Bella Vida by Letty

Massachusetts

Things to do in Boston

Things to do in Boston

Things to do in Boston

Boston is Massachusetts’ capital and largest city. It is one of the oldest cities in the US and it’s rich political history has greatly impacted the way the US government runs today. Whatever type of travel experience you are looking for there is something on this list of things to do in Boston for you. The city is vibrant with all kinds of activities whether you’re a sports fan, enjoy the outdoors, are seeking culture or are a huge history buff.

What to Do

The Freedom Trail

Take a Freedom Trail Tour. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile-long path through downtown Boston that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States. Starting at the visitor’s center of the beautiful Boston Common the tour led by costumed guides. It’s a great way to learn about and see some of Boston’s most important sites.

Insider tip

Wear comfortable shoes.  It’s a very long walk.

Granary Burying Ground

One of the more interesting stops on the Freedom Trail was the Granary Burying Ground. Founded in 1660 it is the city of Boston’s third-oldest cemetery. Located on Tremont Street, it is the final resting place for many notable Revolutionary War era patriots, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence; Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine.  Also, prominently displayed in the Burying Ground is an obelisk erected in 1827 to the parents and relatives of Benjamin Franklin who was born in Boston and is buried in Philadelphia.

Quincy Market

Explore South Market and Quincy Square near Faneuil Hall. Quincy Market is a historic market complex near Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. It was constructed in 1824 and named in honor of Mayor Josiah Quincy, who organized its construction without any tax or debt. There are many places to eat and shops for purchasing souvenirs.

Insider tip

This is a touristy area always buzzing with people.  Enjoy the street performers which appear at any time of day.

boston

Take the subway over to the Skywalk Observatory.  The Skywalk Observatory is located on the 50th floor of the Prudential Tower. It is the second tallest skyscraper in the City of Boston. Enjoy amazing views of the Boston’s famous landmarks like the Charles River, Fenway Park, Boston Harbor and much more.

Click here for more photos.

Boston Ducktour

Boston Duck Tours is a very fun way to explore the city of Boston. You a great overview of the city, see many unique neighborhoods and splash into the Charles River for a breathtaking view of the Boston and Cambridge skylines.  It was a blast.

New England Aquarium

Visit the New England Aquarium and check out the four-story Caribbean coral reef teeming with more than 1,000 animals.

Greenway Carousel

Ride the unusual Greenway carousel.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of places to stay in the city however, during my visit there were several conventions going on so most places were booked. I ended up staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in Waltham. Hilton is a reliable established brand with comfortable, clean rooms. It is located in a quiet area, which is just a short drive into Boston.

What to Eat

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Having some clam chowder at Finz at Pickering Wharf in Salem Ma #food #foodie #visitma #travel #instagood #bellavidabyletty

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Boston is the place to eat great seafood. It is home to some of the world’s most amazing lobster rolls, clam chowder and fish especially cod dishes.  Go try some.

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Have you been to Boston?

What were some of your favorite things to do?

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Roadtrip to Plimoth Plantation

Pilgrim Village Collage

Last summer I took an amazing road trip through the state of Massachusetts and one of the towns I visited was the famous historical town of Plymouth where the Mayflower landed and the first pilgrims settled. Plymouth is a small coastal town and it’s super easy to get around. Everything is close by and lovely views of the waterfront can be enjoyed from just about everywhere.

When visiting Plymouth a great way to spend the day is a visit to Plimoth Plantation. Located on several acres near the waterfront it’s a living indoor-outdoor museum. It’s the recreation of a 17th century Wampanoag village and Pilgrim settlement. The place is huge and with self-guided tours you can walk as little or as much as you like. We spent an entire fun filled morning and could easily have spent the day.

The place is large with a visitor’s center, cinema, gift shop, craft center and tons of grounds to cover. If you like strolling among lush green vegetation you’ll love exploring the paths, which take you to an authentic Wampanoag village and Pilgrim settlement.

