Aside from many trips to Boston and and a month spent living in Brooklyn (plus lots of other trips to NYC), I've never spent time exploring the rest of what the Northeast has to offer.
So over the course of 2017 we took advantage of these small states and were able to do something of note in every one except for Rhode Island (something we'll have to remedy this year). We've definitely found a few spots that we now detour to if we find ourselves anywhere near - specifically in Massachusetts and Maine. For the uninitiated, driving around the Northeast means one thing in particular - toll roads. Just like traveling in Europe, they're the fastest way to get anywhere but you miss all the good stuff. So we often find ourselves taking routes which make the drive up to an hour (or sometimes more) longer, but in the end it's less draining then the monotony of the toll roads.
- See: Salt Mystic
We made our one noteworthy trip into Connecticut (that wasn't to visit the closest REI store) out to the coastal town of Mystic. Our goal was getting Parsley a bit of beach time - not an easy thing to do before November on the East Coast with dog restrictions. We ended up enjoying a completely adorable downtown stroll along the pathways, sidewalks, and raised docks. Salt is a daylight basement shop not to be missed during a visit - it's filled with all variety of local and handmade goods and artwork. I could have spent all day browsing in there and appreciating all the handmade goodness.
It's downright shameful, but Maine has mostly been either a drive through state or one which we've only set foot in briefly for a special event. We took our first jaunt up there for No Man's Land Film Festival - held at the Patagonia Outlet in Freeport (which by the way, is all that you want it to be). On the way, the only Maine highlights we had time to experience was the delicious gluten free chowder from the Muddy Rudder and donuts from the Holy Donut. Best flavors of the later in my opinion are the Dark Chocolate Sea Salt and Maple! Also, eat the Cinnamon Sugar donuts fresh - they don't keep as well as the ones with a glaze.
Now, a note on the donuts for the gluten free among you...it's my understanding that they are made separately but in the same facility as the gluten full ones. This means, given the nature of baking there could be "flour in the air." They do keep them separate and are generally good at changing their gloves and maintaining a clean counter space - but once I've had to insist on it. I've gotten to enjoy these delightful potato based donuts three times now and never once have I felt sick. So there you have it - judge as you will for your own gluten free safeness.
In our double drive through of Maine, we did spend the night in Acadia twice - it was lovely and beautiful but I'll save the details for a separate Wander Log coming your way next month! So stay tuned!
- See: Concord, Minute Man National Historical Park, & Orchard House
- Hike: Charles River Trail
- Eat: Amuleto Mexican Table, Haute Coffee, & Not Your Average Joe's
We drive through Massachusetts A-LOT. As a result, we've actually become relative regulars at frequenting the little, albeit very historic town, of Concord - it's just about the best rest stop I can imagine. It's filled with greenery and gorgeous old homes including Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House. There are no pictures allowed on the tour, however I'm keeping mental photos of the corners where she wrote Little Women and of her sister's drawings on the walls of her room. The tour strikes an on point mix of general history of Concord, the actual structure itself, and the lives of all of the Alcott's - making it quite enjoyable for just about anyone. Also around Concord you'll find good walks at Minute Man National Historical Park and my favorite hot chocolate in the Northeast at Haute Coffee.
On one trip in to Massachusetts, one where we actually spent a little time there - we briefly explored the area around Waltham - mostly checking out the food options in the area. One major highlight was the gluten free dining experience at Not Your Average Joe's. It's a regional chain but they do gluten free so well! They have the most amazing rolls and for their dipping sauce they combine pecorino romano, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. It's absolutely delicious - and add in smoothies on their menu for dinner and I was sold!
Another film event (Warren Miller's annual ski film), brought us out of New York to a new to us town. We picked Portsmouth partially for it's seaside location and partially because of the historic film venue, The Music Hall. The extra bonuses we got to enjoy were the best lodging we've experienced here on the east coast so far, a chance to get to see a gallery I've long followed on Instagram, and more gluten free clam chowder.
First, let's talk about The Great Island Inn. I think I initially ran across it while wanderlusting around on Hotel Tonight. Then I looked it up and it's almost the exact kind of place my husband and I dream of owning ourselves. It's a beautiful historic building converted into several apartment style units. The interior of our room was well decorated with modern nautical decor and one fancy hipster fridge. The bathroom had heated floors (the best!) and beautiful tile work throughout. Finally, the snack bar was stocked with locally made and high quality treats and beverages. I couldn't' recommend this place more - and their weeknight off season rates are very affordable.
Second, let's talk Nahcotta - the gallery in downtown Portsmouth. I found them via several artists I admire in a show called Enormous Tiny Art, essentially a show case of small works from many different artists. We got the full scoop on our visit and hope to return during one of their opening night shows when the full space is just covered with small works from 40-50 different artists! Basically, it's also my dream show... In additional to all the wonderful artwork, Nahcotta also stocks some drool-worthy art goods like Case For Making watercolors! Anyway, just writing about it now, I'm ready to go back immediatly!
We took a quick jaunt down to Pennsylvania on one of our late summer weekends to meet up with our friends Annabelle & Christian of the Swept Together Podcast. Successfully beating the heat, we walked boardwalk trails, intensely cobwebbed trails, and cooled off in the Delaware River. The drive through the Delaware Gap National Recreation Area is a wonderful little one too - definitely worth a detour if you find yourself in the area. Stop by a Visitor Center and grab a map which will guide you to a number of short, easy trails, to stretch your legs.
- See: Equinox Mountain
On a whim, we road tripped the Green Mountains of southern Vermont one day and wound up driving up one of it's highest peaks. Another tolled road, like the one up Whiteface in New York, a beautifully curvy section of pavement leads you to a summit with brilliant views and some good history as well. At the top you'll find a museum about the history of the peak and of the Carthusians whose monastery sits just below in a rather interesting shape. Another spot worth a detour for a mountain top lunch break and an opportunity to stretch your legs - just watch out for the biting flies!