The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council is hosting its annual Fall Foliage and Shopping Train Excursion Oct. 20 aboard the Providence and Worcester Railroad, which leaves the Woonsocket train depot in Rhode Island at 9 a.m. and returns at 4:30 p.m. The foliage train travels through historic Blackstone River Valley to the many antique shops, restaurants and gift shops in Putnam, Conn., where there will be an arts and crafts fair, music, sidewalk sales, a pumpkin festival, bazaar and luncheon, at the Putnam Congregational Church. The train leaves Putnam at 2:15 and chugs back to Woonsocket by 4:30 p.m.
Ticket prices run from $28 to $58. There is a snack bar on the train, and passengers can also bring their own, though no alcoholic beverages are allowed. For information and reservations, visit www.tourblackstone.com or call 401-724-2200.
From one man -- Leon Leonwood Bean -- came an eventual $1.4-billion empire. And now a party to celebrate it all.
In honor of its centennial, L.L. Bean is hosting a 100th Anniversary Hometown Celebration on Main Street in Freeport, Maine, from July 4-7, a four-day event that includes free daily concerts in L.L. Bean's Discovery Park, the 35th Annual L.L. Bean 10K Road Race, family friendly outdoor activities and more. The event ends with a fireworks display.
Fun stuff along the way: Freeport Fourth of July parade, featuring the L.L. Bean Bootmobile; free Outdoor Discovery School demos, including kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding; appearances by Red Sox legendary shortstop Rico Petrocelli, Wally the Green Monster and the Sox World Series trophies; a Muddy Bean Boots ice cream sampling, a flavor created by Gifford's for the anniversary; outdoor games with Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Seth Westcott; music from Chris Isaak and Jo Dee Messina; farmer's market; free concerts by regional artists; and all-day street festivals with local crafts, food and live entertainment.
Bean started his company in 1912, a one-man operation catering to those lovers of the great outdoors, starting with the waterproof "Bean Boot," which remains an iconic symbol of the company. L.L. Bean still makes the boot -- and a lot of other things, outdoorsy and fashionable.
For a complete schedule and more information, visit www.llbean.com
Eat well, or more appropriately, "mangia bene" at the 13th Annual Federal Hill Stroll in historical Federal Hill, Providence, June 5, when 30 galleries, shops and of course, restaurants open their doors to welcome the expected 1,000-plus patrons who usually come to walk around.
Stroll tickets are $30 plus tax, and included admission button, two free drinks, and a map of the venue. It starts at 4:30 p.m. and includes music. Participants also vote for their favorite venues and help crown the yearly "King of the Hill" and "Most Creative Venue." A winning voter in each category gets a dinner for two on Federal Hill. Tickets are limited and have to be bought in advance at www.federalhillstroll.com or by calling 401-456-0298.
Federal Hill is Providence's quintessentially Italian section, though over the years the culinary and cultural slant has been happily diversified to include restaurants of all flavor. The Hill, as it's known locally, has long been compared to Boston's North End, only smaller. But just as tasty.
Photo of Nancy's Fancies, which will be on the Stroll, by David Lyon for The Boston Globe
Thirteen new retail stores hold their grand opening Thursday in the recently renovated Terminal C at Logan International Airport.
The retailers include the Boutique iStore, selling Apple and other electronics products; Be Relax spa; the Black Dog gift shop ; and Life is Good clothing store.
The Massachusetts Port Authority completed a $62 million renovation of Terminal C last summer to streamline security screening, improve the appearance, and make lighting, heating, and cooling systems more energy efficient. The renovation consolidated two smaller security check points in one larger area.
“The customer service benefits of the consolidated checkpoint are substantial,’’ said Ed Freni, director of aviation for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which owns and operates Boston Logan International Airport, said in a press release. “When the checkpoint opened last year it made it easier for Terminal C passengers to connect to other flights within the terminal because it eliminated the need for additional screening and it created new space for concessions to be behind security, which is what most passengers prefer.”
The 140,000-square-foot renovation included 12,000 square feet of new retail and food space. Many Terminal C concessions were repositioned to post-security screening locations near gates.
“We are delighted to bring a brand-new concession program to Terminal C that offers travelers a variety of specialty retail options,” noted Dominic Lowe, executive vice president of concession management at Westfield Concession Management. “Our goal is to create desirable, innovative, world-class concession programs that feature first-to-market concepts.”
Westfield is celebrating the grand opening today with strolling musicians, giveaways, and kids’ events.
