Thursday, July 8, 2010

Places to Visit in New England

One thing about a recession is that it makes you change your travel plans and look for closer locales to visit. That’s what Joni and I have done this summer, and coupled with her newly expanded love of photography, we have searched out and found some out-of-the-way places within 2 hours of our home in Massachusetts.

I’m not talking about the obvious spots like Newport, Provincetown, and Ogunquit, but rather some beautiful and slightly less tourist-affected locales. I will update this posting as I find more spots, but until then, here are a few (the photos are by Joni):

Jamestown, RI
Just over the bridge from Newport is Conanicut Island, which has a wealth of beautiful spots including the Jamestown Village Center, the Clingstone “House on the Rocks,” and the amazing Beavertail Lighthouse and Park. For food, you can enjoy breakfast at the Slice of Heaven Bakery or oysters at the Jamestown Oyster Bar.

Biddeford Pool, ME
North of Kennebunkport and Southeast of Biddeford is the Biddeford Pool—a picturesque harbor and ocean-facing peninsula that was the site of Maine’s first recorded permanent settlement, then called Winter Harbor. Aside from spectacular views from the rocks and beaches, there is a small golf course and a town center where you can visit the Pool Lobster Pound and buy everything from groceries to wine to cooked lobster and steamers you can eat at the tables outdoors that face the harbor.

Quabbin Reservoir, MA
Once upon a time, there were Massachusetts towns named Enfield, Dana, Greenwich, and Prescott. In 1938, those towns were “discontinued” so the state could construct a damn and flood the Swift River Valley, leading to the establishment of the Quabbin Reservoir, which supplies the drinking water for Boston and many of the communities of Eastern Massachuetts. What was also created was an absolutely beautiful expanse of water and hills. The best site for viewing is the Enfield Lookout at the Southern end of the lake in Ware (and you will get quickly get sick of the obvious question, “Ware?”) might even see a few eagles. There are many other exquisite spots to visit along this massive body of water. If you are hungry afterward, stop by the Clam Box in Brookfield for some of the best seafood in Western Mass.

Doanes Falls, Royalston, MA
Just North of Athol (another obvious joke name) and South of New Hampshire is the town of Royalston, where lies the beautiful Doane’s Falls, a series of five waterfalls along a section of Lawrence Brook, a tributary of the Miller’s River. They have done a marvelous job of protecting this site while making much of it quite accessible to visitors. The falls are beautiful and very relaxing, as long as you don’t forget the bug spray. On the way home, you can stop for dinner or just more pictures at the Old Mill in Westminster.

Humarock Beach, Scituate, MA
This peninsula, which is now accessible only from the town of Marshfield, contains one of the most unusual and picturesque beaches in the world. The beach consists almost entirely of smooth, fist-sized rocks, which cause the receding waves to make a humming sound. And if you get hungry, you can stop nearby at Polcari’s Bridway Inn.

Mill Falls, Methuen, MA
You wouldn’t expect to find a scenic waterfall next to an apartment building in Methuen, but there it is. Although man-made and used to generate electrical power, this is a very strong waterfall, especially after a few days of heavy rain, with a noise that is almost deafening.

Wayside Inn Grist Mill, Sudbury, MA
Not far from our home is the Grist Mill, a picture that has graced many photo displays and wedding albums. You can picnic on the lawn or walk around the back to the lake that feeds the mill’s waterfall. In the summer, there are even opportunities to go inside and learn about its history. While in the Sudbury/Marlborough area, you can have breakfast at Stephen Anthony’s (which also features a gazebo overlooking Hager’s Pond), lunch at the Halfway CafĂ©, or dinner at the Wayside Inn.