Destinations Beyond Connecticut
New York City
Here’s a radical approach for visiting The Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps, Gotham or simply—since it’s so imperatively the world’s premier urban landscape—The City: Don’t try to cover the waterfront, don’t try to squeeze a lot into a short amount of time and don’t try to take advantage of New York City’s public transportation by bouncing from uptown to downtown, across town and all around town. All or any of that is just going to leave you very fatigued and also thinking that NYC is more challenge than reward.
So resist the natural urge when in a target-rich environment to maximize. New York is best enjoyed when its overwhelming volume of riches are carefully parsed and compartmentalized—whether that’s in an afternoon, a day or a week.
When visiting New York, strategic and smart planning is everything. Decide what’s most important—Broadway shows, art museums, sports, dining, shopping, landmarks—and go from there. If possible, take on The City neighborhood by neighborhood; it’s much more rewarding to allocate time to enjoy individual gems among the city’s treasures than to waste time in trying to get from one to the next, or waiting in line.
Besides, the more you slow down, the more you don’t put a premium on every minute, the more open you are to serendipity striking—and that’s when New York City is best. Click on nycgo.com to get started.
Long Island’s Vineyards
Say Long Island and what associations will people from around the country have? The Hamptons and its seasonal waves of the rich and famous, like, say, “The Great Gatsby.” Montauk, Jones Beach and Shelter Island are also names known wide and far, even if the details of each remain elusive. Three Mile Island is a Long Island association of a different sort, and the reality is that much of this much-larger-than-it-looks-on-a-map “suburb” of New York City is composed of fairly busy towns with blocky housing developments.
Then there’s this other defining quality of Long Island, one that deliciously and harmoniously riffs off of the tonier side of life, but in a way that’s accessible to all.
It’s the vineyards and wineries of Long Island, which (surprisingly to many) produce both red and white wines whose quality is on par with wines from far loftier places.
Would you be surprised to learn that Long Island is home to nearly 50 distinguished vineyards and wineries? With fine wines comes fine dining, of course, and many other aspects of better living.
How to connect? Fortunately, there’s a website devoted to Long Island wines, and it also includes helpful and detailed information on everything from events to dining, lodging and shopping. Iiwines.com is a one-stop click for planning the perfect visit.
If you want to explore the rest of Long Island in the process, head to discoverlongisland.com.
Upstate (Hudson Valley, Adirondacks, the Catskills)
New York is known as The Empire State, and it’s an appellation that deserves more thought than it gets by folks planning to visit. New York City so dwarfs everything else in terms of its profile that even Niagara Falls starts to look like not much more than a dramatic water feature for—maybe—the world’s greatest mini golf course.
Sure, terms like the Hudson Valley, the Adirondacks and the Catskills have broad resonance, but there’s also a danger that they have come to feel like places we used to go—places families went collectively with the kids when kids were less jaded about pop-culture-scale rewards. Back then, we went to forts and historic sites, and maybe splurged on Lake George; now the destination better be some version of Disney, or another themed interpretation of (fictional) life with a big-name association.
Let’s just call it good news for the rest of us who know better. The vast swath of New York that’s generally called “Upstate” is home to beautiful, storied regions and towns that are well worth singling out as destinations.
Here are just a couple of examples:
Lake Placid and the Adirondacks are places of stunning natural beauty and small-town charm as well as emblems of U.S. Olympic glory. Not only can you go to the top of the ski jump platform in Lake Placid and stand in the arena where the U.S. men’s hockey team stunned the world by winning a gold medal, but you can also shop in boutiques in town, dine well and enjoy craft beer—after hiking on trails through some of the most beautiful protected land anywhere. Go to visitadirondacks.com to learn more.
The Hudson Valley is home to a day-trip destination like no other, Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate. “For architecture, remarkable gardens, art, history, and spectacular scenery, a trip to Kykuit is simply amazing,” says a post on hudsonvalley.org, a site that’s a great portal to visiting the region.
