Be forewarned – this is a long, jam-packed post full of fun and adventure!
We left New Jersey and drove through New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island in to Massachusetts and are staying at a campsite in Middleboro, which will be our home base for the next 10 days or so. We are about an hour out of Boston.
Our first day trip was in to Boston by train, to walk the 2.5 miles of the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution. We downloaded an App so were able to follow the red brick lines throughout the city and listen to commentary along the way. It was a great way to tour at our own pace. We love the historic New England architecture and enjoyed wandering Beacon Street and around the city. We also spent a fair bit of time in the Boston Common, which is the oldest city park in the US, dating back to 1634, and it’s really nice.
There is so much history in Boston and it was pretty special for us to immerse ourselves in the past and connect with places we have only read about. John Hancock, Samuel Adams and of course, Paul Revere were such major influences in the American Revolution. Contrary to popular belief, Paul Revere did not actually shout the warning ‘The British are Coming!’ as most citizens still identified themselves as British. Rather, he warned ‘The Regulars are coming out!’ as he rode through the town. British Soldiers were known as Regulars.
One thing we wanted to do for sure in Boston was stop in at the Restaurant at the Omni Parker House Hotel – big surprise, our highlight revolved around food! This restaurant is famous for a few things. The earliest (1860’s) would be the chef’s creations of the Parker Dinner Rolls and the Boston Cream Pie 😁 which did not disappoint! The Boston Cream Pie was more like a delicate sponge cake with a thin layer of custard in the middle and oh so good!
The second interesting tidbit about this Hotel Restaurant, at table 40 in the corner by the window, is where JFK proposed to Jackie – so romantic 💕and yes, we totally had to have lunch at that particular table! This restaurant is also the place where JFK announced he would be running for the presidency.
What would a trip to Boston be without checking out Fenway Park and the Red Sox?!?! We hopped on the train again for an afternoon game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Boston lost, but it was still so fun to experience the charm of this historical ballpark.
After the game, we had no choice but to head for beers at the bar (sing along with us now) 🎶 🎵 Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came . . .🎵🎶 It’s really quite a tourist stop now, but it was fun to be there just the same. Cheers 🍻
Martha’s Vineyard has been on our bucket list for many years, and we finally made it a reality! 🎉 It was an early day as we drove to Hyannis to catch the ferry over to Oak Bluffs. It was so exciting to pass by the Kennedy Compound, even though it was a bit far away.
Martha’s Vineyard is an affluent, summer destination that is on an island accessible by boat or plane. There are several ferries a day, some passenger-only and some with vehicles. We weren’t able to get on the ferry with vehicles, so we took the passenger ferry and rented a little car on the other side.
What is Martha’s Vineyard famous for besides the luxury oceanfront summer homes, beautiful beaches and incredible scenery? Way before it became a top spot for Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, in the 1700’s it was a booming whaling village. Then (1820’s) it became a popular destination summer camp for Methodists and their revival meetings. A whole town was built with the massive revival tent as its center, and where tents once stood as accommodations, in 1859 they were replaced with adorable gingerbread cottages. These tiny houses are less than 1,000 square feet and sell today for over $500,000!
It’s also known for such things as the Chappaquiddick incident involving Ted Kennedy, the filming of the movie Jaws, the plane crash of John Kennedy Jr. just off the shores, and the burial spot of John Belushi. It is an extremely popular summer retreat for celebrities and the well-to-do.
The ocean scenery was beautiful and it was nice to see the Aquinnah Cliffs. We had watched a documentary about the Gayhead Lightouse on the cliffs (built 1799) and how it had it to be moved to avoid falling in to the sea. It was neat to see the footprint of the original lighthouse and the new location.
We absolutely fell in love with the charm of the little towns on the island and adored the architecture of the homes, some that date back to the 1600’s and were owned by boat captains. Our favourite town was Edgartown.
Another day trip and we drove a short distance to the Plimoth Plantation. This is a living, working experience of how life was for the Pilgrims and the Natives. The staff are dressed in period costume, playing roles and always stay ‘in character’. The Wampanoag Natives were burning out a log to make a canoe, which was cool to watch. The colonists were living daily life, working in the gardens, chiseling bench legs, cooking, and telling stories. They were quite entertaining and interesting.
It was with great anticipation we drove into Plymouth so we could finally gaze our eyes on the famous Plymouth Rock! The word ‘underwhelm’ pretty well sums it up, and the two words, ‘that’s it?’ describes it completely. We laughed so hard as we searched the horizon for what we thought we were looking for, a Rock of Gibraltar type landmark, but wandered up to a colossus with a sign in front of it stating – Plymouth Rock. All we could say was, ‘you’ve got to be kidding!’
