Best Nature Walks in Newburyport

Springtime is one of our favorites on the North Shore of Massachusetts, as we watch as the snow retreat and color return to the landscape. And while the area has many small towns full of restaurants, culture, art, and history, there’s still plenty of unspoiled nature to enjoy. No visit to our boutique Plum Island hotel would be complete without a nature walk through one of the area’s many state parks. With water views, sweeping sandy beaches, and marshes, you’ll enjoy the scenery of the North Shore on these nature walks in Newburyport.

Parker River National Wildlife | Refuge Rd, Newbury | (978) 386-3170

Just south of Blue—Inn on the Beach, you’ll find the start of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island (named for the beach plums that line the dunes). The refuge is part of a patchwork of local, state, and federally protected land that creates a nature sanctuary with miles of sandy beaches, salt marshes, and scrubby woods. Park in any one of the turnouts along Refuge Rd. and enjoy a nature walk in Newburyport along the ocean-facing beach. Birdwatching is popular in the area too, although often nesting shorebirds in the early summer mean the beach is closed to visitors.

Maudslay State Park | 74 Curzon Mill Rd, Newburyport | (978) 465-7223

This in-town Newburyport state park runs along the Merrimack River. The park contains land which was once the private estate of a wealthy Newburyport family, so you’ll find landscaping and a few remaining historic buildings. Springtime nature walks in Newburyport mean blooming azaleas and rhododendrons along the trails. Enjoy a walk on the miles of trails or bring a picnic and stay for lunch in the manicured gardens.

Mass Audubon Joppa Flats Education Center | 1 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport | (978) 462-9998

This nature center on the Merrimack River has 52 acres of woodlands and marshes for you to explore. The protected habitat for birds means there’s ample opportunity to spot native and migratory species on your nature walk in Newburyport. While there’s plenty to do on your own, the nature center offers a robust schedule of adult and family programs including canoeing and guided bird walks.

Horseback Riding in Mendocino

The coast of California, with its miles of sandy beaches, rocky coasts, and redwood forests begs to be explored. One of the more popular ways to see the scenery in Mendocino is by horseback. There are two horseback riding outfits in Mendocino near our boutique hotel, the Inns of the Blue Door Group, that our visitors enjoy. Whether you’re looking to ride through the ocean surf or on a daylong trail ride, there’s a horseback riding adventure in Mendocino to suit you. Here’s the lowdown on horseback riding in Mendocino for the next time you’re on a lark to northern California.

Ross Ranch | 28300 Philo Greenwood Rd, Elk | (707) 489-8579

This family-owned ranch is about 30 minutes south of Mendocino and offers private and group rides. Choose a beachfront ride or a trip through the forests. Each ride is about two hours, with an hour and a half of saddle time. First timers and experienced riders will feel at ease, as the staff matches riders’ abilities with an appropriate horse. The beach ride heads out to Manchester Beach, a long sandy stretch that’s part of a state park near Point Arena, while the forest ride heads inland to the coastal mountains where you’ll spot the area’s famous redwood trees.

Ricochet Ridge Ranch | 24201 CA-1, Fort Bragg | (707) 964-7669

Head north to Ricochet Ridge Ranch in Fort Bragg, where a number of horseback rides are offered, from short beach rides to all-day trail trips. The ranch’s most popular trip is a one-hour beach ride on Ten Mile Beach, a seemingly endless stretch of sand bordered by soft rolling hills. Those looking to make it a longer adventure will love the half and full day options to ride in McKerricher State Park by giant redwoods. Horseback riding in Mendocino is sure to be an unforgettable part of your vacation.

Visit Mendocino Farmers’ Markets

California means fresh produce to us at Lark Hotels, with much of our country’s food coming from the Golden State. Come spring, the small farmers of Northern California once again start setting up in the small towns up and down the coast. This year’s Mendocino Farmers’ Market kicks off on Friday, May 4th and runs through October. We love to visit the market to pick up supplies for a beachside picnic or to browse the handmade artisan products that make for a great vacation memento. Next time you’re on a lark to our boutique Mendocino hotel, the Inns of the Blue Door Group, make sure to stop into the Mendocino Farmers’ Market.

The Mendocino Farmers’ Market takes place on Howard Street between Main and Albion Streets, meaning it overlooks the water. It’s an idyllic place to spend an afternoon getting to know local farmers and vendors. When the sun is shining, the local musicians are playing, the farmers’ market is a bustling place to stroll around and do some light shopping. The Mendocino Farmers’ Market isn’t all vegetables—craft and specialty product vendors are mixed in too. We think the best vacation keepsakes come with a story, and the Mendocino Farmers’ Market is a great place to connect with the artists and makers. From goat milk soap and beeswax candles to jams made with local fruit and herbal salves, you’ll find a California-made product that you love.

But there’s plenty of local produce at the market too! Spring means strawberry season at Mendocino Farmers’ Markets—a real treat if you’re visiting from somewhere where the season starts later. Baked goods, produce, cheese, and fresh flowers round out the seasonal offerings. If you find yourself visiting other towns nearby, Mendocino Farmers’ Markets also take place in Boonville, Fort Bragg, Ukiah, and Willits. Each one has its own unique personality, so stop by for a taste of Northern California.

Mendocino Farmers’ Market | Howard St, Mendocino | Fridays, 12-2pm

Where to Go Fishing in Stowe

Spring weather has finally arrived in Vermont, and with it, the mountain snow is melting, filling the rivers and lakes that make up the Winooski watershed. As the temperatures warm, the insects and the fish that feed on them are waking up, meaning it’s time to go fishing in Stowe. With seven rivers within ten miles of Stowe, there’s ample opportunity to go fly and spin fishing for bass and trout. Get your fishing permit online, and get ready for your trip with our tips for fishing in Stowe.

Trout fishing season began in mid-April in Vermont, and there are several great places in the area to fish either stocked ponds or rivers. Sterling Pond is a popular spot to fly fish, accessible by a short, steep hike up to the pond near Mount Mansfield. But for advice on the best places to go fishing in Stowe, head to the Fly Rod Shop on Waterbury Rd. in Stowe. This tackle and bait shop can provide you with river condition reports, with up-to-date information on what’s biting and where. The staff here will ensure you’re using the right fly and even offers free casting clinics. Sign up for this one-hour lesson at the small pond behind the shop, and learn the terminology, equipment, and how to cast. Rent gear from the shop to try your hand at scoring a brookie or a bass.

While there are plenty of spots to cast from the shoreline while fishing in Stowe, you may want to enjoy the help of a guided tour on a river or lake. The Fly Rod offers guided trips for every fisherman, from instructional fly fishing tours for beginners to drift boat trips for those looking for tips. Catamount Fishing Adventure is another area guide that offers guided trips on canoes, motorboats, and from the shore. All supplies are provided on these half or full day trips. Whether you’re a lifelong fisherman or looking to try your hand at a new hobby, springtime fishing in Stowe is a great way to get started!

Enjoy Cape Cod Baseball League This Summer

Summertime means baseball, and visitors to our two Cape Cod boutique hotels, The Coonamsesett in Falmouth and Provincetown’s AWOL are in luck, as the area is home to the Cape Cod Baseball League. This amateur baseball league is made up of 10 teams and is recognized by the NCAA as one of the best scouting grounds in the country for professional players. Any lover of the sport will find a Cape Cod Baseball League game to be one of the summer’s highlights on Cape Cod.

The Cape Cod Baseball League started in 1885 and was populated by men returning from World War I and II. Today, many of the players in the league are also on college teams, meaning the season is a short one, only lasting from mid-June to early August. But with games five to seven nights a week throughout the summer, you’re sure to catch one during your time on the Cape. The ten fields can be found at schools and community parks in Bourne, Brewster, Chatham, Cotuit, Falmouth, Harwich, Hyannis, Orleans, Wareham and Yarmouth-Dennis (pro tip: bring a seat cushion or a blanket, as the stands are frequently aluminum bleachers). Whether you’re rooting for the Falmouth Commodores or the Orleans Firebirds, there’s a Cape Cod Baseball League not too far away.

With hundreds of Cape Cod Baseball League alumni going on to play in the major leagues, the league truly is the place “where the stars of tomorrow shine tonight.” And this family-friendly event is accessible for all—the games are free of charge. Instead of tickets, the non-profit league asks for donations at each game. Don’t miss your chance to see the next up and coming players or to simply enjoy one of America’s favorite pastimes with the Cape Cod Baseball League.

Tips for Biking in Falmouth

Vacation on Cape Cod is all about slowing down, and at Lark Hotels, we think touring the area by bike is the perfect way to do just that. From salt marshes and cranberry bogs to sandy beaches and quaint villages, Falmouth has so much to explore on two wheels. When you’re on a lark to our boutique Falmouth hotel, enjoy these tips for biking in Falmouth as a great way to enjoy Cape Cod.

If you need to rent a bike when you arrive in Falmouth, bike shop Corner Cycle is the spot. Located less than a mile from The Coonamessett, the bike shop rents hybrid bikes that are perfect for cruising roads and bike paths. Helmets and bike locks are included with each rental, and trailers and tag-along bikes are available for your little cyclists. We also offer Solé bicycles right on property! Once you’re outfitted for biking in Falmouth at Corner Cycle, you can hop onto Cape Cod’s most popular bike path, the Shining Sea Bikeway, only two blocks from the shop. (Staff can direct you and provide a map too.)

The Shining Sea Bikeway is a 10.6-mile multi-use path, established in 2009 on the bed of an old railway. It runs from North Falmouth to Woods Hole, with Corner Cycle located 3.5 miles from the southern end. It’s a pleasant ride to cruise down to Woods Hole and spend some time exploring the village before you head back to Falmouth. This section of the bike path runs along the water, so there’s ample opportunity to cool off with a quick dip in the ocean. Or you can ride north from Corner Cycle to North Falmouth for different scenery. This stretch is more wooded, with Cape Cod’s signature cranberry bogs and salt marshes. Stop and explore the Salt Pond Bird Sanctuary and try your hand at some bird watching. Whichever direction you choose, the Shining Sea Bikeway is a must for any active traveler looking to go biking in Falmouth.

Nantucket’s Best Beaches

With more than 80 miles of beaches, Nantucket’s sandy shoreline is a major draw for visitors in the summer. From protected coves to rough, oceanside surf, there’s a Nantucket beach for every mood. The South Shore beaches are ocean facing and tend to be less populated with larger waves, while the North Shore is protected by Nantucket Sound, meaning its waters are warmer and calmer. When you’re visiting the Grey Lady this summer, grab a beach towel from the front desks of one of our Nantucket boutique hotels and check out the best Nantucket beaches.

Jetties Beach | 4 Bathing Beach Rd, Nantucket

Jetties is popular as it’s close to town and easily reached by foot, shuttle, or bike. With changing rooms, a playground, and a restaurant, you’ll find lots of families spending the day at Jetties. Get out on the water with sailboat and windsurfing equipment rentals or soak up the sun on the sand. Pack a picnic or head to The Sandbar at Jetties Beach for dinner or a drink as the sun begins to set.

Cisco Beach | Hummock Pond Rd, Nantucket

This south-facing beach sees the brunt of the island’s big waves making it a popular spot for surfers. Head to Cisco after a storm to check out the pros catching waves or wait for a calmer day to try it yourself—Nantucket Surf School offers surf and SUP lessons here. There are no facilities at this beach, but there are lifeguards on duty and food carts during the summer. If you venture out into the water, beware of rip currents. Make sure to stop at Cisco Brewers (https://ciscobrewers.com/) on your way back into town.

Madaket Beach | Pennsylvania Ave, Nantucket

Madaket is known as one of the best Nantucket beaches to watch the sunsets from, as it’s western-facing with unobstructed views of the horizon. It also makes for great beach days with its soft sand and big ocean waves (as with any ocean beach, the currents can be strong here). Pack a picnic and ride your bike to Madaket Beach via the bike path, it’s an easy 5-1/2 mile ride from Nantucket town.

Best Cocktail Bars in Saratoga Springs

With so much to do and see in Saratoga Springs, your visit is sure to be jam-packed with art, shopping, culture—and horse racing, of course. Our boutique Saratoga Springs hotel, The Downtowner, is a great home base, as it’s located in the heart of the city on Broadway. Whether you’ve just arrived from traveling or spent the day exploring town, there are several great cocktail bars located right near our hotel. Here are our recommendations for the best cocktail bars in Saratoga Springs where you can start or end your night with a great drink.

Hamlet & Ghost | 24 Caroline St, Saratoga Springs | (518) 450-7287

This Saratoga Springs cocktail bar plays up the city’s bootlegging history with a speakeasy vibe. The menu features classics like Sazerac, Manhattan, and Pimm’s Cup, but also some lesser-known drinks like Remember the Maine with rye whiskey and Cherry Heering and the Scotch-based Penicillin. The dinner menu has a large selection of small plates like cheese boards and oysters if you need a snack to tide you over.

The Cantina | 430 Broadway, Saratoga Springs | (518) 587-5577

Just across the street from The Downtowner, this Mexican restaurant is known for its wide variety of margaritas. All the classics are here, from fruit-flavored to Cadillac, plus a number of original cocktails. Smoke lovers should try the Rail Yard, with mezcal, muddled jalapeño, orange, lime, agave, and black pepper. With exposed brick and pressed tin ceilings, you’ll love the atmosphere at Cantina as well as the drinks.

The Bourbon Room | 8 Caroline St, Saratoga Springs | (518) 705-2610

As the name suggests, this Saratoga Springs cocktail bar caters to whiskey lovers, with over 150 bourbons. Of course, there’s the much sought-after Pappy Van Winkle, but newbies can find something approachable on the cocktail menu. From Old Fashioneds and Juleps to the Southern Belle, made with peach bourbon and topped with sweet tea, there’s a bourbon drink for everyone at one of the best cocktail bars in Saratoga Springs.

Explore the History of Saratoga Springs

While its namesake mineral baths and thoroughbred racing may be the first things to come to mind, Saratoga Springs has a rich history, ranging from a crucial Revolutionary War battle to bootlegging during Prohibition. Our newly remodeled Saratoga Springs boutique hotel The Downtowner is a great place from which to explore the history of Saratoga Springs. Here are some suggested sights to get you started.

Saratoga National Historical Park | 648 NY-32, Stillwater | (518) 664-9821

This historic site marks the American forces’ first defeat of the British during the American Revolution. British soldiers, marching south down the Hudson River to New York City, fought with American troops on October 7th, 1777 and surrendered 10 days later. This important defeat bolstered the American cause with international allies and boosted morale. Learn about the battle through exhibits, videos, historic reenactments, and self-guided tours throughout the 22-acre park.

National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame | 191 Union Ave, Saratoga Springs | (518) 584-0400

Whether you’re a hardcore fan of the sport or just like to wear a big hat on Derby Day, you’ll enjoy the Museum of Racing. Exhibits cover the history of thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs and around the country and explain the intricacies of the sport to newbies. Learn how to read the odds, then try your hand at the “Ready to Ride” simulator that gives museum-goers a chance to get into the jockey’s seat and feel what it’s like to race. You’ll leave ready for a day at the track.

Self-guided architecture tour via Visitor Center | 297 Broadway, Saratoga Springs | (518) 587-3241

Fans of architecture will want to stop by the Visitor Center for a map of the city’s historic East Side. The neighborhood was the home to the wealthy business people that developed the area as a spa and resort destination. The architectural styles of each of the 27 noteworthy homes are detailed on the brochure, with defining the characteristic of the style. Step back into time and enjoy a walking tour of the history of Saratoga Springs.

Things to do on a Rainy Day in Oak Bluffs

Spring on Martha’s Vineyard can bring a fair amount of rain showers, so it’s good to be prepared with some indoor activities during your visit. Here are our tips for things to do on a rainy day in Oak Bluffs so you can make the most of your vacation on the Vineyard. First things first: snag yourself a Back Door Donut, served at our boutique hotel Summercamp’s Canteen, to cheer yourself up. You may have lost a beach day, but there are still plenty of things to do on a rainy day in Oak Bluffs. We also lend our guests umbrellas, so you can still get out and see the sights.

If you’re traveling with kids (or even if you’re not!), the Flying Horses Carousel is a must-see. This carousel has the distinction of being the oldest in the country, built in 1876. Originally located on Coney Island, the carousel was moved to Oak Bluffs in 1986. Adults and kids alike will love the meticulously restored horses, complete with real horsehair manes and tails. The carousel is housed inside a large wooden barn, making it a perfect rainy day activity.

Cozy up at the historic Strand Theater, opened in 1912 and restored in 2015. With one screen, seeing a movie at the Strand feels delightfully old fashioned. The theater shows new-run and indie films in a partnership with the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society. Grab your popcorn at show time and wait for the rain to pass.

Throw some strikes at The Barn Bowl & Bistro, billed as “not your grandfather’s bowling alley.” You’ll find 10 lanes of 10-in bowling, with a great kitchen and bar. We wouldn’t fault you if you looked forward to a rainy day in Oak Bluffs in order to hit the lanes guilt-free. Open from 11am until 11pm, you can weather any storm at the alley with a cold one in hand.

Best Oak Bluffs Restaurants

With over 200,000 visitors in the summer months, Martha’s Vineyard is full of restaurants that cater to the seasonal swell in population. Our Oak Bluffs boutique hotel Summercamp is located in the heart of this quaint New England village and just steps from some of the best Oak Bluffs restaurants. Use our guide to find the best Oak Bluffs restaurants, for whatever mood you’re in when visiting Martha’s Vineyard.

If you’re looking for craft beer and elevated pub fare, head to:

20byNine | 16 Kennebec Ave, Oak Bluffs | (508) 338-2065

Yes, there’s burgers and chicken wings at this craft beer and cocktail bar,  but the wings are smoked with a honey hot sauce and the burgers are two sliders served with housemade potato chips. 20byNine’s attention to detail makes the experience so much more than your regular bar food. Original cocktails and over 150 whiskeys will satisfy spirit-lovers too.

Feet in the sand with fried seafood in hand? Try:

Sand Bar & Grille | 6 Circuit Ave Ext, Oak Bluffs | (508) 693-7111

This beach bar overlooks Oak Bluffs harbor and has deck seating or tables on a sand-covered beach area. Watch a beautiful Martha’s Vineyard sunset as you enjoy fresh oysters, a lobster roll, or classic fish and chips. A visit to the Sand Bar will quickly become one of your favorite Martha’s Vineyard traditions.

If you’re in the mood for an ever-changing menu in a relaxed atmosphere, book at table at:

Red Cat Kitchen | 14 Kennebec Ave, Oak Bluffs | (508) 696-6040

This cozy bistro has great decor with its hand-painted walls and eclectic art collection. You’ll have a hard time choosing between appetizers like the blue lump crab salad with fried tomatoes and the crispy codfish cakes with a spicy pickle remoulade. Entrees range from scallops and risotto to Szechuan BBQ pork loin. A great selection of craft beer and creative cocktails make Red Cat Kitchen one of the best Oak Bluffs restaurants.

Best Outdoor Dining in Portsmouth

With plenty of real estate along the Piscataquis River, Portsmouth is home to many restaurants that have great waterfront views. And warmer weather in Seacoast New Hampshire means our favorite Portsmouth restaurants are rolling out the picnic tables and patio chairs. So where to head when you’re looking to enjoy a drink or a meal in the sun? From casual brewery to seafood on the waterfront, we’ve got recommendations for the best outdoor dining in Portsmouth for your next visit to this charming, seaside city.

The Portsmouth Brewery | 56 Market St, Portsmouth | (603) 431-1115

From the outside, you’d have no idea this popular downtown brewery has any outdoor seating. But pass through the busy dining room and you’ll find an outdoor oasis on the brewery’s patio. Surrounded by brick buildings and decorated with murals and twinkly lights, this patio is a beautiful spot to enjoy the brewery’s selection of craft beer and its globally-inspired menu. As with all popular sunny spots in Portsmouth, the patio fills up fast during nice weather, so call ahead or make a reservation to secure a table.

Surf Portsmouth | 99 Bow St, Portsmouth | (603) 334-9855

Located on scenic Bow Street, Surf is one of a few restaurants that overlook the water here—which means if the patio is full at Surf, you can pop into four more restaurants in search of a table outside. This seafood restaurant is known for its raw bar selection that includes local oysters and sashimi-style tuna. We think fresh seafood should be eaten overlooking the water as often as possible, so locals and visitors alike head to Surf’s deck when the weather’s nice.

Cava | 10 Commercial Alley, Portsmouth | (603) 319-1575

Located in a pedestrian alley, Cava has the sweetest outdoor dining in Portsmouth. With its “living wall” aka a vertical garden cultivated on the restaurant’s brick exterior, Cava’s patio is perfect for romantic summer evenings. Cava specializes in bubbly, wine, and Mediterranean tapas and will easily make you feel like you’re dining in a European city. Don’t skip the churros for dessert!

A Visit to Camden Farmers’ Market

Maine is known for its small-scale agriculture and the bounty of fresh, delicious produce, cheese, bread, and meats these farmers produce. Come spring, farmers once again begin to set up tents and tables in parking lots around the state, as the return of outdoor farmers’ markets takes place. The Camden Farmers’ Market brings vendors from all over the Midcoast area to downtown Camden, only a mile from our Camden boutique hotel Whitehall.

At Lark Hotels, we love to show our guests what makes each of our Lark destinations so special, and in Maine, a big part of that is the small farmers and producers that keep the local food system vibrant. Maine’s restaurant scene wouldn’t be what it is without the thousands of farmers and fishermen that grow and harvest the state’s best food, from wild blueberries and potatoes to lobster and oysters. The farmers’ market is the best place to connect with the Maine food system, even if you’re on vacation and aren’t going to be hauling home a week’s worth of produce. The Camden Farmers’ Market, in particular, has many vendors that make ready-to-eat foods and value-added products that make for a great vacation memento.

Every Saturday morning and Wednesday afternoon, the empty lot at 116 Washington Street fills with local farmers and makers. There’s plenty of organic vegetable farmers, a mushroom grower, and several meat producers—some with smoked products like salami and smoked salmon that would be perfect for a picnic or happy hour snack. Don’t miss Fuzzy Udder Creamery with fresh and aged goats milk cheeses like brie and mozzarella. Several bakeries sell loaves of freshly baked bread, pastries, and specialty crackers helping to round out the picnic lunch offerings. Craft vendors offer everything from medicinal salves and aromatherapy to wooden spoons and felted Christmas ornaments. Visit the Camden Farmers’ Market to see what’s in season.

Camden Farmers’ Market | 116 Washington Street, Camden | Wednesdays 3:30-6pm, Saturdays 9am-noon

Things to do in Lincolnville

Spring in Midcoast Maine means warming weather for exploring Camden and the nearby towns on Route One. Adventures await with antique shops, seafood shacks, and a spectacular view of the ocean in every Midcoast town. We love to take a day trip to Lincolnville just north of Camden and in particular its newly reopened general store. After your day trip, our boutique hotel in Camden is a great place to return to. Read on for our best tips for things to do in Lincolnville and enjoy an afternoon exploring the coast.

With only 2,000 residents, Lincolnville is a small town with a hub that centers around the beach and the ferry landing to Islesboro. If you’re looking for a quintessential Maine lobster experience, not much beats lunch at The Lobster Pound overlooking the ocean. Its classic seafood menu with chowders, rolls, and baskets of fried seafood earns it loyal fans that return every summer. The newly reopened Lincolnville General Store has quickly gained a dedicated following, known for its hot bar and wood-fired pizza. Owned by the drummer from Phish, Jon Fishman and his wife Briar, who live in Lincolnville, the space was extensively restored, and the store’s offerings revamped. The deli uses locally grown ingredients in dishes like tamari-marinated tofu and Indian Korma Grab lunch in the shop or ingredients for a picnic lunch on a hike or at the beach. Craft beer and a great selection of wine round out the offerings at Lincolnville General Store.

On your way back to Camden, consider a stop at Cellardoor Winery. The scenic tasting room overlooks the rolling hills of the winery, with 5-1/2 acres of grapevines. (See our post on the wineries of the Midcoast for more info on Cellardoor Winery). After enjoying an afternoon of all the things to do in Lincolnville, relax at the Whitehall around a firepit and enjoy all that Camden has to offer.

Pink & Green Weekend in Edgartown!

Pink & Green Weekend in Edgartown!

Spring has sprung in Edgartown –it’s time to start packing up the winter coats and breaking out the shorts. Kick off the new season in Edgartown with the annual Pink & Green Weekend to celebrate the warmer temps and Mother’s Day, May 11-13. From the Pink & Green 5K to Cocktail’s at Chesca’s and the Mother’s Day Brunch, it’s sure to be a fun-filled weekend. There’s never been a better time to enjoy a getaway to our boutique Edgartown hotel. Book your May stay today and enjoy all that Edgartown has to offer!

Cruise Your Way Into a Getaway with Solé Bikes

We think the best way to get your bearings in a new destination it to start exploring, especially on a two-wheel tour. There’s nothing quite like breezing along the Cape’s coastline on a summer afternoon or zipping around the city streets of Saratoga.

So, when the opportunity arose to partner with Solé Bicycles, it didn’t take much to convince us that their cruiser bikes were the perfect addition to Blue – Inn on the Beach, AWOL, The Downtowner, and The Coonamessett. Just like the team at Lark Hotels, the founders of Solé have a passion for design, simplicity, and community. And just like our properties, their California cool bikes have unique personalities. Solé offers both single speed and fixed gear, City Cruiser, Coastal Cruiser, 3-Speed City Cruiser, Dutch Step Thru – a style to suit every kind of person, on every kind of ride.

They’re offering Lark guests 20% off bikes, plus free shipping. Just enter the code LARK20 when ordering online at www.solebicycles.com.

So grab yourself a new bike and get moving on a spring or summer lark!

Six Lark Hotels Properties Make the 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards

We’re thrilled that six of our boutique hotels76 Main, 21 Broad, Whitehall, The Attawater, Field Guide, and The Hotel Portsmouthhave been nominated for this year’s Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards! Love our location, luxurious linens, welcoming staff, or tasty breakfast items? Voting is now open and we’d be honored if you’d take a second to vote for us and share why you love our properties. Not only are we grateful for your support, but each time you vote, you’re entered to win a luxury cruise for two!

Vote for us today!

The Attwater Makes the 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards

We’re thrilled that our boutique Newport hotel has been nominated for this years Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards! Love our location, luxurious linens, cozy lounge, or tasty breakfast items? Voting is now open and we’d be honored if you’d take a second to vote for us and share why you love The Attwater. Not only are we grateful for your support, but each time you vote, you’re entered to win a luxury cruise for two!

Vote for us today!

The Hotel Portsmouth Makes the 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards

We’re thrilled that our boutique Portsmouth hotel has been nominated for this years Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards! Love our location, luxurious linens, quaint back courtyard, or tasty breakfast items? Voting is now open and we’d be honored if you’d take a second to vote for us and share why you love The Hotel Portsmouth. Not only are we grateful for your support, but each time you vote, you’re entered to win a luxury cruise for two!

Vote for us today!

Whitehall Makes the 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards

We’re thrilled that our boutique Camden hotel has been nominated for this years Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards! Love our midcoast Maine location, luxurious linens, cozy outdoor fireplaces, or tasty breakfast items? Voting is now open and we’d be honored if you’d take a second to vote for us and share why you love Whitehall. Not only are we grateful for your support, but each time you vote, you’re entered to win a luxury cruise for two!

Vote for us today!

Field Guide Makes the 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards

We’re thrilled that our boutique Stowe hotel has been nominated for this years Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards! Love our location, luxurious linens, outdoor lounge area and pool, or tasty breakfast items? Voting is now open and we’d be honored if you’d take a second to vote for us and share why you love Field Guide. Not only are we grateful for your support, but each time you vote, you’re entered to win a luxury cruise for two!

Vote for us today!

21 Broad Makes the 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards

We’re thrilled that our boutique Nantucket hotel has been nominated for this years Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards! Love our location, luxurious linens, great staff, or tasty breakfast items? Voting is now open and we’d be honored if you’d take a second to vote for us and share why you love 21 Broad. Not only are we grateful for your support, but each time you vote, you’re entered to win a luxury cruise for two!

Vote for us today!

76 Main Makes the 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards

We’re thrilled that our boutique Nantucket hotel has been nominated for this years Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards! Love our location, luxurious linens, cozy courtyard, or tasty breakfast items? Voting is now open and we’d be honored if you’d take a second to vote for us and share why you love 76 Main. Not only are we grateful for your support, but each time you vote, you’re entered to win a luxury cruise for two!

Vote for us today!

Best Places for Lobster in Provincetown

Many visitors to Cape Cod have one thing in mind when it comes to food: enjoying as much local lobster as possible. Naturally, as it’s surrounded by water on three sides, Provincetown is a great place to enjoy the fresh Maine lobster caught just off the coast. In our minds, vacations on the Cape and lobster go hand in hand, so naturally many of the guests at our boutique Provincetown hotel are wondering where’s the best place for lobster in Provincetown? We’ve got you covered with three recommendations from upscale to seaside shack for the best places for lobster in Provincetown.

The Lobster Pot | 321 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 487-0842

This seafood restaurant with its prominent red lobster neon sign is a Provincetown institution. Yes, you’ll get a bib, and your server will have instructions on how to crack a lobster if you’re a newbie. There’s a wide variety of lobster preparations on the menu here, from lobster tacos and ravioli to the classic, steamed with drawn butter. You can even order a half or whole lobster on the side when you choose one of the restaurant’s signature seafood stews. For fans of classic seafood restaurants, a visit to The Lobster Pot is a must.

Mac’s Fish House | 85 Shank Painter Rd, Provincetown | (508) 487-6227

We love Mac’s for its old school vibe and its new school menu. There’s several different types of lobster on the menu here, so whether you’re looking for a classic preparation or an inventive one, you’ll find something. The lobster roll is one of the best in town, loaded with meat tossed in a housemade aioli. Mac’s has an extensive sushi menu where the Cape Cod roll with lobster, cucumber, avocado, panko, tobiko, and spicy mayo is popular.

The Mews | 429 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 487-1500

This happening Commercial Street restaurant has two floors for dining, upstairs being the more casual bistro. The menu tends towards the upscale with globally-inspired entrees. Their famous lobster entree is not for the faint of heart, with the meat of a whole lobster braised in butter and served with seared scallops, mushrooms, potatoes, and peas and covered in a bernaise sauce. It’s rich, but one of the best lobster dishes in Provincetown. Be sure to make a reservation if your heart is set on it, as the restaurant is popular and tends to fill up. Live music in the bistro on Sunday and Monday nights means The Mews is always rocking.

Springtime in Mendocino

We love the Northern coast of California in the springtime—the rainy and cool weather of winter has finally receded and the landscape is starting to bloom again. With its beaches, botanical gardens, and festivals, springtime in Mendocino is a great time to visit. Plan your visit to our Mendocino boutique hotel Blue Door Group, with these tips for springtime in Mendocino.

Our Mendocino boutique hotel will be all spruced up for your next visit—rooms in the JD and Packard House are being renovated for springtime in Mendocino. Rooms in the JD House overlook the ocean and the English cottage style garden will be showing off its hydrangea blooms, succulents, and annual plantings. Springtime in Mendocino sees daily high temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s but cools off at night. It’s best to pack plenty of layers for warm days and cool nights, and of course, your raincoat for the occasional springtime shower.

Start your day off with our signature small plates breakfast and a cup of locally roasted coffee from Thanksgiving Coffee Roasters at the inn. Then consider a trip to the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, a short drive north of Mendocino in Fort Bragg. Springtime is one of our favorite times of year at the garden, when the magnolia and rhododendron blooms are the star of the show. Enjoy the mild weather as you explore the 47 acres of gardens filled with native plantings.

Or perhaps you’d like to spend an afternoon trying your hand at whale spotting! Springtime in Mendocino is when whales’ migratory routes bring them past the north coast of California. Grey whales make their way from Alaska to Baja, Mexico this time of year and can frequently be spotted from any high vantage point in Mendocino. The trails of the Mendocino Headlands State Park, just a short walk from our inns downtown, are a great place to scope out some whales. If you’d like some guidance during your whale watching, a number of charter trips out of Fort Bragg let you see the whales up close while learning some facts about these beautiful mammals. Whether you choose to stay on land or get out on the water, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to choose from during your visit to Mendocino in springtime.

Best Oysters in Falmouth, MA

Guests of our boutique Falmouth hotel love to enjoy fresh Cape Cod seafood during their visit. In particular, the Cape is known for its oyster varieties, with over 40 oyster farms in the area. A plate of freshly shucked Cape Cod oysters enjoyed while overlooking the Falmouth harbor is particularly nice. Next time you’re on a lark to Falmouth, visit one of these raw bars and seafood market to find the best oysters in Falmouth.

Falmouth Raw Bar | 56 Scranton Ave, Falmouth | 508) 548-7729

With its casual sports bar vibe, the Falmouth Raw Bar serves up some of the best oysters in Falmouth. Located right across from the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, this waterfront raw bar is a great place to kill some time before catching a boat—the people watching here is great too. During nice weather, grab a seat on the open-air deck of this casual seafood restaurant.

The Clam Man | 15 Boxwood Cir, Falmouth | (508) 548-6044

Perhaps you’d like to shuck your oysters yourself—if so, The Clam Man is your destination. This seafood market has a great selection of oysters, most of them from Cape Cod. At $1.50 each, these are easily the best prices for oysters and all the toppings you may need, from lemons to Sriracha, are in stock. Pick up a dozen oysters to enjoy back on the patio of our Falmouth boutique hotel (https://www.thecoonamessett.com/).

Water Street Kitchen | 56 Water St, Woods Hole | (508) 540-5656

Swing into this fine dining destination after exploring the Woods Hole Historical Museum. Oyster purists won’t approve, but we love a little creativity in our oyster preparation every now and then. Water Street Kitchen serves some of the best oysters in Falmouth, grilled and topped with yuzu butter and flying fish roe.

Best Bakeries in Newburyport

The quaint seaside town of Newburyport has plenty of fantastic shops to explore in an afternoon. We love walking the historic streets and often find ourselves in need of a coffee and sweet treat in the afternoon. Newburyport has several independently-owned bakeries where you can enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee and a cookie or scone. On your next visit to our Plum Island boutique hotel Blue—Inn on the Beach, enjoy our recommendations for the best bakeries in Newburyport.

Buttermilk Baking Company | 9 Liberty St, Newburyport | (978) 499-8278

Newburyport’s best-known bakery, Buttermilk Baking Company makes its signature treats—as expected, a buttermilk biscuit—fresh daily. The bakery case is full of sweet and savory treats, all baked in-house from scratch. Try a cinnamon roll, a blueberry turnover, or a macaroon—the selection varies, but is always worth the splurge. If you’re in town for it, catch the bakery’s “after dark” pop-ups, with a special menu served out of the back door after 9PM.

Figtree Kitchen Bakery | 3 Liberty St, Newburyport | (978) 255-4076

Just down the street from Buttermilk Baking is another great Newburyport bakery, this one known for its kouign amann. This buttery French pastry resembles a croissant, with flaky layers and caramelized sugar that makes for crunchy edges. Pro tip: it’s pronounced “queen ah-man,” so you can order one without hesitation. A selection of savory tarts, wraps, and other sweet treats round out the bakery’s selection.

Annarosa’s Bakery | 175 Elm St, Salisbury | (978) 499-8839

A visit to this bakery is worth the detour to Salisbury. Annarosa’s makes bread from specialty grains in its brick oven, which results in loaves with crackly crusts and tender interiors. Several kinds of breads are available daily, from raisin walnut whole wheat to eggy brioche. The deep dish focaccia, topped with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil is one of our favorites. The small selection of pastry shouldn’t be overlooked, with some of the best pecan rolls and cannolis in the area.

Maple Season in Stowe

All of those sugar maples that create Vermont’s famous fall foliage are ramping up their sap production as the spring temperatures slowly warm up in northern Vermont. As you travel the state, you’ll see plumes of steam coming from sugaring houses as sap is boiled down to rich, golden Vermont maple syrup. Many sugar houses have special events and open houses to celebrate maple season in Stowe. As you explore Vermont from our Stowe boutique hotel Field Guide, stop by one of these two sugar houses and enjoy maple season in Stowe.

Nebraska Knoll Sugar Farm | 256 Falls Brook Ln, Stowe | (802) 253-4655

This family-run sugar house has been producing maple syrup since the 1980s, nestled on the slopes of Mt. Mansfield. As with all maple producers, the Coty family collects sap from their trees when the spring conditions are right and boils it down to make the year’s supply of syrup. This means round-the-clock production and a LOT of sap—it takes 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. You can see the maze of tubing that connects the farm’s 9,000 trees to the storage tanks and tour the sugar house facility, where it’s hot and steamy as you might imagine. Of course, you’ll want to pick up some syrup; Nebraska Knoll sells its syrup, as well as maple candy and maple sugar.

Stowe Maple Products | 2618 Waterbury Rd, Stowe | (802) 253-2508

This sugar house and store is actually open year round, but it’s always fun to stop by when maple syrup production is in full swing. The store doesn’t have a website or social media site (you can call for directions or to confirm they’re open), but instead relies on word-of-mouth and good customer service. This time of year, you can sample warm syrup right from the stove or you can try different grades of syrup to determine your favorite. While the Grade A “fancy” syrup may seem like it’s the best and most desirable, many prefer the stronger maple flavor that comes with the Grade A “robust” syrup. Brush up on your maple syrup knowledge during maple season in Stowe.

Best Chowder on Martha’s Vineyard

For New England clam chowder lovers, no visit to Massachusetts is complete without a bowl of the creamy, briny, bivalve-studded soup. But all too often, the regional specialty is over-thickened or lacking the requisite pieces of tender clams. But we’ve got you covered with recommendations for the best chowder on Martha’s Vineyard. Next time you’re on a lark to Martha’s Vineyard, stop into one of these three restaurants where you’ll find the best chowder on Martha’s Vineyard.

Atlantic Fish & Chop House | 2 Main St, Edgartown | (508) 627-7001

We love the Atlantic Fish & Chop House for a date night or a casual dinner out—the patio is the best place to soak up the nice weather come summer. The Boston Globe called the Chop House’s version the “best chowder on the island,” with its ample amount of potatoes and clam bellies. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week after May 1st, the Atlantic Fish & Chop House has a nice mix of land and sea-based dishes for whatever you and your group are craving.

Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company | 9 Oak Bluffs Ave, Oak Bluffs | 508-696-3000

With a name like Chowder Company, you know this Oak Bluffs restaurant has to have perfected its signature dish. Regularly voted as having the best chowder on the island by the readers of Martha’s Vineyard magazine, this casual restaurant and raw bar serves up classic seafood dishes in addition to best chowder on Martha’s Vineyard. Every batch is made daily from scratch and contains plenty of quahog clams.

Edgartown Seafood | 138 Cooke St, Edgartown | (508) 627-3791

This seafood market has great takeout options for when you’re looking to build the perfect Martha’s Vineyard beach picnic. Their clam chowder isn’t too thick, with the perfect amount of fresh clams. We also love their lobster rolls and steamed lobsters for when you just want to dig into some local lobsters without the hassle of steaming them.

Museums on Cape Cod

When vacationing on Cape Cod this year, plan to break up the drive with a stop at one of the many museums on Cape Cod. Whether you’re headed out to one of our Cape Cod boutique hotels, AWOL in Provincetown or The Coonamessett in Falmouth, these museums offer a nice afternoon of Cape Cod history and culture. Visit one of these museums on Cape Cod and learn about its most famous resident, JFK; the history of glass manufacturing on the Cape; and the Pilgrims first stop in America.

John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum | 397 Main St, Hyannis | (508) 790-3077

President Kennedy loved spending time on the Cape at his family home in Hyannis. This museum chronicles both Kennedy’s personal life, with a special focus on his time on Cape Cod, and his presidency. Photos of JFK and his family enjoying their time on the Cape, especially sailing on the ocean, fill the museum’s permanent collection as well as a special exhibit of photos from the family’s personal photographer. The museum celebrates 100 years since JFK’s birth with a look into his legacy, both presidential and on the Cape.

Sandwich Glass Museum | 129 Main St, Sandwich | (508) 888-0251

It may surprise you to learn that the Cape was New England’s glass blowing capital during the time of the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company. This museum on the site of the old factory brings that history to life with one of the quirkiest museums on Cape Cod. You can browse the museum’s incredible collection of glass objects and glass manufacturing equipment, and then enjoy a live glass blowing demonstration. Between the intricate glass artifacts and the excitement of the live demonstrations, this museum on Cape Cod will have something for everyone.

Provincetown Pilgrim Monument and Museum | 1 High Pole Hill Rd, Provincetown | (508) 487-1310

Did you know the Pilgrims stopped in Provincetown for 5 weeks before moving onto to Plymouth? This monument and museum, built in 1907, memorializes the English explorers’ time on the Cape. Climb P’town’s signature granite tower to reach 350 feet above sea level, then head into the Provincetown museum to learn about the town’s early history.

Best Happy Hour in Salem

After a busy day spent exploring all there is to do and see in Salem, it’s time to put your feet up and enjoy a drink. Salem has a number of great beer and cocktail bars and some great happy hour deals if you know where to look. Whether you’re after a pint of local craft beer or cocktails made with local spirits like Deacon Giles‘ rum, here are our recommendations to find a place serving up one of the best happy hours in Salem.

And if you don’t feel like leaving your hotel? Enjoy our BYOB happy hour at The Merchant, where we provide all the glassware, ice, and craft mixers you need to enjoy a cocktail in the parlor of our Salem boutique hotel. Staying at The Hotel Salem? Head to our onsite restaurant, Counter, for a thoughtfully crafted drink.

Sea Level Oyster Bar | 94 Wharf St, Salem | (978) 741-0555

We love this casual oyster bar for its waterfront views, creative cocktails, and great craft beer selection with over 20 taps. During happy hour (5-7pm on weekdays), oysters are just a dollar, making this buck a shuck special one of the best in town. With drink specials on wine, beer, and well drinks, we love to stop into the bar at Sea Level for the best happy hour in Salem.

Howling Wolf Taqueria | 76 Lafayette St, Salem | (978) 744-9653

Monday and Tuesday nights bring the deals at this Mexican restaurant that’s only a few blocks from The Merchant. On Monday nights, you can order a burrito and a beer for $10, making this deal one of the best happy hours in Salem. Howling Wolf’s burritos are filling and come with a variety of Tex Mex and Mexican meats and vegetables—we recommend their specialty, the carne deshebrada, a slow-cooked spicy beef.

Opus | 87 Washington St, Salem | (978) 744-9600

This bar and music venue regularly garners awards from Northshore magazine for best cocktails, best bar, and best happy hour in Salem. With a long list of creative cocktails that use fruit and spice infused spirits, there’s a drink for all tastes. Dollar oysters during happy hour are just more reason to choose Opus for the best happy hour in Salem.

Where to Find the Best Burger in Newport

While we love Newport for its upscale seafood restaurants that line the waterfront, we also know that sometimes you just want a good burger in a casual environment. Newport is lucky in that regard, as it’s home to Mission Burger which is regularly voted the best burger in Newport and was even declared to be the best burger in the state by Thrillist.

With counter service and a menu scrawled on a roll of brown craft paper hanging behind the register, Mission Burger keeps its focus on making the best burgers in Newport. The meat for Mission’s burgers and hot dogs is ground in-house, a real rarity in the restaurant industry. All of its burgers are priced at $10 or less, with the classic burger coming in at only $7.25. The cheeseburger attracted Thrillist’s award, with its special Mission sauce and caramelized onions. A mix of ketchup, aioli, cornichons, and herbs, the sauce is an upscale version of McDonald’s Big Mac sauce that delights all of our taste buds. Add in an order of hand cut fries, and you’ve got a classic American meal without the guilt of fast food. Mission Burger is even vegetarian-friendly, with a killer falafel sandwich stacked high with vegetables and tzatziki sauce. Beer and wine round out the reasons to seek out the best burger in Newport at Mission Burger.

If you’re wanting chicken more than beef, head to Mission Burger’s sister restaurant, Winner, Winner. The success of Mission Burger inspired its owners to open another restaurant in 2016, serving fried chicken. Once again, elevating the fast food experience is the theme with buckets of fried chicken and fried chicken sandwiches. We love the Viet Now, a fried, dark meat chicken patty topped with fish sauce, sriracha, and veggie slaw. Sides like biscuits, mac and cheese, and black-eyed peas are no afterthought either. Winner, Winner’s crispy fried chicken will have you craving it again before you even leave town.

Mission Burger | 29 Marlborough St. in Newport | (401) 619-5560
Winner, Winner | 677 Thames Street, Newport | (401) 848-2449

Portsmouth Bookstores

One thing we love about Portsmouth is the number of boutiques and shops that line its brick sidewalks. During your visit, we recommend spending an afternoon strolling around downtown, popping into shops, stopping for a beer or coffee, and generally enjoying the historic port of Portsmouth. In particular, we love to browse Portsmouth bookstores, in search of our next vacation read. Next time you’re visiting one of our Portsmouth boutique hotels, visit one of these three Portsmouth bookstores and pick up some new (or used!) books.

RiverRun Bookstore | 32 Daniel St, Portsmouth | (603) 431-2100

This independent Portsmouth bookstore recently moved to a new location, so you’ll find an expanded selection of new and used books. The shop is known for its events, hosting local Seacoast authors and ones with a national following like Neil Gaiman and Jennifer Egan. RiverRun also runs its own small publishing house on site, publishing books of all genre. Stop in to browse their selection and pick up a local history book or the latest in fiction.

Sheafe Street Books | 29 Sheafe St, Portsmouth | (603) 498-5202

If you like the thrill of the hunt, you’ll love this used bookstore that has books stacked at every turn. With cozy corners that invite you to curl up with a book, this Portsmouth bookstore invites its customers to browse its expansive collection of used books, all helpfully organized by topic. There’s even a store cat! If it seems like you’re in someone’s living room, it’s because, well, you are—the shop is part of owner Ken Kosick’s house.

Portsmouth Book & Bar | 40 Pleasant St, Portsmouth | (603) 427-9197

If you prefer to combine happy hour with your book shopping, head to Book & Bar where a small cafe will keep you fed and quenched while you browse. Book & Bar hosts author readings, open mic, and live music nearly every night of the week. Open from 10 am to 10 pm (midnight on weekends), the menu at Book & Bar offers sandwiches, salads, and mezze plates. Enjoy a local draft beer or a glass of wine while you read the first few pages of your new book.

A Visit to Wiggly Bridge Distillery in York

From blueberry maple moonshine and horseradish vodka to rye whiskey and even absinthe, Maine craft distillers have been busy in the last decade, opening more than 15 craft distilleries in the state. One of our favorites is a short drive from our Kennebunkport boutique hotel, with two locations worth visiting in York. Wiggly Bridge Distillery opened in 2013 as its owner David Woods and his son wanted to make their own whiskey. The Woodses not only make two kinds of whiskey today, but also two rums, vodka, and gin. Visit one of Wiggly Bridge Distillery’s two tasting rooms in York to sample their spirits and learn about the distilling process as interpreted by these Maine entrepreneurs.

The original location is on Railroad Ave. in downtown York Beach—an unlikely spot for a distillery, mixed in with fudge and t-shirt shops. But Woods found it to be popular with the tourists that flock to this Southern Maine beach town. The small shop has a single still that was once the businesses’ only one, but is now used exclusively to infuse Wiggly Bridge gin with its signature botanicals. The back of the shop has a small tasting bar, where you can sample the full line of spirits and order a variety of cocktails. The Marmalade Manhattan is a big hit with customers, mixing Wiggly Bridge small barrel bourbon with orange marmalade for a sweet and citrusy drink.

Wiggly Bridge’s second and larger location opened in 2016, in an old restored barn on Route One in York. The barn was built in the late 1880s and was most recently a hardware store. Woods and crew renovated the barn for more production space, now housing two stills, a tasting room bar, retail space, and even an event space. With tons of natural light and beautiful exposed post and beam construction, the barn is a great place to relax with a drink. Pick up a bottle of bourbon to make your own at home or a variety of shirts, hats, and barware to memorialize your visit to Wiggly Bridge Distillery in York.

Wiggly Bridge Distillery | 19 Railroad Ave and 441 US Route One, York | (207) 636-7799

Bowling in Kennebunk

Only a few miles from our boutique Kennebunkport hotel, is downtown Kennebunk, a small but vibrant town that frequently is overlooked by its coastal cousin. But with several great restaurants and a new bowling alley, a trip into downtown Kennebunk is a fun way to spend an afternoon on your next lark to Kennebunkport. Make the highlight of your trip some time at Garden Street Bowl, a new bowling alley run by a trio of native Kennebunkers.

Garden Street Bowl takes the place of a small grocery store just off the main drag in downtown Kennebunk. The extensive renovation brings a moody, industrial vibe to the space with a large concrete bar and modern light fixtures. Plenty of seating is available at the bar, high top tables, and loungey black leather couches. With a great tap list and 10 lanes of bowling, the new lanes were immediately welcomed by everyone in town, from families to couples, when it opened in November of 2017. Afternoons tend to be family-friendly while weekend evenings are more like a bar scene, as the lanes are open until midnight. Air hockey, cornhole, shuffleboard, and darts round out the activities at this bowling alley in Kennebunk.