Pilgrim Village

 

The attraction does a good job of demonstrating how life was for these two settlements and how important it was for their survival that they find a way to live and work together.  The staff is dresses, live, speak and act as the citizens and Native Americans did during that period. Wonderful structures have been recreated to take you back in time. They encourage you to interact and ask tons of questions. I was very impressed with their knowledge and the stories they shared. It was very entertaining.

I started through the bright green paths leading to the Wampanoag village where there was lots going on. There were people tending to the crops, women cooking, children playing and men building. I stopped at a lovely display of indigenous toys from that era. There were huts you could enter to see how it was built and another large one where I sat and listened to what life was like. At every station you are free to ask any questions.

Settlement Collage

After the village a beautiful path winding up the hillside leads you to the Pilgrim settlement. That was my favorite path. You have beautiful views of the Eel River and even a nice view of the Pilgrim Sands on Long Beach where I stayed. As the paths turn you can even see the beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Pilgrim Village has many structures to explore. The staff dressed in period costumes attending the crops and animals as they did in the 17th century.

Settlement

If you go Tips

–  The earlier you go the better parking you will get.

–  Wear comfortable walking shoes.

–  Bring sunblock and water.

–  Ask lots of questions.  The more you interact the more fun you’ll have.

 

 Have you been to Plymouth?  What did you do during your visit?

 

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Things I Loved About 2014 Travel Books Movies

things i loved about 2014

Before moving forward into the adventures 2015 will bring I wanted to look back at the things that brought me joy in 2014. I’m an avid reader and movie watcher making me a diehard lover of stories. So here I’ll share my favorites. If you want to see what I’m reading you can connect with me on Goodreads. It’s what I use to keep track of all the books I read.

One thing that has helped me read more is the Overdrive app which allows you to borrow books, audio and movies from your library. My favorite feature is that is syncs up with all of my devices so I can listen while I’m driving or read while I’m waiting anywhere. I actually try to arrive early so I can have some extra reading time. It’s a wonderful boredom reliever while traveling.

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Books

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld                        Mystery

Interesting setting and character.

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn     Suspense

Great storytelling.

 

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin    Mystery

Not your regular fiction it’s written as a journalists report. Great story.

 

Bully by Penelope Douglas  Romance

Perfect story pacing.

 

Instructions by Neil Gaiman                        Horror

I enjoy Gaiman’s story telling. As one of my favorite writers it’s a treat to read the specific words he choses to bring his tales to life.

 

Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair) by Rosie Pérez  Memoir

An amazing true story.

 

The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller          Non Fiction

Great self help book. This is great for peeps like me who have trouble focusing.

 

Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business by Bruce Poon Tip         Non Fiction / Business / Travel

Inspiring read about how this entrepreneur in the travel industry became successful.

 

Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers by Mary Kole                   Non Fiction / Writing

One of the best books on writing I’ve ever read. I highly recommend this if you’re serious about becoming a great writer.

 

Movies

I watch the majority of films on Netflix so I watch many movies that may have been released in previous years but am just now getting around to watch. These are the movies I enjoyed the most this year and I highly recommend you add them to your must watch list if you haven’t seen them yet.

Littlerock 2010          Drama   Interesting story and characters.

 

The Motel Life 2012             Drama    Awesome story.

 

At Middleton 2013               Romantic Comedy   Loved this romantic comedy very much.

 

Aziz Ansari: Dangerously Delicious             Comedy   Cracks me up.

 

The One I Love 2014                        Sci-Fi   Great story!

 

Begin Again 2014                 Romance   Cute!

 

Sex Tape 2014                      Comedy   Lmao

 

6 Souls (Shelter) 2010         Horror   I love being creeped out.

 

Después de Lucía 2012        Mexican Drama   Heavy

 

Twice Born (Venuto al mondo) 2012         Drama / Romance   Emotional

 

Cafe de Flore (Café de Flore) 2011                        French Drama   Emotional

 

In Secret 2013          Horror   Very Edgar Allen Poe like

 

Zero Dark Thirty 2012         War Drama   Great storytelling. Study this screenplay if you want to learn how to write a good story.

