In days gone by, many New England families made a trek along the Mohawk Trail at least once. Today the Trail has a nostalgic ’40s and ’50s feel to it, but it’s still fun. Small restaurants and little shops, including some owned by Native Americans, still line the trail and make for interesting stops. Don’t miss “Hail to the Sunrise,” a 900-lb. bronze casting of a Native American that honors the tribes whose members were the first to use the Mohawk Trail. Nearby Historic Deerfield is a must for history buffs with its 18th- and 19th-century homes and a tavern, most still on their original sites.
Why not continue up to New Hampshire and visit its magnificent lakes, including famous Squam Lake in Holderness, setting for the film On Golden Pond. Check out Lake Winnipesaukee, too, the sixth-largest naturally formed lake in the country. Its name means “Smile of the Great Spirit” and the lake is known by anglers around the world for its terrific bass fishing. With state parks and plenty of swimming holes, you’ll find plenty to do on a hot summer day.
As we drive through New England, it’s time to visit the coastal area of Massachusetts, just north of Boston. Here you can visit Salem, infamous for the witchcraft trials and a former maritime port of great importance, nearby Danvers, which played an important role in the witchcraft delusion, the American Revolution, and many other historical events, and Cape Ann — the “other Cape.” On beautiful Cape Ann, watch for the towns of Essex–famous for clams–the fishing port of Gloucester, beautiful Manchester-by-the-Sea, with its pretty little beach where the sand squeaks when you walk on it (Singing Beach), and scenic Rockport, home to painters and artisans. If you love history, good food, or beautiful beaches, you’ll find them all here.
Meanwhile, here on my little island in Maine we’ve enjoyed beautiful weather for three whole days–quite exciting given the kind of winter and spring we’ve had. Summer residents are returning and the first tourists are bumping across the bridge onto the island. As always, it’s good to see things come alive for the summer season.
Chapter 3 of Backroads & Byways of New England: Drives, Day Trips & Weekend Excursions focuses on Rhode Island’s East Bay and Sakonnet Peninsula, a lovely place for a summer jaunt. Gardeners will love the beautiful Blithewold Mansion and Arboretum in the town of Bristol, while the Herreshoff Marine Museum attracts sailing aficionados from all over the world. Tour the Rhode Island coastline and enjoy some “stuffies” (delicious stuffed clams) while you visit our smallest state.
Rockland, Maine, also shouldn’t be missed if you’re touring New England. Take a windjammer cruise, enjoy fabulous cuisine at Primo, one of the country’s top restaurants situated in breathtaking surroundings, and stay overnight at one of Rockland’s four historic inns. Ferries leave from downtown Rockland to some of Maine’s intriguing islands and their year-round fishing communities.
This peaceful corner of Northeastern Connecticut is very different from bustling Hartford. You can reach it by taking Route 169, a designated National Scenic Byway, into Woodstock. This is a great drive for history buffs, who can visit the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry and the Prudence Crandall Museum in Canterbury, among other historic spots. The Thread City Crossing Bridge in Willimantic, watched over by beady-eyed bronze frogs, is a fun stop, especially if you’re traveling with kids. There are plenty of great places to eat, including Sweet Evalina’s on Route 169. To learn more, check out my book, Backroads and Byways of New England: Drives, Day Trips & Weekend Excursions, available at your local bookstore or from Amazon.com. Next, we’ll move on to Rhode Island and visit the East Bay and Sakonnet Peninsula, so check back soon.
By the way, if you’re thinking about next spring’s travels, be sure to include the Nantucket Wine Festival, held every year in May, in your plans. It’s a truly stellar event.