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The New England Spring Travel and Vacation Guide
Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls,
by Eric Hurwitz. Page updated on 3/26/18. All photos by Eric unless
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Many New Englanders consider spring the best
vacation in New England. When that warmer weather arrives, the flowers
blossom, and the air gives off that unmistakable New England sweet
post-winter scent, you know better days are on the way. People come out
of hibernation to see what the world is like, correct their Vitamin D
deficiencies, and reconnect with their neighbors.
People aren't yet taking out mortgages to play miniature golf, buy Cape
Cod candles and trinkets, and stay at oceanside motels so they can use
the indoor, overly chlorinated swimming pool -- oddly what some wait
for all year to call their own authentic and relaxing New England
vacation. A New England spring affords tourists a more laid-back feel
with fewer crowds, better lodging deals and an opportunity to unwind
in, and discover one of America's great regions. Even the popular
spring break/Easter vacation is relatively laid-back in most parts of
A New England spring justifies having endured the harsh winters and
end-of-autumn weather related nastiness that had many of us wondering
about calling Erik Estrada regarding those warmer weather Arkansas and
Tennessee paradise communities he pitches on late night infomercials.
In many regards, a New England spring is more appealing than summer.
While the hotter months allow for great vacations, the spring affords
does the same with less crowds and not-too-humid temperatures.
A New England spring signifies, for example, the opening of outdoor ice
cream stands, that first Red Sox game at historic Fenway Park, walking
the beaches of Cape Cod (without 1,000,000 clones of the Ugly American
spoiling it with six packs, blaring radios and foul language) and the
chance to hike beautiful hills and mountains in New England.
Some New England communities and places of interest capture the essence
of a New England spring better than others. There is no science to this
observation, just a feeling that four out of five New Englanders would
agree on if the subject came up in a conversation. That conversation
would probably result in the following places to go to experience a New
England spring vaction, especially during spring break/Easter vacation
(these suggestions work out equally well for your New England summer
Falls, Mass., and the Bridge of Flowers -- Located
at the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts,
Shelburne Falls features a quaint, compact walkable downtown with
shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants. The main draw,
however, is the Bridge of Flowers, a former trolley bridge that offers
400 feet of more than 500 varieties of flowers, shrubs and vines, as
well as a scenic view of picturesque Shelburne Falls. This is a
horticulrutalist's dream; what better time to visit than the Spring
when it all starts to blossom?
Peterborough, N.H. -- This
quintessential small New England town has an artist's community feel,
but they welcome all types of people -- even if you can only draw stick
figures. Spring gently saturates Peterborough with some of the freshest
air in New England, the antithesis of the winters that roar into this
southwestern New Hampshire community. It is a great place to walk, star
gaze and casually tour -- from the grand views of a greener Mount
Monadnock and quaint little downtown to communities that are
wonderfully stuck in a colonial time warp -- like Hancock and
Harrisville. When everything blossoms, you know this region represents
the best of New England -- so green, so renewing and so accommodating.
Plum Island and Newburyport,
-- A stretch of seven miles of untouched land surrounded by the
Atlantic Ocean, Plum Island (Parker Wildlife Refuge) is a nature's
paradise with chances to bird watch (countless species), watch deer
roam the open land, and walking the boardwalks en route a casual stroll
along the empty beaches. It might be one of the great places to
discover spring because there are simply no distractions getting in the
way between you and Mother Nature. If you're looking for a little
distraction, the City of Newburyport is a few minutes away. Although
Newburyport is a small city, you are easily able to relax and feel safe
in this outside masterpiece of sea captain's homes, federalist
architecture, brick walkways, restaurants with indoor and outdoor
harbor side dining and shopping galore (no chain stores, thank
goodness). Once downtrodden, Newburyport has become revitalized to the
point where it is now a favorite destination for New Englanders not
wanting to travel far. For those outside of New England, you'll love
the salt-air feel of this interesting, historical museum piece in the
form of a city.
-- Spring truly
blossoms in Concord, a lovely historic town 35 minutes west of Boston
where our freedoms began. Everywhere you look results in a great place
to walk, with its tree-shaded side streets, beautiful flower gardens
near the Old North Bridge, the lovely walkable Walden Pond and well
maintained colonial homes.The downtown area retains a wonderful sense
of history with the Old North Bridge, superbly maintained colonial
homes, the feel-good atmosphere of the Colonial Inn (lodging and a fine
restaurant in a historic setting) and nice, little independently owned
shops. Concord will warm your heart as a classic New England town that
has a great New England spring feel.
