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Best of New England Travel Lists   New England Hotel Getaways   Top New England Diners   Massachusetts Town Greens

An Insider's Guide to New England Travel, Vacation and Dining Out Tips


Read this locally-owned web site like a good book with New England travel stories and tips told straight-from-the-heart from a lifelong New Englander

If we had to choose one place, our favorite New England travel destination would be Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine.
A September sunrise at Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine.

Article, photos by Eric Hurwitz @newenglandinfo

Sections
The Best Of Visiting New England
Local Small Business Feature Stories - Dining Out, Shopping
Old School New England Memories
What Are The Six States of New England?

Eric Hurwitz, editor and publisher of VisitingNewEngland.Welcome to my New England travel, vacation and dining out site. I am Eric Hurwitz, publisher and editor of VisitingNewEngland and author of Massachusetts Town Greens. Consider me your local go-to guy for the best of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont road trip itineraries. I also write detailed feature stories on small businesses in New England that I highly recommend. 

We are one of the biggest New England travel web sites in the world with more than 1,500 articles to read on the main site and its blogs. Additionally for your benefit, we are blessed with incredible social media outreach -- approximately, 37,000 followers on Twitter, 20,000 on Pinterest, and 7,000 on Facebook.
The numbers are nice but, ultimately, I created this web site just for you. It's like the online version of close friends conversing about New England travel in a cozy living room by the fireplace.

A great and very underrated New England vacation destination: Downtown Newburyport, Mass.
Newburyport, Mass.

With 40+ years experience as a writer in the public and private sectors, I write stories straight-from-the-heart and from personal perspectives on New England vacation and travel. I do not need board approval for my stories, won't lift photos off other web sites to mass produce articles about places I've never been, and will never hold webinars to sell you information at outrageous prices on how to become a successful travel blogger.

I am not here to become wealthy but rather to provide you with a wealth of New England vacation and travel information. That's far more important to me than obsessing about demographics, data and metrics, or being a trendy influencer. It's all about New England on this site and nothing else!

Vermont Country Store, Weston, Vt.
Vermont Country Store, Weston, Vt.

Stories on VisitingNewEngland include those on lighthouses, country stores, coastal Maine, quaint small towns, ocean and lake beaches, fresh local seafood, and of course, delicious New England clam chowder. In another words, you'll be reading stories on what makes the six-state region so special and unique.

So, stay awhile to start planning your New England vacation and travel and enjoy the online journey!

The Best of New England


Sunapee Harbor, New Hampshire
Sunapee Harbor, N.H.
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Where do we begin with the best of New England travel and dining out? That's a tough call as one could spend a whole lifetime making new discoveries. With that said, here are some tips and suggestions, based on personal experiences, that we think you will love...

A winter look at the Longfellow's Wayside Inn District in Sudbury, Mass. | Autumn and its breathtaking fall foliage in New England | 19 heartwarming country stores to visit in New England | 34 cute small towns and cities that would look great in a Hallmark movie | Experiencing the 12 best lobster rolls in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut | 52 classic diners to love in New England | 48 great towns, cities, villages and regions in the six-state region | The best fall destinations in New England | Discovering 70+ beautiful town commons in Massachusetts | 23 seafood restaurants and clam shacks to enjoy in New England | The top 11 ice cream stands in New England | The 42 best family travel attractions in New England | The 6 best beaches in Maine | 30 essential things to do in Boston | The best outlet shopping in New England | Our 6 favorite places for fried clams in Greater Boston

New! Find local restaurants that cook without the use of questionable, highly processed oils

Important lodging travel tip: An idyllic location + outstanding accommodations = a truly memorable travel experience! That is the travel equation to follow -- it all adds up (pardon the pun)! Such places: Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe Vt. (Green Mountains) | Cliff House Resort & Spa, Cape Neddick, Maine (coastal waterfront) | Omni Mt. Washington Resort, Brettons Woods, N.H. (White Mountains year-round joy, winter skiing) | Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport, R.I. (ocean views right off the famous Cliff Walk) | Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham, Mass. (Cape Cod oceanfront bliss)

For clean, no-frills ocean view lodging at reasonable rates, we highly recommend The Grand View in York Beach, Maine. We love this place and enjoyed our 25th anniversary there!

What First Comes to My Mind When Thinking Of Visiting New England?

Sunrise at Plymouth Harbor, Massachusetts
Sunrise at Plymouth Harbor, Mass.

If conversing with you face-to-face, I wouldn't take 15 minutes to come up with an answer when asked about favorite New England vacation and travel destinations. Just like real conversation, I quickly yet thoughtfully came up with the following "my happy places" recommendations. Often, the first travel thoughts that come to mind are the best ones!

