my jaunts: road trip through new england

the lighthouse at cape elizabeth, outside of portland, maine

the lighthouse at cape elizabeth, outside of portland, maine

a few years ago, my soon-to-be husband and i traveled to a part of the country i had been dying to see: the northeast. previously, i had seen new york and boston, but everything north and in the middle was unchartered territory. i had heard stories of the quaint towns and lush landscapes, and couldn’t wait to see it for myself. we booked a rental car, packed some seersucker and khaki (it was june), and flew to boston!

a quick train took us from boston to maine, which was our first stop, to visit friends in portland. so here’s the thing about portland: it’s adorable. unique shops line narrow streets with vintage-looking signs hanging from brick buildings. the sea is right there, and the smell of salt is everywhere. a lobster (lob-stah) roll is a must. as is a tour of lighthouses. i thought they would be on the outskirts of town and few and far between. they were not. they were everywhere! the one in cape elizabeth is a real winner, with a charming gift shop and stunning views. also, the land’s end flagship store is in freeport, and it’s pretty epic. buy some deck shoes and rain boots, and you’ll be good to go for the rest of your trip.

vintage-looking signs in downtown portland, maine

vintage-looking signs in downtown portland, maine

after a couple of days in maine, we decided to head west, first through new hampshire, then vermont, and ending the day in upstate new york. having lived in texas and california, the idea of passing through three states in one day (and having enough time to get out explore them) seemed absurd. but that’s just the crazy part of new england, and the one that makes map tests of that area so difficult (seriously – how does anyone ever remember which is new hampshire and which is vermont?).

the local watering hole in barnard, vermont - just north of woodstock

the local watering hole in barnard, vermont – just north of woodstock

in new hampshire, we stopped at dartmouth, and toured the campus. we walked the perimeter of campus and also toured the orozco murals, which were named a new national landmark this year. in vermont, we stopped in woodstock, where i instantly fell in love. now, my friend from vermont tells me that local vermonters make fun of woodstock – it’s just a little too pretty and too quaint and too on-the-highway-looking-for-tourists. but it was just right for me. from the adorable stores lining the main street to the woodstock crier chalkboard on the main square (feel free to leave your own note or announcement!), i was hooked. the woodstock inn and resort in the middle of town had me calling my mom and trying to call off my dallas-planned wedding in favor of a destination wedding to woodstock (don’t worry, she talked me off the ledge). all i’m saying is that it’s got charm. we took a detour to barnard, just a few miles north of woodstock, and enjoyed ice cream from a general store while we watched families play in the local watering hole.

the woodstock town crier - definitely fell in love with this

the woodstock town crier – definitely fell in love with this

we ended the day in cooperstown, new york, where we stayed at the inn at cooperstown (to this day, one of my favorite b&b’s – check out my post here). if you’re ever in town, you should a) stay at the inn, b) eat at alex & ika, and c) visit the baseball hall of fame. the hall of fame is extremely well done, and you get to meet phanatic (even though i’m a yankees fan, i still have a soft spot in my heart for the phillies mascot).

phanatic and me in cooperstown, ny at the baseball hall of fame

phanatic and me in cooperstown, ny at the baseball hall of fame

a day after exploring cooperstown, we were ready to head back to boston with a quick jaunt to cape cod. we stopped to check out smith college (where we ate at 40 green street – so delicious) as i had been reading sylvia plath’s journals from college, and basically was falling in love. what a beautiful campus! so crazy to think miss plath walked those same walkways so many years ago.

40 green street across the street from smith college

40 green street across the street from smith college

our final stop was cape cod, where we rented a house in dennis, and stayed for a few days. the weather was perfect, the beaches were cool and expansive, and i found my single-best nature discovery yet: the outdoor shower! a staple of cape cod homes, the outdoor shower is not to be missed. birds chirping and the cool morning breeze – it was perfect. and no road trip would be complete without a trip to a bonafide diner, which is exactly what we did on our last day when we visited grumpy’s in east dennis. great food, good people, and a perfect end to a relaxing week spent exploring new england.

my first experience with an outdoor shower - amazing!

my first experience with an outdoor shower – amazing!

who should go: those looking to escape for awhile, baseball fans
what to read: a moose and a lobster walk into a bar…: tales from maine, by john mcdonald, the unabridged journals of sylvia plath, edited by karen v. kukil
what to pack: layers! it gets cool at night.
when to go: we went in june and enjoyed gorgeous weather, but new england is also famous for its beautiful trees in the fall – book early and see the foliage in late september/early october (as long as a storm doesn’t beat you to it)

my favorite: bed & breakfasts

the inn at cooperstown

the inn at cooperstown in cooperstown, new york

i’d like to start a section titled “my favorites” and use it to explore my favorite things from around the world. this week: the b&b. i used to be a bit leery of bed and breakfasts. sometimes the floors creak, you can hear your neighbors, and you may be forced to talk to someone over morning coffee (not good for me). after having a few really wonderful experiences, though, i’ve done a 180 on the b&b and like to seek out the great ones. here are a few i’ve stayed at recently that were truly exceptional:

  • cass house inn, cayucos, california – this was our first stop on my husband’s and my first anniversary trip last summer. cayucos is a sleepy beach town on the central coast, and cass house is just across the street from the pier. a young couple own the inn, which is housed in the former victorian abode of the cass family (photographs of the family line the walls). the staff are amazing, and the personal touches are great (a glass of wine and a blanket to enjoy the chilly night in their gardens greeted us upon arrival). but if you do find yourself in cayucos, you must eat dinner at the cass house restaurant. the husband is the head chef, and the ever changing prix -fixe menu with wine pairings and ingredients from the garden out back is not to be missed.
  • la otra orilla, buenos aires, argentina – my best friend, kim, found this b&b in the heart of the palermo district of BA. close to shopping, restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife, we couldn’t have asked for more. the lush gardens and european decor provided for many great photo opportunities, and the breakfast in the morning was delicious and filing (not the case in all b&bs). we weren’t even disappointed when we were rained in one afternoon.
  • the inn at cooperstown, cooperstown, new york – my husband and i stayed here during our trip to see the baseball hall of fame. this b&b is walking distance from the hall of fame, as well as the cute downtown area (i recommend alex and ika restaurant – so good!). a long porch stretches across the front of this colonial house, and it was sitting in one of the many rocking chairs, sipping ice tea while enjoying the warm night, that i somehow met babe ruth’s granddaughter. in town to speak at the hall of fame, she and her husband were staying at the inn, and happily chatting with the other guests. delightful!

i’m interested in hearing your thoughts – do you have a favorite b&b you would recommend?