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New England

Two New England towns are among America's 'most romantic'

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff February 11, 2014 10:24 AM

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, Travel and Leisure has calculated America's most romantic towns, and two New England spots made the top 10.

The list was decided upon a number of factors, including brunch spots, farmer's markets, wine scenes, picnic-friendly parks, and gay friendliness. Burlington, Vt. came in at No. 6, while Portsmouth, N.H. was No. 9.

Here's what the publication had to say about each:

Burlington - Rudyard Kipling supposedly once said that Lake Champlain -- the centerpiece of America's best college town -- was the sweetest place in the world to watch a sunset. Readers, meanwhile, loved Burlington for other romantically oriented times of day, such as cocktail hour (it ranked in the top 10 for cool bars), brunch, and the all-important dessert. One sip of Lake Champlain Chocolates' decadent hot cocoas is all it takes to see why the town also scored highly for caf←s and ranks among the top 10 for winter wonderland holiday-season visits.


Portsmouth - Even if winters get chilly here, readers didn't care, giving it high marks for snuggle-ready weather. A great indoor date spot: The Music Hall, a refurbished 1878 theater that presents classic movies and live, unplugged music. Good wine was a major indicator of romance in the readers' survey, but this historic waterfront town woos lovers who love craft beer. The town was once the biggest beer producer in America and is now home to charming breweries such as Portsmouth Brewery and Smuttynose.

Valentine’s Day hotel deals in New England, Bermuda, Virgin Islands, and more

Posted by Paul Kandarian January 23, 2014 03:30 PM

In Bermuda, February is the island’s annual “Love Month,” which includes a couples’ golf tournament at Port Royal Golf Course (duos get a 50-percent discount on greens fees); a “Champagne and Strawberries Afternoon Affair” at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art; a “Love Train City Tour;” a “Lover’s Matinees” at Specialty Cinema; a love cruise around Hamilton Harbor; and a “Love Tales Walking Tour” in St. George. Check it all out www.gotobermuda.com

Rosewood Tucker’s Point is running an engagement celebration package that includes an 80-minute couple’s massage; daily breakfast on your balcony; and a private dinner customized by Chef Guido. The package, which offers much more, starts at $3,395 the first night, and $295 a night thereafter. Check it out at www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/tuckers-point-bermuda

More warm-weather offerings include Kamalame Cay in the Bahamas, with its “Lover’s Island Rendezvous,” at 20-percent off, which includes three-, four-, or five-night stay, free bubbly and chocolates, an afternoon on a small, private island, couples’ massage and private beach dinner. Three-night packages start at $2,669. Deal runs Feb. 1-28. Visit www.kamalame.com for details.

Also in the Bahamas, Deep Water Cay has an escape package starting at $5,308 for three nights that includes a stay in a one-bedroom cottage, private beach picnic for two and beachside cooking classes. Visit www.deepwatercay.com for details.

In the British Virgin Islands, you’ll find the “Sweet Surf” and “Sweet Sail” packages available from Jan. 31 through March 3. The surf package, which starts at $2,775 per couple, includes a trip to remote Josiah’s Bay for a private two-hour surf lesson. The sailing deal, starting at $3,425 per couple, includes a romantic, five-hour private boat charter on the Caribbean. Both packages include three-nights lodging in a one-bedroom, ocean-view suite; three-course dinner at Caravela at the resort; a 60-minute couples massage at Ixora Spa with 30-minute peppermint mocha or dark chocolate and coconut scrub; champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries on arrival; and breakfast for two each morning of chocolate pastries, hot items and beverages. Also included are unlimited use of sea kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, Wi-Fi, resort ferry and free airport transfers. Check it out at www.scrubisland.com 

Bristol House Bed & Breakfast in Bristol, R.I., has a "Romance for Two" package which runs through February and offers two-nights lodging, daily breakfast, two one-hour massages, $50 dining certificate, flowers and chocolate. Rates start at $558. For info, visit www.bristolhousebnb.com

At Rhode Island's southern end, Ocean House in Watch Hill has its “Romance by the Sea” package, that includes a two-night stay in a deluxe room, welcome bottle of champagne, breakfast for two on Saturday, brunch on Sunday. Rates start at $745 per couple, and for info, visit www.oceanhouseri.com

Up in Kennebunkport, Maine, three hotels offer deals dubbed “Five Shades of Red,” where in addition to a two-night stay, you get a lazy man’s lobster dinner for two at One Dock, bottle of red wine and chocolate-covered strawberries, red velvet whoopee pie and red rose turndown and continental breakfast. Hotels are The Kennebunkport Inn, Grand Hotel and Boathouse Waterfront Hotel. Rates start at $339, $412 and $425, respectively. Package is good through March 31.

