Tag Archives: Weekend Trip

Weekending in Portsmouth, NH

portsmouth-day-trip

I’m not sure how I’ve managed to live in New England for ten years and not spent much time in our neighboring state, but for the very first time I spent a weekend in New Hampshire this summer. In Portsmouth, to be specific.

Portsmouth is a historic port on the seacoast of New Hampshire (they call it specifically the “seacoast”, not just the coast). Once one of America’s busiest port cities, it’s now a quiet tourist destination for shopping, architectural admiring, and meandering.

Market Square is the popular destination to visit for dining, walking, and shopping.

The historical North Church reminds me very much of Boston’s Park Street church and also the chapel at my alma mater.

My sister-in-law would be the perfect person to run a store like Gus & Ruby Letterpress – it was chock-full of adorable notecards, party accessories and calendars.

Portsmouth is also, like many of my favorite New England towns, is a collection of art galleries. We met Don Gorvett – a local printmaker whose art I had seen in an exhibit in college. His work is fantastic and he is quite friendly. (I plan on writing another post highlighting his work – amazing!)

Right next door to his shop was our favorite shop – whose name is escaping me! It’s a small nautical home decor store and I was in heaven! The store owner here was also helpful and chatty. And people say New Englanders are unfriendly. Wrong. We just don’t like small talk.

The state of Maine is (literally) just across this river.

Good Eats in Portsmouth

Don’t miss Breaking New Grounds for a cuppa and the perfect spot for people watching in Market Square. The place was constantly buzzing and morning, day and night.

If you’ve never experienced The Friendly Toast, you should. We’ve been to the one in Cambridge, and the Portsmouth location was equally busy and quirky.

It’s not cheap and there’s usually a wait, but where else can you get gingerbread french toast served to you by a hipster waiter with a tattoo sleeve and a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket hanging over your head as a lampshade? The answer to that questions is nowhere, and that’s exactly why The Friendly Toast is a worthy destination.

We were told that Portsmouth has the most restaurants per capita in New Hampshire, and I’d believe it. There was a restaurant around every corner. For dinner we picked the well-known Portsmouth Brewery. My overall review was “meh”. I’m pretty easy to please, but my experience was lack-luster. Maybe stick to the burgers.

Where to Stay in Portsmouth

We stayed at the Sheraton Portsmouth – it’s a great hotel right on the harbor that separates New Hampshire from Maine. It’s $15 to park overnight, but everything in town is within walking distance and you’d be hard-pressed to find better, less expensive parking in-town.

Other Things to Do in Portsmouth

If window shopping isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of other things to do in the area.

  1. One popular destination in the USS Albacore Museum & Park – a museum featuring the USS Albacore, a decommissioned U.S. Navy submarine open for tours.
  2. Strawbery Banke Museum is a very cool historical neighborhood settlement that is fun to visit too. We never made it there! Maybe for next time.
  3. And of course there’s always the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.

We spent the next afternoon in our one of our favorite Massachusetts’ towns – Newburyport – which I’ll post on later!

Have you been to Portsmouth before? What’s your favorite coastal town?

Weekend Trip: Manchester Village, VT

A few weeks ago we drove up to Manchester, VT for the night. The whole drive I channeled Danny Kaye a la “White Christmas” saying, “Vermont should be beautiful this time of year.” (Wrong seasonal movie, I know.)

It was…. rainy. It poured the whole drive. We were, however, still able to catch a lot of views of the majestic fall trees through the swishing of the wind wipers.

Cranberry. Auburn. Mustard. Tangerine. Fire. Aubergine.

So many beautifully colored leaves!

We stayed at the Equinox Hotel (a big thank you Starwoods Points). It was a beaut to say the least.

via The Equinox Resort

The hotel was lovely. Classic resort campus in the middle of mountains. There was hot apple cider to be had, fireplaces to be enjoyed and bellmen to be greeted by. Yes, they had bellmen.

The Equinox is over 200-years-old and the walls are filled with old photos of visiting Presidents and vintage social outings on the lawn.

Manchester Village is a quaint little town, filled with cute antique shops and a number of big-box outlet stores, like J. Crew, Banana Republic and Orvis. Orvis, the mecca of fly-fishing, was actually founded in Manchester by Mr. Charles Orvis.

And, while we are on the topic, the north wing of the Equinox Resort is the old Orvis Homestead.

(Any Gilmore Girls fans? Do you notice the sign resemblance?)

On Friday night we had dinner at Seasons Restaurant. It had a casual atmosphere with tasty, and affordable (!) dinner options. The soups and (huge) panini sandwiches garnered four stars out of us.

On Saturday morning we toughed out the lines at the ever-popular Up For Breakfast.  It was worth the wait! Delicious fluffy pancakes with, you guessed it, hot Vermont maple syrup and venison sausages were the highlights of the meal. It was a great deal too, since we split one of the breakfast specials between us. Five stars.

Then we drove down to the Equinox Nursery. They were having their annual Pumpkin Carving Festival. Scarecrows, gourds, pies and pumpkins abounded.

It was an autumnal feast for the eyes!

Two reasons to be happy on a gray, cloudy day in Vermont:

1. Boot season is official here. My feet are so happy. Hello wool socks. Hello toasty toes.

2. Crunchy leaf season is in it’s prime! Quick! Go outside and stomp on a few to the delight of your inner-child.

Before we left we decided to drive up Equinox summit. If you’re hardcore you can hike up too.

But first, let’s just say that we saw the group from our hotel leaving on the morning hike as we left. After we experienced a leisurely morning of maple-syrup-covered-breakfast-eating, independent bookstore browsing and pumpkin festival attending, we drove up to the top of the summit just as they arrived.