York Beach, Maine | Parker's Maple Barn, Mason, N.H. | Maine lobster and a 60+ item salad bar at Warren's Lobster House in Kittery, Maine | The Old Mill restaurant, Westminster, Mass. | Wickford Village, R.I. and West Brookfield, Mass. | Wolfeboro, N.H.| Nubble Lighthouse, York, Maine | The Old North Bridge, Concord, Mass. | Stonington Borough, Conn.| The Vermont Country Store, Weston, Vt. | Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield, Mass. | Summer at Cape Cod | Kennebunkport, Maine | Homemade breads at When Pigs Fly in Kittery, Maine | Newburyport, Mass. | Sunapee Harbor, N.H. | Newport, R.I. | Motif #1 Red Fish Shack in Rockport, Mass. | Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine | Coast Guard House restaurant, Narragansett, R.I. | Summer in Stowe, Vt. | Gillette Castle, East Haddam, Conn. | A bowl of lobster stew from DiMillo's On the Water, Portland, Maine | Cannolis from the North End of Boston | Lobster rolls and wild Maine blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream from Fox's Lobster House in York, Maine

Lobster roll from Fox's Lobster House, York, Maine
Lobster roll from Fox's in York, Maine.

There's also our hometown, Walpole, Mass. It's not a New England vacation destination but does showcase a nice local way of life with its quaint downtown, classic town common, seasonal community events, several ponds and parks.

Autumn in downtown Walpole, Mass.Downtown Walpole, Mass.

Small Business Destinations - Dining and Shopping

Supporting the great mom and pop businesses of New England

Making the apple cider doughnuts at The Common Man Roadside in Hooksett, N.H.
Making apple cider doughnuts at the Common Man Roadside, Hooksett, N.H.

Here's something you will never see on a New England travel blog: a dedicated section with stories on small businesses in New England! I love these small businesses and greatly believe in what they do. That is why I wrote about them. Now is more important than ever to tell the story on small businesses in America, and, specifically here, on local small businesses.

If you feel that your small business would be of interest to travelers in our region, please write to us. While we have a very selective process (only businesses I feel a connection to so I can write authentically and truthfully for our readers), I would love to hear your story and why your business is special. It's a win-win: I get to write about great small businesses and share it amongst our significant social media audience, while you help support my small business.


Here's what we have so far -- be sure to support these local business during your vacation or travels to our area...

1829 Country Store, Mansfield, Mass. - New England country store charm and authenticity can be found virtually every step of the way at this historic landmark location.

Mariano's Ristorante, Pepperell, Mass. -  Located near the New Hampshire border, this cozy, welcoming restaurant rivals the best of the North End of Boston with its delicious Italian cuisine.

The Common Man Roadside Millyard, Manchester, N.H. -  A relatively new restaurant located in Manchester's historic millyard district, The Common Man Roadside Millyard impresses us greatly with its rustic New Hampshire ambiance for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Sunnyside Gardens Floral Shop, Hopkinton, Mass. -- This is the ultimate small town floral shop that has been in business for generations. Nice to see pride of ownership and that local customer service touch.

Pickity Place, Mason, N.H. - Enjoy a delicious five-course gourmet meal in Little Red Riding Hood's Grandmother's House in the middle of the New Hampshire woods. Of course, there's a lot more to this place so you'll just have to read the full story!

Bull Run Restaurant, Shirley, Mass. - A historic restaurant dating back to Colonial times, the current version keeps getting better and better with its diverse menu for all budgets and a commitment to sourcing food locally. The old-fashioned traditional local ambiance is off-the-charts appealing here.

Port City Pretzels, Portsmouth, N.H. -- Life can take some unusual twists. This pretzel company's owner, fortunately, overcame many traumatic challenges en route to creating a truly special small business.

Alamo BBQ and Tequila Bar, Brookline, N.H. -- If looking for delicious Texas-style BBQ and atmosphere without going to Texas, this is your place.

The Juice Bar, Norwood, Mass. -- Owner Marci Pastorio, a hard-working immigrant from Brazil, has taken healthy drinks and food to the next level at her highly likable woman-owned business.

Len Libby Candies, Scarborough, Maine -- This famous candy house dates back to 1926 with its classic homemade chocolate and candy recipes wonderfully held intact. Len Libby is also home to Lenny the Moose, a lifelike-sized chocolate moose!

Sandy's Chill Spot, Bellingham, Mass. -- I love ice cream stands but especially hidden, off-the-beaten-path ice cream stands like Sandy's that serve a huge variety of soft and hard ice cream.

Jo's American Bistro, Newport, R.I. -- Located in one of the United States' great coastal vacation cities, Jo's American Bistro is my go-to restaurant in Newport. The quaint atmosphere, scratch cuisine and fabulous camaraderie amongst owner, staff and customers all add up to a highly likable dining experience. Try the lobster bisque and lobster carbonara first!

Jonathan's Ogunquit, Maine -- Owner Jonathan West bought his parents' home in the late 70s and transformed it into one of Maine's best, most famous restaurants. Jonathan is down-to-earth and loves bringing in food from his local farm. Jonathan's is our favorite restaurant in New England, Click on the link to find out why.

CRISP, Walpole, Mass. -- South Shore-style bar pizza has a strong local following and with good reason: It's deliciously addictive. CRISP does a fantastic job at creating these pies and, as an added bonus, features a case of yummy baked goods from the legendary Montillio's Bakery in Quincy.