At Harbor View Hotel on Martha's Vineyard, they have a Valentine's Day prix fixe dinner deal for $48 per couple, which gets you things like sous-vide local lobster, pork tenderloin, chocolate macaroons and truffles. If you stay, rooms start at $179 a night, which includes dinner. Check it out at www.harbor-view.com

 Far away deals include one at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, with a “Celebration Retreat” valid for all nights from Jan. 20-Feb. 16 and after that, just on Friday through Sunday nights until the end of the year. Rates start at $651, and include in-room breakfast, welcome bottle of champagne and chocolates, restaurant and spa credits and more. For all details visit www.mandarinoriental.com/hongkong Paris is arguably the world’s romantic city and two hotels have deals for lovers. At Le Bristol Paris, where rates start at $1,200, you get one night, a welcome bottle of bubbly, chocolates and a special surprise, continental breakfast and a cocktail for two in Le Bar du Bristol. A “Romance in Paris” spa package is also offered, starting at $1,064 for two, which includes treatments, treats from the pastry chef, champagne and scented limited-edition Diptyque candle to take home. For all info, visit www.lebristolparis.com At the Mandarin Oriental, the “Love in Paris” package available for February includes a seasonal “Exotic Passion” cocktail, dinner, spa treatments and more. Rates are from $1,681, and for information visit www.mandarinoriental.com/paris

The Palais Namaskar in Marrakech, between the Atlas Mountains and Djebilet hills, has a romantic package available year round, that includes two-nights lodging; round-trip airport transfers; romantic in-room amenities; sliced fruits with cream; and a romantic bath with flower petals and candles. It also gets you breakfast in bed, a “Sunrise Retreat” with five hours in a VIP cabin with private hamman and two Namaskar Signature massages; and a “One Thousand and One Nights” dinner in the gardens or private terrace. Packages start at $1,344. For info, visit www.palaisnamaskar.com  

Wine lovers may consider the Sonoma Coast Villa in Spa in California, with fully inclusive rates starting at $1,150 for the nights of Feb. 14 and 15, that gets you a room with fireplace, roses and chocolate truffles, private three-course dinner and one couples’ massage. Check it out at  www.scvilla.com   

If you seek more heart-pumping adventure of the adventurous sort, consider the Wild Dunes Resort on Isle of Palms, South Carolina, where you can get a three-hour Morgan Creek paddle package and get two nights lodging and a three-hour kayaking journey with rates from $219 a night, or the “It Takes Two: Heart-Pumping & Pamper Package,” which gets two nights, massage and pedicure for two and a choice of a full-body conditioning workout or Vinyasa Yoga session. Rates for that start at $339. Visit www.wilddunes.com for info.

Gamble on love and money with “Lights, Limos and Love” at Harrah’s Resort in AtlanticCity, with the package running through Feb. 16 starting at $899 a night, which includes a $100 dining credit and limo ride to a personal light show and bottle of Etoile Rose Brut Champagne. Check it out at www.harrahsresort.com

A 'Grand Adventure' in New Hampshire this summer

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff January 16, 2014 10:14 AM

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent

Summer seems a long way off, but if you plan ahead, and like your travel on the adventurous side,ELC Rafting of Berlin, N.H., is combining a floatplane ride with a whitewater rafting trip this summer, which has just been named a certified “Grand Adventure” by New Hampshire Grand, the official visitor information source for the Great North Woods and northern White Mountains. ELC’s “Get Your Feet Off the Ground” Rapid River package leaves from Lake Umbagog in Errol, where patrons hitch a ride on a floatplane to Lakewood Camps on the shores of Lower Richardson Lake in Maine. There, they will leave on a rafting journey that includes Rapid River rapids designated from class two to four as they make their way back to Lake Umbagog. The trips start July 19. For information, visit www.nhrafting.com

New Hampshire Grand also recently named several “Best Of” businesses, including Moose Muck Coffee House in Colebrook; Orvis Outfitters at the Cabins at Lopstick in
Pittsburg; and Porky Gulch Bike Shop and Gateway Gallery and Gifts, both in
Gorham.

For information on all Grand Adventure offerings in the Granite State, visit www.nhgrand.com

Maine's Camden Harbour Inn celebrates Relais & Chateaux status with flash sale

Posted by Hilary Nangle November 18, 2013 10:18 AM

EveningInn_Serrano (1).jpgThe Camden Harbour Inn, in Camden, Maine, is one of only five properties in North America added to the 2014 rolls of the exclusive Relais & Chateaux group of distinctive luxury properties. To celebrate, the inn is offering a flash sale on a two-night package for $429. The package includes a welcome glass of Prosecco, a four-course dinner at Natalie's, daily champagne breakfast, and turn-down with Belgian chocolates. A one-night, midweek package with dinner is $280. An additional night is $150. The offer is valid through March, excluding holidays, but must be booked by Nov. 30 by phone, call 207-236-4200.

To become a Relais & Chateaux property, hotels must have the equivalent of a 4-5 star rating, be focused on exceeding guest expectation, and have a high quality gourmet restaurant focused on local cuisine. The rigorous selection process properties go through aims to find those that best embody the spirit of Relais & Chateaux through hospitality, kindness, generosity, and passion for their region.

