A June 2005 trip
to Boston by Muchmor
Quote: We based ourselves just outside Boston in order to travel around New England. We managed to visit Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and other parts of Massachusetts.
We booked a one-bedroom queen suite, which consisted of a good-size living room with a dining table and two chairs. We also had a desk with a chair and high-speed Internet access available via both wireless and wired access. We did find that the speed of connection slowed considerably in the evening, when some of the business guests were logging in. You also get a full kitchen, which, although on the small side, was adequate. We had a full-size fridge with a freezer, sink, two electric rings for cooking, and all cutlery, plates, etc., supplied. We also had a coffeemaker and toaster. If you want, you can leave a shopping list with reception and the hotel will do all your shopping for you and even deliver it to your room and put it away for you if you are out.
Obviously, you also get a good-size bedroom with another TV, leading through to a vanity area, wardrobe, and a bathroom.
Although you have a kitchen, a buffet breakfast is also included in the price of your suite. This is served in the dining room on the ground floor, and choices included muffins, bread, toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausages, French toast, hash browns, fruit, yoghurt, etc. In the evenings, they also hold manager evenings where they serve specials, such as pasta, sandwiches, etc. One evening whilst we were there, they had a barbeque evening on the outside patio.
The hotel also has an indoor pool, gym, vending machines, and very friendly and helpful staff. We arrived at 11am, and check-in isn’t till 3pm, but they went out of their way to make a room available to us. I can definitely recommend this hotel for both the services available and the location for easy reach of the rest of New England. One word of note: The 901 is a toll road, costing between $1.40 and $2.20 to and from Boston, depending on which junction you join at. You can drive to Boston via Route 9 (non-toll), but this is very busy during the day and not worth the savings.
We paid $139 per night for our queen room.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 3, 2005
Marriott Residence Inn
400 Staples Dr.
Boston, Massachusetts 01702
We ate here when we visited the mall, as most of the other eating places were burger joints, which we did not fancy. Although I believe they have are a chain in the US, this is the first time we had come across one.
It was very busy whilst we were there, but we were served by very friendly and quick staff. The menu choice is huge including loads of pizza, pasta dishes, soups, and salads. We had to keep sending our server away, as we couldn’t make up our minds on what we wanted. In the end, I had a pasta dish, which looked and tasted fantastic. My husband had salad, which was huge and apparently tasted equally as great.
Although we were pretty full after our main course, we could not resist the dessert menu. I had a chocolate soufflé cake, which was wonderful. My husband had an apple crisp, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
I can definitely recommend this restaurant, as we enjoyed everything we ordered and had great service. You cannot ask for much more than this.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 1, 2005
California Pizza Kitchen
1245 Worcester Road
Natick, Massachusetts 01760
Attraction | "Natick Mall - MA"
The mall is very clean and easily navigated. They supply maps that will help you to find all the stores. It also has a small food court with places such as McDonald’s, China Max, Flamer's Charbroiled Hamburgers, Auntie Anne’s, Haagen Dazs, and Cajun Café, amongst others. There are other eateries within the mall, such as Friendly’s and California Pizza Company.
They are currently in the process of redeveloping the complex and will be adding new stores soon–not sure who, though.
We popped into the mall to do some quick shopping and found that we could get most of the things we wanted here. According to our hotel receptionist, it is the best mall within 100 miles of Framingham–not sure how true that is, as this radius covers Boston, but it is a decent mall.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 4, 2005
1245 Worcester Street
Natick, Massachusetts 01760-1553
Attraction | "Mohawk Trail - Massachusetts"
You travel through lots of little towns and villages and the scenery is lovely. We were there in the summer, so all the trees were green, but this must be lovely in the fall when the foliage is in full colour. There are several bridges you drive over with pretty rivers and streams underneath. It is also nice to see lots of New England homes along the route, which are quite different from any other properties. The churches are also lively in white, with tall spires peeking out of the trees.
At Charlemont there is a statue that you should stop off to take a look at. It is called "Hail to the Sunrise" – see pics attached. It is of a bronze Mohawk Indian lifting his arms up to the Great Spirit. This is memory of the Mohawk Indians.
Towards the end of the trail is a hairpin turn that offers great views over the surrounding trees and mountains. Take it slowly, though!
