Opinions, please: best long weekend destination with best food
We want to enjoy a long weekend in New England this fall and are looking for the area with the best scenery and outdoor activities (preferably hiking and mountain biking) AND the best food. We need the real scoop from you native New Englanders. Where should we go, and what should we eat there? We love good food of every kind, so no limitations there. Suggestions?
I don't know the outdoor activities associated with these places, but they're definitely worth the trip for food and are scenic spots in their own right: Portland ME, Portsmouth NH, Northampton MA, Burlington VT.
Kennebunkport has both the White Barn Inn and the Cape Arundel Inn. Both serve outstanding food.
I am a bit partial to Portsmouth because I live here. Fantastic food, killer mt biking within 20 minutes and less than 2 hrs from the white mts. The seacoast is great in the fall and Porstmouth has awesome restos. Conway/Norht Conway may be a good bet as well. SOme good restos (not as many as Portsmouth) and of course there are some great hikes and rides. Check out www.mtbr.com for some good rides- Read Tail and the Moats/Mineral Site in N. Conway and Ft Rock, Mt A (in southern Maine), FOMBA in the seacoast area.
Anneke Jans in Kittery, just over the bridge- great french bistro, locals joint..
Lindburghs Crossing.. antoher french-ish bistro, w/north african and new england twist, great!... sit upstaris in the wine bar..
Old Ferry Landing.. fried seafood and the famous Jimmy Juice on the decks overlooking the tugboats...
Flatbread for awesome all natural pizza, great healthy salads w/ blue or goat cheese and a small wine list and microbrews..
New place Popovers, great looking deserts, wines/ports and tapas with outdoor seating in Market square- looks good havent been yet...
we have all sorts of hiking and beautiful scenery with the fall colors!
and FOOD...tasty food.
if i was coming from out of town, i would stay at the EGREMONT INN in south egremont mass. it is very nice and charming and the owners are GREAT. they have a huge wrap-around porch out front. they have a cozy restaurant too with really good food.
in the same town, is my favorite restaurant JOHN ANDREWS which has absolutely delicious food. and another place still in this same tiny town, is another restaurant called THE OLD MILL that has an excellent bar area. very cozy & warm w/ fireplace.
just outside of town is great barrington, and they have many restaurants. american, sushi, mexican, thai, chinese, italian, brew-pubs...
come to the berkshires!
Camden/Rockport area ..........stay at Glenmoor by the Sea unless you are looking for more upscale, then maybe Hartstone Inn or Inn at Sunrise Point..........eat at Francine Bistro; WhiteHall Inn; Atlantica; Fitz's Cafe; Waterman's Lobster Shack in Thomaston, Primo in Rockland.........hike Mount Battie.
These are some good ideas. I'll second Glenmoor by the Sea/Camden but keep in mind some of the best lobster places are only open weekends in Sept and close for the winter by Oct 1 (I love Waterman's). Portsmouth would be great too.
I'm going to nominate the Concord NH area. Restaurants are decent, at least 3 places offer homemade ice cream, wonderful apple orchards, opportunities for kayaking/canoing, paved bike path thru the city as well as many other places to go. A great bakery (Bread and Chocolate) and at least one place that makes wonderful soups (In a Pinch Cafe) and sandwiches. For off road biking, look to the flood control areas managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Mt Kearsarge can be an easy hike from the Warner side or more challenging from the Wilmot side. I've heard good reports about Centennial Inn on Pleasant St which would provide an interesting ride into Hopkinton/Contoocook with a long uphill to Gould Hill orchards which grows a wonderful variety of apples and has great view of the mountains. There's some class 6 roads (no longer maintained by the town) around but the nicest trail would be along the Blackwater River in Webster NH "behind the dam". Don't be surprised to see no one at all. Not sure how long the kayak rental places stay open for the season. 55 degrees is a fairly new upscale/pricey wine bar in downtown Concord. I haven't been to Butter's yet, just opened wine and cheese shop. The restaurants aren't as good as Portsmouth's but I think our hiking and biking opportunities are better.
Manchester, VT might work for you. There are number of *really* good restaurants in that area, and it's lovely in the fall. Lot's to do. Good hiking. Eye-popping foliage.
Portland is the queen of restaurant cities in New England (and I say that as a Bostonian). On a per capita basis, there is just more good chow there than anywhere else in New England. Just a wonderful place to eat. And, if you want to explore the southern coast down to Ogunquit (and of course down to Portsmouth just across the Piscataqua River in New Hampshire), it's not very far or difficult; lots of great chow between those points and gorgeous coastal scenery and a few old mill towns. Not much in the way of mountains, other than Mt Agamenticus in York.
I love Portsmouth, but I would give the laurels easily to Portland.
The Berkshires are pretty but I've found more reliably interesting dining on the New York side of the Taconics for some reason, but I've only visited occasionally (Bostonians tend to treat the Berkshires more as a summer/winter colony of New Yorkers than Bostonians).
As for foliage, it's hard to say. Last year was a particularly dull season, the dullest in memory. This year, we've had an enormous surplus of rain (except for a very dry August so far), and there's been a lot of winter month damage of maples in eastern sections (don't know about elsewhere). Foliage display is largely determined by conditions in September; moderate moisture, warm sunny days and dry cool nights help.
The New England food I've found outside of mainly urban or coastal resort destinations has often disappointed me. I had some pretty costly letdowns in the Berkshires, Connecticut's Quiet Corner, and northern New England skiing areas.
This may not be what your looking for, but when I look for New England weekend getaways, I favor places that have at least a handful of great dining destinations, and use them as base camps for excursions into nearby rural areas for scenery and activities like hiking:
ME: Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, Portland
MA: Nantucket, parts of the Cape
RI: Newport (not superb, but enough other attractions), Providence
A great place for food, but not necessarily close to anything, activity-wise, is LA Burdick in Walpole, NH, just across the Vermont border from I-91, exit 5. Definitely worthy of a stop-over - best frites in NE, and a wonderful selection of local and other cheeses. And take some truffles with you when you leave! The area is very nice for leaf-peeping.
Here's the secret... Everyone goes to the berkshires and and the white mountains for foliage... Forget it. Take a drive to Bar Harbor/Acadia national park. There's plenty of good restaurants, it's my absolute favorite (most beautiful) place in New England for outdoor activities, and the "season" ends labor day, so it'll be cheaper and you'll have the place to yourself.
If you go, make dinner reservations 30-40 miles north at La Domaine in Hancock. You'll see it in my favorites on my profile... this small french restaurant does it right!
If you choose Portsmouth NH I can recommend Molly Malones which has recently been purchased by a new owner. They are now doing "fusion" cuisine and all in my party of 5 were very happy with their meals. I was not in the mood for anything fancy and was able to get a sandwich de-constructed into a plain turkey and cheese with no fuss at all. The best accolades go to the chef and staff who are good humored when caught short staffed and the owner who tended to guests with warmth. There is an upstairs pub lounge and a downstairs seating area. I am looking forward to seeing this venture grow. Friendly atmosphere and staff.