Dutch owners Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest purchased the inn in 2007 and then invested more than $2 million in renovations before reopening it along with its restaurant, Natalie's. In 2012, they added two luxury suites.

All guests at the Camden Harbour Inn are treated to a welcome glass of Prosecco upon arrival, complimentary a la carte breakfast with Prosecco each morning and nightly turndown service. Rooms are equipped with Molton Brown Spa products, plush robes and slippers, feather beds, and flat screen TVs. Visitors have access to concierge and butler services, and the in-house spa which offers a full menu of massages.

Natalie’s restaurant places an emphasis on Maine seafood and offers a four-course Lobster Tasting menu, a three-course prix fixe menu and a Chef’s Tasting menu. The Wine Spectator-honored wine list features more than 250 specialty wines.

The Camden Harbour Inn is one of two Relais & Châteaux properties in Maine; the other is the White Barn Inn, in Kennebunk. Regular value season rates begin at $230, premium season from $430.


Chanler racks up more awards

Posted by Paul Kandarian November 7, 2013 10:11 AM

It hasn't been a bad 10-year anniversary year for The Chanler at Cliff Walk in Newport, R.I., an AAA Four-Diamond winner for its hotel and restaurant. The historic mansion-turned-hotel was recognized by editors and readers at Conde Nast Traveler (top hotel in New England in latest Reader's Choice List which just came out); Travel + Leisure (one of three Rhode Island hotels named to its Top 500 Hotels in the World list last December); U.S. News and World Report (The Chanler finished 93rd in a list of 164 hotels, and was the highest ranked in the state); and Bon Appetit (which last spring ranked The Chanler among the 40 Best Hotels for Food Lovers, naming the hotel's eatery, the Spiced Pear).

The Chanler was built during the Civil War as a summer home for John Winthrop Chanler and his wife, Margaret Astor Ward, great-granddaughter of John Jacob Astor. Over its history, it has hosted the likes of President Theodore Roosevelt and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and in later years was used as a girl’s boarding school, an apartment building housing naval officers, and summer home to Bishop Francis Patrick Keough. The current owners bought it in the early 2000s, and renovated it into a hotel, opening in 2013. The Chanler is the only hotel in Newport to be located on historic Cliff Walk, and as a result, is a pretty pricey place in season. But during the colder months, cozy rooms with fireplaces to ward off the chill, can be had starting around $300 a night. For information, visit www.thechanler.com.

Which Massachusetts National Parks are closed due to the government shutdown?

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff October 1, 2013 01:41 PM

The government shutdown has forced some attractions run by the National Park Service to shut down until the government has returned to work. Here, thanks to the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, is a list of what you can expect to be closed – and open – in the Bay State.

Closed

Adams National Historic Park

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor

Boston National Historic Park

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

Cape Cod National Seashore

Essex National Heritage Area

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site

John F. Kennedy Library and Museum

Longfellow House Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site

Lowell National Historic Park

Minute Man National Historic Park

New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park

Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail

Open

Boston African American National Historic Site

Battleship Cove

Benjamin Franklin statue/site of the First Public School

Boston Common

Boston Harbor Islands- Spectacle and Georges

Boston Massacre site

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground

Faneuil Hall

Freedom Trail- guided tours by The Freedom Trail Foundation

Granary Burying Ground

King’s Chapel and King’s Chapel Burying Ground

MA State House

Old Corner Bookstore

Old North Church

Old South Meeting House

Old State House

Park Street Church

Paul Revere House

Six Flags roller coaster listed among country's 10 best

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff September 20, 2013 10:42 AM

A local favorite is tops among 500 roller coasters nationwide, according to a new rating system devised by Time Magazine and FindTheBest.

Six Flags New England’s Bizarro came out as the No. 2 coaster in the country, just a sliver behind No. 1 Millenium Force at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, with an overall “smart rating” of 99. (Millenium Force received a 100). The ratings were based on “fan votes, awards, and technical specifications like max height, max speed, track length, G-forces, vertical angles, and inversions.”

Bizzaro was the only New England roller coaster to make the top 10, though other coasters at the Agawam amusement park received ratings, including Goliath (88), Mind Eraser (85), Cyclone (71), and Pandemonium (52).

Other local coasters rated included Canobie Lake Park’s Canobie Corkscrew (66), the Zoomerang (79) at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Conn., and Funtown Splashdown USA’s Excalibur (67) at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

Check out the top 10 below, then take a point-of-view ride of some of New England’s best roller coasters.

Planning ahead for leaf peeping

Posted by Paul Kandarian August 13, 2013 05:18 PM

By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent

Summer is still upon us but before long, cooler weather will set in and turn leaves to colors, which will turn lose thousands of travelers seeking out fall foliage. For those planning ahead, “Leaf Peeper” offerings are available through New England Inn & Resorts with a wide range of packages.