DiMillo's On the Water, Portland, Maine
-- Housed in a huge car ferry, this waterside restaurant in business since the 1960s sources most of its seafood from within one-mile of the restaurant. Amazing seafood, incredible water views!

Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Mass. -- More than just an apple farm, the fourth-generation-owned Red Apple Farm also features a country store with baked goods (you've got to try the apple cider doughnuts) and a brew barn. Classic family destination spot!

Dining Room at the Newburyport Lighthouse, Newburyport, Mass. - This is the only lighthouse in the United States where you can dine at the top. The coastal views are incredible. It is the ultimate date night out, special occasion destination, New England style.

CRACK'D Kitchen and Coffee, Andover, Mass. --  My favorite place in Massachusetts for breakfast sandwiches. I love the sunny, welcoming nature of the eatery, as well.

The Common Man Roadside, Hooksett, N.H. -- These north and southbound highway service centers are unlike any you've ever seen in the six-state region. It's almost like The Common Man Roadside is like a destination en route to your destination.

Watson's Candies, Walpole, Mass. -- Watson's has been a Walpole staple since 1932. The handmade chocolates are to die for.

Beyond Full, Hopedale, Mass. -- This is the only restaurant in Massachusetts that we know of located in a town hall building. Mouthwatering burgers, over-the-top shakes and huge breakfasts highlight the menu.

Father's Kitchen & Taphouse, East Sandwich, Mass. -- We love Cape Cod restaurants that aren't overpriced, overhyped tourist traps. This local, welcoming and cozy restaurant and bar meets our criteria. Highly recommended: the humongous, tender fish sandwich. You'll never want the McDonald's version again!

Coast Guard House, Narragansett, R.I. -- Locally-caught seafood expertly prepared and presented and stunning coastal views from the indoor and outdoor dining areas make the Coast Guard House one of our go-to local restaurants.

CJ's Great West Grill, Manchester, N.H. -- This lively, spacious family-friendly restaurant incorporates  America's diverse, regional cuisine under one roof. It's all about the food here with a chef that really knows what she is doing.

Thwaites Market, Methuen, Mass. -- One hundred-plus-years old, Thwaites is best known for its incredible English Pork Pies. Some say the pies are tastier here than in England!

Cheesy Street Grill, Natick, Westborough Service Plazas (Massachusetts Turnpike) -- Love the grilled cheese sandwiches here, especially the ones with short rib. Our favorite place to eat on the Turnpike, by far.

Oliva's Market, Deli, Catering and Gourmet Gifts, Milford, Mass. -- This wonderful family-run dates back to the 1960s but never seems dated. They make all their homemade Italian meals, sandwiches and desserts with love as the main ingredient. It's like a taste of Boston's North End in the suburbs with the nicest, most genuine people happily serving regular and new customers.

Four Seas Ice Cream, Centerville, Mass. (Cape Cod) -- This iconic Cape Cod ice cream parlor has long served most yummy and sometimes unusual ice cream cones without cutting corners and going trendy with items like mix-ins. Four Seas make its ice cream in house, as well as its whipped cream. They also make a delicious lobster sandwich. Taylor Swift once enjoyed a cone here. So can you! My favorite flavors: the Cantaloupe and Strawberry -- the latter made in June with fresh strawberries brought from a farm just down the street.

Lobstah on a Roll, Boston, Mass. -- This no-frills storefront serves fresh, oversized lobster rolls -- one coming in at five ft. long with more than 16 lbs. of lobster meat!

Winfrey's Fudge and Chocolates, Rowley, Mass. -- If you love homemade fudge and chocolates, this should be your starting point. I took a private tour of the kitchen and it's amazing the detail they put into their premier-sourced ingredients and the final products. There's also a wonderful small business success story behind this close-knit family-owned and operated business.

Jasper White's Summer Shack, Cambridge, Mass. -- Imagine an updated seafood shack, open year-round, with every type of seafood that matters when it comes to New England dining. That would be the Summer Shack. For starters, try the pan roasted lobster, it is out-of-this-world great.

Country Kitchen Donuts, Millis and Walpole, Mass. -- There's something so endearing and lovable about a local doughnut shop. This is one of the best around.

Mike's Restaurant, Fairhaven, Mass. -- Mike's comes across as the restaurant version of a dear old friend -- loyal, comforting, warm in nature and always there for you. The chowder, local seafood and prime rib highlight the old school menu.

Thornes Marketplace, Northampton, Mass. -- A great mix of shops and places to eat proves that Main Street USA is still alive and well at this wonderfully re-purposed, historic building block.

Tessie's Bar & Kitchen, Walpole, Mass. -- We love the hometown vibe overlooking the quaint Walpole Town Green, the brick and baseball themes and the amazing grass-fed burgers.

The Whoo(pie) Wagon, Topsfield, Mass. -  Our favorite place for homemade whoopie pies. Incredible to think the beginnings of this business started at a home kitchen table and now they sell more than 18,000 whoopie pies a year!

When Pigs Fly Bakery and Pizzeria, Kittery, Maine -- This famous bread shop also features a full-service restaurant, serving some of the tastiest wood-fired pizza imaginable.

