"Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stuff I love...New England edition

If you have read this blog for even a day then you know I am from New England. Well, besides the New England Bloggers button on my sidebar being a dead giveaway, I am also quite frequently declaring my love of being a New Englander. To be specific, I am from Massachusetts. I have lived in the same city north of Boston my entire life. Sure there are things about New England, and MA in particular, that I complain about. But mostly I am a New Englander through and through and can't imagine living anywhere else. So, I want to share some of my favorite things about New England. You will find that my list will be very much filled with things having to do with New Hampshire, Maine, and Boston. Those are what I know and love the best. If you are looking for info on Vermont I am afraid there won't be much. I love Vermont, I just have not frequented it like I have NH and Maine. There will be even less about Rhode Island and Newyorkachusetts, I mean Connecticut. Just not as in to southern New England as much as I am northern New England.

1. The White Mountains of NH
Everyone that knows me knows my list would start with the White Mountains! I looooove it in this region of NH. I especially love the Kancamagus Highway and Franconia Notch areas. I love Lincoln and Woodstock. I love North Conway. I love swimming in the Pemigewasset River and Echo Lake. I love riding the tram to the top of Cannon or Wildcat Mountains to check out the fall colors from up above. I love camping in the woods (ok maybe not as much now as I did when I was in my teens and 20's...). There is just something about this whole area that brings me such peace. When we get there the first thing I do when I get out of the car is just breathe deep, taking in that fresh mountain air. I would have to do an entire separate post on all there is to see and do in this area.
2. Freeport, Maine and LL Bean
One of our favorite daytrips is to take a ride to Freeport, ME to visit the outlets and mostly LL Beans flagship store. Did you know that place is open 24/7/365?! It is! And Freeport is just such a quaint, walkable town. There is so much more to do than just shopping. There are museums and galleries, great restaurants serving quintessential Maine food, and within minutes of town outdoor activites abound: beaches, boating, swimming, hiking, golf, and so on. You didn't think LL Bean would set up shop in a big city, did you?

3. the southern Maine coast
Another favorite daytrip is to visit the towns along the southern Maine coast. We head up 95 north and usually start in Kennebunkport, then make our way south down coastal Rt. 1 through Wells, Ogunquit, York, Kittery and in to Portsmouth NH. We usually end the day over in Dover, NH at one of our favorite seafood restaurants, Newicks. Kennbunkport, home of George Bush, Sr and Barbara, has the cutest downtown area ringed with shops catering to all tastes and price levels. You can take sightseeing boat trips, or just wander down the side streets taking in the Maine architecture. Wells and Ogunquit are summer fun towns. Miles and miles of sandy beach, boardwalks and pavillions, mini golf and arcades, restaurants, bars, and ice cream shops, boat trips, nature preserves...so much to see and do. Get out and walk along the rocky shores for some fantastic scenery.  York is more of the same but with even more of a family, old time beachy feel. Stonewall Kitchen's flagship store is in York...you can stop there as you head out of town and head to Kittery to shop till you drop at the outlets.

4. Mohegan Sun casino and Mystic, CT
This will be the only CT entry on my list. If I have to go to CT I am usually heading to one of these two places. I am not a gambler but Mohegan Sun is fun! I will play the slots while I am there, and I have won, too! One day I will get brave and try a very cheap game of poker! My Dad's ears are probably ringing now...he loves poker. They have so much more than gambling at Mohegan, though...great venues for concerts and other shows, tons of shopping, fabulous restaurants, and an amazing spa. Mystic is just a place I love to go to walk around. It is a typical New England seaside town: fishing boats bobbing in the harbor, larger sightseeing vessels queuing up at the pier, shops and galleries, restaurants, a  wonderful aquarium, and museums rich with maritime history. And don't forget to stop at Mystic Pizza for a slice. Yes, it exists and it is the place the 1988 movie starring Julia Roberts in an early role was based on.

5. Lake Winnipesaukee in NH
Ahh, how I love Lake Winnipesaukee. My family spent many many summer vacations there when I was a child. Great memories. It is a tradition I wish we had kept up, but as the years went on more and more people discovered this pristine lake and resorts and million dollar vacation homes started sprouting up. There are still parts that are affordable and worth a visit. Laconia and Weirs Beach is great for families (or certain weeks during the year for bikers when thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts take over Laconia for Bike Week).

6. skiing in NH and Maine
Now to be fair, I have not skied in years. But I used to ski a lot, mostly in NH, but I did frequent some of the areas in Maine (mostly Sunday River) and VT (mostly Killington). I miss it. But if I tried it now I would kill myself. I have to get much healthier before I can attempt it again. And I will!!! These aren't the big mountains they enjoy out west but there are challenges and thrills nonetheless. I always particularly enjoyed Waterville Valley, Loon Mountain, and Wildcat Mountain.

