Northeast Travel: Spring Boarding
While the exterior of Nantucket’s White Elephant Village exemplifies traditional New England style, the interiors are up-to-date and quite luxurious.
Spring Flings, Island Style
Spring seems to arrive early on Nantucket. Whether it’s the jet stream or some other force, we don’t know—we’re just grateful. Visit this month and take in the Daffodil Festival, April 26-28. Next month, raise your glass to the Nantucket Wine Festival, May 15-19, and in June dine around during Spring Restaurant Week, June 3-9 (among participants look for The Proprietors, a new restaurant on India Street). While the weather is great for most outdoor activities in spring, many hotels are still offering off-season rates, among them the new Nantucket Hotel & Resort in Nantucket Town, with two pools, a spa, complimentary children’s program and beach shuttle service; and the nearby White Elephant Village, newest and most luxurious of the Nantucket Island Resorts. Classics include the White Elephant itself, right by the harbor in Nantucket Town, and The Wauwinet, in a charmed world of its own on the far tip of the island but with regular shuttles into town. If a homey B&B is more your style, there’s the Union Street Inn, owned by former Greenwich residents Deb and Ken Withrow and recently redone by Dujardin Design Associates of Westport.
If your heart’s desire is a New England seaside inn far from the madding crowd, you’ll feel right at home at the Weekapaug Inn, built in 1899 on one of Rhode Island’s great barrier beaches, rebuilt after the 1938 hurricane in a protected cove nearby and maintained by the original family until 2007. Closed for a while, it reopened under new ownership last fall after a renovation that transformed 77 smallish rooms into 31 spacious rooms and suites, all with simple furnishings recalling the old inn but with luxurious Frette linens and state-of-the-art baths. Also created were three new water-view dining areas (one a grand wraparound porch) offering updated shoreline classics like Matunuck oysters on the half shell and butter-poached Stonington lobster. Fortunately, the new inn has left untouched the glorious unspoiled setting that kept generations of families returning year after year—a salt pond, salt marsh and barrier beach that invite nature walks, kayaking, sailing and swimming. For more action, you’re free to take the complimentary shuttle over to the inn’s sister property, the grand Ocean House in Watch Hill.
Cool New Digs in Center City
You may be a fan of Philadelphia for its place in U.S. history—after all, our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and Constitution here. Or you may know the city through its museums—the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rodin Museum, Barnes Foundation, Franklin Institute et al. Or you may simply be curious about Philadelphia because this is where the hit flick Silver Linings Playbook was filmed. However you’re drawn to the city, the new Hotel Monaco Philadelphia in the heart of “the nation’s most historic square mile,” i.e., overlooking the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and other national treasures, is a unique base of operations from which to experience all it offers. Breaking new ground in this old city, it’s a daringly hip, glamorous hotel with a first-cut indie-modern steak house, the Red Owl Tavern, and a happening rooftop bar, Stratus Lounge. This month take in any or all the above, plus American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, described as “our most colorful and complex constitutional hiccup,” through April 28 at the National Constitution Center.
New Look at Old Ivy
New Hampshire’s Hanover Inn, known as Dartmouth’s “front door” since it’s been greeting visitors to campus for the past two centuries, has undergone a major makeover and is now sporting what’s described as a contemporary and refreshed look, albeit with signature local touches. The new wifi-equipped lobby boasts a centerpiece “Concord gray” granite table and hand-blown glass lamps from Simon Pearce of nearby Quechee, Vt., while 108 updated rooms and suites now welcome the weary with plush new beds and other furnishings from Vermont-based Pompanoosuc Mills. Still, alums need not fear the loss of traditional charm to sleek sophistication, since the front porch’s old-fashioned rockers looking out on the green still invite “settin’” in place. In addition to the lodging updates, dining options have expanded exponentially thanks to the just-opened restaurant, Pine, developed by James Beard award winner Michael Schlow, the man behind the acclaimed Radius and Via Matta restaurants in Boston and Alta Strada at Foxwoods’ MGM Grand.
Bicentennial Flags and Flourishes in 2013
There’s lots happening this season in Baltimore. First and foremost, the city continues to commemorate the bicentennial of the two-year War of 1812 and of “The Star Spangled Banner,” written by Francis Scott Key as he watched the Battle of Fort McHenry, and the flag flying over the fort, from a ship in the harbor. So must-stops are the fort itself and the Maryland Historical Society, where Key’s poem is displayed. Also worth a look: a film documenting how our national anthem came to be played at sporting events, at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum (opening day at nearby Camden Yards is April 5); the Follow the Yellow Brick Road exhibit, through Sept. 15 at the Port Discovery Children’s Museum; Max Weber: Bringing Paris to New York, through June 23 in the stunning new contemporary wing at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA); and The Art of Storytelling: Lies, Enchantment, Humor & Truth, through Sept. 1 at the American Visionary Art Museum, a nationally renowned showcase for self-taught artists. New lodgings run from the small Inn at the Black Olive, an eco-friendly inn with a warm Greek accent, to the large and luxe Four Seasons hotel, both with harbor views; for dining, Gertrude’s in the BMA offers polished Chesapeake Bay fare in a sculpture-garden setting, while B&O American Brasserie in the Beaux Arts B&O Railroad building serves up brasserie fare in a city-chic setting.