Carmella's Pizzeria, Middletown, R.I. -- Don't let the nondescript facade of this storefront fool you: Carmella's is a serious contender for best pizza we have tasted in New England. Owner Ken Martin gave up a career as a classically-trained French chef to create pizzas. He's never been happier in his career.

Parker's Pub, Wrentham, Mass. -- Another "don't judge a book by its cover" restaurant, this hidden gem serves comfort foods at its best -- and with an impressive drinks list, too. Chef T.J. is a master at creating familiar foods with a twist!

PZA Gourmet Pizza, Salem, Mass. -- PZA's pizzas look like something on the front cover of a food magazine. The pies aren't just not photogenic, however, they are beyond delicious to the taste buds.

P.J.'s Smoke "N" Grill, Medway, Mass. -- No need to head down south for authentic smoked foods. Owner Paul Rogers creates that culinary magic in this small Boston suburb. He is a student of the craft and clearly makes the Dean's List!

Flaky Crust Pies, Norton, Mass. -- This friendly mom and pop-style pie shop does sweet and savory pies better than those overhyped, media darling-type of bakeries that think they are really good.

Rosetta's Italian Restaurant, Canton, Mass. -- If every town and city had an Italian-American restaurant like Rosetta's... Thank you, owner, Carlo Gaita, for having served in the Marines and now, in retirement, serving us at your fantastic, homey little restaurant!

Reasons To Be Cheerful Ice Cream Parlor, West Concord, Mass. -- Great homemade ice cream and wonderful community atmosphere and outreach within a charming section of Concord. What's not to love?

Central House Tavern, Westborough, Mass. --  For those of you who love an unpretentious neighborhood restaurant with comfort foods done right, this is your place. If residing in Westborough, I'd be here at least a few times a week. Owner Dan Flood is a great guy and has really taken Central House to the next level.

Copper Door Restaurant, Bedford, N.H. -- Fine dining without being stuffy best describes the Copper Door. What a beautiful-looking restaurant with top-notch food and a salt-of-the-earth staff.

The Charred Oak Tavern, Middleboro, Mass. -- Fresh, local seafood, an impressive whiskey selection and a wonderfully comfortable atmosphere highlight the dining experience at this bustling downtown Middleboro restaurant. My favorite restaurant south of Boston, to date.

Summer Scoops at Osborne Nursery, Plainville, Mass. -- Here's a place where you can enjoy some yummy ice cream and also buy materials to improve your home. I'm not kidding.

Coastal Roasters, Tiverton, R.I. -- What a nice combination: freshly roasted coffee and coastal views. This quirky micro roaster constantly brings crowds in a space not much larger than your living and dining room.

Ken's N.Y. Style Deli and Brick Oven Pizzeria, Bedford, Mass. -- Imagine an eatery that is part diner, part pizzeria and part full-service restaurant. That is Ken's, one of my all-time favorite places to eat, locally.

Schoolhouse Ice Cream, Burlington, Mass. -- Burlington area residents can often be seen in the summer lining up for up to a half hour wait at this hometown ice cream parlor. Owner Rob Stanley and crew make all Schoolhouse's ice cream on the premises and the results are often spectacular. This is one of the great hidden ice cream places in New England -- many outside of Burlington don't even know about this gem. They should.

Red Heat Tavern, Bedford, Mass. -- A most unique cooking process adds incredible flavor to popular grilled foods at this lively, local chain restaurant that, by the way, doesn't act like a chain.

Arturo's Ristorante, Westborough, Mass. -- For those who want a taste of the North End of Boston, this suburban Boston and Worcester Italian restaurant goes far beyond expectations.

Simple Man Saloon, Clinton, Mass. -- Owner Jon Paige named his restaurant-bar-music venue after a Lynyrd Skynyrd song. It's more than just a name, though -- the Simple Man satisfies on so many levels. Jon is the epitome of a hard-working small business owner who finally found his career niche. We are blessed that he did.

Granfanallys, Salem, N.H. -- If you want to get into a New York pizza state of mind, this is your place. This roadside restaurant definitely ranks in my top five for best pizza in New England. They also happen to make an top-notch burger.

CabbyShack, Plymouth, Mass. -- This waterfront restaurant at Plymouth Harbor is best known for its thick, chock-full-of-clams New England clam chowder but the appeal goes far beyond that one menu item.

Providence GPub, Providence, R.I. -- You have to go underground to find this restaurant -- the descent is well worth the ascent to excellent comfort food cuisine and ambiance.

Hayward's Ice Cream Stand, Nashua, N.H. -- High butterfat content, proper storage (no freezer burn here) and creativity with flavors do indeed result in premium homemade ice cream. Hayward's is definitely on our best in New England ice cream list.

Pleasant Cafe, Roslindale (Boston neighborhood), Mass. -- My favorite old school Boston neighborhood restaurant. This unpretentious spot has undergone only one ownership change since 1937! Best known for its mouthwatering pizzas.

Winsmith MILL Market, Norwood, Mass. -- This impressive hidden gem in a sprawling former tannery building specializes in vendors selling shabby chic items and antiques. Be prepared to spend a full morning or afternoon at this maze of amazing merchandise.

