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Daytrip from Boston?

I just moved to Boston for a new job and am looking for a fun day-trip outside the city for this weekend. I apologize for not doing advanced research but this is a last minute outing and most of my time has been spent unpacking and getting settled in my new job. Does anyone have suggestions for a nice destination that includes good food? maybe within 2-3 hrs of the city? I just found a nice thread from twentyoystahs about heading up to Bar Harbor but I'm afraid that's a little too much driving. I'll have to quote him on what I'm looking for - "good food, served in a casual environment, emphasis on authentic, local cooking. The more history a place has, the better." Nothing too expensive and I have to say I'm willing to give a little on the food if its a really cool place. Thanks in advance...

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    1. This time of year, you can't go wrong going in any direction out of Boston. Here is one trip that I would personally choose over almost any other if you're talking 2-3 hours from Boston:

      The Thompson House Eatery, Jackson, NH. About 2 1/2 to 3 hours from Boston, Jackson is one of the nicest towns in New Hampshire. It's at the base of Mount Washington, so the scenery is fantastic. The Thompson House Eatery is on the village loop, and features such entrees as crab cakes, pork tenerloin, and lamb chops. The atmosphere is pure New England, with a colonial feel to it.

      Other daytrips (including good restaurants) that I would take include Wellfleet on Cape Cod (Duck Creeke Tavern for dinner), Stonington, CT (Noah's), Ogunquit, ME (Bintliff's), and central Mass. (Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield).

      8 Replies
      1. re: hiddenboston

        I think THE is pretty average, actually. And the waitstaff is unbearably slow. That part of NH is gorgeous; it's too bad that Coyote Rose closed down - best option in the area. What about Duck Fat up in Portland?

        1. re: gini

          We were at the THE a few weeks ago and got pretty prompt service. Maybe they were having a good night. ;-b

          To me, it doesn't really matter where you eat in the Jackson area; just being up there is good enough for me. Having said that, some of the other places I like in that area include the Stonehurst Manor and the Moat Mountain Smokehouse (both in North Conway), and the Red Parka (Glen), though I wouldn't classify any of them as a destination spot.

        2. re: hiddenboston

          Bintliff's ? would never go to Ogunquit for that. Ogunquit is 90 miles from Boston. Beautiful place, georgous beach lots of places to eat. For lobster, steamers and chowder, rum punch-sitting out on the deck next the the water- BArnicle Billy's. For excellent food with wonderful ocean view- MCPerkins Cove- eat from the bar menu if you can- less expensive and more consistently good (fish tacos, fried haddock and chips, lobster roll, crab cakes, excellent chopped salad and ceasar salad.
          Another day trip that is wonderful is to Westport MA- about an hour. Visit Westport River Winery for a tasting, see Horseneck beach and eat dinner at Back Eddy on the water.

          1. re: emilief

            A beautiful spot in Ogunquit is the Ogunquit Museum of Art: http://www.ogunquitmuseum.org/ Unlike the rest of the town on a weekend it's not entirely overrun with tourists. The setting is spectacular, just behind Perkins Cove. You could combine it with a trip there, though a caveat: parking is almost impossible on PC on a weekend. We ended up eating at Jackie's Too because it had a private parking spot in front of it, though the $12 lobster roll was not bad.

            1. re: whs

              We have a house in Og and spend most of the sumer there. II am ashamed to say I have forgotten to mention the Museum which is quite lovely. A gem. Jackie's is our very last choice of places to eat in Perkins cove. Both Barnicle Billy's and Billy's etc have free valet parking. Barnicle Billy's etc has a nice menu- in addition to lobster, steamers etc. they have fried fish, clams, shrimp., scallops- also can be broiled; broiled swordfish, hamburgers, fried and grilled chicken, steak etc. Both Billy's have excellent chowder- thin broth and full of clams and potatoes. Some of the food at Jackie's is ok but generally not.

