The Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston
The Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston will present a free family concert on June 1, 2013 in Weld Hall at the Hyde Park Branch of the Boston Public Library. The concert, entitled “The Sounds of Song and Dance“, will feature chamber music inspired by songs and dances from around the world with selections by Mozart and more.
The interactive program is for children of all ages and their families. There will also be an instrument “Petting Zoo” and demonstration after the performance in the Library’s outdoor Children’s Garden. Here kids will be allowed to touch and play orchestral instruments guided by members of the Chameleon Arts Ensemble.
The concert will be held at 2 PM on Saturday June 1, 2013. For more information see: FREE FAMILY CONCERT – The Sounds of Song and Dance. The Hyde Park Branch of the Boston Public Library is located at 35 Harvard Avenue in Hyde Park.
Picture credits: the picture of the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston is by Susan Wilson and is from their website.
Gay Head Light & the Cliffs in Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard
So you are thinking of a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard this summer. Here is a little information to help you out as you plan your trip.
How To Get There
While some do fly to Martha’s Vineyard, the most common way to get to the Island is by ferry. And of all of the ferry services to the Island, the boats of the Steamship Authority carry the most passengers to and from the Vineyard. During the summer they run boats to and from both Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs. The Steamship Authority is the only year-round service to the Vineyard. They are also the only way to get a car back and forth.
Other seasonal ferries running to the Island include:
Do You Need to Bring a Car?
The next question you need to answer is whether or not to bring your car. Keep in mind when making this decision that Martha’s Vineyard has excellent bus service making it relatively easy to reach most points on the Island. In addition, taxi service is plentiful. Bikes are also an excellent way to get around on the island. Cars can also be rented on-Island.
For me, if I were going over for a weekend or long weekend (2 to 4 days) I would definitely not take my car. Between the bus service and the taxis you can typically get anywhere you need to go, including the beach.
For a vacation of a week or two it would probably be nice to have a car. Plan your car reservation well in advance though, it gets harder to book car passage during the high season…
Where to Stay?
View from the Porch of the Harbor View Hotel
The answer of where to stay is probably driven the most by how long you intend to stay. For trips of a week or more it is probably best to think about renting a house.
For trips of a week or less you probably want to think of one of the Islands hotels or a nice Inn or Bed and Breakfast. The three largest hotels on the Island are the Mansion House in Vineyard Haven, the Wesley Hotel in Oak Bluffs, and the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown. Staying in one of these hotels puts your right in the middle of where the action is as these are the Island’s three most populous towns offering the greatest variety of things to do.
Both the Mansion House and Harbor View are open year-round. The Wesley is seasonal. There are also numerous quaint inns and B&B on island that provide wonderful accommodations.
For more lodging options see our Martha’s Vineyard lodging page.
As for physically where you want to be on island… Down-island has the largest towns (Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown) and the most to do. So if you want to be right in the “thick of things” you probably want to stay down-island. Up-island (West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah) is for those looking to get away from it all including at least some of the summer crowd. Up-island is more serene and quite but still beautiful and lots of fun.
When to Go?
So many different things happen during the summer on Martha’s Vineyard that it can be hard to decide when to go. There really is not a bad time to go but think about the following when trying to decide.
Want to Miss the Crowds?
For those of you without kids who may wish to miss the peak crowds, Memorial Day Weekend or Labor Day Weekend can be great for long weekend getaways to the Vineyard. If you want a week-long stay the period between Memorial Day and the weekend before the Fourth of July can be a great time to go – not very crowded, the weather and the water are warming up, and everything is open. Similarly, the weeks after Labor Day can be a great time to to get to the Island. The weather is still warm, the water is at its warmest, and the crowds are gone.
Taking In the Peak Season’s Big Events
4th of July Parade in Edgartown
For families with school-age children the season compresses somewhat and it is pretty difficult to miss peak season. But not to worry, peak season is very manageable and some truly great things happen during the summer that you will not want to miss. Some particularly good weeks to mark in your calendar include:
- Fourth of July Week – Try coming the week of the 4th of July. If you do you can take in the wonderful small-town 4th of July Parade in Edgartown and enjoy the fireworks over Edgartown Harbor. This is great fun for the whole family.
Grand Illumination in Oak Bluffs
Tisbury Street Fair Week – On July 8 the Town of Tisbury (Vineyard Haven) throws itself a birthday party known as the Tisbury Street Fair. Main Street is blocked off to traffic and vendors, food merchants, and entertainment fill the street. A great family event.