Fred's Franks, Wakefield, Mass. -- Fred's Franks has no official address but this hot dog stand certainly addresses our quest for delicious hot dogs. The scenic lake views make the experience that much more pleasant. Owner Carl overcame a lot of adversity to find his career calling in life. Please check out the full story.

Cupcake Charlie's, Massachusetts and Rhode Island locations -- Cupcakes are no longer a trend but Cupcake Charlie's keeps thriving more now than ever. Why is that? Because they know that a great-tasting cupcake is timeless.

Woodman's Essex, Mass. -- The "birthplace of the fried clam" will make you happy as a clam. Located on appropriately-named Clam Highway, this multi-generation family-owned business continues to be the ultimate New England seafood shack.

KNEAD Doughnuts, Providence, R.I. -- KNEAD acts as the prototype on how to make a delicious homemade doughnut: Use a few simple natural ingredients, get creative but not weird in flavor choices and serve a large size instead of the shrunken, watery, artificial-tasting chain versions.

B.T.'s Smokehouse, Sturbridge, Mass. -- Many say B.T.'s makes the best BBQ foods in New England. I would concur. This no frills roadhouse restaurant is now the third most popular attraction in Sturbridge -- noteworthy, since they haven't been around that long.

Centerville Pie Company, Centerville, Mass. (Cape Cod) -- This humble little storefront turns out some of the best sweet and savory pies we tasted in New England. Oprah Winfrey reportedly loves the chicken pies here.

Normandy Farms Campground, Foxborough, Mass. -- Located between Boston and Providence, this campground takes camping to the next level. Take a look at some of the photos in the story for proof!

Cushman Market & Cafe, North Amherst, Mass. -- Clearly, special things happen when a former dentist and architect husband and wife team open up a quirky, off-the-beaten-path market and cafe.

Kelly's Roast Beef, Revere Beach, Mass. -- This legendary oceanside food stand dates back to 1951 and specializes in comfort food classics like heaping roast beef sandwiches, huge lobster rolls and amply-served whole fried clam plates.

Hager's Farm Market, Shelburne, Mass. -- Located in Western Massachusetts on Route 2's Mohawk Trail, it's all about shopping and buying local at this warm, welcoming family-owned and operated farm.

Mystic Sweets, Mystic, Conn. -- A master chocolatier brings sweet culinary offerings to this colorful, old-fashioned downtown Mystic candy and ice cream shop. My favorite mom and pop shop to visit in Mystic!

Anthi Frangiadis Associates, New Bedford, Mass. -- Art and architectural services highlight this downtown New Bedford small business. It's so nice to see such a talented person like Anthi bring together her career passions and community-oriented spirit for the public to experience.

Depot Street Tavern, Milford, Mass. -- Adams Hicks didn't like the food scene in his area so he decided to do something about it by opening his own restaurant. Lucky us, this tiny restaurant and bar comes up big-time with phenomenal comfort food offerings.

Kindles Wood-Fired Pizza, Marlborough, Mass. -- If calories were no issue, I'd feast on these Northern Italian-style wood-fired pizzas every day. Owner Dave Champeau has an uncanny knack for creating pizzas with true pizazz.

The Beach Plum, various New Hampshire locations -- The Beach Plum wonderfully brings together the essential New England food groups: lobster rolls, fried seafood, New England clam chowder and ice cream.

Beantown Pastrami, Boston, Mass.
-- This Boston food stand rivals the best of New York City pastrami, according to those in the know and me, as well!

Nashoba Pizza Restaurant, Ayer, Mass. -- For those who love old school pizza bar restaurants, it doesn't get any better than Nashoba Pizza. The pies are as good as ever and the neighborhood restaurant vibe remains authentically intact since its beginnings in the 1960s.

Main Streets Market & Cafe, Concord, Mass. -- Locals refer to the Main Streets Market & Cafe as the "Cheers of Concord." It's got a terrific community feel with some really nice indoor and outdoor dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Raven's Nest, Walpole, Mass. -- Owner Mark McAuliffe brings a taste and feel to The Raven's Nest, inspired by his favorite native Ireland pubs. Cozy, warm, inviting and with outstanding American contemporary and Irish menu offerings, The Raven's Nest has become a classic Main Street USA destination in quaint downtown Walpole.

The UXLocale, Uxbridge, Mass. -- This family-run business captures the local food flavors of New England within beautiful, rustic indoor and outdoor rural dining settings.


Warren's Lobster House, Kittery, Maine -- Fresh Maine lobster, a 60-plus item salad bar and water views has kept us more than happy upon each return through the years at Warren's. This is one of our all-time favorite seafood restaurants.

The Crafty Yankee, Lexington, Mass. -- Owner Kathy Fields has created the ultimate gift shop by showcasing local artisans' work for sale and giving so much back to the community.

The Abbey, Providence, R.I. -- In all my New England travels, I have not yet come across burgers as tasty as the ones served at The Abbey. Just writing about an Abbey burger makes my mouth water!

Barrett's Alehouse, West Bridgewater, Mass. -- A Cornell University grad owns this local chain of restaurants and certainly makes the Dean's List for food, atmosphere and service.