At Shelburne Falls there is a bridge covered in flowers called "The bridge of Flowers." At North Adams at the end of the trail you will find the Natural Bridge State Park. Here is a natural bridge of white marble that is easily reached and signposted at the end of the trail.
There are several routes you can take off the trail that are outlined in the Mohawk Trail guidebook. We did the Mt Greylock tour, which I will write about separately.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 6, 2005
Boston, Massachusetts 01247
Attraction | "Mount Greylock - Massachusetts"
The trail is along a winding, tree-lined, and narrow road. We were glad we had an SUV, although it is perfectly accessible by car. Whilst we were there, we encountered very little traffic, but I can imagine that on a busy day, this road can be pretty scary, as the sides of the road are sheer drops. There are a few stop-off points where you can park the car and enjoy the vistas.
Once at the top of the trail, it opens up to a car park and a monument with a visitors centre. You are 3,491 feet up and on the highest peak in Massachusetts. The visitor centre has a gift shop and information about the area, maps, etc. There are restrooms and a café that serves burgers, hot dogs, fries, drinks, etc.
The monument on top of the peak is called the Veterans War Memorial Tower, honouring the men and women who died during wars. You can climb the stairs of the 92-foot tower, and on a clear day you can see over 80 miles away.
We spent an hour of so up here, but you can spend many more hiking the trails, which are all around. The visitor centre also has lodging facilities if you need them.
It is worthwhile visiting this summit, and I would recommend that anyone in the area do it, especially if the weather is good, so you can see the extensive views.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 6, 2005
Mount Greylock State Reservation
Attraction | "Gillette Castle - Connecticut"
Gillette designed every part of this strange house, and you really have to see it to believe it. It is built overlooking the Connecticut River and looks at first sight like an old castle which is in the process of falling down, but it was built to look like this.
The external of the castle is built in grey stone and looks really unusual, but it is the interior that really makes you take a second look. There are 24 rooms in total, but not all are open to the public. You enter the property through the living room, which is a large room with a huge fireplace. There is a guide who begins the self-guided tour with a history of the castle and an overview of the man himself. It is very interesting.
After the living room, you go through the conservatory area and into other parts of the property. You can see into the bedrooms, which are quite small considering the size of the house, although most are en-suite, which must have been quite unusual when it was built. There are lots of doors throughout the house; they are made of oak, and every door is designed differently. You really need to pay attention to the doors and windows, as they are intriguing. This whole house is fascinating, and you end the tour in his art gallery.
The grounds of the castle are also open to the public, and they comprise of wooded areas, lakes, bridges, etc. There are nature trails you can hike and picnic areas. The visitors' centre is modern but built in a style that fits in with the rest of the property and has information about the house and nearby sights. The whole estate is now a state park, and I would definitely recommend that anyone in the area visit it. Even if you are not into looking around old houses, believe me, this is not just any old house!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 11, 2005
Gillette Castle State Park
67 River Road
East Haddam, Connecticut 06423
Attraction | "Mayflower II, Plymouth Rock MA"
Plymouth is a nice town which is dominated by the fact that the pilgrims first landed here in 1620. There are museums and shops and lots of the usual seaside places, but the Mayflower II is the place to visit.
We had to queue about half an hour to get onto the ship, and it wasn’t very busy, so on a busy day, I would guess you would have to queue a long time. One way around this is to pre-purchase your ticket on the web, which I would recommend. You can also buy tickets at the nearby (drive, not walk) Plimouth Plantation--joint tickets for both are available at either location.
You enter the area via a walkway which depicts the history of the Mayflower and the people who sailed on her. The conditions they travelled in were by today’s standards, appalling. They travelled for 65 days to get from the UK to America, landing first in Provincetown in Cape Cod on November 19th 1620. On December 21st a few of them reached Plymouth Rock and on December 26th the rest of the party joined them. Here you will see the type of food they had to eat, the cramped conditions the passengers and crew lived in and lots of other interesting facts. If like me you are from the UK, you will find a list of the 102 passengers and crew and where they originated, which I found interesting.