The Catskills are, perhaps, the most difficult to easily quantify. The arts and culture, music festivals, fairs, sports and even train rides that define the summer don’t balance on the fulcrum of one big name—but instead offer a wealth of unique satisfaction, complemented by history, scenic beauty and more. To start, see visitthecatskills.com.
Who can sum up Boston in a few hundred words? It would have to be a stream of “best of” ideas, spun out rapidly like the lyrics in that R.E.M. song: Boston Red Sox, Boston Common, the North End, South End, Charles River, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Newbury Street, Boylston, Beacon Hill, Faneuil Hall, Bunker Hill, U.S.S. Constitution, Harbor Islands, Logan Airport, Cambridge next door, Harvard University, Storrow Drive, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Ballet, the Duck Tours, the Freedom Trail, the Old North Church, Paul Revere . . . we’re out of breath and barely got started!
You get the idea: Boston is a cosmopolitan city that’s saturated with the arts, sports and lifestyle amenities. Whether you’re drawn more to history or four-star dining, or just walking and discovering, the city and its environs have it all—and in all seasons.
Boston’s hotels are some of the finest anywhere, but we like to stay in the Back Bay, finding it strategically located to shop and dine along Newbury, walk to the common, and hop on the T to get anywhere else.
In a time when we should all remain resolutely Boston Strong, to connect with the city and its innumerable charms, start with the tourism section of the city’s official website, cityofboston.gov/visitors.
The lovely rolling hills of western Massachusetts have a secret to share: They define geography that’s as pretty, as welcoming and as sophisticated as anywhere in the world. That works in visitors’ favor, as The Berkshires—despite the region’s legions of devotees—often get overshadowed in a state that also boasts bold-face destinations like Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Boston. (The Bay State’s Pioneer Valley is even more overlooked but also terrific; see valleyvisitor.com to learn more.)
While The Berkshires offer skiing, wonderful holiday shopping in charming historic villages and fine dining year-round, the optimal time to visit is in the summer. It’s then that the region bordered by Connecticut, New York and Vermont blooms with far more than its share of first-rate art exhibitions, music, dance and theater—thanks in part to the Clark Art Institute, Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow and Shakespeare & Company.
But those are just some of the top names, and there’s so much more in all of those genres—like the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, and Stockbridge itself, whose Main Street remains the quintessential American townscape that Rockwell painted.
History abounds in The Berkshires—Mount Greylock was the inspiration for the white whale in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and Edith Wharton had a villa in Lenox that’s now a museum—but there’s also a hip, “green” and local-movement ethos that’s embodied most vibrantly by Great Barrington.
Altogether, there’s far too much treasure in The Berkshires to describe here; head to berkshires.org and start the discovery process.
The Cape, Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket
Maritime history, scenic beauty, cozy inns, a vibrant arts scene and beaches that are as much intellectual property as they are sybaritic—not to mention a bounty of fresh, local and delicious seafood—it’s so easy to see why Cape Cod and the islands, as folks say, remain among the world’s top travel destinations. And then, for “cape connoisseurs,” there’s the other cape, Cape Ann (which fans would rather you not know about.)
One of our favorite Cape Cod towns is Chatham, but it’s like choosing among beloved children. Truro’s rugged beauty is beyond compare. Provincetown is so high energy. Martha’s Vineyard is manageable enough to see it all—the decisions are where to stay and where to dine. Vineyard Haven is an obvious, well, haven, but pushing past it also has its rewards.
Nantucket is essentially an East Coast version of paradise in the summer, though it helps in terms of enjoying its many charms if you’re well-heeled.
As for Cape Ann, we’ll say this much: Gloucester (The Perfect Storm) and Rockport. Mentioning more would be like offering an insider trading stock tip.
