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.
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?).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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)