 

The Punk Singer 2013         Documentary   Because punk girls rock forever!

 

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones 2014       Horror  My absolute favorite horror movie of the year. Originally creepy.

 

Disconnect 2012       Drama   Because I love heavy drama.

 

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest 2011                       Documentary   Because I grew up with Hip Hop that was good.

 

Mud 2012      Coming of Age Thriller   Great story set in the swamps. Loved it.

 

Quotes

travel quotes

10 Quotes to Inspire You to Travel 

“Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.” George Carlin

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”  Plato

Travel

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

Massachusetts

One of my favorite things is to explore new places. This summer I had an amazing road trip exploring the state of Massachusetts. I hit up Cape Cod, Plymouth, Boston, Springfield and Salem. I’ve written over a handful of posts detailing my adventures along with my best tips. There is still so much more to share with you. You will see more of the Massachusetts road trip posts in 2015.

Click here to read and see tons of photos  

 

Florida

I’m always roadtripping my home state of Florida. One of my most popular posts is a big round up with hundreds of ideas for your next trip to Florida. 

Here are some recent places and tips full of information on what to do and see.

Lincoln Road Mall South Beach

South Beach

 

Cross Collage

St. Augustine

Bridge of Lions

Cross

Fort Matanzas

Crescent Beach

Rainbow Springs Florida State Park

Central Florida

Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins

Sculptures

Rainbow Springs

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Key Largo Round Up

The Garden District in Uptown New Orleans

One of the blogs most popular posts feature my trip to New Orleans, Louisiana.  You can expect a big fat round up post in 2015.

 

Now that you’ve read my recommendations share some of yours with me.  What where your favorite places to visit, book to read and movies to watch?

 

 

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Where to Stay in Plymouth Massachusetts Home Town USA

where to stay in Plymouth MA

Plymouth is a coastal town located only an hour south of the Boston airport and a half hour north of Cape Cod.  One of the oldest European settlements in the US, Plymouth Rock is where the pilgrims who traveled across the Atlantic on the Mayflower landed.  Today it’s a small town where visitors from all around the globe come to enjoy historical sites, well preserved Native American history, boating, whale watching, fishing, the beach and so much more.

Plimoth-Sands-Collage

After spending a stormy afternoon exploring Cape Cod I arrived early in the evening to a two story old fashioned hotel.  A variety of planters with colorful seasonal flowers; bright ruffled carnations, tall delphiniums and an assortment of daisies made a beautiful contrast against the brick facade and white trim of the building.  Right off the water and a short distance from the bustling town it felt very private.  Upon entering The Plimoth Sands Hotel on Long Beach I was greeted with a very warm welcome from friendly employees wearing casual uniforms which corresponded with the relaxed vibe of the ocean front hotel.  It felt like I had gone back in time to a place that exists on 70’s television shows where strangers treat you like family.  This is home town America.

The first thing I did was drop off my bags and although the decor is old fashioned the room was huge and very clean.  There was more than enough room to stretch and unwind.  As soon as I noticed the rain clouds dissipating I headed to the outdoor deck.

There’s a cozy lounge area with comfortable seating, games and even a book shelf and a view of the indoor pool and Jacuzzi.  I stopped at the cafe bar and ordered their specialty drink called a kiss on long beach.  It was fruity and tasty.

 

I stepped onto the outdoor deck to a most spectacular view.  The storm clouds moved inland and the sky put on a show blending the loveliest pink and blue hues.  The water was calm, gentle and its sounds relaxing.  I watched the tides change from high to low.  Slowly then suddenly a pebbled beach appeared.  Perfect for an evening stroll.  As you can see from the photo this place has its own beach which stretches all the way to the public beach.