If Black Friday has come and gone and you haven't finished all your holiday shopping, we suggest books--especially books about New England. Plenty of good reads about the region were published in 2011 that should engage active and armchair travelers alike. We'll be highlighting a few in the coming weeks, and here's the first one: Cape Cod Noir (ed. David L. Ulin, Akashic Books, New York, $15.95).
New York-based Akashic Books started publishing anthologies of original noir short stories set in specific locales in 2004. In 2011, the editors turned their attention to Cape Cod to produce a collection almost devoid of Kennedys, prepsters, steamed clams, topsiders, whale watchers, and kite-flyers. Instead, it's a book full of cries in the dark, heavy drinking in the thin gray light of winter, and other dark poses. In other words, the stories sneak in the back screen door of those summer cottages after Labor Day, after all the tourists have gone home and Cape Codders of the authors' imagination drop their masks and their guards. It's a fun read, a little like tracing the shoreline of a not-quite-familiar coast.
Shop Gotham, which runs ‘‘insider’’ shopping tours for women, has launched a tour for fashion-savvy male travelers. The three-hour Men’s NYC Shopping Tour: Fashion, Home, and Art for the Discerning Man takes visitors into the newly chic Bowery district and nearby SoHo and Nolita neighborhoods, showcasing shops that are popular with New Yorkers. Participants also visit an art or photo gallery, a designer home store, and a men’s grooming emporium. Tours are led by a stylist, who can assist with selections and share the latest fashion trends en route. Tour-goers receive store discounts, meet a local designer, and visit a showroom or sample sale, if available. Tours run Fridays at 2 p.m.; maximum eight participants, $54 per person.
Photo: Shop Gotham
After the holidays everyone is going to be looking for a little peace and quiet--and will probably need to jump-start a fitness program to boot. A gift membership to the Appalachian Mountain Club might be just the incentive to put that New Year's resolve into action. One-year memberships start at $25 for under age 30 and over age 69, and the family membership is only $60. Members receive a subscription to AMC Outdoors, an additional monthly e-newsletter, discounts on huts and programs, and savings on maps, trail guides, and outdoor gear. Membership dues also support the stewardship of more than 1,500 miles of trails and research on air quality and alpine ecosystems. And a gift membership says that you think the recipient is cool and athletic, or could be.
For more information, see the AMC web site, www.outdoors.org, or call 800-372-1758.
Photo courtesy of Appalachian Mountain Club
Its location in a former red brick wool warehouse on Fort Point Channel gives the Boston Children's Museum plenty of room to spread out and its current roster of 19 exhibits gives families plenty to do. In fact, the museum recognizes that the sheer number of choices and activities can be overwhelming for younger kids and advises that families start slowly by visiting one or two exhibits or activities at a time. A Family Membership (which start at $125 for up to four people) will make it possible for the families on your gift list to return as often as they want to check out the jackhammers and trucks in the Construction Zone, tackle the New Balance climbing sculpture, or explore a 100-year-old Japanese house. If that’s not enough, Boston Children's Museum members also receive free admission to more than 100 other children's museums and more than 200 science museums throughout New England and around the country. By the way, if you purchase an extra membership, museum staff will make sure it reaches a family that can’t afford to buy their own! www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org, 617-426-6500, ext 354.
Photo courtesy of Boston Children's Museum
Today's travel gift ideas are about finding your way and bringing what you need in style. It's always a trip to visit the DeLorme Map Store in Yarmouth just to marvel at Eartha, which DeLorme claims is the world's largest globe. If you're not in the mood for a drive, you can purchase a gift certificate by phone, but your recipient will have to use it in the store. We have sworn by DeLorme's state atlas books for years because they offer just the right level of resolution to find your way across large stretches of territory while still being able to see the major roads and streets. More tech-literate types swear by (rather than at) their GPS software. Give the gift of clear directions. As frequent travelers, we're really hard on luggage, but we blanch at the prices for new suitcases--except at the Samsonite Factory Outlet, which deeply discounts Samsonite and American Tourister luggage and often has specials of a 50 percent discount on the second piece you purchase. If a short pre-holiday road trip appeals, gift certificates are available in any amount you choose, but must be purchased at the store.
DeLorme Map Store, Rte. 1 (I-295, exit 17), Yarmouth, Maine; 207-846-7100 or 800-642-0970.
Samsonite Factory Outlet, 95 Main St., Warren, R.I.; 401-247-3302.