7. Boston
What can I say? I long to be in the mountains more and more but part of my heart will always be in Boston. I love this city. It is on the smaller side, as far as major cities go, and very walkable. It is the best way to see it,  actually. Boston is so rich with history and culture. You can follow the Freedom Trail to immerse yourself in Boston's colonial past. There are so many museums dedicated to so many subjects, especially art. We have a vibrant theater district with Broadway and off-Broadway caliber shows. Three of our four major sports teams, the Bruins, Celtics, and Red Sox, have their homes in the heart of Boston. You can dine on any type of food you can think of, from casual to high end, indoors or out, on the water or high above the city, and every ethnic cuisine you can imagine is found here. We have high end Rodeo Drive style shopping on Newbury Street to the pushcarts hawking souvenirs in Faneuil Hall and everything in between. Boston is a college town (I went to school here) with schools ranging from small liberal arts institutions to the ivy-laden walls of Harvard and MIT, and Boston is rich with the intellectual diversity such a wide range of colleges and universities bring to a city.

8. Salem, MA
The home of the infamous witch trials of the 1600's. I have mixed feelings about Salem. It is the next town over from where I live so going there is no big deal. I have been there probably thousands of times in my life. And most of the city pretty much skeeves me out. But the period of the witch trials truly fascinates me. The area where most everything took place is fairly compact. The homes, churches, and other buildings in this area date way back to the 1600's. There are old graveyards (which I admit creep me out). There are museums dedicated to the witch hysteria. It really truly is all very interesting. But I think I take being able to go to those places for granted because they are so close to home.

9. Fall in New England
Like I even have to elaborate on this!!! It is all over my blog every year!!! And not just in October and November. My fanatic fall posts usually start in, oh, June or July! 

10. My beloved Brooksby Farm
Again, another subject that there is no need for me to further elaborate on. My fondness for this place is very well-documented on this blog!

11. Museum of Science
Yeah, this is a weird one for me because I never liked science or math subjects in school. Ever. And I still don't. Yet, I have always enjoyed the Museum of Science in Boston. I just always had so much fun there, even as an adult. In my opinion it one of Boston's museums that is a must see. But once I leave it still doesn't make me want to learn anything else about science... ;-)

12. fresh New England seafood
Preferably eaten in the rough, at a seaside lobster pound or clam shack.

13. Yankee Candle
There are Yankee Candle shops all over New England, one right here in the city I live in and one in the next town over. But nothing beats a day trip out to Yankee's flagship store and headquarters in S. Deerfield MA. It is about a 2.5 hour drive from where we live, but it is a scenic one. Most of the ride is heading west on Rt. 2 to the Mohawk Trail. 

14. Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place
Home of my beloved New England Patriots. Since Patriot Place opened a few years ago you don't even need game tickets to hang out here and have fun. You can watch the game at CBS Scene, visit the museum and see the Pats Super Bowl trophies, shop, see a movie, bowl...so much to see and do!

Believe it or not this is just a small fraction of the things about New England that I love!


Alyson (New England Living) said...

You really don't like Connecticut, do you? I live in rural Connecticut and I'll tell you, it is one of the most beautiful spots in all of New England. Here it seems like time has stood still. Though I love Boston and plan on moving to the south shore, most of the areas around Boston aren't nearly as quaint as the area of Connecticut that I live in.

~Kristen~ said...

Hi Alyson,

Admittedly, I have not been to rural CT. And I believe it is beautiful. Even if CT and RI are not my favorite of the New England states, there really is nowhere in this country...in my humble opinion :-)...as beautiful as New England!!! I hope I didn't offend you or hurt your feelings...I have just always loved northern New England, even as a kid.

Alyson (New England Living) said...

Hey, Kristen! I just emailed you back, but no you did not offend me at all! If you prefer northern New England, I totally get it. It's gorgeous up there! Just wanted to let you know there is some major beauty in rural Connecticut that most people don't even know is here. It's sort of our little secret. :) But living only 5 miles from the Mass border, I sort of feel more like I'm a Massachusettsite (is that even a word? :). The stereotypical view of Connecticut is the panhandle, which is really more like an extension of New York than a part of New England. Whereas most of us in northern Connecticut feel more like New Englanders.

Christa said...

I have done about 5 of those things...will have 6 done when we go to the White Mountians with you and Kevin in July! :) I LOVE Mystic, CT..the pizza is to DIE for:) I will have to write some of this other stuff down and do some of them this summer!:)

carma said...

you about have me convinced that I need to relocate. We are going to be spending a day in Boston this summer and I wish I had read your synopsis before booking the flights as it looks like we could easily enjoy a few days there...

Sandy said...

Great job!! You do need to add a chapter on little Rhode Island though. We may be little but we have lots going for us down here, too.