Long-Beach-Plymouth-Beach-Collage

 

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 I spent a peaceful and relaxing evening listening to the waves and watching the fog roll in.

 

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The next morning we were able to enjoy the beach.

 

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 Have you vacationed in Plymouth, Massachusetts home town USA?

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“We are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.” Carson McCullers

“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together.” Sarah Dessen

“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.” Louisa May Alcott

“Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.” Charles Dickens

 

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Sailing in Salem an American Coastal Town

Salem motto

Salem’s history is intertwined with its harbor and surrounding waters.  Even the town’s motto: “To the Farthest Ports of the Rich East” alludes to it.  The very first colonists survived by becoming fishermen.  Salem would grow from a fine fishing village to be known as a major international trading center peaking in the 18th century thanks to the codfish trade with the West Indies and Europe.  The spices these ships brought back would make this town one of the wealthiest in the country.  By the end of the 18th century it was the sixth largest city, wealthiest per capita and home to the US’s first millionaire.

Salem an interesting bustling place buzzing with people from around the world.  Many languages, smells and aromas permeating the air.  Some of the merchandize brought in from around the world was silk, chinaware, paper, coffee, tea, molasses, sugar and rum.  A large variety of spices could be purchased and sold here; nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and pepper.

By mid 19th century Salem’s prosperity as a major seaport winded down as New York and Boston which had deeper harbors to accommodate larger vessels took over.

Pickering Wharf

We can still see the impact of the industry today.  With over 400 years of maritime history many of Salem’s historic buildings, wharves and reconstructed ships are well preserved for you to visit today.

Salem

 

You know how much I love being out on the water.  When visiting Salem I recommend you take a cruise on these historic waters.   I headed to Pickering Wharf located in central Salem with beautiful vistas of the harbor.  It’s a nice place to stroll with shops and restaurants.

I took a late afternoon cruise on a replica of the famous 1812 private schooner Fame.  It was fantastic.  The crew was talkative and friendly sharing tons of boating stories as well as the history of sailing and its impact on Salem.  It was a sunny mid July afternoon at Pickering Wharf but I brought a sweater because the weather changes once you head into deep waters.  Once we set sail the crew served snacks, soda, wine and beer at reasonable prices.

The trip started out on a lovely warm afternoon but before we could reach Salem Sound we ran into a thick wall of fog rolling in from the deep waters. It was really cool especially since I’ve never seen anything like it in person while boating.  We had the contrast of the sun shining brightly on one side of us as we slowly lost visibility of the water, summer houses and homes and other water vessels as the cool fog creeped closer and closer until we were completely engulfed by it.  It was far too dangerous to keep sailing into Salem Sound.  The fog grew so thick there was no way to tell when or where another boat would pop up.

Even though we didn’t get very far it was a pleasant afternoon.  The crew began teaching the children how to make the various knots needed to use on a sailboat while the skipper entertained us with tales of history and piracy.   The sailboat bounced softly and rhythmically in circles completely relaxing me.  It was a very relaxing sail.

Salem

Have you been sailing in Salem?

 

Where to stay: Salem Waterfront Hotel & Marina

Centrally located and literally on the wharf near shops and restaurants.

Where to eat: Finz Seafood & Grill

Right on the wharf with beautiful views and really good food.

 

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Photos of Boston From Above

Photos of Boston from Above

 

Every civilization I’ve ever studied has built pyramids, towers, monuments and buildings reaching for the sky.  During my travels I’ve climbed pyramids and shot up over one hundred stories in elevators to view the world from above.  There are many lessons learned through traveling.  I truly enjoy learning and one of the things I get from traveling and in particular from climbing skyscrapers is a shift of perspective.  I wanted to view Boston from above to get a different perspective of the city.  I revisited the fact that possibilites and human capabilities are endless by asking the question: Why build tall buildings?  The answer is because we can.  Each of us has the power to manifest.