Although bowling may seem like it’s the main attraction, the owners didn’t want the food to seem like an afterthought. The restaurant Crotux, is a date night destination of its own, with great drink options and a menu of bar snacks, sandwiches, salads, and entrees. Snack on poutine, kimchi deviled eggs, or crispy Brussels sprouts while you bowl or come for dinner and enjoy spicy chicken ramen or a pan-roasted duck breast with a blueberry stout glaze. A separate dining room offers a quieter option for dinner if you’d rather not eat near the lanes. Whether you’re looking for an afternoon of games or a nice dinner out, you shouldn’t overlook bowling in Kennebunk when you’re staying at the Captain Fairfield Inn.

Garden Street Bowl | 11 Garden St, Kennebunk | (207) 636-7799

Portland Breweries Located on Industrial Way

Portland, Maine is known for its craft beer scene, with 90 plus breweries in the state producing some of our favorite beers, from New England-style IPAs to sours and lagers. Many of our guests at our boutique Portland hotel get right to the source of some of the best craft beer around by visiting the Portland breweries located on Industrial Way. This Portland neighborhood is an unlikely spot for some of the best beer in town but has become a haven for beer tourists. In addition to Allagash Brewing, one of the founders of Maine’s craft beer scene, you’ll find three other craft breweries with tasting rooms, and one bonus distillery tasting room.

Allagash has one of the best tasting rooms and tours of all the Maine breweries, which makes sense, as it’s had since its opening in 1992 to hone its craft. While many are familiar with Allagash White, the company’s Belgian-style wheat beer, the tasting flight will serve up lesser-known styles like James Bean, made with locally roasted coffee, and Little Sal, a sour aged with Maine blueberries. The tour is a great behind the scene look at what makes Allagash so special, from its barrel aging room to the coolship shed where sour beers are fermented. Tours book up fast, so reserve your spot online.

Allagash Brewing Company | 50 Industrial Way, Portland | (207) 878-5385

 

Across the street from Allagash, an industrial warehouse is home to three breweries that make for an excellent place to spend an afternoon. Foundation Brewing is the largest, having taken over several bays left empty after Bissell Brothers relocated to Thompson’s Point. Foundation is best known for its Double IPA Epiphany, but also brews several other delicious IPAs, a great Pilsner, and brown ale. Rotating specials like the sour saison Zuurzing shouldn’t be overlooked.

Foundation Brewing Company | 1 Industrial Way #5, Portland | (207) 370-8187

 

Walk around the corner from Foundation to find two more breweries: Austin Street and Battery Steele Brewing. Austin Street’s flagship is its Patina Pale Ale, and you can sample it and a rotating selection of beers then pick up some cans of your favorite. Battery Steele is the newest of the bunch and brews a small number of beers. Try one or all four as you spend an afternoon at the tasting rooms of the Portland breweries on Industrial Way.

Austin Street Brewery | 1 Industrial Way #8, Portland | (207) 200-1994
Battery Steele Brewing | 1 Industrial Way #12, Portland

Food and Drink Tour of Stowe

Vermont has a great reputation for its large number of local farms and specialty food products, from cheese to craft beer. In Stowe, there’s a number of great businesses that make their own local food and drink products, and it’s a fun afternoon to stop in and sample the wares. Should it be rainy or too cold on your visit to Stowe, here is an itinerary for your own food and drink tour of Stowe.

Start or end your trip in Waterbury, about a 20-minute drive south of Stowe. Here, you’ll find the Ben & Jerry’s factory, Cold Hollow Cider and Cabot Creamery. No visit to Vermont is complete without some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and at the factory store you can take a 30-minute guided tour and then sample a new or your favorite flavor. Don’t miss the flavor graveyard, a mock cemetery dedicated to all the discontinued flavors (RIP, Wavy Gravy).

Next up: cheese! Waterbury is home to the Cabot Cheese Farmers’ Store, where there’s plenty of free samples. Stock up on your favorite and browse the shop full of Vermont specialty food products. Then head north to Cold Hollow Cider, a sweet cider facility where you can see cider making in action and enjoy all sorts of apple treats. Cider is made three times a week in the off-season but daily in the fall—fortunately, the apple cider donuts are made daily no matter the season. Stock up on baked apple treats and cider and then hit the road back to Stowe.

In Stowe, visit Laughing Moon Chocolates to sample handmade chocolate truffles, bark, and clusters. The chocolatiers use Vermont ingredients where they can, including Jasper Hill Farms’ Bayley Hazen blue cheese, a flavor combo you’ll just have to try to believe.

You’re sure to have worked up a thirst after all these tours, stop into one of Stowe’s famed breweries to sample some of the local craft beer. See our post on Stowe breweries and end your food and drink tour of Stowe with a flight of craft beer.

Best Cocktail Bars in Provincetown

There’s no shortage of places to grab a drink in Provincetown, with its hopping nightlife scene and waterfront bars. Much of the fun of this LGBT-friendly community is found in the summertime nightlife scene, when people of all types head to Commercial Street to mingle. Whether you’re looking for a pre-dinner drink, happy hour, or a nightcap or two, these cocktail bars in Provincetown deliver a well-mixed cocktail served up with that Cape Cod beach town vibe.

The Canteen | 225 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 487-3800

We love this casual waterfront bar for much more than its drinks—its lunch and dinner menus always deliver up what we’re craving. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink overlooking the water or the street, with outside seating options for both. The cocktails are simple and use interesting ingredients like dill aquavit in the Bloody Mary and a Negroni made with white port. Definitely make The Canteen part of your P’town cocktail hour.

Patio | 328 Commercial Street Provincetown | (508) 487-4003

With a name like Patio, you know this restaurant has a great one. It’s the perfect spot to sip on sangria and watch the crowds go by. Patio bartenders are known for their mojitos—the menu offers 12 different varieties from fresh ginger to sparkling with Prosecco. The other cocktail selections tend more towards flavored vodkas and fruity cosmo variety, which we never mind on a hot summer P’town night.

Shipwreck Lounge | 0 Carver St, Provincetown | (508) 487-9005

With its fireplaces and lounge furniture, the Shipwreck Lounge is a great place to get cozy by the fire at the beginning of end of your evening. An outdoor firepit also makes for a lively hang on summer nights. The craft cocktail menu offers up fun choices like the basil gin smash and an elderflower sidecar. Keep an eye out for the two bar cats that give the Shipwreck Lounge its quirky P’town charm.

Provincetown Coffee Shops

With so much to do and see in Provincetown, you’re going to need some serious caffeine to get you through the day. From perusing galleries and shops to late night dance parties, Provincetown is a 24/7 town in the summer. Fortunately, Commercial Street is lined with coffee shops and cafes that can provide that much needed pick-me-up. Here are three of our favorite Provincetown coffee shops for your stay at our Provincetown boutique hotel (awolhotel.com) this summer.

Kohi Coffee Company | 199 Commercial St, Provincetown | (774) 538-6467

With three locations in Boston and Provincetown, this coffee shop is chic with its white subway tile, modern fixtures, and Instagrammable succulents. Serving Tandem Coffee, roasted in Portland, Maine, Kohi’s coffees are roasted on the lighter side. Enjoy your coffee on the back deck overlooking P’town harbor.

Wired Puppy | 379 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 487-0017

If you find yourself in need of coffee while on the Western end of Commercial Street, seek out Wired Puppy. The owners pride themselves on sourcing the best coffees and roasting them to perfection, and naturally this level of detail translates to the coffee bar as well. Coffee is brewed in several ways—from Chemex and siphon to pour over and French press. If you’re looking to linger, you can enjoy a coffee prepared in one of these ways, otherwise, drip coffee is available to go.

Happy Camper | 227 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 487-3800

Head to Happy Camper when you need a sweet treat with your coffee. This shop is known for its housemade donuts and ice cream in addition to its espresso bar. Try a plum glazed donut with black tea cream filling or go big with a browned butter donut and a scoop of cake batter ice cream. Happy Camper serves Stumptown Roasters coffee to balance the sweetness of its baked goods. You’ll love this sweet little store and its curated selection of beach necessities like Turkish towels, ukuleles, and watermelon floats.

Sailing and Boating Activities in Falmouth

With Cape Cod surrounded by water on three sides, beach days, ocean swims, sunset cruises, and day trips to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are a big part of any Cape experience. There are so many options for exploring Cape Cod by water, whether you’re fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, or sailing. If you’re looking to get out on the water during your visit to Cape Cod, here are two great options for sailing and boating activities in Falmouth.

Schooner Liberté | 227 Clinton Ave, Falmouth | (508) 524-9121

Take a cruise on this 70-foot three masted schooner and see the Cape from a different angle. The Liberté is docked at the mouth of the Falmouth River, meaning you can be out in the protected waters of Vineyard Sound in no time. Help the crew set sail and go where the wind takes you—towards Martha’s Vineyard where you can see the stately homes of Oak Bluffs or further East along the Cape, where you’ll see lighthouses and the unspoiled beauty of the Waquoit Bay national refuge. Liberté sets sail three times a day in the summer, including a 6pm sunset cruise with a full bar.

Patriot Party Boats | 227 Clinton Ave, Falmouth 02540 | 508-548-2626

Go fishing with this sport and ground fishing outfit out of Falmouth Harbor. With a variety of full or half day trips, you can head out to some of the Cape’s best fishing grounds with an experienced guide. Take the whole family on a bottom fishing trip, a shorter trip in calmer waters, or head out for a day of sport fishing in the currents near Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Everything from bait to tackle is provided on these trips, so you only need to pack a great picnic lunch and think good fish-catching thoughts. Patriot Boats also operates ferries to the islands and private charters.

Our Favorite Brunch in Salem

Salem has so many great places to enjoy breakfast and brunch during your visit. These quirky Salem institutions have been part of the community for years and have earned a reputation for serving up the best brunch in Salem. Next time you’re on a lark to one of our boutique Salem hotels, here are three places where you can find a solid breakfast before exploring all that Salem has to offer.

Ugly Mug Diner | 122 Washington St, Salem | (978) 745-6844

This diner is right up the street from The Merchant and serves diner food with a twist (or “twisted” food as they say). The Mug is all the things you love about a diner, but with some new school touches like an espresso machine, craft beer, and hand-cut fries. Go classic with silver dollar pancakes and steak and eggs or go big with duck confit topped waffles and breakfast poutine. The menu is seriously long with a wide selection of sweet and savory breakfast and lunch items.

Front Street Coffeehouse | 20 Front Street, Salem | (978) 740-6697

Also a short walk from The Merchant, Front Street Coffeehouse has been the heart of Salem’s creative community for years. We love their creative sandwich combinations, all packed full of veggies and delicious spreads. Breakfast sandwiches, juices, fruit and yogurt parfaits, and coffee drinks round out the breakfast selection.

Gulu-Gulu Cafe | 247 Essex St, Salem | (978) 740-8882

We love Gulu-Gulu for so many things—lunch, coffee, happy hour—and brunch is no exception. Its savory and sweet crepe selection makes for a unique brunch option, but there’s everything from light and healthy breakfasts to hearty traditional options available. Grab a breakfast sandwich to go or stay and enjoy a beer or brunch cocktail with your meal to make it a more leisurely affair. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy one of the best brunches in Salem at this cafe.

Yoga and Fitness Classes in Mendocino

When you’re on vacation in Mendocino, sometimes it’s nice to relax and not have much more to do than go for a walk on the beach. Other days it might feel good to get out and take yoga or fitness classes in Mendocino. During our busy lives, working out can be one of the first priorities to fall to the wayside, so a vacation can be a nice time to reconnect with your yoga practice or to kick it up a notch with a beachside boot camp. During your stay at Blue Door Group—Inns of Mendocino, consider booking one of these yoga and fitness classes in Mendocino.

Yoga Shine Mendocino | 45050 Albion St, Mendocino | (707) 407-6085

With classes for all levels, this downtown Mendo yoga studio is the perfect place to drop into while visiting. The studio has hardwood floors and large windows that let in plenty of natural light, making for a comfortable space to practice. Many of the classes are heated, like the vinyasa flow and hatha yoga sessions. Other fun classes include Buti, a dance-yoga hybrid, and evening candlelit sessions. Private classes are also offered if you’d like to create your own yoga retreat in Mendocino.

Mendocino Boot Camp | (707) 357-0852

Burpees, squats, push-ups, and lunges—this boot camp meets Wednesday mornings for an hour on the beach, rain or shine. Despite the intense training, the sand, waves, and sun make the hour fly by. Email Mendocino Boot Camp’s founder and trainer Sandra to reserve your spot in this women-only boot camp, and enjoy Mendocino’s beautiful scenery while you work up a sweat.

Mendocino Healing

Yoga classes in Mendocino are but one service this holistic arts center offers. From reiki to guided meditation, you can relax and heal in new ways during your vacation. Yoga classes are offered Monday through Wednesday and Fridays, with private classes available too. A variety of class styles are offered, including hatha, vinyasa, and a core toning yoga. Sign up ahead of time to get the information on the studio location.

Spooky Tours and Classes in Salem, MA

There’s so much to do and see in Salem when it comes to learning the history of the area and in particular the Salem Witch Trials. A lot of the attractions can be a bit cheesy, so we recommend these tours and classes in Salem to those who want to sample the spookier side of Salem without any over-the-top theatrics. Learn about the history of Salem through its burial practices, make some magic, and sample some adult beverages with these tours and classes in Salem.

Salem Historical Tours | 8 Central St, Salem | (978) 745-0666

This tour company offers several walking tours around Salem, from cemetery tours to ghost tours. Learn about the events that started the Witch Trials on the Witchcraft Walk or visit the city’s oldest cemetery to learn about gravestones and the stories of those buried on the Grave Matters tour. Salem Historical Tours are the city’s oldest and always deliver an educational and entertaining tour.

Dark Moon Tarot | 27 Congress St, #203, Salem

Workshops offered by the two women of Dark Moon Tarot range from making your own cold and flu season salve to learning to read tarot cards. Learn about the healing power of herbs while you make potions, sleep spray or wellness salve in these 2-hour workshops. Come warmer months, go on a guided walk to forage herbs known for their medicinal properties. Dark Moon Tarot’s workshops are a great way to tap into Salem’s intuitive community and end up with a vacation souvenir at the same time.

Salem Spirits Trolley | (978) 594-8811

Learn about a different “spirit” on the Salem Spirits Trolley tour, this time of the craft beverage variety. Salem has several breweries, distilleries, and cideries making delicious beverages from local products, and this tour provides tours and samples of three Salem beverage facilities. Learn about the history of alcohol and Prohibition in Salem, while you sip cocktails, beer, and cider. Light snacks from The Cheese Shop of Salem are provided too.

Visit These Newburyport Museums

While we love Newburyport for its charming downtown district, fabulous beaches, and great restaurants, the area was once a bustling commercial seaport. With its location at the mouth of the Merrimack River and its proximity to Boston, Portsmouth, and Portland, Newburyport was a prime spot for the shipbuilding, fishing, and shipping industries. Today, many historical sites serve as reminders of the city’s rich maritime history, like historic houses and even the site of the country’s first Coast Guard. Those interested in learning more about the area’s history should visit these two Newburyport museums.

Custom House Maritime Museum | 25 Water St, Newburyport | (978) 462-8681

The city’s custom house is now home to a maritime museum, having once been the offices that oversaw imports entering the city. The building itself is an architectural treat, built in 1835 from local granite, with marble floors and brick fireplaces. The maritime museum has a great collection of art, artifacts, and ships models that tell so much about the lives of everyday people in Newburyport. The historical records of the custom house detail the assortment of goods from around the world that passed through Newburyport, while an exhibit on the city’s shipyard shows off the prolific shipbuilding of the 19th century. The museum is open Saturdays and Sundays January through April and Tuesday through Sunday May through December.

Museum of Old Newbury | 98 High St, Newburyport | (978) 462-2681

This Newburyport museum tells the history of the area within the home of the Cushing family, a family of merchants, sea captains, and a former mayor of Newburyport. Members of the Cushing family lived in the Federalist style mansion, built in 1808, until 1955 when it was gifted to the museum. It’s full of period furniture, silverware, fixtures, appliances, and wallpaper and makes for a fascinating peek back in time. Combined with the collection of the Newburyport Marine Society, the museum provides a great look at how a wealthy family during Newburyport’s shipping heyday with some historical context provided by other artifacts. Take a guided tour and then explore the gardens, which were restored to its mid-19th-century design based on a family member’s drawings. The museum opens for the season Memorial Day weekend and is open for tours Wednesday through Sunday.

Best Places to Brunch on Martha’s Vineyard

We love summers on the Vineyard, with time spent at the beach, exploring the island, and eating out at all the fabulous restaurants. While we serve our signature small plates breakfast at of our boutique Edgartown hotels, guests at Oak Bluffs hotel, Summercamp, often enjoy heading out to find the best places to brunch on Martha’s Vineyard. Whether you’re looking for a casual bite before heading to the beach or for a more drawn-out affair with drinks and decadent dishes, we have a recommendation for the best brunch on Martha’s Vineyard. Enjoy brunching at one of these three Oak Bluffs brunch spots the next time you’re on a lark to Martha’s Vineyard.

Linda Jean’s | 25 Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs | (508) 693-4093

This Martha’s Vineyard institution regularly gets voted as having the best breakfast by Martha’s Vineyard magazine. Breakfast here is simple, with all the classics: omelets, french toast, steak and eggs, and waffles. With large portions, low prices, and plenty of hot coffee, Linda Jean’s has everything you’ve come to expect and love about diner breakfasts.

Slice of Life | 50 Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs | (508) 693-3838

Stop into this café and bakery for brunch and grab a seat on the covered porch. While the breakfast and brunch menu might look standard, it’s full of little touches that elevate it, like scallion garlic potato pancakes and housemade buttermilk biscuits. In the fall and winter, Sunday brunch brings fun items like breakfast nachos and a morning BLT, made with a fried-green-tomato. No matter the season, we love Slice of Life’s bakery case—don’t leave brunch without taking a peek!

Beetlebung | 53 Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs | (508) 696-0053

Located in a 100-year old building, this bistro and speakeasy was an instant hit with locals and visitors alike when it opened three years ago. While we love to pop in in the evenings for a cocktail and a taste of the Oak Bluffs nightlife, the brunch menu calls to us when we’re in the mood for overstuffed omelets and french toast bread pudding. Don’t miss one of their signature brunch drinks, like the A&P Bellini, named for the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company that once occupied the building.

Best Portsmouth Restaurants

Portsmouth is known for its robust dining scene, and the managers at our Portsmouth boutique hotels are constantly helping guests find the best Portsmouth restaurants for brunch, lunch, happy hour and dinner. Two Portsmouth restaurants in particular rise to the top as places we constantly send our guests: Moxy and The Franklin. Both are owned by chef and New Hampshire native Matt Louis, who opened Moxy in 2012 and The Franklin two years later. Dine at either when you’re visiting Portsmouth and you’ll see why we consider them two of the best Portsmouth restaurants.

Moxy | 106 Penhallow St, Portsmouth | (603) 319-8178

Moxy, located only a few blocks from Ale House Inn, serves American-style tapas, meaning small plates made with local and farm-fresh ingredients. There are cheese boards and cured meats plates, sure, but Chef Louis and his team show off their chops with dishes like beef short rib marmalade—shreds of slow-cooked beef piled on grilled bread and topped with pickled red onions and bleu cheese. Many of the dishes have roots in traditional New England foods like the johnny cake community, a larger entree perfect for sharing. Diners build their own wraps in thin cornmeal cakes with pulled pork, crispy onion, pickled cucumbers, and a number of barbecue sauces. With plenty of vegetarian options too, you’re sure to enjoy something from the menu that you’ll be thinking about for days and weeks to come. Don’t miss dessert either, with enticing options like mini whoopie pies and fried dough with caramel, chocolate, and fruit dipping sauces.

The Franklin | 148 Fleet St, Portsmouth | (603) 373-8500

Moxy’s sister restaurant The Franklin (formerly known as The Franklin Oyster House) is a short walk from The Hotel Portsmouth. Like Moxy, the menu is playful and uses many New England products, but focuses more heavily on seafood. While the drinks are spectacular at Moxy, they literally take center stage at The Franklin, where a large horseshoe-shaped bar is the center of attention. In addition to a great craft beer and wine selection, the cocktail list is full of inventive combinations that always take us by surprise. Coconut oil washed Scotch and pineapple in the Ko-Ko? Yes, please. Enjoy your drink with a plate of freshly shucked local oysters and you’ve got the start of a great meal. We tend to snack our way through the menu, never missing the Thai-flavored steamed mussels, the Vietnamese roasted Brussels sprouts, and the fish tacos. Whether you end up at Moxy or The Franklin, you’re guaranteed to enjoy a great meal at one of the best Portsmouth restaurants.

 

Best Lobster in Newport

Seaside lobster bakes are a staple of New England summers, and no visit to Newport, Rhode Island would be complete without a taste of the area’s favorite crustacean. Despite all its high-end marinas and yachts, Newport still saves a place on the pier for the fishing boats that land their fair share of lobster from the surrounding waters. Next time you’re on a lark to one of our Newport boutique hotels and are craving some fresh Rhode Island lobster, check out these three places to get the best lobster in Newport.

Midtown Oyster Bar | 345 Thames St, Newport | (401) 619-4100

We love this two-story waterfront seafood restaurant for some of the best lobster in Newport. Choose lobster one of two ways on the menu: an overstuffed lobster roll on a grilled, split top bun or lobster cocktail, lobster chilled and served with a zippy lime aioli. Enjoy a drink overlooking the harbor from the second story deck or inside the chic dining room with its high ceilings and preppy nautical theme. As the name would suggest, the “torched” oysters, broiled with jalapeno bourbon butter are another one of the restaurant’s specialties.

Scales and Shells | 527 Thames St, Newport | (401) 846-3474

This Newport seafood restaurant has been in business for over 30 years, relying on fresh Rhode Island-caught seafood to satisfy its customers. The owners lived in Italy before returning to Newport to open Scales and Shells and channel the Italians’ way of serving simple food made from fresh, local ingredients. Seafood towers are the eye catching plates here, and we particularly love the grilled lobster and corn—just like it sounds, it’s a split, whole lobster, grilled and served with corn on the cob. Much easier than a whole, steamed lobster with no bib required.

Easton’s Beach Snack Shack | 175 Memorial Blvd, Newport | (401) 855-1910

Visit in the summer to find some of the best lobster in Newport at Easton’s Beach. This oceanside seafood shack offers some of the cheapest lobster rolls in Newport—two for under $17. There’s also fried clams, clam cakes, chowder, and a variety of wraps and sandwiches, but we always go for the best lobster deal in town. Enjoy them on the deck overlooking the ocean and you’ve got yourself the perfect afternoon in Newport.

Gourmet Grocery Shops on Cape Cod

With its miles of sandy beaches and acres of public lands to explore, we think Cape Cod is the perfect spot for a picnic. Fortunately, there are plenty of gourmet grocery stores on Cape Cod where you can stock up on crucial picnic supplies like wine, cheese, and gourmet snacks. In between visiting Cape Cod’s museums, exploring beaches, and browsing antique stores, you’re bound to work up an appetite, so seek out one of these gourmet grocery shops on Cape Cod for your picnic supplies.

The Brown Jug | 155 Main St, Sandwich | (508) 888-4669

Stop right after you cross the Bourne bridge at this longtime Cape favorite to stock up on beach provisions. The great cheese case is just the beginning of this gourmet grocery shop’s selection, from sweet treats and wine to cured meats and sandwiches. Don’t miss the great selection of baked goods like chocolate croissants and cheddar and chive scones. In the summer, stay and enjoy wood-fired pizza options and charming outdoor patio seating.

Sapori d’Italia | 766 Route 6A, Dennis | (774) 323-0603

You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Tuscany in this Italian specialty foods shop. From cheese, wine, vinegar, and pasta, there’s a great variety of Italian products, imported by the owners, a mother-and-daughter team—the daughter lives in Tuscany and even runs an agritourismi and a brewery there. Browse the shop’s collection of Italian ceramics, linens, and other home goods before you stock up on delicious Italian cured meats, cheeses, and bread for a delightfully international picnic.

The Chatham Cheese Company | 902 Main St, Chatham | (508) 945-1605

With a name like Cheese Company, you can expect a great cheese case and this gourmet grocery shop in Chatham delivers. With over 120 types of domestic and imported cheeses available, you can build a lovely cheese plate, with types from soft, washed rind cheeses to aged, crumbly ones. There’s a wide selection of accoutrements like cured meats, jams, olives, and crackers to round out your picnic. The shop also sells bread from the Cape’s famed bakery Pain D’Avignon and makes its own specialty sandwiches.

Best Oyster Bars on Cape Cod

With over 40 oyster farms in the waters surrounding Cape Cod, the area has become known as one of the premier oyster producing destinations in the country. Grown in the salty waters of the Cape Cod Bay, these oysters are known for high salinity with a sweet finish. Wellfleets are the most popular variety, but other Cape-grown oysters rival the famous brand in quality and taste. With the most varieties of any state on the East Coast, you’re sure to find a Massachusetts oyster you love. Next time you’re on a lark to one of our two Cape Cod boutique hotels, visit one of the best oyster bars on Cape Cod with our recommendations:

Impudent Oyster | 5 Chatham Bars Ave, Chatham | (508) 945-3545

This Chatham seafood restaurant has become a Cape Cod institution, originally a fisherman’s bar that served popcorn and hotdogs. The menu has come a long way, with a raw bar and creative dishes like queso fundido made with burrata and sun-dried tomatoes. Be sure to start your meal off with a plate of expertly shucked local oysters. If you like your oysters cooked, the Impudent Oyster is known for its Oysters Rockefeller, oysters on the half shell topped with spinach, butter, garlic, and breadcrumbs and broiled.

The Wicked Oyster | 50 Main St, Wellfleet | (508) 349-3455

Of course, Wellfleet, with its eponymous oysters, has one of the best oyster bars on Cape Cod. Try your oysters with the restaurant’s signature spicy mignonette (after you slurp a few undressed, of course). The rest of The Wicked Oyster’s menu is seafood focused, with a variety of pan-fried and fried fish entrees. With an atmosphere a little more upscale than many of the Cape’s seafood shacks, The Wicked Oyster is a great spot for a date night out on the Cape.

The Naked Oyster Bistro & Raw Bar | 410 Main St, Hyannis | (508) 778-6500

The Naked Oyster has one of the best and most creative oyster selections on the Cape, with 13 different ways to enjoy Cape Cod oysters. Our favorite might be the “Russian Roulette” oysters, 6 oysters served on the half shell, with one spiked with hot pepper sauce and served with a shot of Russian vodka. Try your oysters as a shooter, topped with caviar, or baked with bacon, bleu cheese, and sweet onions.

Best Cocktails in Stowe

Stowe is best known as a beer town, what with all the great Vermont craft beer available, but where there’s beer there’s usually cocktails. A number of bars in Stowe serve up creative, well-mixed cocktails that hit the spot after a day on the slopes. Many use local spirits like Barr Hill gin, made with honey in Hardwick, and Smugglers’ Notch rum, vodka, and maple whiskey. Next time you’re visiting our boutique hotel Field Guide, check out one of these bars serving up some of the best cocktails in Stowe.

Plate | 91 Main St, Stowe | (802) 253-2691

This Main Street bistro brings a California vibe to Stowe with its L.A. chefs and fresh, seasonal menu. Winter in Vermont is a bit different than on the West Coast, of course, so there’s plenty of cozy classics served at the bar like hot toddies and the warming Leo’s Rum & Rye made with Smugglers Notch rum and Bulleit Rye. But if you’re looking to be transported to warmer climes, the cocktail menu also sports tropical options like a grapefruit mojito and Twin Palms, made with vodka and coconut water.

The Roost at Topnotch Resort | 4000 Mountain Rd, Stowe | (800) 451-8686

Head up the mountain to enjoy a drink at this resort restaurant. The Roost has a great bar with a signature cocktail menu—order one of their original cocktails or ask for a special twist on a classic. We love the tart Mountain on Fire, made with Green Mountain vodka, Aperol, lemon, and orange juice. Enjoy one out by the fire pit for a special night out in Stowe.

Picnic Social | 433 Mountain Rd, Stowe | (802) 221-4947

We might be a little biased, but we think the bar staff at our on-site restaurant Picnic Social makes a fine drink. Case in point: the November 1307, an Bourbon, apple syrup, lemon, apple cider drink that comes topped with a warm cider donut. Dessert and a cocktail in one? Sign us up. Enjoy any number of craft cocktails in our lounge by the fire at Picnic Social.

Our Favorite Mendocino Specialty Food Shops

California is a hub for local food and drink, and coastal Mendocino is no exception with its great wineries, farmers’ market, and local food artisans. We love to stock up on California-made specialty foods at some of the great shops in Mendo—supporting local makers and enjoying some of the flavors unique to Northern California. Next time you’re visiting Mendocino at our boutique hotel Blue Door Group, here are three Mendocino specialty food shops to stop into for gifts and souvenirs from your trip.

Mendocino Chocolate Company | 10466 Lansing St, Mendocino | (707) 937-1107

This long-running Mendocino specialty food shop is filled with sweets of all kinds, from chocolate covered nuts and truffles to fudge sauces and candies. But we always head straight for the glass case filled with chocolate truffles of flavors from Amaretto toffee to native California fruit fillings. Chocolate lovers will delight in the sheer variety of chocolate treats—we hear from many of our guests they end up making a return trip before leaving town.

Mendocino Jams & Preserves | 440 Main St, Mendocino | (707) 937-1037

Capture the seasons in a jar at this sweet shop on Mendocino’s main street. From jams and jellies to nut butters and mustards, you’ll find a unique condiment to remind you of your time in Mendocino. The makers of these small batch preservers pride themselves on the quality of the ingredients they use—whole, local fruits with no added preservatives or artificial flavors. Try jams made from unique California fruit like olallieberry (a type of blackberry) and boysenberry.

Corners of the Mouth | 45015 Ukiah St, Mendocino | (707) 937-5345

It’s hard to miss this natural foods store with its distinct architecture on Ukiah Street. The building was originally a church, built in the 1890s, and home to the iconic health food store since the mid-70s. You’ll find your standard health food store staples and plenty of local produce and specialty products like freshly baked bread, locally-harvested dried seaweed products, and condiments. Stop in for happy hour snacks to enjoy on the patio of the inn or a picnic for one of Mendocino’s spectacular state parks.

Best Provincetown Beaches

Located at the end of Cape Cod, Provincetown is surrounded by beaches, many of them a part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. When you’re on a lark to our new boutique hotel AWOL in Provincetown, finding the best Provincetown beaches will no doubt be high on your to-do list. No matter the weather, from the summertime party vibe to the quieter, off-season of winter, the beaches of Provincetown offer a relaxing escape from everyday life. Visit our favorite Provincetown beaches and enjoy the wildlife, scenery, and surf of the Cape.

Herring Cove Beach | Province Lands Rd, Provincetown | (508) 487-1256

Part of the National Seashore, this sandy beach is on the western side of the Cape which faces Cape Cod Bay, meaning the water is warmer and more protected than an ocean beach. This Provincetown beach perfectly sums up what’s so fantastic about the beaches here—rolling, grass-covered dunes meet a gently sloping soft sand beach. In the summer months, lifeguards monitor part of the beach, and there’s a concession stand and restrooms. Take the shuttle from AWOL or ride your bike, as the bike path runs right along the beach. This is one of the best places to view the sunset in P’town, with unobstructed views of the horizon.

Race Point Beach | Race Point Rd, Provincetown | (508) 487-1256

Head to the northern side of the Cape to Race Point Beach if you want unobstructed sand and some waves to play in. This beach is on the ocean, meaning the water can run a bit cooler and the currents are stronger. Because it’s north facing, the sun shines strongly on the beach all day meaning you can work on your tan or warm up on sunny winter days. The dunes of the National Seashore hide the parking lot and facilities, so all you’ll see is sand and sea from end to end. In the summer months, the Old Harbor Life Saving Station Museum at Race Point Beach is open daily and worth a visit. Learn about how the U.S. Life-Saving Service, a precursor to the Coast Guard, and its daring efforts to rescue shipwreck victims.

Craft Beer in Provincetown

While there may not be any breweries in Provincetown, there’s still plenty of places to enjoy a cold pint along Commercial Street. These three of our favorite craft beer bars in Provincetown serve up some of the country’s finest brews with a focus on New England craft beers. From local giants Allagash and Cisco Brewing to smaller, Massachusetts breweries like Cape Cod Beer and Devil’s Purse Brewing Company, you’ll find a wide variety of styles of craft beer in Provincetown at these great bars.

Local 186 | 186 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 487-7555

“Burgers and beers” says it all at Local 186, where the people watching is some of the best in town. The draft list is short and sweet with a great mix of local microbrews like Fiddlehead IPA from Vermont and larger, national outfits like Missouri’s Tank 7. Share a bottle from the large format list with a friend, and don’t miss Local’s signature fries, loaded with garlic Alfredo or blue cheese and hot sauce.

The Squealing Pig | 335 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 487-5804

This casual, cozy pub is a great place to stop into for a beer and some oysters on the half shell (also local!) from the raw bar. Most of the ten taps are local and feature larger New England craft breweries like Harpoon, Shipyard, and Berkshire Brewing Company. The bottle selection here offers more variety of domestic and imported beers from Chimay, Dogfish Head, and Unibroue. With some of the best beer selection in Provincetown, The Pig should top the list of any visiting beer lovers.

Nor’East Beer Garden | 206 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 487-2337

This charming beer bar is an oasis in busy P’town. With over 15 taps that change frequently, the beer garden is one of the best places to find a great selection of craft beer in Provincetown. From sours and saisons to hoppy New England-style IPAs and nitro porters, you’ll be impressed with the wide variety of styles on tap. Visitors during the winter months will miss out, however, as this outdoor bar is open seasonally—it reopens for the 2018 season in May.

Best Salem Restaurants

Salem has become so much more than witches with its rich maritime history, arts culture, and a small, but varied dining scene. There’s now plenty of places to enjoy a great meal after exploring the sights and attractions of Salem. From seafood on the water to casual burger joints, Salem’s got options. Our two Salem boutique hotels The Merchant and The Hotel Salem are a luxurious home base from which you can explore Salem. During your next visit, here is our guide to the best Salem restaurants for whatever mood you’re in.

If global fare and creative cocktails sound good, book a table at:

Opus | 87 Washington St, Salem | (978) 744-9600

With a large sushi menu, Opus can satisfy your craving for seafood in a different way than the traditional New England take. Beyond sushi, there’s a plethora of options from Kung Pao shrimp to Korean fried chicken and waffles. One of the best mashups on the menu is pork belly tacos with a spicy, sambal drizzle and banh mi pickles. The cocktails are just as creative with a long list of original drinks featuring flavors from all over the world.

If you’re in the mood for classic Italian, head to:

Firenze Trattoria | 2 Lynde St, Salem | (978) 219-1188

Albanian-born chef Zamir Kociaj cooked in Florence for years before coming to the States and opening this trattoria. Locals love this small, Italian spot for its handmade pastas and professional service. Experience authentic Florentine dishes like chicken liver crostini, braised tripe, and grilled rib eye. Like many places in Salem, Firenze Trattoria has a season liquor license, meaning only beer and wine are available in winter months, so take advantage of the extensive Italian wine list.

Go low key with Asian street food at:

Kokeshi | 41 Lafayette St, Salem | (978) 594-4197

From the owners of Bambolina (another Lark favorite!), Kokeshi serves an Asian-inspired menu in a casual setting. Ramen here has a playful flair, like the Colonel Sanders—fried chicken in a spicy pork broth. Appetizers offer a number of dim sum favorites like pork buns and spicy bok choy and fun takes like the octopus hot dog. Vegetarians will love the Thai green curry with tofu.

Salem’s Newest Restaurant is Counter at The Hotel Salem

The kitchen at Counter, the latest restaurant from Lark Hotels, opened for dinner this week, making it Salem’s newest restaurant. Previously open for drinks and snacks, Counter has been well-received by our guests and locals. Our executive chef Justin Perdue heads up the restaurant, as he does with our other Lark Hotels restaurant, Picnic Social at Field Guide in Stowe, Vermont.

The name Counter is inspired by the history of The Hotel Salem’s building, which was home to a department store in the 1950s and 60s. With twenty bar stools at a long counter, the restaurant seats 55 people with outdoor seating and a rooftop deck coming in warmer weather. The gorgeous mid-century modern design was done by our designer Rachel Reider, who brings our signature whimsy to many of our properties. Counter’s menu features modern, seasonal dishes like duck confit toast with pickled shallots, golden raisins, and local ricotta and bucatini with burrata, kimchi, and Meyer lemon.

Of course, a good drink is in order when enjoying dinner at this new Salem restaurant. The bartenders at Counter have created a menu of original cocktails, from fruit and tart to smoky and strong. Counter’s manager reports that the Calm Snow has been a big hit with guests so far—the crushed ice is made to order, meaning watching your drink be made is part of the fun. With two kinds of rum, Boston-made Privateer Amber and Appleton Reserve, Italian amaro Cynar, housemade falernum syrup, lime juice, and Angostura bitters, this drink is herbal, tart, and well-balanced. Next time you’re visiting The Hotel Salem, be sure to stop into this new Salem restaurant for dinner or drinks and a snack. Counter is open Tuesday through Sunday at 5 p.m.

Counter | 209 Essex Street, Salem | (978) 451-4818

A Visit to the Cape Cod Maritime Museum

With its unique geography, Cape Cod is home to some of New England’s oldest maritime culture. Used for travel, fishing, and pleasure, boats have always been an integral part of life on the Cape. The Cape Cod Maritime Museum, a small museum in Hyannis, is dedicated to celebrating the working and pleasure craft of Cape Cod with an engaging collection of maritime artifacts and activities. Whether you’re a boater or not, there’s a lot to learn during a visit to the Cape Cod Maritime Museum, so stop in during your next visit to one of our Cape Cod boutique hotels.

The Cape Cod Maritime Museum is located in Hyannis, right in Hyannis harbor, next to the ferry dock. Its waterfront location is the perfect setting for the museum’s campus, made up of a small exhibition hall and a boat building workshop. The main attraction of the museum is the exhibit chronicling the history of boatbuilding on the Cape. You’ll learn about the men that designed the unique boat styles of the Cape and the ones that captained the ships that made 17th and 18th-century commerce possible. With videos, hands-on exhibits, photographs and artifacts (including a large scrimshaw collection), the history of Cape Cod’s maritime industry comes alive. An art gallery displays maritime art, currently the work of preeminent plein air painter John Stobart. His realistic battle and harbor scenes will make you want to get out on the water.

Downstairs, the boat shop is home to programs that restore and build small boats using traditional and modern techniques. Staff and volunteers are on hand to answer questions about the style of boat or the project’s progress which is interesting, no matter one’s level of boatbuilding knowledge. Outside, various Cape Cod craft are on display, as well as 28-foot boat built especially for kids to play on. The museum is open “by chance” January through March and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 7 days a week in the high season.

Cape Cod Maritime Museum | 135 South St, Hyannis | (508) 775-1723

Best Cocktails in Newburyport

The great restaurant scene in Newburyport means there are many places to enjoy a craft cocktail. Whether you’re looking for a well-made classic drink or an original creation, there are plenty of cocktail bars in Newburyport that serve up what you’re after. Our Newburyport boutique hotel, Blue—Inn on the Beach is the perfect place to stay while you enjoy the beaches of Plum Island and the boutiques and restaurants of nearby Newburyport. Here are three of our favorite places to enjoy some of the best cocktails in Newburyport.

The Paddle Inn | 27 State St, Newburyport | (978) 572-1242

From the owners of Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Somerville, also known for its great cocktails, The Paddle Inn has a globally-inspired menu and the same strong bar program. Many drinks feature local spirits like Privateer rum and Knockabout gin and a tiki theme, so no matter the weather the Paddle Inn provides a tropical escape. Housemade twists like tea-infused bourbon and blended rums allows The Paddle Inn’s bartenders to put their own touches on these refreshing beach drinks.

The Poynt | 31 Water St, Newburyport | (978) 358-8501

We love this popular spot for its wood-fired pizzas, hearty pasta dishes, and of course its unique cocktail menu. With completely original cocktails made of sometimes obscure ingredients, we must admit that sometimes we’re not entirely sure what the finished product will taste like. Fortunately, the staff is always willing to offer an explanation (assuming it’s not too busy, which it often is!) and to help you pick out a cocktail. Smoke lovers should try The Courier, with mezcal, grapefruit, plum, and pink peppercorns.

Agave Mexican Bistro | 50 State Street, Newburyport | (978) 499-0428 

A place with as many tequilas in stock as Agave has (over 125!) is sure to make some of the best cocktails in Newburyport. While any tequila aficionado will tell you the best way to enjoy the agave spirit is straight up, we’re going to have to make an exception for a well-made margarita. There’s no corn syrup in the margarita mix at Agave, only fresh squeezed lemon, lime, and orange juices mixed with reposado tequila and Cointreau. When you’re looking for a simple, well-made margarita, head to Agave for one of the best cocktails in Newburyport.

Ice Skating and Cross-Country Skiing in Falmouth

Winter on Cape Cod means moving at a slower pace and a beautiful blanket of snow frequently covering the rolling sand dunes. But don’t let the cold temps keep you holed up inside (although we do love a good snow day spent by the fire)—get out and enjoy some winter activities on the Cape. On your next visit to our boutique Falmouth hotel, here are three great places to go ice skating and cross-country skiing in Falmouth.

Falmouth Ice Arena | 9 Technology Park Dr, Falmouth | (508) 548-7080

This public ice skating arena will let you practice your moves inspired by the Olympic figure skating team while you’re visiting the Cape. Home to many adult and youth ice hockey leagues, the Falmouth Ice Arena is a professional rink with skate rentals and a snack bar. Enjoy ice skating indoors on smooth ice at this popular ice skating rink in Falmouth.

Beebe Woods | 119 Two Ponds Rd, Falmouth | (508) 457-2567

This publicly preserved property is one of our favorite places to visit, no matter the season. But when the snow falls, the trails are great for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The trails aren’t groomed, but typically tracks from other skiers make the skiing easy. With over 400 acres in Beebe Woods, you’ll find a quiet piece of woods to explore by ski or snowshoe.

Shining Sea Bikeway | Route 151, Falmouth

This 10-mile bike path is great for skiing when snowfalls means there’s fewer cyclists. Pick up the path at the intersection of County Rd and Route 151 in Falmouth, and ski as far as your legs will let you. The path is pretty flat the whole way, so you can really practice your skiing stride. With great views of the water, farms, and even a cranberry bog, the bikeway is a great place to cross-country ski in Falmouth.

Live Music in Portsmouth

Come summertime in Portsmouth, the Prescott Park Arts music series is the belle of the ball—national musicians playing in the open air setting for just a suggestion donation of $5-8. We’re eagerly awaiting the announcement of 2018’s lineup. But in the colder months, seeing live music in Portsmouth means heading to any number of clubs and bars that host bands regularly. If you’re looking to dance it up on your next visit, here three great venues where you can take in some live music in Portsmouth.

3S Artspace | 319 Vaughan St, Portsmouth | (603) 766-3330

This nonprofit gallery and event center hosts live music regularly, and while you may not necessarily have heard of every act, it’s always a good time. With tickets costing less than $20, you can take a chance on a new act and maybe come away with a new favorite. Most weekend nights have live music, while other events like talks, live storytelling, and gay pride nights happen during the week.

Portsmouth Gaslight Co. | 64 Market St, Portsmouth | (603) 430-9122

This multi-storied Portsmouth pub hosts live music every Friday and Saturday night. Take your pick between two venues—the Grill on the first floor, with a full menu and bar or the pizza pub in the basement. Both are a hopping on weekend nights and promise a good time. Check out some local acts that take the stage at 10 p.m., and enjoy a pint of beer from the Gaslight’s great selection of local and craft beers.

The Music Hall | 28 Chestnut St, Portsmouth | (603) 436-2400

This historic theater is a local treasure, with a variety of performances including theater, films, and author readings in addition to live music. National acts like Lyle Lovett and Shawn Colvin have played at the Music Hall, so don’t miss your chance to see some big names in an intimate venue. For dinner before the show, check out Flatbread Company, for wood-fired pizza made with local ingredients, right next door.

Best Coffee Shops in Portsmouth

Portsmouth has several excellent coffee shops to give you that much needed caffeine kick while you’re exploring shops and galleries downtown. Like its restaurant scene, Portsmouth’s coffee shops take great care and pride in roasting beans and preparing the perfect espresso drink. When you’re staying at one of our Portsmouth boutique hotels, here are three options for the best coffee shops in Portsmouth.

Profile Coffee Bar | 15 Portwalk Pl, Portsmouth | (603) 501-1801

Serving up Counter Culture Coffee, Profile has many ways to enjoy a cup, from Chemex and pour overs to espresso and cold brew. Coffee aficionados will love the multitude of options of single origin and house blends. Its bright, airy space with reclaimed wooden accents will encourage you to stay and enjoy your drink—as will the menu of sandwiches and salads if you’re looking for a light lunch.

Caffe Kilim | 163 Islington St, Portsmouth | (603) 436-7330

We love this Turkish-themed café for its strong coffee and Middle Eastern pastries like baklava Turkish Delight. A Portsmouth favorite for over twenty years, Caffe Kilim serves up Turkish coffee roasted locally and freshly baked pastry in this cozy shop. Browse the Middle Eastern dry goods, rugs, and jewelry while you sip your coffee drink.

Kaffee Vonsolln | 79 Daniel St, Portsmouth | (603) 373-0570

Continue the international theme at Kaffee Vonsolln, with German iced coffee, pastry, and gelato. With coffee roasted on site, you’ll find the usual array of espresso drinks, flavored lattes, and iced coffees served from behind the bar. Leave room for the incredible German pastries, like apple strudel, danish, and bienstich, a sweet cake filled with vanilla custard. Stop into any one of the best coffee shops in Portsmouth for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Best Lobster Rolls in Falmouth

The dining scene in Falmouth, Massachusetts has grown a lot in the past several years, with many fine places to enjoy a nice dinner near the water. But we still have a fondness for the casual seafood shack where the fish is fresh and the lobster is perfectly steamed. No visit to Cape Cod is complete without some local seafood, in particular a lobster roll. Here are our recommendations for where to find the best lobster rolls in Falmouth, all of them best enjoyed within view of the waters in which the lobsters were caught.

Quahog Republic | 97 Spring Bars Rd, Falmouth | (508) 540-4111

The dive bar—one of four casual restaurants here you can enjoy pub food and draft beers—at the Quahog Republic is reminiscent of Key West’s unofficial Conch Republic, promoting the laid-back lifestyle of the Cape. The kitchen takes seafood seriously though, with its “Monsta” lobster roll weighing in at 10 ounces of tail and claw meat. Served lightly tossed with mayo and in a split-top bun (or over lettuce if you’re looking to go light), this is one of the best lobster rolls in Falmouth because it’s all about the lobster meat.

The Clam Shack | 227 Clinton Ave, Falmouth | (508) 540-7758

Your classic seafood shack on the water, this Falmouth favorite serves up one of the best lobster rolls in Falmouth. Its grilled, toasted bun comes filled with 6 ounces of knuckle and claw meat (the prefered style if you think the tail meat is too chewy for a roll). The Clam Shack is casual, with counter service and picnic tables and is open seasonally between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The Barking Claw | 29 Locust St, Falmouth | (508) 364-5068

A seasonal food cart, The Barking Claw is one of the best lobster rolls in Falmouth is tossed with warm butter rather than “Maine-style” with mayo. Choose between a 2 oz. mini, 4 oz. regular, or 6 oz. jumbo roll with knuckle and claw meat in a toasted roll, lined with lettuce. Find this cart during the summer season to experience one of the best lobster rolls in Falmouth.

Best Bakeries in Kennebunkport

We love a sweet treat while out exploring the village of Kennebunkport—fortunately, in neighboring Kennebunk there’s three amazing bakeries, all baking up delicious pastry and breads. Just a short distance from our Kennebunkport boutique hotel the Captain Fairfield Inn, neighboring Kennebunk is divided into two sections—Lower Village, just over the bridge from the village of KPT, and downtown Kennebunk, 4 miles west of the river. Three of the area’s best bakeries are in neighboring Kennebunk and worth a visit. When you’re craving a croissant or a perfectly steamed cappuccino, head to one of these best bakeries in the Kennebunkport area.

Cherie’s | 7 High St, Kennebunk | (207) 985-1200

Cherie’s is much more than a bakery, with great lunch options and provisions like wine, cheese, and crackers for picnics and happy hour. We love the ever-changing selection of scones, muffins, and danish, but Cherie’s pies are the local favorite. These fruit pies aren’t too sweet, letting the fruit flavors shine, and have a delightfully flaky crust. For a handheld snack, try the decadent brownies or cinnamon rolls.

Mornings in Paris | 21 Western Ave, Kennebunk | (207) 204-0032

With a strong French theme, you can expect this bakery in Kennebunk’s Lower Village to have excellent pastry like croissants and cream puffs. But this is one of the best bakeries in Kennebunkport because of its macarons, the only shop in the area where we’ve had such perfect versions of the French filled cookie.

Boulangerie | 5 Nasons Ct, Kennebunk | (207) 502-7112

Tucked off the Main Street of downtown Kennebunk is Boulangerie another bakery producing fine French baked goods. This Kennebunk bakery focuses more on savory flavors, with a large selection of freshly baked breads available each day. Of course, there’s still plenty of sweet treats like cupcakes, scones, and croissants for you to indulge in.