Find them all at www.newenglandinnsandresorts.com. Sample packages include:

A leaf peepers gourmet picnic getaway at the Hartstone Inn & Hideaway in Camden, Maine, includes two nights, breakfast daily, a gourmet picnic backpack lunch and five-course dinner for two. The package, valid September and October, is a $187 add-on to regular room rates, which start at $135 a night.

FULL ENTRY

Lobster’s last call? Perish the thought

Posted by Paul Kandarian July 19, 2013 09:50 AM

With summer in full, nearly literal boil, it’s hard to think of lobster season ending. But it will,for the most part, as many lobster boats dock for the year when cold returns.

New England Inns & Resorts is putting out a “Last Call for Lobster” packages, which can be found at www.NewEnglandInnsandResorts.com, packages that vary by property and include things like “Lucky Lobstering” at the Chebeague Island Inn, in Portland, Maine. Here, you can join a Maine lobsterman for a two-hour trip around Casco Bay, learning about the creature, in a package that includes two nights lodging, gourmet breakfast daily, afternoon tea and more. The boat ride is with Capt. Jedediah Spear (if that’s not a great fishing name, we don’t know what is) aboard the Sea Nile. Your catch will be steamed and served with the regular fixings, or you can opt for a five-course lobster tasting, with wine pairings. Packages start at $1,160 for two people, taxes not included, and are available through mid-September.

Another possibility is “Lighthouses and Lobsters,” at Sebasco Harbor Resort in Phippsburg, Maine, a package for two that includes two nights anywhere on property (including the lighthouse), lobster dinner for two, self-guided lighthouse tour and directions to vantage points to see other area lighthouses. Main Lodge rates start at $149, with lighthouse rates starting at $219. Two-night minimum is required, and rates don’t include tax and service charge. Use promotion code SHR109 when booking.

Other Maine inns running lobster-related deals are Captain Lord Mansion in Kennebunkport, with its “Lobster Boat Cruise and Dinner Package,” at $159 per couple, and the “Rockport LobsterFest Package” at Emerson Inn by the Sea, which gets you three nights stay, a variety of amenities and two tickets to the 17th Annual Rockport Rotary LobsterFest Aug. 10. Package prices vary by room, running from $497 to $1,067. The Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth has a “Lucky Catch Package,” a family oriented deal that gets you three nights in a two-bedroom cottage, four tickets to the Lucky Catch lobster boat cruise, four fresh lobsters from the boat, and a $50 gift certificate from Portland Lobster Company. Packages start at $689 per night, and are available through Oct. 14, based on four-person occupancy.

There’s always room for more lobster, and for more packages, visit www.newenglandinnsandresorts.com

More apps for Cape lovers

Posted by Paul Kandarian July 17, 2013 10:32 AM

Need help navigating the ample arts scene on Cape Cod? The Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard chambers of commerce have launched a new “Arts App” to bring the Cape and the island’s galleries, museums, studios, performing arts and art-related events to your fingertips.

There are three separate ones: ArtsApp Cape Cod, ArtsApp Nantucket and ArtsApp Martha’s Vineyard. The free apps are downloadable from all mobile devices and accessible from any PC. Each includes a map, directory of artists and attractions, event calendar and current news. You can search for things like local painters or potters, concerts or lectures, and the apps also feature geo-locational awareness, detecting your location and giving events and venues within your vicinity. New entries are constantly being added.

The Apps were developed by TapWalk, a Boston-based high tech company, with funding from a Mass Cultural Council grant. The project is a joint collaboration between the chambers, Coastal Community Capital, Inc., and The Arts Foundation of Cape Cod. You can find the apps in the iTunes app store by searching ArtsApp Cape Cod, ArtsApp Nantucket or ArtsApp Martha’s Vineyard.

NBC forgets where New Hampshire is located

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff July 10, 2013 09:22 AM

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Judging by the traffic heading to North Conway last weekend, plenty of locals know where New Hampshire is located.

Someone may want to tell NBC.

In zooming in on a map showing the location of the train explosion in Canada Monday night on the Nightly News with Brian Williams, the Granite State wasn't to be found, taken over by Vermont and Maine. Live free or...well, disappear.

Williams and NBC apologized for the gaffe in the above video.

The best lobster roll outside of Maine is...

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff July 1, 2013 01:38 PM

Mainers may say otherwise, but it is indeed possible to find a good lobster roll outside of Vacationland.

At least, that was the mission at The Daily Meal, which ranked the 20-best lobster rolls outside of Maine, with eight New England locales making the list, four of them from Massachusetts.

Here’s how the locals fared:

19) Belle Aisle Seafood, Boston
14) Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant, Newport, RI
12) The Bayside Restaurant, Westport
10) Offshore Ale, Oak Bluffs
9) Jim’s Dock, Jerusalem, RI
7) Neptune Oyster, Boston
5) B&G Oysters, Boston
3) Champlin’s, Narragansett, RI

New York’s Pearl Oyster Bar took the top spot on the list, and for the record, The Daily Meal does think that Red’s Eats, in Wiscasset, boasts the best lobster roll in Maine. That, unlike the Oyster Bar, is sure to be a popular opinion in New England.

