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Great food destinations in New England

After dropping our son off at college in Boston on Labor Day weekend we have a few days before heading back to Seattle. Would like ideas of where to head that have great dining options. Am thinking Cape Cod, or heading north toward Maine. Costal or inland places are both okay. What do you suggest?

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  1. Newport, RI comes to mind. Lots of outstanding chow in a gorgeous town with lots to do. Portsmouth, NH is also a fun town with good food and a nice downtown. From there it's an easy jaunt to southern Maine. Cape Cod is always beautiful, lots of top notch chow, although things are spread out. If you're up for spending some time in the car, it can be fun especially if you're going the week after Labor Day. Things really quiet down that week tourist-wise, although everything is still open and the weather is usually good. If you're looking to visit during Labor Day weekend, however, I'd think twice. Traffic is insane and every place will be packed.

    Although I grew up outside of Worcester, I've never been to the Berkshires! I'm sure a fellow 'hound can chime in with recommendations in that part of the state.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bivalve88

      I would second Newport. Spend a day there; tour a few of the mansions and enjoy some great food. I'm originally from southern Maine (Portland is *great* for chow) but I used to love to take day trips to Newport any chance I get. If you have extra time after Newport, head to Kennebunkport, or to Ogunquit for some Barnacle Billy's, or to the Portland waterfront.

    2. Newburyport, MA is about an hour north of Boston on Cape Ann. It's a beautiful New England town right on the water. They have lots of fun restaurants and some great shops. It's very scenic and a very pleasant place to spend the day. I think it's a great choice over a holiday weekend because it is not so crowded. It's also not far from Portsmouth, NH. You could spend the day exploring Newburyport and the surrounding area and head to Portsmouth for dinner.

      1. Portland Maine is a true foodie Mecca - great restaurants, a very charming downtown and port area, shops - I'd recommend it over Cape Cod or Newport.

        1. You lucky, I love Seattle, my son just spent a few years out there. But what's great about New England is that you can really enjoy the best of all of New England has to offer without traveling too far. Get in a great coastal town like Newburyport or Portsmouth NH or Portland Me. or the Cape, maybe get over to Martha's Vineyard. Then enjoy the lakes region of Lake Winnipesaukee and same day, hit the mountains, stay at a nice B&B. Make a loop around hitting Newburyport or Portsmouth, then the lakes Region through Wolfboro, then over to Mt. Washingtons and back down to Boston.

          1. Just a couple of brief thoughts. (I will be doing the same thing that weekend with my daughter.) I lived year round on the Vineyard for 12 years and can say that in recent years, the island really slows down just before Labor Day as the kids all need to go back to school. There's a surge over the weekend itself, depending on the weather, but then it is really quiet, starting Monday afternoon. All of the restaurants are still open and the weather is great, so it is a terrific time to see the Vineyard if you have an interest. Just plan ahead in terms of a ferry if you decide to bring a car over. There will be a lot of cars leaving the Vineyard during the three days but not as many coming over. If you like fresh seafood, you'll enjoy some of the many dining options on the Vineyard.

            Another idea is a trip west, seeing Concord and Lexington, Sturbridge and then the Lee/Lenox/ Stockbridge area with a trip to Great Barrington. Lots of history and good food which can be found through the search here.

            I also love Newport, and having lived there for about 10 years, I do think you'd find it enjoyable, too. It's easy to get to from Boston, as well.

            So many choices- have fun!

            3 Replies
            1. re: mvi

              Cahoon Hollow Beach and The Beachcomber on Cape Cod's National Seashore. One of the most beautiful beaches in the world and some of the freshest shellfish and seafood in the world.

              1. re: BostonBarGuy

                If you have the time, a Newburyport, Portsmouth, Ogunquit and Portland trek would be a foodies dream trip. Glenn's in Newburyport, Black Trumpet in Portsmouth, Arrows in Ogunquit and Fore Street in Portland. Sort of like the Olympic Dream Team

              2. re: mvi

                I would second Martha's Vineyard, as long as you go AFTER Labor Day. It's lovely that time of year, as is Cape Cod, and like magic, the tourists have disappeared!

                The coast of Maine is also really lovely that time of year, and there is great shopping at the outlets. Newburyport, otoh, is quintessential New England, quaint, good shopping. and Salem is sensational for history and the museums. Be sure to get a clam roll!

              3. Maine is filled with good-eats. Of course we have the traditional lobster shack type places (very popular this time of year). In most larger towns and cities along the coast you can also find a number of excellent restaurants. For the greatest variety and concentration of restaurants head to Portland, where you can find amazing fine dining (Hugo's, Five Fifty-Five, Bar Lola, Natasha's), wonderful ethnic restaurants (Japanese, Thai, Indian, Italian, etc.), delicious pizza (Flatbread, Portland Pie, Bonobo), tons of seafood (Street & Co, Portland Sea Grill, Portland Lobster Co., Gilbert's Chowder House) and excellent casual eateries (Blue Spoon, White Heart, Duckfat).

                1. Thanks for all the great ideas. Now I need to pick one (or two)! Will post back on our eating experiences when we get back in September.

                  1. Back in Seattle and reporting on our NE eats. Decided to head north after leaving Boston and spent one night each in Portsmouth, Kennebunkport and Portland. In Portsmouth, which I really liked, we ate at the Black Trumpet and had a great meal. It was busy so we ate at the bar upstairs.I had the radicchio salad and spice-crusted lamb carpaccio. The salad was rich and good but could of used a carb balance. The carpaccio was excellent. MSO had greens tossed in a coriander-fig dressing- very good and seared bluefin tuna which he really enjoyed. We shared the callebaut milk chocolate pudding for a great ending, would definitely go back. The next day we had lunch at Popover (Friendly Toast had a wait). We had a special of a feta dip served with tapanade, and tomatoes and the daily pizzetta, pesto based with grilled vegetables, both filling and good. I really wanted to eat at Bandaloop in Kennebunkport that evening but there was an 1 1/2 hour wait so we at Allison's instead. We shared a pear- stilton salad without the prosciutto- very good. I had the lobster roll and thoroughly enjoyed every last bite along with some great cole slaw. Got lunch the next day at the Clam Shack. Well, after not having fried clams for perhaps 25 years? I think I now know I don't like fried clams and as hubby was not eating meat or shellfish was again stuck with ..... haddock. No salt on the fries, was not impressed after spending 25 plus dollars. We were still not recovered from fried food by dinner time in Portland so instead of Fore Street we ate part of a cheese/tomato pizza at Flatbread- bland. Next morning before heading back to Boston was had delicious pastries from Standard Bakery.

                    In Boston we had a lovely meal at Bin 26 in Beacon Hill. Also stopped for pizza at Modern Apizza in New Haven on the other side of the trip, excellent, excellent. In general, we tend to eat vegetarian and found restaurants to not be very creative or accommodating in that respect. The local fish option was often limited to haddock and blandly presented. On the other hand I wish Seattle had the great friendly service we encountered in almost every place we ate.

                    Thanks for your suggestions!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Bethwick

                      Thank you so much for posting! I read so much advice and only about 3% of the OP's ever follow-up with how they applied the copious advice we get on Chowhound.