As I look down and see the Charles River in the distance I realize what a tremendous task it must have been to set up the rivers boundaries and keep the water back.  Many of the hundreds and hundreds of housing units I was gazing down upon are presently on locations previously under water.  It took more than just imagination to create a city like Boston.  It took thought, planning, mobilizing, creating, managing and lots of work to manifest what was imagined by daring thinkers, architects and business men and women.  Men and women who dared to imagine but even greater followed through despite any objections or setbacks.

When I look at the photos I took of Boston from above I am inspired to manifest my own skyscrapers.  Not in the literal sense but in the creative.  It helps me to meditate and shape ideas that I will later manifest.  Viewing the different types of structures put my doubts at ease because if someone could build a 52 story building so I can enjoy this view I’m sure I will be able to create and manifest my daring ideas.  I hope you are inspired too.

 

boston boston

During my research of Massachusetts I discovered the Prudential Tower is the second tallest skyscraper in the City of Boston and it has an observatory, known as Skywalk with 360 degree views.  The 52 story building designed by Charles Luckman and Associates for the Prudential Insurance company was built in back in 1964 when it was one of the tallest around.  Today you can hang out on the 50th floor of the Prudential Tower to capture amazing photos of Boston from above.  From this fabulous vantage point enjoy fantastic views of the city of Boston and its famous landmarks like the Charles River, Fenway Park, Boston Harbor and more.  While there you can take an audio tour, check out the Dreams of Freedom Museum with its creepy doll display and check out the multimedia theater featuring Wings Over Boston.  It was Friday late in the afternoon when I visited and there were only a few people there.  It felt like I had the place to myself.

Also in the building are many swank contemporary shops, trendy restaurants and of course there’s a Starbucks and Barnes & Noble too.  There is also a parking garage.  You can validate your parking ticket for a discount.  I took the Boston subway, MBTA, there.

boston

From up above the first thing that stood out to me were all of the brown brick buildings.  The Pru, as the building is affectionately known to locals, is located in Back Bay, a neighborhood famous for its rows and rows of Victorian brownstones.  It is said  American architect and designer of many Boston Neighborhoods, Arthur Gilman, was influenced by Haussmann’s renovation of Paris and can be seen in its wide parallel tree lined avenues.  One of the things I like so much about the city are its many parks and tree lined streets.  Today it is one of Boston’s most expensive neighborhoods. It’s interesting to see the old blending with the new, the different architectural styles of churches, museums, libraries and schools.  Boston does a great job of conserving its history.  A history which has shaped how US government runs today.

Fenway Park

 

There’s a wonderful view of historic Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark in major league baseball.  It has been home to the Boston Red Sox since 1912.  The ballpark was named after the Fenway Kenmore neighborhood.  This energetic neighborhood is known for its educational and cultural institutions but really comes alive when there are baseball games going on.  I was lucky and there was  a game going on the afternoon of my visit.  I got to sit back and watch the players as the blimp flew over Fenway.  As the sun began to set the view did become a bit hazy which happens in the hot summer.

 

Boston

 

I spent some time watching the sailboats glide across the Charles River.  Being able to see so many islands in Boston Harbor Bay really took my breathe away.   The harbor is not only a beautiful sight but an important port in American history.  It was the site of the Boston Tea Party.  Prior to European contact Native American Indians lived on the islands fishing in the harbor and creating planting fields.  As more colonial settlements were built many Native American Indians were displaced to villages and towns.  Some remained in British colonial settlements while others continued in their traditional native communities.

After enjoying myself photographing Boston from above, I left Skywalk taking the quick elevator ride downstairs and walked around the shops later having dinner at one of the restaurants there before hopping back on the MBTA. If the weather is great and the Skywalk is open I recommend you go take in the view.

Have you been to the Skywalk in the Prudential tower in Boston?