--Patricia Harris & David Lyon
Based in ''rustic'' offices in Waterbury, Vermont, Country Walkers offers walking itineraries around the world, but they don't ignore New England. In 2011, five guided excursions are scheduled in Acadia National Park along with two guided fall foliage season outings in Vermont. You can purchase a gift certificate in any amount for a specific trip or let the recipient choose his or her own dream destination in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, the South Pacific, or Latin America. If your friends and family members are independent types who steer clear of guided tours, Country Walkers has introduced self-guided hiking and bicycling adventures in England, Spain, Italy, Malta, Austria, Portugal, France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. Gift certificates, by the way, come in a beautifully wrapped gift box. And Country Walkers does not cancel its departure dates if enrollment is low, sparing the giftee from potential disappointment down the road.
www.countrywalkers.com, 800-464-9255 or 802-244-1387.
Photo courtesy of Country Walkers
Today’s gift idea involves the federal government, so, yes, there is a bit of bureaucracy. Oh, and a long name: ''America the Beautiful--The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.'' But the idea is a good one, and the $80 pass is a great gift. It allows free entrance for a year to more than 2,000 sites administered by five federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the USDA Forest Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Some sites, of course, don’t charge admission, but for those that have per-person entrance fees, the America the Beautiful pass admits the pass holder and three other adults (ages 15 and under are free). For those sites that charge a per-vehicle fee, the pass covers the car and all the people who can squeeze inside. If you need further clarification, check out the web site for a handy page of definitions of such terms as "domicile," "standard entrance fee," and "non-commercial vehicle." But sarcasm aside, the pass is a great option if you are looking for a gift for a family--whether they like to learn about art and history, prefer to light out for the wilderness, or just like to have fun at the beach. Here in New England alone, some of the sites covered by the pass include the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in New Hampshire, Acadia National Park in Maine, and the Cape Cod National Seashore. And that’s just for starters. http://store.usgs.gov/pass/annual.html
Photo courtesy of National Park Service, Cape Cod National Seashore
Museum memberships are always a good gift. Every time the recipient enjoys free admission and other perks, he or she will remember your generosity. By the same token, a lot of museums also offer gift certificates. But I think the Worcester Art Museum’s Art Card is an especially clever gift option for someone who might like to date a museum without going steady. Select your gift amount and your recipient will receive an attractive plastic card (sort of like a debit card for art) that can be used for admission, lunch in the cafe, purchases in the gift shop, classes or special events. The museum opened to the public in 1898 and has built a collection that spans more than fifty centuries. If that’s not enough for the art lover on your list, curators also mount intriguing special exhibitions. I’m particularly curious about next spring’s ''Leisure, Pleasure and the Birth of the Modern French Woman.'' Hey, a girl can dream. www.worcesterart.org; 508-799-4406, ext. 3122. Make your online purchase by noon on December 17 to be sure to receive your card by December 24.
Photo courtesy of Worcester Art Museum
For the truly gift-challenged, we have a suggestion that will help kill two birds with one stone. We know that’s not the most appealing way to put it, but this gift is not only clever--it's even romantic. The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa, has a packed schedule of classes nearly every day in its Cook Academy.
They really dial up the romance in February, so why not purchase a gift card now for a Valentine feast? ''Cupids Culinary Creations'' features a three-course menu of warm Vermont blue cheese souffle, steak au poivre with truffled potatoes, and hazelnut lava cake. Couples who prefer to head straight to dessert, can create chocolate black pepper cookies, pumpkin chocolate bread pudding with warm rum sauce, and dark chocolate souffle with hazelnut crème anglaise in the ''Addicted to Chocolate'' class. Both are offered throughout the month of February, along with ''Saucy Sauces,'' ''Warm Winter Wonderland'' and a variety of other options. The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa, 70 Essex Way, Essex, Vt.; 800-727-4295; 802-878-1100; www.vtculinaryresort.com.
Patricia Harris is co-author of the food and travel blog Hungry Travelers.
Photos courtesy of The Essex
Last year we offered a lifeline to last-minute shoppers with a list of suggestions of New England travel experiences that their friends and family members might enjoy. We hope that we helped spread a little joy and made life a little easier for the gift-challenged among us. In that spirit we thought we would offer some suggestions a little bit earlier this year. A getaway to an inn or bed and breakfast is sort of the Snuggie of gifts--one-size-fits-all. But you won’t have to worry about your gift-giving choice being turned into a You Tube parody.
To keep things really classy, Kennebunkport, Maine, has a rich concentration of old homes that have been converted into lodgings with a lot of character. Six of them are loosely banded together as the Historic Inns of Kennebunkport. As part of the town’s 11 days of Christmas Prelude activities, the inns will each host an open house on Saturday, December 11 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. so that visitors can ogle the Christmas decorations and sample holiday treats. All of the inns offer gift certificates, so you can check them out and match the place to the personality of the lucky recipient. We don’t want to encourage you to procrastinate, but the 1802 House is offering discounts on gift certificates purchased through December 31.
