Timeline: March-September 2016
Our goal with moving to Massachusetts for work was to be able to explore the Northeast. We took full advantage of our nearly 6 months there and were able to see so much! Here’s an overview of our many adventures:
While in Massachusetts we lived at 2 different campgrounds (due to summer availability we had to move once). We got to experience living in two small towns: Middleboro and Mansfield. (Yes, experience, because seriously that’s a huge part of moving to new places, the little things!)
We were able to go into Boston several times, including a weekend where we stayed overnight in the Copley Plaza hotel (very fancy) for free using credit card reward points. That weekend we did a lot of exploring, sightseeing, eating, and following the Freedom Trail (a red line that takes you through the historic sites in Boston). Other adventures included: going to a Boston Red Sox game with our co-workers; going to the Samuel Adams Brewery for a free tour & tasting, then riding a party trolley to nearby Doyle’s Cafe; meeting up with an old friend for a 4th of July cookout; going out downtown to some bars with co-workers to see the night life; and hiking at Blue Hills Reservation.
Home to the New England Patriots, we explored “Patriot Place” which is a shopping center surrounding the stadium & saw the stadium itself. We did not make it to a game though. We went into Foxboro several times for dinner as it was close-by to our 2nd campground in Mansfield.
Cape Cod, MA
We took a day trip during the off-season while it was still cold to drive all the way to the end of Cape Cod to the last city which is called Provincetown (“P-town” for short) which is well known for its LGBTQ community & visitors. I loved P-town: it was such a cute, small, coastal town with beautiful views. Along the way we stopped at several of the beaches including Hyannis & the Cape Cod National Seashore. I wish we had gone in the summer because people say it’s pretty lively & the beaches are nice, but we sort of avoided it because everyone said the traffic was bad. It was in Hyannis that I enjoyed my first whole lobster!
We went here one evening to explore & see Harvard. We also ate dinner & enjoyed a small local comedy club in the upstairs of a Chinese restaurant. We had a blast!
We visited when it was still cold out, so we didn’t get to enjoy the beach too much, but we saw Plymouth Rock! My mom was also in town visiting & stayed in Plymouth.
In the summer we went to Six Flags New England, which I was super excited about because we love rollercoasters & amusement parks. However, we were not too impressed with this particular park due to the small amount of rides & large amount of people! Also, unfortunately, I ended up feeling a little rough on some of the rides, probably because I hadn’t been on any in a long time. We had fun though & they had a really awesome 400ft swing ride (apparently the tallest in the world): The New England Skyscreamer that was pretty amazing.
This was on my list of places I wanted to go so I could see “witch things”! My mom was in town visiting again during this trip (she missed us & I think she visited 3 times) & we were able to do a lot of sightseeing there. There was more to see than just witch things- it was a really nice little town near the water.
Onset Beach & Nantasket Beach, MA
On a couple of occasions Jared & I (and my mom on one of her visits!) went to Onset Beach, which was more of a bay/cove with calmer water, but we chose there because it was closer & less crowded. I also on one of my days off from work during our last week (working part time that week) went to popular Nantasket Beach to enjoy a beach day on my own.
When we first thought we’d only be in the Northeast 3 months, we were trying to cram a lot into one weekend. This particular weekend we tackled both hiking in New Hampshire and then driving up the coast of Maine. We hiked in Jaffrey, NH at Mount Monadnock, which offered beautiful 360 degree views. We went here in April, when the weather was pretty decent in the valley, but at the top it was very cold and windy!
We made another trip to NH on a different weekend later in our stay (when we realized we had more time) to hike in The White Mountains. We originally wanted to either hike or drive up the famous Mount Washington (one of the tallest peaks on the East Coast & also one of the most dangerous). However, we decided we weren’t in good enough shape to tackle the 10 mile/8 hour hike, and I was a little concerned about the integrity of my 2004 Chevy Trailblazer to make it up the steep drive… not to mention my fear of heights! So ultimately we decided to do a smaller hike (Mount Willard), but still got to see some awesome views including Crawford’s Notch, several other mountain ranges and valleys, and even a moose!
Portland, ME & Beaches
This was our first trip to Maine, the same weekend we hiked Mount Monadnock in NH. We did a ton of driving that weekend! After having gone from MA to NH for the hike, we drove to the coast of Maine and stayed south of Portland in a small beach town, Wells. We went into Portland for dinner that night and enjoyed some lobster rolls and lobster bisque (gotta have the Maine lobster!). The next day we took the scenic route up US-1 and stopped at several of the Maine beaches and lighthouses including York (Cape Neddick), Ogunquit, Wells, and Old Orchard Beach. We went to Portland again during the day & had, yes, more lobster rolls. Portland was beautiful and historic, reminding me of historic Charleston, SC where I went to undergrad (I tend to compare a lot of places to there as you will see as you go down the list). Last, on the way home, we stopped off briefly in Portsmouth for some delicious Annabelle’s Natural Ice Cream.