            2. re: emilief

              As an update to this thread I stopped in Barnacle Billy's today. I would not suggest this place to any one. You can get a better lobster roll at McDonalds. Terribly over priced ($18) and tiny portions (4 oz maybe) straight off the back of a Sysco truck. Nothing but a tourist trap.
              Everything I saw was pre fab frozen crap.

              1. re: Docsknotinn

                We were there last night and I had a delicious lobster roll. Very fresh lobster, roll chock full of meat. Don't know where you ate. The chowder, steamers and rum punch were all excellent too. I guess some people have different expectations.

                1. re: emilief

                  At least a dozen people around us were getting lobster rolls and they were all tiny. I guess some might consider 4-6 ounces acceptable for $18. I can honestly say it was THE most over priced and worst lobster roll I have ever had. Full of mayo, celery but no tail meat. The lobster was obviously previously frozen. Maybe the rum punch had you seeing double stuffing? LOL

          2. getting out of boston is one of, perhaps the, best thing about boston. i think going up to the north shore (essex/ipswich/etc.) to get fried clams--a regional thing for sure--is a great idea. along the way, you can stop in at a pick-your-own farm (not sure what is in season at the moment) or farmstand. there's a great bakery, a&j king i think it is, in salem, and there you can check out the essex-peabody museum too. also, you can hit one of the local ice cream options such as richardson's, and play mini-golf. i think this is a great daytrip--we did it ourselves a couple weeks ago and had a great time.

            there's another ice cream/mini-golf place out west of the city somewhere, which i think has better mini-golf than richardson's. the name escapes me, but i found out about it on the board, so if you search you'll find it.

            then there's western mass (amherst, northhampton) and beyond that, the berkshires. i'm not so familiar with the dining scene out in those areas, but they are lovely to drive around. and, if you wait a couple weeks, apples will be in season!

            1 Reply
            1. re: autopi

              The other ice-cream-cum-mini-golf stand is Kimball's in Westford.

            2. A few options for destinations:

              North, 50 minutes - Newburyport/Plum Island - beaches, shopping, dining from clam shack (Bob Lobster) to (relatively) fine dining.

              North, 1:15, Portsmouth NH - A cute little city on the water, shopping, submarines, and many restaurants - I am always there with family (young kids) so my knowledge of fine dining there is limited, but there is a brew-pub that is reasonable.

              North ~2 hours, Portland ME - Another cute small city with a very good market, lots to do and eat.

              West 1-2 hours, Berkshires - farms, hikes, antiques, nice inns.

              South - 1.5 hours - Newport RI - Another nice port city with lots of great restaurants, many options for recreation and overnights. Had a great time one weekend in the admiral farragut inn - hit it off immediately with the concierge who arrange all kinds of great dining opportunities.

              Have fun. It's a great area.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tdaaa

                Reading the original post again, I think I would have to add Fall River as a destination for portugese influences. Its a trip I have been meaning to make myself...

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  I know that Barnacle Billy's gets mixed reviews, but a special day trip that I've done many times is to park at Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, walk along the Marginal Way (spectacular ocean walk) into town, then head back and chill out with some decent seafood at Barnacle Billy's in the cove. Ogunquit is only about an hour and a quarter from the Boston area, so it's an easy day trip. There are several interesting art studios and craft shops in Perkins Cove, too, so if you're into that, it can be a lot of fun wandering around there.

                  1. re: hiddenboston

                    We had a nice meal at MC Perkins Cove the other day. We lke both the food and service there. And the view is great! If you're day tripping and go for lunch, try the (half of a small)lobster with a cuban sandwich.


                    1. re: hiddenboston

                      I like the casual B. Billy's very much, in fact. The "higher end" one not so much.

                      The deck is a great place to hang out.