The easiest way to discover or rediscover Massachusetts’ seaside is clicking on the right websites. For Cape Cod, capecodchamber.org is a good place to start. For the Vineyard, try mvol.com, and for Nantucket, nantucketchamber.org is a trusted resource. Discover that other cape, the one north of Boston, at capeannvacations.com. Make a splash!
Newport has a long and storied history—as a 17th century colony, a playground for the American elite and an important location for the U.S. Navy. Many of this city’s tales can be heard on tours through the city’s ocean-side mansions, museums, forts, lighthouses and more.
For those more interested in what Newport has to offer today, there’s no shortage of shopping, restaurants and waterfront. With three bodies of water surrounding the seaside city—Narragansett Bay to the west, Sakonnet River to the east and Rhode Island Sound to the south—Newport is home to some of the state’s most impressive coastal scenery, including the famed Cliff Walk. discovernewport.org
The three rivers that flow through downtown Providence will glow again this summer with the city’s signature event WaterFire. More than 80 bonfires will be lit in this award-winning fire sculpture installation by local artist Barnaby Evans. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first bonfires being lit during the 1994 Fire Night celebration. Visitors can stroll along the river, listen to music and watch performances by firelight.
The event is just one example of the vibrant arts scene alive in Providence. Nicknamed “the Creative Capital,” the city is home to many galleries and museums, including the RISD Museum of Art, which houses over 80,000 works of art. goprovidence.com
Just 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island lies a vacation destination sometimes overlooked by summer travelers: Block Island.
The circumference of the island is nearly covered with beautiful beaches. There are 17 miles of sand in total, plus 32 miles of hiking trails, 250-foot-high coastal cliffs, two harbors—Old Harbor and New Harbor—and lively nightlife. Restaurants are diverse, offering everything from crab legs that can be devoured on outdoor picnic tables to five-star dining. And to think, it’s all just a ferry ride away. blockislandinfo.com
With its mix of history and charm, Burlington is one of New England’s quintessential cities.
A visit should start with Church Street Marketplace, the city’s celebrated downtown open-air mall. Here you’ll find historical architecture, a year-round selection of festivals, street entertainers, music and more than 100 places to shop and dine.
Before leaving town, you’ll also want to gaze upon the shores of Lake Champlain. Sometimes referred to as the “Sixth Great Lake,” it is the largest lake in the U.S. (other than the actual Great Lakes) at more than 120 miles long. The family-friendly ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center showcases its history and ecology.
You can also enjoy the lake at Waterfront Park, a popular recreational destination for both tourists and locals alike. It features a boardwalk, complete with swinging benches and flower beds, that overlooks Burlington Harbor. The park is also located at the midway point of the popular 7.5-mile Bike Path, perfect for casual riding.
Ludlow is primarily known as a skiing destination but this idyllic small town, nestled in the rolling Vermont countryside, has plenty to offer in the summer.
You can still hit the slopes at Okemo Mountain Resort, but leave your skis behind and bring your golf clubs. The Okemo Valley Golf Club is a par 70, 18-hole championship course with bent-grass greens, tees and fairways. The resort also hosts a variety of summer activities and events including a performance by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra (June 27) and the Hops in the Hills Beer and Wine Festival (Aug. 1-3).
Off the slopes, Ludlow is home to a quaint downtown with plenty of shopping and dining.
Bennington bills itself as the place “where Vermont begins,” and we couldn’t agree more—the city provides many great examples of the best the state has to offer.
The area is known for the Battle of Bennington, a Revolutionary War skirmish that took place in August 1777. During the fight, a New Hampshire militia of 1,500 troops defeated 800 German mercenaries, Loyalists and others fighting for the British. In 1891, the Bennington Battle Monument was dedicated. The 306-foot-high stone monument is the tallest human-made structure in Vermont and remains a popular tourist destination.
Bennington also has plenty of other sites for history lovers to enjoy, including so many covered bridges that there’s a special covered bridge tour. Old Bennington and downtown Bennington can also be explored via walking tour.
Destinations Beyond Connecticut