New Portland Restaurants

2017 brought a spate of new restaurants to Portland, and many of them became fast favorites with the Portland dining crowd. From Vietnamese with a hipster spin to upscale French and Spanish classics, these new Portland restaurants all added a unique element to Portland’s already diverse restaurant scene. Well-known for the caliber of its restaurants, Portland gained several new noteworthy restaurants last year—with plenty more still on the way. Here are three of our favorites that opened in 2017:

Chaval | 8 Pine St, Portland | (207) 772-1110

We were nervous when we heard the owners of West End neighborhood favorite Caiola’s sold the business, but breathed a sigh of relief when we learned Piccolo’s chef-owners were taking over. Chaval is the new restaurant—similar to Caiola’s only in that it’s still a cozy, comfortable neighborhood spot. The menu now sports French and Spanish classics like pátê and tortilla, while simple starters like the tomato bread show off the chefs’ chops. Ilma Lopez’s desserts are legendary; the churros are a particular favorite at this new Portland, Maine restaurant.

Cong Tu Bot | 57 Washington Ave, Portland | (207) 221-8022

We love this hip Washington Avenue hangout for its fresh flavors and energetic space. With an open kitchen and some bar seating, you can watch chefs assemble your pho, curry, or fried rice while you enjoy an order of the spicy and tart cabbage salad. Don’t skip dessert here either, the Saigon-style flan with Vietnamese caramel and shaved coffee ice is sweet perfection.

Little Giant | 211 Danforth St, Portland | (207) 747-5045

From the owners of chic cocktail bar Portland Hunt & Alpine Club comes Little Giant, a small restaurant with a great bar. Located in the West End of Portland within walking distance of the Pom, you can expect snackable small plates and a variety of bistro entrees like duck confit and Maine mussels. The burger is one of the best in town. Visit the market next door for a selection of well-curated dry goods, wine, and housewares.

Crossing the Bridge – Part One

While Portsmouth continues to grow and develop its restaurant culture, there is much to be had by crossing the bridge into Kittery, where they are experiencing a culinary renaissance of their own. Dubbed “Maine’s Best Food Town” by Down East magazine in 2016, restaurants like the Black Birch, Anju, and Anneke Jans have become welcome detours on the usual trip north towards Portland.

Tulsi | 20 Walker Street, Kittery | (207) 451-9511

One of the foremost eateries that began this movement is Tulsi. In its second incarnation in Kittery, and now boasting a second restaurant in Wells, there is a rare finesse to chef Raj Mandekar’s Indian cuisine, making it akin to a velvet hammer. While it is beautiful and delicate, it is focused and unapologetic in its boldness and in many dishes, it’s level of heat. “I want to prepare ingredients that people are familiar with using spices and textures that most diners are not yet accustomed to,” He says, “And this also applies to our repertoire of vegetarian options.” Focusing on Southern Indian cookery while still incorporating the familiar Mughlai and Punjab dishes (tikka masala, biryani, korma, palak paneer, etc) puts an emphasis on fresh seafood.

This idea is brilliantly illustrated in Mandekar’s Shrimp Balchow, with its garnet-hued sauce and pungent, earthy aroma that mingles with that of the freshly puffed and blistered slices of naan bread that accompany it. The plump, tender shrimp are lightly sautéed before simmering and melding with the earthy flavors of dried chilies, curry leaves, mustard seed, and garlic in a tomato-based gravy. The burn creeps up slowly, building in potency, but the naan helps to cool everything down.

Lil’s Café | 7 Wallingford Square, Kittery | (207) 703-2800

Right up the street you will find Lil’s Café, a gem of a coffee shop and bakery that features Tandem Roaster’s coffee, from Portland, and a range of decadent crullers, croissants, and other pastries, as well as a delicious assortment of griddled sandwiches.

Maine Meat (MEat) Shop | 7 Wallingford Square, Kittery | (207) 703-0219

Next door is legendary butcher Jarrod Spangler’s Maine Meat (MEat) shop. He has paved the way for small shops in Maine to have the ability to work directly with its plethora of farms to bring in and butcher whole beasts, allowing for the maximum in quality control. It’s a bit pricier than the supermarket, but just try one of their steaks and I guarantee there is no going back.

Of course between your morning at Lil’s and dinner at Tulsi, there is plenty of time for outlet shopping – and it is worth mentioning that Kittery boasts a very well-stocked Le Creuset Outlet Store, where you can find a proper implement for preparing the aforementioned steak.

Mendocino Redwoods and Furniture

California’s central coast is known for its ancient redwood forests, made up of majestic trees that stretch hundreds of feet into the air. No visit to the area is complete without a pilgrimage to find these giants. The town of Mendocino, home to the Blue Door Group, our trio of boutique hotels, is surrounded by forests filled with redwood trees with hikes that take you through stands of them. Because of the abundance of hardwood trees, the area has long attracted woodworkers and furniture makers that work with the coast’s natural resources. Any fan of design, woodwork or fine furniture looking to appreciate the history of Mendocino redwoods and furniture. should visit these three locations.

Mendocino Redwoods and Furniture

Anderson’s Alternatives | 10550 Lansing St, Mendocino | (707) 937-3434

Located on the main drag in Mendo, this workshop and showroom show off owner Nathan Anderson’s woodwork. You’ll marvel at the turned bowls, delicately assembled tables and chairs, and beautiful sculpture. The back of the store is Anderson’s workshop, part lumber mill, part sales floor. Admire huge slabs of hardwood and intricately formed burls and hear the stories of some of the unique origins of the slabs—some from trees hundreds of years old.

The Krenov School of Fine Furniture | 440 Alger St, Fort Bragg | (707) 964-7056

This specialty school is the heart of the Mendocino woodworking and fine furniture movement. Named for its founder James Krenov, the school has been training people in his style since the 1980s. With curved lines, delicately carved door pulls, and an overall sense of harmony, a Krenov cabinet is recognizable to those in the know. Get familiar with his vision at the school’s annual mid-winter show, which is open to the public from January 28th to February 4th, 2018.

Jackson State Forest | Highway 20, Fort Bragg

Head right to the source in this 50,000-acre public forest. Mendocino redwoods make up most of the trees in the demonstration forests, but you’ll also find firs, pines, and bay myrtle. To hike amongst the redwoods, take the Hare Creek Trail, Forest History Trail, or the Waterfall Grove trail. All are fairly easy trails, wide with little elevation gain. Find a hike that’s perfect for you using trail maps available at Mendo Walks.

Shopping in Provincetown

Provincetown is known for its independent spirit, and it shows in the art galleries and boutiques that line Commercial Street. From high-end design to bins filled with beach chotchkies, you’ll find great gifts and mementos from your time at our Provincetown boutique hotel at these shops. Spend an afternoon poking in and out of the myriad of shops on Commercial Street, and don’t miss these three of our recommendations for the best shopping in Provincetown.

Room 68 | 77 Commercial St, Provincetown | (774) 538-6470

This Boston-based design shop moved to P’town in 2014 and gained more space to show off its amazing collection of furniture, housewares, and art. Channel some funky P’town style into your home or personal style with a new print or conversation-piece jewelry, all from New England artisans. Don’t miss the back corner of the showroom where the shop displays rotating selections from local artists.

Marine Specialties | 235 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 487-1730

This army-navy surplus store is a P’town staple that’s been open for over 50 years. With its seemingly endless amount of merchandise, you’ll never know what you’re going to find in this warehouse space. Maybe you’ll walk away with a vintage leather jacket, a novelty license plate for your garage, or a handful of typewriter keys. You have to experience Marine Specialties to truly understand it.

Tim-Scapes | 208 Commercial Street, Provincetown | (917) 626-4052

Remember when duct tape wallets had a moment? New York artist Tim Convery elevates the medium with duct tape inspired graphic work. His striking designs are available on t-shirts, mugs, posters, and totes. Check out his shop, where you can pick up a vacation memento that will have people talking and make you feel good—a portion of Tim-Scapes’ sales are donated to charities.

Best Newburyport Restaurants

When visiting Blue—Inn on the Beach, on peaceful Plum Island, our guests like to pop over to Newburyport, about a 10-minute drive away, to enjoy all the perks of this quaint North Shore town. Newburyport has so many great restaurants to choose from, we have a recommendation for whatever mood you’re in. Use this guide when you’re visiting Plum Island to find a great meal in one of the best Newburyport restaurants.

If you’re in the mood for a powerhouse dinner without any pretension, head to:

Brine | 25 State St, Newburyport | (978) 358-8479

The sister restaurant to Ceia Kitchen + Bar, another Lark favorite, this State Street bistro is cozy with exposed brick walls and exposed wooden ceiling beams. Brine bills itself as a “oyster, crudo, and chop bar,” so you know right away what its specialties are. We love the scallop crudo with compressed pears and a zippy jalapeno vinaigrette and the fresh, local oysters that are a dollar during Thursday’s happy hour.

If global fare and great cocktails sound good, book at table at:

The Paddle Inn | 27 State St, Newburyport | (978) 572-1242

From the owners of Trina’s Starlite Lounge and Parlor Sports in Somerville, this surf-themed restaurant has been making waves since its opening in late 2016. The cocktails tend towards tiki and the menu features dishes from coastal destinations like Thailand, Southern California, and the Caribbean. Don’t miss the housemade Chaco Taco for dessert.

Craving a classic burger and fries? Try:

Lexie’s | 88 State St, Newburyport | (603) 815-4181

Lexie’s is a local favorite for good reason—the menu keeps is simple with a variety of burgers dressed up any number of creative ways, loaded fries, and milkshakes. Bean burgers and gluten-free buns mean this burger spot isn’t just for carnivores. Casual with counter service, this Newburyport restaurant is also a nice option for lunch or takeout back at Blue—Inn on the Beach.

Our Favorite Falmouth Museums

On cold or rainy day on Cape Cod, it’s good to have a backup plan for some indoor activities. We think our Falmouth boutique hotel is particularly cozy during bad weather, but you’ve still got to get out and explore the area. So when it’s too chilly or wet for a beach day, consider visiting a Falmouth museum to learn about the whaling and nautical history of Cape Cod. Enjoy these three quaint Falmouth museums and take a peek back in time.

Falmouth Museums on the Green | 55 and 65 Palmer Ave, Falmouth | (508) 548-4857

The historical society’s museum is more of a campus, with two 18th century houses, a cultural center, and gardens to explore. Docents offer guided tours of the property, with tidbits about Colonial times, Falmouth’s role in the Revolutionary War, and the history of whaling on the Cape. Historic home lovers will enjoy the well-maintained homes, each filled with artifacts from life during Falmouth’s pre-industrial age.

Highfield Hall & Gardens | 56 Highfield Dr, Falmouth | (508) 495-1878

Once the private home of the Beebe family of Boston, this estate is now a museum, after years of careful restoration. The home was in disrepair in the 90s and a nonprofit stepped in to organize a campaign to save the home. Now that it’s been fully restored, tours are available showcasing the incredible architectural details. There isn’t much furniture in the home, since the project is fairly new, but the history and home are interesting enough without it.

Woods Hole Historical Museum | 579 Woods Hole Rd, Woods Hole | (508) 548-7270

This small museum down in Woods Hole has a great collection of historical artifacts. In particular, we love the Small Boat Museum which shows off boats of the area from an Old Town canoe to the popular Herreshoff 12-1/2 sailboats. Other small buildings contain the museum’s exhibits—the Yale workshop, a fly fisherman and woodcarver’s dream, and the Bradley House, a historic Captain’s home built in 1804.

Best Nature Walks Near Falmouth

While the weather may be cooler on Cape Cod in the winter, we still love to visit the same areas we do in the summer to see how the landscape has changed. With rolling sand dunes, coastal wetlands, and evergreen forests, it’s so nice to explore the Cape’s scenery when the summer crowds have gone and maybe even with a fresh blanket of snow. When you’re exploring Cape Cod from our Falmouth boutique hotel, here are three nature walks near Falmouth to help you stretch your legs and see the natural beauty of the Cape.

Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary | Ashumet Rd, East Falmouth | (508) 362-7475

This 45-acre preserve is part of Mass Audubon, so you know there’s good birdwatching on the property. Especially so around the large (8 acres!) pond—robust habitat for waterfowl and songbirds. The mile-and-a-half long, wonderfully named Mystery Tree Trail meanders through the woods and along the pond, surrounded by over 1,000 holly trees.

The Knob | Quissett Harbor Rd, Falmouth

If you’re looking for good ocean views, head south towards Woods Hole and hike out to The Knob. Part of the village of Quissett, this small rocky prominence is at the end of a mile-long sandy path. Walk through the coastal shrubs to reach the vantage point, where you can see New Bedford to the west, the Cape Cod canal entrance to the north, and the Elizabeth Islands to the south. Take the stairs down to Crescent Beach, which overlooks Buzzards Bay.

Beebe Woods | 119 Two Ponds Rd, Falmouth | (508) 457-2567

With three miles of trail and nearly 400 acres of woods, this property borders Highfield Hall and Gardens. Once part of the Highfield Estate, the woods are now preserved by the Town of Falmouth and open to the public. Walk the trails past ponds and through woods, wetlands, and pastoral farmland. When you need to warm up, head to the Highfield House for a tour of the historic home and its grounds.

Best Brunch in Stowe

We think vacations were made for brunching, whether it’s a hearty breakfast to fuel you up for a day on the mountain or a leisurely meal before you hit the road home. While our Stowe boutique hotel Field Guide serves its signature small plates breakfast, you’ll want to head into town for breakfast at least one day. Chow down at one of these three best brunches in Stowe.

Butler’s Pantry | 128 Main St, Stowe | (802) 253-7422

This sweet little spot opened in the Butler House in 2016, after a series of other restaurants occupied the space. Family owned and run, Butler’s Pantry is known for its hearty breakfasts, like biscuits and gravy, huge pancakes, and omelettes. Those looking for a lighter item should opt for the açai bowl, a fruit smoothie topped with granola and fresh fruit. You’ll love the cozy atmosphere at Butler’s Pantry, one of the best brunches in Stowe.

Green Goddess Café | 618 South Main St, Stowe | (802) 253-5255

If you’re the sort who likes a little naughty and nice with your breakfast, then this café is for you. With plenty of healthy options on the menu like juices and a breakfast garden tofu wrap, Green Goddess also serves up sandwiches stuffed with carnitas, corned beef hash, and Vermont maple sausage. French toast, pancakes, and omelettes round out the menu. This café also makes for a nice to-go option if you can’t wait to get to exploring Stowe.

Picnic Social | 433 Mountain Rd, Stowe | (802) 221-4947

Of course, we have to recommend our on-site restaurant at Field Guide. Our guests love everything that our chef Justin Perdue serves up, and we think the menu offers something for everyone. Lighter options include avocado toast, a detox smoothie, and a baker’s breakfast of fresh scone, croissant, jam, honey, butter, yogurt, fruit. But you can still go big with shrimp and grits, a loaded burger, and french toast with butterscotch icing. If brunch cocktails are your thing, there’s a whole menu featuring brunchy ingredients like bubbles, OJ, and maple syrup.

New Portsmouth Restaurants

Portsmouth has so many great places to eat and drink, it can be hard to keep up with what’s opening, what’s closed, and who’s moving. The staff of our Portsmouth boutique hotels are happy to help narrow down the choices with a dinner recommendation, from the small plates gem Moxy to classic pub grub at the Portsmouth Brewery. We’ve found there’s a Portsmouth restaurant for every mood. Here’s two new Portsmouth restaurants that everyone is buzzing about—both nice additions to the restaurant scene in Portsmouth.

The Wilder | 174 Fleet St, Portsmouth | (603) 319-6878

From the owners of a popular Kittery, Maine bar and restaurant, Anju Noodle Bar and The Wallingford Dram, comes The Wilder. Owner Julian Anderson describes it as a “no-rules gastropub,” which means if the chef and owners think a particular dish sounds good, they’ll serve it. The menu tends towards small plates and bar snacks, with a few large format dishes. Good luck narrowing down your order though—we always have trouble deciding. Duck fat popcorn or the Anadama Parker rolls with whipped goat cheese butter? The beet cured salmon plate or fried farmers cheese? You might find yourself visiting more than once to eat through the menu.

Nibblesworth | 409 The Hill, Portsmouth | (603) 427-8022

With its wood-fired oven and historic setting, Nibblesworth has quickly become one of our favorite new spots to enjoy a cozy meal on a cold day. Run by a husband and wife team, Nibblesworth takes the place of Blue Mermaid Island Grill, which has moved into an expanded space in Kittery, Maine. The menu offers up a diverse selection of dishes from beef and cheddar pierogi to lobster tacos. There’s plenty of options for vegetarians too, from hearty salads to the roasted veggie sandwich with a goat cheese spread. That said, don’t miss the fries, fried in beef tallow.

Martha’s Vineyard Museums in Edgartown

We love life on Martha’s Vineyard and are all in when it comes to learning about the history of the island. These three great Martha’s Vineyard museums in Edgartown can help you take a peek into the Vineyard of old with a tour of a historic home, some antique firefighting equipment, and the historical society’s collection. Perfect for rainy or cool days, next time you’re on a lark to one of our Edgartown boutique hotels, visit one of our favorite Martha’s Vineyard museums.

Martha’s Vineyard Museum | 59 School Street, Edgartown | (508) 627-4441

This museum houses artifacts collected by the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society that cover the history of the island from Colonial times to today. Watch as the island was transformed from a whaling community to a posh summer retreat through the exhibits. In the summer months, tour the historic Thomas Cooke House, built in 1740, view the Fresnel lens used in the island’s lighthouses, and see a demonstration of a tryworks, used in the process of turning whale blubber into oil. This interactive museum campus will entertain visitors of all ages.

Vincent House Museum | 99 Main St, Edgartown | 508-627-4440

The historic home, so named for the Vincent family that lived in it until 1940, has the distinction of being the oldest residence on the island. Now maintained by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, the museum represents several periods within the island’s history, with each room in the house dedicated to a different century. Admission includes a guided tour of the house and a visit to the Whaling Church next door.

Edgartown Fire Museum | 68 Peases Point Way S, Edgartown

First established 180 years ago, the Edgartown fire department has a great collection of antique equipment at its museum. This newly constructed museum, located behind the fire station, is a home for its collection of antique equipment and serves to educate visitors not only about the history of the department but about fire safety as well. From antique trucks to a 23-foot tub on wheels that acted as a water source for fighting fires, you’ll marvel at the sheer determination of firefighters of yesteryear.

Cape Cod Wineries

While the West Coast may get all the attention when it comes to U.S. wines, smaller regions all over the country are making great (or at the very least unique) wines. On Cape Cod, three wineries are using Cape-grown grapes or importing fruit from other parts of the country to produce a wide variety of wines. We love to pay a visit to one of these wineries when we’re on a lark to Cape Cod to hear the stories of the winemakers, try some new wines, and see another side of the Cape’s beautiful scenery. Check out these three Cape Cod wineries the next time you visit one of our Cape Cod boutique hotels.

Cape Cod Winery | 4 Oxbow Rd, East Falmouth | (508) 457-5592

This winery was started in 1994 by an Italian family on a piece of land that was once a farm that grew grapes for wine. Cape Cod Winery has brought grape production back to the property with terraced fields of 8,000 grapevines that mimic the techniques used in Italy and France. The winery produces several reds, whites, and a rosé and some wines from native fruits like blueberry and cranberry. Taste wines and purchase your favorites in the winery’s tasting room.

Truro Vineyards | 11 Shore Rd, North Truro | (508) 487-6200

The winemakers at Truro have been making wine together for about 10 years, with over 40 years of wine and beer making experience between them. Truro grows Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot varietals and buys other grapes to make other wines. The Lighthouse Series is a hit with visitors—as it comes in unique lighthouse-shaped bottles. Enjoy a tasting of five of the winery’s ten wines and take a tour of the production facility, offered every half hour.

First Crush Winery | 527 Main St, Harwich | (508) 737-6867

This relatively new winery () imports all of its grapes, preferring those produced by the growers in the Napa Valley. Owner Frank Puzio was a hobbyist winemaker for 40 years before launching his winery and credits his grandfather, who also made wine, as his inspiration. First Crush produces five red and two white wines, and you can taste six of the varieties in its tasting room. Tours are offered when time permits.

Kennebunkport Yoga and Spin

Come winter in Maine, we like to get our exercise in with walks on the beach, but biking and running outdoors are reserved for the most hardcore among us. Rather, when you go on a lark to Kennebunkport, check out these exercise studios that offer yoga and spin classes in Kennebunkport. Get your heart rate up with a spin class and then go on to enjoy Kennebunkport’s great dining scene guilt-free or take a slower yoga class to fully relax into vacation mode. Either way, these two studios offering yoga and spin classes in Kennebunkport will help you keep up with your fitness while you’re traveling.

Quest Fitness | 2 Livewell Dr, Kennebunk | (207) 467-3800

This full-service gym offers a variety of classes that you can drop into, from tai chi and yoga to barre and spin. We love the group cycle classes, taught by experienced cyclists who help you train for road riding. Plus, the giant projector screen with videos of cycling through Europe, California, and the mountains help the hour fly by. Or choose a yoga class, usually a vinyasa flow class, or a short HIIT (high-intensity interval training) class to get your heart rate up. Afterwards, cool down in the salt water pool or indulge in a massage, both included with your visitor’s pass.

Village Yoga | 153 Port Rd, Kennebunk | (207) 967-6262

This yoga studio is a short way down Port Road away from Kennebunk’s Lower Village. The studio is on the second floor of the complex, meaning it’s warm and full of natural light (and has plenty of free parking—a huge plus in the village!). With classes in six kinds of yoga from kripalu to heated vinyasa, you’ll find a class that fits into your practice. Mats are free at this studio, perfect for visitors, and after your class, you can enjoy treatment at the neighboring Center for Mindful Health, which the studio is a part of. Try an acupuncture session, reiki, reflexology or a massage and come away from Village Yoga fully relaxed and restored.

Our Favorite Kennebunkport Farms

While the first season’s snow has fallen in Kennebunkport, that doesn’t mean that we can’t visit some of our favorite Kennebunkport farms. Next summer’s strawberries, sweet corn, and tomatoes may seem painfully far away, but winter is a great time to plan your garden or just visit a farm to warm up in the greenhouses and dream of local food and beautiful blooms. When you’re on a lark to Kennebunkport and our boutique hotel Captain Fairfield Inn, check out these two Kennebunkport area farms for some seasonal decorations, a new houseplant, and some Insta-worthy farm scenes.

Patten’s Farm | 76 North Street, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-967-2418

You’ve undoubtedly seen this Kennebunkport farm on your way into town on North Street. It’s best known for its pick-your-own strawberry fields, one of our favorite summer activities, and its well-stocked farm stand that overflows with local produce in the summer. But Patten’s Farm is a four-season farm with a farm stand open year round for pumpkins in the fall and wreaths, garlands, and Christmas trees in the winter. Pick up a seasonal reminder of your Maine vacation at this Kennebunkport farm.

Snug Harbor Farm | 87 Western Ave, Kennebunk | (207) 967-2414

Located a short way down Western Ave. from Kennebunk’s Lower Village, Snug Harbor Farm is a great place to stop into on a cold, even snowy, Maine day. It’s five greenhouses will warm you up with its tropical houseplants, succulents of all shapes and colors, and local plantings overwintering indoors. The farm’s animals are always good for some entertainment, from miniature ponies to chickens, geese, and ducks. The farm’s gift shop is a great place to pick up a new houseplant or gardening supplies, but also herbal body care products and home goods like candles and terrariums. A visit to a Maine farm is a vacation “must,” no matter the season.

Portland’s Public Market House

We love a good one-stop shop, and the Portland Public Market, which houses a collection of food vendors on Portland’s Monument Square, delivers. If you find yourself downtown, the Portland Public Market House is the perfect place to stop for lunch or a snack. With 12 vendors serving everything from pho to crepes, you’re sure to find an option that satisfies everyone in your group.

First established in 2006, the Public Market is actually a revival of the city’s historic market that began in 1825 in Monument Square. In 2006, a group of vendors established the market as a cooperative way to provide retail space for their businesses. While one of the founding members, K. Horton’s Specialty Foods, recently retired (RIP fabulous cheese selection), the first floor is still made up of the original businesses. Big Sky Bakery offers sandwiches on homemade bread and pizza, while Maine Beer & Beverage Co. sells convenience store items and has a great selection of beer, wine, and spirits. K. Horton’s has been replaced by Cafe Crepe, a great new addition to the market, selling sweet and savory crepes that have been a huge hit.

The second floor of the market has seating and several other vendors that add to the diversity of available dining options. Several new vendors have given the market an international flare, with Maiz Colombian Street Food making fantastic arepas and Pho Co. serving its signature Vietnamese soup and other Asian dishes. For a healthy option, turn to Maine Squeeze Smoothie & Juice Cafe or Daily Greens, with its made-to-order salad bar. End on a sweet note with Thai sticky rice from Sticky Sweet and a cup of Rock City Roasters’ coffee from Market House Coffee. Take a trip around the world without leaving the second floor of the Portland Public Market.

Portland Public Market House | 28 Monument Way, Portland | (207) 284-1016

Cape Cod Lighthouses

As you can probably imagine, Cape Cod, being surrounded by water on three sides, is home to a lot of lighthouses. In fact, it’s home to the world’s largest concentration of lighthouses. We think these navigational beacons offer a romantic touch to the landscape, and visiting them provides a relaxing moment in nature and a memorable photo op. Next time you’re on a Lark on Cape Cod, visit these three Cape Cod lighthouses to learn about the maritime history of the Cape.

Nobska Light | 233 Nobska Rd, Woods Hole

This lighthouse and its outbuildings stand between Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound and is easily accessible from the road. Its Fresnel lens is still in place and visible during tours offered in the summer on select days. The 40-foot tall lighthouse you see today was built in 1876, replacing a wooden structure that was first constructed in 1828. Today, the lighthouse is maintained by the Friends of Nobska Light who are raising money to restore the lighthouse and built a museum.

Chatham Light | 37 Main St, Chatham

Another Cape Cod lighthouse that’s easy to visit is the 48-foot cast iron tower in Chatham. Once one of a pair of lighthouses, this lighthouse was moved inland in 1877 to avoid the eroding shoreline and the the other tower was moved north to Nauset (also a great Cape Cod lighthouse to visit) about 50 years later. The keeper’s quarters are now used for U.S. Coast Guard housing, so it’s not open for tours, but the lighthouse is open on special dates between May and October. The view from the lighthouse offers great visibility of Chatham Beach, the spit, and the harbor.

Race Point Light | Race Point, Provincetown

Provincetown has three lighthouses to visit—Long Point Light at the entrance of the harbor, nearby Wood End Light, and Race Point Light, which is on the northern tip of Cape Cod. None of them are easy to reach, but we recommend the trek out to Race Point Light, a two-mile walk or a drive requiring an over-sand driving permit. Your efforts will be rewarded with the quiet solitude and beautiful views of the northern side of Cape Cod. Tours are offered on select days throughout the summer. Private companies also offer dune tours that visit this Cape Cod lighthouse.

Our Favorite Restaurants in Camden

Although Camden is a small town, there are several great dining options when you’re looking for a nice dinner out. While many restaurants are seasonal, there’s enough open year round to offer choices. Whether you’re looking for a cozy pub dinner, a fine dining new American experience, or some unforgettable Thai food, we have a recommendation for a restaurant in Camden. All three restaurants in Camden are within walking distance of our boutique hotel Whitehall.

Francine Bistro | 55 Chestnut St, Camden | (207) 230-0083

Romantic yet lively, this small restaurant’s menu changes daily. Whatever chef Brian Hill is serving is sure to be a hit, from buttermilk fried calamari with black olive mayo to his famous smoked pork ribs served with salted caramel and peanuts. During the busier months, the wait for a table can be considerable, so reservations are recommended. Tucked away on a side street, you’ll find the makings of a memorable meal at Francine Bistro.

The Drouthy Bear | 50 Elm St, Camden | (207) 236-2327

Named for the old Scottish word meaning thirsty, this pub in a rehabbed historic home has a great selection of whiskey, as you’d expect. It also serves up local craft beer and a full menu of pub food. Hearty starters like homemade pork pie and Scotch eggs will satisfy your hunger, and the adventurous should try the haggis poutine. The wood stove adds a particularly cozy touch on cold nights.

Long Grain | 31 Elm Street, Camden | (207) 236-9001

Another small restaurant in Camden, Long Grain has only a few seats and fills up fast. The owners Razin Nakjaroen and Paula Palakawong bring fresh flavors from their native Thailand and use Maine ingredients wherever possible. Start with crispy Thai wings to Vietnamese salad loaded with fresh herbs and a zippy dressing, and finish with hearty dishes like beef panang curry and pork belly ramen. One meal at Long Grain and you’ll be a lifelong fan of this restaurant in Camden.

Winter Activities in Salem

Salem, like all of our New England Lark destinations, is so cozy during the winter. The summer tourists have long gone, and while the warm weather went with them, there’s still lots to do on the North Shore of Boston in the wintertime. With snow on the ground from mid-December until March or April, you’ve got time to enjoy these winter activities in Salem. Book your stay at one of our two boutique Salem hotels and enjoy these winter activities in Salem.

Go to a hockey game at Rockett Arena | 225 Canal St, Salem | (978) 542-6556

New Englanders love their hockey, and if you’re a fan of the sport, watch the Salem State Vikings play at Rockett Arena. With both a men’s and a women’s ice hockey team, you’ve got a pretty good chance at catching a home game during your visit. Bundle up and cheer the Vikings to victory, then hit the nearby bars to warm up with a hot toddy.

Explore Winter Island Park | 50 Winter Island Rd, Salem | (978) 745-9430

For a refreshing winter walk, head to aptly named Winter Island Park at the northern end of town. This former Coast Guard facility contains the remnants of Fort Pickering, a Colonial-era military fortification. It’s also home to Fort Pickering Lighthouse. We love to stroll around the park in winter and enjoy the views of Marblehead and Salem Harbor.

Snowshoe at Mass Audubon | 10 Risley Rd, Marblehead | (978) 887-9264

Head out to Marblehead Neck to this wildlife sanctuary for a peaceful trek on snowshoes. This 20-acre park offers a mile long trail that is perfect for a quick outdoor jaunt. After you’ve enjoyed some winter activities in Salem, head back to The Merchant (https://www.themerchantsalem.com/) or The Hotel Salem (https://www.thehotelsalem.com/) to warm up by the fire!

Our Favorite Specialty Food Shops in Stowe

With cheese, maple syrup, and craft beer, Vermont has so much great local food and drink. Here in Stowe, home to our boutique hotel Field Guide, we love to stock up on Vermont-made specialty foods at the number of great shops in town. Here are three of our favorite specialty food shops in Stowe where you’ll find the makings of a great in-room happy hour or the perfect gift for a friend.

Specialty Food Shops in Stowe

Stowe Wine & Cheese | 1799 Mountain Rd, Stowe |(802) 253-8606

Just up the street from Field Guide, you’ll find our favorite wine and cheese shop. With a great selection of local and imported cheeses, cured meats, olives, pickles, and spreads, you’ll have everything you need for a fantastic cheese and charcuterie board. Pick up a bottle of wine or some craft beer, (yes, they stock Heady Topper) and the friendly staff is on hand to help with a recommendation. Or better yet, grab a seat at Swirl, the shop’s wine bar and try a few samples to see what you like.

Stowe Mercantile | 166 S Main St, Stowe | 802) 253-4554

This general store has a wide variety of stuff from gloves and hats to mugs and cutting boards, much of it handcrafted in Vermont. Stock up on some Vermont maple syrup or browse the great selection of local craft beer and wine. Don’t miss the shop’s selection of penny candy, with self-serve canisters full of classic and retro sweets.

Laughing Moon Chocolates | 78 South Main St, Stowe | (802) 253-9591

Chocolate lovers have to stop into this chocolate shop known for its chocolate truffles and buttercreams. Unique flavors like basil black pepper and chipotle cinnamon make these chocolates stand out. Catch a truffle making demonstration every day at 2pm, with samples of course!

Portsmouth Winter Activities

With winter just around the corner in New England, we’re getting ready by making our list of Portsmouth winter activities. Bring on the snow in Seacoast New Hampshire—we’re looking forward to ice skating, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Celebrate winter with a stay at one of our two Portsmouth boutique hotels, and enjoy these Portsmouth winter activities during the day, with Portsmouth’s thriving dining and bar scene waiting for you at night.

Ice Skating at Strawbery Banke | 14 Hancock St, Portsmouth | (603) 433-1100

Now in its fourth season, this ice rink is a big hit with locals and visitors alike. Open 7 days a week, the large rink is built on the grounds of Portsmouth’s living history museum, providing a scenic backdrop for your skate. Skate rentals are available, as well as lessons and special events on weekend nights.

Sledding at Wagon Hill Farm | 156 Piscataqua Rd, Durham | (603) 868-5571

Wagon Hill is a year-round facility with concerts, walking trails, and the area’s best sledding hill. Just a 20 minute drive west of Portsmouth, bring your snowshoes, cross-country skis, and sled for some winter fun. Enjoy the few miles of trails that overlook the Oyster River on your skis or snowshoes, then finish the afternoon with kids and adults of all ages at the sledding hill.

X-Country Skiing at Odiorne State Park | 570 Ocean Blvd, Rye | (603) 436-7406

Head just 10 minutes south to Rye, best known for its sandy beaches in the summer. This waterfront state park is great for an easy snowshoe or ski, with nice views of the ocean and salt marshes. Trails are free to use during the off-season, although the park’s facilities are closed. We’ll be waiting for you at Lark Hotels with a mug of hot chocolate when you’re done enjoying a day of winter activities in Portsmouth!

Shopping in Newburyport

Plum Island is one of those rare places to vacation where you can have both a relaxing beachside retreat and a lively day spent exploring the nearby town of Newburyport. Our Plum Island boutique hotel Blue—Inn by the Beach is the perfect retreat after a day of dining and shopping in Newburyport. Enjoy some shopping in Newburyport at these three boutiques showcasing local artists and makers with that New England vibe, and take home a keepsake for your time on Plum Island.

Vaalbara Designs | 1 Water St, Newburyport | (978) 212-9678

This carefully curated shop primarilyy features bags designed of Emily Prescott, a Massachusetts native now living in California. With colorful fabric, leather accents, and the distinct arrowhead zipper pull, these bags come in all sizes with convertible straps for maximum wear. You’ll love the global feel that the clutches and purses will impart on your look. This new Newburyport location is run by Emily’s sister and also features other handmade and vintage items.

Piper & Chloe | 5 Water St, Newburyport | (978) 255-1675

Head right next door to this women and children’s boutique, with a calming, preppy aesthetic. We love their collection of minimalist jewelry and accessories as well as the soy candles made with natural scents that remind us of the beach. Take your time to look through the collection of home goods, kids’ books and toys, and stationery for that perfect memento or gift.

Sea Bags | 6 State St, Newburyport | (207) 239-2999

With its flagship operation on the waterfront in Portland, Maine (another Lark Hotel destination!), Sea Bags brings its beloved totes to Newburyport with this shop. Made from recycled sails and printed with graphic designs or stitched with color blocking, these bags are the perfect everyday accessory. Take that New England vacation look with you wherever you go with a clutch embellished with a metallic anchor.

Salt & Grove | 7 Prince Place, Suite 102, Newburyport | (978) 225-0240

Salt & Grove is a local artisan shop and shared creative studio based in the darling seaside town of Newburyport, MA. Owned by two spunky creatives, Sarah Landry of Sarah Jayne Photography and Katie Rocheford of Sweet Annie Floral Design, Salt & Grove is a feel-good space that supports the rad local maker, curates a kick-ass collection of local, small batch gifts, and above all else, spreads good vibes in the community.

Holiday Events in Salem

While everyone associates Salem with Halloween, here at Lark Hotels, we know that the holidays in December are just as special. Perhaps a little less spooky and a little more cozy, but the same festive spirit and New England charm makes Salem a great place to visit during the holidays. Book your stay at one of our two Salem boutique hotels and enjoy these holiday events in Salem.

Christmas in Salem | various locations

Salem’s historic homes are beautiful all decked out for the holidays, so take a close look with these tours offered the first weekend in December. See private homes otherwise not open to the public and enjoy special events like wine tastings, a mini food tour from Salem Food Tours, and guest speakers. Sponsored by Historic Salem, this event is a fun way to learn the history of Salem while getting into the holiday spirit.

Salem Holiday Market | Old Town Hall, 93 Washington St, Salem

Just like at Halloween, one of our favorite things to do in Salem is shop at a local craft fair and see all the unique gifts from talented Salem makers and artists. With two floors of handmade products at the Old Town Hall, you’re sure to find something for everyone on your list. Shop Saturday, December 16th and Sunday, December 17th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Launch! New Year’s Eve Celebration | Old Town Hall, 93 Washington St, Salem

Ring in the new year from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. with a black light dance party at Salem’s Old Town Hall. With live music from local acts, a photo booth, and interactive art exhibits, you’ll have plenty to do until the ball drops at midnight. Enjoy a late-night snack from Goodnight Fatty, (https://goodnightfatty.com/) Salem’s hottest cookie bakery, and then head back to one of our boutique hotels for a good night’s sleep.

Holiday Shopping in Mendocino

“Christmas in California” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? While we love a White Christmas at our New England Lark Hotel properties, a West Coast trip can provide a welcome break from the winter weather. In Northern California, at our Mendocino boutique hotel Blue Door Group, winter weather is mild, with daytime temperatures in the mid-50s. Make a new tradition this year with a quiet retreat on the coast, and check off your gift list with some local holiday shopping in Mendocino.

Twist | 45140 Main St, Mendocino | (707) 937-1717

We love Twist because it perfectly captures that California coastal vibe we love so much. From soft, screen-printed tees and trucker hats to bike baskets and sunglasses, Twist sells products made with natural materials, many made in the U.S. You’re sure to find great gifts for that eco-conscious person in your life.

Honey & Ro | 45062 Ukiah St, Mendocino | (707) 937-2717

Good luck getting out of this well-curated boutique without buying a few items for yourself too. With on-trend jackets and tops, soft scarves, stackable rings, and rustic pottery, this shop has everything you need to complete that lifestyle blogger look. Leave plenty of time to explore all of the unique home goods and body care items on display too.

Simply Succulent | 31250 Highway 20, Fort Bragg | (707) 964-0536

This nursery is worth the drive north to Fort Bragg for that someone who’s always hard to buy for. With a huge selection of Insta-worthy arrangements of all shapes, sizes, and colors, you’ll find an adorable gift—even for the self-professed “black thumb” on your list. Then pay a visit to the nearby Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens’ Festival of Lights (https://www.gardenbythesea.org/calendar/festival-of-lights-2017/) after your holiday shopping in Mendocino!

Best Provincetown Restaurants

After a day spent on the beach or exploring the shops and galleries of Provincetown, plenty of options for good food await you in this funky Cape Cod town. From fried clam shacks to upscale dining, Provincetown has a great restaurant for every occasion. Let what you’re in the mood for steer you towards a dinner reservation at one of the best Provincetown restaurants.

If you’re in the mood for fresh, local seafood and a great cocktail, head to:

Patio | 328 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 487-4003

The mojitos and the “Monument” seafood tower are the big draw at Patio, the latter named for the Pilgrim Monument and filled with lobster tails, oysters on the half shell, steamed shrimp, and ceviche. As you might imagine, the best seats are on the restaurant’s patio, with strings of lights overhead and heat lamps in the cooler seasons. Always good people watching in P’town too!

If it’s a French brasserie with local seafood you’re after, book a table at:

Joon Bar + Kitchen | 133 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 413-9336

Share small plates at this wine bar in its new West End location. Enjoy gourmet snacks like wood roasted wild mushrooms, fried Spanish olives stuffed with manchego cheese and buttermilk biscuit duck sliders. With a frequently changing menu and a wine list full of interesting choices, Joon is one of our favorite places for a cozy meal.

Tacos and frosé sound good? Try:

Canteen | 225 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 487-3800

Laid back, with outdoor seating, puns galore and strong drinks, Canteen captures the Cape Cod vibe perfectly. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Canteen offers a mix of comfort food classics like pot pies and seafood shack staples like fish and chips and lobster rolls. And don’t miss the crispy Brussels sprouts in fish sauce!

Provincetown Art Galleries

Provincetown is known for its artsy vibe, with galleries lining its main street and arts events all year long. Artists and art lovers alike come to this Outer Cape town to enjoy the natural beauty of the ocean and the white sand beaches. With hundreds of artists taking season or full-time residence in P’town, there’s a healthy art community that supports over 35 Provincetown art galleries. You could spend days visiting art galleries on Commercial Street and still not see them all. Here are a few of our favorites at Lark Hotels that highlight the diversity of Provincetown art galleries.

Schoolhouse Gallery | 494 Commercial Street, Provincetown | (508) 487-4800

This gallery, housed in a former schoolhouse, showcases modern art with a focus in photography. You’ll find prints, paintings, and sculpture by Provincetown artists, all with a quirky flare that so represents the town. The adjacent design center is worth a look too—there’s furniture, jewelry, and mobiles.

Galería Cubana | 357 Commercial Street, Provincetown | (508) 487-2822

You may feel a long way from the Caribbean, but this gallery brings Cuban culture to the Cape with works by Cuban artists. The gallery’s owner travels to Cuba regularly to meet artists and establish an American audience for work that may otherwise never make it out of the country. The gallery is full of works of all mediums, so you’ll see a diversity of Cuban art, from folk art to political statements.

Provincetown Art Association and Museum | 460 Commercial St, Provincetown | (508) 487-1750

The PAAM is the heart of P’town’s art community, with a gallery that’s open year round and a robust event schedule. Visit this Provincetown art gallery to see its rotating exhibitions and permanent collection of P’town artists spanning the past 100 years. Catch a special lecture on the influence of the Cape on well-known American artists like Edward Hopper, and enjoy this quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of P’town.

Things to do on Cape Cod

Vacation on the Cape starts once you cross over the canal—and with its slower pace, beautiful beaches, and timeless charm, there’s plenty of things to do on Cape Cod. We love to go on a lark and explore the Cape, from Falmouth and Chatham to Orleans and Provincetown. We’ve got your recommendations for things to do on Cape Cod; use our list to break up your drive to P’town or go on a day trip and visit different parts of the Cape.

If you’re coming from Boston, detour down to Falmouth to explore its shop-lined main street and beach that overlooks Vineyard Sound. Fuel up at Coffee Obsession with a Mexican mocha latte and a warm scone or danish. Spend an hour at Spohr Gardens, an estate with 6-acres of gardens designed in the 1950s and now open to the public. Head onto Hyannis for lunch, where we recommend The Naked Oyster. Overlooking its own oyster beds, local seafood at The Naked Oyster doesn’t get much fresher.

History buffs will want to explore Hyannis’ John F. Kennedy Museum, while outdoor lovers should head to Chatham for some beach time. The Cape Cod National Seashorebegins here and runs north to Provincetown. The water on this side is cold, but the National Seashore has the best shorebreak for playing in the surf and offers protected habitat for shorebirds. Walk the beach and look for birds or visit the Chatham Lighthouse, open for tours select days of the week.

Turn north and head up the Outer Cape towards lively P’town. Work up an appetite by walking or biking the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a 26-mile paved path from Dennis to Wellfleet. For dinner, Abba in Orleans is billed as the best restaurant on the Cape. The Israeli-born chef prepares his native cuisine and adds in touches of Thai flavors—many dishes highlighting local seafood, of course. If you’re looking for something more traditional, visit the Lobster Pot in P’town. No visit to the Cape is complete without a steamed lobster dinner and a great view of the water, and this local landmark delivers.

Must Visit Cape Cod Breweries

When you’re on a lark to Cape Cod, whether it’s all the way to Provincetown or right over the bridge in Falmouth, there’s lots to look forward to—art, outdoor activities, great food, and most of all relaxing. Taking your time on the drive out to the Cape is half the fun, as there’s so much to see and do along the way. Plus, you might need a break from all the traffic, so stop into one of these three Cape Cod breweries for a cold one and a snack.

Cape Cod Beer | 1336 Phinneys Ln, Hyannis | (508) 790-4200

This Mid-Cape brewery is one of Cape Cod’s best known, making it’s well-loved beer since 2004. Stop into the brewery to sample its beers in a flight or take a tour (offered once a day at 11am). Our favorite is the Big Sea Saison, a citrusy, dry beer, but there’s something for everyone from IPA and porter to pilsner and dunkel weisen. The tap room has communal tables and games, and you’re welcome to order food from nearby restaurants if hunger strikes.

Devil’s Purse Brewing Company | 120 Great Western Rd, South Dennis | (508) 694-7171

The lineup at Devil’s Purse includes a lot of European-inspired beers like a Belgian-style IPA and a British Imperial Stout. But with a wide variety of styles, everyone will find something to sip on. Try a flight of four 5 oz. pours and fill a Howler (half growler) of your favorite to take to go. We love the Surfman’s Check ESB, so called for the Cape’s lifesaving patrols of the past.

Hog Island Beer Co. | 28 West Rd, Orleans | (508) 255-2337

Named for an uninhabited island off of Orleans, this brewery’s tasting room offers 5 oz. flights of its beers, as well as growlers and cans to go. With its surfboard decor and beers named for sharks, you’ll get that vacation vibe at Hog Island. Try the Pig Pen Pharmhouse or the Moon Snail Pale Ale and embrace the relaxed lifestyle of Cape Cod.

Best Yoga Studios in Portland

When you’re visiting Portland, Maine and our boutique hotel Pomegranate Inn, you may want to keep up with your yoga practice by dropping in on a class. Portland has several yoga studios that each offer different styles of classes several times a day. Pick one that fits best with your practice and stay centered and strong while on vacation. And we’ve got your recommendations for where to grab a healthy snack or juice afterwards too!

Niraj Yoga | 648 Congress St, Portland | (207) 747-9172

Located in Portland’s West End and very close to The Pom, Niraj Yoga aims to make yoga accessible, meaning the classes are priced at an affordable $11. With several levels of classes, from a foundations to an advanced level, you’ll find a class tailored to your practice. After an hour of yoga, head to Maine Juice Co. for a refreshing Green Zing juice, made with apples, greens, ginger, celery, and cucumber.

Lila East End Yoga | 251 Congress St, Portland | (207) 329-4604

This sweet little studio is located in Portland’s East End and offers vinyasa flow classes. The classes tend to be small, which allows for more one-on-one instruction if you want it. Afterwards, head next door to LB Kitchen, (https://www.lbkitchenportlandme.com/) a fantastic new restaurant that serves bowls, toasts, juices, and bone broth. We love the banh mi bowl, with tofu, kimchi, brown rice, and spicy vegan mayo.

Greener Postures | 740 Broadway St, South Portland | (207) 210-6525

This heated studio (with temps up to 90℉) offers primarily vinyasa flow workshops, several times a day. While it’s in South Portland, it’s only a short drive from our The Pom. If it’s your first time at the studio, the drop-in rate is only $5 and includes a mat, perfect for out-of-town visitors.

Christmas at the Newport Mansions

Visiting the mansions of Newport, the historic homes of the Gilded Age now maintained as 11 museums and open to the public, is popular with our guests. Especially so this time of year, as the mansions are decked out with all the trimmings of the seasons: giant, bejeweled trees, evergreen garlands, and miles of twinkly lights. From November 18th, 2017 to January 1st, 2018, Christmas at the Newport Mansions brings festive holiday cheer to Bellevue Avenue with tours and special events.

We love touring Newport to look at holiday lights, and the historic mansions are a great neighborhood to see some top-notch displays. While many museums aren’t open through the off-season, The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House are participating in Christmas at the Newport Mansions. These historic homes will be open for tours and special events throughout the holiday season. Even if you’ve already toured the mansions, we recommend another visit during Christmas at the Mansions for some jaw-dropping holiday decorations. This year’s highlights include a 15-foot poinsettia tree and a model train set in The Breakers’ Great Hall. The tables are set with elaborate decorations and candles light every window. Fireplace mantle decorations made by local garden clubs add to the festive cheer. And new this year is an intricate version of the mansion, made by local pastry chefs, on display in the kitchen.

In addition to daily tours, the mansions host special events like visits from Santa on Saturdays in December and evening concerts. Visit one of our two Newport boutique hotels and indulge in some luxe holiday cheer at Christmas at the Newport mansions. The mansions of the Gilded Age really shine at the holidays with their elaborate decorations, so get into the holiday spirit with Christmas at the Newport mansions.

Christmas Prelude: Holidays in Kennebunkport

As you might expect from a quaint seaside New England town, Kennebunkport does the holidays well. With the cozy streets and historic homes gussied up for the holidays, Kennebunkport kicks off the 2017 holiday season with Christmas Prelude. Now in its 36th year, this town-wide holiday celebration is full of events from progressive dinners, tap takeovers, arts and craft shows, and a live nativity. Our Kennebunkport boutique hotel Captain Fairfield Inn, with its warming fire pit and cozy beds, is the perfect home base to explore this holiday tradition. And don’t forget the hot chocolate and cookies as you head out to enjoy the holidays in Kennebunkport!

Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude runs from November 30th until December 10th. We’re looking forward to the Mead and Wassail tasting at the newly opened Maine Mead Works tasting room. Maine Mead Works first started in Portland by owner Ben Alexander and opened a tasting room in KPT this summer. Forget what you may think of mead, much of it syrupy sweet and overspiced. Maine Mead Works’ honey wines are light and subtly sweet. At the holidays, the cranberry mead is a popular choice, as well the hopped mead, perfect for skeptical beer drinkers. Maine Mead Works is open Thursday through Sunday 2-5 p.m. during Christmas Prelude.