                  2. If you'd like to have a bit of nightlife with your dining, try Cake in the Old Port district of Portland, ME. I went back in June while on vacation (believe it or not, just from another part of Maine! It's a big state!) and while the menu is limited (you can view it from the street) the food and service were great, and their dance floor is gorgeous. The Old Port has at least 5 restaurants/bars every 3 feet you walk, so it's a good bet if you're feeling like an unplanned adventure-just keep walking until you find what you like, but go earlier, it starts really kicking around 8 PM on the weekends!

                    1. If you want to mix a little trash and a little class, the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival is on Sept 7-9! http://www.hamptonchamber.com/seafood... You could chow a little there, get a little local color ("cullah") and then head on to Portsmouth NH, which is a quaint little town, not entirely destroyed by commercialization yet. Historic sites (Strawberry Banke) and beautiful gardens. Many very nice restaurants, including Pesce Blue and the Black Trumpet. Or you could head over to New Castle, and have a sunset cocktail/dinner on the deck of Latitudes, overlooking the marina and the bay at the Wentworth-by-the-Sea.

                      1. Polly's Pancake Parlor - Sugarhill N.H.

                        Incredible pancakes -- everything grown on their own farm. Wonderful country farm atmostphere....

                        1. As much as I love to drive north along the coast, another really pretty area to visit is the Berkshires. A day trip west of Boston is a drive on the Mohawk Trail to the Massachusetts Museum of Modren Art (MassMOCA) in North Adams. It's about a 3 hour drive from downtown Boston. We have had lunch there in the museum and while not food "to die for" it's OK. The Museum is the call here anyway. But here's a link to restaurants in the area: http://tinyurl.com/33srkt

                          The Berkshires have a rich cultural and art history. There's much to see including Arrowhead, Herman Melville's home; The Mount, Edith Wharton's home; numerous botanical gardens and the famous Clark Gallery in Willimstown.

                          Here's a link to the Mohawk Trail info: http://www.mohawktrail.com/

                          1. Personally, I'd make 2 hrs the outer limit of driving time (each way) especially on Labor Day wkend when the traffic is sure to be insane. My suggestions would be:

                            Newport RI - if you've never been, it's a must see. It's going to be crowded as hell on a holiday wkend though, so you might want to think about (a couple of smaller nearby town) Bristol RI....cute shops, proximity to beaches. For food I'd suggest DeWolfe Tavern, and Gray's Ice Cream. Another nearby town is Tiverton - the "four corners" area has shopping, and Sakonnet Vineyards is about 5 minutes out of town. Have lunch or dinenr at The Boathouse - you won't find a prettier spot around, even the "indoor" seats are open air. Good food, heavy on seafood. A place to sit and enjoy a margarita or two. Expand it to the Westport MA area and I'd add Westport Rivers Winery & The Back Eddy to those recs.

                            Newburyport MA - gorgeous little colonial seaside town.....harbor tours by boat, tons of shopping, house tours. You could include Marblehead and/or Salem in this trip.

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: JaneRI

                              I just realized that you want to get away over Labor Day weekend--yikes. Anywhere along the coast is going to be a zoo. You might consider a day trip to the Monadnock region of NH. Peterborough was just listed in Budget Travel as one of the 10 "coolest" small towns in America--Sunday brunch outside by the river at Acqua Bistro is fantastic. Pearl Restaurant serves up Asian inflected seafood. 12 Pine makes delicious gelato. There are cute little shops to wander in, and there are a number of cultural activities, including theater and music. The surrounding towns are beautiful, including Hancock, where the general store makes a good sandwich, and Harrisville, which is a beautiful, undiscovered mill town on a gorgeous lake. You can also climb Mt. Monadnock if you are the athletic type. It's near Kimball Farm, where you can get ice cream and lobster rolls.

                              1. re: JaneRI

                                Re Newport - another option, one I'd totally do, is to drive to Providence and take the ferry to Newport. You get to skip the car hassles, get a great day trip with a cheap, beautiful hour on the ocean, and then you get to have lunch in Newport and dinner in Providence!