Topnotch running grand-opening deal

Posted by Paul Kandarian July 1, 2013 01:20 PM

A $15-million renovation of Topnotch Resort in Stowe, Vermont, is done, with the inn now open and offering a deal to mark the occasion. Book the introductory special, starting at $275 a night, dubbed the “Ta-Da Topnotch” offer, before July 31, for stays before Aug. 31, and get a $100 resort credit which can be spent on the spa, restaurant, tennis facilities and additional resort services. Also included in the introductory offer is the chance to come back a second time this year at a one-time savings of 30 percent. Rates after July 31 start at $350 for midweek nights, and $395 on weekends.

 topnotch pool (Medium).jpgImprovements made to the resort, which was built in 1959, are many, said resort general manager Aaron Black, including orienting the lobby to show more of Mt. Mansfield; renovating guestrooms with hand-made furniture, native textiles and hand-painted artwork; new treatment experiences called “Pathways to Wellness” at the spa; new outdoor spaces for weddings and retreats; and a new design for the ballroom and meeting spaces. Also new is a restaurant and bar, The Roost, with a second restaurant, Flannel, replacing the former Norma’s. The hotel, a pet-friendly one, is part of the MetWest Terra Hospitality collection of boutique hotels. For information and booking, visit www.topnotchresort.com, or call 800-451-8686.

Take the Midcoast Maine Lighthouse Challenge

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff June 21, 2013 12:35 PM

By Hilary Nangle, Globe correspondent

Visit and climb the towers of seven Mid-coast lighthouses during the Midcoast Maine Lighthouse Challenge (207-594-4174, www.lighthousefoundation.org), June 29-30. Register for the challenge at any of the lighthouses. There’s no cost to participate, but some lighthouses have admission or parking fees. Participating lights are Dyce Head, Castine; Fort Point, Stockton Springs; Grindle Point, Islesboro; Rockland Breakwater, Rockland; Owls Head, Owls Head; Marshall Point, Port Clyde; and Pemaquid Point, Bristol. Two special activities complement the challenge. A 4.5-hour Lighthouse Sunset Cruiseaboard The P/V Elizabeth Ann departs Port Clyde on Friday, June 28, at 4:30 p.m., ($40). A Saturday evening program blending stories and songis slated at the Owls Head Community Center, Sat. June 29 at 7 p.m.(suggested donation, $5).

Coffee done well in Bar Harbor

Posted by Paul Kandarian June 20, 2013 09:34 AM

I’m a coffee freak. Not a coffee aficionado, mind you, knowing various blends and tastes and acidities. Just gimme caffeine, I’ll take it from there.

So it was a great delight recently to find the Coffee Hound Coffee Bar up in Bar Harbor, a town I hadn’t visited since the 1970s, much of which is new. Among the newest is the Coffee Hound, opened in early June by barista Chris Keegan. I grabbed a cup of Acadia Roast, expecting, well, coffee. But it was easily one of the best, smoothest blends ever, a whopping step up from the usual swill I make at home.

I love those little pleasant travel surprises, and Keegan’s shop fit the bill, a long, narrow space with the affable Keegan eager to discuss everything coffee with anyone interested in knowing. He gets his coffee from Carrabassett Coffee Company in Maine, going into details of various blends and what each has to offer.

It apparently runs in the family: Daughter Cassidy was expected to work this summer at her dad’s shop, herself a barista, her proud father says, not bad for a 15 year old.

coffee hound.jpgThe coffee’s great here, as is the owner’s social conscience: He donates $1 for every bag sold to ReMAINE Healthy, a research collaborative with the goal of preventing kidney disease, where his girlfriend works.

Keegan claims, as does anyone in town serving it, that he has the best lobster rolls, bar none in Bar Harbor. I didn’t try it, but judging from looking around town, his was priced on the lower side, $13 for a roll with a quarter pound of lobster meat, $25 for a half pounder.

He also serves hot dogs, including the Maine-centric red foot-long version, as well as Hebrew National brand and a quarter-pound all-beef version. Also here is a range of pastries, made by Epi’s, a local restaurant, which also makes “traveling blueberry pies” solely for Coffee Hound, Keegan says. Whatever you get, a great place to enjoy is at Agamont Park across the street, a gorgeous hilly chunk of green space affording a terrific place to eat and look out over Frenchman’s Harbor.

Coffee Hound is open through October, when much of the town shuts down and you’ll have to find another place for your java. So if you go before, stock up, help a good cause and avoid drinking swill. I know I will, as long as my Acadia Roast bag lasts anyway.

