This post is sponsored by Marriott but all opinions expressed within are my own.
I grew up in Connecticut and even though I call California home now, I love going back to the East Coast during the summertime, especially to take a New England road trip. It’s so beautiful and if you’re a seafood lover, you’ll get some of the best here. I love chowing down on New England lobster rolls! If you’re thinking about a New England getaway this summer, here are five summer road trips to consider:
Summer in the Cape …. it conjures up images of quaint towns, fresh seafood and of course, the Kennedys, rollicking on the lush lawn of the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port. Cape Cod is a 65-mile long peninsula, which is connected to the mainland of Massachusetts by the Bourne Bridge and the Sagamore Bridge, which cross the Cape Cod Canal.
What to do: If you’re a history buff interested in learning more about the Kennedy legacy, visit the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum. The Kennedy Compound is private property, therefore it’s not open to the public but the museum shines a spotlight on the 35th President of the United States and his family through multi-media exhibits, lectures, receptions, screenings and book signings.
Vacationing in Cape Cod means you’re perfectly situated to take day trips to nearby Martha’s Vineyard. In just under an hour between the months of May and October, the high-speed ferry Lady Martha, transports passengers from Hyannis in Cape Cod to Oaks Bluff in Martha’s Vineyard.
Lighthouses are an iconic part of the landscape in this part of the country and the historic Race Point Lighthouse in Cape Cod is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was first illuminated in 1816 to aid travelers crossing the treacherous waters of the Cape’s northern tip, but was rebuilt in 1876. Today, Race Point Lighthouse still serves travelers as a navigational aid and is open for tours.
Where to stay: Situated between Hyannis and Provincetown and providing easy access to nearby beaches, bike trails, lighthouses and harbors, as well as the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Four Points by Sheraton Eastham Cape Cod is a great place to stay while exploring the Cape. Decorated the reflect the local style, you’ll feel right at home here.
Newport, Rhode Island
About 30 miles from Providence lies the coastal city of Newport, Rhode Island, known for harbors bursting with yachts, gilded mansions and a rich history of jazz. As the former and most famous host of the prestigious America’s Cup (the last America’s Cup to be held in Newport was in 1983), this city is known as the Sailing Capital of the World and you can enjoy it, too, from private yacht charters and ticketed cruises to sunset sails where you’ll witness the romance and magic of Newport yourself.
What to do: The Preservation Society of Newport County hosts year-round mansion tours where you can peek inside some of the most opulent homes in America’s City by the Sea. During the Gilded Age (approximately the 1870s to 1900), Newport was the summer playground of the wealthy and today, these homes are open to the public to tour, to learn about the history, art and culture of an era long gone.
The Cliff Walk, which takes you on a 3.5-mile walk along the beautiful, rugged eastern shore of Newport, is one of the most popular attractions in the area, with approximately a quarter million trips taken each year. Along this tour, you’ll get up close with the natural beauty and architectural history of the region. You’ll see beautiful wildflowers and birds as well as enjoy breathtaking views of the Newport mansions that line the equally breathtaking coastline.
Consider a day trip to the quaint town of Watch Hill, about 40 miles southwest of Newport. Besides hitting the beach and strolling the streets of the quaint town, lined with art galleries, antique stores and restaurants and cafes, there’s lots more to do. Kids will love the Flying Horse Carousel (the oldest continuously operating carousel in the US) and the Watch Hill Lighthouse and Museum, a small, historic gem originally built in 1807. Watch Hill is so beautiful and exclusive, Taylor Swift dropped a cool $18 million on an 11,000-square-foot mansion on the shores of Watch Hill.
Where to stay:
Located near to Newport’s big attractions, including Regatta Place, Belle Mer and the Cliff Walk, the Newport Marriott is ideally situated for sightseeing and spending time at the beach. The nautical-themed hotel offers spacious rooms with spa-inspired bathrooms that have walk-in waterfall showers. The full-service hotel spa makes it easy to relax and unwind and the on-property restaurants and bars offer beautiful waterfront views.
In Southern Fairfield County, on the northern shores of Long Island Sound, is Norwalk, the sixth most populous city in Connecticut. And it just happens to be my hometown so it’s definitely one of the summer road trips I recommend taking! I have a soft spot for this place and it holds a special place in my heart. Growing up here means I have a lot of places to recommend but here are three of my favorites!