                                Google Providence-Newport ferry for schedule, etc. And search here for endless Prov dining suggestions. Have fun!

                                1. re: jsd

                                  Forgot to say - make advance reservations for the ferry - it'll be full this weekend, I bet.

                                  1. re: jsd

                                    Fantastic suggestions all...

                                    I'd second Portsmith, NH if going North and, if going South, the Rhode Island options of:
                                    - Newport (if driving back, stop in achingly pretty Wickford Village for lunch/shopping)
                                    - Tiverton-Four Corners (beaches nearby)
                                    - or Bistol/Warren for vacationing on the bay

                                    Staying in Providence and taking the Prov-Newport ferry is a fabulous idea.

                                    One more option. For about 10 or 15 minutes more driving South than Newport, you can go to Stonington, CT, which seems to be a stealth destination around here (forgotten because of the more commercialized Mystic nearby). Stonington is one of the most drop dead gorgeous little towns and has enough gallery shopping, restaurants, and nearby beaches to occupy an entire day. Right nearby is the excellent Stonington Vineyard as well. And it's right off I-95... It only has two inns, though, which my guess are jammed packed full by now...

                                    - Garris

                                    1. re: Garris

                                      Garris, is that Stonington Borough you're referring to, the piece that feels like a little island? If not, where exactly is Stonington? I have been to SB and while it's adorable it seems like there's nothing there. I'd love to have a "new" spot to visit in that area, especially since I love Up River Cafe, but feel all "Westerly'd out".

                                      1. re: JaneRI

                                        Yes, that's Stonington Borough (although the "Borough" aspect is one I've only heard people using more recently... branding perhaps?).

                                        There are some good options there. 2-3 nice inns, 3-5 restaurants of note, a half dozen antique places at least... It does feel like a little island, yes :-).

                                        You can look through their retail options here: http://www.stoningtonboroughct.com

                                        While no Newport, it offers more than Four Corners and is slightly bigger in size and offerings than Wickford Village...

                                        - Garris

                                        1. re: Garris

                                          I'm going by the sign as you approach (Borough). I probably haven't bothered to poke around enough once I'm there....I think the things like antique places aren't glaringly obvious...I'll have to give it another shot. Thanks for the link.

                                      2. re: Garris

                                        There's nothing like having a glass of wine and a nice seafood dish at Noah's in Stonington, then walking around town checking out the shops and beautiful homes before sauntering down to Stonington Point to catch some sea breezes. Definitely one of my favorite seaside towns in New England...

                                        1. re: hiddenboston

                                          Noah's doesn't have outdoor seating though, does it? It looks like we've almost definitely decided on Stonington for a Labor Day Monday daytrip (thanks for the link Garris!), but it's going to be far too nice outside to sit indoors, no matter how good the food. I'll save it for fall or winter.

                                          1. re: JaneRI

                                            No, Noah's doesn't have outdoor dining, unfortunately. There's a place down the street on the right side, heading toward the point (can't remember the name) where you can eat and drink outside on the water.

                                            1. re: hiddenboston

                                              Skipper's! If Up River Cafe in Westerly isn't open Monday, we'll be at Skipper's.

                                    2. re: jsd

                                      Having taken the ferry myself 2 wks ago, I wouldn't suggest this. For starters, coming from Boston it'd be just as long to drive to Providence (Rt 95 vs 24 down to Newport), then add an hour long boat ride. Once on the boat you have a couple of options - sit inside (who wants that?), be among the lucky few to snag a seat on the top deck (better get there early) or stand up outside on the bow once they decide to open it (they don't have to) and get buffeted by the very strong winds on this high-speed ferry. I actually would find the traffic preferable.

                                      They DO serve wine/beer/snacks on the boat now (I had taken it 5-6 yrs and nothing was served then).

                                      Edit: not to mention you're now at the mercy of a boat schedule.