Snowdon Chalet, Londonderry, Vt. -- This pleasant, clean, attractive and affordable motel is located in a beautiful region of Vermont's Green Mountains with access to many attractions. Nice to stay at a place that doesn't break the bank.

Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield, Mass. -- Our go-to restaurant for traditional New England fare and ambiance. I love how they roast prime rib at the open hearth fireplaces and bake bread out of a historic beehive oven.

Wicked Whoopies, Freeport, Maine -- More than 20 varieties of yummy whoopie pies highlight this sunny, happy storefront across the street from the LL Bean flagship store. Truth be told, I like visiting Wicked Whoopies more than LL Bean!

Clyde's, Walpole, Mass. -- This fun family-friendly restaurant features a southwestern-style atmosphere and heaping portions of BBQ, smoked and fried foods, as well as excellent steaks, chicken and seafood dishes. They also make a surprisingly good pizza.

Steaming Tender, Palmer, Mass. -- Located in a former train depot designed by famed architect H.H. Richardson, Steaming Tender resonates with trip-back-in-time train station charm and a huge menu that has something for everyone. It's a memorable dining experience. Make sure to include it was part of your New England travel!

Nesting Gift Shop, Concord, Mass. -- This relaxed, laid back warm and peaceful gift shop jam packs wonderful gift items into charming small rooms.

Roundabout Diner, Portsmouth, N.H. -- Compared to many other regional diners, the Roundabout came into the picture much later but often outdoes its competition by taking its comfort foods to almost an art level. Clearly, there's a chef in the kitchen that is highly skilled.

Vanilla Bean Cafe, Pomfret, Conn. -- Scratch food, a casual coffeehouse-meets-tavern-vibe and top-notch entertainment highlight the breakfast, lunch and dining experience at this converted 1840s farmhouse located in one of the prettiest areas of southern New England.

Crescent Ridge Dairy Bar, Sharon, Mass. -- National Geographic Traveler twice named Crescent Ridge Dairy as one of the top ice cream stands in the world. They got that right.

Star Drive In, Taunton, Mass. -- Drive in-style restaurants are pretty much a thing of the past unless you count Sonic. We don't. The Star Drive In happily remains, to this very day, with its nostalgic, classic drive in look intact and an eye for timeless and 21st century comfort food preferences intact.

Jimmy's Pizzeria, East Walpole, Mass. -- A caring owner, hardworking staff, excellent pizza, calzones, subs and dinners, and a spotless kitchen and dining room elevate Jimmy's Pizzeria way beyond a standard house of pizza spot. Plus, they make the best Greek Salad since the days of the former Christo's in Brockton, in my humble opinion.

Rico's Pizzeria, Walpole, Mass. -- Rico's does pretty much everything well as a pizza and sub shop but what really puts them on the map is the BJ Wrap: a huge amount of chicken fingers, bacon, mozzarella, fries and a special sauce within a wrap. That menu item has become a local legend in Walpole.

Commonwealth BBQ, Wrentham, Mass. -- The folks at this drive-in style building turn out some of the best authentic BBQ cuisine we tried in New England.

Bliss  Restaurant, Attleboro, Mass. -- For those who love the ice cream restaurant concept from back in the day (the original Friendly's before they sold out, Brigham's, Bergson's, etc.), we think you'll love Bliss. The thing is, I think Bliss might be better than any of the aforementioned ice cream restaurants.

Putnam, Conn. -- This cool little community located in the "Quiet Corner of Connecticut" offers plenty of imperfectly perfect small town charm including a lively restaurant and antique shopping scene.

Kravings, Millis, Mass. -- The spelling is incorrect but the concept spot on. It's hard to imagine a more crave worthy comfort foods (burgers, pizza, fried seafood, club sandwiches, onion rings, etc.) restaurant than Kravings. They also serve some terrific Greek-style dishes.

Good Food Store & Deli, Walpole, Mass. -- Remember those local delis that made good old-fashioned sandwiches, as opposed to, say, those overpriced, pretentious gourmet deli places? You know, with the right kind of sandwich bread or roll and substantially-served meats and cheeses in between? And with responsive, friendly, quick service? The Good Food Store & Deli is that type of place.

Park Street Books & Toys, Medfield, Mass. -- Being the largest children's' bookstore could stand on its own as a successful small business but Park Street Books and Toys is so much more than that. Owner Jim James loves his job and happily reaches out to community in myriad ways. He and his staff prioritize superb, personable customer service. Combined with an impressive variety of children's' book and toys, Park Street Books & Toys is a must-visit store.

The Juice Mill, Bridgewater, Mass. --  Healthy juices highlight this upbeat, positive and customer service-oriented small business located in a quaint Massachusetts town center.

Ever So Humble Pie Company, Walpole, Mass. -- Residing in a former factory building by the Neponset River in East Walpole, this hidden pie shop serves some truly amazing sweets and savory pies, plus some of the best scones on the planet.

Planet Chrysler, Franklin, Mass. -- I normally don't write about New England car dealerships as most experiences have been lousy in one way or another. Planet Chrysler, however, is an exception. We found their sales and service to be exceptional.