What to do: When I travel, I love to check out local grocery stores. I feel like you get a unique sense of place when you learn about local ingredients and foods. In Norwalk, my favorite grocery store is Stew Leonard’s, The World’s Largest Dairy Store. It’s got tons of stuff to appeal to kids (singing vegetables, dancing animals and a petting zoo), plus lots of samples to try as you weave your way through the store. Spend $100 and you’ll get a free ice cream cone, a tradition that’s over 40 years old. Plus, I just love the Stew Leonard motto: “Rule 1: The customer is always right! Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule 1!”
One of the best things about summer in New England is enjoying tasty lobster rolls and my favorite place to get them is Rowayton Seafood. If you’ve got time to sit down for a luxurious, waterfront dining experience, definitely book a table inside the restaurant. If you’re in a rush and on the go, you can order one from the fish market next door and eat on the dock and check out all the boats in the harbor. Check out my other favorite places to eat in Norwalk.
I grew up going to the beaches in Norwalk all the time. They are open to residents for free but they do charge a fee for non-residents. Calf Pasture is in Norwalk but there’s also Compo Beach in Westport, which is 10 minutes away and is nicer, in my opinion. Be sure to check the tides because when it’s low tide at all of the beaches, you can walk hundreds of yards out and still be at your knees. I also recommend sand shoes since the beaches are not soft sand. They’re a mixture of sand, rocks and clam, oyster and mussel shells. Norwalk is known as Oyster Town and hosts an annual Oyster Festival every September, which is always fun to attend.
Where to stay: The newly opened Residence Inn in Norwalk is the perfect home base for your stay in the area. It’s near the Maritime Aquarium (a great place to take the kids) and offers the comforts of home away from home. With apartment-sized suites that offer travelers a full-size kitchen, free WiFi, separate living rooms and workspaces, as well as a complimentary breakfast buffet and a fitness center, the Residence Inn Norwalk is perfectly suited to both business and family travelers.
A two-hour drive from Boston and a four-hour drive from Manhattan, is Manchester, VT, a quaint town that earned its reputation as a great New England road trip idea thanks to its scenic landscape, tasty local food and drink and cultural attractions. From winter skiing and leaf peeping in the fall to summertime hiking, Manchester is a year-round destination that’s definitely worth putting on your New England road trip itinerary.
What to do: History buffs will love the chance to visit Hildene, the Lincoln family home in Manchester, VT. It’s the former summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln (President Lincoln’s eldest son) and his wife Mary Harlan Lincoln. The home, which is largely furnished with Lincoln family furniture, remained occupied by Lincoln descendants until 1975. Today, the historic estate is open for public tours.
Manchester has a rich heritage of fly fishing so you can either grab your fishing pole and get in on the fun or learn about its history, traditions and practices by visiting The American Museum of Fly Fishing. Through lectures, presentations and various exhibitions, museum staff aim to preserve the history of fly fishing and promote the conservation of its waters.
Where to stay: The Equinox Resort has a rich history that spans over two centuries and four US presidents (and one vice president) have visited the gorgeous grounds. The luxurious rooms and suites combine historic charm with all the modern creature comforts you’d expect. Generously sized and elegantly decorated, you’ll love to wake up in and retreat to your room for some peaceful relaxation. From the spa and the golf course to the five distinctive dining experiences, you may never want to leave the property!
Portland, Maine has long been loved as a wonderful New England getaway destination but the rise in noteworthy restaurants and breweries, along with the art, history and culture that has always been there, has made it an even more attractive option for travelers looking to head somewhere new.
Old Port is a quaint, historic part of the city. Think: cobblestone streets and old brick buildings that are now home to modern boutiques. It has become a nightlife hot spot as well, drawing young crowds to the many bars, breweries and restaurants that line the waterfront.
For many, summer in New England means lobster. But in Portland, you can do more than just stuff your face with it! You can take a boat tour with Lucky Catch, for example, where you’ll enjoy a tour of Casco Bay and also get up close and personal with the lobster experience. On the 90-minute tour, learn about how lobsters live, their habits, how they’re caught and conservation efforts that are in place. You can purchase any lobster that’s caught on your tour and if you have nowhere to cook it, simply take it to Portland Lobster Company across the pier and they’ll happily oblige.
Where to stay: The Press Hotel, part of Autograph Collection, is located in the Old Port District of Portland, Maine and has a long history in the city. The building was once the Gannett Building, which is where the Portland Press Herald (the state’s largest newspaper) had its office and printing plant. The newspaper operated from this location until 2010. Today, it’s one of the most stylish boutique hotels in the city. Beautiful, modern rooms are just the beginning. The Press Hotel offers guests wonderful on-property dining options, a fitness centre, an art gallery and complimentary bikes to explore the local area.
What are your favorite summer road trips? Leave a comment below and tell us!