Help me plan my New England trip. Yeah, I know you hate these sort of vague posts but.........
We're starting to put together a three week trip to New England (from Old England) for September 2010. We'll spend a few days in Boston and then take off. Although we've been to the East Coast a number of times over the years, we've never been this far north and have no real "feel" for the region.
Good food is only one part of any trip, but it's an important part. So, this is where you come in. Which are the towns that have good food, particularly regional dishes? We'd don't want to be constantly on the move so are probably looking to stop in four or five places for a few nights each. If it helps, we want to visit places that have historical significance and, of course, we want to visit your coastal areas.
No constraints on your recommendations. We eat everything and, for this trip, there are no budget constraints, even with the dollar/sterling exchange rate killer (although we are not particularly looking for high-end, overly formal - this is a holiday, after all).
TIA - and please expect more posts here and the Boston board as our planning develops.
Assuming all places will be in business in a year, south to north.
New Haven, - Frank Pepes for pizza. Clam is unbelievable.
Still River Cafe for an upscale farm lunch
Neptune Oyster for a Lobster Roll
Bostons chinatowm for dim sum, Hei la Moon or China Pearl. Lunch/Dinner at Peach Farm and a banh mi in between.
Go north to Essex for fried clams at JT Farnums.
Have some BBQ at Blue Ribbon for a real yank treat.
We have some great local beer. Maine has more breweries per capita than anywhere in the US.
Every state in New England has it's own distinct ambiance.... but since you're stopping in Boston I offer a few of my favorites when out-of-towners come to visit:
Here's a link to a Boston city tour called The Freedom Trail:
This is a walking tour which takes you through Chinatown among other neighborhoods and the start of the Revolution.
The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the best in the world:
Don't forget The North End.... Boston's little Italy:
Great restaurants, and historic locations all in one small waterfront area.
And, as you know, the Boston Area board will lead you to good food in towns within your travel itinerary in that area..
Here are some of the places I take friends/relatives visiting from overseas or out of this region.
Boston - At least a few days in Boston. Depending on the person I will hit the museums and a red sox game (day game preferred). Grab some pizza at regina pizzeria (north boston) but don't get it to go eat it there. It's best to go after the lunch rush. Be sure to grab a bottle of infused oil if there is not one on your table. The atmosphere depends on the mood of your server.
Cape Cod and the Islands - I would suggest hitting Provincetown and Patio is a great place for lunch. Good atmosphere. The raw bar is good!
Lots to do while on Cape Cod.
I suggest taking the high speed Cat. to Nantucket and rent some bikes and ride around the island or rent a jeep. While there if you are a fan of beer you definitely have to stop in at Cisco Brewery/Nantucket Vineyard. Whale tale pale ale is a good choice!
Rhode Island - Newport is one of my favorite places to take my guests. In September you should be able to get a really good rate at a bed and breakfast/Hotel or even rent a condo or cottage for a few days. use this as your home base.
Black pearl Restaurant - Lunch at the waterside patio or dinner in the Tavern
Lots to do in Newport. Tour the mansions (Vanderbilt etc.) and if you like Tennis stop by the Tennis hall of Fame.
from Newport it is a short drive to Narragansett where you can watch some surfers or visit Galilee (fishing port) and Shelter Harbor where you can have a great meal at the Shelter harbor Inn where I suggest the Scallops.
I enjoy the coast so can't recommend much in the way of inland attractions in R.I.
If you enjoy gambling you can visit the second largest casino in the world. Foxwoods is only a 20 minute drive. Even if you are not a big gambler there are some great restaurants at Foxwoods and entertainment at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods.
About 20 minutes from Foxwoods is Mohegan Sun which is another large casino. Mohegan sun tends to have better entertainers so check their entertainment schedule.
The CT. Coast is right down the road. Mystic (mystic aquarium) is one of my kids favorite day trips.
You can hit all of these spots and any other Ri destinations while staying in Newport.
In CT. you can visit the Essex steam train and then grab the riverboat tour which is another favorite of the kids. Mark Twain House in Hartford.
In Western Ma. depending on when in September you will be in the States you can visit The Big E (eastern states exposition) which is one of the largest fairs in the US. It lasts 17 days and you can get your fill of greasy food! Their creme puffs are extremely good! This is an all day event.
You can visit the Basketball Hall of Fame while in western ma. as well as one of my favorite restaurants The Student Prince located in Springfield MA. right around the corner from the Hall of fame. You can also visit the Dr.Seuss museum which is very close by.
Just up the road Northampton MA where you can get great food at Eastside Grill and visit the Northampton Brewery as well as local art galleries.
Depending on when you are visiting and the weather you could head north to southern Vermont and take in some foliage. My favorite breakfast spot, Dots of Dover is in West Dover VT. around the corner from Mt. Snow ski area. There are tons of great spots to visit in Vermont and I suggest picking up some maple syrup to take home with you.
I'll stop there as I don't have enough experience traveling north in Vermont other than for skiing and the same goes for NH and Maine.
Enjoy your trip next year.
While you have them in Western Massachusetts as far as Northampton, why not have them continue up interstate 91 to Old Deerfied and see this historic area. You can dine at the Deerfield Inn. If you are going to get to this area, I would definitely add this to your visit. They also have a craft fair which is widely attended that happens to occur during Sept. 19 & 20 this year. You would be able to see a wide variety of hand crafted New England products during that period of time. You can stay at the Old Deerfield Inn or there is another place on the Whately/South Deerfield line between Northampton and Old Deerfield called the Red Roof Inn that might be less expensive if you needed to stay over someplace. The food at the Old Deerfield Inn is pricey but excellent.
Here are a few areas you might want to think about:
Newport, RI - Beautiful mansions, cliff walk, beaches and some excellent restaurants. You'll find much about them on the boards.