Norwood Farmers Market, Norwood, Mass. -- Located at the idyllic Norwood Town Common, this farmers market pleases with its nice variety of vendors and the backdrop of a beautiful downtown with all its mom and pop shops and restaurants. What a nice place to be in the summer!

Eagle Brook Saloon, Norfolk, Mass. -- This restaurant looks out of place with its dusty western saloon look.  The Eagle Brook Saloon, however, turns out to be a family-friendly dining spot with a nice menu focusing on chicken, steak and seafood dishes. They also make a great bar pizza and chili -- the latter loaded with seasoned ground beef, a tasty tomato base and chips on the side. 

Al Mac's Diner, Fall River, Mass. -- One of the best diners in southern New England, Al Mac's holds onto its storied century-plus old foundation for success while meeting the needs of 21st century tastes. I love the old-fashioned classic diner look and feel of Al Mac's.

Muffin House Cafe, Medway and other Massachusetts locations -- If you remember the legendary Jordan Marsh department store blueberry muffins, then you will love the Muffin House Cafe's rendition. If not familiar with the Jordan Marsh blueberry muffins, you will still, most likely, regard these and others muffins at the Muffin House Cafe as some of the best in New England. Why can't all muffin places be this good? By far, the best muffins we have ever tasted -- including Jordan Marsh!

The Kayak Centre, Wickford Village, R.I. -- Simply put, this locally-owned and operated store in picturesque, coastal Wickford Village is the place to go for purchasing kayaks in southern New England, as well as for paddle boards, rentals, tours, instruction and outdoor gear and accessories. Wickford Village, by the way, is a great place to go kayaking.

Walpole Farmers Market, Walpole, Mass. -- Located by a brook and walking bridge in quaint downtown Walpole, the Walpole Farmers Market beams with small town pride and spirit and an ever-growing presence of vendors. Visiting this farmers market reminds one why Walpole is known as "The Friendly Town."

Napper Tandy's, Millis, Mass. -- This large, family-friendly Irish pub-style restaurant in downtown Millis pleases with its steak, chicken, seafood, pizza, Irish and healthy food options menu and a lively bar scene.

Ye Olde Tavern, West Brookfield, Mass. -- One of the oldest continuously operating taverns in the country (well, sort of, more on that is a second), the Ye Olde Tavern graces us with historic, charming traditional New England ambiance and an excellent comfort foods and drinks menu. The Ye Olde Tavern is actually temporarily closed as there has been a restaurant management change but will reopen very soon. Yay! 

Abbott's Frozen Custard, Needham, Mass. -- This legendary Rochester, N.Y-based frozen custard chain has expanded through the years into the Boston area with the Needham location being our favorite. Speaking from personal experience, the yummy frozen custard tastes are just as good here as in Rochester.

C&L Frosty, Sherborn, Mass. --  Such a happy place for ice cream and comfort foods. It's like going back in time to the neighborhood ice cream shop.

Memories of Boston and New England - Back in the Day

Yoken's Thar She Blows Restaurant, Danvers, Mass.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the people, places and things when growing up in New England. How about you? If so, please read on and enjoy reminiscing about the special memories at my blog, Old School Boston...

Green Ridge Turkey Farm, Nashua, N.H. | Hilltop Steak House, Saugus, Mass.| Boston TV Meteorologists from the 1970s | The Red Coach Grill | The Pewter PotEddie Andelman and the Sports Huddle | Mildred's Chowder House, Hyannis, Mass. | Willow Pond Kitchen, Concord, Mass. | Aku Aku, Cambridge, Mass. | Dana Hersey and The Movie Loft | Nick's Beef and Beer House, Cambridge, Mass. | Paragon Park, Nantasket Beach in Hull Mass. | Chadwick's Ice Cream, Lexington, Mass. | Dave Wong's China Sails | Fontaine's (with the spastic neon waving chicken sign), West Roxbury, Mass.

About the Six New England States

New England is located in the northeast corner of the United States of America and comprises six one-of-a-kind states -- tailor-made for instant travel memories. Connecticut resides to the south, Rhode Island southeast and Massachusetts situated north of those two states and under Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The region features beautiful mountains and hills, publicly-accessible coastline with sandy beaches, charming small towns, lively big cities, cultural and family attractions, country and general stores, sports teams (like the Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and Revolution) and plenty of historic towns greens and myriad other examples of remarkable historic preservation. Although we could go on and on about each state (and we do on our web site!), here are some examples of what we love about Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont...

Connecticut

Stonington Harbor, Conn.
Stonington Borough, Conn.

"The Nutmeg State" offers the best of both worlds -- that is, the fun of New England travel well as its proximity to New York City (not in New England). When thinking of Connecticut, picturesque coastal towns (Mystic, Madison, Stonington Borough, Old Saybrook, Guilford), Yale University, thin-crust pizza in New Haven, historic town commons, 41-acre Bushnell Park in Hartford, lobster rolls (top-split hot-dog bun stuffed with warm lobster tossed with a little melted butter), antique shopping, Mystic Aquarium and Seaport, Gilmore Girls-type Stars Hollows towns (many in the Litchfield Hills region), ocean beaches, farms and rolling hills (towards the northeast and northwest) come to mind.