Bar Harbor, ME
This is an amazing, small island community off the coast of Northern Maine, almost to Canada. We’re so happy we made time to go here, which we originally would not have been able to without extending our contracts. We had heard wonderful things about its beauty, relaxation, the amazing seafood, and the awesome Acadia National Park located there, and it definitely lived up to the hype. We loved it so much that we have seriously talked about moving there one day. However, we did go during the summer & I’m not so convinced about the winters! But it was definitely top of the list of amazing places we’ve been. They have everything: a bustling little tourist part of town; a quiet residential area (which we got to experience by staying at a lovely Airbnb); mountains; trails; ocean views; and, of course, seafood!! I can’t say enough how much we loved Bar Harbor. But if you’re from Boston, it’s not Bar Harbor, it’s “Bah Habah.” Haha 🙂
New York City
Jared had never been to NYC, so that was definitely on our list while we were so close. We took the Amtrak from Providence RI to NYC which was a cool experience. The best part of our NYC trip was that we had another free hotel night to use at a Fairmont location, so we got to stay at the iconic Plaza Hotel, which if you’ve never heard of it is one of the nicest hotels in NYC & has been featured in many movies. It was very, very fancy and something we will never forget! While in NYC we did a lot of sight-seeing. We walked hundreds of blocks in our short stay there. We got to see Times Square lit up at night, the new World Trade Memorial, and went to a Broadway play- Les Miserables!
This is the capital of Vermont, and it’s centrally located to a few great hikes, scenic byways, and some other great sites. So we decided to stay here (at another Airbnb) during our weekend visit to Vermont, and to our surprise it was a really tiny little town. We learned it’s the smallest state capital in the country!
We heard great things about Burlington, and even though it was a little out of the way of the hikes and sightseeing we had planned, I’m glad we made time to go here! We saw a beautiful sunset over Lake Champlain, and looking across the lake you can see the Adirondack Mountains of NY on the other side. Burlington was yet another cute little historic city that reminded me of Charleston SC (wonder if you went to the north first, and then to Charleston, if you would compare it the other way? ha).
This is a big ski area in the winter, but we were here in the summer to go hiking. We drove up a toll road toward Mt. Mansfield (the highest peak in Vermont), and then we hiked the rest of the way to the top. We were worried at first because it was so cloudy/foggy you couldn’t see a thing, but at the top it cleared up & we were able to see some of the best views we have witnessed so far on any of the hikes we have done (granted, we have only hiked on the East coast so far). It was near Stowe that we also visited the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory for a tour & tasting (after hiking of course 😉 )! We took the Scenic Route 100 Byway for part of our drive home to take in the gorgeous views of Vermont!
Everyone kept telling us we had to go to Newport, and now we know why. It was a neat city on the water, with a beautiful rocky coastline. We walked the Cliff Walk which is a trail along the coast, which in some places requires climbing over boulders, and it passes behind many of the Newport Mansions. We didn’t go in any of the mansions, but we oogled them from outside. They also have a nice harbor front area that reminds me of… you guessed it: Charleston.
My mom was along for this day trip as well (I think it was the same weekend as Salem MA- we were trying to squeeze a lot in!) We saw Brown University, ate at a little Italian deli with deep dish pizza in Federal Hill, and watched their arts and entertainment display on the river called Water Fire, where they light bon fires along the river at dusk.
During our last two weeks of work when we found ourselves with extra days off because we were working part time, and because it was Labor Day Weekend, we decided to take a trip up to Canada! Funny story though, it wasn’t until we passed through customs at the US/Canadian border that we realized 1. We wouldn’t have cell phone service, and 2. Everything would be written in French, ha! We had an interesting time finding our way around including reading street signs without GPS or Google! (Neither of us know a word of French!) Fortunately for us, many things are in English, most people speak English, and we could stop and use Wifi to gain some information to tide us over!
We had yet another free Fairmont hotel night to use from credit card rewards, which allowed us to stay at a beautiful castle-looking hotel in Quebec City called the Chateau Frontenac. We had a great time exploring Quebec City including historic Old Quebec, Ile de Orleans, Montmorency Falls, and The Citadelle de Quebec.
We also stayed a night at an Airbnb in Montreal and enjoyed walking around the modern parts as well as Old Montreal. We also hiked Mont St Hilliard near Montreal.
PLACES WE MISSED:
Upstate New York is sadly somewhere we did not explore. We drove through here when moving to & from Massachusetts from Virginia, and we were able to see some of its beauty. However, among all of our other adventures we never made time for going there. Afterwards we heard from many people how great it is & we regret not exploring it! We will someday!
New Jersey & Connecticut were two other states we did not hit during our Northeast explorations. I’ve been to New Jersey in the past, but Jared has not; and Connecticut we drove through but didn’t really do anything there.
WHAT ELSE DID WE MISS?
We would love to hear your feedback on our adventures, including any questions for us, comments on our experiences, and any recommendations for where we should go next time we find ourselves in the Northeast (or any other parts of the country for our future travels)! Please feel free to leave a comment below or send one of us a message! 🙂