If you’re feeling hearty, take a boat ride on the Saturdays and Sundays of Christmas Prelude on the Nor’easter, a lobster boat with a covered (and heated!) wheelhouse. The boat picks up passengers at The Pilot House in Kennebunk and the Nonantum Resort every half an hour, so you can ride from point to point or stay on board for a round trip. Or book a spot on the evening cruise on December 8th and watch the fireworks over the ocean for only $20 (and it’s BYOB!).

The tree—made from lobster traps, natch—lighting ceremony takes places Friday, December 1st. Shops will be open late throughout Prelude, many with cookies and wine, so you can pick up some special Maine-made gifts. Whether you participate in any official Prelude events or not, Kennebunkport is a special place to visit at the holidays.

Dog-Friendly Activities in Newburyport

With its prime location right on the beach, our Plum Island boutique hotel Blue—Inn on the Beach is a great place to go on a lark—and good news, your dog can come too! Dogs are welcome in our pet-friendly cottage, allowing you to relax and enjoy a weekend on Plum Island with your four-legged friend in tow. Take advantage of the beautiful fall weather at the beach with these recommendations for dog-friendly activities in Newburyport.

First, you can’t beat the location of our hotel when it comes to enjoying some playtime outdoors with your dog. Dogs are allowed off-leash on Plum Island beach after October 15th and until May 15th, so you and your dog can walk right out our door onto the sand. Dogs aren’t allowed in the National Wildlife Refuge (south of our hotel on Plum Island), but the public beach to the north is all yours. In Newburyport, there are several off-leash dog parks, and we also love the Clipper City Rail Trail, a 1.1 mile paved pathway that winds its way around the harbor. The Maudslay State Park is a must-visit for any dog owner who also is a horticulture buff. This 480-acre estate turned state park has beautiful gardens and walking paths. Dogs on leash are welcome.

Dogs are welcome on most Newburyport restaurant patios, so if the weather is right, you can enjoy a meal on the deck with your pooch. We love the Newburyport Brewing Company for a flight of beer on the patio. Dogs are welcome here and always loved on by the friendly brewery staff. Head to Plum Island Coffee Roasters (where your pup is welcome inside) to rest with a warm drink after a dog park romp. And don’t leave your dog out of Newburyport’s culinary experience—Just Dogs is a gourmet bakery where you’ll find dog-friendly treats and pet supplies. Enjoy all the dog-friendly activities that Newburyport has to offer—after a day of exploring, your comfortable cottage at Blue—Inn on the Beach is waiting for you.

Best Après Ski Restaurants in Stowe

Winter is right around the corner, and in Stowe at our boutique hotel Field Guide, we are gearing up for another great ski season. The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a cold, snowy winter in New England for 2017-18, and up on the mountain, skiers and snowboarders are pumped. From snowshoeing and cross-country skiing to downhill at Stowe Mountain Resort, Stowe has many ways to get out and enjoy the fresh powder, making it a top destination in New England for snow bunnies. Then there’s that après scene—Stowe may seem quaint and quiet, but the nightlife can be quite lively. Take your rosy cheeks and cold fingers to one of these hot après ski restaurants in Stowe for some refreshments and warmth after a day on the mountain.

The Matterhorn | 4969 Mountain Rd, Stowe | (802) 253-8198

You can practically ski right into The Matterhorn at the bottom of Mountain Road (in fact, Bruce Trail, an old ski run leads right to it for those in the know). This bar/restaurant has a different vibe for every time of day with families during the day and late-night revelers near closing time. But après ski is the best time, with a jovial mix of locals and tourists, all happy from a day spent on the mountain. Order up cheap PBR, sushi, and pub grub staples.

Piecasso | 1899 Mountain Rd, Stowe | (802) 253-4411

We think pizza is the perfect apres ski food, especially if it’s cheap. Piecasso serves up great thin crust pizza at reasonable prices. With ski movie nights on Thursdays and live music on the weekends, Piecasso is a nice place to head to when you don’t have the energy for a fancy meal. Plus, carb loading is practically required after a strenuous day of skiing.

Picnic Social | 433 Mountain Rd, Stowe | (802) 221-4947

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our own on-site restaurant Picnic Social at Field Guide. With 13 draft beers on tap, many of them local, and a menu of shareable comfort food plates, we think Picnic Social is the coziest place to be post-ride. Plus, you’re steps from the hot tub and campfire to help warm you up.

Salem Fall Restaurant Week

Salem’s restaurant scene goes far beyond the waterfront seafood restaurants with everything from Neapolitan pizza to a Mexican taqueria (and of course, still plenty of seafood to go round). While October is Salem’s busiest season with its celebration of all things haunted, after Halloween passes, the quieter season is a nice time to visit too. Salem’s outstanding restaurants become easier to get into and the sidewalks and tourist attractions are less crowded. Coming right up in early December, Salem Fall Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to explore the food and drink scene in Salem. Book a room at one of our two Salem boutique hotels The Merchant and The Hotel Salem and enjoy Salem Fall Restaurant Week December 3rd-7th. Bonus: many of the participating restaurants are within walking distance of our two boutique hotels, meaning you’re only a short stroll away from a good meal!

Restaurant Weeks are a well-known concept, but for the uninitiated: participating Salem restaurants are offering specially priced menus during Restaurant Week. Some offer choices of appetizer, entrees, and dessert while others have set menus. Typically the menus are less expensive than if you were to order a three-course meal outside of Restaurant Week, giving diners the chance to try out a new restaurant. Lark favorites participating in Salem Fall Restaurant Week include the seafood classic Adriatic Restaurant and Bar, East-meets-West at Opus, and Korean fried chicken hotspot BonChon.

For foodies, Restaurant Weeks are like Christmas and the Super Bowl all rolled into one. Eleven Salem restaurants are participating so far, with more to come before the event kicks off. Whether you’re looking for Korean food or authentic Italian, Salem Fall Restaurant Week will serve up some delicious fall food in Witch City. Reservations recommended!

Shopping in Edgartown

It’s not a vacation to the Vineyard without some shopping in Edgartown. Many of our favorite Edgartown shops are within walking distance of our two Martha’s Vineyard boutique hotels, The Christopher and The Sydney. Martha’s Vineyard is known for its upscale clothing boutiques and unique gifts, so stop into one of these shops in Edgartown for a Vineyard souvenir that will remind you of your time on the island all year long.

Vineyard Bath Co. | 15 N. Summer St, Edgartown | (508) 868-4425

This fragrance shop captures the fresh smells of the island and will help transport you back to vacation with one whiff. Unlike those mall scent shops, Vineyard Bath Co. uses high-quality ingredients made in the U.S. and free of harmful additives. With fragrances named for island towns, you can select lotions, body scrubs, soaps, and candles that will serve as the perfect memento for your Vineyard vacation.

Vineyard Vines | 19 Winter St, Edgartown | (508) 627-4779

While Vineyard Vines has become known nationwide, it, of course, got its start on Martha’s Vineyard. Started by two guys who quit their office day jobs to sell ties, this preppy brand has evolved into quintessential New England wear. Stop into the Winter Street store to freshen up your Vineyard wardrobe with its cute whale-adorned gear.

Slate | 11 N. Summer St, Edgartown | (508) 939-1908

This boutique stocks the latest trends in women’s clothing and body care. With pieces from U.S. designers, this is no fast-fashion store, but rather quality clothes made to last. Find a new chic party dress or a modern top that gives you that effortlessly chic look. A great selection of jewelry, skin care products, and books round out this stylish boutique’s offerings.

See our post on Edgartown Bookstores for recommendations on finding your next vacation read. Happy shopping!

Where to Eat Year-Round on Nantucket

When the summer crowds have long gone, the leaf peepers have thinned, and the sidewalks are easy to navigate, we knowthe off-season is upon us on Nantucket. Our two Nantucket boutique hotels 21 Broad and 76 Main take a winter hiatus January through March, but now through the holidays is a great time to visit Nantucket. While many shops, bars, and restaurants close after the high season, many stay open for the 12,000 year-round residents and wintertime visitors. When visiting Nantucket during the off-season, here are our favorite places to eat year-round on Nantucket.

Dune | 20 Broad St, Nantucket | (508) 228-5550

Dune is a Lark favorite year-round because of its craft cocktails and fine dining cuisine that relies on seasonal, island-grown ingredients. The fall menu serves up comfort food like stews, braised meats, and seasonal vegetables like beets, mushrooms, and squash. Usually the wait for a table is considerable during the summer, so a visit to Dune in the off-season is a treat.

A Brotherhood of Thieves | 23 Broad St, Nantucket | (550) 228-2551

Located in the heart of Nantucket Town, this tavern is one of our favorite places to eat year-round on Nantucket. The basement bar dates back to the 1840s when it catered to the sailors of the island’s vigorous whaling industry. With dark wood, a large fireplace, and a wide selection of craft beer, The Brotherhood is a great place to enjoy happy hour or a casual dinner.

B-ACK Yard BBQ | 20 Straight Wharf, Nantucket | (508) 228-0227

New in 2017, this barbecue joint serves up different regional styles of barbecue and has quickly become an island favorite. Classic barbecue meats like brisket and kielbasa are smoked on site, while the sides like lobster mac and cheese threaten to steal the show. A great selection of draft beer and creative cocktails make B-ACK Yard BBQ a great place to eat year-round on Nantucket.

Where to Find the Best Oysters in Newburyport

When you’re on a lark to our boutique hotel on Plum Island, some fresh seafood is in order. In nearby Newburyport, a thriving restaurant scene awaits with many places serving up local oysters—perfect for enjoying before dinner with a cold drink. If you’re looking for the best oysters in Newburyport, we recommend these three raw bars that serve up the freshest, local oysters. After a day spent relaxing at the beach or exploring the shops and the historic district of downtown, enjoy the best oysters in Newburyport.

Brine | 25 State St, Newburyport | (978) 358-8479

Brine is the latest restaurants from chef Nancy Batista-Caswell and the sister restaurant to Ceia, a longtime local favorite. Brine focuses on prime cuts of meat and fresh seafood like crudos and freshly-shucked oysters. Snag a seat at the cozy bar and order up a dozen oysters, presented beautifully with a mignonette and fresh herbs. The chef prides herself on the wine list, so order a glass of vino from the eclectic collection or a beer from the equally diverse draft beer list. Monday nights from 4-8pm bring a “buck a shuck” oyster special.

Michael’s Harborside | 1 Tournament Wharf, Newburyport | (978) 462-7785

Michael’s is your fairly typical waterfront seafood restaurant, where the views are great and the oysters are fresh. During the high season, the upper deck is the place to be with a lovely view of the Merrimack River. The raw bar offers a variety of oysters on the half shell, along with clams and steamed shrimp. An extensive sushi menu rounds out the raw seafood offerings at Michael’s.

Sea Level Oyster Bar | 1 Market Square, Newburyport | (978) 462-8862

Like many places in Newburyport, this waterfront seafood restaurant’s menu is heavy on the lobster, fish, and shellfish. We love to head to the large marble bar for a refreshing plate of oysters, served up simply with cocktail sauce and lemon. Enjoy a drink from the large selection of New England craft beers on tap or a glass of wine along with some of the best oysters in Newburyport.

Dog-Friendly Activities in Oak Bluffs

Both you and your four-legged friend are welcome to go on a lark to our Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard boutique hotel Summercamp. With a dog-friendly suite available, Summercamp is the perfect home base for you and your pup while you’re exploring the Vineyard. Drop the dog bed off (or let us know if you need to borrow one) and hit the town with our recommendations for dog-friendly activities in Oak Bluffs.

One of the best parts of having a dog is that you get to enjoy time outside to help stretch your dog’s legs. Martha’s Vineyard is the perfect place to spend time with your dog on the beach, the water, or in a state park. This time of year, dogs are allowed on all Martha’s Vineyard beaches any time of day. You’ll find other dogs for yours to play with and miles of sandy beaches for throwing a ball. We love Joseph Sylvia State Beach, just a 10-minute drive from Summercamp. We also enjoy hiking in Trade Wind Fields Preserve, 72 acres of conservation land where dogs can run free. With trails that go through wooded areas and border sandplains, this preserve is a unique Martha’s Vineyard spot for you and your dog to explore.

If you want to get out on the water, Island Spirit Kayak welcomes dogs on any of their paddling tours. Head out for a half day paddle or a shorter tour at sunset, moonrise, or sunrise. Island Spirit Kayak will provide life jackets for your dog too.

After you’ve worked up the need for a bite to eat and a beer, Offshore Ale Co. is the perfect dog-friendly restaurant in Oak Bluffs. Dogs are welcome on the patio, which is the best place to sit when the weather’s nice anyway. Enjoy an East Chop Lighthouse blond ale and some beer-steamed mussels while your dog rests easy at your feet.

After your meal, head to our favorite ice cream shop in Oak Bluffs, Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, for a scoop to enjoy while you walk around Oak Bluffs with your dog. Our relaxing suite at Summercamp is waiting for you after a day full of dog-friendly activities in Oak Bluffs.

Nantucket’s Best Seafood Restaurants

Located 30 miles off the mainland in the Atlantic Ocean, you can expect some fresh seafood when you’re on a lark to Nantucket. Come the off-season, our favorite beachside clam shacks close up for the season (see you in May, Millie’s!). So when you’re paying a visit to ACK in the fall and winter, where are Nantucket’s best seafood restaurants? Here are three of our favorite seafood restaurants on Nantucket—one casual and two for a more upscale night out.

Sayle’s Seafood | 99 Washington St Ext, Nantucket | (508) 228-4599

Located in a cute shingled shack, Sayle’s is a seafood market with a takeout restaurant. With a focus on local seafood like bay scallops, oysters, lobster, and clams, Sayle’s is the place to get fresh seafood prepared simply. Get baskets of fried seafood with classic sides for a beach picnic or enjoy dinner on the waterfront deck.

CRU | 1 Straight Wharf, Nantucket | (508) 228-9278

This waterfront restaurant has a “see and be seen” vibe and menu prices to match. Treat yourself to a special night out in the upscale dining room with an elegant yet rustic feel. Start off with something from the great raw bar selection that includes caviar and local clams and oysters. Entrees include classics like lobster rolls and grilled salmon and twists on the classics like haddock schnitzel.

Brant Point Grill | 50 Easton St, Nantucket | (508) 325-1320

The BPG is a classic for a reason—located in a sprawling New England hotel overlooking the water and the Brant Point Lighthouse. But it’s not all tourists here; the locals love it in the offseason when a table is easier to get and there’s “buck a shuck” local oysters at happy hour. Lobster is the main draw, with the local crustacean appearing in Bloody Marys, mac and cheese and of course, steamed with butter.

Best Lunch in Portsmouth

Portsmouth is such a bustling city with so much to see and do in a day. From shops and live music to sailing and history museums, you’ll love spending time walking around the historic downtown and taking in the sights. But come lunchtime, choosing one of many of the city’s number of cafes and restaurants can be overwhelming. So here are our recommendations for lunch in Portsmouth for the next time you’re visiting one of our two Portsmouth boutique hotels.

Lexie’s Joint | 212 Islington St, Portsmouth | (603) 815-4181

Stop into Lexie’s for a classic lunch of burgers, fries, and a shake. With 14 different kinds of burgers piled high with toppings like chimichurri sauce and fried onions, you’ll come away stuffed and satisfied. Fish tacos, grilled cheese, and a delicious fried fish sandwich are also great options if you’re not in a red meat mood. Beer and wine are available if you really want to make it a vacation lunch in Portsmouth.

Street 801 | Islington St, Portsmouth | (603) 436-0860

With a focus on global street food, this casual café is a bit out of the downtown area, but worth the walk. From shawarma and falafel to crispy bibimbap and pho, Street has a cuisine to satisfy your wanderlust. The theme continues to the cocktail menu with a Pisco Sour, Pimm’s Cup, and “beer-tails”.

Popovers on the Square | 8 Congress St, Portsmouth | (603) 431-1119

Who doesn’t love a popover? These eggy treats are the main event at this downtown café, served warm with a side of maple butter. Soups, salads, and wraps are all available too, all with a mini popover on the side. With counter service and free wifi, you could linger over a relaxing lunch in Portsmouth here.

Visit These Wineries Near Camden

Maine may not be the first place you think of when you think of wine country, but there are a handful of dedicated winemakers in the state. Maine’s climate and rocky soil makes for great white wines, while the abundance of native fruit (hello, wild blueberries!) means there’s plenty of great fruit wines to be had. When you’re visiting our Camden boutique hotel Whitehall, consider a trip inland to some of these wineries near Camden. The rolling hills of the Camden area make for a scenic day trip, and you’ll be rewarded with some great wines at these wineries near Camden.

Cellardoor Winery | 367 Youngtown Rd, Lincolnville | (207) 763-4478

Just 10 minutes north of Camden in Lincolnville is the Cellardoor Winery’s tasting room. The tasting room and event space is in a 200-year old renovated barn and overlooks the winery’s 5 1/2-acres of grapevines. You can sip on a California Pinot Noir or a Washington state Chenin Blanc, as Cellardoor Winery imports grapes from other parts of the country to make wine. Wines made from grapes and fruit grown on site are also available.

Savage Oakes Vineyard and Winery | 175 Barrett Hill Rd, Union | (207) 785-2828

This vineyard and beef farm is big on visual appeal, with stone walls, gently sloping hills, an old barn that houses the tasting room. Savage Oakes makes wine from its own grapes and blueberries, and you can enjoy a tasting flight on the deck overlooking the farm fields. Come summertime, look for surprisingly big name acts like Lyle Lovett and The Indigo Girls as part of the new outdoor concert series at the winery.

Sweetgrass Winery & Distillery | 347 Carroll Road Union | (207) 785-3024

Perfect for the couple who loves cocktails and wine, this farm is home to another great winery near Camden. Sweetgrass uses as many Maine-grown products as they can in making fruit wines, spirits like gin and rum, and fruit liqueurs. Try the rhubarb or cranberry “smash” (their name for liqueur) or the cranberry gin. With a whole host of creative products from vanilla to bitters, you’ll find yourself stocking up on holiday gifts early.

Best Hikes Near Kennebunkport

Fall is the best season for hiking around the Kennebunkport area—the weather is cooler, the bugs are gone, and the changing leaves are putting on a show. On your next visit to our Kennebunkport boutique hotel, we recommend getting out on one of these Kennebunkport area hikes to enjoy the Maine coast at its finest. Whether you’re looking for a quick summit with some spectacular views or to stroll around a waterfront nature preserve, we have recommendations for the best hikes near Kennebunkport.

Bridle Path and Sea Road Preserve | 29 Sea Rd, Kennebunk | (207) 985-8734

No matter the season, the Bridle Path is one of our favorite hikes near Kennebunkport. Built on an old railway, the path crosses through meadows and marshes with glimpses of the ocean. With a packed gravel path and wooden benches, this flat trail is 6 miles of easy walking. Park at the Sea Road School to access the trail and enjoy an out-and-back walk. Bikes and dogs are allowed on the trail as well.

Timber Point Trail | 140 Granite Point Rd, Biddeford | (207) 646-9226

Part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, Timber Island is a 13-acre island off of Goose Rocks Beach. This 1.4 mile loop trail meanders through marshland, forests, rocky shoreline. The varied habitat means you’ll spot lots of wildlife and birds in this quiet preserve. Timber Island can only be accessed at low tide, so check the tide clock at the trailhead before you set out.

Mount Agamenticus | Mountain Rd, York | (207) 361-1102

Along the coast, it doesn’t take much elevation to get a great view, which is why Mt. A is one of the best hikes near Kennebunkport for some sightseeing. With a network of trails, you can pick a hike that is as easy or as hard as you like. The longest trail is the Ring Trail, which loops the mountain and intersects a number of trails that lead to the summit. Access the trail via the parking on Mountain Rd. or Mt. Agamenticus Rd. Once on top, check out the educational displays, look for hawks riding thermal drafts, and check out the visitor’s center, formerly a ski lodge.

Live Music in Kennebunkport

The village of Kennebunkport is often hopping with visitors lining the narrow streets and covering the patios. Often live music can be heard throughout town adding to the festive feel. Whether it’s a local cover band jamming at the Pilot House or the Arundel Wharf, there’s always some great live music to be found in Kennebunkport. The next time you visit, stop into one of these spots for live music in Kennebunkport to enjoy a drink and some tunes.

Federal Jack’s | 8 Western Ave, Kennebunk | (207) 967-4322

We love Feds for many reasons—its wide array of beers brewed on site, the full menu of brew pub staples, and most of all, the live music. Once the dinner crowd empties out, the band sets up in the dining room and the fun begins. Friday and Saturday nights, live music starts at 10pm and goes until closing time at 1am. There’s no better place to dance than on the second floor of Federal Jack’s overlooking the water.

Pedro’s | 181 Port Rd, Kennebunk | (207) 967-5544

The vibe is more chill over at Pedro’s when the live music starts. Every Sunday afternoon from 4 to 7pm, a rotating local act plays from Mexican-inspired to blues. Our favorite act is Primo Cubano who plays with a Cuban flair. Good luck staying in your seat for this one! But whoever is on stage, a margarita in hand at Pedro’s make this live music in Kennebunkport sound that much better.

Vinegar Hill Music Theater | 53 Old Post Rd, Arundel | (207) 985-5552

This new addition to the Maine music scene opened May of 2016 after its owners rennovated the Arundel Barn Playhouse. With its acoustically-friendly exposed beams and lofty ceiling, the new music theater is a great place to catch a show. Wwe particularly love having a drink at the the outdoor bar before the show starts. Whether it’s a big name national act or a stand-up comedy show, you’ll love this beautiful place to enjoy live music in Kennebunkport.

Fun Fall Activities in Camden

Midcoast Maine is beautiful in fall, with crisp evenings, rolling hills of changing fall foliage, and still plenty of things to do in the bustling village of Camden. Our Camden boutique hotel Whitehall closes for the season at the end of October, so book your stay soon (we’re offering 15% off stays of any length, any day of the week). Come enjoy our favorite season in Maine with these tips for fun fall activities in Camden.

Fall Foliage Chairlift at Camden Snow Bowl | 20 Barnestown Rd, Camden | (207) 236-3438

While the snow won’t fly for a few more months, there’s still fun to be had at the Camden Snow Bowl, the Midcoast’s only ski resort. With views of the ocean from the top, this mountain is one of the more unique ski resorts on the East Coast. Get in on the fun with a chairlift ride to the top Sundays in October. Hop on a chairlift (much easier without skis, we must say!) and cruise to the top for just $10. You’ll have stellar views of the surrounding fall foliage and the ocean on your way up, with as much time as you’d like to hike around the top of the mountain. Hike back down or ride the chairlift again.

Apple Picking at Hope Orchards | 434 Camden Rd, Hope | (207) 763-2824

Apple picking is practically mandatory in Maine in the fall, and we love to head just a few miles inland from Camden to Hope Orchards for this picturesque fall activity. Pick a bag or two of Maine apples to take home with you (varieties vary with the season) and pick up a pumpkin to decorate the stoop. With cider, maple syrup, and baked apple goods available in the farm stand, a stop at this orchard is a celebration of all things fall in Maine.

After a day full of fall activities in Camden, stop by the bar at our on-site restaurant Pig + Poet. Relax with a P+P Negroni, an updated version of the classic drink. Using equal parts London dry gin, vermouth, and Campari with a splash of blood orange juice. It’s bracing and tart, perfect for enjoying on a fall night in Camden.

 

Photo Credit: Benjamin Williamson Photography

Craft Beer at Martha’s Vineyard Offshore Ale Co

Vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard means days spent on the beach or exploring the island by bike and on foot. But after a day of sightseeing it’s time for a cold beverage, and in Oak Bluffs, beer lovers will find craft beer on Martha’s Vineyard at Offshore Ale Co. Just a 5 minute walk into town from our Oak Bluffs boutique hotel Summercamp, Offshore Ale Co. is a great place to enjoy craft beer on Martha’s Vineyard at happy hour or with a casual meal.

Offshore Ale Co. is the only brew pub on Martha’s Vineyard, and locals and tourists alike pack the tables and patio. You’ll quickly be served up a bowl of peanuts in the shell, and it’s encouraged to toss your shells on the ground. The menu contains a wide array of brew pub staples from fish and chips to beer-steamed mussels. Lunch is served at 11:30am until 4pm and dinner service begins at 5pm (the kitchen takes a break between 4 and 5pm, so don’t come hangry if you stop in for early happy hour).

The beer on tap rotates through six of the available styles—our favorite is the East Chop Lighthouse, a refreshing blonde ale. The twenty or so styles the brewery brews range from an imperial stout and a black porter to a helles bock and a double IPA. Every beer drinker will find something to love at Offshore Ale Co. If you want to take a taste of vacation home with you, growler fills are available.

When the weather’s nice, the patio of Offshore is one of our favorite places to sit with a pint. Dogs are welcome on the patio and umbrellas offers some cover if the sun is too bright. Whatever the occasion, Offshore Ale Co. is the perfect place to relax and enjoy craft beer on Martha’s Vineyard.

Offshore Ale Co. | 30 Kennebec Ave, Oak Bluffs | (508) 693-2626

Yoga on Martha’s Vineyard

When visiting Martha’s Vineyard, guests at our three Martha’s Vineyard boutique hotels often ask where to find the best yoga studio on Martha’s Vineyard. Whether you’re looking to try out a new activity while on vacation or to continue your practice, we recommend heading to one of these three yoga studios. With fresh island breezes blowing through the class, an hour of yoga on Martha’s Vineyard will help you to have a relaxing stay on the island.

Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Center | 73 Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs | (508) 237-1861

This studio is just a 5-minute walk from Summercamp, our Oak Bluffs boutique hotel in a sweet, shingled cottage. The Yoga Center offers 10 different classes of different styles and ability levels. Drop in for an easy refresher class or challenge yourself with some vigorous kripalu flow. After your workout, head down the street to Mocha Mott’s Coffee Shop for an energizing drink.

Island Spirit Kayak | Little Bridge, State Beach, Oak Bluffs | (508) 693-9727

Challenge yourself with some yoga on a standup paddleboard in the protected waters off of Joseph Sylvia State Beach. SUP Yoga on a paddleboard requires additional balance, so it’s perfect for yogis looking for that added challenge. Plus, you get to enjoy the beautiful weather of the island while you practice. Come prepared to get wet—many first-time yoga SUPers end up taking a dip in the water!

Yoga on the Vine | 243 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Rd, Edgartown | (508) 939-4339

In Edgartown, we love Yoga on the Vine for the peaceful yet strenuous workouts. Classes range in style from heated vinyasa to kundalini and even feature an aerial yoga series occasionally. After class, head next door to the studio’s adjacent spa and ward off any muscle soreness with a therapeutic massage.

Things to do on Chappaquiddick

Next time you’re on a lark to one of our two Edgartown boutique hotels, consider a day trip to Chappaquiddick, a small island off Edgartown. There’s plenty of things to do on Chappaquiddick, although admittedly more in the vein of sightseeing than the hustle and bustle of Edgartown. And while the island gained national notoriety for the incident with Ted Kennedy, we can assure you there’s much more to the island than just the infamous bridge. So here are some tips and recommendations for things to do on Chappaquiddick for your next visit.

To get to Chappaquiddick, you’ll need to take the “On Time ferry to Chappy” (one of two ferries named On Time I and On Time II). The ferry is a small car ferry and makes the 527-foot crossing continuously, so you won’t need to wait long for an available boat. Many of the sights on Chappaquiddick are a ways from the ferry landing, so it’s best to take car or a bicycle out with you.

If you come by bike, Wasque Point is a nice place for a picnic lunch. Head out Litchfield Rd. for three miles until it turns to dirt then venture for another mile. The beach here is a great place to walk, fish, or soak up some sun. Otherwise, drive out to Cape Poge to see the lighthouse and explore the Wildlife Refuge. The Trustees of Reservations offers guided over sand tours out to the lighthouse daily for only $20. The tour includes a scenic ride out to the point and a trip to the top of the light via a spiral staircase. Call to make a reservation and if desired, arrange for transportation to and from the Chappy ferry.

Golfers, bring your clubs to play on Chappaquiddick’s historic Royal & Ancient Chappaquiddick Links. Established in 1887, this greenway is beautifully landscaped—which you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy, as there’s no golf carts on this course. After a day spent exploring Chappy, head back to Edgartown for dinner and drinks—it’ll seem bustling after the peacefulness of Chappaquiddick.

Historic Halloween Events in Portland

Fall in New England is the best, with crunchy leaves, perfect sweater weather, and one of our favorite holidays, Halloween. There’s no better place to celebrate fall than Portland, with its quintessential New England seaside city vibe and lots of fun happenings during October (not to mention our cozy boutique hotel). We love these unique Halloween events in Portland—a great way to explore the spooky side of Portland while learning about the city’s history. Check out these historic Halloween events in Portland on your next visit this fall.

Walk Among the Shadows at Eastern Cemetery | 224 Congress St, Portland

This historic cemetery is hidden in plain sight on the eastern end of Congress Street. Open select hours for guided tours and exploring, Eastern Cemetery is the oldest historic landscape in the city dating back to 1668. You’ll find the graves of ship captains that died in the War of 1812, family of Portland’s famed poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and even women with connections to the Salem Witch Trials. Come mid-October, the nonprofit Spirits Alive puts on Walk Among the Shadows, an after-dark tour that tells tales of the city’s supernatural activities. The tours are guided through the cemetery where groups will encounter actors recounting stories of ghost ships, sea monsters, and strange sightings. The tour is not scary, but rather entertaining and educational. Tours are offered twice a night October 19-22 and 26-29 and tickets are $10 for adults.

Haunted House Tour at the Wadsworth-Longfellow House | 489 Congress St, Portland | (207) 774-1822

The childhood home of one of the city’s more famous residents offers Halloween events in Portland with a haunted house tour. Inspired by Longfellow’s poem Haunted House with the line “All houses wherein men have lived and died are haunted houses,” the hour-long tour tells the tales of residents that have died in the house…and who maybe still linger. Led by longtime docent and Longfellow impersonator James Horrigan, this tour is a great way to see the Longfellow House with some spooky tales. Tours are held daily October 25-30 (excluding Sunday) and tickets are $15.

Fall on Nantucket

While many flock to Nantucket during summer vacation, we love a quick jaunt out to the island in the fall. After Labor Day, the crowds clear out, but the weather is still sunny and pleasant with daytime temps reaching into the 70s. The island is a little quieter, but all the restaurants and shops are still open (many will close come winter) making fall on Nantucket one of the best times to visit. Here are some ideas of what awaits you during a visit to Nantucket this fall.

The island is beautiful in the fall with the changing leaves and signature crisp New England nights, and a visit always calls for some sightseeing. Our two boutique hotel properties on Nantucket are right in the heart of town, so you can either leave your car on the mainland or park it and easily walk to the restaurants and shops downtown. Rent a bike and explore the island on two wheels, with a ride out to ‘Sconset or Madaket where you can see the fall foliage and have the beach to yourself. Nantucket has three lighthouses—the Brant Point Light is within walking distance from town and a worthy photo op.

Learn about the history of the island by heading to one of its history museums like the Whaling Museum or the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum. Or get a different view of the island on a boat cruise. Charter company Shearwater Excursions offers many tours, but we love the sunset cruise]. Fall means beautiful sunsets on the island, but bring a sweater as it’s always a few degrees cooler on the water than on island.

With cooler temps, fall foliage, and a quieter pace, fall is one of the best times to visit Nantucket. You’ll be planning your next lark to Nantucket before the ferry to the mainland has even left the dock.

Kayak and SUP Tours in Mendocino

We hear from guests at our Mendocino boutique hotel Blue Door Group that they love to spending time outdoors taking in the coastal beauty of Northern California. If you’re looking to see the coast from a different perspective, consider getting out on the water with kayak and SUP tours in Mendocino. Explore sea caves, look for whales, seals, and birds, and soak up the California sun with a kayak and SUP tours in Mendocino the next time you’re on a lark.

Kayak and Standup Paddle Mendocino | Van Damme Beach State Park, CA-1, Little River | (707) 813-7117

This Mendocino-based tour company offers both guided kayak tours and standup paddleboard tours out of nearby Van Damme Beach State Park (about a 10-minute drive from the inns of the Blue Door Group). The guides provide everything you need for a few hours on the water, from wetsuits and water shoes to paddles and sit-on-top kayaks or SUPs.

Choose from a tour of the sea caves of Van Damme Cove, formed by erosion of the cliffs by the ocean waves. A guided tour allows you to safely explore these caves while the guides point out and identify the native wildlife like seals, oystercatchers, and sea stars. If you’re looking for a quieter adventure, take the Albion River tour which is great for birdwatching and offers paddling in calm conditions.

If you’re into standing while you paddle, the SUP tours also explore the sea caves and the Albion River. Kayak and Standup Paddle Mendocino even offers surf SUP lessons, if you’re looking to take your SUP sessions to the next level. Learn to paddle your way into surfing some of the waves off the California coast for a truly memorable time in Mendocino.

Kayak and Standup Paddle Mendocino is family-friendly and even dog-friendly. Reservations are not required, but are recommended.

Our Favorite Coffee Shops in Mendocino

We love to start our day in Mendocino with a hot cup of coffee—at our Mendocino boutique hotel the Blue Door Group, the staff serves up plenty of freshly brewed coffee from Thanksgiving Coffee Roasters, roasted in nearby Ft. Bragg. But we also like to enjoy a cup while out and about in Mendocino town, to sit and relax in between exploring all the beaches and hikes in the area. So next time you’re in Mendocino and need a pick-me-up, here are our recommendations for the best coffee shops in Mendocino.

Moody’s Organic Coffee Bar | 10450 Lansing St, Mendocino | (707) 937-4843

This coffee shop on the main drag of Mendocino serves up a straightforward menu of satisfying espresso drinks and drip coffees. The chai here is a fan favorite, not too sweet and nice and spicy. If it’s warm out, try an iced frappe available in flavors like coffee toffee and chai.

Goodlife Café & Bakery | 10483 Lansing St, Mendocino | (707) 937-0836

Right next to Moody’s is the Goodlife Café, also serving up espresso drinks but with a wider array of food. From items like chili and wraps to baked goods, this is a nice spot to stop into for a quick lunch. With plenty of seating and a rotating display of local art, you’ll quickly see why the Goodlife Café is one of the best coffee shops in Mendocino.

Garden Bakery | 10450 Lansing St, Mendocino | (707) 937-3140

This shop focuses more on the baked goods side of the coffee shop menu than the coffee (though they do have coffee available). Its menu specializes in savory pockets like a mushroom, spinach, and jack cheese pockets, and sweet empanadas—our favorite is apple in the fall. As the name suggests, you can enjoy your meal or afternoon snack in the shop’s beautifully landscaped garden patio.

Fun Things to do With Kids in Portsmouth

Portsmouth, with its waterfront location and historic New England setting, is a great place for active families to explore. With a living history museum and several public parks, Portsmouth is full of family-friendly activities. Either of our boutique Portsmouth hotels is a great home base within walking distance of many of these fun things to do with kids in Portsmouth.

Strawbery Banke Museum | 14 Hancock St, Portsmouth | 603.433.1100

While the adults may get more from the history of the area at this living history museum than the kids, kids will enjoy the interactive nature of the exhibits. Actors depict life in Portsmouth from the mid-1600s to the mid-1900s in and around over 30 historic buildings full of artifacts. Kids will love the Jones House Discovery Center for Families where they can pretend to run a 1950s shop, play on a sailboat, and explore historic play kitchens.

Prescott Park | 105 Marcy St, Portsmouth | 603.436.2848

This 10-acre waterfront park is a great place to relax while the kids play. Kids will love the tug boats in the river, the open green space, and the beautiful labyrinthian garden. Nonprofit Prescott Park Arts Festival brings music, theater, and special events to the park throughout the summer and fall. You may happen upon a movie night, live performance of Mary Poppins, or a musical act. Entry to the events is a suggested donation; check their events calendar for the schedule.

Other quick ideas for fun things to do with kids in Portsmouth: go to story time at the Portsmouth Public Library; dine at Flatbread Pizza Co., a family-friendly pizza joint that makes the best maple lemonade; visit the playground at Leary Field, which overlooks the mill pond; and treat the kids to a new book or toy at G. Willikers.

Murder Mystery Parties at The Pom

Fall is in full swing here in New England and Halloween is just around the corner! To celebrate the season, we’ll be hosting two Murder Mystery Parties at The Pom

What does this mean? Think of the rip-roaring 1920’s in all its gangster and speakeasy glory. Think of the rivalries and the drama between some of our nation’s most historic gangsters from the streets of New York City and Chicago. With an extravagant guest list, you’ll step back in time and take on the persona of your new character. You and your fellow guests will spend the night gathering evidence and deciphering clues in the hopes of uncovering the mystery behind the murder.

So, what are you waiting for? Book your room for a murder mystery party…if you dare.

Where:

The Pomegranate Inn

When:

Friday, 10/27, at 6:00pm
Tuesday, 10/31, 6:00pm

BYOB cocktail hour with mixer bar and snacks provided
Prizes awarded to super sleuths
Details will be emailed following booking
Hotel guests only

 

Best Spots for Fall Foliage in Stowe

The fall foliage is at its finest in Vermont mid-September through late October. At our Stowe boutique hotel Field Guide, we love to recommend that our guests take drives through the Green Mountains to see the beautiful reds, oranges, and golds of the tree-covered hillsides. Check out our tips for how to see the best fall foliage in Stowe during your stay.

First, pick a destination for your day trip. Many of the Stowe area’s roads offer great vistas of the peaks and valleys full of fall foliage. Head south to Ben & Jerry’s Factory Store in Waterbury, just 15 minutes from Stowe. Enjoy the vistas on the way and then reward yourself with a factory tour with free samples at the end. Cold Hollow Cider Mill, also in Waterbury, is a great stop for the whole family with free samples of cider and maple products. On your drive to and from Stowe, you’ll have the chance to see the beautiful colors of the maples, birch, and oak trees.

Or take drive up to the top of Mount Mansfield, the highest point in the state, via the toll road to see the fall foliage for miles. If you’d like to look around on your way up, you can ride Stowe Mountain Resort’s gondola up the mountain. This enclosed gondola, used as a ski lift during the winter, takes about 20 minutes to get to the top, where you can hike around some summit trails or just take in the view at the scenic overlook and rest area.

If you like to hike, scenic hikes are plentiful in Stowe, from state parks to trails at the ski resort—visit our post on the best hikes in Stowe for recommendations. Whether it’s by car, gondola, or on foot, peak foliage awaits during a visit to Stowe this fall.

Best Brunch in Camden and Beyond

Guests of our Camden boutique hotel Whitehall love our signature small plates breakfast, served in our on-site restaurant Pig + Poet. But sometimes you want to go out and enjoy a hearty brunch, maybe with a cocktail, to get the day started. For those times we’ve got this list of our favorite spots for brunch in and around Camden. Enjoy brunch in Camden to start your day in the Midcoast off right.

Our Favorite Brunch in Camden and Beyond

Boynton-McKay Food Co. | 30 Main St, Camden | (207) 236-2465

We love this Main Street café for its endless supply of piping hot coffee, delicious array of housemade baked goods, and a great menu of hot sweet and savory brunch items. Order at the counter in the back, then snag a booth to wait for you for your food. We recommend ordering a cinnamon roll or donut to tide you over while you wait for your Maine blueberry pancakes or “Wevos Rancheros” skillet.

Chase’s Daily | 96 Main St, Belfast | (207) 338-0555

Part restaurant, part farmers’ market, this Belfast café is a must for any locavores. Its market-fresh menu feels like home cooking, but some of the best you’ve ever had. Try the cornmeal pancakes with Maine blueberries and maple syrup (obvs) or the special egg scramble loaded with local veggies. You’ll come away so full and satisfied, you won’t even notice the menu is vegetarian.

Home Kitchen Café | 650 Main St, Rockland | (207) 596-2449

Big, hearty breakfasts are the thing at this Rockland cafe with seven types of eggs benedict available. It’s also well known for its cinnamon rolls, huge buns topped with a sticky nut glaze or traditional with a sweet icing. With housemade toast, granola, and even corn tortillas, you’ll quickly come to see why this place is called Home Kitchen Café.

Kennebunkport’s Best Cocktails

Over the past decade or so, a number of craft distilleries have opened in Maine from Round Turn Distilling, makers of Bimini Gin in nearby Biddeford, to Wiggly Bridge who makes bourbon, rum, and whiskey just south of Kennebunkport in York. For those looking to try some Maine-maine spirits while visiting Kennebunkport, we’ve got several recommendations for where to enjoy Kennebunkport’s best cocktails. Have a drink at one of these Kennebunkport cocktails bars after a day spent exploring all that KPT has to offer.

David’s | 21 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-8225

The bar at David’s KPT is pretty swanky, with its nautical decor and stellar views of the river through floor-to-ceiling windows. Its cocktail menu is equally impressive with a focus on infused liquors like charred orange gin in the TWLSB (shorthand for Maine’s motto: The Way Life Should Be). Happy hour from 3 to 6PM daily brings deals on mixed drinks and martinis.

Bandaloop | Cross St, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-4994

This cozy farmhouse bistro has an expansive array of locally distilled spirits, from Cold River gin to New England Distilling’s rum and rye whiskey. Bandaloop’s bartenders love to shake up creative cocktails specials that change daily, like the Hyacinth, made with sparkling pear cider and tropical fruit juices and the Cucumber Gin Fizz topped with prosecco. While the restaurant can be busy, you can usually snag seats at the bar to enjoy some of Kennebunkport’s best cocktails.

Pedro’s | 181 Port Rd, Kennebunk | (207) 967-5544

Across the Kennebunk River in Kennebunk’s Lower Village, you’ll find a warm escape at Pedro’s, no matter the weather. This Mexican restaurant, with its whimsical decor of velvet sombreros and Dia de los Muertos figurines, has a wide array of tequilas and margaritas to match. Try a fruit-flavored margarita, from hibiscus to grapefruit, made with natural ingredients (no bottled sour mix here). Or try their many high-end tequilas, available in tasting flights.

Dog-Friendly Activities in Stowe

We love our four-legged friends at our Stowe boutique hotel Field Guide, so much so that we added several dog-friendly suites (see our post about Stowe Pet-friendly Accommodationsfor details). Once you’ve gotten Fido’s dog bed moved in (or let us know if you need to borrow one), hit the town with this list of dog-friendly activities in Stowe for a great weekend away.

Several of our favorite Stowe restaurants and breweries are dog-friendly. The patio of Idletyme Brewing is a great place to enjoy a plate of fried pickles and a hoppy Idletyme Double IPA. The staff has even been known to stop by with dog treats for your furry friend. If you’ve come to Stowe to make the beer pilgrimage to The Alchemist, you can bring your dog along to the brewery as long as he stays on leash. Pick up some Heady Topper while your dog basks in all the attention. Doc Ponds is another Stowe favorite that allows dogs on their patio. Located right across the street from Field Guide, this is a great spot to enjoy some local craft beer while your dog naps in the sun. Everybody wins!

To stretch your legs between brewery visits, head out on the Stowe rec path. This 5-1/2 mile path through town is the perfect dog-friendly activity in Stowe. The paved trail runs parallel to Mountain Road, but offers seclusion from traffic and beautiful views of meadows and rivers. Dogs need to be on leash on the rec path, but search out the “quiet path” for some off-leash fun. This loop off the rec path goes through a preserved farm along the Little River where dogs can run off leash. Smugglers Notch State Park is also full of dog-friendly hike in Stowe, with leashed dogs permitted throughout the park. Between brewery patios and beautiful hikes, you’ve got yourself a stay full of dog-friendly activities in Stowe.

Insider’s Guide to Visiting Salem in October

With the opening of The Hotel Salem, we’re ready for October in Salem, Witch City’s “Super Bowl” season. As you can imagine, people flock to our North Shore town for all things spooky and witchy once the leaves start to turn. While we’re all in on celebrating Salem’s historic happenings, we also recognize that some of the witch-themed tourist attractions are a little…well, tacky. So how to indulge the scary side of Salem without veering into cheesy territory? Check out our insider’s guide to visiting Salem in October for all the tips you need to enjoy your fall visit to Salem.

First, snag your reservation at one of two of our Salem boutique hotels. Lodging in Salem in October fills up fast, especially so around Halloween amid Haunted Happenings, the official name of the town-wide celebrations. At both The Merchant and The Hotel Salem, you can leave your car and walk around Salem’s waterfront and pedestrian-friendly shopping district, so you won’t have to deal with traffic and parking.

For entertainment, stick to the historical side of Salem’s offerings with the Jonathan Corwin House, also known as The Witch House, the home of one of the judges of the 1962 Salem Witch Trials. The house contains artifacts from the infamous trails and a great overview of American colonial life in the 17th century. Get involved in the history yourself with a History Alive’s performance of Cry Innocent, which tells the story of Bridget Bishop. Bishop was the first person to be executed as a result of the hysteria that gripped Salem in 1692. The interactive show starts outside with Bishop’s arrest on the town square and then heads into the old Town Hall where the audience plays the part of the Puritan jurors. See if you’ll come to a different conclusion than the jury that sent Bishop to the gallows.

Then, indulge your inner witch with some shopping on the Essex Pedestrian Mall. During weekends in October vendors set up tables along the sidewalk and performers entertain shoppers with their busking acts. The festival atmosphere of the crowds on the pedestrian mall makes for great people watching while visiting Salem in October.

Lighthouses Near Portland, Maine

Maine is known for the scenic and historic lighthouses that dot its beautiful, rugged coastline. When visiting Portland, you can easily drive to several lighthouses from our boutique hotel The Pomegranate where you’ll find beautiful views, some history, and even a lobster lunch. Check out these three lighthouses near Portland, Maine on your next visit.

Portland Head Light is in Cape Elizabeth’s Fort Williams Park, where you’ll find a large green space, walking trails, and several military armaments to explore. The lighthouse itself guides ships into Portland Harbor from the Gulf of Maine and is still used as a navigational aid today. Visit the museum to learn the light’s history and see some artifacts from when the light was manned and take some pictures of it from the cliffside walking trails. Bonus: enjoy lunch at Bite Into Maine, which serves up some of the best lobster rolls in the area.

Nearby at Two Lights State Park, you’ll find…you guessed it, two lighthouses! While the lights are on private property, you can still get a nice view of them from the state park. The rocky coast is the main draw here, but the Lobster Shack at Two Lights is a close second. Perched right on the granite shoreline, you can order a lobster dinner and enjoy at a table in the cozy dining room or out to a picnic table for some seaside dining at its finest.

Closer to Portland, you’ll find Spring Point Ledge Light in South Portland. Located on the scenic campus of Southern Maine Community College, the best part of visiting this lighthouse is the walk on the breakwater out to it. Experience one of the best views of the harbor 900 feet out at sea from this South Portland lighthouse, open for tours on the weekends Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Explore the City: Biking in Portland

Portland, Maine is a small city, making it great to explore by bike. With our Portland boutique hotel The Pomegranate as your home base, you can easily bike to any of Portland’s downtown attractions or take a longer scenic route to lighthouses and lobster rolls. If you need to rent a bike, head to Gorham Bike & Ski, located on Congress Street in Portland’s arts district. The staff there will get you outfitted with a hybrid so you can be comfortable biking in Portland. Visit one of Portland’s many award-winning restaurants by bike and avoid the parking hassles of the Old Port. Biking in Portland is easy with well-marked bike lanes on many streets. Just beware the cobblestones on Exchange and Fore Streets!

For a longer ride while biking in Portland, head out of town for a scenic ride through South Portland and Cape Elizabeth. Head over the Casco Bay Bridge and turn left onto the Greenbelt Parkway to ride out to Bug Light Park. Here you’ll find a small lighthouse surrounded by a large green space that gives you great views of the city from across the Fore River. For a 10 mile loop, ride out to Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth via Shore Road. This road becomes curvy near the park and has narrow shoulders, so it’s best for experienced road cyclists. At the park, you’ll find many former World War I and II armaments to explore and Portland Head Light, the most scenic lighthouse on the Southern Maine coast.

A ride to Fort Williams also means you can enjoy lunch from the only food cart in the park, Bite Into Maine. We love the lobster rolls they serve here which taste even better with a view of the ocean. Try the curried lobster roll for something a little different. Biking to lobster rolls may end up being the highlight of your stay in Maine.

Best Newport Yoga Studios

Newport is a small city with plenty of yoga studios to choose from. In between touring mansions and afternoon sails, it can be nice to take a moment for some quiet restoration through yoga. If you’re looking to continue your practice while visiting our boutique Newport hotels, we have your recommendations for the best Newport yoga studios.

Newport Power Yoga | 112 William St, Newport | (401) 619-4540

This downtown studio in Newport offers power yoga classes, a vigorous workout of vinyasa flow poses. In a heated room, this can be an intense and sweaty experience, so come ready to work. Classes in all levels are offered at Newport Power Yoga, so newcomers to power yoga may want to begin with an intro or slow flow class. Afterwards, you’ll be reenergized and ready to explore Newport.

Newport Community Yoga | 60 Spring St, Newport | (617) 257-5951

Say “namaste” to the locals at this non-profit yoga studio offering a variety of yoga classes from beginner flow to heated yoga. Parents of little yogis will be particularly interested in the Mom & Baby classes and the Music and Movement class for ages 2-4. Join the studio the second and fourth Saturdays of the summer months at 10am for Yoga on the Pier—an outdoor session at the Herreshoff Marine Museum in the neighboring town of Bristol.

Thames Street Yoga | 198 Thames St, Newport | (401) 374-2553

If you prefer yoga first thing in the morning or right before happy hour, this studio is for you. Thames Street Yoga doubles as a yoga lifestyle boutique, so it offers classes in the evenings and after store hours. Stop by during the day to shop for new workout gear and then drop in for a kundalini yoga class or an hour of meditation. Vinyasa flow and heated yoga classes are offered regularly in the mornings and evenings.