After this area, you get the chance to actually board the ship. The first thing that you notice is how small it is, compared with how many people are on board during the voyage. This is a full-scale replica of the original ship. You can walk around the ship at your leisure and can see the main deck, the captains’ cabin, the sleeping areas, storage areas etc. There are actors located throughout the area taking on the parts of the original crew. You can ask them questions and they will do their best to answer you – in old English speak.
I could not imagine spending one night on this ship, let alone 65 days travelling across the Atlantic. It is interesting to note that this replica ship has also made the journey across the Atlantic.
If you are in New England, you should spare an hour to visit the Mayflower II and possibly go onto the Plymouth Plantation too, which we did not.
Mayflower II at Plimoth Plantation
State Pier across from 74 Water Street
Attraction | "Marconi Beach - Cape Cod"
It is located about halfway up the end finger of the cape, south of Wellfleet and off highway 6. To get to it, you travel along a minor road, which then opens up to a fairly large car park. In the summer months, you have to pay a small fee to enter the area, although we were there at the end of June and it was still free then.
Before you get to the beach, there are bathroom facilities, showers etc. You have to walk along a short walkway and then down a set of steps to get to the beach, as it is located on a much lower level than the car park.
You will see from the pictures below that the beach is pretty wide and is a few miles long. There were quite a few people here when we visited, and most people seemed to congregate around the area immediately below the steps. By walking along the beach a few hundred yards, you could easily fine a nice quiet, private spot for yourself.
It is pretty windy here and is apparently popular with windsurfers, but there is a large sand bank at the rear of the beach, so if you position yourself right, the wind wouldn’t bother you, as you will be protected.
If you are in the area and are looking for a nice sandy beach, then this is as good a place as any.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 23, 2005
Off Route 6
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Attraction | "Provincetown - Cape Cod"
This is where the Pilgrims first landed in 1620, before moving onto Plymouth. There is a monument located in the centre of town called the Pilgrim Monument, which was built to honour the pilgrims. The monument is the tallest granite structure within the US and is 252 feet high. If you have a head for heights, you can climb the monument for a few dollars. The steps inside the monument are quite easy to climb, as they consist of about six steps, then a flat platform area, six steps, platform, etc. They are also reasonably wide, so even if someone is coming down as you are going up, there is plenty of passing space.
At the top, there are magnificent views of Provincetown and the surrounding area. They say that on a clear day, you can see as far as Boston. Whilst we were there, we had very good views of the cape, but I don’t believe we could see Boston! There are a few lighthouses in Provincetown, which you can see from the top. If you don’t mind heights, it is definitely worth the climb.
Also on the monument site is a shop and a museum. The museum shows details of the pilgrims and gives details of local heroes through the history of the area. There are drink vending machines and restrooms too.
The rest of Provincetown is a typical tourist beach area. There are lots of shops, restaurants, etc. It is also a very popular place for gay and lesbian activities.
Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum
High Pole Hill Road
Provincetown, Massachusetts 02657
Attraction | "Kancamagus Highway - White Mountains"
We started the journey in Conway and stopped off at the rangers’ station at the beginning of the highway to collect a map of the route and some brochures, etc. These info stations are located at each end of the route. It is worth asking the attendant where the best places to stop off are so you don’t miss anything.
Our first stop off was the Covered Bridge Campground. There is a large car park and a short walk to the covered bridge. This is a lovely spot, with the river running under the bridge, which as the name suggests is covered. Whilst we were there, there were very few people about and we wandered across the bridge and down the boulders to the river bank. We spent quite a while here, just basking in the sun and taking in the lovely scenery. If you travel this highway, do not miss this spot--it is beautiful.
Just a little further along the highway is the Lower Falls. Here there are some small waterfalls, and when we visited, there were quite a few people paddling in the water and sunbathing on the rocks.
There are quite a few campgrounds along the route if camping is your thing. Most of the other stop-off places are scenic views. We detoured off the main route and went up Bear Notch Road, as we had heard there were some good views here. There are three stop-off places, and they offer views of the surrounding tree-covered hills. Although we were there in June, I can imagine that this area is truly stunning during the fall foliage season.
We did not encounter very much in the way of traffic or people, but in the height of summer, or especially fall, it can be bumper-to-bumper traffic, so be warned. It is however, worth the trouble.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 23, 2005
Between Conway & Lincoln, NH
Attraction | "Flume Gorge - New Hampshire"
There is a large car park at the entrance, with a visitor centre, shop, restaurant, restrooms, etc. You start the walk at the rear of the visitor centre, and the first thing you come across is a beautiful covered bridge over the river that was built in 1886.
