Monday, November 19, 2012

Massachusetts – Where I’ve Been

I’ve been to Massachusetts twice.  I’ve seen the Boston area in the east, the central small villages/townships, and Springfield area in the west.

My first visit was back in October 2007 on a New England road trip with three other women (mentioned in my Connecticut and Maine Blog Posts).  During that trip, we didn’t realize how close all the states were.  We got from Providence, Rhode Island to Boston in 45 minutes and that was with traffic!  So, we learned we could cover a lot of ground during this trip.  If you’re physically able, the best thing to do in Boston to see all the sites is to walk the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail. 
You can get more information at the visitor center at Boston Commons, where the trail begins.  Before leaving home, be sure to download the free audio tour for each stop along the freedom trail.  It’ll provide you a lot of great background about each stop.  You can pay for an actual dressed up tour guide; however, it’s very simple to go on a self-guided tour of the trail.  All you have to do is follow the red line that is painted on the roads and sidewalks.  You’ll see sights such as Quincy Market, Old North Church, King’s Chapel, USS Constitution, Bunker Hill, the old State House, and the new State House, Benjamin Franklin’s tombstone, and Paul Revere’s house and tombstone. 
The Old State House on the left and the new State House on the right.

Paul Revere's tombstone and house. 

 Old North Church
Some of these sites have great impact on not only Massachusetts history but also the history of the United States and the freedom we gained from defeating the British.  Before the trip, we came up with a list of things we wanted to see in Boston (historical and new), and even the places that weren’t technically part of the Freedom Trail tour were ALL along this trail.  The strange thing about Boston is that all these places were in the midst of a big city, and it looked totally out of place in the middle of skyscrapers.  The downside to the Freedom Trail is figuring out where to park your car if you drove in.  Sorry, I have no good answers.  We just backtracked.  It’s a trail – not a loop.  At the end of the 2.5 mile trail, you have to walk to where you left your car.

Spending the night in a hotel in Boston can be expensive (around $200 a night easily depending on the season) and because we were driving to Maine the next day, we decided to go north of Boston to look for a hotel.  We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Peabody.  After waking up in Connecticut, and exploring both Providence, Rhode Island and Boston all in one day, it was nice to relax in the hotel pool after a long day of traveling by car and foot.  That’s just how we roll - wake up early, see EVERYTHING, and then relax in a Jacuzzi/pool.

While on this road trip, we drove through 10 states from Maryland to Maine and back.  On the way back through Massachusetts, we drove from Vermont into the western half of the state along I-91.  We love candles so of course we HAD to stop in Deerfield and check out the Yankee Candle Company Flagship Store.  There were all kinds of scents, candles, home décor items, etc.  The store boasts on their website that you’ll find 400,000 candles in over 200 different famous Yankee scents!  We had to make room in the trunk because all four of us got a huge stash of candles and with so many different scents, they couldn’t have gone in the car with us.
A row of candles and Lori and I at Yankee Candle
Our next stop was the Dr. Seuss Memorial Park in Springfield.  It was adorable!  We stopped and posed for some pictures and checked out the gift store where they had everything related to Seuss.  From there, our next stop was my apartment in Maryland.

My friend Lori is in these pictures.
During this road trip, we realized very quickly that New Englanders are ADDICTED to Dunkin Doughnuts.  They’re everywhere!  It’s like Starbucks in Seattle.  We saw like 10 Dunkins just in downtown Boston alone.  There were drive thru ones, big ones, small ones, etc.  We even saw two across the street from each other.  During this trip, one of the girls with us, Bethany, who was from Seattle, had her first cup of Dunkin Coffee.  She wasn’t impressed.  I love Dunkin so because it was in the fall, I got their delicious pumpkin spiced coffee.  So, don’t worry about trying to find good coffee while traveling in Massachusetts or a good doughnut for that matter.  Just look for DD!

My work sent me to the middle of Massachusetts in the summer of 2011 for two weeks of training.  We drove through the area only DAYS after they had been surprised by tornados that destroyed so much.  Not many would believe before that summer that Massachusetts of all places could get tornados.  Being we were in training for long days, I didn’t get to do any of the touristy stuff, but the hotel had a shuttle guy that hooked us up with great restaurants to try every night and coupons for them!  Check with your hotel, in the local newspaper, or on the restaurant/store’s website for coupons.  Most of them in this area had coupons somewhere.  We ate out a lot over the course of two weeks, but here are some places you should definitely visit:

Dresser Hill’s Clambox Ice Cream Shop in Charlton has AMAZING ice cream.  It’s in the middle of all these farms so I’m glad the shuttle guy knew where he was taking us.  They have 45 flavors of ice cream.  I had this yummy maple flavor ice cream!

Publick House (historic inn, country lodge, bakery, tavern, and restaurant) in Sturbridge had AWESOME Yankee cuisine!  The Inn opened in 1771 and has a quaint, old look.  The restaurant’s menu has yummy items such as roasted duck, lobster pie, and Yankee pot roast.  Be sure to get some of their amazing sausage-cornbread stuffing.  After our meal, our host told us we should take a walk around the property.  We were able to see that one of the tornados had gone right behind the restaurant taking out all the trees but not touching any of the building.  WOW!
Publick House
Picture found online
Enrico’s Brick Oven Pizzeria in Sturbridge was great!  Now, they advertise as having a great brick oven pizza and the pizza is GOOD!  But, try their mussels too!  It’s a huge portion so be nice and share the appetizer or have it as an entree.  They were so good.  We went to that restaurant three times during the course of two weeks.

Rovezzi’s in Sturbridge was another restaurant we went three times during the course of two weeks.  I loved the bruschetta, the mussels, the cannelloni, and the pescatore al tomasso, which had a lot of HUGE shrimp, scallops, mussels, and calamari in some pomodoro sauce on top of linguini.  It’s so yummy!
Picture found online
While in Sturbridge, check out the Yankee Candle Seconds Shop on Rt. 20.  Yes, they have a Seconds Shop full of the last season’s candles (for example, selling winter candles in spring) for really good prices.  We heard about this place from our shuttle driver.  I tried looking online for the address, but I only saw reviews.  So, you’ll have to ask the locals.  There is a regular Yankee Candle store in Sturbridge so we price checked and we found some things were cheaper at the regular store so you should visit both stores if you have time.

In my next post, I’ll list those places that I’d like to go see on my next trip to Massachusetts.
**The picture with me in it was taken by a friend on the New England Road Trip of 2007, all others were taken by me if not noted.

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