Photo of Chris Keegan by Paul E. Kandarian

Ocean House ramps up culinary programs

Posted by Paul Kandarian June 7, 2013 09:42 AM

Ocean House in Watch Hill, a village of Westerly, R.I., the state’s only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star resort, and known for fine dining, is increasing its culinary presence in southern Rhode Island by adding offerings from the 10-acre Avondale Farm, to a list of 49 local farms and farmer’s markets it uses. The resort is also adding new classes from on-staff food forager Janice McEachen, a partnership with a local oyster farm and new honey beehives. Expansion of the culinary program at the resort “is the next step in making the property a true food destination for discerning travelers,” said Daniel Hostettler, president and managing director of Ocean House Management.

Avondale will serve as a resource for the resort’s five dining outlets, a learning tool for guests and a sustainable way to give back to the Watch Hill community on the state’s southwestern corner. A small orchard of apple trees took root recently and should be ready for fall picking, with honey from four new hives ready this summer. A coop has also been built to house several chickens and this fall, Ocean House teams with Salt Water Farm in North Kingstown to introduce deep-water signature Ocean House oysters.

The resort has also launched a new “In the Kitchen” culinary education series, where guests join McEachen teaches with members of the Ocean House chef team and guest chefs, with lessons in cooking foundations, stock making, sauces and seasoning. The classes run one Saturday per month, for $95 per person. For more information, visit www.oceanhouseri.com

Is Hampton Beach the best beach in New England?

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff May 29, 2013 01:37 PM

Nothing against Hampton Beach, N.H., a fine beach by many standards and one that the Granite State has spent millions on in refurbishments. But the best beach in New England?

That may be a stretch, even for a state that boasts only 18 miles of coastline, but that's how 1.5 million Weather Channel Facebook users voted in selecting the top beach for the region. The top vote-getter for the Northeast region was Ocean City, Md.

This is the first time in the four years of producing this content that a New Hampshire beach made the list of favorite beaches. New Hampshire has a small, but lively, beach scene. Hampton Beach is the most popular beach destination in the state.

Sure, but up against heavy-hitters like Horseneck, Crane, and Newport beaches, is it really the best in New England? What do you think?

NH track going for Guinness record

Posted by Paul Kandarian May 29, 2013 01:24 PM

Laconia Harley-Davidson and New Hampshire Motor Speedway are going for two goals on June 15: Raise more than $76,036 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of New Hampshire, and set a new Guinness world record. They’re inviting the public to play a key role in both.

Laconia Motorcycle Week attendees can help by buying tickets for a community appreciation parade at the speedway June 15. Participants will have the unique opportunity to ride around the track on their bikes, continue on a police-escorted, scenic 32-mile ride around the Lakes Region and set a new Guinness record for “most money raised for a charity in 24 hours by a motorcycle parade,” the current record for which is $76,036.

There is no better way to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of Laconia Motorcycle Week than attempting a philanthropic act of historic proportion,” said Anne Deli, owner of Laconia Harley-Davidson. “Motorcycle riders from across the globe and those here in New Hampshire can take part in a once-in-a-lifetime riding opportunity, but more importantly, make a difference by supporting this remarkable organization.” Riders can pre-register online at www.newhampshire.speedwaycharities.org, in-person at the Laconia Harley-Davidson dealership at 239 Daniel Webster Highway in Meredith, or sign up the day of the event on June 15th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. 

Tickets are $35 per bike and $15 for an additional rider. Only 50 VIP tickets will be available for $150, which will enable a rider and passenger to get priority spot in the first 50 spaces behind the pace car. Participants will also receive one free ticket to the Loudon Classic Weekend that evening at the speedway. Individuals and businesses can also contribute to the effort by making a donation of any amount from 7-10 a.m. June 15th at the track.

JFK Museum in Hyannis unveils new exhibit

Posted by Paul Kandarian May 28, 2013 12:48 PM

Honoring the 50th anniversary assassination of President John F. Kennedy this November, the JFK Museum Foundation in Hyannis has opened a special exhibit, "Cape Cod: The Summer of 1963 to Nov. 22, 1963," which looks back on the president’s final months on the Cape.

"From the joyful 1963 summer memories of the President and his family, to the palpable fog of grief that settled over Cape Cod after his death, this exhibit will remind us how truly special those Camelot days were," said Rebecca Pierce-Merrick, museum curator, "and how one day in history changed it forever." The exhibit uses photos, videos, wall displays and news clips to tell the story of JFK’s last months on the Cape, where the Kennedy family spent much of that summer, including time spent mourning the death of their third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, who died when he was two days old. Special new videos produced by documentary film producer and Kennedy family videographer Andrew Fone are part of the exhibit.