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Taking a Road Trip in the New 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe #Spons

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

This summer in mid July I took a road trip all around the state of Massachusetts.  It was a really fun first visit to the state.  I have so many wonderful memories from this trip.  I was able to drive to a different town on each day of the trip.  I felt safe and happy especially on the first day.  Summer means rain and we were lucky to have just one day of rain and boy did it pour.  At times there was barely visibility.  I knew we would be safe in the Chevrolet Tahoe because it is high above the ground meaning we would have no problem getting through the puddles that sometimes accumulate on old back roads.  I felt at ease driving through the bad weather with my family in the car because of the many safety features.

Onstar directions and automatic response.

Forward collision alert.

Side blind zone alert.  This is one of my favorite features for sure.  An orange light would appear in the sideview mirror whenever a car or truck was anywhere near.

Tire pressure monitor.

Lane departure and safety seat alert.  Yes the seat would vibrate to alert me.

Front fog lamps.

Rain sensing windshield wipers.

20 inch polished aluminum wheels.

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

Since it was my first time visiting Massachusetts I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as the driving terrain.  It turned out to be mountainous and hilly.   While exploring the Cape we stopped in quaint little towns and villages.  One of the things I wanted to do was climb the Scarborough tower for the view.  Getting up there was tricky but luckily the Tahoe has a built in GPS system which has different displays of the map and even the weather.  I felt powerful driving up the steep bends behind the wheel of this V8 engine with four by four wheel drive.  The scenery was quite beautiful.  Even with the gray sky there was so much lush green flora, large leafy trees and lovely manicured gardens.

 

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

 

  “What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

The weather improved and we drove on highways, up hills, down mountains, through quaint small towns, past the shore, above the trees, through the mountains, over bridges in the rain and the sunshine, in the city, in traffic, on the turnpike, on state roads, on paved roads and brick roads, through puddles, over potholes and dirt roads.

I drove from Boston to Cape Cod to Plymouth to Boston to Springfield to Salem and Boston again.  Another reason I would recommend driving a Chevrolet Tahoe on your next road trip is how fuel efficient it is.  I drove to a new town every single day and barely had to stop for gas.  On extended trips on the highway I was able to use the adaptive cruise control which allowed me to set the speed and distance.   I enjoy driving with the sunroof open to let the sun shine on me and to gaze at the stars at night.  I have wonderful memories of my family oohing and awing at the site of a clear starry night.  It was an amazing feeling.  It was humbling and made me feel connected to the universe.

 

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

The Chevrolet Tahoe has many features to keep you comfortable on your next road trip.  It’s one of the most comfortable cars I’ve ever driven.  Everything can be adjusted to your liking.  The seats are big and soft and have both cooling and heating, a feature I discovered while driving the 2014 Chevrolet Impala on a road trip from South Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana.   The entertainment system kept us entertained on particularly long drives or if when we were stuck in traffic.  XM Radio has a channel for every taste.  The rear seat entertainment center even comes with headphones.

 

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

 I value experiences more than material things.  I prefer driving while vacationing because it makes me feel connected to the places I visit and the people around me.   I can stop if I see something curious or take a photo of an amazing view.  I get to hang out and crack jokes with friends, family and new acquaintances.  I get to hear stories and tips from the locals.  I’ve been welcomed into many places on this trip.  I’ve explored, discovered and grown.  I get to re live them each time I edit a photo or write a new paragraph.

What are some of your wonderful vacation memories of your family road trips?

 

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Having a Sandwich in Sandwich MA

One of the places I was curious to explore in Massachusetts is Cape Cod.  Shaped like an arm, Cape Cod is actually made of up of many quaint villages and towns.  During my research I discovered one little town in particular which peaked my curiosity on the Cape named Sandwich.  If you know me well, you know I could live off sandwiches.  I probably eat at least one a day.  So when I found out about this town named Sandwich it became my goal to eat a sandwich in Sandwich.