- The Middle of August – The biggest events, the biggest crowds, and the most fun all packed into one week. Typically the second full week of August you get three major events: Grand Illumination in Oak Bluffs, the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair in West Tisbury, and Fireworks at Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs. You want to take in this week at least once…
What to Do on Martha’s Vineyard
You’re on an island! Go to the beach. Enjoy all kinds of ocean-based water sports. There is plenty of fine dining. If you are looking for some Summer Island traditions then try out a few of these:
- For families with small children (10 and under) check out the Saturday morning plays put on by the Fabulists at the outdoor Vineyard Haven Amphitheater.
- Check out the annual Summer Artisans Festivals in West Tisbury that run all summer long.
- Take in the West Tisbury Farmers Market which happens every Saturday and Wednesday from 9 AM to noon all summer long.
- Enjoy some live theater at the Vineyard Playhouse in Vineyard Haven.
- Get down with the Vineyard Haven Band as they perform live band concerts on Sunday evenings alternating between Owen Park in Vineyard Haven and Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs.
- Participate in the community sing that happens every Wednesday evening in July and August at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs.
- Take in an event at the Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs.
- Ride the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs. It is the oldest platform carousel in the United States.
If you run out of things to do on Martha’s Vineyard your are not trying very hard… For more things to do see Martha’s Vineyard Things to Do.
With Mother’s Day fast approaching (May 12, 2013) it is time to start thinking about what you can do to make Mom feel special. Yes, breakfast in bed is a time honored tradition (that usually comes with the work of cleaning up the kitchen for Mom), and there is always a Mother’s Day brunch, lunch, or dinner… But how about doing something extra special and different? How about taking Mom to Cape Cod for a relaxing spa weekend? On Saturday Mom can get pampered while Dad takes the kids off to explore Cape Cod. The family can reconvene for dinner on Saturday, and a nice breakfast or brunch on Sunday followed by some family exploring of the Cape.
Sounds like great fun for the whole family and what a way to make Mom feel special…
To help you plan such a memorable getaway, here are a few select resort / spa destinations on Cape Cod:
Cape Codder Resort & Spa
1225 Iyannough Road
Hyannis, MA 02601
The Cape Codder Resort & Spa is located in the beautiful Cape Cod community of Hyannis. They have a wonderful spa to pamper Mom that offers massages, body treatments, facials, hair salon, waxing services, spray tanning, and much more. In addition they have an indoor wave pool and heated outdoor year-round pool that would be great fun for the entire family.
Some notable attractions in Hyannis for Dad and the kids include the Cape Cod Maritime Museum, the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, and the Toad Hall Classic Sports Car Collection.
The resort will also be serving a special Mother’s Day buffet from 10:30 AM to 3 PM.
Dan’l Webster Inn & Spa
149 Main Street
Historic Sandwich Village, MA 02563
The Dan’l Webster Inn & Spa has 48 exquisitely furnished guest rooms and suites, some suite with fireplaces and whirlpools. To pamper Mom there is the Beach Plum Spa that offers massages, body treatments, facials, hair salon, waxing services, spray tanning, and much more. They even offer services for kids including parent & child massages.
Located in the beautiful Cape Cod community of Sandwich, the Inn is an ideal location from which to explore the Cape for Dad and the kids. You may want to consider checking out Heritage Museum and Gardens with its antique wooden carousel or the Sandwich Glass Museum, both of which are conveniently located close by in Sandwich.
They also have a special Mother’s Day Menu that will be served from 11:30 AM to 6 PM on Mother’s Day.
Red Jacket Beach Resort
1 South Shore Drive
South Yarmouth, MA 02664
Located on a beautiful private ocean beach in South Yarmouth, the 148 room Red Jacket Beach Resort is a perfect Mother’s Day getaway destination. For Mom there is the Spa at Red Jacket Beach. Services they offer include massage therapies, body therapies, facials, nails, and waxing. They even have services for kids. In addition, the resort has a large heated indoor pool as well as two heated outdoor pools. They even have some pet-friendly rooms if you truly want to bring the “whole” family…
Yarmouth is a wonderful location from which to explore the Cape for Dad and the kids (if you can ever get them out of the pool…).
So think about making Mom feel extra special this Mother’s Day with a great family weekend getaway to Cape Cod.
Begun in 1929, the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System is a statewide trail system that today extends to over 825 miles of trails in 88 Connecticut communities. The trail system was established by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association and is maintained by volunteers who annually contribute about 15,000 hours of their time to maintain the trails. The trails are administered by a full-time Trail Stewardship Director and 100 volunteer Trail Managers.