Maine

Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park,, ME
Jordan Pond at Acadia National Park, Maine.

"The Pine Tree State" showcases rocky coast, memorable historic lighthouses, whoopie pies, salt water taffy, locally-caught lobster, wild blueberries, waterfront seafood restaurants, Acadia National Park where the ocean meets the mountains, postcard-perfect coastal towns with scenic harbors (Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, York Harbor, Northeast Harbor), refreshing mountain towns (Bethel, Rangeley), the thriving historic waterfront city of Portland, and the Stephen King House in Bangor.

Massachusetts

The Swan Boats of Boston, Massachusetts
The Swan Boats of Boston at the Public Garden, Boston, Mass.

"The Bay State" features Boston, known as "The Hub of the Universe". The 40-plus colleges and universities, several distinct neighborhoods, coastal presence, world-class museums, beloved sports teams that locals are endlessly loyal to and passionate about, and mix of modern and historical makes for a fascinating, highly cultural travel destination. Massachusetts does not end at Boston, however -- far from it. Cape Cod, Plymouth (where the pilgrims landed), the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts (home of the Tanglewood music venue in Lenox), the coastal bliss of the North and South Shores and cranberry bogs are just a few of the places that make "The Bay State" so special. New England clam chowder, baked cod, fried clams, Boston Cream Pie, and baked beans further add to the travel and food fun!

New Hampshire

Harrisville, N.H during autumn
Harrisville, N.H. during autumn.

The “Live Free or Die” state has just about everything you could ask for a New England vacation or day trip. The White Mountains feature many family attractions, places to hike, spectacular foliage during autumn (be sure to drive the famous Kancamagus Highway for leaf peeping), several ski destination opportunities in the winter and Mount Washington, the highest peak in New England at 6,288 ft. Lake Winnipesaukee offers refreshing lake town appeal in places like Meredith and Wolfeboro with their cute downtowns offering plenty of shopping and dining options to go along with water views and recreational opportunities. The coastline might be brief but is beautiful including the beaches of Rye, the honky tonk environs of Hampton Beach, the traditional feel of Newcastle and the bustling, picturesque small city of Portsmouth. Manchester has regained its presence as one of New England's greatest cities -- especially with the revitalization of the mills, as well as the resurgence of locally-owned shops and restaurants on Elm Street. Going southwest will bring you to the Currier and Ives-type communities in the Monadnock Region including Keene, Peterborough, Dublin, Hancock and Harrisville. The sight of Mount Monadnock is simply beautiful -- a New England must-see. It is also a great destination for hikers.

Rhode Island

Watch Hill Rhode Island at sunset.
Watch Hill, R.I. at sunset.

It is the smallest state in the country but Rhode Island (known as "The Ocean State" has more than 400 miles of coastline with a high concentration of publicly-accessible beaches -- some of the best in New England, actually. How to further get that special Rhode Island feeling: the elegant Newport mansions, the Newport Jazz Festival, Roger Williams Zoo, charming villages (like Wickford Village and Pawtuxet Village) local farms, great local diners and the ever-growing vibrant city of Providence (home of Brown University). Also, the FarmCoast towns like Tiverton and Little Compton shine with their mix of farmland and coastal scenery. On the food side of things, go for the stuffies (quahogs with a mix of breading and herbs), Rhode Island clam chowder (a clear soup with stewed tomatoes), coffee milk and johnnycakes!

Vermont

Stowe, Vermont in the summer.
At the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt.

"The Green Mountain State" might veer toward the left with its politics and way of life but it is right for everyone in terms of visiting or perhaps laying down roots. This scenic, welcoming state brings about travel joy with classic New England small towns (Stowe, Dorset, Grafton, Woodstock, Newfane), the thriving college city of Burlington with its beautiful Lake Champlain presence and pedestrian-friendly Church Street Marketplace consisting of 100-plus stores, restaurants, entertainment and seasonal events. Also, coming to mind: the small-town-meets-state-capital city vibe of Montpelier, dairy farms, ski destinations and other recreational opportunities like hiking and swimming destinations within the Green Mountains. Some famous, iconic businesses in Vermont include the Ben and Jerry's Factory in Waterbury, Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe and the Vermont Country Store in Weston. Local yumminess: maple on snow, Creemies (soft-serve ice cream), Vermont cheddar cheese, apple pie with cheddar cheese (it is surprisingly good!), apple cider donuts and maple baked beans. Yay!

Looking for budget travel ideas when visiting New England? Please check out my blog, The Cheap New England Traveler.

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Explore Massachusetts travel! Read the Massachusetts Town Greens book -- Discover New England's first travel attractions: town commons.


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All this, and blogs too! Also, please check out our authentic, informative and entertaining New England travel blogs with original content: The Thrifty New England Traveler (New England travel ideas on a budget), The New England Travel and Vacation Gazette (more original New England travel articles), and Old School Boston (warm memories of Boston and New England from back in the day).


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