Lark’s Group Executive Chef Hosts Dinner at the James Beard House

We closed out summer with a culinary bang! At the end of August, Lark’s Group Executive Chef Justin Perdue was given the honor of hosting a dinner at the famed James Beard House. We were thrilled to be part of such an extraordinary event and to share a taste of each Lark restaurant – Pg + Poet, Picnic Social, and the soon-to-open Counter and The Roof – with this esteemed crowd.

Justin and his crew served up a multi-course menu that paid homage to classic New England ingredients, with dishes inspired by each restaurant. The night ended on a sweet note with the reveal of our new signature double Lark cookie. Check out the complete menu below.

Menu

Hors d’Oeuvre

Avocado Toasts with Heirloom Tomatoes, Meyer Lemon Aïoli, and Basil
Lobster Rolls with Louie Dressing, Chopped Romaine, and Crispy Green Onions on Brioche
Brûléed Foie Gras with Pink Peppercorns and Cherries
Miniature Pork Belly Tacos with Grilled Pineapple and Salsa Roja

Dinner

Local Fish Ceviche with Passion Fruit, Candied Ginger, Lime, Celery, and Sesame Seeds
Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Pickled Pear, Basil, and Cucumber Caviar
Halibut with Artichoke Purée, Fava Beans, Chanterelles, Quick-Pickled Apricot, and Parsley Crème
Beef Cheek Ragoût with Bavette Pasta, Pearl Onions, Smoked Eggplant, and Pecorino
Blueberry Hand Pie with Buttermilk–Cinnamon Ice Cream

Best Places to See Live Music in Newburyport

While guests at our Newbury boutique hotel Blue—Inn on the Beach love relaxing at the oceanfront property, it’s also nice to have neighboring Newburyport’s restaurants and nightlife nearby. After a day of relaxing on the beach, head into town for an evening of live music in Newburyport. These three venues host local and national music acts for a night of dancing to live music in Newburyport.

The Grog | 13 Middle St, Newburyport | (978) 465-8008

We love this Newburyport bar for many reasons, its regular schedule of live music being just one of them. From soul and blue to reggae and karaoke, the downstairs music venue rocks several nights a week (every night except Monday and Tuesday, in fact). The Grog is also a nice place to grab a casual dinner before the show, with some of the best clam chowder in town. Beer drinkers will love the draft list, featuring local craft brews like Newburyport Brewing and Allagash.

Newburyport Brewing Company 4 New Pasture Road, Newburyport (978) 463-8700

The tasting room of this local craft brewery hosts local live music acts Wednesday through Sunday. Try a flight of their brews, with styles from Kolsch to Double IPA while you enjoy the music. We love most of all that while the bands play inside, it’s not too loud so you can still talk comfortably. While there’s no food at the brewery, it regularly hosts food trucks so you can make an evening of it.

Blue Ocean Music Hall | 4 Oceanfront North, Salisbury | (978) 462-5888

North of Newburyport along the ocean, Blue Ocean Music Hall is a fun mid-sized venue that hosts popular cover bands and national acts like Los Lonely Boys and Todd Rundgren. Some shows are seated, while others have a dance floor, but either way you’ll love the laid-back, beachy vibe of this oceanfront music venue.

Visit the Lighthouses of Nantucket

Thirty miles out to sea and surrounded by rocky shoals, Nantucket has long relied on lighthouses to help sailors navigate safely. Today, the Nantucket lighthouses still serve as navigational aids to boats but are automated, ending the romantic era of lighthouse keepers. Visitors are drawn to Nantucket lighthouses as they represent the island’s history and beauty. Visit these three lighthouses during your next stay at one of our two Nantucket boutique hotels.

Brant Point Light | Easton St, Nantucket

Anyone who’s visited Nantucket before is familiar with the Brant Point Light—it’s the short wooden lighthouse the ferry steams past on its way into Nantucket harbor. Only a short distance from the town of Nantucket, it’s a popular place to walk to and explore. The lighthouse’s short stature and signature boardwalk make it one of the island’s most photographed and painted sights. It’s a local tradition to throw a penny into the water as the ferry passes by the light to ensure a return trip to Nantucket.

Sankaty Head Light | Baxter Rd, Nantucket

This lighthouse out in ‘Sconset was the last lighthouse on Nantucket to be built, but the only one that had a Fresnel lens, making it the most powerful one on the island (the lens is now on display at the Nantucket Whaling Museum . Marking the southeast end of the island, Sankaty Head Light had to be moved 400 feet inland from its original location to protect it from erosion. The lighthouse is open for guided tours to the top on special weekends throughout the summer.

Great Point Light | Great Point, Nantucket

A trip to Great Point Light is a special one, as it requires driving on the beach (and a drive-on beach permit—see our post about off-roading for advice). Located within the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Reserve a trip out to Great Point is a low-key adventure on the wilder side of Nantucket. Guided tours out to Great Point Light are offered by the Trustees of Reservations.

Public Gardens of Martha’s Vineyard

The gardens of Martha’s Vineyard are as much a part of the island’s characteristic charm as its shingled cottages and sand dunes. Fans of gardens will love the colorful hydrangeas, cascading roses, and white picket fences that are commonplace in many gardens on Martha’s Vineyard. Two public gardens on Martha’s Vineyard offer the chance to learn about the island’s ecology while taking in some native and exotic plantings on the island. Consider visiting one of these two gardens on your next stay at one of our boutique hotels in Martha’s Vineyard.

Polly Hill Arboretum | 809 State Road, West Tisbury | (508) 693-9426

This 70-acre botanical garden is a treat to visit, open daily from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Named for the legendary horticulturist Polly Hill, who died 10 years ago at the age of 100, these gardens on Martha’s Vineyard showcase Hill’s lifetime work cultivating plants. Polly even created her own varieties of plants that are now grown around the world. Now preserved as a non-profit, the Arboretum is home to many types of azaleas, camellias, hollies, rhododendrons, crabapples, conifers, and magnolias. Come and learn about all the different native and unique plantings or just pack a picnic and enjoy some time outdoors on the Vineyard. Admission to the Arboretum is $5 and includes parking.

Mytoi Japanese Gardens | 41 Dike Rd, Edgartown | (508) 627-7689

Combine a visit to this garden with an afternoon spent exploring the island of Chappaquiddick. While part of Edgartown, the island has its own character with the locals being very proud of living on “Chappy.” Take the ferry over and tour the small island via its one main road out to the southeasternmost point. Enjoy a peaceful day of sunbathing, walking, and a picnic in the Mytoi Gardens. Built by an architect who had spent his military service in Japan, the garden has many plants native to Japan with water features, bridges, and gazebos and offers a peaceful respite while on Martha’s Vineyard. The gardens have a $5 suggested donation and limited free parking.

Best Boat Tours in Newburyport

Our Newburyport boutique hotel Blue—Inn on the Beach is perfect for those that love being near the water, as the inn is about as oceanfront as you can get. Just steps from the water on Newbury’s Plum Island, a stay at Blue lets you relax and enjoy the scenic views by the beach. For those looking to get out on the water during their visit, we’ve got recommendations for the best boat tours in Newburyport. Take a scenic harbor cruise, enjoy the power of the wind on a sailboat charter, or learn about the Gulf of Maine’s ecology with a whale watch tour on one of these best boat tours in Newburyport.

Yankee Clipper Harbor Tours | 22 Merrimac St, Newburyport | (603) 682-2293

From sunset cruise to educational ecology tour, Yankee Clipper has an experience for all aspiring sailors. Looking to relax, glass of wine in hand, and watch the sun set? Cruises every Friday and Saturday night tour the harbor for an hour and a half, with live music and spectacular views of the evening sky. Take the family on an afternoon ecology tour to learn about the Merrimack River, salt marshes, and to spot some wildlife, a tour offered in partnership with Mass Audubon.

Ninth Wave Sailing Charters | 54R Merrimac St, Newburyport | (866) 984-9283

Head out into the ocean for some adventure on a 48-foot catamaran with Ninth Wave Charters. Offering 2-1/2 hour sails several times a day throughout the fall, Ninth Wave is for those looking to relax onboard or to pitch in and help steer and set sail. The catamaran’s design means that the boat is stable and comfortable the whole time even in the ocean. A trampoline net between the two pontoons means adventurous passengers can get a unique view of the ocean—and maybe even a little wet!

Newburyport Whale Watch | 54 Merrimac St, Newburyport | (800) 848-1111

Newburyport’s Merrimack River empties into the Gulf of Maine, one of the Eastern seaboard’s richest marine mammal habitats. Get close to these majestic and adorable animals with a whale watching trip out of Newburyport harbor. You’ll stand to see humpback, finback, and minke whales while enjoying the scenic New England coastline.

Introducing Counter and The Roof

Two cool new spots to eat and drink are coming to Salem! Lark Hotels is excited to debut Counter and The Roof, two distinct dining experiences open to the public at The Hotel Salem.

The Roof, a lively seasonal bar perched atop The Hotel Salem, is led by Lark Hotels’ Group Executive Chef, Justin Perdue. The Roof offers creative cocktails and a casual menu of Mexican small plates like oysters, ceviche, guacamole and tacos. Views of downtown Salem and a glimpse of the nearby harbor surround this dynamic, three-season social spot, where guests are invited to mingle over food, drinks and conversation.

Counter will open just over the threshold of the hotel floor – steps from the Essex Street pedestrian walkway. The modern kitchen and bar showcases New England’s seasonality and highlights the beauty and simplicity of a singular ingredient in dishes like the Duck Confit Toast and Chestnut Soup with pickled shallot, local blue cheese, and caramelized garlic. The full-service restaurant and bar boasts a 20-seat counter with expansive views of the open kitchen.

For additional information, visit www.CounterSalem.com and www.TheRoofSalem.com.

Best Lobster Rolls in Camden

We love the fine dining scene of downtown Camden near our boutique hotel Whitehall, but we also know that the best seafood is often served from more casual waterfront seafood shacks. When visiting Maine, eating as much lobster as possible is often a high priority, so we’ve done the hard work of taste testing options for the best lobster roll in Camden. Check out our recommendations for the best lobster rolls in Camden and enjoy as much fresh Maine lobster as you can during your visit.

Mt. Battie Takeout | 247 Belfast Rd, Camden | 207-236-6122

You might drive right past this little takeout shack on the way to Camden Hill State Park, so keep an eye out. Serving a traditional menu of fried seafood baskets and seafood rolls, the lobster rolls are inexpensive and stuffed full here. Served with a side of steak fries and coleslaw, the rolls come griddled and filled with fresh, local lobster meat. Enjoy your lunch in the sun at the few tables in front of the shack.

McLoon’s Lobster Shack | 315 Island Rd, South Thomaston | (207) 593-1382

If you’re out daytripping in the Camden area, a drive down the peninsula to McLoon’s in South Thomaston is in order. Located right on the water overlooking the islands of Penobscot Bay, you’ll know the lobster at this seafood restaurant is fresh. In fact, McLoon’s also runs a lobster co-op, meaning they’ve got the freshest source for their seafood. Simple is the theme here—the lobster rolls are just lightly dressed in a grilled roll. Don’t skip dessert; they’re made in-house here and the blueberry pie is the best way to finish off your meal.

Best Craft Beer in Newport

With the craft beer obsession sweeping the country, seeking out local brews is a great way to get to know a new area. When you arrive at our Newport boutique hotels , you’ll likely ask, where’s a good place to get craft beer in Newport? Rhode Island’s most famous beer Narragansett is no longer made in the state (although a fundraising campaign aims to bring it back) but there’s now several craft beer breweries in Rhode Island turning out everything from raspberry IPA to cream ale. Look for one of these local craft brews on tap in one of Newport’s bars and enjoy some of Newport’s best craft beer.

Grey Sail Brewing | 63 Canal St, Westerly | (401) 212-7592

Located in Westerly, near the Western border of Rhode Island, this craft beer brewery makes a double IPA that’s one of the state’s most sought-after beers. Flagship Cream Ale and Flying Jenny Extra Pale Ale are the most popular beers on tap around town; look for them on tap at beer bars Pour Judgment and Noryes.

Revival Brewing | 505 Atwood Ave, Cranston | (401) 372-7009

From Sean Larkin, the former brewmaster at Trinity Brewhouse in Providence, and his friend and homebrewer Owen Johnson comes Revival Brewing, making a wide variety of beers since its start 2010. You’ll find Revival’s brews, like the Zeppelin Hefeweizen Ale and the White Electric Coffee Stout, on tap at Newport’s The Wharf Pub which prides itself on its wide selection of New England craft beers.

Foolproof Brewing Company | 241 Grotto Ave, Pawtucket | (401) 721-5970

This Pawtucket-based brewery makes styles of beer that go well with activities, what they call “experienced-based brewing,” like Backyard IPA, made for enjoying while barbecuing, and Raincloud, a robust porter to cozy up with on a rainy day. We think they also go well with relaxing and overlooking historic Thames St. from The Brick Alley beer bar.

Carbs Two Ways: Salem’s Best Pizza and Bagels

Going out for pizza tends to be a pretty casual dining experience, but we like to think that grabbing a slice at Bambolina in Salem is still a special night out. With a subtly elegant dining room and a good craft beer list (and wine, naturally), Bambolina serves up some of the best pizza in Salem. The owners’ love for wood-fired baked goods extends past their “neo-Neopolitan” style of pizza with Bambolina playing host to Salem’s hottest pop-up bakery, Rover Bagel. Visit these two businesses in a weekend for some of the best pizza in Salem and delicious handmade Montreal-style bagels.

Bambolina means “little girl” or “baby doll” in Italian, taking inspiration from the fact that owners Larry Leibowitz and Tim Haigh each have two daughters. The pair opened the Italian restaurant in 2015, serving wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and vegetable-focused small plates on Derby Street, just a 5-minute walk from both of our boutique Salem hotels. The interior of the restaurant is a covetable rustic-meets-industrial look, like the kitchen of a really hip nonna. Of course, the main attraction is the wood-fired oven, which heats pizzas to 925 degrees F and creates those signature flame-blackened blisters on the crust. In addition to the best pizza in Salem, we love the zucchini “ceviche,” thinly sliced, marinated zucchini topped with lemony dressing and crumbly ricotta salata.

And rather than letting that signature oven sit idle in the mornings, Bambolina hosts another Salem business that makes delicious carby treats. Rover Bagel has been popping up inside of Bambolina on weekend mornings since the summer of 2016, specializing in Montreal-style bagels which are known for a sweeter flavor and crackly wood-fired exterior. Those looking for a sweet fix will want to try the cinnamon buns, but they go fast, so get there early if you’re determined to try one. Buoyed by its success in Salem, Rover Bagel is moving to a permanent home in Biddeford, Maine soon—but don’t despair. Biddeford is only a short distance from our boutique hotel Captain Fairfield Inn in Kennebunkport, so you’re never too far from your next wood-fired carb fix.

Cider Season in Stowe

With so many apples in abundance in Vermont, sweet and hard ciders have always been big in the Green Mountain State and with fall soon approaching, so is cider season. And whether it’s because you’re following a gluten-free diet or that you just love the tangy taste of this apple beverage, more and more people are choosing cider as their drink of choice. Enjoy that New England feel with a locally-produced cider in hand as you take in the green rolling hills of Stowe by visiting one of two cideries in the Stowe area.

Stowe Cider, a hard cider producer, has a tasting room very near to our Stowe boutique hotel Field Guide . If you’re more interested in the process with a family-friendly vibe, Cold Hollow Cider Mill is for you, located just south of Stowe in Waterbury Center. But if you’re just about drinking the stuff, simply head over to our on-site restaurant Picnic Social, where there’s several locally-made hard ciders in cans available.

Stowe Cider | 1799 Mountain Rd, Stowe | (802) 253-2065

Just a mile up the road from Field Guide, Stowe Cider opened this new tasting room in summer of 2016. With the cider production happening in another facility south of town, this new tasting room is dedicated to sampling cider, games, and hanging out. The core lineup of three ciders are available in cans, but at the tasting room you can expect barrel-aged series and seasonals like cranberry, summer shandy, and ciders aged in bourbon and rum barrels. Cornhole and other games will entertain while you taste your way through a flight of Stowe cider.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill | 3600 Waterbury-Stowe Rd, Waterbury Center | (800) 327-7537

This apple-centric farm is a celebration of the Vermont harvest with every imaginable apple product available. Watch apples being pressed for cider and learn about the thousand of honey bees that make all those apples possible. And we don’t know about you, but when we hear cider, we automatically think of cider donuts. Cold Hollow has them, all the more delicious fresh out of the fryer. Visit the luncheonette for a sandwich on in-house made bread and stock up on local Vermont products like pickles, maple syrup, and of course, ciders of all kinds.

Art Museums in Rockland

The scenic coast of Maine has been inspiring artists for centuries, and midcoast Maine in particular attracts artists of all types. When staying at our Camden boutique hotel Whitehall, take a short trip over to nearby Rockland to experience two of the area’s best art museums. The Farnsworth showcases Maine’s role in American art, with a large collection of famed artist and longtime summer resident Andrew Wyeth’s works, and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMAC) will wow those looking for unique and non-traditional takes on the Maine experience. The two art museums, along with Rockland’s many independent galleries, make the town a destination for art lovers in Maine. Check out these two art museums in Rockland for a day of culture—and of course we’ve got recommendations for a good lunch too.

Farnsworth Art Museum | 16 Museum St, Rockland | (207) 596-6457

With Andrew Wyeth spending his summers nearby Cushing, a large part of this art museum in Rockland is dedicated to Wyeth’s iconic watercolors. Big Wyeth fans will want to head out to the museum’s Olson House (about 30 minutes from Rockland), the site of Wyeth’s most well-known painting, Christina’s World. The museum also features other rotating exhibits based on a medium like photography or a theme like women artists in Maine. Between the museum’s permanent collection, rotating exhibits, and the Wyeth Center, one could easily spend a day on the museum’s campus.

Center for Maine Contemporary Art | 21 Winter Street, Rockland | (207) 701-5005

CMAC started as an artist co-op in 1952 and opened a small art museum in Rockland in the late 60s. In 2010, the struggling museum nearly closed, but was revitalized with a new director and a vigorous fundraising campaign. The new gallery is a piece of art in itself, designed by a New York architect who has a second home in Maine, and its collection of contemporary art from artists from or with connections to Maine will delight and challenge. Fans of artist Alex Katz will find a large number of his pieces here.

Tie a visit to the art museums in Rockland in with a great lunch nearby at Cafe Miranda. This funky cafe (check out the Elvis-themed bathroom!) uses local ingredients to make globally-inspired fare like Szechuan dan dan noodles and beef or tofu groce (a Vietnamese-inspired salad). For lunch on the water, head to neighboring Rockport to Nina June, where New York chef Sara Jenkins celebrates local seafood with Mediterranean flare.

Quest for the Double Lark Cookie

We’re so excited to be working with Lark Fine Foods to create the world’s first double Lark cookie –Pistachio Sablé with Dried Cherries! Lark’s Group Executive Chef Justin Perdue created four cookie flavor profiles and recently ventured down to Lark Fine Foods’ headquarters in Essex, MA for a taste test. After ample taste testing and help from you, we’re pleased to share the winner and top four cookie flavors with you!

Winner: Pistachio Sablé with Dried Cherries

A traditional French sugar cookie flavored with all-natural pistachio nuts and dried cherries and rolled in vanilla sugar before baking. It is tender, sweet and salty and as crumbly as the sand-castle walls of childhood. The vanilla sugar edges caramelize ever so slightly while baking to create a crisp edge. The Lark Pistachio Sable is a classy dessert offering; great with a cup of coffee or tea after dinner or even for Sunday brunch.

Gingerbread-Lemon Checkerboard Cookie

The perfect blend of warm spices from gingerbread and bright citrus from lemon layered and sliced into a beautiful checkerboard style cookie. The dark molasses in the gingerbread makes for a moist cookie while the zest from the lemon gives it a light finish.

Hazelnut-Cocoa Linzer Cookie with Blackberry-Mint Jam

A hazelnut and chocolate cookie and an all-natural vanilla cookie joined together by fresh blackberry mint jam. The hazelnuts are toasted before they are blended with dark cocoa powder. The richness of the cookies are offset by the sweet berry jam and fresh mint.

Lemongrass Shortbread with Grapefruit Glaze

Fresh lemongrass is infused into to a traditional one part sugar, two part butter, 3 part flour shortbread base to create a tender cookie with a smooth, warm citrus flavor. The cookie is topped with a light glaze made from freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and zest. This is a perfect summer indulgence.

On a Lark to Biddeford

One thing we love about Kennebunkport is its proximity to other great southern Maine towns. Only a short drive from the shopping in Kittery and the great restaurants of Portland, we love to hop in the car and spend a day exploring coastal Maine. Lately, Biddeford, a town only 20 minutes from our boutique hotel Captain Fairfield Inn , has been heating up with new restaurants and breweries. If you find yourself looking for a day trip, we recommend taking some time to check out all the things to do in Biddeford.

Go early (it opens at 8am) to grab a seat the much-lauded Palace Diner. A pair of young Portland chefs revitalized this old dining car, originally opened in 1927, a few years ago and are turning out top notch dining fare. We’re talking crispy, twice-fried potatoes, giant slabs of creme bruleed French toast, and an egg, bacon, and cheese breakfast sandwich studded with spicy jalapeños. Simple but perfectly prepared food will have you wishing you could eat every meal here. The 12 seats fill up fast during prime hours, but breakfast is available all day, with lunch served from 11am to 2pm.

Walk off all that rich diner food with a stroll through the revitalized Pepperell Mill building. Biddeford was once a booming textile mill town, with the Saco River in town providing the mill’s energy. Now the space is home to artists, makers, and our favorite bookstore, Rabelais Books . Full of books on cooking, drinks, farming, and gardening, the owners of this store are also into collecting rare and out-of-print books on food. Ask owner Don to show you some of the more interesting pieces of his collection or browse the new books for some culinary inspiration.

When you’re ready for happy hour, head over to the mill building that is home to a brewery and distillery. Banded Horn Brewing serves a variety of styles, with its Pepperell Pilsner and Veridian IPA being popular choices. An old school Nintendo system, ping pong, and card games will keep you entertained while you sip your way through Banded Horn’s beers.

If you prefer cocktails at happy hour, head next door to Round Turn Distilling, home to Bimini gin. Its prominent grapefruit and camomile flavors go well in light drinks like Beach Day, with pineapple juice and coconut water. Fancy a gin and tonic? Try the flight of G&Ts, each one made with a different tonic water to emphasize different flavors of the gin. Then relax in the modern tasting room while the vinyl spins. You’ll enjoy being on a lark with plenty of things to do in Biddeford.

Best Beaches in Kennebunkport

We hear from guests at our Kennebunkport boutique hotel Captain Fairfield Inn that vacation in southern Maine means two things: relaxing on sandy beaches and enjoying as many lobster rolls as possible. We’ve got you covered on where to find the best lobster rolls in KPT, and knowing a few insider tips about the local beaches will make your visit to Kennebunkport beach go smoothly. Check in at the front desk for your beach parking pass and complimentary use of beach towels and chairs and then head out to enjoy some fun in the sun at some of the best beaches in Kennebunkport.

Colony Beach | Colony Avenue, Kennebunkport

This small, sandy beach, so named for its proximity to The Colony Hotel, is just down Ocean Ave. from the Captain Fairfield, so it’s a 15-minute walk or a short bike ride (there’s also parking if you prefer to drive). The beach is located at the mouth of the Kennebunk River where it meets the ocean and is protected by the river’s breakwater. That means that the waves are small and there’s great boat watching as traffic heads into the harbor.

Mother’s Beach | Beach Ave, Kennebunk

A short drive into neighboring Kennebunk will reward you with this long stretch of sandy beach, perfect for a morning walk or a day on the sand. With port-a-potties and a lifeguard, you can easily spend all day here (head to nearby Bennett’s Subs for your beach provisions). Surfers love the break at Mother’s Beach so you can try your hand at catching a wave or sit back and watch others do so. Parking fills up fast along Beach Ave. and requires a permit in the summer, but there is usually a spot in the neighborhood streets across from the beach as well.

Goose Rocks Beach | Kings Highway, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-0857

We think Goose Rocks has some of the softest sand in the area and offers a nice view of Timber Island and Timber Point, part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. The beach is three miles long, so you’re likely to find it uncrowded and serene. Parking can be tight and requires a special pass (different from the Kennebunk/KPT beaches) but borrow one from the front desk and you’ll be all set to enjoy one of Maine’s beach beaches.

Our Favorite Shops in Portland

Downtown Portland is a great place to spend an afternoon shopping for that special vacation memento or thank-you gift. While the Old Port has many great boutiques mixed in with its touristy knick-knack shops, a few of our favorite shops are actually located out of the main shopping district. Seek out these three of our favorite shops in Portland for unique Maine-made items for your home. Stop in to bring a piece of Maine home with you and capture that Vacationland feeling all year long.

More & Co. | 112 High St, Portland | (207) 747-4730

Located in the Arts District (near the Portland Art Museum), More & Co. offers handcrafted everyday objects like ceramics, linens, and a great selection of natural kids toys. You’ll undoubtedly see their cozy “IMAGINE” sweatshirts, popular with locals, around town. The selection of simple, beautiful ceramics at More & Co. will inspire you to up your table-setting game.

Folly 101 | 101 Exchange St, Portland | (207) 773-5227

If you feel like you’re walking into a dream prop closet at this home goods store, it’s because owner Astrid used to be a stylist and stocks her store with the most covetable tableware. Organized by color, this store has everything you need from candles to tiny salt spoons to set an Insta-worthy table. Pick something up for yourself from the great selection of natural scarves, tote bags, and hats.

Portland Flea-for-All 585 Congress St, Portland | (207) 370-7570

“The Flea” as it’s known locally has a wide selection of vintage furniture, clothing, and housewares, particularly the mid-century modern look that’s so popular. Stalls from individual vendors run the gamut from vintage clothes to bins of vinyl to thumb through. If you love the thrill of hunting for the perfect find, the Flea-for-All is a great place to spend some time shopping in Portland.

A Guide to Maine Oysters in Portland

Maine has become known for producing some of the best oysters in the country, with demand for Maine oysters growing every year. For oyster lovers, small, briny Maine oysters grown in cold, deep waters like Damariscotta River and Penobscot Bay are the most sought out. You’ll find Maine oysters on raw bar menus across the country, so when visiting Portland, take some time to experience these delicacies on the half shell. From Portland’s best oyster bars to slurping on a sailboat, there’s many ways to enjoy Maine oysters in Portland. Check out these ways to enjoy oysters in Portland, from award-winning raw bars to DIY:

Eventide Oyster Co. | 86 Middle St, Portland | (207) 774-8538

This James Beard award-winning restauran is Ground Zero for good oysters in Portland. With nearly 20 varieties of oysters from Maine and away available every day, a visit to this raw bar is a must for any serious oyster lover. Order up a variety of Maine varieties (the servers here are happy to recommend varieties or choose for you) and don’t miss the selection of creative accompaniments, particularly the shaved ices flavored with Tabasco and kimchi.

Wine Wise Oyster Sail | Maine State Pier, Commercial St, Portland | (207) 619-4630

If there’s anything more quintessentially “Maine” than enjoying oysters on a sailboat at sunset, we don’t know it. Our friend and sommelier Erica Archer offers educational wine sails aboard the 74-foot sloop Francis. Each sail focuses on a particular wine-producing region, and Erica breaks down the basics of tasting and evaluating wines. Pair some delicious wines with freshly-shucked oysters as the sun sinks behind the islands of Casco Bay and you’ve got the makings of a heavenly evening.

Browne Trading Market | 262 Commercial St, Portland | (207) 775-7560

This waterfront seafood market  is the best in Portland and is worth a visit whether you plan to purchase any seafood or not. Browne provides seafood to the best restaurants in the world, connecting small Maine seafood harvesters to world-class chefs. Get everything you need here for an oyster shucking picnic, with several varieties of Maine oyster available, including one grown specifically for the market. Ask for your oysters to be packed on ice, check out the huge wine selection in the back of the market, and you’re ready to hit the Eastern Prom for a gourmet oyster picnic.

Gilded’s Granola Recipe

Our popular signature small plates breakfasts allow guests to mix and match their favorite dishes while our managers can get creative with local and seasonal foods. This granola, found at Gilded in Newport, is used as a crunchy topper to Greek yogurt mixed with seasonal ingredients on the breakfast bar.

Add tropical fruit like mango, toasted coconut, and blackberries for a healthy start or kiwi, cajeta (a dulce de leche made from goat’s milk) and graham cracker crumbs for something more decadent. Or make Peach Melba parfaits, layering granola and yogurt with peach jam and raspberries. Whatever you choose, you can relive mornings spent on a Lark at Gilded in Newport with this granola recipe.

Gilded Granola

Ingredients:

1 cup oats
1/2 cup cornflakes
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1-1/3 cup maple syrup
zest of 2 oranges
1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup of almonds, pecans, or pumpkin seed

Directions:

Combine oats and cornflakes in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together oil, syrup, orange zest, and vanilla in a small bowl then pour over oat/cereal mixture. Add nuts and stir until combined. Spread on unlined baking sheet and bake at 325℉ for 30-45 minutes; stirring every 15 minutes until crisp and golden.

Store in an airtight container. Makes 2 cups.

Explore the City: Biking in Salem

There’s a lot to see and do in Salem, and touring the town on a bike can help you see it all. If you need to rent one in town, the staff at Salem Cycle can get you outfitted with a nice hybrid that will have you comfortably handling any conditions you may encounter while biking in Salem.

Biking in Salem

You can easily bike to any of Salem’s downtown attractions from our boutique hotels The Merchant and The Hotel Salem. If you’re looking for a longer ride, you can ride out to Winter Island Park overlooking Salem Harbor via a paved bike path. Pick up the path off of Bridge Street and then follow it onto Memorial Drive (while there’s no bike lane here, it’s a relatively quiet street). Take Winter Island Rd. out to the park where you’ll find historic Fort Pickering, a public beach, and Winter Island Light. It’s about a 4-mile loop from either of our properties, so it’s an easy adventure and makes for a nice afternoon picnic.

Mountain bikers will want to head to Salem Woods for over 10 miles of single track mountain biking trails. Pick up the trailhead in the back of the Olde Salem Green Municipal Golf Course and follow the yellow trail for a fun ride through the woods. The trail is maintained by the local chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association, so there are boardwalks built over soggy spots, some flowy sections with banked turns, and some technical rock crossings to keep it interesting. While nearby Lynn Woods is a well-known spot for mountain biking in the greater Boston area, Salem Woods is a bit off the beaten path and so tends to be less crowded.

After a bike adventure, we like to refuel with a stop at Live Alive, a vegetarian/vegan café and juice bar. If you’re more of the mindset that all that physical activity earned you an indulgence, head to Howling Wolf Taqueria, where a hearty plate of nachos and a margarita will be your reward. With that, you’ve got yourself the makings of a great afternoon of biking in Salem.

Historic House Tours in Salem

Salem has a rich history of travel and trade (and of course those infamous witch trials) and many historic homes of the area’s wealthy merchants have been preserved. Historic house tours in Salem offer visitors a peek into how Massachusetts colonists lived and give context to the mass hysteria that resulted in the Salem Witch Trials. History buffs or fans of architecture and gardens will love these three historic house tours in Salem.

Our Top Picks for Historic House Tours in Salem

The House of the Seven Gables | 115 Derby St, Salem | (978) 744-0991 

Named for its unique architectural features, this seventeenth century home was made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name. Hawthorne was the cousin of one of the home’s residents, Susanna Ingersoll and visited several times. The guided house tour provides education about the lifestyle of the residents at the turn of the century and even takes you through the house’s hidden staircase inside the chimney. 

The Witch House | 310 1/2 Essex St, Salem | (978) 744-8815

This historic house  was home to Judge Jonathan Corwin, one of the magistrates who presided over the Witchcraft Trials of 1692. Corwin lived in the home for more than 40 years and the house was kept in the family until the mid-1800s. It was restored in the mid-1940s and has been maintained as a museum ever since. The house offers some history of the witch trials and life in the 1700s with original artifacts from Judge Corwin’s life.

Salem Pioneer Village | Forest River Park, Salem | (978) 744-8815

Spend an afternoon at this living history village that models life in Salem in 1630. With three acres of historic homes and grounds to tour, you’ll be immersed in the daily lives of some of this country’s earliest English settlers and native people. Culinary and medicinal gardens will woo landscape lovers and activities like blacksmithing and cooking will keep the whole family entertained.

The Best Mendocino Beaches

Much of the allure of the northern California coast is the scenic beauty of the sweeping shoreline. The Pacific Ocean may not be the warmest ocean in which to dip your toes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay homage to this great beauty by spending some time on the beach. Mendocino beaches are each unique in their attractions, from sea glass collecting to soft sand so pack up your beach towels and chairs and hit up one of these beautiful Mendocino beaches.

Agate Beach | 11101 Lansing St, Mendocino

This beach is in a small cove just north of Mendocino Headlands State Park. It’s best visited at low tide when there’s more beach to explore, so check the tide before you plan your visit. Park on the side of the road near the Sea Rock Inn and take the path leading from the bluff to the beach. Here you’ll find agates, small striped gemstones, washed up on the sandy beach that are great for collecting. The patterns of every agate are as unique as the beaches of Mendocino.

Jug Handle Beach | 15501 Route One, Caspar | (707) 937-5804

Sand seekers should head 5 miles north from the town of Mendocino to the Jug Handle Natural Reserve where there’s a crescent-shaped sandy beach. Hugged by the coastal cliffs, you’ll feel tucked away by the ocean’s edge where you can relax and explore tidepools. The park also offers a 2-1/2 mile hike through the Ecological Staircase, a set of terraces formed by glaciers and tectonic activity. 

Glass Beach | Glass Beach Dr, Fort Bragg | (707) 937-5804

Now part of MacKerricher State Park, this rocky alcove is known for its plethora of sea glass—the product of an old city trash dump site turned beautiful rounded glass pebbles. Hunt for rare colors like red and sapphire from car tail lights and apothecary bottles, but snap a pic to remember the treasures as taking glass from the beach isn’t allowed. This beach is located a short 20-minute drive north of our Mendocino boutique hotels.

Art in Newburyport

The North Shore of Boston with its scenic coastline, gorgeous water views and historic architecture has long inspired artists. We’ve channeled some of that artistic inspiration into the design of our Newburyport boutique hotel Blue—Inn on the Beach. If you like the colorful designs of our inn, you’ll surely want to go into town and peruse the art in Newburyport at these galleries and museums.

Our Favorite Art in Newburyport

Newburyport Art Association | 65 Water St, Newburyport | (978) 465-8769

This art association aims to cultivate and preserve art on the North Shore with exhibits, workshops, and events. With a historic gallery on Water Street in downtown Newburyport, visitors can see a juried art exhibit of Newburyport artists. Other exhibit topics have included photography, plein air painting, and illustrations. Visiting artists interested in workshops should drop into the Wednesday night drawing group. Visit the Newburyport Art Association to see why Boston Magazine readers regularly vote it the best Newburyport art gallery.

Custom House Maritime Museum | 25 Water St, Newburyport | (978) 462-8681

While maybe not an art gallery in the traditional sense, the Custom House Maritime Museum has a nice collection of American maritime art. Located in the historic Custom House (the building used to collect taxes on imports), a tour of the museum is a must. Its collection includes traditional maritime art scenes, as well as more modern interpretations of life on the water in Newburyport.

Newburyport Art Walk

Newburyport has 11 art galleries downtown, and the ArtWalk  helps you explore them all. Pick up at map at the Chamber of Commerce or view it online to create your own self-guided tour of any or all of Newburyport’s art galleries. Four Saturdays a year, in April, June, August, and November, the galleries open their doors for extended hours and special events during the ArtWalk.

Shopping on Nantucket

Fashion on Nantucket is iconic, with its Nantucket reds, Vineyard Vines polos and classic American designers like Ralph Lauren and Lily Pulitzer. If you want to look like a regular on ACK, you’ll want to capture some of that preppy vibe during your stay. Here are our recommendations for shopping on Nantucket to help you add some classic island touches to your wardrobe.

Top Picks for Shopping on Nantucket

Milly & Grace | 2 Washington St, Nantucket | (508) 901-5051

This women’s clothing shop located in an ivy-covered shingled building captures that modern bohemian look that’s perfect for summer on the island. With an aesthetic similar to Anthropologie, you’ll find clothes, jewelry, shoes, and some housewares. Shop owner Emily Hollister fell in love with Nantucket after moving to the island after college and opened this shop, named for her grandmothers.

Zero Main | 34 Center St, Nantucket | (508) 228-4401

Head a little out of the shopping district to Center Street to find this boutique that will have something for all the ladies in the family. The tunics and shift dresses will flatter every shape, with a great mix of nautical and chic items, and accessories to match. Should you need a sweater or a jacket for those cool island nights, Zero Main has a great selection of London Fog outerwear.

Murray’s Toggery Shop | 62 Main St, Nantucket | (508) 228-0437

You’ll find classic ACK wear for the whole family at this family-owned shop. From dressy events to casual beach clothes Murray’s has you covered. Should you need a pair of Nantucket reds, Murray’s is the home of the original men’s work pant, originally designed for the island’s fisherman. Get that classic weathered look by washing your reds, dipping them in the ocean (yes, really) and leaving them out to air dry in the sun.

Edgartown Bookstores for Summer Reads

For book lovers, there’s not much better than some downtime spent with the hottest new novel or snappiest nonfiction read. We think our Edgartown boutique hotel The Sydney is the perfect place to relax with a book, whether it’s outside in Adirondack chairs or in your room after a meal at our on-site restaurant l’etoile. Keep this list of Edgartown bookstores that will keep you reading through your vacation handy for your next visit to the Vineyard. 

Edgartown Books | 44 Main St, Edgartown | (508) 627-8463

Edgartown Books is a true community bookstore with author events, knowledgeable staff, and two floors of books offering a wide selection of all genres. The twists and turns of the old building make hunting for your next read feel like an adventure. If you’re eager to dive into your new read, head over to Behind the Bookstore, the bookstore’s café, where you can order up coffee, food from the award-winning menu, and even a specialty cocktail.

Portobello Road | 4 Dock St, Edgartown | (508) 627-4276 

Named for the famed London flea market, this gift and bookstore has a great selection of books, perfect for packing into beach bags. From the newest novel to children’s book classics, this funky shop is the spot to find a great gift or something for yourself. From greetings cards to home decor, every square inch of this store is covered in treasures, so you can take your time combing through the wares. Don’t miss this unique Edgartown bookstore.

Second Hand Store | 10 N. Summer St, Edgartown | (508) 627-5683

We love poking through thrift stores on the island, and the Second Hand Store with its ever-changing selection of clothes, books, toys, and housewares is no exception. Shelves of well-loved books handed down from islanders and beach goers are available at the cheapest prices of any store. With proceeds going to benefit the local Boys & Girls Club, you can feel even better about your purchase.

For inspiration on what to read, our post on beach reads that take place on Martha’s Vineyard offers some recommendations.

Best Portsmouth Yoga Studios

While guests of our Portsmouth boutique hotels report that they’re plenty relaxed during their stay with us, we know that some yoga while on vacation can center you or help you keep up with your training. For yogis on a lark, we recommend visiting one of these downtown Portsmouth yoga studios. With beautiful views of the water from each studio listed here, an hour of Portsmouth yoga will ensure you have a relaxing day in the city.

Barre & Soul | 163 Court St, Portsmouth | (978) 225-3197

Located within walking distance of The Hotel Portsmouth, this studio offers both barre and core yoga, a vigorous vinyasa flow style. With views of the water from the second floor studio, this class is both relaxing and a good workout. For something with a beat, drop into a Buti yoga class, a high-energy mix of yoga poses and dance.

3 Bridges Yoga | 185 High St, Portsmouth | (603) 766-3332

This vinyasa yoga studio is known for the welcoming attitude of its instructors who offer many levels of classes. Drop into beginner yoga for a refresher course or an Every Body session for those familiar with the poses. This is a gently heated yoga studio, and after you’re warmed up, you can cool down with a post-yoga smoothie or juice at The Juicery just around the corner.

Portsmouth Paddle Co. | 371 New Castle Ave, Portsmouth | 603) 276-9354

Those looking to take their yoga practice to the next level should check out stand-up paddle board classes with Portsmouth Paddle. These SUP pilates and yoga classes offer an added challenge and core workout—and perhaps a refreshing if unintentional dip in the river! The $35 class includes 15 minutes of instruction on land and then an hour of yoga on the paddleboard. 

Best Bakeries in Portsmouth

While the signature small plates breakfast at our Portsmouth boutique hotels has plenty of baked goods to get your day started, we know the craving for pastry can strike at any time. Fortunately, Portsmouth has several great bakeries to meet your needs for flaky dough and sweets. Keep our list of the best bakeries in Portsmouth (and one just over the river in Kittery) handy for when the sugar craving strikes.

Our Picks for Best Bakeries in Portsmouth

 

Ceres Bakery | 51 Penhallow St. Portsmouth | (603) 436-6518

Named for its former location on Ceres St. this bakery’s name also references the Roman goddess of agriculture. A Portsmouth staple since 1980, Ceres serves breakfast and lunch and has a wide selection of baked goods available until 5 p.m. We recommend the seasonal fruit muffins (especially almond peach) and the coconut shortbread. Look for its signature bright blue exterior and bring cash, as they don’t take cards.

La Maison Navarre | 121 Congress St. Portsmouth | (603) 373-8401

The French have the whole dessert thing down pat, so we love the focus on French pastry at La Maison Navarre. From tarts and mousse cakes to crêpes and of course, macarons, your inner Francophile will swoon over the selection here. With wifi and wine available too, you could easily spend a very civilized afternoon here and see why this is one of the best bakeries in Portsmouth.

Lil’s Café | 7 Wallingford Sq., Unit 106 | (207) 703-2800

It’s worth venturing over the river into Kittery to explore some of the restaurants and shops on this small town’s foreside. Lil’s Café, in particular, is a worthy destination, serving Portland’s Tandem Coffee and making its own baked goods. In particular, the crullers have their own dedicated following—and for good reason. They’re light and eggy, almost like a popover, with a sweet glaze. Get two, you won’t be sorry and then head over to the back of the café where you can peruse records in the tiny Vinyl Vault.

 

Best Hikes in Stowe

Stowe’s Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak at 4,393 feet may get all the attention when it comes to hiking in Stowe. But some of the best hikes in Stowe lay in the surrounding areas, from the shady forested trails of Cady Hill Forest or the beauty of Moss Glen Falls at the end of a short walk in. Whether you’re looking to bag the big peak or to take a nice stroll through the woods, here are some tips on the best hikes in Stowe for summertime. The best part of hiking in Stowe? After you do the work, our hot tub at our boutique hotel Field Guide is waiting for you.

Best Hikes in Stowe for Summertime

Cady Hill Forest | Mountain Rd, Stowe

The Cady Hill Forest is over 250 acres of preserved land owned by the town of Stowe and open to the public for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The Macutchan Loop, named for the family that donated nearly half of the land that makes up the preserve, offers a nice three-mile round trip hike through the forest. The loop trail is well-marked and is also used for mountain biking so keep a heads up for bikers.

Moss Glen Falls | Moss Glen Falls Rd, Stowe

This short hike rewards you with a beautiful view of Moss Glen Falls at the end after only a mile and a half of easy trail. The trail to the waterfall has been built up with boardwalks in some places and parallels the Moss Glen Stream for much of it. The 125-foot waterfall can be robust after a rainfall so be careful around the base of the falls and prepare for muddy trail in some spots if there’s been rain recently.

Mount Mansfield | Mountain Rd, Stowe

There are multiple ways to access the summit of Mount Mansfield, from easy to advanced. The easiest, of course, is to drive to the top via the Toll Road. Those looking to hike can access the summit via the short but steep Long Trail which takes you up the eastern side of the mountain. Only 2.5 miles to the summit, the Long Trail covers 2,800 feet of elevation in that distance. Pair it with other trails like the Hell Brook trail or the Haselton trail to create a nice looping hike.

Newport Farmers’ Markets

Southern Rhode Island has a robust agricultural scene, with many small vegetable, aquaculture, and animal farms surrounding Newport. In turn, Newport has a booming restaurant scene with many farm-to-table menus offering creative preparations of the area’s plentiful local produce. At Lark Hotels, we aim to help our guests of our boutique Newport hotel get a sense of the place they’re visiting, and we think trips to the farm and farmers’ markets do just that. Farm stands are also a great place to pick up some fresh snacks for beach picnics or locally-made gifts and mementos. In Newport, the city’s farmers’ market brings farmers from the surrounding area in weekly, and the farm stand at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, a short drive from downtown Newport, is open daily for shopping and pick-your-own fruit. Check out these Newport farmers’ markets where you can experience local food at its finest.

Our Favorite Newport Farmers’ Markets

Newport Farmers’ Market | 13 Memorial Blvd, Newport

On Wednesdays throughout the spring, summer and fall, over 25 farmers and vendors set up their tables on Memorial Boulevard with a huge display of local food. Vegetable farmers bring the freshest and ripest Rhode Island-grown tomatoes, berries, and corn throughout the season, while vendors like The Coffee Guy and Tallulah’s Tacos serve up prepared food and drinks. Find the Newport farmers’ market from 2-6 p.m. every Wednesday.

Sweet Berry Farm | 915 Mitchell’s Lane, Middletown | (401) 847-3912

A 15-minute drive from downtown Newport in neighboring Middletown, Sweet Berry Farm has everything you need for an afternoon of local food and fun. This family-run farm has 80 acres of fruit, vegetable, and Christmas tree fields with pick-your-own fruit (berries and apples) available in summer and fall. The farm stand has a market and a café serving a full menu of breakfast and lunch. You can even catch free live music Tuesday evenings in July and August with a themed dinner menu prepared in the café.

Back Door Donuts at Summercamp’s Canteen

Our Oak Bluffs boutique hotel Summercamp has a camp vibe updated with adult twists at every turn. So it’s only appropriate that there’s a canteen—bringing back memories of ordering up sweet treats from the camp lodge’s snack bar and enjoying them on the porch during free time. Summercamp’s Canteen serves up some classic snacks with a side of nostalgia like Cracker Jacks and Dreamsicles, and our guests love snacking like a kid again. But the real winner served at Summercamp’s Canteen? Hands down, the best donuts on Martha’s Vineyard: Back Door Donuts served at MV Gourmet Cafe & Bakery.

Back Door Donuts gets billed as making the best donuts on Martha’s Vineyard (voted Best Bakery 4 years in a row by Martha’s Vineyard Magazine) because they’re fried fresh daily and served warm. The bakery, located next to Oak Bluff’s post office, makes all kinds of baked goods every day, but is best known for its donuts. No trip to Oak Bluffs is complete without a stop at Back Door Donuts. 

Bonus: if you’re staying with us at Summercamp, you need look no further than the Canteen on site for your AM donut fix—Back Door Donuts are delivered to the hotel every day, along with the to-die-for apple fritters.

Should you crave a donut after the bakery closes at 5pm or late night, you’re in luck—Back Door Donuts gets its name from the donuts served out of the back of the bakery from 7pm until 2 minutes before 1am. The MV Bakery’s secret donut door, often called the “worst kept secret on the Vineyard,” is a part of many summer visitors’ must-do list while on the Vineyard. While a hearty queue can form on prime summer weekends, the line moves fast and these donuts are well worth the wait. Get your Back Door donut or fritter at Summercamp and see for yourself why they’re the best donuts on Martha’s Vineyard.

The Attwater’s Nutella Banana Muffins

We get so many compliments from the guests at our Newport boutique hotel The Attwater on our signature small plates breakfast. In particular, the banana muffins, which have the not-so-secret ingredient of Nutella swirled into the tops. They’re also punched up with four bananas (whereas most recipes call for two), making them a delightfully sweet treat to kick off your day. If you can’t get the thought of The Attwater’s banana Nutella muffins out of your head, here’s the recipe, which general managers Heather and Mike were happy to share.

Nutella Banana Muffins

Adapted from The Baker Mama

Ingredients:

1 c butter, melted
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
4 overripe bananas (about 1-1/2 c)
Nutella

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin tin with spray oil or butter.
2. Melt butter. Mix in large bowl with sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and baking soda. Fold in bananas until just combined.
3. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Dollop a spoonful of nutella onto each muffin. Use
chopsticks or coffee stirrers to swirl the Nutella through batter.
4. Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.

Things to Note: 

Makes 12 muffins. Extra muffins (if you have such a thing) freeze well. Serve warm with butter or slice in half and toast on a buttered griddle pan. We think this recipe would make for a great loaf as well!

New Food Trucks in Portland

When you’re out and about in Portland, sometimes you want a quick and delicious lunch that will allow you to keep experiencing all this city by the sea has to offer. Enter the food truck. Ever since Portland changed its laws in 2014 to allow them, the city has seen an ebb and flow of new food trucks. Some food trucks graduate to permanent locations while each season brings new additions to the mobile fleet. For lunch on the go, check out some of our favorite new Portland food trucks. Seek out a specific truck by checking its social media or head to the Eastern Prom, Commercial St. or Spring St. to find a rotating selection of trucks daily.

Falafel Mafia 

These two brothers took over their dad’s falafel company which was well-known for its stand at Maine’s Common Ground Country Fair. The truck launched this year, serving falafel sandwiches out of its sleekly designed navy blue truck. Their signature “dreamy tahini” sauce stands in for yogurt sauce, making these pita pockets vegan. Greek gyros coming soon!