Kelly's Roast Beef, Revere Beach, Mass.
-- Kelly's, a Revere Beach institution and across the street from the
Atlantic Ocean, is open-year round but somehow it's more appealing
eating a delicious clam plate or roast beef sandwich at the first sign
of warm weather. This is much better than getting hit by a wave on a 24
degree day in February. Kelly's is a haven for muscle heads and girls
with big hair and little clothing, even during the frozen tundra days
of a New England winter. It is ultimately, however, a great family
place and a New England institution. Enjoying a Kelly's Roast Beef meal
by the ocean certainly ranks right up there as one of the "true" New
England experiences. Kelly's Roast
Beef, 410 Revere Beach Blvd, Revere, MA, Tel.
Bristol, R.I. and Colt
State Park -- Newport may have
the glory (and crowds), but Bristol, to many, is one of the top choices
to visit when in Rhode Island. With a seaside salt-air scent and one of
the most pleasant, historically preserved small downtowns in New
England, Bristol attracts many visitors in the spring with its laid
back, walkable community, great little shops, and nearby Colt State
Park -- one of New England's treasures. One walk alongside the
beautiful Narragansett Bay at Colt State Park.and you'll be checking
out the Bristol real estate ads in no time -- this location lends a
lavation of any stresses with its wonderful open-ended views of seaside
Colt State Park, Bristol, Rhode
North Country, VT -- It could
very well be snowing in the spring, but if not North Country in Vermont
makes for an authentic New England spring vacation. Not as "touristy"
as some other areas of Vermont, North Country bursts with mountain
scenery (Mt Pigsah), aquatic beauty (Lake Willoughby), winding country
roads and charming small towns and cities (Lyndonville, St. Johnsbury)
that offer a pure New England feel without much hype. The spring is
particularly nice, perhaps partly due to the good weather following
extreme winter misery.
A great example of "hidden New England" is Francis William Bird Park in the
attractive southwest Boston suburb of Walpole, MA - a town combining
suburbia with rural farmland. This pastoral gem boasts 89 acres of
gentle rolling parkland framed by tall, majestic trees and a scenic
part of the Neponset River. Large stone walkways lead you past open,
grassy fields, small walking bridges overlooking the water, mature
shade trees, tree groves, and ponds. Recreational opportunities abound
-- a well-constructed playground for children five years-old and
younger, tennis and basketball courts, picnic areas and a bandstand for
concerts. The Trustees of Reservations (overseeing 53,000 acres on 94
reservations in Massachusetts), with a deep respect for Bird Park's
beauty, acquired the land in 2003. The Trustee's mission is "to
preserve, for public use and enjoyment, properties of exceptional
scenic, historic, and ecological value in Massachusetts."They have
certainly done just that at Bird Park, as the maintenance of the land
looks better than ever. It is unspoiled New England land to enjoy and
respect, a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of metro Boston.
Another great place for a walk in Walpole is the Walpole Town Forest
off South St., about a half mile from Common St.
The 150 acre site features beautiful views of the Neponset River, a
waterfall, a wide wooden bridge and several miles of hiking trails.
Cape Cod is a great place, but
sometimes the summers can be truly annoying with the awful traffic
leading to the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges, the case-of-beer slovenly
weekend warriors or the tense, ruin-it-for-everyone Joe
Pocket-Protecter types, the overcrowded beaches and too many precious
candle shops with equally precious people. The spring is a different
story, as the crowds are more sparse making Cape Cod seem like you have
the area all to yourself. The spring blossoms with abundant plant life,
the sweet salt-air smell and a truly relaxed feel. Walking the desolate
beaches, having dinner in less crowded and more relaxed restaurants,
and strolling through the small, lovely villages without Joe Sixpack
and his loud car stereo ruining the mood results in what one would
expect from Cape Cod. A great place to start is along the "real Cape
Cod" along charming Route 6A. Towns like Yarmouthport, Sandwich and
Barnstable offer a true Cape Cod state of mind, with a top pick being
the Daniel Webster Inn, of Sandwich, for your lodging and dining
Goose Rocks Beach and Kennebunkport, Maine
-- Perhaps one of the most forgotten great beaches in New England,
Goose Rocks is scenic and tranquil, the perfect spot to get away from
the hustle and bustle of the booming southern Maine tourism industry.