You then follow the trail to Rock Table. This is a large granite platform that the water flows over and is quite beautiful. It is 500 feet long and 75 feet wide.
The next section is the gorge itself. This is a very narrow section with the river flowing down the gorge and a series of walkways and steps guiding you over it. The noise the river produces is quite astounding. This is incredibly scenic, and most people were stopping frequently to take pictures. Towards the end of the gorge is the Avalanche Falls, which, again, is quite stunning and very loud.
You then walk along another section of the trail and through the forest to Liberty Gorge, which is a beautiful stream flowing through a valley. Just a bit farther on is another covered bridge leading to The Pool. This is an area that, again, is very pretty and is dominated by the covered bridge to one side, forest to the other, and huge 40-foot-deep pool at the bottom of the cliffs.
The final section of the walk takes you past enormous granite boulders that were brought here by glaciers over 25,000 years ago. Some weigh over 300 tons, and it is fascinating to see that the trees have grown round them. Some look as if the tree roots are hugging the boulders, holding them in place.
The walk is definitely not handicapped friendly, and I would not recommend parents to take strollers with them, as much of the walk is over rocky and forest paths. There are also lots of slippery steps in the gorge itself.
This place is stunning and is absolutely worth visiting. It took us about 1.5 hours to walk the route at a leisurely pace, stopping frequently to take photos. If you are anywhere near here, you must visit.
Franconia Notch State Park White Mountain National Forest
Lincoln, New Hampshire
Attraction | "York Beach - Maine"
We did not stop in the town itself, but followed the road to the lighthouse area. Here there is a large car park with shops, restaurants, etc., but the main attraction is the lighthouse.
From the car park, you can walk down to the rocky outcrop and have great views of the surrounding coast and the small rocky island just off the coast, on which is built the lighthouse. This is a really pretty spot, and we saw lots of paintings and photographs of this lighthouse in the galleries and shops in all the nearby areas. I am sure there is more to do here than sit on a rock looking at a lighthouse, but on a lovely day like we had, not much beats it!
Attraction | "Kittery Outlets - Maine"
There are 15 separate blocks along the route, and you can either do as we did and park centrally and then walk around them all, or you can drive to each and park. There are large car parks at each location, so it really depends on how energetic you feel and probably what the weather is like.
You will find all sorts of shops here, including fashion, sports, books, luggage, galleries, home furnishings, gifts--the list goes on. There are also some places to eat and drink, such as Starbucks, Burger King, McDonalds, seafood restaurants, and cafes.
There are definitely some bargains here, especially if, like us, you are from the UK, when even normally priced U.S. goods are half the price. Here they seem to be almost giving stuff away. Obviously, if you are American, then the savings may not seem so great – sorry!
Whilst we were here, it was incredibly hot, which made the walking around a little tiresome, but as I mentioned, you can drive between the blocks, so this need not be a problem.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 23, 2005
Kittery Premium Outlets
375 Us Route 1
Kittery, Maine 03904
Attraction | "Portland Observatory - Maine"
We parked in the multi-story car park at the ferry terminal and walked along the main coast road, Commercial Street. Here there are lots of shops, restaurants, views across the bay, and a very helpful tourist centre.
We did not have very much time here, so we decided to visit the Portland Observatory, which is located on Congress Street, about 5 blocks from the harbour. It is built like an inland lighthouse and is a very interesting building.
They offer walking tours of the building, which we did not feel was strictly necessary, as we could have done a self-guided tour just as easily. You do, however, get to ask lots of questions, and the guides are very knowledgeable about the observatory and the Portland area.
There are about six levels to the top, and you stop at each level to see artifacts relating to the building and see pictures of how it used to look, etc. The tour is very leisurely and not at all exhausting. With the tour, you find out why and how it was built and the history of how it was saved from wood beetles and renovated.
The views from the top are great, and you can see inland as far as the White Mountains in New Hampshire, across the harbour to all the local islands, and across the Atlantic
138 Congress Street
Portland, Maine 04101