Mr. Tuna

Find Mr. Tuna in the Old Port down by the water, naturally, where you can snack on sushi hand rolls and sushi burritos. Mr. Tuna uses all locally caught (Maine and Massachusetts) seafood like tuna, crab, lobster, and scallops and rolls it up with flavor-packed ingredients like fried shallots, tobiko and eel sauce. Look for his cart on Commercial Street and snag a few rolls to enjoy on the benches by the Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal. 

Thainy Boda

We rejoiced when we heard the news that Boda, one of our favorite Portland restaurants, was launching a food truck. Thainy (pronounced like ‘tiny’) Boda brings Thai street food to the streets of Portland. Find skewered grilled meats, sticky rice, and Boda’s signature dishes like fried Brussel sprouts and soy fried quail eggs.

Best Coffee Shops in Camden

We love to start our day in midcoast Maine with a cup of coffee—the staff at our Camden boutique hotel Whitehall serves its guests a dark roast from Carrabassett Coffee in Western Maine. There’s plenty on hand at the inn to get you started on your day exploring Camden and midcoast Maine. But where to stop when you’re out and about and want a cup of joe? Here are three of the best coffee shops in Camden and nearby towns where you can enjoy some locally roasted beans. 

Our Top Picks for The Perfect Cup of Joe: Best Coffee Shops in Camden

Zoot Coffee | 31 Elm St, Camden | (207) 236-9858

This coffee shop on the main drag of downtown Camden is the best known, with its jaunty red sign making it easy to find. Zoot roasts its own coffee and has a full menu of espresso drinks and teas. A small selection of baked goods, including slices of quiche with seasonal vegetables like fiddleheads, make this a nice place to linger over a cup and a snack.

Green Tree Coffee | 2456 Atlantic Hwy, Lincolnville | (207) 706-7908

Coffee lovers will enjoy seeking out this roastery and shop on Route 1 just north of Camden. Located in a picturesque camp-like cabin, the owner of Green Tree Coffee roasts beans on one side and sells his coffee and tea blends on the other. With many different kinds of roasts, every coffee drinker can find one they love or something new to try.

Rock City Coffee Roasters | 252 Main Street, Rockland | (207) 594-5688

This Rockland mainstay has been roasting coffee on Main St. for nearly 20 years, creating a signature smell that draws java lovers in from afar. Rock City typically makes dark roasts and naturally has a blueberry flavored blend. You can also enjoy a menu of salads, soups, and sandwiches with your coffee, while Friday and Saturday nights feature live music acts.

Newport Rum Distillery + Cocktails

Built on a rich history of travel and trade, the city of Newport has always had a love affair with spirits, particularly rum. New Englanders historically drank more rum than any other spirit, thanks to the ample supply provided by the area’s trade with the Caribbean Islands. 

Today we’re experiencing a rum revival as chic cocktails bars serve up delicious concoctions made with craft spirits. Gone are the frozen drinks with forgettable rums and the sweet spiced rum and Coke we used to swill. Instead, Newport craft distillery Thomas Tew Rums is producing small batches of aged rum that are perfect for enjoying at a Newport cocktail bar or at happy hour in your room at our Newport boutique hotels. Here a few ways to enjoy rum from this Newport distillery on your next visit.

First up, you can visit the Thomas Tew Rum distillery for a tour and tasting every day of the week except Tuesday. You can simply drop into the tasting room for a flight of rum and a self-guided tour (the distillery equipment is visible from the tasting room) or you can have a guided tour, offered 3pm daily. Born out of Newport Storm Brewery, this distillery began producing its first rum in 2006. They now make two varieties—the original Single Barrel rum, which, as its name implies, is bottled from a single barrel of rum (as opposed to blended from multiple barrels). The Widow’s Walk Overproof white rum is light and buttery and perfect for mixing into cocktails.

You’ll find Thomas Tew rums on many of Newport’s craft cocktail lists; our favorite being the barrel-aged cocktail at The Revolving Door. This take on a Manhattan mixes Thomas Tew rum with Carpano Antica sweet vermouth and is aged, giving it an oaky richness. For something lighter, you’ll want to pick up your own bottle of Thomas Tew Widow’s Walk and make the Strawberry Fields cocktail. Cheers!

 

Strawberry Fields

2 oz. Thomas Tew Widow’s Walk rum

2 oz. fresh or frozen strawberries with syrup

1 oz. basil simple syrup

1/2 lime

 

Muddle strawberry mix and basil syrup with rum in highball glass. Squeeze in lime, and add ice. Top with ginger beer or seltzer.

Explore Newport’s Broadway District

While we love the hustle and bustle of Newport’s waterfront and mansion district during the summer, the crowds can be a bit overwhelming to some. So where to the locals go when they want to escape the crowds? The Broadway District, a short walk from either of our Newport boutique hotels. This neighborhood is full of restaurants, bars, and shops, and has a funkier, locals-only vibe (or just visitors in-the-know) to it than the waterfront. With six blocks of shops and restaurants to explore, you can easily spend an afternoon on Newport’s Broadway District.

First, some history: the Newport Stamp Act Riot took place on Broadway in 1765, similar to the Boston Tea Party, where colonists protested the British government’s taxation of necessary goods like paper for printing and correspondence. For those wanting to learn more about the history of the area, the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House, the oldest surviving house in Newport, is open for tours by appointment.

After you’ve brushed up on your local history, grab some lunch at one of the district’s many casual restaurants. Boru Noodle Bar, with its delicious ramen noodle soup, tuna poké, and steamed pork buns, is one of our new favorites. Binge BBQ brings the smoked porky goodness and can even be your late night fix, should you find yourself hankering for some sustenance late on weekends.

Empire Tea & Coffee will give you the caffeine fix you’ll need for perusing the funky shops and boutiques on Broadway. Hunt for that favorite throwback on vinyl at Vinyl Guru Record Shop or add a new signature piece to your wardrobe at the thrift store Closet Revival.

Finally, take in a comedy show at The Firehouse Theater. This improv troupe, called The Bit Players, puts on shows every Friday and Saturday nights, delivering up an evening of hilarity. Pro tip: it’s even BYOB. After a day spend in the Broadway District in Newport, you’re sure to sleep well back at a Lark hotel!

The Best Nantucket Museums to Visit

Nantucket in the summer is all about fun in the sun, from beach visits to bike rides. But the island of Nantucket, some 30 miles out to sea, has a rich history of shipwrecks, whaling, and sailing that is worth exploring. There are several museums on Nantucket that will appeal to maritime history buffs and warrant taking some time out from the beach to see. Perfect for a rainy day or to escape the midday heat, these Nantucket museums will entertain anyone with an imagination and a love of the ocean.

Rainy Day? Stop in at these Nantucket Museums

Nantucket Whaling Museum | 13 Broad St, Nantucket | (508) 228-1894

This museum is one of the island’s most popular for good reason. Nantucket was the epicenter of the whaling industry in the early 1800s and brought considerable wealth and growth to the island. This museum, packed full of artifacts and interactive exhibits, gives visitors an understanding of every aspect of the whaling industry on Nantucket—from information about the whales themselves to the lives of the resilient women and children left behind. Visit the museum’s website to see the schedule of events, tours, films, and other activities for kids and adults alike.

Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum | 49 Union St, Nantucket | (508) 228-1177

Anyone who has visited Nantucket knows how ubiquitous the Nantucket baskets are—a catchall that is great for beach picnics and carrying supplies to the boat. These iconic baskets were first made on board the Nantucket lightship (a ship that acts as a lighthouse) in the mid-1800s. These lightship deployments were long and didn’t require much work from the crew, so the men were always looking for ways to entertain themselves. They began making these baskets that now serve as a symbol of island culture and history. This small museum seeks to preserve the unique history of the Nantucket lightship basket through its collections and educational programs. You can even learn to make your own basket with kids and adult weaving programs.

Nantucket Life-Saving Museum | 158 Polpis Rd, Nantucket | (508) 228-1885

Take a short drive or bike out to the Life-Saving Museum on Polpis Road, overlooking Nantucket Harbor. Anyone drawn to the danger and excitement of the sea will love the adventures detailed in this museum. Ocean travel used to be much more dangerous than it is now, with a lack of modern navigational aids, and shipwrecks in bad weather were fairly common. Learn about the heroic adventures of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, similar to today’s Coast Guard, and marvel at the collection of rudimentary artifacts that these men used to save countless lives.

Where to Find the Freshest Oysters on Nantucket

When out on Nantucket surrounded by the beautiful waters of the Atlantic, many of our guests want to nosh on nothing but the freshest local seafood. For that, we love oysters on the half shell at happy hour, before dinner, or even part of a beach picnic. When staying at one of our two Nantucket boutique hotels and the craving for fresh oysters arises, we recommend one of these three ways to enjoy oysters on Nantucket. 

Hungry? Check out These Spots for Oysters on Nantucket

CRU | 1 Straight Wharf, Nantucket | (508) 228-9278

We think oysters taste best when enjoyed with a view of the water, so head to the waterfront for this high-end dining experience. To feel like the who’s who of ACK without the price tag, enjoy an oyster happy hour snack at the bar. The daily selection of oysters rotates, always featuring some from the island and nearby Cape Cod. Go big and order your oysters on the half shell topped with caviar for a truly memorable Nantucket experience.

Sandbar Jetties Beach | 4 Bathing Beach Rd, Nantucket | (508) 228-2279

If you’re looking for something more casual than CRU, somewhere you can come right in off the beach in your flip-flops, this beachside bar is for you. With tables nestled right in the sand overlooking Jetties Beach, you don’t have to miss a second of soaking up the sun. Oysters on the half shell varieties include an on-island one like Pocomo Meadow and another local option like Island Creek from nearby Duxbury.

Glidden’s Island Seafood | 115 Pleasant St, Nantucket | (508) 228-0912

Consider shucking your own (trust us!) and head to this island seafood market where all the locals shop. Shucking your own is an affordable way to enjoy oysters on Nantucket, but of course requires a little skill. Pick up a shucking knife at the market and ask the staff there for some tips if you’re a newbie. After a opening a few, you’ll be a pro in no time. Grab a lemon, some ice, and a bottle of rosé and you’ve got yourself one the makings of a fantastic sunset picnic.

On a Lark to Healdsburg, CA

If you’re driving to our boutique hotel in Mendocino, take the scenic route through the redwoods and vineyards of Sonoma County. It’s about a four-hour drive, so you’ll likely be in need of a pit stop halfway through the trip. We recommend stretching your legs and grabbing some lunch in the town of Healdsburg, regularly voted one of the top 10 small towns in America. About two hours from both San Francisco and Mendocino, Healdsburg is right in the heart of wine country with fantastic restaurants, upscale boutique shopping, and scenic streets. Here are our recommendations for things to do in Healdsburg.

Take the Scenic Route: Things to do in Healdsburg

For lunch, we can’t recommend eating at SHED enough. This restaurant/shop combo has a fantastic selection of curated home, garden, and culinary goods from baker’s twine and locally-made jams to DIY kombucha kits and mixology supplies. Enjoy lunch on the patio, where the veg-heavy menu will fill you up without weighing you down for the rest of your road trip. The menu changes seasonally, but we love the roasted carrots with Middle Eastern-inspired flavors and the summer squash, nettle, and porchetta pizza.

With a number of high-end boutiques, you could lose an afternoon shopping on the streets of Healdsburg. We love Mr. Moons for its great jewelry selection and quirky gifts, One World Fair Trade for globally-inspired crafts, and Susan Graf Limited for timeless wardrobe basics (including her classic travel pant) and accessories. The vintage wares of Shoffeitt’s Off The Square will have you dreaming of giving your home a California-inspired makeover.

No visit to Sonoma County is complete without a wine tasting, but with over thirty in-town winery tasting rooms, it can be overwhelming to pick one. We recommend Hartford Family Winery Tasting Room & Saloon, where you can drop in and sample four of its signature wines for $10. Beer drinkers will want to seek out Bear Republic Brewing Company, a casual and fun brew pub with nearly 20 in-house made brews on tap.

After you’ve explored these things to do in Healdsburg, hit the road for the remainder of your trip up the coast to Mendocino. We’ll be waiting for you at the inns of the Blue Door Group with an afternoon wine hour!

Martha’s Vineyard Farmers’ Markets

Despite, or maybe because of, being several miles out at sea, Martha’s Vineyard is home to many farms and makers. At Lark Hotels, we love to help our guests get a sense of the place they’ve come to visit, and we think trips to the farm and farmers’ markets do just that. Perhaps you’re looking for some strawberries and cucumbers for your beach picnic or you just want to wander around and soak in the bounty of the fresh island-grown produce.

Local Island Gifts & Produce: Martha’s Vineyard Farmers’ Markets

To get your veg on, head to the West Tisbury Farmers’ Market, the only farmers’ market on Martha’s Vineyard, or the farm stand at Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown. If you’re (understandably) not looking to stock up on veggies while on vacation, there’s plenty of local products like soaps, baked goods, and knitwear for a memento for your trip to the Vineyard.

West Tisbury Farmers Market |1067 State Rd, West Tisbury, MA | (508) 627-7465

With over 40 vendors of on-island farms and craftsman, this farmers’ market is worth the 20 minute drive from any of our Edgartown and Oak Bluffs boutique hotels. According to the market’s bylaws, two thirds of the vendors must be on-island farms, but you’ll also find vendors selling fresh-pressed juice and wood-fired pizza, as well as those with jams, honey, baked goods, and sweet treats. The market takes place on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until noon and Wednesday mornings in July and August through Columbus Day. In the fall and winter, the market can be found indoors at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury.

Morning Glory Farm | 290 West Tisbury Rd, Edgartown | (508) 627-9003

The farm stand of this 65-acre mixed vegetable and fruit farm is more like a local foods market, selling produce and beef grown and raised on the farm. The farmers also purchase produce from Chelsea Market in Boston, so the selection isn’t limited to what’s grown on island. The cheese case of New England-made cheeses is perfect for picnics and happy hour and a variety of snack foods, some locally made, will fuel you up for all your island adventures. The farm stand is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. on Sundays) and can be very busy. Go first thing to avoid the crowds or sneak in mid-afternoon on nice beach days, when it’s quiet.

The Lighthouses of Martha’s Vineyard

The many lighthouses of Martha’s Vineyard’s coast protected sailors for years, and today, their stately presence on the island’s shores gives visitors a glimpse into island life of yesteryear. While the lighthouses are no longer manned by lighthouse keepers, having been replaced with automated lights, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum maintains the lights as historical sites. These three lighthouses of Martha’s Vineyard are available for tours seasonally.

Exploring Our Island: The Lighthouses of Martha’s Vineyard

Edgartown Lighthouse | 121 North Water Street, Edgartown

Forty-five feet tall and overlooking Edgartown harbor, this lighthouse was once located in Ipswich, Massachusetts, but was relocated to Martha’s Vineyard after the original one, built in 1828, was damaged in a hurricane. Gradually, the sand filled in the spit to the lighthouse, eventually making it more accessible for visitors today. The lighthouse is open daily for the summer and weekends in the spring and fall.

East Chop Lighthouse | 229 East Chop Avenue, Oak Bluffs

Built with private funds in 1869, this lighthouse stands on the bluffs overlooking Vineyard Haven harbor. It was used primarily to communicate to wealthy merchants when their ships were coming into harbor until the government purchased the lighthouse in 1875. This lighthouse is only open for sunset tours on Sunday evenings; visit from 7-9pm through July 30 and 6-8pm from then until September 10.

Gay Head Lighthouse | 9 Aquinnah Circle, Aquinnah

Travel down island to the southwest corner of Martha’s Vineyard to Aquinnah, also known as Gay Head, where you’ll feel like you’re experiencing Martha’s Vineyard as it used to be. The Gay Head lighthouse is one of few attractions here, built in 1799 to protect mariners from an underwater rocky ledge called Devil’s Bridge. The lighthouse was staffed by island lighthouse keepers and their families until 1956 when it was decommissioned. Gay Head is also known for its beaches and scenic cliffs and makes for a nice day trip.

The Best Edgartown Beaches

Summer on Martha’s Vineyard is all about spending time on the island’s glorious sandy beaches. When staying at one of our two in Edgartown boutique hotels, our guests are always asking which Edgartown beaches have the best surf break, the quietest waves for kids, and the softest sand. Visit any of these Edgartown beaches for a picture-perfect day on Martha’s Vineyard, and don’t forget to ask at the front desk for your complimentary use of beach chairs and towels.

Beach Hair & Sandy Toes: Our Favorite Edgartown Beaches

 

Joseph Sylvia State Beach | Beach Rd, Edgartown

This long beach, located halfway between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs is on the Nantucket Sound side of the island, meaning it’s calmer and warmer than the oceanside beaches. Head out to the beach early, as its popularity means it fills up with visitors as the day goes on. While there are no facilities at the beach, the Edgartown end of the beach has lifeguards on duty.

Lighthouse Beach | N. Water St, Edgartown | (508) 627-6145

A 10-minute walk or a short bike ride from our hotels, this in-town beach is great for sunbathing, swimming, and fishing. The water is usually cold, but calm, so it’s great for small children. Lighthouse Beach overlooks Chappaquiddick Island and the harbor, which means there’s lots of boat traffic to keep you entertained. As you’d expect, there’s also a lighthouse, Edgartown Harbor Light, which is open to visitors for a $5 fee.

Katama Beach | 555 Katama Rd, Edgartown

Also known as South Beach, Katama Beach is located on the south side of the island, which means it’s exposed to the ocean. A wide and sandy beach, it offers plenty of room to spread out and a surf break on one end of the beach. There’s plenty of parking, and you can also take the bus to the beach. Lifeguards are on duty and there’s facilities at both ends of the beach.

Outdoor Activities in Salem

Many guests of our Salem boutique hotels love visiting in summertime when New England weather is at its peak. With warm days and cool nights, our guests want to see all that Salem has to offer while also spending time soaking up the sun. For your next visit, here are three outdoor activities in Salem that combine the history and culture of the area with some fresh air.

Our Favorite Outdoor Activities in Salem

Salem Maritime Historic Site | 160 Derby St, Salem | (978) 740-1650

Head right to the heart of Salem’s history and culture at this 9-acre national historic site. The park preserves the historic waterfront of Salem, which was once a bustling seaport of travel and trade. Guided tours of the site are led by park staff (free, but require reservations) and self-guided audio tours are available. Free tours are also offered of two historic homes, the Custom House, and tall ship Friendship of Salem.

Schooner Fame | 70 Wharf St, Salem | (978) 729-7600

This replica of a War of 1812 privateer is certainly one of the more unique outdoor activities in Salem. The original schooner Fame ransacked British merchant ships in the Gulf of Maine during the war, and today, crew aboard the replica will take you sailing in Salem Sound while entertaining you with tales of pirates and privateers. Two-hour sails are available for $35, making it one of the more affordable ways to get out on the water in Salem.

Salem Heritage Trail | Essex St, Salem

Explore Salem’s historic sites by foot on this self-guided walking trail through the city, marked by a painted red line on the sidewalk. Covering both Essex Street and historic Derby Street, this trail will take you past Salem’s best historic sites from witch trials to memorials and museums to the historic seaport. Find a trail map in the center of the Salem Guide for this outdoor activity in Salem.

Our Favorite Mexican Food in Newburyport

Newburyport is known for its great restaurant scene, despite being such a small town. In particular, we love to enjoy lunch or dinner at one of Newburyport’s many Mexican restaurants—we think there’s almost nothing better than some fresh Mexican food and a cold drink after a day in the sun. Here are our recommendations for the best Mexican food in Newburyport, whether you’re looking for lunch near the beach or a casual spot to enjoy dinner in town.

Mexican Food in Newburyport

Agave Mexican Bistro | 50 State Street, Newburyport | (978) 499-0428

Locals love this casual spot for its mix of light and hearty entree options. Try the shrimp and avocado salad with honey-lime dressing or go classic with a chile relleno, stuffed with chicken and cheese. And don’t miss the guacamole to start—it’s prepared tableside and served in a traditional lava stone. Tequila fans will love the selection of over 125 different varieties.

Dos Amigos Burritos | 24 Pleasant Street, Newburyport | (978) 255-7326

If you’re looking for a quick lunch or to grab and go, Dos Amigos is a great option—it’s quick but won’t leaving you feeling bad afterwards, with plenty of options for fresh vegetables and all-natural, hormone-free meat. Customize your burritos, bowls, or tacos with tons of add-ins, and enjoy on the beach later or in the festive café. Vegans and vegetarians will love that there’s plenty of delicious options for them too.

Metzy’s Taqueria | 24 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport | (978) 992-1451

Metzy’s, our favorite Mexican food truck in Newburyport, recently expanded to include a brick-and-mortar location too. Now you can bike or walk the rail trail to Metzy’s Cantina for a bite and a drink. For a beachside lunch, find the truck where it’s usually parked at the Plum Island airfield.

Mountain Biking in Stowe

While many think of Stowe, Vermont as a ski town, it’s become a four-season destination with plenty of outdoor activities in the summertime. In particular, mountain bikers love to head to Stowe for some time on the trails and in the woods. With thousands of feet of elevation to explore, the mountain biking in Stowe is a great reason to visit. Check out these networks of trails for some mountain biking in Stowe, then relax in the hot tub back at our boutique hotel Field Guide.

A Guide to Mountain Biking in Stowe

 

Trapp Family Lodge | 700 Trapp Hill Rd, Stowe | (802) 253-8511

With nearly 30 miles of single track trails, the Trapp property is a great place to take all levels of riders. The trails are divided into beginner double track and intermediate and advanced single track and can be accessed for a $10 day pass. Bonus: after you hit the trails, you can recover with a cold beer across the street at the von Trapp Brewery (http://www.vontrappbrewing.com/).

Sterling Forest | 3990 Sterling Valley Rd, Stowe

Park in the lot for the Sterling Falls Gorge to access 10 miles of double and singletrack trails for all abilities. Maintained by the Stowe Mountain Bike Club, these trails can be combined for a longer challenging ride or an easy cruise along the Maple Run trail. Pick up a trail map at any of the ski or bike shops in town to find the best Stowe mountain biking.

Cady Hill Forest | Mountain Rd, Stowe 

Ride right from Field Guide to this trailhead, only 1/2-mile up Mountain Rd. from the hotel. These trails are a great combination of machine-groomed and old school, with options for beginners and experts. Those seeking a challenge will love the technical single track on the Schween Haus loops. Afterwards, cool down with a beverage at Picnic Social, our in-house restaurant at Field Guide.

Summer Bounty Chef’s Dinner

Join us for a culinary lark on Saturday, July 1, as we celebrate the flavors of the season at the Summer Bounty Chef’s Dinner on Martha’s Vineyard.

Martha’s Vineyard Hosts the Summer Bounty Chef’s Dinner

Held at Down Island in Oak Bluffs – just around the corner from Summercamp – seven talented East Coast chefs will showcase the freshest summer ingredients in a decadent dining event. The line-up includes:

  • Certified Master Chef Rich Rosendale, CEO Rosendale Collective, Former Executive Chef and Director of Food & Beverage Greenbrier Club, WV
  • Drew Garms, 2017 ACF Southeast Region Chef of the Year, Executive Chef The Palm Terrace, FL
  • Brandon Carter, Executive Chef, Partner FARM Bluffton, SC
  • Anthony Cole, Executive Chef Chatham Bars Inn, MA
  • Matthew Peters, Gold Medal Champion Bocuse D’Or, Former Sous Chef Per Se, NY
  • Robert Sisca, Executive Chef G Hospitality, RI & MA
  • Scott Cummings, Executive Chef Celestial Restaurant Group, Down Island & 20byNine, Martha’s Vineyard

Each ticket includes a reserved seat for the set seven course menu, each course created and executed by a different chef. For guests that would like to include wine in the experience, a sommelier will provide the perfect pairing for each plate.

To purchase tickets and learn more about this culinary tour de force, visit the link below:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/summer-bounty-chefs-dinner-marthas-vineyard-tickets-34953236070

Best Ice Cream Shops in Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport, Maine is one of the East Coast’s most scenic towns. Located right on the coast, with the Kennebunk River running through the middle of its bustling center, guests of our boutique hotel Captain Fairfield Inn love to spend an afternoon strolling through downtown Kennebunkport. And with this summer’s heat, you’ll likely want to stop into one of Kennebunkport’s ice cream shops for a cool treat. Here’s three of the best ice cream shops in Kennebunkport to enjoy this summer:

Our Picks for Best Ice Cream Shops in Kennebunkport

 

Rococo Artisan Ice Cream | 6 Spring St, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-9814 

This shop on Dock Square is for those who like a little adventure in their ice cream flavors. With flavors like Earl Grey, Rose Hip Jam, and Pistachio; Guava and Maria Cookies; and Horchata Rum Cake, you can see how owner Lauren Guptill’s world travel inspired these creative ice cream flavors. Be sure to allow plenty of time for sampling before you decide—you’ll want to try several of the tempting flavors that make this shop one of the best ice cream shops in Kennebunkport.

Aunt Marie’s | 10 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport

Venture around the corner on Ocean Ave. to find this small ice cream window tucked away next to the This Is It clothing store. Serving Maine-made Gifford’s ice cream, the flavors here are traditional from Maple Walnut to Cookies and Cream. Try local favorite Muddy Bean Boots, a vanilla base swirled with caramel ripple and brownie bites. In addition to ice cream, Aunt Marie’s also serves lobster rolls, if you’re looking to get your lobster and ice cream fix in one stop.

Ben & Jerry’s | 5 Union St, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-2322 

Find all your favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavors at this ice cream shop (in Kennebunkport on the hill overlooking Dock Square.) With over 30 flavors of ice cream, including classics like New York Super Fudge Chunk and Chunky Monkey, Ben & Jerry’s is an enduring favorite for a reason. Try their new line of cereal milk ice creams, like chocolate cereal milk with chocolate rice crispy cereal bits, and don’t overlook their serious selection of housemade waffle and sugar cones. 

Breweries in Portsmouth

Guests of our downtown Portsmouth boutique hotel, Ale House Inn, love visiting area breweries in Portsmouth. Seacoast New Hampshire has a lively beer scene, and there are several craft breweries in Portsmouth to visit. Check out these two breweries in Portsmouth and one worth a trip over the river in Kittery, Maine.

Our Top Picks for Breweries in Portsmouth

 

Earth Eagle Brewings | 165 High St, Portsmouth | (603) 502-2244

You’ll need to have an eagle eye to spot this microbrewery down an alley off of High Street. But once you’ve found it, you’ll get to enjoy tastes of its unique beers, many made with botanicals like burdock root and milkweed instead of hops. But there’s plenty of recognizable brews like pale ales and Belgian-style table beer on tap too. If you get hungry during your visit, order off the pub menu, full of unique items like alligator jambalaya and pickled eggs.

Great Rhythm Brewing Company | 105 Bartlett St, Portsmouth | (603) 430-9640

This brewery just opened its tasting room in Portsmouth, although the couple has been producing their beer at other breweries since 2012. Great Rhythm focuses on hoppy pale ales and IPAs, like Squeeze, a tropical citrus IPA, and West End, a light summer session ale. Taste them all with a flight of 4 oz. pours and then pick up some cans, available only at the brewery, of your favorite.

Tributary Brewing Company | 10 Shapleigh Rd, Kittery, ME | (207) 703-0093

Beer fans will recognize the name of Tributary’s head brewer Tod Mott as the man responsible for Portsmouth Brewery’s Kate the Great Russian Imperial Stout, which has a huge following. Mott opened his own brewery, after years of running Portsmouth Brewery and Harpoon, in 2014. You’ll find a wide variety of beers on tap, reflecting Mott’s skill with the brew kettle—everything from saisons to schwarzbier. Enjoy an afternoon in the tasting room, where you can bring in your own food and frequently will find live music.

Portland Sailing Charters

Portland’s prime location on the ocean overlooking the islands of Casco Bay means that many of our guests want to get out on the water when they visit our boutique hotel Pomegranate Inn. Fortunately, there are several great options for Portland sailing charters that combine a trip on the water with education, sightseeing, and even drinks. Check out these three options for Portland sailing charters and cool off with an afternoon of boating.

Our Tops Picks for Portland Sailing Charters

Portland Schooner Co. | Maine State Pier, Portland | (207) 766-2500

These two schooners docked on Portland’s working waterfront offer several sails daily. Enjoy a two-hour scenic cruise on these beautiful historic wooden schooners, where you can help raise the many sails (or not!) and then sit back and relax as you go where the wind takes you.

Casco Bay Lines | 56 Commercial Street, Portland | (207) 774-7871

It may seem strange for us to recommend a public ferry as a Portland sailing charter, but hear us out. The mail boat run, offered daily at 10am and 2:45pm, takes about 2-1/2 hours and visits 5 islands while offering a narration about the history of the area (and yes, the boat actually delivers mail to island residents and businesses). Bring your own picnic and beverages (alcohol is allowed) and make a day of it.

Maine Sailing Adventures | Maine State Pier, Portland | (207) 749-9169

The Frances, a 90-foot sloop with a wide-open deck, offers sails around Casco Bay daily. Because the boat is so wide, it offers a nice comfortable ride for anyone who might be nervous about the way sailboats heel or tip while sailing. Our friend Erica Archer of Wine Wise partners with Maine Sailing Adventures, offering educational wine sails which are frequently paired with oysters.

Whatever Portland sailing charter you choose, you’re sure to have a great time enjoying the views and weather of Casco Bay.

Tips for Kennebunkport

We recently partnered with the Australian-based influencer behind “Ask the Concierge” to get some insider tips from “Behind the Front Desk” of our Lark Hotels. Our managers give their tips for Kennebunkport on everything from where to get the best cup of joe, to what to do on a rainy day.

Manager Tips for Kennebunkport

 

Q: Your most popular request?

We are one of the Lark boutique hotels that are open year-round and we receive a lot of different requests depending on the season the people is traveling. During the summer the most popular is to have beach chairs and beach towels available and that is one of the amenities we offer in summer. We provide a wonderful beach tote with a couple of beach towels and chairs you can take with you plus, we give you the first parking permit complementary for the beach. We also have a lot of honeymooners coming to Captain Fairfield, and they request our Romantic Package to be included in their stay upon arrival. This package includes an artisan cheese and meat board, a bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine, and a single red rose, all of which can be enjoyed on our outdoor lounge, by a roaring fire in our living room (winter only), or in the privacy of your own room.

Q: Your favorite locale when enjoying a day off?

We love our downtown, and our favorite restaurant is Hurricane. This restaurant is located right in the heart of Dock Square within walking distance of Captain Fairfield Inn. It has a casual elegant dining area with wonderful views of the Kennebunk river. They also have a small bar which is located at the entrance. The food is freshly prepared and the variety of menu items offered is excellent. Our favorite dishes are the Lobster Chowder and the onion soup topped with a square of puff pastry, is just different and delightful. Also, they have a nice wine selection. The atmosphere is cozy and friendly. We highly recommend this restaurant to all our guests.

Q: Best coffee?

This is a very easy question to answer for us because we are coffee lovers and, no doubt Mornings in Paris a small French bakery located around 3 minutes driving distance from Captain Fairfield Inn is the answer. We’re crazy about their medium roast Colombian coffee. A must try are their pastries, you can never go wrong with their delicious flaky chocolate croissant. Now, if you are into latte coffee, The Nutella latte is fantastic, the mocha turtle latte (chocolate hazelnut caramel) is delicious, and the Crème brûlée latte is not overly sweet- which makes it a great option.

Q: Where must we go for lunch?

We have a lot of good options for lunch in Kport and it depends on your personal taste. We would suggest that if you want have lobster (that’s why you come to Kennebunkport, right?) you should go directly to Mabel’s Lobster Claw. A nice walk along Ocean Avenue will bring you to this quaint and cozy treasure. The menu is extensive with many seafood and other choices focusing on lobster just about any way you can imagine it. If you want to eat at a traditional small seafood restaurant with checkered tablecloths and delicious lobster, this is the place.

Q: It’s a rainy day outside but we want to explore, what shall we do?

You should go shopping in Kport! Park your car in front of Dock Square, grab your umbrella and start exploring the variety of glamorous shops and galleries. One of our favorites is Art House Gallery. Two amazing artists own this place, Holly Ross with her colorful drawings and paintings and Donna Kabay with her fine art photography can make you not only admire but love Maine through their art. We’re so close to Kennebunk that just crossing the bridge you’ll be in our neighbor town and you can walk or take the Intown Trolley to discover what a beautiful scenery this towns offer to all their visitors. They offer a 45-minute narrated sightseeing tour which provides an interesting and informative orientation to the Kennebunkport and Kennebunk area.

Q: What is an absolute must-do or must-see before leaving your city?

While visiting Kennebunkport the drive on Ocean Avenue is a must. The beauty of the ocean against the shoreline gives breathtaking views.

Q: What you love about your hotel?

We love everything about our boutique Bed and Breakfast. We love the house, the unique architecture and decor, the location in Kennebunkport’s historical district but most of all we are proud and happy to be the General Managers of the first property our CEO Rob Blood owned fifteen years ago and later Lark was born as a small collection of boutique hotels in New England. Lark is growing and growing every year but being the manager of The Captain Fairfield Inn is a unique experience.

Q: Is there anything else we should know about when visiting your city?

If you’re interested in history and architecture, one of the places you must visit in Maine is Kennebunkport. Things to do for tourists in town must include a walk around our historic district, where our B&B is located and is one of the most impressive historic districts in Maine. Some of the splendid buildings that can be found in our neighborhood used to be the homes of famous sea captains, like Captain James Fairfield and they provide a great insight into the success of the town’s shipbuilding industry during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

 

BOOK + BED Launches at Whitehall

While we love e-readers and audiobooks as much as the next avid reader, there’s a timeless quality to flipping through the pages of a book. That’s why we decided to match two of our great loves – reading and Maine – with our guests! We’ve partnered with Owl & Turtle Bookshop Cafe in downtown Camden to bring you a list of Maine-centric reads to enjoy while on a lark or at home.

Maine, not only famous for its beautiful and rugged coastline, lobster rolls and blueberry pie, has a rich history both at sea and on land. Read the tale of how a man survived in Maine’s wilderness for 27 years, dive into the history of Maine’s fishing villages and the effects on local economy, or step back in time and relive a local bank robbery. Our new Book Menu offers seven different titles for guests to purchase from the front desk, all of which pay homage to our great state.

Book + Bed

 

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit………………… $25.95 by Michael Finkel

This tale of Maine’s “North Pond Hermit” is a riveting recount of how a man survived in the (often freezing) wilderness for 27 years. Author Michael Finkel was the only person to whom the hermit granted interviews. You’ll grasp how this man possessed an intense and innate need to live as a recluse—an understanding that elicits sympathy, empathy, outrage, envy, and astonish- ment. A remarkable aspect of this book is how it calls you to consider your own relationship with solitude.

The Stars are Fire…………………….. $25.95 by Anita Shreve

The acclaimed author of The Pilot’s Wife weaves a fictional tale of suspense and survival, using the very real wild fire that ravaged the Maine coast in the 1940s as the starting point. A mother keeps herself and her two small children safe from the flames by taking refuge in the water where the risk of hypothermia may be great, but the alternative is almost certain death by fire. How Grace Holland rebuilds her life is a compel- ling tale of female fortitude. A page-turner!

A Piece of the World ………………….. $27.99 by Christina Baker Kline

This work of historical fiction takes you to the nearby coastal town of Cushing, Maine to immerse you in the life of Christina Olsen. As muse to Andrew Wyeth for more than 20 years, this subject of the painting “Christina’s World” lived a quiet life wracked by illness and the strains of an insular family life. The rigors of growing up on a Maine farm are illuminated as a little known piece of Wyeth’s life. Fans of Orphan Train will enjoy returning to Kline’s vivid prose and knack for storytelling.

The Lobster Coast …………………….. $18.00 by Colin Woodard

Anyone curious about the fishing villages along coastal Maine and how they evolved to affect the economy and livelihood of the state will find Colin Woodard’s historical account of Maine’s 17th century settlers incredibly informative. You’ll develop an appreciation for and understanding of the local mentality and how the struggles and triumphs experienced by the people in this area of the world can be applied to many regions of our nation.

The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery ……….. $16.95 by Ron Chase

This true blue Robin Hood story tells the tale of how a decorated Vietnam War hero, Bernard Preston, decided to rob a bank in Mars Hill, Maine because he was unable to obtain a loan from the VA. Along his varied and wild escape route he paddles a river raft, rides a motorcycle, and even buys a camel as he eludes officials and hands out money to the needy.

Lost on a Mountain in Maine ……………… $5.99 by Donn Fendler and Joseph B. Egan

A 12-year old boy hiking with his family decides to venture back on his own after summiting Maine’s Mt. Katahdin. Between fog and a fall, Donn Fendler loses his way and winds up needing to summon survival skills he never knew he possessed in order to make it through a harrowing two weeks on the mountain. This book is appropriate for children ages 8-12 as well as adults.

Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee …………. $15.99 by Chris Van Dusen

Local beloved children’s book author and illus- trator Chris Van Dusen takes us on a wet and whimsical journey with the goofy Mr. Magee and his dog Dee. Catchy, melodic prose and vivid fun illustrations keep children of all ages engaged and enchanted. You’ll want to rush out and get the remaining books in the series (Camping Spree with Mr. Magee and Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee)

Where to Find the Best Craft Beer on Nantucket

When you find yourself “on a Lark” to The Grey Lady, you’ll no doubt want to know where to find the best craft beer on Nantucket. Nantucket is lucky to have its own brewery, and there’s several places where you’ll find many taps pouring local and craft beer on Nantucket near our boutique hotels.

Where to Find the Best Craft Beer on Nantucket

 

Cisco Brewers | 5 Bartlett Farm Rd, Nantucket | (508) 325-5929

This idyllic brewery is a ways out of town, but you’ll be rewarded for making the trek. With live music, food trucks, outdoor seating, and games, you can easily make an afternoon of it here, enjoying craft beer at Nantucket’s only brewery. Try a bitter Whale’s Tale Pale Ale or a crushable Sankaty Light Lager. Cisco also owns Triple 8 Distillery and Nantucket Winery, so stop into the tasting room for a sample of their liquors and wines.

The Brotherhood of Thieves | 23 Broad St, Nantucket | (508) 228-2551

Located in the heart of Nantucket Town, this cozy tavern has a great selection of craft beer on Nantucket. The basement bar dates back to the 1840s when it catered to the sailors of the island’s vigorous whaling industry. Today, you’ll find taps featuring some of New England’s best craft breweries like Allagash, Lawson’s Finest, and of course, Cisco Brewers. Fill up on the pub’s menu of juicy burgers and seafood classics.

The Rose and Crown | 23 S Water St, Nantucket | (508) 228-2595

While it may not be fancy, you’ll feel right at home in at The Rose and Crown. Its historic building, once a stable in the 1800s, is full of nautical signs and flags, giving it a cozy Nantucket feel. You’ll find craft beer on Nantucket at this bar, with many of the taps dedicated to craft breweries like Long Trail, Tank 7, and Cisco.

Best Biking on Martha’s Vineyard

Island vacations call for cruising around town or riding to the beach on your bicycle. We love to tour Martha’s Vineyard on two wheels—none of that pesky traffic or troublesome parking to deal with. Bike over to the brewery or take the family out for a spin on some of the island’s 40 miles of bike paths. Whether you bring your bicycle with you or need to rent one when you arrive in Oak Bluffs, we’ve got your recommendations for the best biking on Martha’s Vineyard.

 

Our Top Recommendations for Biking on Martha’s Vineyard

 

Anderson’s Bicycle Rentals | Circuit Ave. Ext. Oaks Bluffs | (508) 693-9346

Located right by the ferry terminals, Anderson’s has bikes of all sizes to rent for the day or the week. Most of their bikes are hybrids, meaning they can handle road riding, light off-roading, and any sandy patches you might encounter on the shared use paths. Best of all, the bike shop is located within walking distance of our Oak Bluffs boutique hotel Summercamp or you can have them delivered to the hotel for no extra charge.

Beach Road Path

Take the six-mile shared use path from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown for some of the best biking on Martha’s Vineyard. Winding on a narrow spit between Sengekontacket Pond and the sound, this path offers beautiful water views. Return to Oak Bluffs the way you came or make it a longer loop by using the bike paths that run alongside Edgartown-Vineyard Haven and County Roads.

West Chop Loop in Vineyard Haven

Vineyard Haven is a short three miles from Oak Bluffs and from there you can ride out to the West Chop Lighthouse via a four-mile loop. Take Beach Road to Vineyard Haven and then head down Main Street out to the lighthouse for a scenic vista. Head back to town on the same road or take Franklin Street to cover some new ground. 

Best Coffee Shops in Newburyport

We think any good beach vacation should include a leisurely morning at the coffee shop, lingering over the paper and some pastry. While you can certainly enjoy your coffee overlooking the water at our boutique hotel Blue on Plum Island, the nearby town of Newburyport has several coffee shops you can swing by for an iced coffee on your way to the beach. Here are our recommendations for three of the best coffee shops in Newburyport: 

Our Picks for Top Coffee shops in Newburyport

 

Plum Island Coffee Roasters 54R Merrimac St, Newburyport (978) 465-1444

This downtown Newburyport coffee shop is located in a boat yard, which means you can sit outside with your coffee and enjoy the waterfront view. Plum Island Coffee Roasters roasts their own beans, so if you find your favorite roast while visiting, you can take a taste of one of the best coffee shops in Newburyport home with you.

Commune Café 33 Pleasant Street Newburyport (978) 462-3190

Hardcore coffee fanatics will love that this café serves Counter Culture Coffee, North Carolina’s popular third-wave coffee roaster. If you’re also looking for a light breakfast or lunch, this coffee shop is a great stop. You can relax at one of Commune Café’s many tables with a selection from their menu of sweet and savory crêpes. 

Atomic Coffee 52 State St Newburyport (978) 358-7539

With several locations around the North Shore, Atomic Coffee makes the list of best coffee shops in Newburyport for its serious approach to roasting and brewing coffee. Located in a beautifully renovated historic building, Atomic Coffee is another great spot for lunch, with a menu of sandwiches and salads. Open until 9pm on Friday and Saturday, you can even stop in for a drink as they serve beer and wine too.

Portsmouth Naval History

From historic seaport to the modern Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth has a long history of maritime tradition. With the Piscataquis River winding through town, the historic downtown is surrounded by marinas and signs of Portsmouth naval history at every turn. Our boutique hotels, located in the heart of downtown Portsmouth, are the perfect home base from which to explore this historic seaport. If you’re a true history buff wanting to learn all about Portsmouth naval history, check out these three historic sites, two in Portsmouth and one across the river in Kittery, Maine.

Portsmouth Naval History: Our top spots to learn all things nautical

 

USS Albacore | 600 Market St, Portsmouth 

This retired submarine turned museum was used by the U.S. navy for research on top-secret submarine design and wartime weaponry in the 1960s. It was decommissioned in the early 70s and moved to Albacore Park where it showcases Portsmouth naval history to visitors today. The tour of the Albacore starts in the museum, where you’ll learn about life onboard and the ship’s history, while checking out some artifacts from the sub. The self-guided tour continues through the ship, as you climb onboard and experience the tight quarters in which the crew lived and worked. This tour is great for kids and adults alike.

John Paul Jones House | 10 Middle St. Portsmouth | (603) 436-8433

John Paul Jones was a Scottish immigrant and commander in the country’s first navy and as such is known as the “Father of the American Navy.” He spend some time in Portsmouth helping to build the largest American naval ship of its time and the boarding house he stayed in is now a museum dedicated to Portsmouth naval history. Fans of colonial architecture will enjoy touring the historic home, and gardeners will love that the grounds and gardens that are being restored to the historic 1859 design.

Kittery Historical & Naval Museum | 200 Rogers Rd, Kittery, ME | (207) 439-3080

This small museum, located over the river in Kittery, Maine is worth a visit for its incredible collection of naval and historic artifacts. The museum is chock full of ship models, wooden signs, tools, household goods, antique toys, and other historical artifacts. Parts of the museum are dedicated to recreating the first Kittery post office and the historic Andrews-Mitchell House, the fortified homestead of one of Kittery’s first families.

Sailing Charters in Portsmouth NH

This summer, get a different view of the city during your visit to Seacoast New Hampshire with a sailing charter in Portsmouth. Portsmouth, located on the Piscataqua River, is a historic seaport known for its quaint downtown and thriving beer scene. Our boutique hotels are located right on the Portsmouth waterfront, overlooking the Piscataqua River, Badger Island, and Memorial Bridge. Here are three ways to get out on the water on a sailing charter in Portsmouth:

Our Favorite Sailing Charters in Portsmouth

 

Gundalow Company | 60 Marcy Street, Portsmouth | (603) 433-9505

Built by volunteers of the Strawbery Banke Museum in 2011, this replica of a seventeenth century cargo boat now takes passengers on tours of the river. The sailing charter offers a variety of trips from a mid-day history sail to a concert cruise with live music in the evenings. Bring a picnic and beverage of your choice along with you to enjoy this sailing charter in Portsmouth.

Isles of Shoals Steamship Co. | 315 Market St, Portsmouth | (800) 441-4620

Named for a group of small islands 6 miles off the coast of Portsmouth, Isle of Shoals Steamship Co. offers sailing charters to the islands. The islands have a long history as fishing grounds for indigenous people and landing spots for English settlers. The sailing cruise also includes a guided walking tour of Star Island, where you’ll learn about the history of settlers, pirates, and the replica of Gosport Harbor, a village dating back to the early 1600s.

Portsmouth Harbor Cruises | 64 Ceres St. Portsmouth | (800) 776-0915

Take a harbor cruise on the Heritage, a historic wooden workboat now comfortably outfitted for sailing charters in Portsmouth. The 1-1/2 hour cruise has a narrated tour of the history of the harbor, with great views of several lighthouses, mansions, forts, and even a naval submarine. Just looking to relax and soak in the view? The evening and sunset cruises are for you with cocktails served on board. Wine cruises, offered monthly throughout the summer, add a little education to happy hour with a certified sommelier onboard to lead you through tastings.

Things to Do With Kids in Camden

Camden, whose motto is “where the mountains meet the sea,” is an idyllic place to visit as a family. With plenty of outdoor space to explore from beaches and piers to nearby state parks, you’ll find lots of things to do with kids in Camden. Take a short hike to the top of Mt. Battie for great views of Camden Harbor or stroll along the piers to check out Camden’s famous fleet of windjammers. Our boutique hotel Whitehall has suites for families, making it a great place to stay when visiting midcoast Maine. Here’s three things to do with kids in Camden:

Our Top Things to Do With Kids in Camden, Maine

 

Merryspring Nature Center | 30 Conway Rd, Camden | (207) 236-2239

Just a few minutes from downtown Camden, this 66-acre preserve has lots of things to do with kids. Woodland trails provide a great setting for play and games, while the children’s and pollinator gardens are perfect for bird and butterfly watching. The nature center is free and open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Planet Toys | 10 Main St, Camden | (207) 236-4410

This Main Street toy shop has it all—toys for all ages, books, and plenty of Maine souvenirs. Whether you need a game for a rainy day or a new book for bedtime stories, Planet Toys has you covered. This excellent toy shop is one of the best things to do with kids in Camden.

Golfer’s Crossing Mini Golf | 7 Country Inn Way, Rockport | (207) 230-0090

No family vacation is complete without a little friendly competition. Head to this mini golf course on the Camden/Rockport line for a night of entertainment. With 18 holes of naturally landscaped mini golf and clubs for kids of all ages, this golf course is a great family activity. After the game, enjoy some ice cream from the concession stand.

Where to Find the Best Lobster Roll in Kennebunkport

Summer in Maine means it’s a race against time to enjoy as much fresh Maine lobster as you can. We frequently hear from our guests that their first mission after checking into our boutique hotel in Kennebunkport is to head to Dock Square for a lobster roll. Here are our three recommendations for where you can find the best lobster roll in Kennebunkport:

Best Lobster Roll in Kennebunkport

The Clam Shack | 2 Western Ave, Kennebunk | (207) 967-3321

If you’ve been to Kennebunkport before, you’re undoubtedly familiar with The Clam Shack. It’s right on the other side of the Kennebunk River, which means it’s technically in Kennebunk, and the long line of people waiting will help you find it. This roll comes on a round, buttered and griddled bun with a mix of knuckle, tail, and claw meat. Be prepared to answer how you want your roll—with melted butter, mayonnaise, or both.

Allisson’s | 11 Dock Square, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-4841

This casual restaurant on Dock Square competed against victor The Clam Shack on the Food Network’s Food Wars. The chefs here use only knuckle and claw meat to make a spectacularly large lobster roll. With a full menu and bar and parking out back, you can see why Allisson’s is a beloved local favorite and serves one of the best lobster rolls in Kennebunkport.

Cape Pier Chowder House | 79 Pier Rd, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-012

Take a scenic drive out to Cape Porpoise, a small village from Dock Square, for one of the best lobster rolls in Kennebunkport. This waterfront seafood shack is located on a working fishing pier, so it has all the ambiance you need. The lobster rolls here are all about simplicity with just loads of fresh lobster meat in a split top bun.

Live Music at Thompson’s Point

With every show announced, people are becoming more and more excited about the summer concert series and live music at Thompson’s Point, the new music venue in Portland, Maine. Thompson’s Point, run by the State Theater, is an outdoor arena located on a recently redeveloped piece of land overlooking Portland’s Fore River. And it’s quickly becoming known as one of the best places to see live music in Southern Maine.