Sandwich MA

It was a gray rainy day when we landed at BOS sometime around noon but nothing was going to deter me from road tripping in Massachusetts.  After picking up my Chevy Tahoe we headed south toward Cape Cod taking I-93 South and MA-3 to the Mid Cape connector in Bourne.  Although it was raining all I could see was an abundance of lush green trees, bushes and flora enveloping the long stretches of concrete highway.  At times there were large rocks and boulders revealing its mountainous terrain.  It was really coming down hard by the time we reached the bridge entering Cape Cod which was covered in plastic as it was being repaired.

Thankfully by the time we reached Sandwich although the sky remained gray there was barely a sprinkle of rain in the oldest town on the Cape.  Sandwich is named for the town of Sandwich Kent in England.  Now you know what I’m thinking?  Yep new goal.

We parked at Sandwich Village which is the historical part of town.  Beautiful cottage and Victorian homes have been converted to hotels, restaurants and shops.  There are souvenir and antique shops displaying funky wares.   Sandwich is a charming town and very pretty.  Large houses with knotty pine paneling remind me of an old movie.  Victorian houses are the color of ice cream.  Large cottages abound with some of the loveliest manicured gardens I’ve ever seen blooming with color.

a sandwich in Sandwich MA

Every year the town celebrates SandwichFest, a street fair featuring the Best Sandwich in Sandwich competition.  Wanting to taste an award winning sandwich in Sandwich I headed to last year’s winner, Beth’s Bakery and Cafe.  The place looks like a converted cottage home with a welcoming front porch.  If not for the weather I would’ve enjoyed watching the street go by.  The interior is warm, cozy sweet smelling bakery.  Large enough for many tables the place was half full even on this midweek rainy day.  The display cabinet was packed full of yummy looking freshly baked deserts, cakes and pastries.

I tried their grilled cheese sandwich and the Vermouth made with turkey, bacon, sliced apple and cheddar.  Each came in a cute basket with Cape Cod chips and a pickle and were very good.  It’s the first time I had a slice of apple in my sandwich.  The sweetness of the green apple went perfectly with the bacon.  I also tried the award winning smoked salmon and pear on white and it was also very delicious.

a sandwich in Sandwich MA

Sandwich is such a cute town with many historic things to see.  Before we left we made a quick stop at Hoxie House which is believed to be one of the oldest houses on Cape Cod.  The brown saltbox house sits on a gorgeous bluff overlooking Shawme Pond.  It’s colonial style of architecture really stands out.  Take a tour to see what life was like for settlers of this area.

Sandwich MA

There’s plenty to do and see.  My time was limited but here’s a short list of other things to do:  Visit the other sandwich award winning restaurant, Cafe Chew.  Stop by the glass museum which is the industry that saved the town way back when.  Stroll the Heritage Gardens and Museum, Visit Dexter Grist Mill and take a walk down the boardwalk to see the marsh and beach area.

Have you eaten a sandwich in Sandwich, MA?

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New England Whale Watching Tips

I’ve been away having secret adventures which means a brand new series of posts featuring all the fun, wacky and weird experiences I had while road tripping in the grand state of Massachusetts.  I have so much to share with you.  I’m excited to get started.

Whale Watching Collage

I’ve always wanted to see whales up close and I know this is something that is on many people’s travel bucket list.  If you get the chance you should absolutely go.  This is an activity suitable for all ages who enjoy spending hours on the ocean close to nature.  I had an amazing whale watching experience in Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts.  Thanks to the Plymouth County Development Council, Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism for all of their helpful staff, tips and help organizing this trip.

The company I sailed with is Captain John Whale Watching & Fishing Tours of Plymouth. Located on the Town Wharf in the heart of historic Plymouth it’s very easy to find. The company offers whale watching excursions, deep sea fishing trips and private group charters.  There is public parking conveniently located within walking distance.  Just don’t forget to feed the meter.  We saw so much wildlife our trip ran long, not that anyone was in a rush to get back.