You can decide which sounds better to you.

The views from the top were stunning! (And yes, the sun managed to peek out for a few moments here!)

Earlier, while waiting to check into our hotel room, I met a man in the lobby who was from Colorado. We started chatting about how I had just been out there skiing earlier this spring. He boasted about their mountain ranges (yes, like he was solely responsible for the creation of the mountain range) and scoffed at the pitiful size of the Vermont mountains.

Scoff-worthy, I think not.

The drive UP Equinox Summit was quite colorful. We needed to make a few pit stops since our car brakes smelled like a BBQ gone wrong, with smoke to boot. Well worth the $12 acccess fee.

Plus the mountain is owned by a monastery. Does that make you feel better about the $12? No? Well, the views of bucolic farm life from the top will warm your heart. And wish you lived in the Sound of Music or something.

The ride home was rainy but just as lovely as the one up (we took a different scenic route for more sights). For having never laid eyes on a real covered-bridge before, I saw at least a dozen on our drive.

We also stopped at a sugarhouse on the side of the road and got fresh hot cider and cider donuts.

Don’t forget, those were #1 on the fall favorites list last week. ; )

Have you been to Vermont? Been in a covered bridge? Love cider donuts?

Weekend Trip: Nantucket

A few weeks ago we made a fall excursion to Nantucket with friends.

Most people think of Nantucket in the summertime, but we have gone the past two Octobers! It’s beautiful and a lot less crowded. AND you can usually get a better deal since it’s off-season.

We had purchased our ferry tickets on Groupon earlier in the spring.

(For those interested, we have been on both the Hyline and Steamship Authority traditional ferries. The Hyline gets you there in about 1.25 hours – but the boat is much smaller and provides a lot less seating options. The Steamship Authority will get you there in two hours and offers more comfortable seating and more tables.)

We stayed at the Scallop Inn on Nantucket Island, which is part of the Periwinkle Inn. A+ to price and location.

For my fellow whale-lovers, Nantucket provides a plethora of whale related paraphernalia.

Did you know that Nantucket was the Whaling Capital of the World from 1800 to 1840?

Author Herman Melville penned the famous novel “Moby Dick” after visiting the island in the 1840s. (This is on my to-read list! I own it. It’s on my shelf. Note to self: Stop going to the library and read the books I own.)

This time we rented a Wrangler for off-road driving. Nobody, for the most part, brings their cars across the ferry, so there are a lot of places that have vehicles for rent.

Last year we rented a scooter – that was fun too!

Driving on the beach was great fun and provided beautiful views unable to be seen on land!

Not a bad view out the rear windshield, eh?

We drove to Great Point Light at the tip of the northeast end of the island. The lighthouse is only accessible by sand roads.

And finally, we went to one of my favorite places on the island, Sconset.

AKA …Where you go to buy “fancy groceries”.

I decided if I ever become a hermit, you’ll find me in a little cottage on Sconset.

But don’t come looking for me. : )

Weekend Trip: Denver

Honey, I’m home! My trip to Colorado was a whirlwind and a blast! I met Moose out westward and we met up with some good friends for the weekend. They moved to Denver last fall, so we enjoyed being able to check out the area with them.

This was a retreat center right next to their home. How adorable is this?? It makes me want to go inside and have tea and crumpets with Bilbo Baggins or Hagrid.

My Denver trip highlights are:

1. Pink Berry – One word: WHAT!?!? I realize that Pink Berry is a national chain but we don’t have any in Boston (or at least we didn’t! I just checked and there are now three locations that are “swirling soon!” Yes!!). Anywho, Pink Berry is… Amazing. Delicious. Yumm-O. I never thought I’d get so pumped about a yogurt and fruit bar, but I am! My friend Jill and I were in line on a Thursday at 3:00PM and we waited in line for 25 minutes. That’s how good it is.

2. World Market – I realize World Market is also a chain, but there aren’t any of them in New England! Boo! I’ve seen World Market goods on several other blogs, but I was finally able to go in one and I L-O-V-E-D it! I foresee some online shopping in my future. They have some really adorable and affordable items for the home – like ceramic drawer pulls, lampshades and throw rugs. They also have some awesome furniture pieces! While I wasn’t able to bring many things home with me in my suitcase, I did pick up some swanky earrings.

3. Mici’s in Cherry Creek – Looking for tasty pizza in Denver? Go to Mici’s! I would highly recommend the Vella Specialty Pizza – sausage, mozzerella, olive oil sauce with pieces of ricotta cheese.

4. Katherine’s in Bonnie Brae neighborhood- This was the most adorable French bakery and cafe. They had a delicious looking array of quiche and pastries. I got the apple and brie omelette and it was delicious!! (What does it say about me if 3/4 of my Denver highlights are food related?)

If you’ve never been to Denver, you should also check out Garden of the Gods, Pike’s Peak and Red Rocks amphitheater. I’ve visited them on a past trip to Denver and they are worth the time.

We also able to make an evening trip down to Colorado Springs to visit some family (and wave hello to Dr. Quinn). They look us to see the “Grand Dame of the Rockies”, the Broadmoor hotel.

The resort dates back to 1891, and is a destination point for many celebrities. The hallways are filled with picture frames of famous people who have stayed at the resort…. John Wayne, President Obama, Peggy Flemming… on and on!

I would definitely recommend checking out the Broadmoor. They have some fabulous restaurants (they are famous for their Sunday Brunch), golf courses worthy of the US Open and some amazing outdoor fireplace lounges.

Unfortunately I came home with a skiing sunburn beard. It’s quite embarrassing really. But more on that tomorrow. This post is to be continued!