Live Music at Thompson’s Point

Last year’s line up brought big acts like The Lumineers, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Ray Lamontagne. Once the concert announcements for live music at Thompson’s Point began earlier this year, everyone knew it was going to be a epic summer. This year’s summer concert series kicks off on Memorial Day weekend with British indie electronic group The xx. Big names coming to Thompson’s Point include The Shins, My Morning Jacket, Elvis Costello, Wilco, Guster, and Alabama Shakes.

The appeal of Thompson’s Point goes beyond the open air arena—it’s the beautiful sunset over the river, the cooling breeze at dusk, and the lush grass underfoot. There’s local beer on tap (while Sierra Nevada is the beer stand’s sponsor, they partner with a local brewery each show) and a row of food trucks along the waterfront. Even when you’re surrounded by 5,000 fellow concertgoers, it’s easy to feel like you’re at the coolest backyard barbecue ever.

Thompson’s Point is a short drive from our Portland boutique hotel, Pomegranate Inn. We recommend heading out for the concert early, since traffic can be an issue and Ubers and Lyfts can become scarce. Plus, you’ll be able to stop in for a drink beforehand at Stroudwater Distillery, Bissell Brothers Brewing, or Cellardoor Winery. You won’t want to miss the live music at Thompson’s Point in Portland this summer.

Things to Do With Kids in Stowe

No matter the season, the fun never stops in Stowe. Whether there’s a foot of fresh powder or it’s hot enough for a dip at the swimming hole, there’s plenty of things to do with kids in Stowe. Our Stowe boutique hotel has comfortable suites that will accommodate the entire family, and kids will love the fire pit and games at our onsite restaurant Picnic Social. Use this list of things to do with kids in Stowe to plan your visit:

Family Friendly Activities & Things To Do with Kids in Stowe

 

Stowe Recreation Path

Stowe’s rec path is a 5-1/2 mile paved trail through town that’s perfect for a family of all ages and abilities. It runs parallel to Mountain Road, but you’d never know it as you walk on scenic bridges over the Little River and through peaceful birch stands. Several access points into town make it easy to visit Stowe’s shops and restaurants along your walk.

Stowe Golf Park | 1613 Mountain Rd, Stowe | (802) 253-9951

Nothing says summer vacation more than a game of mini golf. Stowe Golf Park is a unique course though, in that it’s actually a miniature golf course, complete with sand traps and beautifully landscaped gardens—you won’t find any cheesy windmills here. Challenge the family to 18 holes and treat them to ice cream at the end.

Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour | 1281 Waterbury-Stowe Rd, Waterbury | (802)-882-2047

Vermont and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are practically synonymous, and the whole family will love to see how the ice cream gets made on this 30-minute tour. Enjoy a full-size sample at the end of the tour, and then visit your favorite retired flavor in the Flavor Graveyard. Located a short drive from Stowe in Waterbury, this tour is also great for a rainy day.

Best Seafood Restaurants in Salem

Salem has some of the best seafood restaurants around, many located on historic wharfs and offering great views of the harbor. Our boutique hotels are located right in the heart of downtown Salem, meaning any one of these seafood restaurants are just a short walk away. Here are our recommendations for the best seafood restaurants in Salem:

Salem’s Best Seafood Restaurants

 

Finz | 76 Wharf St, Salem | (978) 744-8485

We love the feel of this waterfront seafood restaurant—it’s cozy but bright with a view of the harbor on three sides. The seafood menu ranges from simple classics like tuna tartare and oysters on the half shell to internationally-inspired cuisine like the seafood hot pot, a southeast Asian dish with squid ink noodles. Outdoor seating, covered and heated in chilly weather, offers a great view of the neighboring marina.

Sea Level Oyster Bar | 94 Wharf St, Salem | (978) 741-0555

We love spending an afternoon at the raw bar of Sea Level with oysters and clams on the half shell and a glass of white wine. Its waterfront location means there’s a great view of the harbor, and it’s the perfect place to stop in to refresh yourself after exploring the town. The menu tends towards the more casual with fried clams, steamed mussels, and calamari.

Turner’s Seafood | 43 Church St, Salem | (978) 745-7665

Located in historic Lyceum Hall, this seafood market and grille is one of Salem’s most scenic seafood restaurants. With a seafood market and wholesale fish business spanning generations, Turner’s offers some of the freshest, locally caught seafood on the North Shore. Experience some New England seafood classics with Newfoundland Finnan Haddie or a traditional steamed lobster dinner.

Things To Do With Kids on Nantucket

The island of Nantucket begs to be explored in warm weather by families, when school’s out and beach vacations are calling. With two boutique hotels on the island, it’s the perfect setting for families looking for things to do with kids on Nantucket. Here is our list of our favorite things to do with kids on Nantucket so you can have a relaxing visit on the island.

Family Fun & Things To Do With Kids on Nantucket

 

Dionis Beach | Eel Point Rd, Nantucket 

Dionis Beach is a short drive or bike ride out of town, but that means it’s quieter than Jetties Beach and Children’s Beach. Located on Nantucket Sound, this beach has beautiful, clean sand; calmer waves for the younger set; and a lifeguard on duty. Make a day out of it by packing a lunch and biking on the Madaket bike path three miles from the center of town to the beach.

Whaling Museum | 13 Broad St, Nantucket | (508) 228-1894 

This Nantucket history museum  is a must-see for all ages, but it tops the list of things to do with kids on Nantucket, especially on a rainy day. Kids will love the giant sperm whale skeleton and the displays of the boats and tools of the whaling trade. Visit the museum’s discovery center where kids can explore interactive exhibits and make their own scrimshaw at the craft table.

Nantucket Atheneum

It’s always a good idea to check in with the library when you visit a new place, and Nantucket’s  offers plenty of things to do with kids. From morning story hour to creative movement time with a yoga instructor, the Nantucket Atheneum has great programing for children. Pick up a few books for a rainy day while you’re there and take a moment to appreciate the architecture of the library’s historic building.

Newport Sailing Museums

Newport, a historic seaport and home to the America’s Cup race, is a great destination for sailors and maritime history buffs. A walk along the waterfront, with its piers full of luxury yachts and tallships, is a must for any visitor who loves sailing. Our two Newport boutique hotels, The Attwater and Gilded, are located downtown and close to several Newport sailing museums. To really get an understanding of the sailing scene in Newport, visit these three Newport sailings museums to learn about the history of the seaport, yacht racing in Newport, and naval history.

Newport Sailing Museums 

 

Newport Historical Society | 82 Touro St, Newport | (401) 846-0813

Visit the Historical Society’s museum at the Brick Market on Newport’s Washington Square for an overview of Newport history. From the city’s role in the American Revolution to the booming sea trade that made Newport a thriving port, the museum offers a great experience for the whole family with its interactive exhibits. Take a guided tour around the city to learn about pirates, revolutionaries, and colonial life in Newport.

Naval War College Museum | 686 Cushing Rd, Newport | (401) 841-4052

This museum is on Coasters Harbor Island, an active naval base, and chronicles the history of the U.S. Navy. Exhibits focus on the history of naval warfare and the naval history of Narragansett Bay, with a guest lecture series on the first Thursday of every month. Advances passes are required to enter the base, so reserve yours ahead of your planned visit.

Herreshoff Marine Museum and America’s Cup Hall of Fame | 1 Burnside St, Bristol | (401) 253-5000

Although it’s a 30-minute drive from Newport, no visit to southern Rhode Island is complete for any yachtie without a visit to the Herreshoff museum Nathanael Herreshoff was one of the area’s most influential boat builders, with his designs still influencing modern yachts today. The museum has over 60 of Herreshoff’s boats in its collection and exhibits about the history of his designs, while the America’s Cup Hall of Fame also located on the historic campus.

Family Activities and Things To Do with Kids in Newburyport

Families love visiting Newburyport—its vibrant restaurant scene, maritime history, and natural beauty means there’s entertainment for the whole family. There’s no shortage of things to do with kids in Newburyport, whether it’s exploring museums, spending the day at the beach on Plum Island, or picking out a new toy in the shops. Our boutique inn, Blue, with its suites and cottages is a great home base for a relaxing stay in Newburyport. Once you’ve checked in, here is a list of things to do with kids in Newburyport for some family fun: 

Things To Do with Kids in Newburyport

 

Eureka! Toy Store | Tannery Marketplace, 50 Water St. #24, Newburyport | (978) 465-9359

A converted mill that now is home to local shops and markets, the Tannery Marketplace is a great thing to do with kids in Newburyport and especially the book and toy store combination of Eureka! and Jabberwocky Books. Browse the shops for a new bedtime story while the kids enjoy the toy store’s train table. Tannery Marketplace is also the home of the Newburyport Farmers’ Market on Sunday mornings.

Cashman Park and Clipper Rail Trail | Sally Snyder Way, Newburyport | (978) 462-3746

Burn off some energy at waterfront Cashman Park. Kids will love its playground complete with a pirate ship, sports fields, and view of the Route One drawbridge over the Merrimack River. The three-mile Clipper City Rail Trail ends at Cashman Park and is a great way to get in some exercise as a family. The converted railroad track trail heads out of town or along the waterfront, offering scenic views of the river.

Moseley Woods | Merrimac St, Newburyport 

This city park is a quiet oasis of 16-acres of wooded trails with a playground and pavilion. Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch at the park in the shade of the trees, while the kids play on the swingsets and the dinosaur skeleton. Take a short hike through the woods or zip across the playground on the park’s 25-foot zipline. Close to downtown, Moseley Woods tops the list of things to do with kids in Newburyport.

#OnAFitLark with Healthworks

Do you have workout wanderlust? Squeezing in a sweat session can be tough enough when you’re at home, and even more so when you’re traveling. Together with Healthworks, Boston’s premier fitness centers for women, and their co-ed partner Republic, we want to see how you stay active when you’re off on a lark. Post your favorite photo of your fitness-on-the-fly routine or bag of packed gear, and we’ll award five 6-month memberships to Healthworks.*

Here’s how to enter:

  • Follow @larkhotels and @healthworksfit on Instagram
  • Share your fit photo on your own Instagram account, using the hashtag #onafitlark and the @larkhotels + @healthworksfit handles
  • On May 31, we’ll choose the top five photo entries and notify the winners via direct message shortly thereafter

Here’s to your good health!  

*Membership valid for six consecutive months and must be started by June 30, 2018. Full access to all Healthworks Group locations including Healthworks Fitness Centers for Woman, Republic Fitness and GymIt. Must be 21 years old. 

Rules & Restrictions

NO PURCHASE REQUIRED.

State Parks in Mendocino

Mendocino is perfectly positioned between redwood forests and the ocean, creating beautiful vistas and prime for exploring for a day. Visitors to our Mendocino boutique hotel, The Blue Door Group, love to get out and hike the California coast in the state parks near Mendocino. With 17 state parks in Mendocino County, there’s no shortage of protected public land to enjoy. Here are three of our favorite state parks in Mendocino, perfect for a hike or a picnic:

 

State Parks in Mendocino

 

Van Damme State Park | 8001 CA Highway One, Little River | (707) 937-5804

Towering redwoods, a canyon filled with ferns, magical dwarf pine trees—this Mendocino state park has it all. Start at the Little River, where you can launch your kayak or watch divers head out for abalone. Hike the 5-mile loop through scenic Fern Canyon or a short quarter-mile walk through the Pygmy Forest, so-named for the 100-year-old pine trees that are only a foot tall.

Mendocino Headlands State Park | Main St, Mendocino | (707) 937-5804

You’ll visit this Mendocino state park, even if you don’t even know it—it surrounds the village of Mendocino, encompassing the cliffs overlooking the ocean and the sandy beaches below. The headlands make a great spot for whale watching December through April, and summer brings a spectacular display of California wildflowers. Check in at the visitor’s center, located in the historic Ford House, on Main Street before exploring the park.

Russian Gulch State Park | CA Highway One, Mendocino | (707) 937-5804

A few miles north of Mendocino village, this state park is perfect for the active traveler with options for biking, horseback riding, fishing, hiking, and swimming. Hike less than two miles to a 35-foot waterfall surrounded by iconic redwoods or take the Headlands Trail to Devil’s Punchbowl, a blowhole created by a collapsed sea cave on the three miles of the park’s coastline. Don’t miss the Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge, a Mendocino landmark, spanning the the Russian Gulch.

Best Lobster Roll on Martha’s Vineyard

Massachusetts is known for its seafood, and a vacation to our boutique hotel Summercamp is the perfect time to search out the best lobster roll on Martha’s Vineyard. Whether you like your lobster roll drizzled with warm butter or tossed with cool mayonnaise, these three restaurants, from brewery to seafood shack, serve up the best lobster roll on Martha’s Vineyard.

Where To Go for the Best Lobster Roll on MV

 

Offshore Ale Co. | 30 Kennebec Ave, Oak Bluffs | (508) 693-2626

Oak Bluff’s resident brewery is known not only for its tasty pale ales but for its menu of local seafood too. The lobster roll here, regularly voted Martha’s Vineyard’s best, is a toasted bun piled high with tender lobster meat tossed in a light coating of mayonnaise. Order with a pint of the Islander Double IPA and you have the makings of a perfect vacation.

Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company | 9 Oak Bluffs Ave, Oak Bluffs | (508) 696-3000

This cozy chowder house puts a spin on the traditional lobster roll with its version. A half a pound of lobster meat comes heaped in a split-top roll with bacon, parsley, and preserved lemon. Served with a side of golden, crispy fries, the winning combination of bacon and lobster roll makes the Chowder Company’s version one of the best lobster rolls on Martha’s Vineyard.

Lookout Tavern | 8 Seaview Ave, Oak Bluffs | (508) 696-9844

If you need a scenic view with your seafood, the Lookout is the spot, with its great covered porch overlooking Nantucket Sound. Voted Best Lobster Roll on Martha’s Vineyard in 2016, the lobster roll here comes two ways: sautéed in warm butter or tossed with mayo. Either way, it’s a large portion of fresh lobster served spilling out of a toasted roll and is sure to satisfy your lobster craving.

Portsmouth Tips

We recently partnered with the Australian-based influencer behind “Ask the Concierge” on how to make the most of your time in Portsmouth, and it occurred to us that our readers might enjoy that info just as much as the Aussies do! Below, Josh, the manager of The Hotel Portsmouth, gives tips on where to get everything from the best cup of coffee, to the best bowl of chowda’ and a must-do before leaving town:

Q: Your most popular request?

What restaurant/bar has the same vibe & energy as your hotel. Moxy is always the first thing off of my tongue.

Q: Your favorite locale when enjoying a day off?
Paddle boarding or kayaking down the Piscataqua River.

Q: Best coffee?
La Maison Navarre. Let’s face it, the french know how to deliver a quality product. Don’t even get me started on the macaroons.

Q: Where must we go for lunch?
Anything with a water view. You can’t beat the seafood chowder at Riverhouse while watching the tug boats.

Q: It’s a rainy day outside but we want to explore, what shall we do?
Grab a Lark umbrella and go look through the archives at the Athenæum or catch a show at the Music Hall.

Q: What is an absolute must-do or must-see before leaving your city?
Go see Don Gorvett actually WORK in his studio on Market st. We have 19 of his original prints hanging around the hotel.

Q: What you love about your hotel?
The ability to feel like you’re truly at home while having all of the luxuries of a larger hotel.

Q: Is there anything else we should know about when visiting your city?
Portsmouth is one of the most walkable cities in the North East, drenched in history & hidden gems. Make sure you set aside enough time to stroll all of the streets.

Best Oyster Deals in Portsmouth

For seafood lovers, no trip to Seacoast New Hampshire is complete without some local oysters served on the half shell. In Portsmouth, home of our two boutique hotels, several of our favorite restaurants focus on fresh seafood and offer special oyster deals. Stop into one of these Portsmouth restaurants for some oysters and slurp up a taste of the Seacoast:

Best Oyster Deals of the Seacoast

 

Row 34 | 5 Portwalk Pl, Portsmouth | (603) 319-5011

If your vacation goals involve eating seafood and drinking craft beer, head straight to Row 34. Make your raw bar selections on the paper menu with the golf pencil provided and be sure to order up whatever New Hampshire oysters they have. We like to ask for the “dealer’s choice” and let the server provide a mixed dozen of the available varieties. An impressive draft and bottle selection will please the craft beer drinkers in the group.

 

Franklin Oyster House | 148 Fleet St, Portsmouth | (603) 373-8500

The casual sister restaurant to Moxy, another one of our faves, has the best oyster happy hour in town, with select oysters $1.25 available from 4-6 p.m.seven days a week. Grab a seat at the bar that curves around the raw bar, so you can watch the shucking in action. If raw oysters aren’t your thing, try one of the many cooked preparations: wrapped in bacon and grilled, stuffed with chorizo and breadcrumbs, or fried and served with tartar sauce.

Surf Restaurant | 99 Bow St, Portsmouth | (603) 334-9855

Head down to the waterfront for fresh seafood with a view of the harbor at Surf Restaurant. The variety of oysters and clams on the half shell rotates daily, and seafood towers add a luxurious touch. Mix up your oyster experience with some shooters—Surf has four styles from spicy Bloody Mary with vodka to jalapeno tequila with fresh lime juice, cilantro, parsley, and chive.

Outdoor Yoga Summer Series at The Attwater

Get your #namastay on and flow into summer! Get bendy in chaturanga, balance your breath, and relax your mind. Whether you’re a vinyasa flowing yogi or you’ve yet to salute the sun, connect with nature and align your chakras while joining us for outdoor yoga on the deck. You’ll leave feeling like a glowing, smoothie drinking (literally), yoga goddess.

Outdoor Yoga & Local Pop-Up Shops

Beginning on Thursday, June 1st, Newport’s The Attwater will host a weekly outdoor yoga class for hotel guests and those staying at nearby sister property Gilded. Classes will run from 5:00pm – 6:00pm on The Attwater’s sunny back deck or indoors in the event of inclement weather. On the third Thursday of each month, The Attwater will open its doors to the community for yoga from 6:00pm – 7:00pm, followed by an hour-long pop-up shop featuring notable local makers in The Attwater café. The weekly yoga series will continue through August 31.

Taught by Emily Moyer from Newport’s Community Yoga Center for Wellness, the Vinyasa-style yoga classes will cost $15 for On a Lark Club members, and $20 per class for hotel and community guests. Hotel guests that would like to join the On a Lark Club to take advantage of the discount, and myriad other benefits, can do so on the Lark Hotels website. Classes are limited to 8 participants, so reservations are strongly encouraged. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite or can be paid in cash to the instructor upon arrival. The class price of each class includes a complimentary seasonal smoothie made by The Attwater team. Guests are asked to bring their own yoga mat, but the instructor will have a few extra on hand as well. On a Lark Club members can receive a special code by calling the front desk at The Attwater or Gilded.

The monthly public class dates and pop-up partners are: 

Shopping in Camden

Like so many New England towns we love, Camden has a main street lined with shops that feature locally-made goods. Maine has a strong tradition of makers and craftsmen, and Camden’s boutiques are a great place to find a Maine-made souvenir or gift. Here are three of our favorite stops when shopping in Camden, that are just a short walk from our boutique hotel, Whitehall:

Our Favorite Stops When Shopping in Camden

Swans Island Company | 2 Bay View St, Camden | (207) 706-7926

Prepare to swoon over the beautiful blankets, wraps, and scarves of Swans Island Company in this boutique that’s tucked away near Camden’s town dock. The muted colors of the yarn used in these knits, woven in nearby Northport, are inspired by the Maine coast and will last a lifetime. Knitters will love perusing the yarn selection, all beautifully dyed and super soft. Both a unique and cute stop when shopping in Camden.

Sherman’s Books & Stationery | 14 Main St, Camden | (207) 236-2223 

This sprawling bookstore is a great stop for the whole family, with a wide variety of books on every subject. Art supplies, toys, and crafts will entertain the kids, while the selection of jewelry, local specialty food products, and Maine mementos means you can pick up a gift in addition to your next beach read. Look for the section from Maine authors if you want to brush up on your local history or take home one of Maine artist Dahlov Ipcar’s beautifully illustrated children’s books.

Sugar Tools Shop | 29 Bay View St, Camden | (207) 706-4016

With its clean white walls, handmade pottery, and succulents, we pretty much want to live in owner Amy O’Donnell’s shop. From gardening and housewares to toys and personal care products, everything in this beautifully curated shop is made with care and quality. Stop in for some design inspo that will help you hold onto that Maine vacation feeling all year long.

Day Trip to Kennebunkport’s Cape Porpoise

Visitors to Kennebunkport love the hustle and bustle of this seaside town’s narrow streets, its small but vibrant restaurant scene, and the beauty of the Maine coast. Our boutique hotel, Captain Fairfield Inn, is a short walk from Kennebunkport’s Dock Square, and the perfect home base for your Maine vacation. Once you’ve unpacked your bags and eaten the requisite lobster roll, we recommend you take a short drive out to Cape Porpoise, a charming village about three miles from downtown KPT. Once you’re there, check out a few of our favorite spots for maximum relaxation:

Top Spots in Cape Porpoise

The Ramp | 77 Pier Rd, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-8500

We love this casual restaurant for its walls laden with sports memorabilia, the water views of Cape Porpoise Harbor, and of course, the fresh seafood. Open for lunch and dinner, The Ramp specializes in classic Maine seafood dishes like fish and chips, clam chowder, and lobster rolls. The rest of the menu has global influences, with a Greek mezze plate that is perfect for sharing and chicken taquitos, a holdover from former chef and owner Pete Morency. 

Goose Rocks Beach | Kings Highway, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-0857

This beach is the main attraction of serene Cape Porpoise, with its three miles of white sand and calm waves. Spend the afternoon here and be sure to bring everything you’ll need, as there are no facilities at the beach. Parking can be tight and requires a permit, but one is available at the front desk of the Captain Fairfield Inn, along with beach chairs and towels.

Tides Beach Club | 254 Kings Highway, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-3757 

Stop into the bar of this cheery inn for a drink after a day in the sun. Relax on the patio with one of the specialty cocktails, like a refreshing Timber Point Cooler, a mix of gin, Aperol, lime juice, and cucumber, or a local beer like the Hidden Cove IPA. Should you need some sustenance after playing in the water, a bucket of french fries with Sriracha mayo or some local oysters on the half shell should tide you over.

Things To Do on Martha’s Vineyard

A day on Martha’s Vineyard is a day well spent no matter what you do! With restaurants, shops and beaches, there are a variety of things for vacationers to do when here. While our boutique hotels provide ample ways to get in some serious rest and relaxation, we’re happy to share some of our favorite things to do on Martha’s Vineyard to make the trip even more memorable.

Things To Do on Martha’s Vineyard

Edgartown Harbor Light | 121 North Water Street

One of the five lighthouses in Edgartown, the Edgartown Harbor Light is open to the public during the spring and summer months, offering views of Edgartown Harbor and Katama Bay. While you can meet the lighthouse keeper if visiting during the day, we recommend catching an early sunrise at the lighthouse and then heading back to our Edgartown hotel for a flavorful breakfast.

Mytoi Gardens | Dike Road, Chappaquiddick Island

Just a short ferry ride from Edgartown on Chappaquiddick Island, lies the Mytoi Gardens. These Japanese gardens are elegant and exotic, offering visitors a peaceful arena for exploration. The gardens are home to indigenous and non-native plants and flowers, as well as animals such as frogs, fish, turtles, and the occasional osprey.

East Beach | Wasque Reservation, Chappaquiddick Island

A little bit more difficult to get to – but so worth it! – East Beach is one of Martha’s Vineyard’s least populated beaches making it an ideal spot for bird watching or an afternoon picnic. The beach is accessible by the Chappy Ferry, which is about a quarter-mile away from the hotel.  We recommend renting bikes from Martha’s Vineyard Bike Rentals, packing lunch, hopping aboard the ferry, and spending the day exploring what might feel like your own private beach. And what do we suggest following a day of adventuring? Indulging a giant bowl of King Crab Guacamole from Atlantic Restaurant back on the Vineyard.

A Walking Itinerary of Portland

Here at The Pom, we encourage our guests to kick back, relax, and enjoy both our hotel’s eclectic charm and funky vibe. While we’ll never say no to a relaxing day indoors, reading by the fire or watching movies in bed, we’ve got an adventurous side, too. If you’re more of the latter than the former, we’ve created a walking itinerary of Portland, Maine must do’s.

The first step to any good day is a hearty and delicious breakfast. While The Pom serves a variety of tasty “tapas style” breakfast items each morning, you can’t go wrong with brunch at Local 188 (and you can always save some of our treats for snacks later!) With everything from seasonal egg scrambles to ricotta fritters, huevos rancheros, and a cocktail list full of a variety of mimosas and coffee drinks, you’ll have more than enough energy to explore our pretty city.

After brunch, take a stroll along the Eastern Promenade. You’ll catch a glimpse of boats passing by, paddle boarders and kayakers enjoying the open water, and possibly sunbathers lying out on the East End Beach, depending on the season. If you follow the path in its entirety, you’ll end up on Commercial Street, in Portland’s bustling downtown, where there are plenty of shops to visit.

If shopping isn’t your forte, head to Fort Williams Park. Here, you’ll find Portland’s most iconic lighthouse, The Portland Head Light, against a backdrop of Maine’s classic and rugged coastline. There is a footpath that runs from the lighthouse to a small picnic area where you can enjoy a signature lobster roll from Bite into Maine or simply sit back and take in the gorgeous ocean views. Or, scout for the next Red Sox star by checking out a Portland Sea Dogs game, the double A affiliate of Boston’s famed team. There’s almost nothing better than a sunny day spent at the ballpark, and Portland’s Hadlock Field is no exception.

To end the day, what’s better than catching a sunset? While an evening stroll on the beach is certainly always an option, we’ve got a spot that’s less than a 5-minute walk from our boutique hotel and the last stop on our walking Itinerary of Portland. Walk out the front door, turn left and then take a right on Carroll Street. Continue straight until you hit the Western Promenade, where you’ll be treated to gorgeous views of sunset hues behind the bay.

Breweries in Stowe

Vermont is known for its craft beer, with over 25 craft breweries in the state making some of New England’s best-known and most sought-after beer. If you’re a hop head coming to Stowe for the coveted Heady Topper, here are three breweries in Stowe (including the famed Alchemist) worth a stop for some Vermont beer fresh from the source:

The Alchemist 100 Cottage Club Rd, Stowe | (802) 244-7744

The second location of this well-known brewery opened in Stowe in July 2016, in order to meet the demand of beer tourists seeking Heady Topper. While Heady is brewed nearby in Waterbury, the Stowe location brews Focal Banger, another popular IPA, and several seasonal styles. Samples and a rotating selection of cans are available for purchase at the Stowe brewery. 

Idletyme Brewing Company 1859 Mountain Rd, Stowe | (802) 253-4765

Located just up the street from our boutique hotel, Field Guide, this is one of the breweries in Stowe that also has a full restaurant, so it’s a great stop after a day on the mountain or when you first arrive into town. Idletyme brews a variety of styles, so everyone from lager lovers to hop heads will find something they like on tap. Order a flight of six to try different styles or dive right into the Doubletyme DIPA or Bohemia, a Munich-style Pilsner.

von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall 1333 Luce Hill Rd, Stowe | (802) 253-5750

Brewed at the von Trapp Family Lodge (yes, the same family whose story inspired The Sound of Music), von Trapp‘s beers take inspiration from styles popular in Austria—crisp, clean lagers. Few craft breweries choose to make lagers, due to their longer brew time, so fans of them will love the large selection here. But for the beer drinkers who can’t go without hops, don’t despair—there’s even an India Pale Lager. Enjoy an afternoon in the lodge’s bierhall with an Austrian-inspired menu of hearty pub fare.

Spring at Mendocino Botanical Gardens

With so many of our New England Lark properties being blanketed by spring snowstorms, we think it’s high time to plan a trip to a place where spring has fully sprung. Springtime in Mendocino can be a little finicky with its coastal California climate, but with highs in the mid-60s to low 70s, we’ll take it over donning winter hats and shoveling snow yet again. Book your stay at our Mendocino boutique hotel, Blue Door Group, and take advantage of spring in Northern California by visiting the nearby botanical gardens.

As you can probably imagine, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are bustling with energy and activity come spring. Just a 10-minute drive north of Mendocino in Fort Bragg, the garden’s 47 acres overlook the Pacific Ocean, making it a beautiful and educational place to spend the day. The coastal climate allows plants to thrive that can’t stand the relatively extreme heat and cold found inland. Springtime at the gardens means magnolias, camellias, heathers, and rhododendrons are all in bloom.

Northern California’s climate is well-suited to growing rhododendrons in particular, and the Botanical Garden takes particular pride in its collection, with over 120 different varieties in bloom through May. An expert leads guided walks through the rhodas on the second Saturday of each month through May, and the weekend of April 22 and 23, 2017 brings the 40th annual rhododendron show. Go see the area’s best rhoda blooms in the Rhody Show, and then enjoy lunch at the café as it reopens for the season mid-April.

Any season is a good time to visit the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden (in fact, they were included in a list of the 55 best botanical gardens to see before you die), but springtime brings particular joy as the cold grip of winter retreats and the greenery and flowers reawaken. The gardens are open daily from 9am to 5pm, and admission is only $15.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens | 18220 North Highway 1 Fort Bragg | (707) 964-4352

Craft Beer in Newburyport

For craft beer lovers, part of the fun of traveling to a new area is exploring the local brewery scene and availability of different brews on draft. Larger Massachusetts craft breweries like Boston-based Sam Adams and Harpoon Brewery are widely available, but you’ve got to head to the North Shore for a taste of the beers made there.Newburyport has several breweries and beer bars in town where you can enjoy a cold one after a day at the beach or exploring Plum Island; here are three of our favorites:

Newburyport Brewing Co. 4 New Pasture Road, Newburyport (978) 463-8700

This 5-year-old brewery produces five styles year-round, including the Plum Island Belgian White and Greenhead IPA. Rotating small batch styles on tap at the tasting room and local bars include a double IPA and barleywine. Visit the brewery Thursday through Sunday, where there’s live music and taco and pizza nights.

Riverwalk Brewing Co. 3 Graf Road, Unit 15, Newburyport (978) 499-2337

Located in a nondescript commercial area, this brewery’s tap room is worth a visit to try its popular IPA, Gnomad farmhouse ale, or one of its High Water brews, a changing series of hoppy session ales. The tap room is small, but an expansion to a new location is in the works, which will also allow the brewers to experiment with sour and barrel-aged beers.

The Grog 13 Middle St, Newburyport (978) 465-8008

With over twenty taps that rotate daily, The Grog in downtown Newburyport is a great place to stop for lunch or happy hour. You’ll find local brews from Newburyport Brewing and Riverwalk and other popular New England beers like Allagash and Two Roads. With a seafood-heavy menu of pub grub and $1 oysters on the half shell, The Grog is a popular spot with locals and visitors alike.

Shopping in Salem

Salem is known as much for its historic downtown, where you can stroll on cobblestone streets and take in the waterfront, as it is its spooky history. Full of boutiques and souvenir shops, some time spent shopping in Salem is a must. Whether you’re on the hunt for a witchy memento or a thank-you gift for the pet sitter, these three shops will provide that perfect keepsake. Our boutique hotel, The Merchant, is centrally located, making it the perfect place to stay while exploring Salem. 

HausWitch | 144 Washington St, Salem | (978) 594-8950

Just steps from The Merchant, HausWitch puts a modern spin on witches and spells. You won’t find any black velvet robes or pointy hats here, but rather a bright, airy store with plenty of crystals, essential oils, and spell kits. Clever and locally-made cards, candles, and ceramics make this the perfect spot to stop in for a unique Salem souvenir.

Salem Spice | 75 Wharf St, Salem | (978) 744-6678

Located on Pickering Wharf, Salem Spice is your go-to spot for teas, peppers, sea salts, and spices. This culinary shop with a focus on unique spice blends continues Salem’s rich history of global maritime trade. From Aleppo pepper to Madagascar vanilla beans, this shop will have that hard-to-find ingredient you’ve been looking for. Stop into Salem Spice to take home a piece of Salem’s history.

The Cheese Shop | 45 Lafayette St, Salem | (978) 498-4820

The Cheese Shop has everything you need for a waterfront picnic or happy hour in The Merchant’s parlor. The staff can help you pick out domestic and imported cheeses that fit your tastes or pair well with a particular bottle of wine. The selection of craft and locally-made artisan food products like pickles, cocktail mixes, and chocolate makes for great gifts, and every Friday evening and Saturday afternoon brings a wine tasting.

Newport Art Museum

Chances are, if you’re a fan of the modern design in our Newport boutique hotels, Attwater and Gilded, you’ll also enjoy the arts and culture provided by one of Newport’s most historic museums, the Newport Art Museum. Just a short walk from both properties, the Newport Art Museum is the longest continuously operating museum in the country—meaning that its collection contains works of premier New England artists from the last hundred years.

The Newport Art Museum is housed in two historic buildings in Newport’s Bellevue neighborhood—the Griswold House and the Cushing Gallery next door. The Griswold House is a National Historic Landmark, built in 1864, so touring the ornately decorated house is half the fun of visiting the art gallery. Every room of the historic home has been transformed into a gallery, with exhibits that range from a juried exhibit of Rhode Island artists to modern digital photography.

Those looking to add a taste of the nightlife to their art experience will want to check out Art After Dark, a free monthly event that gives visitors a unique look at the galleries. With artist talks, special interactive exhibits, appetizers from a local restaurant like Caleb & Broad, and a cash bar, Art After Dark adds some culture to a night out on the town. Stop by the event before heading out to Newport’s waterfront or the Broadway District for dinner.

Only steps from the Attwater and a few blocks from Gilded, the Newport Art Museum is the perfect afternoon activity for art and history lovers alike. Families will want to check out the schedule of kids’ programs on second Saturdays at the museum and art classes for both kids and adults. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday during the winter.

Newport Art Museum | 76 Bellevue Ave, Newport | (401) 848-8200

Newport Tips

We recently partnered with the Australian-based influencer behind “Ask the Concierge” on how to make the most of your time in Newport, and it occurred to us that our readers might enjoy that info just as much as the Aussies do!  Below, Heather and Mike, the managers behind that ornate golden “G,” share their Newport tips on everything from where to get the best cup of joe to their “go to” lunch spot.

Q: Your most popular request?

Who makes the butterfly wallpaper we have in our lobby and can they purchase it? The answer is Osbourne & Little and yes, they list it online.

Q: Your favorite locale when enjoying a day off?

We love to take our dog for a walk out at Fort Adams. It offers a fantastic view of the Newport and Jamestown shorelines.

Q: Best coffee?

At Gilded, of course! We start our days early so we take our coffee pretty seriously. We offer Dave’s Coffee, which is a Rhode Island craft coffee roaster beloved to locals.

Q: Where must we go for lunch?

Winner Winner – excellent BYOB spot with honey rosemary fried chicken, homemade biscuits, and fantastic sides. Eat in or pick it up to-go for a picnic. If you are in a the mood for a burger instead, their sister restaurant Mission is a great option

Q: It’s a rainy day outside but we want to explore, what shall we do?

See how the other half lived and tour the mansions. Buy a two-house ticket and wander through The Breakers and The Elms- be sure to add on the special “Beneath the Breakers” and “Servants Life” tours for a behind the scenes peak into these amazing residences.

.Q: What is an absolute must-do or must-see before leaving your city?

The Cliff Walk. Breathtaking ocean views, beautiful wildflowers, and fresh ocean breezes. Gorgeous nature scenes side by side with some of Newport’s most stunning architecture.

Q: What you love about your hotel?

There are so many things it is hard to pick just one but you know what they say, location, location, location! We love how centrally located we are to all of the shops, restaurants, and things to do but we still enjoy the peace and quiet of a quaint historic neighborhood.

Q: Is there anything else we should know about when visiting your city?

Newport is known as “the sailing capital of the world” and a great place to walk the wharves and be an armchair captain. From America’s Cup sailboats to yachts, houseboats, and kayaks, there is something for everyone to dream about calling their own.

Lark Blizzarding 101

As a kid, is there anything better than a snow day? You got to stay in your PJ’s until you decided to swap them out for snow pants. After an afternoon of outdoor play, hot chocolate and a snack awaited inside. But as we get older, the anticipation and excitement tend to dim, especially when there’s a power outage. Not here at Lark, though. Following Winter Storm Stella, we polled our managers for their thoughts on hotel stays made all the more memorable by lots of snow and no electricity. There’s definitely some mischief to be made in the snow! 

No Power, No Problem

At Field Guide in Stowe, a lack of power means loads of candles and a roaring fireplace to create a cozy and warm atmosphere, perfect for sharing stories of storms past or maybe even a good ghost story. Drinks are a must, whether your tastes run towards Maple Bourbon Hot Cider or hot chocolate. Board games and a snowman building competition help pass the time, and to make it even more interactive, guests and staff can document the experience with the hashtag, #larkblizzard.

The team at Summercamp in Oak Bluffs knows that guests may very well want to stay hunkered down inside during the storm. Although the Vineyard was spared the full force of this storm, in the past they’ve offered to pick up dinner and drinks for guests from local restaurants within a 5-mile radius of the hotel, with delivery right to your door. Just down the way in Edgartown, the managers at The Christopher and The Sydney say a blizzard is the perfect time to make some memories. They make sure to have postcards or stationary, board games, “camp fire” foods, and hot toddys on hand (we’re sensing a theme here)..

In Kennebunkport, it’s all about comfort food. Captain Fairfield Inn‘s managers have been known to whip up gooey grilled cheese, rich tomato soup, and warming mac and cheese to ward off the chill.

At Gilded in Newport, the managers make it a group event. Think candles, lanterns, and a lateral thinking puzzle in the lounge to break the ice. The solution at Gilded’s sister Newport Lark, The Attwater’s? Plenty of hot coffee, snacks and lanterns.  

The Coonamessett Inn, a future Lark Hotel in Falmouth that will be undergoing renovation next fall, is happy to help dig out guests cars—which may be accompanied by a playful snowball or two—and make sure to have some staff on hand to cook up some delicious snacks. With everyone gathered in the lounge, the day becomes a fun one for all.

So don’t fear the wintertime power outage! With the help of some candles, games, booze and food, we’ve got Lark blizzarding down.

Thursdays at Picnic Social

#PicnicStowecial | Every Thursday!

Our onsite restaurant, Picnic Social, is offering an ongoing Thursday special. It’s perfect place to enjoy everything from small shared plates of spicy cider wings or fish tacos, to chicken pot pie or a fresh spinach salad. Whether you’re looking to get cozy with a signature cocktail by our indoor fireplace or get “social” and play one of our various board games, Picnic Social offers a venue where you can enjoy both. 

A gathering spot for get togethers of both big and small, Picnic Social’s casual vibe is inviting for friends and families alike. When the weather permits, we host a weekly cornhole league and patrons can play shuffledboard, or enjoy a bite to eat on the back lawn.

To make it even better, every Thursday, we’re offering our $9 Burger & PBR Special all night long. Stop in for a night of board games, shuffleboard, bites, and brews. Hashtag your Instagram photo with #PicnicStowecial for your chance to win 10% off your next visit!

 

Stowe Spring Activities

During the winter months, Stowe becomes a haven for snow sport enthusiasts near and far. Skiers and riders brave chilly temperatures to hit the slopes of Mount Mansfield in the hopes of finding deep powder and smooth turns. While there’s plenty of skiing left to be had as spring arrives, the new season brings an abundance of activities beyond the mountain.

With warmer weather, the sap starts running and Vermont’s legendary maple sugaring season begins. There are hundreds of sugar houses throughout the state, and Stowe’s Nebraska Knoll Sugar Farm offers the quintessential spring experience. Whether you’re looking to learn more about how sticky sap becomes that sweet and satiating topping or you just want a taste, this is not to be missed. Important note: the season doesn’t last long, so don’t put off your visit.

Nebraska Knoll Sugar Farm | 256 Falls Brook Lane | Stowe, VT| (802) 253-4655

Although apple picking is generally thought of as a fall activity, a trip to Cold Hollow Cider Mill is always in season. With the delightful aroma of warm cider donuts and freshly pressed apple cider wafting through the air, wander over the Press Viewing Room to see apples become cider or stop by the Honey Bee Corner to watch – you guessed it – busy bees making honey. Should you need a snack or just a souvenir, The Luncheonette stocks an assortment of organic Vermont apple products. Looking for more of an adult experience? Make the trip further into town to Stowe Cider where you can indulge in a flight of ciders or fill up a growler with your favorite variety.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill | 3600 Waterbury Stowe Road | Waterbury, VT | 800-327-7537

If you’re hoping to explore the great outdoors, Stowe offers plenty of ways to do so. About a 15-minute drive from Field Guide, you’ll find Sterling Falls Gorge. An impressive natural attraction, Sterling is roughly a 45-minute roundtrip walk, with traversing gorges ranging from two to 50 feet and views of waterfalls, cascades, and pools. To make a day of it, head approximately 11 miles southwest and make a stop at Bingham Falls, which offers up a dramatic 40 foot waterfall. 

Sterling Falls Gorge | West Hill Road | Stowe, VT

Newport Restaurant Week 2017

Newport Restaurant Week is March 27-April 7, 2017, and like Restaurant Week deals around the country, the promotion is a great time to try a new restaurant at a lower price point. Over 50 Newport restaurants participate, and in fact, Restaurant Week is so popular in Newport that restaurants offer the special menus twice a year, in the spring and fall. The three-course menu is $35 for dinner and many restaurants offer a $16 lunch special. Here’s a few highlights from Newport Restaurant Week; make your dinner (and hotel) reservations soon!

Newport Restaurant Week 2017

Newport Restaurant Week is March 27-April 7, 2017, and like Restaurant Week deals around the country, the promotion is a great time to try a new restaurant at a lower price point. Over 50 Newport restaurants participate, and in fact, Restaurant Week is so popular in Newport that restaurants offer the special menus twice a year, in the spring and fall. The three-course menu is $35 for dinner and many restaurants offer a $16 lunch special. Here’s a few highlights from Newport Restaurant Week; make your dinner (and hotel) reservations soon!

Caleb & Broad | 162 Broadway, Newport | (401) 619-5955

Newport Magazine regularly bestows multiple “best of” awards on this casual Broadway bistro. The menu offers a mix of street and comfort foods, like short rib lasagna and veggie soba noodles. Their Restaurant Week menu is sure to start with selections of bar snacks; don’t skip the the fried chicken skin, trust us. A creative cocktail menu and draft list with plenty of local options round out the makings of a perfect evening on the town.

Castle Hill | 590 Ocean Avenue, Newport | (401) 849-3800

Venture out Ocean Ave. to Castle Hill for an intimate dinner at this restaurant in an historic mansion. With a focus on fresh seafood and locally-raised meats and produce, the Restaurant Week menu is a compilation of regular menu items like roasted beets with goat cheesecake, steamed mussels, and grilled bavette steak with rapini and heirloom beans. The Restaurant Week menu even extends to Sunday brunch here, where you can enjoy their popular brioche french toast.

Fluke | 41 Bowens Wharf, Newport | (401) 849-7778

This wine bar offers a great view of the harbor along with its Restaurant Week menu of fresh, local seafood and French-inspired dishes. Try the pan-seared skate with pastrami spices or the duck leg confit with fregula and dried cherry jus. A great bar program with craft cocktails and an extensive wine list makes Fluke a Newport Restaurant Week hotspot.

Shopping in Kennebunkport

The streets of picturesque downtown Kennebunkport are lined with locally-owned boutiques and restaurants. The main street of KPT is about half a mile long from end to end and crosses over the Kennebunk River, making it perfect for an afternoon of strolling and poking through shops. You’re sure to find the perfect Maine souvenir, among other things like handmade jewelry, housewares, and gifts, at these three shops while shopping in Kennebunkport.

The Hut | 5 Union Street, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-4247

Owned by KPT-native Devon Rutherford, The Hut is a small but sweet shop tucked away in some shops on Union Street (and conveniently next to Ben & Jerry’s!). Devon makes her own jewelry, much of it a great combination of leather and precious metals. The shop is full of accessories and housewares that espouse Devon’s beachy vibe, like embroidered trucker hats and signs painted on repurposed beach wood –a unique find while shopping in Kennebunkport.

Minka | 3 Dock Square, Kennebunkport | (207) 204-0275

This shop of houseware and personal care items is run by couple Michelle and Chris who stock a carefully curated selection of items for men and women. You’ll find minimalist nautical decor, handmade leather bags, and beachy sterling silver jewelry. This is the perfect place to pick up a “thank you” gift for the petsitter at home, like a bud vase modeled after the area’s ubiquitous birch trees.

Daytrip Society | 4 Dock Square, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-4440

This preppy shop has the perfect mix of clothing, gifts, games, and housewares for all ages. Stop in for a stylish hoodie sweatshirt for those cool Maine nights or a book on bird identification for some beachside bird watching. As you can expect in most KPT shops, there’s a good selection of nautical-themed accessories and jewelry. Also check out the kid’s version, Daytrip Jr., around the corner on Ocean Avenue.

A Tour of Greater Portland’s Beaches

While some might be mourning the end of ski season, the rest of us are cheering the impending arrival of beach season! Greater Portland is home to numerous sandy stretches that won’t be teeming with crowds until the height of summer. Whether you’re looking to play in the sand, hunt for sea glass, or simply take in the rugged coastlines, here is a list of some of greater Portland’s beaches to check out before the heat and crowds arrive:

East End Beach | Eastern Promenade Trail | Portland, ME

Although smaller in size than some of its neighbors, the East End Beach provides a scenic view of Casco Bay and is situated in the Eastern Promenade. Directly behind the beach is the Eastern “Prom” Trail where you’ll see plenty of joggers, and with the right timing, you might catch a glimpse of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad train passing by on one of its daily outings. Dogs are often spotted frolicing in the sands of East End up until Memorial Day, when the beach succumbs to sunbathers. If you’re looking to have a sunset picnic in the sand or a quiet morning stroll, the East End Beach offers an intimate and quaint setting for both.

Higgins Beach |41 Ocean Ave. | Scarborough, ME

A short and scenic drive from the Pom, Higgins Beach offers up scenic coastlines and a backdrop painted with classic New England beach houses. A hot spot for surfers in any season, you may spot a wet suit or two, braving the icy temperatures of the Atlantic to catch the perfect wave. Higgins has loads of room to roam, whether on the sand, in the water, or on the rocks.

Old Orchard Beach | 2 Old Orchard Rd. | Old Orchard Beach, Maine

The largest of the three, Old Orchard Beach expands across a 7-mile stretch. Almost 500 feet in length, the famous Old Orchard Pier stands tall above the ocean and is a hub of summer activity, but you’ll have it all to yourself in the spring. Another great destination for strolling on the sand, it’s the perfect spot to watch the sun rise or fall over the ocean for early birds and night owls alike.

Portsmouth Restaurant Week

Portsmouth Restaurant Week is March 30–April 8, 2017, and we couldn’t be more excited that some of our favorite Portsmouth restaurants are participating. For these 10 days, restaurants offer a special multi-course menu for just $29.95 and many also offer a $16.95 lunch. Some restaurants across the river in Kittery, Maine are even getting in on the action. Check out some of the highlights from participating restaurants below, and be sure to make your reservations (for both dinner and at our boutique hotel) soon!

Block Six at 3S | 319 Vaughan St, Portsmouth | (603) 294-9060

This buzzy restaurant is located in the 3S Artspace, so it’s a great place to eat before seeing some live music, an art show, or a performance. The menu stands on its own though, and a new chef has recently revamped it with entrees like slow-roasted pork shoulder and mushroom pappardelle.

Blue Mermaid Island Grill | 409 The Hill, Portsmouth | (603) 427-2583

Perfect for combatting the chill of early spring, the Blue Mermaid will transport you to warmer climes with tropical drinks and island-inspired fare. Its Restaurant Week menu is sure to include popular favorites like lobster tacos, beer-steamed mussels, and grilled shrimp with mango chutney.

Row 34 | 5 Portwalk Place, Portsmouth | (603) 430-7834 

The second location of this sleek Boston-based restaurant is perfect for seafood and craft beer lovers. With an extensive menu of both, Row 34 has old favorites like lobster rolls and fish and chips and oysters on the half shell and fish crudo for fans of fresh, raw seafood. The Restaurant Week menu is always a deal at this popular Portsmouth spot.

When Pigs Fly Pizzeria | 460 Route 1, Kittery | (207) 438-7036

Don’t dismiss When Pigs Fly in nearby Kittery, Maine as another ho-hum pizzeria—with menu items like Thai curry mussels, tempura squash with tamari caramel, and falafel with hot pepper jam, this family-friendly joint is not run-of-the-mill. Wood-fired pizza rounds out the crowd-pleasing offerings.

Portsmouth Restaurant Week

Portsmouth Restaurant Week is March 30–April 8, 2017, and we couldn’t be more excited that some of our favorite Portsmouth restaurants are participating. For these 10 days, restaurants offer a special multi-course menu for just $29.95 and many also offer a $16.95 lunch. Some restaurants across the river in Kittery, Maine are even getting in on the action. Check out some of the highlights from participating restaurants below, and be sure to make your reservations (for both dinner and at our boutique hotel) soon!

Block Six at 3S | 319 Vaughan St, Portsmouth | (603) 294-9060

This buzzy restaurant is located in the 3S Artspace, so it’s a great place to eat before seeing some live music, an art show, or a performance. The menu stands on its own though, and a new chef has recently revamped it with entrees like slow-roasted pork shoulder and mushroom pappardelle.