If you succumb to Black Friday madness and start shopping in the wee hours, you can have your Christmas gifts in hand by the time ''Sugar & Spice: The Land of Gingerbread'' opens at 10 a.m. on Nov. 26 at the Springfield Science Museum. Up through Jan. 2, the exhibit features the results of the museum's first gingerbread house competition for professional bakers and private enthusiasts. The theme is “The City of Homes,” and the gingerbread houses draw inspiration from actual Springfield buildings. They are displayed against a snowy landscape of decorated trees, twinkling lights, and gingerbread people.
Museum-goers who prefer a little narrative with their exhibits can follow the adventures of a gingerbread man being chased by forest creatures trying to gobble him up. In his journey he sips chocolate by the fire at his own gingerbread house, travels down a river of melted fudge, and floats over mountains in a hot air balloon. It's a world worthy of Zippy the Pinhead. Now isn't that a whole lot more fun than waiting in a mall parking lot for the land rush to the toy section?
Springfield Science Museum, Quadrangle, 21 Edwards St., Springfield; 413-263-6800; www.springfieldmuseums.org. Science Museum open Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving Day). Adults $12.50, seniors and college students $9, ages 3-17 $6.50.
Photo courtesy of Springfield Museums.
We don't know who created this wonderful piece of graffiti, but it certainly sums up the sentiments of many Montrealers. We recently returned from three weeks in the city researching a new book, the Food Lovers' Guide to Montreal (spring 2011, Globe Pequot Press). Even as we sampled poutine and pâté chinois, croissants and macarons, we couldn't help but be staggered by the explosion in artisanal cheese-making in Quebec. La Belle Province is beginning to rival La France when it comes to great fromage.
''Everyone's getting crazy with cheese here in Quebec,'' says Pierre Gariepy, co-owner of La Maison du Cheddar (1311 avenue Van Horne; 514-904-0011), a specialty cheese store in Outremont that stocks only Quebec cheeses. The store's namesake raw milk cheddar from Saint-Guillaume just outside Montreal is served in grilled cheese sandwiches, or as little cubes to dunk into cups of piping hot espresso, a tradition in Brittany, according to co-owner Dominique Cormier. The pair also offers a special grilled cheese sandwich of the week to introduce customers to new cheeses.
Many of Quebec's best cheeses are made from raw milk, but thanks to NAFTA, all Quebec cheeses are allowed into the United States, although similar cheeses from France might be banned. A couple of Gariepy's favorites are Pied de Vent, a soft cheese made on the Magdalen Islands by one of Cormier's cousins, and Riopelle de l’Île, a soft cheese somewhere between a brie and a Camembert. It's named for the painter Jean-Paul Riopelle who often vacationed on L’Île aux Grues where the cheese is made.
Gilles Jourdenais, owner of La Fromagerie Atwater located in the yuppie-gourmet Marché Atwater (134 avenue Atwater; 514-932-4653), estimates that about 400 cheeses are made in Quebec. His inventory of 850 cheeses includes about 175 from Quebec that hold their own against some of the best cheeses in the world. A couple of Jourdenais' favorites are Le bleu d'Elizabeth, a creamy and not overly salty blue, made by Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Elizabeth de Warwick. He's also a big fan of Le Cendrillon, an ash-covered soft goat’s milk cheese made by La Maison Alexis de Portneuf. Its name translates as ''Cinderella.''
A word of warning: wrap the cheeses well if you plan to pack them in your suitcase.
Patricia Harris and David Lyon also write the food and travel blog Hungry Travelers.
Photos by David Lyon for the Boston Globe.
Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October, which is Columbus Day for those on the south side of the border. That means no barrier in the calendar after Halloween before the long run-up to Christmas. In fact, when we stopped at La Baie in Montreal (or The Bay in English-speaking Canada), the interior of the department store that has evolved from the Hudson's Bay Company (established as a fur-trading monopoly in 1670) was fully decked for the holidays in all its glittery, sparkly glory. We were relieved that they were not yet playing Christmas carols. We can forgive them for rushing the season because the store has a gift for shoppers from other countries. Since the Canadian government no longer grants tax refunds to visitors for goods purchased in Canada, La Baie has taken it upon itself to offer visitors an automatic 15 percent discount on most purchases. In Montreal, the deal is only available at the flagship store in the downtown shopping district (585 rue Sainte-Catherine ouest). Visitors need only stop at the customer service desk on the main floor to pick up a card before they begin browsing. And, yes, we have to confess that we took advantage of the savings to start our Christmas shopping.