Most of the trails are on private land. The trail system is not one contiguous trail system, but rather a series of trails throughout Connecticut.
One of the trails, the MMM Trail (Metacomet Monadnock Mattabesett), officially became a National Scenic Trail in 2009 and is now known as the “New England Trail“. The trail extends for 215 miles through 39 cities and towns in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The Metacomet and Mattabesett Trails have been maintained as Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails while volunteers of the Appalachian Mountain Club (Berkshire Chapter) have maintained the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail. Both organizations continue their stewardship of the trail.
To learn more about the location of Connecticut Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System trails see the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System Map. You may also want to check out their Tails from the Trails YouTube channel.
With warm spring weather in abundance, now is a great time to get out exploring this wonderful public hiking resource.
The Boston Early Music Festival has announced the full schedule for their upcoming 2013 Festival and Exhibition which is entitled Youth: Genius and Folly. The Festival and Exhibition will run from June 9 to June 16, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. This is the 17th international Festival and Exhibition.
The 2013 Festival features:
- Two exciting opera productions.
- 16 concerts showcasing the finest artists in the field today. The concerts are held at the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall and the Emmanuel Church in Boston.
- Two Mini-Festivals: an Organ Mini-Festival on June 13, 2013 at The First Lutheran Church of Boston; and a Keyboard Mini-Festival on June 14, 2013 at the Remis Auditorium in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
- The world-famous Exhibition which is the premier early music trade show in North America. The Exhibition is host to tradespeople from across the globe, showcasing top makers of period instruments and schools of music, performers, publishers, recording and CD companies, and more. Be sure to check out the Exhibition’s Family Day on Saturday, June 15 where children and parents can enjoy an tour of the Exhibition’s instrument-makers and attend an interactive presentation. The Exhibition is at the Revere Hotel in Boston.
- Fringe concerts at various venues in downtown Boston.
This festival is world famous and not to be missed. The The Times in London calls the festival “The world’s leading festival of early music”. BBC3 says it is “Arguably the most important and influential Early Music event in the world.” You should follow the advice of the New York Times who say “If you are interested in early music, this is the place to be.“
Old Sturbridge Village interpreter and child in 1830s-style dress
It’s never too early to start thinking about what to do for Mom on Mother’s Day… Mother’s Day this year falls on Sunday, May 12, 2013. On that day Old Sturbridge Village will let moms in for free. The first 200 moms will also receive a free gift – a tin star made in the Village Tin Shop.
Highlights for Mother’s Day at Old Sturbridge Village include:
- A tug-of-war pitting moms against kids
- Crafts to let kids make Mother’s Day gifts
- Voting for the “best mother in history” from a list of mothers of famous children
- Learn about 19th century parenting and childbirth practices
- Mother’s Day Brunch at the museum’s Oliver Wight Tavern (reservations required)
- A chance to see the exhibit, A Child’s World: Childhood in 19th-Century New England which is only there until Memorial Day
To learn more see: Mother’s Day.
This should be great fun for the entire family so mark your calendars and treat Mom to a day at Old Sturbridge Village.
Lake Champlain International (LCI), a non-profit actively involved in fisheries and conservation issues, hosts several major fishing derbies on Lake Champlain. For 2013 they have three major derbies queued up for your fishing fun:
- Father’s Day Fishing Derby – This year will be LCI’s 32nd annual Father’s Day Fishing Derby. The derby will run from Saturday, June 15, 2013 through 4:00 PM, Monday, June 17, 2013. There are three divisions – cold water, cool water, and warm water – allowing you to catch: Atlantic Salmon/Steelhead, Brown Trout, Lake Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, Bowfin, Catfish, and Sheepshead. Minimum length rules apply. This derby is a based on a cumulative points system.
- LCI Champlain Basin Derby – 2013 is the first year for the LCI Champlain Basin Derby. This is a season-long derby that started on April 13, 2013 and runs through March 31, 2014. There are cash prices for 15 species of fish, including: Bowfin, Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Carp, Channel catfish, Lake Trout, Landlocked Salmon, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Rainbow Trout, Sheepshead, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, White Perch, and Yellow Perch. Minimum length rules apply. This derby is based on the largest fish caught. This derby includes any public body of water within the US boundaries of the Lake Champlain Basin (PDF). This is a largest fish (by weight) derby.
- LCI Evinrude Fox Marine Bass Open – 2014 marks the 14th LCI Bass Open. As the name would apply, this one-day derby is all about Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass. Over $3,000 in prize money is on the line. The Bass Open will be held on Sunday, September 1, 2013 in in Malletts Bay in Colchester, Vermont. Come out for this derby to experience why Outdoor Life magazine calls Lake Champlain “one of the best bass fishing destinations in the country”.