There were so many people in the group that day we sailed out in two vessels.  All of the boats help and alert each other to sightings so the more eyes the better.  The large two level vessels sailed out of Plymouth Harbor and into Plymouth Bay.  We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect afternoon which is pretty amazing considering July is rainy season.  The sun was shining brightly and the flat waters were like glass reflecting big fluffy clouds.  We found several groups of humpback whales that day including two mothers with calves.  I believe we saw somewhere around 11 whales, a group of seals and several migratory flocks of birds. My one word summary = amazing.

These are my tips to prepare you to have a great time on your next whale watching adventures.  My experience was in New England and while most of the advice works for other locations I would recommend checking your local tour guides website for specific tips.

Did you know World Wildlife Fund ranks Massachusetts as one of the top 10 whale watching spots in the world? 

The best time for whale watching in Massachusetts is during their feeding season which runs from April to October.  The weather and location provide premium feeding locations for a variety of whale species.  Later when the cold weather arrives the whales relocate to warmer weather to mate and give birth.

First things first: Prepare if you suffer motion sickness

If you get seasick be sure to take any motion sickness medication half an hour before boarding.  Thankfully I do not get seasick but friends who do have told me the wrist bands do not work as well as over the counter medications.  Some boats may have some on board but some do not.  I would go prepared ahead of time.

Dress for the experience

Whales are huge creatures therefore found in very deep waters.  In order to reach those deep waters your boat captain may have to drive an hour or more into the ocean.  We were lucky to experience our first encounter only 7 miles out.  As you can imagine everyone was excited and enthusiastic about what we would see as we continued deeper into the ocean to Stellwagen Bank.  The temperature out on the ocean can be anywhere from 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the dock you sailed out of.  I recommend dressing in layers, wearing jeans, sneakers, a hat, sunglasses, a scarf and towel if you have the space.

Sunscreen

Even on cloudy days the sun will have an effect on your skin.  Protect yourself from sun damage and use sunscreen.  I managed to get a nice tan since it was such a gorgeous day I never wanted to leave the top deck.

Water and Snacks

Expect to be out on the water for at least four hours.  Check to see if your boat provides snacks and water and what their rules are regarding bringing a picnic.  We left after lunch so all we purchased was water to remain hydrated and some tasty chocolate chip muffins as a snack on our trip.

Whale Watching Collage

Choosing a Tour

I travel to learn as well as be entertained.  Our boat had a naturalist on board who entertained us with her extensive knowledge.  She identified different birds and sea life.  We saw some seals from far away.  She also talked to us about whale behavior and migration patterns.  Best of all she was even able to identify the whales we saw by name because of the particular markings on their tails.  I found her love for the ocean and it’s creatures contagious and made me want to know more.  She even keeps a blog documenting all of her finds and trips which is a pretty amazing read.  You can find it here.

Photography: Step Away From the Camera

Yes, most of the time okay always everywhere I go you will find me snapping away with a camera.  One tip I can give you is to remember to put it down and view this incredible experience with your own two eyes instead of worrying about getting the perfect shot.  In this case your subject is wild and unpredictable.  In addition the boat will be maneuvering around to get the best views and everyone will crowd together to block your view.  Make sure to live and take in this miraculous moment where you are face to face with one the planets most magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.  It is a beautiful experience I will remember for the rest of my life.

I watched two sets of humpback whale mothers diving for dinner with their calves.  They were large yet incredibly graceful.  I felt very at peace watching them.  I also witnessed several separate groups of humpback whales socializing, spouting and diving.  We were even close enough to hear the sounds they made while clearing their spouts.  It was amazing.

Whale Conservation

It is beautiful to go into the ocean to peacefully visit some of the largest creatures on Earth.  It is all of our responsibility to care for this planet.  Whales were heavily hunted until the 1970’s and even though there are many laws and restrictions whales are very slowly rebounding.  Simple things you can do to help are donate to whale conservation agencies, volunteer and the easiest one of all do not throw garbage into any body of water.

This was my first whale watching excursion and it is something I will definitely do again.  Have you been whale watching?

Sponsored post, enthusiastic opinions mine.

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