For more information, visit www.jfkhyannismuseum.org

New England can't make the cut on list of world's best ice cream

Posted by Paul Kandarian May 22, 2013 10:26 AM

The Daily Meal has released its list of 25 Best Ice Cream Parlors in the World and we were a bit shocked to find not a one from New England. Rubbing salt in our legendary Big Apple vs Hub wound were two from New York City, Big Gay Ice Cream and The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. The rest were from the world over, including a few in Italy (no surprise, gelato rules), Canada, Brazil, France, Ireland, as well as New Mexico, California and Minnesota. For the full list, check out www.thedailymeal.com

Now if they do a survey on best lobster ice cream, we expect things to be much, much different.

Blount cutting couples’ cruise cost

Posted by Paul Kandarian May 17, 2013 01:33 PM

Blount Small Ship Adventures, based in Warren, R.I., is offering $1,000 savings per couple on sailings of its “Islands of New England” trips this summer, including three new enrichment cruises focusing on arts and crafts adventures, food and wine discoveries, and Native America history. The six-night cruises on the Grand Caribe hits six ports including the Massachusetts islands of Cuttyhunk and Nantucket, and Block Island in Rhode Island. The sailing also features onboard entertainers, a lobster bake, three meals a day (with beer and wine at lunch and dinner) and snacks around the clock. Unlike many cruise operations, here you can bring your own bottles, and they’ll provide mixers and cocktail setup. 

The Grande Caribe, which has 48cabins and a capacity of 88 passengers, was built by Blount Boats in Warren in 1997 and renovated in 2009 with new furnishings, décor, cabins and dining rooms. With discount applied, rates start at $1,599 per person, based on double occupancy, and doesn’t include a port charge of $185 per person. Booking must be made by May 31. 

For info, visit www.blountsmallshipadventures.com/ine.

AAA designing close-to-home vacations

Posted by Paul Kandarian May 15, 2013 09:31 AM

AAA Southern New England can design trips for members just about anywhere, but in the interest of saving money and patronizing businesses in its own area, is also keen on creating trips closer to home, officials there say. One of them is “The City Get-Away Boston,” where you can spend the night at the Revere Hotel in the Hub’s theater district, eat at Four Diamond-ranked Asana at the chef’s table, go to Fenway Park for a ball game and get 10-percent off at the team store. You can also hit Huntington Theatre for a $5 discount per ticket or get $10 off at Blue Man Group.

Further south is the “Family Friendly Resort Cape Cod” offering, with a stay at Four Diamond-ranked Wequasset Resort & Golf Club, dinner at the resort’s twenty-eight Atlantic, and a whale-watching trip with Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch, where AAA members get discounts. There is also the “Ultimate Luxury Beach Vacation Rhode Island,” with a stay at Five Diamond Ocean House (a giant hotel on the bluffs that was rebuilt in place of the original one that stood for many years, and using more than 5,000 artifacts and furnishing elements from the original), dinner at the hotel’s Four Diamond Seasons restaurant, and theater at the nearby Theatre By the Sea, a classic barn theater that in its glory years saw the likes of Marlon Brando and Mae West tread the boards there, and where AAA members get 10-percent off select performances this summer.

For all info, check out www.southernnewengland.aaa.com

Nantucket a busy pre-summer place

Posted by Paul Kandarian May 14, 2013 10:42 AM

You don’t have to wait for the summer heat anymore to find things to do in Nantucket. Though things ramp up mostly after Memorial Day, and certainly by July 4, the island has a variety of early-season offerings, and hotels and inns with deals to take advantage of them.

One popular event is the Nantucket Wine Festival, marking its 17th year May 15-19, with a schedule of special events such as celebrity chef cooking demos, tastings, seminars, symposia, auctions and a charity gala. For full event schedule and pricing, visit www.nantucketwinefestival.com

The White Elephant is hosting many of the festival events, including the Grand Tastings and Harbor Gala, the former featuring more than 150 wineries from around the world. The gala is the festival’s signature event with 40 stations of dishes prepared by the country’s best chefs, which, naturally, are paired with appropriate wines. The White Elephant and sister properties, White Elephant Village and The Wauwinet, are offering weekend packages including stays, event tickets, dinners at Brant Point Grill and Topper’s, as well as brunches. Rates start at $500 a night. For info, check out www.nantucketislandresorts.com

At Harborview Place, offered by Beautiful Places villa rentals, stay three or more nights in a one- to three-bedroom residence and get a wine festival package with access to a variety of events, including the tasting, VIP party, auction, Friday night supper club and breakfast on the harbor. Visit www.beautiful-places.com/location/massachusetts for information.

Orla and Michael LaScola, owners of American Seasons, are partnering again with West Coast wineries such as Donelan Family Wines and Flowers Winery to host seminars and dinners highlighting domestic wines paired with LaScola’s take on American dishes. For information on the events at the restaurant, visit www.americanseasons.com

If you have flexible travel plans, the antique inn Century House celebrates its 180th anniversary this year by offering a weeknight stay in a queen room for $180 plus tax and service during select dates in May and June, based on last-minute availability. There is no online booking for this deal: Call 508-228-0530 on the preceding Saturday or Sunday to secure a stay the following Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night. You can also combine the special with multiple week-night stays at standard rates. And you can help celebrate innkeepers JeanEllen Heron and Gerry Connick’s 30th anniversary running the inn. Connick’s famous and massive berry breakfast alone is worth the stay.