Sounds like some great fishing fun is on-tap for 2013 on Lake Champlain.
If you need a place to stay while fishing Lake Champlain check out our lodging directory: Vermont Lodging.
There’s just something about a good diner that makes you feel linked in common experience to generations that came before. They have a feel of permanence to them, like they’ve always been there and they always will be. Perhaps it is that permanence that makes them feel so homey.
With diners, you generally know what you’re going to get: a traditional Americana menu, friendly service and homemade slices of pie. New Englanders are fortunate, then, to have so many traditional diners nearby. If you’re traveling to, or a resident of New England, visit these diners for a delicious slice of yesteryear.
167 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT 06897
Orem’s Diner in Wilton, Connecticut has been around for a long time — since 1921! In their near-century of operation, the Orem’s folks have accumulated invaluable culinary wisdom, and a certain importance to the community. “It’s where Wilton happens”, says their website, proudly. It’s a status that Orem’s has earned.
First, there’s the menu: it has everything, any time. From broiled center-cut pork chops, to seafood, to blueberry pancakes. The portions are generous (or as one customer puts it, “diner food on steroids.”) Then there’s a staff renowned for its attention to detail, friendliness and efficiency. Throw in a great atmosphere in a setting that feels like a diner should, and you’re left with a top-to-bottom complete dining experience.
Sundays are especially crowded, so get there early, especially with large parties.
3 Bridge Street
Gardiner, ME 04345
The classic A1 Diner has been a Gardiner staple since 1946, and has received a ton of accolades recently, gracing the cover of Maine magazine, as well as being featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
Part of its allure is the look. It’s a retro-styled dinner car, complete with chrome, flower boxes, and a neat, hanging sign. The menu is a proverbial survey of traditional diner food: all-day breakfast, over 20 sandwiches on the lunch menu, and an Americana menu with fried liver, Maine fried clams, and New England pot roast along with veggie options.
A1 Diner is open 7am-8pm Monday through, 7am-8:30pm on Friday and Saturday, and an abbreviated 8am to 1pm on Sundays.
61 Laconia Road
Tilton, NH 03276
Tilt’n Diner is a laid back, 50′s-styled diner that faithfully recreates the look and feel of that era. With its pink exterior and the vintage red script “Tilt’n Diner” above the entrance, its resemblance to the diners from the James Dean era is truly striking.
The food is great too, something Tilt’n has gained national notoriety for. It’s been tagged a “must stop” on the New Hampshire Presidential Primary campaign trail by The Associated Press. They offer no nonsense dishes like Baked Shepard’s Pie, meatloaf, steak, and liver, but also a number of salads, five seafood dishes, a full breakfast menu, sandwiches, burgers, and 12 different deserts. That’s a lot of food, folks.
943 Shawmut Avenue
New Bedford, MA
The Shawmut Diner is an old converted dinner car that is on the National Register of Historic Places, but still produces some of the best diner food in Massachusetts. As with the Tilt’n Diner, Shawmut has a massive menu. Honestly, where do they store all of this food when they’re so tiny? It boggles the mind.
They follow a simple formula: delicious, flavor-rich food in enormous portions for surprisingly low prices. Sometimes not changing things is a brilliant plan.
5929 Rt 30 W. Townshend, VT 05353
Giggle, it’s OK. The Dam Diner folks know all the jokes. Heck, they probably came up with half of them. Kind of like the delicious “Double-Dam”, which includes a healthy portion of ham/bacon/sausage egg and cheese with home fries. The Dam Diner serves flavor-packed traditional diner food with gregariousness and zeal… and puns.
Everything is home-cooked, from the French toast to the roast beef. Not surprisingly, the quality is superb, and that’s why it’s normally crowded with locals.
Curiously, the diner is closed on Tuesdays (I’ll be dammed) but is otherwise open from 5am through 8pm. The Dam Diner is a cash only establishment, but if you forget, you can always swing by the dam ATM.
Standing Out By Being Traditional
Many New England diners have continuously operated for over 50 years, becoming social pillars of their communities. Their booths and barstools are where gossip happens, where business is done, where problems are solved, and jokes are cracked. Generations of people have likely unwittingly sat in the same seat and eaten the same meal that their fathers and mothers ate decades before. Time goes by, but diners are constant.
If you’re near any of these New England diners, stop in. You’ll eat home cooked food, chat it up with your server, and leave with a full stomach and a smile, just like a million people before you.