The stunning views of Goose Rocks and Timber Island and a great
three-mile stretch of beach make Goose Rocks a personal favorite to
those who have had the fortune to discover this "road less taken" spot.
It's especially nice at sundown as the colorful flavor of the day sky
weaves magic around the splendid solitude of this grand New England
Goose Rocks Beach, Kennebunkport, Maine.
And, of course, Dock
Square in Kennebunkport, once again, bcomes a great coastal walking
town with the return of spring -- wonderful locally-owned shops and
restaurants make this central district one of the nicest in New
Dock Square, Kennebunkport, Maine, in mid-April
Putnam, Conn., has gone in a few
short years from a near ghost town to one of New England's premier
antiques shopping center. The downtown is now neat looking, offering
antique shops everywhere you look, nice places to eat, and a small town
feel where it feels safe to sit on a bench and take in the slow pace.
Putman is surrounded by some of the most scenic towns in New England
like Pomfret and Woodstock. Spring is a particularly good time to visit
Putnam as the warmer weather provides a great opportunity to explore
the antiques shop scene and get to know the wonderful countryside.
Wickford Village, R.I. Not
typically on the top 10 lists for places to visit, Wickford Village
scores high points exactly because of that reason. This small community
by the ocean has high appeal because it has not fully been discovered
yet. Walk the peaceful main streets and delight in the toy store, clock
shop, gift stores, cozy seafood restaurants, or by the row of old sea
captain and colonial homes en route to the quiet harbor.
Borough, Conn., is a
classic New England seaside community with a beautiful, picturesque
harbor, and much like Wickford Village, R.I., has interesting little
shops, great seafood restaurants and a solitude that makes you feel
like your miles away from everything. Late in the day, the streets are
virtually empty which allows residents and visitors to feel totally at
peace. It's just you, the fresh ocean air and a few birds chirping. If
you have visited neighboring Mystic or towns like Kennebunport, Maine,
or Newport, R.I., and were disappointed by the commercialism and
crowds, then Stonington is the perfect place for you.
Brown University area, Providence, R.I.
-- It's really not "hidden New England" to talk about a large
university where thousands of students attend, but relatively speaking,
the Brown University area of Providence does not bring as many tourists
as Providence Place Mall, the state Capitol building and downtown
proper. The Brown University region is an equally great and more
interesting choice, filled with spectacular Victorian and Colonial
homes, tree-lined streets and funky shops, cafes and bakeries. It's
colorful and great to people-watch as it seems Brown University not
only admits some of the smartest people in the world, but those who
dress very differently than most of us. It's a great spring time place
to enjoy and watch the world go by on these charming streets.
Rattlesnake Mountain, Rumney, N.H.
-- There are no rattlesnakes and it really isn't a mountain, but the
views of Squam Lake are breathtaking and the hike will make you barely
break a sweat. Some hikes that require greater physical effort and most
of the day climbing cannot approach the scenery that you'll find at
this out-of-the-way New England great discovery. Bring a blanket, food
and enjoy one of the best views in New England, with very little effort
involved in getting there.
Meredith, N.H. -- Meredith has
great spring appeal being beautifully situated on the western shores of
Lake Winnepeusakee. Meredith is truly an ideal place for walking,
boating, shopping and dining. The myriad paths along the lake are so
pleasant that it's easy to forget about Route 3. The small-town
scenery, the not-too-distant mountains and wide body of water make
boating a joy for many vacationers looking to find the perfect spot at
well-known Lake Winnepeusakee. Shopping begins across the street from
the lake at the Inn at Mills Falls (with the Inn and the Chase House as
well-known, highly rated places to lodge in Meredith). Here you can
find upscale and more down-to-earth shop alongside a pretty waterfall,
eventually leading to the "real" downtown up on a hill -- a nice place
to stroll, have a cup of coffee or ice cream, and feel like you're back
in the 1940s or 50s.
southern Maine coast when the weather gets warmer
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