

IMG_1802We 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).

IMG_1873With 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.

IMG_1822 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.



IMG_1845We 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/).

IMG_1957We 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.

IMG_2203 IMG_2172We went for lunch at David’s (http://boathouseme.com/dining/), located right in the middle of town.

IMG_2222David’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/).

IMG_2288After 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!

IMG_2319After 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.

IMG_2242Food 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.

IMG_2333We 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!


Weekend Getaway, Anyone?

It may be too late to plan a local getaway before December break, but come January you might just crave a weekend of peace and quiet to recover from the holiday craziness. Now is the perfect time to boo
If you are prepared to shell out the big bucks:
Winvian (http://www.winvian.com/) – A 113 acre property nestled in the Litchfield Hills with 18 spacious cottages, each decorated with a different theme. Plan on at least one dining experience at the restaurant, whose chef trained under Boulud and DuCasse.  Treatments available at their on-site spa.  Approximately a two-hour drive from NYC.
The Wheatleigh (http://wheatleigh.com/) – This luxuriously restored 1873 mansion located in Lenox, MA was originally built as a wedding gift by a father for his daughter.  Features two restaurants, one of which is set in a windowed alcove overlooking the property’s gorgeous rolling hills.  Massages and private yoga classes available upon request. Complimentary snoeshoeing on property. Several internationally renowned museums located within a 10-40 minute drive.  Approximately three hours from NYC.
If you are looking for luxury at a “discount”:
The Inn at Kent Falls (http://www.theinnatkentfalls.com/) – A charming bed and breakfast in Litchfield County that caters to the discerning traveler (sweet dreams on Frette linens) looking for an escape from the city. Yoga, pilates and spa services available upon request. Snoeshoeing and skiing at Mohawk Mountain. Approximately a two-hour drive from NYC.
Bedford Post Inn (http://www.bedfordpostinn.com/) – Although this Bedford, NY inn has just eight rooms, the amenities are impressive – two terrific restaurants (The Farm and the Barnhouse), the Yoga Loft, where you can practice your downward dogs daily, and afternoon canapes by a toasty fire. Approximately a one-hour drive from NYC.
Buttermilk Falls Inn (http://www.buttermilkfallsinn.com/) – This 72-acre bucolic inn is located in Milton, NY just off the Hudson.  Ten rooms plus eight guest houses and cottages for larger parties.  Homemade, full breakfast and afternoon tea served daily, and an evening farm-to-table experience worth writing home about.  Spa with an indoor pool on property.  Approximately a 1 hour 45 minute drive from NYC.

For the budget-minded:

The Graham and Co. (http://thegrahamandco.com/) – A 20 room hotel located in Phoenicia, NY, at the foot of the Catskills Mountains.   This property goes for a modern, campy feel.  While the vibe is quiet (board games are readily available) and there are no restaurants on site, just a few steps away are a decent selection of eats, including my personal breakfast favorite, Sweet Sue’s.  Hunter and Belleayre mountains are a stone’s throw away if skiing is your thing.  Approximately 2.5 hours from NYC.