About the Author
Jeffrey Ferraro is a travel expert and enthusiast. He is the Director of Marketing of Diamond Tours, the leading provider of charter group motorcoach tours in the US and Canada, including several New England bus tours which you can learn more about here: http://diamondtours.com/Category/New-England-Bus-Tours. Jeffrey loves uncovering lesser known travel destinations and sharing them with his customers.
Photo credits: The picture of the A1 Diner is by Steve Frenkel and is from flickr. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license. The picture of the Tilton Diner is by Gail Frederick and is from flickr. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. the Picture of the Shawmut Diner is by Elizabeth Thomsen and is from flickr. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.
It has taken me the best part of a day and half to be able to sit down and write this. I have gone through alternating waves of shock, horror, disbelief, outrage, anger, sadness and just a general sick feeling all the way to my core… How could someone bomb the Boston Marathon and hurt and kill so many? There will never be a good answer to that question.
As is probably true of many of you who live in the greater Boston area I have received many queries making sure that “everyone is okay” (Thankfully – yes, my wife who works in the old Hancock building was working from home in Southborough that day, I was out of town, as was my son). They all express their horror that something like this happened so close to where we live.
Yes, this was very “close to home“. But how do you convey to them that this is so much more than close to home. The Boston Marathon is Boston’s oldest sports tradition – yes, older than the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park. The Marathon is part of our collective culture and psyche just as the Twin Towers were the embodiment of New York City.
How many of us who live in the Boston area have gone to the race route at least once to cheer on the runners? I can remember the race going up Comm. Ave. every year during my four years at BC. I remember watching from Wellesley when my wife, then my girl friend, was renting a house along the race route. I can remember taking my son when he was young to see the race in Framingham. In Boston and the Metro-West area we literally grow up with the Marathon.
How many of us know somebody who has run the race? How we marvel at the sacrifice and dedication that go into training for the race by people who “just want to finish”. “Running Boston” is an amazing accomplishment that so many count among their greatest life achievements even if they run without a number and it takes them six hours to finish.
The Boston Marathon is so much more than a race. This is so much more than simply “close to home”. How many of us who were no where near the race route felt as if we had been punched in the gut on Monday afternoon? How many of us have been trying to fight back tears ever since Monday and every time we read or watch the news? How many of us cannot find words to express the sense of loss we are feeling?
So where does this leave us?
The Boston Marathon has always been about hope, strength, and accomplishment. Set in the early spring when the flowers are starting to bloom and the trees are budding, the Marathon is a symbol of renewal and rebirth. It is a celebration of all that is great in the human spirit. It is a time when hundreds of thousands of people come together to encourage people they have never met to accomplish something remarkable.
At Travel New England it is our hope that these things that the Marathon symbolizes, the very things that the victims of this tragic crime were there to celebrate, will help to give the victims and their families the strength to overcome their injuries and their loss. Our hearts and our prayers go out to you…
For me, I know where I will be on Patriots Day 2014. I will be somewhere along the race route to honor the families and the victims, to cheer on the runners, and to celebrate something that is so much more than just a race.
New England travel has already seen some impact from the Federal sequester. You may have read with some minor or passing interest that both the Air Force Thunderbirds and and the Navy’s Blue Angels would not be flying at air shows this summer. Well the immediate fall out of that and other sequester cuts is that two of the three air shows that were to have happened in New England this summer have been cancelled. Both the 2013 Great State of Maine Air Show and the Rhode Island National Guard Open House have been cancelled as a result.
What else can happen? Well the National Park Service is not immune to the cuts. They have already stated that they expect to hire fewer seasonal workers, close some visitor centers, furlough park police, and postpone park maintenance work. How does that impact us in New England? Two of the Park Service’s most popular properties are here in New England – Acadia National Park and the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Impacts at Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is dealing with a $390,000 budget cut. Because of this the Park Loop Road and the Hulls Cove Visitor Center will open on May 19, 2013. They would have opened on April 15, 2013 before the sequester. In addition, the number of free ranger-led programs will be reduced by 30 per week. The Park will also do without hiring several open positions.
Impacts at the Cape Cod National Seashore
The Cape Cod National Seashore is also facing a sizable budget cut of $376,000. They are contemplating closing the Province Lands Visitor Center and will forgo 24 seasonal workers.
More Impacts to Follow?
This is still an evolving situation and could just be the tip of the iceberg. The Park Service runs numerous other properties throughout New England, and don’t forget that the USDA Forest Service runs the Green Mountain National Forest and the White Mountain National Forest. So it is very likely that other impacts will become evident in the near future.