The next month, the spring version of Nantucket Restaurant Week runs June 2-9 (another runs in the fall), with a variety of restaurants participating, including American Seasons, where they offer three-course dinners from $25-$45. For a full listing, visit www.nantucketrestaurantweek.com Writers have long been drawn to the island, including historic scribes like James Fenimore Cooper and Edgar Allen Poe, and modern authors such as Nathaniel Philbrick. The 2nd Annual Nantucket Book Festival runs June 21-23, with panel discussions, interactive readings for adults and kids, and “Authors in Bars” events giving festival goers a chance to personally toast their favorite writers. A roster of more than 20 notable American writers are expected, among them Philbrick, Paul Hendrickson and Lois Lowry. The Brant Point Grill at the White Elephant, the event’s host hotel, will host the weekend’s closing brunch June 23 with Alice Hoffman, author of more than 20 novels including “Here on Earth,” an Oprah’s Book Club choice. Other events include breakfast receptions with authors Ann Leary and Amy Brill, and a pig roast at Cisco Brewery. Check it all out at www.nantucketbookfestival.org

And lest we not forget the island’s nautical roots, the Egan Maritime Institute will hold “Red, Right, Returning: Present Day United States Coast Guard Lifesaving Procedures and Boat Safety” at the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum, May 23-Oct. 14. The outdoor exhibit features present day Coast Guard lifesaving procedures, guide to boat safety and a recreational four-person life raft for anyone to try out on dry land. Back by popular demand is last year’s exhibit, “Guiding Lights: Nantucket’s Lighthouses, Keepers and Their Families,” that includes hands-on activities.  Visit www.eganmaritime.org for more information.

New Hampshire inns run ode to the herb weekend

Posted by Paul Kandarian May 9, 2013 11:03 AM

Home cooks take note: The 5th Annual Inn to Inn Spring Herb Tour runs June 8-9, when 11 White Mountain inns in New Hampshire present an in-depth look at a popular culinary herb. Tour-takers will take home herb trivia, historical facts and ideas for growing your own, getting seedlings from each inn. In the past, people have grazed from inn to inn sampling tomato basil soup, carrot chervil dip, sage biscuits, tarragon egg salad and rosemary chocolate cookies. This year’s offerings feature a new menu of herb-inspired tastings, organizers said.HerbTour-1785Inngarden.jpg

Six northern inns (Jackson to North Conway) take part June 8 and five southern ones (Conway to Chocura) on June 9. Northern inns, and the herbs they’ll highlight are: Inn at Ellis River, mint; Glen Oaks Inn, lemongrass; 1785 Inn, parsley; Eastman Inn, thyme; Old Red Inn & Cottages, anise; and Admiral Peary House, sage. Southern inns are: Darby Field Inn, basil; Snowvillage, lavender; Inn at Crystal Lake, rosemary; Riverbend Inn, chives; and Brass Heart Inn, oregano. The spring herb tour is held primarily for those booking a two-night package at one of the inns, but those not staying can get tickets from May 11-25 for $25 per person by calling 603-356-9025. Lodging packages start at $178 per couple, which includes two nights, herb-themed breakfasts each morning and two tour tickets. Prices vary from inn to inn and depend on room choice; some packages include special five-course, herb-themed dinners. One-night packages start at $99 per couple for the room, breakfast for two and a pair of tour tickets.

For information on all, visit www.CountryInnsintheWhiteMountains.com or call 603-356-9025.

Vermont inn ushering in spring

Posted by Paul Kandarian May 1, 2013 01:50 PM

Windham Hill Inn, a Relais & Chateaux property in West Townshend, Vermont is marking spring with its first Gardener’s Luncheon and Market May 18, bringing together local Vermont vendors to showcase the area’s seasonal offerings. The inn’s gardener Claduia Dekany will also be on hand to give garden tours and tips. Spring-inspired paintings, prints and notecards will be available in the hotel’s Sun Lounge and gift shop.

windham hill.jpgActivities include seasonal lunch, cooking demos with the inn’s chef, with an eye on how to prepare early-spring veggies, and herbs and perennials available for purchase from local gardeners at Griffin Gardens. For information, visit www.windhamhill.com

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  • Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor
  • Eric Wilbur, Boston.com staff
  • Kari Bodnarchuk writes about outdoor adventures, offbeat places, and New England.
  • Patricia Borns, a frequent contributor to Globe Travel, writes and photographs travel, maritime, and historical narratives as well as blogs and books.
  • Patricia Harris, a regular contributor to Globe Travel, is author or co-author of more than 20 books on travel, food, and popular culture.
  • Paul E. Kandarian, a frequent contributor to Globe Travel, writes and photographs New England and Caribbean stories.
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