-- Patricia Harris & David Lyon
Photo by David Lyon for the Boston Globe
On March 21, 1910, 23 avid hikers (or trampers as they were called at the time) sat in a room in Burlington, Vt., and had the wacky idea to create the first long-distance hiking trail in America. The Green Mountains had been largely unappreciated, so James P. Taylor (1872-1949) made a promise that his group would "make the Vermont mountains play a larger part in the life of the people.'' They called their organization the Green Mountain Club and remarkably finished a 273-mile long route that snakes through the Green Mountains the entire length of the state. The high-country trail is a narrow, unforgiving footpath in the wilderness that winds through the finest greenery of this sylvan state. A century later, as our leisure time becomes more and more diminished through overwork and lack of vacation time, the Long Trail seems too long for most of us. Only 120 hikers took a month out of their life in 2009 to complete the entire route and become certified "end-to-enders'' by the Green Mountain Club. If you ever wanted to take advantage of James P. Taylor's dream, the centennial celebration would be a good time.
Posted by Steve Jermanok, Globe correspondent. Steve blogs daily at www.ActiveTravels.com
1936 photo taken at the top of Lincoln Gap courtesy of Green Mountain Club
Call it an App-titude for fishing. The new Maine Fishing Guide Google Earth application The Maine Fishing Guide, developed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife using Google Earth map software, identifies the location of specific fish species, lake water depths, public boat launches, local guides, sporting camps and fishing shops statewide. It will be updated periodically so anglers get the most up-to-date information.
Posted by Janet Mendelsohn, Globe correspondent
Our roundup of travel-related New England books in the Jan. 31, 2010, Travel section might have left the erroneous impression that regional publishers concentrated solely on grown-ups in 2009. Not so--the astute Commonwealth Books in Beverly has a line of children's books and launched several delightful titles for young readers last year. The ever-wry Sage Stossel (whose cartoons often brighten our day in the Globe) checks in with a find-the-animals book called On the Loose in Boston, in which Franklin Park Zoo animals pop up in the darndest places. In Hello, Boston, a board book for beginning readers, Martha Day Zschock whimsically follows a sightseeing duckling around town, while the same conceit works with a baby gull in Hello, Cape Cod. The same author also penned and painted the flight of a chickadee around the Pine Tree State in an earlier book, Journey Around Maine from A to Z. It's never too soon to start grooming young readers ... and young travelers.
Posted by Patricia Harris & David Lyon
Photo by David Lyon for the Boston Globe
A coat by Seattle designer Marylou Oxbolt-Storer.
Bostonians don?t have to go to Philadelphia to experience a premier contemporary crafts show. This weekend?s CraftBoston Holiday is in the same league as the Philadelphia Museum of Art?s annual juried crafts show. Ninety crafts artists, many of whom exhibit at the Philly show, descend on the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama in the South End tonight through Sunday (12/10-13).
Sponsored by the nonprofit Society of Arts and Crafts (175 Newbury St., Back Bay ), the festivities begin with tonight?s benefit preview where smart shoppers get first dibs on gorgeous objects and wearables. Among the finds are blown glass by Matt Seasholtz, jewelry and hollowware by New Hampshire metalsmith Paulette Werger, coats by Seattle designer Marylou Ozbolt-Storer, scarves by New Mexico weaver Susan Neal, and leather jackets by Iota of Kentucky.
If you can?t make the craft show, check out the Society?s year-round Newbury Street galleries for work by some of the show artists and other top American craftspeople. The upstairs gallery?s current exhibit, ?From Minimal to Bling? (through 1/3), features imaginative jewelry guaranteed to turn heads when you wear it.
CraftBoston Holiday Cyclorama, Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., South End, Boston. 617-266-1810. Dec. 10, 6-9 p.m., preview party, $50-$250 at the door (includes weekend admission). Show hours: Friday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Good-all-weekend admission $15, seniors $13, society members $12; ages 12 and under free.
Photo coutesy of CraftBoston
Here's a nice package at The Eliot Hotel. The Touch of Paris package includes one night lodging for two in a deluxe suite, dinner for two at Clio (presided over by James Beard award-winning chef Ken Oringer), and a bake-shop breakfast for two for $395.
The Eliot, situated on the corner of Massachusetts and Commonwealth avenues, is ideally located for shopping Newbury Street and the Prudential/Copley malls, strolling along Comm. Ave, or just poking around the city, thanks to a T stop one block away.
Bidding ends at 9 tonight for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail's online auction. Items range from guidebooks and guided fly-fishing trips to canoes and kayaks. Bid on gear, clothing, paddling accessories and outdoor necessities. It's a great opportunity to do your holiday shopping and support a good cause.