Plymouth Rock is a 4 foot by 6 foot boulder that the Pilgrims may, or may not have set foot on, in a location that they may, or may not have landed in! There is no actual mention or written reference to setting foot on this rock by William Bradford and his fellow Mayflower passengers in 1620. But, in 1741, a descendant of one of the Pilgrims remembered a story that was told about the rock landing, and thus, we present to you, the Plymouth Rock!
All was not lost. Plymouth is a quaint oceanside town with a ton of fabulous seafood restaurants. We had the best lobster rolls so far!
Another day and another tour of another Vanderbilt summer cottage! The Breakers is in Newport, Rhode Island and is much smaller than the Biltmore Estate we toured in North Carolina. Only 70 rooms and 64,000 square feet, so it was very cozy 😉. The photo below is an aerial view taken off the web, just to give perspective and show the cliff trail along the ocean. The footprint of the house is one acre of the 14 acre property.
The cottage was completed in 1895 and was a favourite summer house for the family. It did feel much smaller than the last one we saw and much more comfortable, yet so luxurious and over-the-top, a true example of the ‘gilded age’. Our plan was to walk along the cliff trail to check out the other summer cottages along the coast, but it was pouring rain, cold and windy, so we just did the tour inside. Again, pictures do not do the craftsmanship and opulence justice. Needless to say, it was stunning!
Nantucket! We took the passenger ferry from Hyannis again, but this time to Nantucket. It was a fairly busy island and we can only imagine how hectic it gets in high season, which starts in the next week or so. It is such an adorable town with quaint shops and lots of restaurants.
This time, instead of renting a car, we rented a tandem bicycle to get around on! 😜 Thanks to Charles and the gang at Nantucket Bike Shop II for the fun set of wheels!
We followed a paved bike path out to the Sankaty Head Lighthouse and then into the cute village of Siasconset. It was about 20 miles round trip.
We didn’t have enough time on this beautiful little island and only saw a portion of it, but what we did see, we loved! Looks like we just have to come back!
Salem is another place we’ve always wanted to go. One of the most widely known aspects of Salem is its history of witchcraft trials. The infamous Salem Witch Trials began in 1692, started by some young girls stirring up trouble! 19 people were executed by hanging as a result of the false accusations; one man was even pressed to death (boulders placed on his body) for refusing to plead innocent or guilty, thus avoiding the noose and instead dying an innocent man. A year later, the girls confessed to their mischief and begged forgiveness. They were never prosecuted.
We toured the Salem Witch Museum, where we were transported back to 1692 to watch the trials unfold. We heard the testimony of the hysterical, mischievous girls, the suffering of the blameless victims and the decisions of the fanatical judges who sent innocent people to their deaths. Most of the ‘witches’ were women who were known as ‘healers’, which meant they used herbs and plants to help deal with sickness. Scary times!
So far on our trip, we have visited the birth and childhood homes of presidents and historical figures, so thought it was time to make it a bit more personal.😁 Our wonderful daughter-in-law, Hannah, was born in Massachusetts and lived in Billerica (which is just outside of Boston) from birth to the age of 6, until her family packed up and moved to Kelowna, BC, Canada 🇨🇦 We didn’t get a chance to tour inside the home, and are lucky we didn’t get arrested for stalking!
Happy Father’s Day!! First of all, Happy Father’s Day to my Dad, Joe, who is the best Dad a girl could ever hope for 🥰 and the best father-in-law a man could have! Love you Dad 💖
And, to Henry, you’re just the best 😘 Joseph is one lucky kid and I’m so thankful for you 💖
We’re huge Downton Abbey fans and even visited Highclere Castle (the real life Downton Abbey) in England, so when we found out that the Downton Abbey Experience would be in Boston, we got tickets right away!
There were exhibits for each different cast member, behind the scenes stories from different episodes, lots of costumes (including the wedding dresses Mary, Edith and Rose wore), and actual sets on display, such as Mr. Carson’s office, the dining room and kitchen! It was a fun way to spend a rainy Father’s Day and great anticipation for the movie coming out this fall.
We enjoyed our time in the Cape Cod area and, as hokey as it sounds, it really was a dream come true! Now we move on to explore more of New England and continue our search for more Clam Chowda and Lobsta Rolls!