                                      1. re: JaneRI

                                        Mileage varies! We sat in both places in on the ferry, and stood outside on bow and stern, and enjoyed it all, and most of all, we really enjoyed skipping the Newport-related traffic and parking nonsense. There are at least 50 seats on the top deck so yes, you have to get there on the early side but we got our seats up there without any trouble, arriving 10 minutes before the boat departed. The ferry ride itself isn't supposed to be an eating opportunity, I would not think - it's only an hour - especially since there's good eats on either end.

                                        Message is the same, though - whether you drive all the way or enjoy the ferry, Newport's a great destination!

                                        1. re: jsd

                                          jsd, I just included the food & bev options to make it a "food-related" post, an posts that are not tend to get deleted. Just being sneaky. I guess when I think about it, the part I really don't like about the ferry is being on someone else's timetable and then not having a car once I get to Newport.....I get antsy if I'm not under my own power and free to take off and move around as I please. I'm the friend who always offers to drive, you know?

                                          I'll add a few food related items in case the OP makes it to Newport (to make it legit again):

                                          My favorite views in Newport w/food:

                                          The Terraza at the Spiced Pear (at the Chanler Hotel, overlooking Cliff Walk) - pricey lunch.....probably too pricey for what you get....but I'm willing to pay it for that setting.

                                          Castle Hill Inn - get a cocktail at the bar and wander down the lawn to an adirondack chair and just take it all in - the essence of Newport.

                                          Lower end - Pineapples at the Hyatt Goat Island. Past the outdoor pool, on a point overlooking the Newport Bridge - I defy anyone to find a better view of the bridge from here! Not a ton of choices (salads, a burger, a grilled fish sandwich) but again, for me it's all about the view and being outside in our all too short RI summer.

                                  2. We are going to Tanglewood Jazz festival in the Berkshires this weekend. There are afternoon concerts Saturday and Sunday - lawn entrance is 17 bucks and you bring a picnic and a bottle of wine (public drinking allowed unlike anywhere you go in Boston).
                                    It's a great chance to hear some good music in a beautiful setting and enjoy a glass of wine with your meal. Bring a chair or a blanket to sit on too,
                                    Gorgeous area of New England - I like the Berkshires better than the white mountains. Two hours out the Mass Pike and you're there.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: ginnyhw

                                      Would not really consider the Berkshires a daytrip as the OP requested, but it is certainly a wonderful way to spend the weekend! Is Guido's still as snobby as ever? I heard a lady from New York complaining about the locals shopping on the weekend and crowding the aisles.

                                      1. re: whs

                                        I have done the Berkshires as a daytrip (twice) from northern RI, but it was a tough one, and I left feeling I didn't spend my time wisely. The OP DID say 2-3 hrs so it fits his criteria....I just think that's too much driving for a daytrip. Of course his screen name seems to indicate a southerner....not everyone thinks of a 1 hr drive as "long" the way so many NE'ers do.

                                        1. re: JaneRI

                                          This is true...in New England, if you drive for 2-3 hours, you can visit 4 states.

                                          1. re: whs

                                            And we have to pack at least a dozen sandwiches. (Even if we plan to stop at a restaurant.)

                                          2. re: JaneRI

                                            Our criterion for day trips is to drive, leisurely, as far away from home as we will want to drive back. If we leave early enough, we have as much time to spend at our destination as we like.

                                      2. How far is Quechee in VT from Boston? A visit to the Simon Pearce shop and lunch in their restaurant could be lovely.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. I wouldn't do it this weekend because of the crowds, but a nice day trip you might want to consider in Sept or Oct is Martha's Vineyard if you've never been there. You can drive to New Bedford from Boston in under an hour and take the high speed ferry, which gets you to the island in about 50 minutes. I did this from Providence last week and it felt like a mini vacation. On the recommendation of some chowhounders, we ate at The Mediterranean in Vineyard Harbor -- it was good and quite charming. It wasn't a cheap day, though -- the roundtrip on the boat is $58 and the lunch was a bit pricey.