Cape Cod, as mentioned above is gorgeous, especially the outer cape with the National Seashore and some terrific places to eat in Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. (Wellfleet's Oysters are quite famous)
Boston, of course is chock a block full of history and fabulous food. Once again, the boards are rife with info.
Salem and Marblehead MA, north of Boston, are also well worth looking into. Salem has undergone a bit of a renaissance of late and not only has museums, historic houses, etc., but it's got an artier, funkier vibe these days and the restaurant scene there is vibrant and varied. (Yes, there are tacky witch-related tourist traps, but there really is so much more.) Marblehead is a wonderful day trip; quaint, historic fishing and sailing town with a lighthouse, an old fort, a range of beautiful historic architecture, galleries and shops.
And up the coast, Gloucester, Rockport and Newburyport all offer charming towns, gorgeous beaches, beautiful views and fresh seafood. Essex and Ipswich offer antiques and some of the best fried clams and shrimp for your money.
That said, I'm sure you know the regional cuisine of much of New England really centers on seafood, and you'll find it all up the coast. Quahogs and "stuffies" in Rhode Island, oysters on the Cape, chowder in Boston, "schrod", scallops and lobster everywhere. (The prices of lobster have plummeted here lately, but who knows what will happen next year.)
My two cents here, but I hope it helps. :)
You were asking about food, and many of the replies above concern non-food aspects of New England tourism ... I wouldn't tout the Connecticut shoreline as a place you should go instead of Maine, but if you do find yourself there, you may be pleasantly surprised by the food. For New Haven, everyone seems to act as if pizza is the only thing there is: true, if you want pizza, you've come to the right place, but there's so much more in town. Ibiza is surely one of the northeast's best Spanish restaurants, Thali has a kind of sophisticated Indian food that would be hard to find even in London, Central Steakhouse has excellent steaks they age themselves, and an incredible winelist, Bentara has very interesting Malaysian food .... lots, lots more. On the shoreline between New Haven and Old Saybrook there are a variety of waterfront seafood places: the lobsters here are not as good as in Maine, but they're still a lot better than the ones in the UK :-) Fried whole belly clams are something you must try, and so on. And if Fried stuff on the deck with a local beer isn't what you're after, there are also places like Cafe Routier in Westbrook for an excellent meal of a more traditional sort, or Le Petit Cafe or Assaggio in Branford. You'll find lots of discussion of these and other places in the area on this board, so if you have any reason to come this far south, don't fear you'll be stuck eating at Mickey D's.
My thanks for the responses so far. I am starting to get a better "feel" for the region and its food. Your seafood is something I'm certainly looking forward to eating - I might live on a small island but we are no longer too good at this ourselves.
We've also been looking closer at the maps and realise that distances arent as great as some other parts of the States we've visited. A lot looks do-able in a 3 week trip as well as being able to build in some welcome "chilling" time.
Oh wow, you have to come to midcoast Maine. It is booming and Travel and Tourism magazine just voted it the second coolest small city in America. Rockland, that is. It is full of amazing restaurants, shopping, art galleries, the gorgeous coast of maine, wineries, so much to do and see, daysailing, I love it here, and right now the weather is perfect. For dining, check out the websites for Primo Restaurant, Francince Bistro, Suzuki's Sushi, In Good Company, so ma,ny places to really have fresh local organic creative cuisine with views of the Maine coastline. I defintiely think midcoast is far better than somewhere more toursity and college town like Bar Harbor/Acadia. Have fun wherever you go, but t ry to make it to Rockland/Camden Maine. You will not be dissapointed, I promise!
One must stop if you want to get a feel for the history of the area is the New Bedford, Whaling Museum:
Fascinating and educational. This area was heavily settled by Portuguese and Italian immigrants so there are sure to be good restaurants close (sorry, I don't know of any specifically). Bristol, RI is another town with a rich maritime history plus a beautiful downtown and waterfront. DeWolf Tavern is reliably good and historic:
Newport RI is a great stop. I would suggest the cliff walk which is a trail along the ocean it is AMAZING at sunset!! It is a cute town filled with bars and restaurants.
Mystic CT is also a cute town filled with great food. If it's still opened Abbotts for seafood is great it is casual and you eat outside next to the water. Also I agree if your heading up North Burlington VT is great! It is home of Magic Hat Brewery and Vermont Teddy Bear and about 15 minutes from Ben and Jerrys Factory.
We have removed a number of posts from this thread that do not discuss food, and specifically where to find it, in the region. General tourist/sight seeing discussion is out of scope for Chowhound and we ask for your cooperation in helping us maintain the value of this board with its focus on food, which is what Harters has specifically requested.
When it comes to foodie cities in New England, you think of Boston (obviously); Portland, Maine and Providence, Rhode Island (also, perhaps Newport, Rhode Island). Everywhere else mentioned may have an interesting restaurant or two, but certainly aren't destination dining locales.
Edit: Upon rereading, I'd throw New Haven, CT in there for pizza.
Please - as several contributors to this board have tried to point out over and over, New Haven (and vicinity) has lots of interesting food other than pizza. Stereotyping us as only worth visiting for the pizza is a real mistake.... See my post above for a start, or the thread at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/642791 (especially danieljdwyer's excellent summary post there) and much else.
re: The Chowhound Team
My thanks for guiding members. It is indeed towns (or sightly larger localities) that I was looking for at this stage - that we can use as different "bases" for touring the region (mainly coastal). A good dinner after a day's touristing is always an important part of our holidays.
I'm aware that localities may well be smaller than our home area (town has a 300K population, 3 million in the metropolitian area). It's one of the reasons we like visiting America. My thanks to everyone for suggestions so far (including the general tourist advice - which I'd taken notes of before the deletions). it's all helping to bring ideas together.