Blue Mermaid Island Grill | 409 The Hill, Portsmouth | (603) 427-2583

Perfect for combatting the chill of early spring, the Blue Mermaid will transport you to warmer climes with tropical drinks and island-inspired fare. Its Restaurant Week menu is sure to include popular favorites like lobster tacos, beer-steamed mussels, and grilled shrimp with mango chutney.

Row 34 | 5 Portwalk Place, Portsmouth | (603) 430-7834 

The second location of this sleek Boston-based restaurant is perfect for seafood and craft beer lovers. With an extensive menu of both, Row 34 has old favorites like lobster rolls and fish and chips and oysters on the half shell and fish crudo for fans of fresh, raw seafood. The Restaurant Week menu is always a deal at this popular Portsmouth spot.

When Pigs Fly Pizzeria | 460 Route 1, Kittery | (207) 438-7036

Don’t dismiss When Pigs Fly in nearby Kittery, Maine as another ho-hum pizzeria—with menu items like Thai curry mussels, tempura squash with tamari caramel, and falafel with hot pepper jam, this family-friendly joint is not run-of-the-mill. Wood-fired pizza rounds out the crowd-pleasing offerings.

 

 

Winter Dining in Portsmouth

Although winter in New Hampshire can be cold and snowy, Portsmouth is still a lovely place to visit in the colder months. A bustling town any time of year, in the winter shops are still open, community events still happening, and the restaurants take on a “locals only” feel. There’s no real off season in Portsmouth, although you may find it a little easier to snag a table at some of the city’s hottest restaurants. Here’s four recommendations where you can enjoy some cozy winter dining in Portsmouth during your visit:

Black Trumpet Bistro | 29 Ceres St, Portsmouth | (603) 431-0887

The kitchen at this waterfront bistro prides itself on its use of local and seasonal ingredients, so your meal here will be the ultimate expression of the season. Start with a winter salad, made from hardy greens, goat cheese, candied kumquat, walnuts, and pomegranate vinaigrette or “putots” an upscale take on the Canadian classic poutine, made with tater tots. Black Trumpet’s version is topped with duck confit, homemade cheese curds, and mushroom gravy. If that isn’t winter comfort food, we don’t know what is.

Cava | 10 Commercial Alley, Portsmouth | (603) 319-1575

We nominate Cava for Most Romantic Dining in Portsmouth—located on an ivy-covered alley, it’s easy to feel you’ve left the country when dining here. Linger over small Mediterranean-inspired plates like seafood-stuffed piquillo peppers and grilled artichoke with quail eggs. The expansive wine list offers over 50 wines by the glass, perfect for sipping your way around the world.

Louie’s | 86 Pleasant St, Portsmouth | (603) 294-0989

Is there anything cozier than a big bowl of handmade pasta? Louie’s delivers on the comfort food with its Italian staples like tagliatelle bolognese and ravioli filled with celery root, leeks, and truffles. Expect seasonal ingredients throughout the menu, like the creative winter squash appetizer that comes topped with pomegranate, ricotta, pepita granola.

The Black Birch | 2 Government Street, Kittery | (207) 703-2294

Although it’s not truly dining in Portsmouth, with such a dynamic restaurant scene in nearby Kittery, we can’t resist recommending you venture over the bridge for a meal. The Black Birch is the perfect mix of a “foodie” menu served in a casual neighborhood bar scene. Share small plates like deviled eggs three ways and chicken liver pâté, and enjoy hearty classics like tomato soup and grilled cheese and coq au vin.

Winter Cuisine in Portsmouth

Although winter in New Hampshire can be cold and snowy, Portsmouth is still a lovely place to visit in the colder months. A bustling town any time of year, in the winter shops are still open, community events still happening, and the restaurants take on a “locals only” feel. There’s no real off season in Portsmouth, although you may find it a little easier to snag a table at some of the city’s hottest restaurants. Here’s four recommendations where you can enjoy some cozy winter cuisine in Portsmouth during your visit:

Black Trumpet Bistro | 29 Ceres St, Portsmouth | (603) 431-0887

The kitchen at this waterfront bistro prides itself on its use of local and seasonal ingredients, so your meal here will be the ultimate expression of the season. Start with a winter salad, made from hardy greens, goat cheese, candied kumquat, walnuts, and pomegranate vinaigrette or “putots” an upscale take on the Canadian classic poutine, made with tater tots. Black Trumpet’s version is topped with duck confit, homemade cheese curds, and mushroom gravy. If that isn’t winter comfort food, we don’t know what is. 

Cava | 10 Commercial Alley, Portsmouth | (603) 319-1575

We nominate Cava for Most Romantic Dining in Portsmouth—located on an ivy-covered alley, it’s easy to feel you’ve left the country when dining here. Linger over small Mediterranean-inspired plates like seafood-stuffed piquillo peppers and grilled artichoke with quail eggs. The expansive wine list offers over 50 wines by the glass, perfect for sipping your way around the world.

Louie’s | 86 Pleasant St, Portsmouth | (603) 294-0989

Is there anything cozier than a big bowl of handmade pasta? Louie’s delivers on the comfort food with its Italian staples like tagliatelle bolognese and ravioli filled with celery root, leeks, and truffles. Expect seasonal ingredients throughout the menu, like the creative winter squash appetizer that comes topped with pomegranate, ricotta, pepita granola. A unique stop when enjoying the cuisine in Portsmouth.

The Black Birch | 2 Government Street, Kittery | (207) 703-2294

With such a dynamic restaurant scene in nearby Kittery, we can’t resist recommending you venture over the bridge for a meal. The Black Birch is the perfect mix of a “foodie” menu served in a casual neighborhood bar scene. Share small plates like deviled eggs three ways and chicken liver pâté, and enjoy hearty classics like tomato soup and grilled cheese and coq au vin.

Oysters in Newport

With a nickname like the Ocean State, visitors to Rhode Island can expect plenty of fresh, local seafood. Especially so in Newport, the home of our boutique hotel The Attwater, where the booming restaurant scene means oyster lovers in particular will find many places to slurp Rhode Island bivalves. Oyster aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sectors in the seafood industry, and Newport restaurants have taken the opportunity to serve local oysters to eager diners. For those looking to slurp some shells, visit these three restaurants where you can order up local oysters in Newport:

Benjamin’s Restaurant & Raw Bar | 254 Thames St, Newport | (401) 846-8757

This Newport staple serves seafood at all three meals daily—the kitchen is open from 8am until midnight. A wide selection of raw bar items is available at one of three dining areas, whether you prefer fine dining on the second floor or with a nautical edge in the third-floor Crow’s Nest bar. Order oysters on the half shell and oyster shooters, or go big with 5 types of seafood served in a tower for $100. Catch oyster happy hour Tuesdays from noon to 2 p.m. when oysters are just a $1 each.

Midtown Oyster Bar | 345 Thames St, Newport | (401) 619-4100

This waterfront raw bar actually has two bars—one with a beachy vibe and one more cozy and clubby—where you can order up oysters on the half shell. A rotating variety allows you to mix and match and find your favorite. Try the Walrus & Carpenter oysters, small “cocktail” oysters with a buttery, briny flavor, grown in nearby Narragansett. Tuesday nights bring a special to check out when looking for oysters in Newport –a champagne and oyster pairing special.

The Wharf Pub | 37 Bowen’s Wharf, Newport | (401) 846-9233

Head to Bowen’s Wharf to find this cozy pub, where oysters are served up without any pretension. Expect a casual atmosphere, a menu of classic pub food, and local draft beers at a reasonable price. Order oysters from Matunuck Oyster Farm in South Kingston by the dozen or try a special variety when available. Traditional oyster accompaniments are elevated with unexpected ingredients in the St. Germain mignotte and charred jalapeno cocktail sauce.

Where to Wine in Kennebunkport

Whether you’re a lifelong wine connoisseur or a newbie still trying to discern Malbec from Merlot, Kennebunkport has several spots to sample wines from around the world. Maybe you’re looking for a bottle to enjoy in back at your room in our boutique hotel, Captain Fairfield Inn, or for a glass at the bar of a lively watering holes—either way, the shops and restaurants of the Kennebunks have the perfect wine waiting. Here’s three spots where you’ll find fine wine in Kennebunkport: 

Old Vines Wine Bar | 173 Port Rd, Kennebunk | (207) 967-2310

This upbeat wine bar has a cozy vibe and a great widely-varied menu of small plates. The wine list focuses on noteworthy wines from small, family-owned vineyards and offers nearly twenty wines by the glass. Expect to find wines from the new and old worlds plus from offbeat regions like New York’s Finger Lakes, Lebanon, and South Africa. Try the Bluet, a Maine sparking wine made from blueberries. 

Toroso | 149 Port Rd., Kennebunk | (207) 204-0454

Diners have been raving about Chef Shannon Bard’s Spanish-themed restaurant since it opened last August. Bard’s commitment to authenticity is evident on the wine list with its expansive selection of Spanish wines. Unless you’re a Spanish wine buff, ask the staff for help selecting a wine to pair with tapas like oxtail-stuffed peppers and patatas bravas. If you’re looking for a great deal on a glass (or two) of wine in Kennebunkport, you can enjoy a flight of 3 wines for $14 and learn more about the world of Spanish wine. 

H.B. Provisions | 15 Western Ave, Kennebunk | (207) 967-5762

Forget any negative expectations you may have about a general store’s wine selection when you step into H.B.’s. A longtime favorite with locals and visitors alike, H.B.’s has a wine for a casual beach picnic or an upscale home-cooked meal. Look for natural wines from Dirty and Rowdy, a California winemaker whose wife has roots in Maine.

Salem Film Festival

Searching for a reason to plan an early spring getaway? We’ve got a few. With the Salem Film Festival returning in early March, attendees will have an opportunity to check out some of Salem’s best hang out spots in between screenings. 

Notch Brewery & Tap Room | 283R Derby Street, Salem| (978) 238-9060

Whether you’re looking to sip on a cold brew or have a small bite, you can enjoy both in either the tap room or biergarten –which can be a great place to enjoy some fresh spring weather (and maybe talk some film).

PEM Morse Auditorium| 161 Essex Street, Salem| (978) 745-9500

Whether you’re hoping to look at some fine art or take in a day of viewing films during the festival, the PEM has it all. Take a look at their website for a full calendar of upcoming events.

Sea Level Oyster Bar | 94 Wharf Street, Salem| (978) 741-0555

Whether you set up camp at the indoor or outdoor bar, an evening spent here is sure to be one to be one for the books. With an eclectic drink list and a extensive menu covering everything from lobster rolls and oysters to steak tips and margherita pizza, you’re sure to find something that will suite your tastes. Sea Level Oyster Bar is hosting a Saturday night after-party during the weeklong Salem film festival, with live music and all. Food, film, & tunes? Count us in.

Unique Newburyport Cuisine

One of the luxuries of being on vacation is not having to worry about cooking. Newburyport’s food scene has grown exponentially in the past few years. We’ve got a few recommendations for not only unique Newburyport cuisine, but some great options for experiencing both the cuisine and local coastal culture.

Newburyport Rear Ranger Light | Newburyport, MA | (800) 727-2326

If you’re one to seek out a truly unique dining experience, you’ll want to add the Rear Range Lighthouse to your list. Enclosed by almost 360° of glass, you’ll be surrounded by views of the Merrimack River entering the Atlantic, boats departing and arriving in the harbor, and if you time it right, you might even catch a sunset. Your own private waiter serves dinner from your choice of one of Newburyport’s five best restaurants. While this is one of the costlier options, part of the proceeds go to The Lighthouse Preservation Society

Cape Ann Foodie Tours | Newburyport, MA | (617) 902-8291

If you’re looking for a fun and interactive food experience, Taste Newburyport might be more your style. Offered by Cape Ann Foodie Tours, you’ll have the chance to walk around downtown Newburyport and get a taste of both local food and local history in the same bite. Starting at The Grog, you’ll try scallops wrapped in bacon and a bowl of warm chowda’, followed by tastings of premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars drizzled over popcorn at Port Plums, and for those with a sweet tooth, indulge in a critically-acclaimed whoopie pie (or two), at the Chococoa Baking Company. Hungry yet? Because we are.

Sandy Point State Reservation | Ipswich, MA | (978) 462-4481

Commune with nature and take your dining experience to the great outdoors. At Plum Island’s southern tip, the Sandy Point State Reservation offers the perfect setting for a nautical dinner on the beach with coastal views, crashing waves and the chances of seeing a piping plover or two. Before heading to the Reservation, stop at Grand Trunk  and pick up a “Trunk Tote” – a basket featuring items like meat and cheese, crackers, a small dessert and an “adult” beverage. They offer themed totes allowing you to enjoy a “French Picnic,” “Italian Table,” “New England Bed & Breakfast,” and more.

 

Live Music in Stowe

After a day of skiing or snowshoeing on Mt. Mansfield, it’s time to kick back and relax with a beverage and some live music. Whether you’re looking to dance to a local band at the bar or to hear a national act at the Performing Arts Center, Stowe’s live music options have you covered for a night on the town. Check the calendar of events of these three Stowe venues when you book your stay at Field Guide, our boutique hotel, for some live tunes that will make your trip even more memorable.

The Matterhorn | 4969 Mountain Rd, Stowe | (802) 253-8198

This festive bar and restaurant has everything you need after a long day on the mountain. From a great local draft beer selection to an expansive menu that includes bar staples and even sushi, the Matterhorn is a crowd-pleaser. Weekend nights bring a variety of live music—from funk to 80s covers to dueling pianos. The large bar and dance floor ensure there’s plenty of room for everyone to kick up their heels and enjoy the lively mountain nightlife.

The Rusty Nail | 1190 Mountain Rd, Stowe | (802) 253-6245

Owned and managed by neighboring Idletyme Brewing Co. and Burlington-based music producers Nectar’s Presents, you can be sure the beer selection and music experience at The Nail is in good hands. With a full bar and 24 draft beer selections, the drinks are no afterthought at this music venue. Expect Vermont-style acts like Freeze A Peach, a tribute to the Allman Brothers, and Dead Set, a Grateful Dead cover band.

Spruce Peak Arts Center | 122 Hourglass Dr, Stowe | 802-760-4634

Up at Stowe Mountain Resort, this lodge-like performing arts center plays host to musical acts of all genres, film festivals, dance shows, and the oddball act like illusionists. Plan your trip around their events calendar or snag some tickets to a performance for a spur-of-the-moment outing—you won’t be disappointed by a special night out at Spruce Peak.

Maine Restaurant Week 2017

Now in its ninth year, Maine Restaurant Week returns March 1st through the 12th this year. From Eliot to Bangor, restaurants across the state are participating in this promotion, offering a three-course prix fixe menu for $25 to $55. Some restaurants are offering a $15 lunch special as well. In addition to restaurant specials, Maine Restaurant Week has some special events planned that aren’t to be missed.

Celebrate the kickoff of Maine Restaurant Week on February 28th with the Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off at Sea Dog Brewing Co. in South Portland. This early morning competition pits ten breakfast chefs against each other with the challenge of preparing the most crowd-pleasing dish. While the perennial favorite, The Good Table‘s creme brulee french toast was recently retired after winning four years in a row, you can rest assured that there will still be plenty of delicious competition served up this year.

On March 5th, the Perfect Pairing invigorates Restaurant Week goers with a coffee-themed event at Coffee By Design’s Diamond Street location in Portland. Chefs, baristas, and bartenders will be pairing coffee drinks (including cocktails) and dishes that run the gamut from sweet to savory. Kick off Maine Restaurant Week with a caffeine buzz that will power you through all your dinner reservations. 

A new event brings Restaurant Week to a close on March 12th—the Spirit Quest, a self-guided cocktail and bites pairing walking tour through downtown Portland. Spend the afternoon meandering from restaurant to bar, sipping a pineapple margarita paired with shrimp ceviche at Local 188 or a Coconut Smash with an Asian steamed bun at David’s. It’s a great way to sample creative cuisine from Portland’s best restaurants while seeing the city.

Maine Restaurant Week is a great time to try somewhere new in Portland’s dynamic restaurant scene or revisit an old favorite at a discounted price. Browse the list of participating restaurants and form your strategic plan. Now is the time to make your reservations (both at the restaurant and our boutique hotel, the Pom) to take advantage of the Maine Restaurant Week deals.

Mendocino Wine and Dine

In addition to relaxing and taking in the beautiful coastal California scenery, one of the top reasons we hear our guests are visiting is to experience the great Mendocino wine being made in and around the Anderson Valley. Many visitors opt to take day trips to area wineries, but for those looking to sip on local wine without going very far, the restaurants of Mendocino are the answer. There’s a small but dedicated group of restaurants in downtown Mendo, and here are three whose wine list are heavy on locally-made options:

Raven’s Restaurant | 44850 Comptche Ukiah Rd, Mendocino | (707) 937-5615 

This vegan restaurant is perched on a hillside overlooking the Big River and downtown Mendocino. The creative menu will satisfy even the most ardent carnivore, and the wine list is thoughtfully curated to pair with menu items. In fact, the list has earned the Raven’s Restaurant recognition from Wine Spectator for 11 years in a row. Wednesday nights bring special “ethnic inspiration” specials like Indonesian yellow curry and tofu satay.

Trillium Café | 10390 Kasten St, Mendocino | (707) 937-3200 

Just steps from our boutique hotel the JD House, the Trillium Café is a bright, romantic restaurant with ocean views and a cozy fireplace. Its menu is classic California cuisine: fresh, local, and ever-changing with the seasons. The wine list here is made up exclusively of California wines—and affordable ones too, with the average bottle price in the $30-40 range.

955 Ukiah Street Restaurant | 955 Ukiah St, Mendocino | (707) 937-1955

At 955 Ukiah Street, the chefs use local produce, much of it sourced from their own kitchen garden not far from the restaurant. The wine selection is exclusively those from the Anderson Valley and nearby regions, and the friendly staff can help guide you to one in line with your tastes. Thursdaynights bring a special 3-course menu with a glass of wine for only $25.

Portsmouth Shops

With its scenic brick sidewalks and historic buildings, downtown Portsmouth makes for a great weekend getaway. Its restaurant and bar scene rivals that of its foodie cousin Portland, Maine, and there are plenty of independently-owned Portsmouth shops to spend the afternoon in. Here are three of our favorite spots in which to pick up a Seacoast souvenir or gift for a friend: 

LeRoux Kitchen | 23 Market St, Portsmouth | (603) 430-7665

A dream come true for any home cook, this kitchen store is a great shop to peruse for that missing gadget you didn’t even know you needed, new and classic cookbooks, and edible gifts. Don’t skip the oil and vinegar tasting bar, where you can sample aged and flavored oils and vinegars, like the 18-year-old balsamic or blood orange olive oil. 

G. Willikers! Toy Shop |13 Market St, Portsmouth | (603) 436-7746

Treat the little ones in your life to a stop into this  toy shop, where you’ll find a huge selection. Whether you’re looking for the latest and greatest or a nostalgic classic, the staff can help you pick out the perfect gift. Snag a game for family fun time later or scope out the large selection of children’s books, stocked with works from many local authors.

Portsmouth Book & Bar | 40 Pleasant St, Portsmouth | (603) 427-9197 

Plan to end your afternoon of hitting the Portsmouth shops at this cozy café, because once you enter, you won’t want to leave. The winning combination of used book store and bar, complete with live music and adult beverages, means you can refresh yourself with a menu of small plates, while browsing for some great literary deals. Open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, Book & Bar adds a unique spot to Portsmouth’s late night scene.

Mendocino Shopping

In search of a little retail therapy on your lark to Mendocino? All you need to do is take the short stroll into our charming seaside village to discover several local stores that form the heart of Mendocino shopping—no T-shirts, tchotchkes, or chain stores involved.

Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle’s Children’s Books

Gallery Bookshop gets top marks from book lovers near and far, successfully catering to readers of all ages and interests. Handwritten staff reviews in the well-stocked sections give readers insight as to what lies behind the colorful covers, and it’s easy to find a helpful hand or two if you need further assistance before committing. The bookstore is a hub of activity on Friday and Saturday evening, when most other retail stores have already closed up shop.

Hours: Sunday to Thursday 9:30am to 6:00pm; Friday and Saturday 9:30am to 9:00pm.

Corner of Main & Kasten | Mendocino, CA | (707) 937-2665

Village Toy Store

Choosing toys today, especially online, can be an overwhelming task. Village Toy Store is old-fashioned brick-and-mortar store that does the work for you by offering a smartly curated collection that you’re not going to find in a big-box store. When you walk in the door, no matter what your age, you pretty much want to start playing with toys—like the interlocking building pieces set out on a child-level table. Stuffed animals, hand puppets, costumes, and dolls leave lots of room for kids to fill in the blanks with their own imagination. Grab one of their unconventional yet educational games, and when you’re done with Mendocino shopping, explore your wares in front of the fire at Blue Door Group.

Hours: Daily 10:00am to 5:00pm

10450 Lansing Street | Mendocino, CA | (707) 937-4633

Kennebunkport Restaurants

We love wintertime in coastal Maine—the frozen streams, the snow-covered pine boughs, and the sparkling sunshine create a beautiful winter wonderland. But at night, it’s crucial to have cozy plans to look forward to. Warming up after a day of winter activities, preferably by a fire, is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and especially so if there’s great food and drink. Here are three of the best Kennebunkport restaurants where you’ll find our favorite winter fare and a cozy corner in which to enjoy it.

Old Vines Wine Bar | 173 Port Rd, Kennebunk | (207) 967-2310

This Kennebunk favorite (just over the bridge in Kennebunk’s Lower Village), has recently stepped up its game with a new set of owners and a new chef. Two regulars purchased the restaurant when the last owner was looking to sell and have kept old menu favorites while adding many more. With small plates that run the gamut from chicken schnitzel to yellow curry, the eclectic menu will offer something for everyone. Don’t miss the extensive wine list and expertly prepared original craft cocktails.

Pedro’s | 181 Port Rd, Kennebunk | (207) 967-5544

Pedro’s is just fun, with velvet sombreros dotting the ceiling, brightly colored dining room furniture, and live music on weekend evenings and Sunday afternoons. Warm up by the outdoor fire pit if there’s a wait for a table, then settle in with the long list of housemade margaritas. The portions of Tex-Mex food here are always large, and slow-cooked meats like al pastor and chicken tinga are popular. Order a queso fundido for the table; you can thank us later.

Bandaloop | 2 Dock Square, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-4994

Get cozy at Bandaloop, tucked up off of Dock Square. This restaurant used to be a barn, and the exposed beams and high ceilings remain. The menu is particularly friendly to vegans, vegetarians, and those who are gluten-free. Our favorites include the cheese quesadilla with candied jalapenos, the kale salad with a “wonton crown,” and the mac and cheese with tomatoes and basil. Easily one of the beat restaurants in Kennebunkport, Bandaloop is a cozy place to enjoy a meal.

Craft Beer in Portland

With nearly 90 breweries in the state, it’s no surprise that there’s plenty craft beer in Portland. Whether you’re into chasing the latest juicy, hazy IPA or exploring the tart side of beer with goses and sours, Portland has a bar stool with your name on it. Here are three of our favorite places in Portland to grab a pint of Maine-made beer. 

Little Tap House | 106 High St, Portland | (207) 518-9283

This West End tavern is a cozy place to stop in for a bite and a pint. The ever-changing selection of 14 draft beers includes many local favorites like Maine Beer Co.’s Lunch IPA, Bissell Brothers’ Lux Rye Ale, and an IPA from relative newcomer Mast Landing Brewing. Catch the Bar & Barrel special weekdays from 4-7 p.m., where a snack and a beer are paired together for just $5.

Novare Res Bier Café  | 4 Canal Plaza, Portland | (207) 761-2437

The grandaddy of craft beer bars in Portland, Novare Res is where serious Belgian beer lovers head first. While there’s over 230 bottles of Belgian beer to choose from, there’s also a healthy draught list of Maine favorites like Allagash, Oxbow, and Liquid Riot, Novare’s sister restaurant, brewery, and distillery. Finding Novare can be tricky; look for the sandwich board on Exchange St. to guide you to the entrance.

Rising Tide Brewing Company | 103 Fox St, Portland | (207) 370-2337

This East Bayside neighborhood brewery has expanded twice in the past year, making more room for drinking, beer production, and barrel aging. Order a flight of four to sample beer styles from the robust Cutter Imperial IPA to the malty Ishmael, an American copper ale. The tasting room frequently has live music and a food truck, with corn hole boards and outdoor seating in warmer weather. 

Newport Museums

Newport museums are both plentiful and quirky. While the city may seem an unlikely location for the International Tennis Hall of Fame, but it all comes together with a quick history lesson. The Newport Casino, built in 1880, hosted the first U.S. National Men’s Singles Championship in 1881, and it is on this hallowed ground that the facility rests. The first thing you will see upon entry is an old grass court, flanked by a statue of Tennis great Frederick Perry. 

It is once you are inside the museum that the fun really begins. In addition to the extensive collection of tennis artifacts, many of the exhibits have an interactive element. A short video is available on touch screen for every hall of famer, not to mention a holographic theater featuring Roger Federer (if you’re into Tennis, this name will mean a lot to you). Personally, I spent quite a bit of time fiddling around with “Call The Match,” where you are able to record yourself over the original commentary of famous tennis matches and watch it on a large screen. My blistering criticisms, combined with my razor sharp wit, put Chris Evert’s original script on whatever match it was that I was watching completely to shame, in my humble opinion. 

International Tennis Hall of Fame | 194 Bellevue Avenue | Newport, RI 

Once you’ve had your fill of tennis mayhem, right next door you will find another fun Newport museum. Audrain Automobile Museum is a showroom boasting some of the most beautiful driving machines you will ever lay eyes on. On my visit the exhibit was “Classic & Fantastic: Automobiles 1945-1965,” showcasing everything from the decidedly mafioso 1957 Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz Convertible to a 1966 replica of the original Batmobile driven by Adam West (and Robin). Fans of the movie Tucker will be delighted to find a pristine 1948 Tucker Model 48 “Torpedo,” and muscle car aficionados will find it difficult to observe the “no touching rule” when they lay eyes on the cherry red, convertible 1960 Chevy Corvette. 

Audrain Automobile Museum | 222 Bellevue Avenue | Newport, RI

The Poynt

Yet another local favorite that is literally a madhouse during busy hours, Newburyport’s The Poynt always seems to have a lot going on in their deceptively large, wide-open space. The kitchen is fully visible, with a special food bar for patrons who prefer to be in close proximity to their impressive wood-fired pizza oven. Around practically every corner is a new dining room, lined with supple leather banquettes which compliment handsome wooden tables. The full service patio houses overflow from the inside and keeps service flowing around the large central bar, which is often two-deep with thirsty customers and manned by three bartenders.

Chef Peter Hansen, who has made multiple appearances on Iron Chef with Bobby Flay, oversees a menu that runs the gamut from the Kung Pao sushi roll with tempura shrimp and chili aioli to a rich, decadent lamb Bolognese over freshly made pappardelle. Of particular note are the simpler dishes like a creamy lobster and corn chowder with herbs, and a near-perfect skillet of veal and pork meatballs with zesty tomato sauce and crusty baguette. These meatballs can also be found atop their wood-fired pizza offerings alongside a classic Margherita and white clam with bacon, to name a few.

Because Newburyport’s The Poynt operates on a first come, first serve basis, one should be prepared to have a few drinks while waiting out a spot in the dining room. In this regard they offer a reasonable selection of beer and wine, but the cocktail menu – divided into “up” and “rocks” – is the preferred method of lifting the spirits here. Rabbie Burns Toast, a combination of two kinds of smoky, peaty scotch tempered with lemon, ginger, and honey, makes a fine accompaniment to their mashed potato and bacon pizza, while the Barrel-Aged Vesper, driven by Bully Boy vodka and gin with Lillet, is entirely refreshing on its own.

31 Water Street | Newburyport | (978) 358-8501 | poyntnewburyport.com

Salem Craft Distillery

Typically, when you hear about “spirits” in Salem, Massachusetts, liquors like rum and gin aren’t what first come to mind. Salem is better known for its spooky history of witch trials and haunted happenings, but a young Salem craft distillery is conjuring up a new kind of spirit with its line of craft liquors.

Deacon Giles Distillery opened in October 2015 after two friends with a background in a craft brewing saw an opportunity in Salem for a different sort of craft beverage. The brewery’s namesake, Deacon Giles, was a character out of an 1835 story written by pastor and temperance advocate George Barrell Cheever. In the story, the distiller Giles inadvertently hires demons to staff his business who play a trick on him by “…branding his barrels with messages of damnation that glowed with an unholy light when tapped.” Now, the modern-day distillery makes gin and two kinds of rum, the bottles of which are branded with illustrations that blend together Salem’s nautical and Puritanical history.

While you can find Deacon Giles’ spirits on shelves of bars around Salem, the distillery’s tasting room, open Friday through Saturday 12 to 8 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 6 p.m., is a great place to stop in for a tour and a drink. Located just a 10-minute walk from The Merchant, the distillery has a speakeasy vibe with a menu of nine craft cocktails. Try the Sin and Tonic, which shows off the malty profile of the gin or their take on an Old Fashioned made with spiced rum, bitters, and sugar.

Part of the growing Salem craft distillery scene, Deacon Giles Distillery is reviving New England’s historic tradition of distilling (rum, in particular) and putting a distinctly ‘Salem’ stamp on its spirits.

Deacon Giles Distillery | 75 Canal St, Salem | (978) 306-6675

Stowe Winter Activities

We love that Stowe is a four season destination—full of outdoor recreation, eating, and drinking any time of year. Winter’s main attraction is Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak at 4,393 feet and home to Stowe Mountain Resort. With 100+ trails, 5 terrain parks, and 13 lifts, it’s a winter wonderland for snow lovers.

But downhill skiers and snowboards aren’t the only ones having fun on the mountain—there are Stowe winter activities for the whole family and for those who may like to take their snowy adventure at a slower pace. Nearly 30 miles of groomed trails wait to be explored on snowshoe or cross-country ski, offering scenic views, frozen waterfalls, and birding within the quiet solitude of the Vermont woods. You can even rent a pulk sled to tow little ones who might not be up for a long trek. Guided snowshoe tours are available, even a twilight tour—a nice way to cap off your day before you head for our boutique hotel‘s hot tub.

New last year at the mountain is an ice skating rink, located in the heart of the resort at the Spruce Peak Village Center. The best part about the new ice rink? It’s free! Skates can be rented for the day, but access to the rink is complimentary. The rink is open until 9 p.m. on weekend nights, making it a fun family activity after dinner. Warm up with some hot cocoa back at our on-site restaurant, Picnic Social.

Just a 15-minute drive up Mountain Rd. from Field Guide, the mountain is the heart of the area’s wintertime outdoor recreation. Whether you love bombing down the slopes or are seeking quiet contemplation in nature, there are Stowe winter activities for everyone.

Nantucket Winter Getaway

An island 30 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean may not be the first thing that springs to mind as a winter getaway, but we can assure you that Nantucket is a lovely place to visit mid-winter. With 12,000 year-round residents, there’s still plenty happening without the crowds and lines of the summer, and you’re sure to receive excellent service in the island’s restaurants and bars. Our boutique hotel is the perfect base for your Nantucket winter getaway.

Those looking for outdoor adventure and some wildlife spotting will want to bundle up and set out for the beaches and ponds of the South Shore. Snowy owls can be spotted amongst the dunes and deer and rabbit tracks mark the snow-covered sand. Seals can be seen along any of the island’s shorelines and nearby rocky islands, while black-tailed ducks and a number of gull species float on the waves. The Maria Mitchell Center, Nantucket’s Science Center, offers guided bird walks throughout the winter—even a nighttime “Owl Prowl.”

Maria Mitchell Center | 89 Nantucket Avenue | (508) 228-9198 

If there’s enough snow on the ground, grab your sled and head to Dead Horse Valley, the only sledding hill on the island. Believe it or not, Nantucket doesn’t tend to get too much snow—it’s usually 10 degrees warmer than the mainland. Should you strike out with sledding, the Nantucket Ice Center offers indoor skating with skate rentals. Public skating is available from 1-2 p.m. but check the weekly schedule for the latest.

Nantucket Ice Center | 10 Bakus Lane | (508) 228-2516

Take a break from the cold at Bartlett’s Farm, a celebration of the island’s harvest even in mid-winter. This market, greenhouse, and garden center will make you forget about the snow outside with its baskets of local produce, baked goods, and prepared foods. Stock up on supplies for a picnic lunch or a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers for happy hour.

Bartlett’s Farm | 33 Bartlett Farm Road | (508) 228-9403

 

Salem Breweries

While Salem has a thriving restaurant scene, Salem breweries are a relatively new addition. It wasn’t until 2014, when the zoning laws changed, that breweries and distilleries were allowed to open up shop in the downtown area. Now, downtown Salem is home to several places to enjoy a pint of beer and even some cider. Head to one (or all!) of these spots to sample Salem’s fledgling beer and cider scene:

Notch Brewery & Tap Room | 283R Derby Street, Salem | (978) 238-9060

While one of our favorite Salem breweries, Notch Brewing, has been producing beer for 6 years, the taproom in downtown Salem became a reality in 2014. Notch owner Chris Leahy pioneered session-style (low alcohol content) beers like the Czech Pils and Černé Pivo, a black lager. The German style carries over to the taproom where you’ll find a biergarten vibe with communal tables. A small snack menu offers soft pretzels and pickled eggs to enjoy with your beers.

Salem Beer Works | 278 Derby Street, Salem | (978) 745-2337

This brewpub, with several other locations in the Boston area, has been slinging beer in Salem since 1996 (exempt from the tasting room ban because of its full-service restaurant). But this pioneer of craft beer keeps up with current trends with its New East Coast Style IPA, hazy with “juicy hop character.” The expansive draft list includes a wide variety of styles, cask beers, and gluten-free options. 

Far From The Tree Cider | 108 Jackson Street, Salem | (978) 224-2904

You’ll forget any negative associations you have with hard cider when you visit this cidery‘s tasting room. The owner/cider maker studied wine production in England for years before moving to Salem to produce these dry, effervescent ciders from local apples. Beer lovers will want to try Nova, a hopped cider, and Rind, an aged cider inspired by Belgian saisons.

Portsmouth Cocktail Bars

With an ever-growing number of breweries, Portsmouth is well-established as a beer town. But sometimes you just need a good cocktail and fortunately, this Seacoast town has a good number of places to get those too. Here are three of our favorite Portsmouth cocktail bars — plus a bonus one worth visiting just across the river in Kittery, Maine.

Franklin Oyster House | 148 Fleet Street, Portsmouth | (603) 373-8500 

Snag a seat at the busy bar where you’ll have a bird’s eye view of all the oyster shucking action. The craft cocktail menu features unusual liqueurs and housemade ingredients. e suggest the herbal “Last Meow” with Plymouth gin, catnip cordial, green Chartreuse, and lemon juice. Happy hour, seven days a week from 4-6 p.m., brings $1.25 oysters on the half shell.

The Red Door | 107 State Street, Portsmouth | (603) 373-6827

This hip cocktail lounge has something for everyone on its menu. The Tigerlily with vanilla vodka, coconut cream, and pineapple juice will please those looking for a warm weather escape (even if just in a drink), while the Saint Peter — Jameson, Barenjäger, lemon juice, and walnut bitters—will warm you up with its honey sweetness. Open Wednesday through Sunday evenings with live music every night. 

Moxy | 106 Penhallow Street, Portsmouth | (603) 319-8178 

The sister restaurant to Franklin Oyster House, the bar program at this small plates star features local liquors like Bar Hill gin from Vermont and New Hampshire’s Art in the Age Snap liqueur. Go spicy with the Loco Hombre, a tequila-based Old Fashioned or bracingly tart with the Green Mountain Gimlet, a mix of gin and lime cordial.

The Wallingford Dram | 7 Wallingford Square #101, Kittery | (207) 703-4298

It’s worth the 10-minute walk over the bridge to this wee speakeasy in Kittery. With its British-style pub vibe and long cocktail list, you’ll never want to leave. Their Mai Tai is one of the best around and The Duke of Earl, with bourbon, Earl Grey tea syrup, citrus oil, bitters is perfect for a cold winter’s night. 

Plum Island Birding

This summer, Plum Island was declared to be the third “hottest” spot for birding in the country by eBird, a site from Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society where birders to report their recent sightings. And anyone who has spent any time on the barrier island off the coast of Cape Ann has seen plenty of shorebirds, waterfowl, birds of prey, and owls. Even as the weather turns chilly, there’s plenty of winter Plum Island birding to be done, so bundle up, grab your binoculars and head out to add some new species to your life list. 

The best Plum Island birding is on the southern end of the 11-mile island in the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, which is a 10-minute drive from our boutique hotel, Blue. This 4,662-acre sanctuary offers many habits in which to find native birds, from beaches and sand dunes to salt marshes and maritime forests. In the wintertime, you can expect to see a variety of ducks, cormorants, grebes, and northern species that migrate south to warmer waters. A walk through the woods will reveal winter roosting spots of harrier hawks, while the fields are home to songbirds like the bobolink. Serious birders will want to visit Newburyport Birders and local birder Tom Wetmore’s site for recent sightings and detailed birding routes through the wildlife refuge.

If you’d like an expert to guide your Plum Island birding experience, Newburyport Birders offers guided tours throughout the winter along the Merrimack River and the Salisbury Beach State Reservation. Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center offers some great opportunities for birdwatching, both from indoor observation sites and along its network of riverfront trails. Educational displays will give you some insight into the geography and habitats of the area, and wintertime programs like the Superbowl of Birding and the Merrimack River Eagle Festival are a great opportunity to learn from knowledgeable staff and volunteers. Visit Plum Island for some wintertime birding and see what makes the area such an avian hotspot! 

Kennebunk Winter Activities

Winter is a beautiful time to visit Kennebunkport, as the towns’s coastal location tempers the state’s famously harsh winter weather. As a result, the days are often sunny and perfect for exploring the frozen landscape with these outdoor Kennebunk winter activities. Don’t worry, warm cookies and a roaring fire will be waiting for you when you return to our Kennebunkport boutique hotel, Captain Fairfield Inn.

Harris Farm

Harris Farm in nearby Dayton is a local favorite, with a variety of winter activities for the whole family. Rent cross-country skis, snowshoes, even pulk sleds to explore the farm’s 65 kilometers of groomed trails—30 are wide skating lanes and 35 are track set, welcoming skiers of all styles and abilities. Afterwards, warm up in the farm’s sunroom with lunch from the snack bar (or bring your own) and some very locally-sourced chocolate milk. 280

Buzzell Road | Dayton, ME | (207) 499-2678 

Waterhouse Center

Head to neighboring Kennebunk for an afternoon of ice skating at Waterhouse Center. This open-air pavilion hosts community events all year long and in colder months is home to a free ice skating rink. Be sure to check out the live webcam for conditions before you go. Warm up after your skate session at nearby bakery Boulangerie with a warm drink and a sweet treat.  

51 Main Street | Kennebunk, ME | (207) 985-2102

Rockin’ Horse Stable

See the Maine countryside from the cozy comfort of a horse-drawn sleigh at Rockin’ Horse Stables in Kennebunkport, just a few miles from Dock Square. This inexpensive Kennebunk winter activity ($15 for adults and $5 for kids) features a 30-minute sleigh ride over the snow and ends with a warming fire and hot chocolate. Get a taste of “the way life should be” with this unique Maine winter activity! 

245 Arundel Road | Kennebunkport | (207) 967-4288

Portland Restaurant Scene: Best of 2016

The food scene in Maine’s largest city continues to expand and impress—the biggest challenge of visiting Portland is deciding where to eat. Here are our favorite 2016 additions to the Portland restaurant scene, plus a few we’re looking forward to in the new year.

Portland Restaurant Scene 2016 Favorites

Woodford F&B, with its retro diner vibe, is a little off the beaten path, but that’s just one more thing we like about it. Highlights: caramelized onion dip with housemade chips, mussels & fries, oysters Rockefeller, classic cocktails

Winter is the perfect time to visit Rhum, a tiki bar with a dark, mysterious vibe of island escapism. Highlights: tropical tiki drinks in handcrafted skull mugs, the retro pupu platter with crab rangoon and chicken liver pâté 

From the natural wine sellers of Maine & Loire, Drifter’s Wife is the perfect place to relax with a bottle of wine and some snacks. Highlights: whatever wine the server recommends, small plates from the ever-changing menu like root vegetable gratin and coulette steak with polenta and arugula

We expect over-the-top food from Big J (aka Jason Loring), the owner of Nosh and Rhum, and his Thompson’s Point chicken joint—Big J’s Chicken Shack— delivers. Highlights: chicken and waffles, Tijuana street corn, that it’s BYOB

Scales, a Portland waterfront stunner, is owned by Dana Street of Street & Co. and Fore Street, so expect simple, fresh ingredients to take center stage. Highlights: fluke ceviche with grapefruit and radish, fried cod sandwich, $1 oysters at happy hour

Coming Soon to the Portland Restaurant Scene in 2017

Baked goods lovers are eagerly awaiting the opening of The Purple House, a bakery and cafe from Krista Desjarlais, chef of the lakeside snack shack Bresca and the Honey Bee. Expected highlights: Montreal-style bagels, pastry, pop-up dinners

From the owners of Central Provisions comes Tipo, a casual neighborhood joint with an Italian focus. Expected highlights: wood-fired pizzas, handmade pasta

Chef Cara Stadler of Tao Yuan in Brunswick and BaoBao Dumpling House in Portland is opening Lio, a restaurant/bar with a focus on wine and food pairings. 

Mendocino Holiday Events

The holidays are a perfect time to visit the Mendocino coast—the crowds are gone and the weather, while not warm per se, is still mild compared to most other areas of the country in December. We love spending the holidays on the California coast and we think the iBlue Door Group is the perfect place to spend cozy evenings after enjoying one of these Mendocino holiday events. 

The choir from the Gloriana Musical Theater will be performing their annual Christmas carol performance at the Presbyterian church on December 19th at 7:00pm The choir members dress in Victorian costumes and sing traditional carols, making this concert the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

Mendocino Presbyterian Church | 44831 Main Street, Mendocino | (707) 937-5441

One of the original pioneer homes in Mendocino, the Ford House Museum decorates the house and grounds as a cozy Rockwellian scene for the holiday. Visit on December 25th, when the tree is lit, the fireplace is blazing, and volunteers in period costume serve cinnamon rolls and cider. Guided tours of the house offer up some Mendocino history as your new holiday tradition.

Ford House Museum & Visitor Center | 45035 Main Street, Mendocino | (707) 937-5397

The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg are a must-see at any time of the year, but especially so at the holidays. The Festival of Lights, a fundraiser for the gardens, is an annual holiday event that lights up the grounds, including the spectacular mature rhododendrons, with thousands of colored lights. Santa visits the gardens on Saturdays and there’s live music from local groups every night.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens | 18220 Highway 1, Fort Bragg | (707) 964-4352

Bonus tip: If you’re looking for Mendocino holiday events, check our your favorite Anderson Valley winery. Many have fun holiday events like Saracina’s wine cave caroling or Testa Ranch’s Christmas Cheer event. 

Salem Holiday Events

The holidays are a special time in New England, and especially in the city of Salem. With its historic homes, cobblestone streets, and December snowfall, Salem is a great place to enjoy the winter season. Our boutique hotel is a cozy home base for enjoying these upcoming Salem holiday events:

Looking for unique gifts for loved ones? Show your support for local artists and makers by shopping at the Salem Holiday Market. Expect handmade tree ornaments, all-natural body and skin care products, and plenty of jewelry for ladies and gents alike. The market takes place on December 17th from 12-6pm and December 18th from 12-6pm.

Old Town Hall | 32 Derby Square | Salem

Banish your inner “Bah, humbug!” by revisiting this magic of Christmas on the Salem Trolley. Throughout December, members of the Griffen Theater perform an adapted version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on board the trolley as it tours some of Salem’s most historic spots. This interactive event will leave you smiling as you watch the transformation of Scrooge from miser to merrymaker.

Salem Trolley | 8 Central Street | Salem 

Those with a love of Christmas and history can combine the two with a holiday-themed historic house tour at the House of the Seven Gables. This 17th century wooden mansion is the oldest surviving one of its kind with a rich history of life in colonial New England and the life of author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Tours throughout December offer a glimpse into colonial holiday traditions and the history of the mansion.

House of the Seven Gables | 115 Derby Street | Salem

Lastly, be sure to take the time to admire the window displays of downtown Salem businesses. Over thirty businesses deck the halls in the annual holiday window contest, transforming Salem into a winter wonderland all month long.

On a Holiday Lark

It’s the most wonderful time of the year to go on a lark!” Ok, so we added the last part, but we really do believe that the holiday season is the perfect time for a festive getaway. Transformed into winter wonderlands, there’s a lot to celebrate in various Lark locales:

Nantucket — December 2-4

A townwide tradition since 1973, the Christmas Stroll is three days of special events, promotions, and naturally, mulled wine and cookies. The shops of downtown Nantucket keep later hours while everyone gathers to knock out their holiday shopping. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by Coast Guard cutter midday on Saturday, and the holiday choir will perform from the middle of Main Street, which is closed to vehicle traffic during the festivities. Book your room at 21 Broad or 76 Main today!

Edgartown — December 8-11

Celebrating its 35th year, Christmas in Edgartown is a three day festival that raises money for island-wide charities and non-profits. Cookies, cocktails, and carolers abound all local retailers and museums throw open their doors to the public. The highlight, at least in our book, is the lighting of the Edgartown Lighthouse on December 9 from 5:00-7:00pm. This weekend is so special that we opened The Sydney back up, in addition to her brother Lark, The Christopher.

Kennebunkport — December 1-11

Christmas Prelude, Kennebunkport’s annual holiday festival, will be brimming with cheer in its 35th year. During the first two weekends in December, residents and visitors will mingle at tree lightings, caroling, open houses, craft fairs, public luncheons and suppers, and everyone’s favorite — Santa’s arrival via lobster boat. Our Kennebunkport hotel, Captain Fairfield Inn, is located just a short walk to many annual Prelude events.

Finally, we’re excited to share that several of our hotels will be open for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! From Stowe to Napa and points in between, our boutique hotels make a cozy spot for creating your own holiday magic.

Nantucket Holiday Events

The holidays are a great time to plan a Nantucket getaway—the island is transformed into a winter wonderland with festive events, the annual tree lighting ceremony, and of course the main event: Christmas Stroll. This holiday season, cozy up at our boutique hotel and enjoy this classic Nantucket holiday events.

Things officially kick off with the tree lighting ceremony on November 25th, the day after Thanksgiving, at the top of Main Street. At 5pm, not one but hundreds of trees decorated by local schools, non-profits and businesses are lit up, and the whole crowd sings carols together. Bring your coziest mittens and a thermos of hot cocoa—the event is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit on the island.

Once the town is fully decked out for the holidays, it’s time to get down to business during the Christmas StrollDecember 2nd-4th. A townwide tradition since 1973, the Stroll is three days of special events, promotions, and naturally, mulled wine and cookies. The shops of downtown Nantucket keep later hours while everyone gathers to knock out their holiday shopping. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by Coast Guard cutter midday on Saturday, and the holiday choir will perform from the middle of Main Street, which is closed to vehicle traffic during the festivities. 

Weekends during December, the Nantucket Whaling Museum hosts the Festival of Trees where the museum is transformed into a winter wonderland. Decked out with holiday trees decorated by local organizations, the festival is a great way to spend an afternoon enjoying the museum and enjoying the holiday season.  While many island communities go dormant during the winter months, these Nantucket holiday events are a celebration of family, friends, and island life—and you’re invited.

Lark Hotels Holiday Pop-Up Shop

Add a touch of mischief to your holiday season…

Join us on Newbury Street December 13-18!

In keeping with our goal to shake up the traditional ideas of a hotel stay, we will be hosting a week long Lark pop-up shop at 144 Newbury Street in Boston (at the corner of Dartmouth Street) from December 13-18, 2016. 

We’ll be giving holiday shoppers a first glimpse of (and even a chance to win a stay in) the signature Lark Suite at our newest renovated property (opening summer 2017) in Salem, Massachusetts: The Hotel Salem. The Queen Suite at our daringly-designed Newport, Rhode Island hotel Gilded, will also be on display, along with our favorite finds at many of our other properties.

What you’ll find at the Lark pop-up shop:

  • Long requested by our guests, for the first time shoppers will be able to purchase Lark Hotels’ deluxe microfibersheet sets at the pop-up in addition to hand-selected items from LATHER, Lark’s exclusive bath amenities partner
  • Some of our favorite “Lark Loves” design elements (think pillows, art, even select furniture) will be on display with iPads set up to order your own
  • Visitors will be able to book and gift hotel stays through an onsite concierge team and gift card sales
  • In the evening hours, we’ll offer a series of DIY instructional demonstrations and style showcases from some of Boston’s own makers and artisans

Events:

  • Tuesday, December 13 – 6-8 pm: One-night trunk show highlighting the customizable fashions from Massachusetts-based Ellie Kai
  • Wednesday, December 14 – 6-8 pm: Jewelry shopping event with Boston’s M. Flynn designs
  • Thursday, December 15 – 6-8 pm: Holiday table design, seasonal DIY decor, and festive flower arrangement workshops led by local social media influencers
  • Saturday, December 17 – 1-5 pm: Complimentary head, neck and hand massages with products from LATHER, Lark’s own bath amenities partner

Newport Historical Holiday Events

Calling all history buffs! The winter season is rife with opportunities to delve into Newport’s deep roots. The venerable Newport Historical Society just announced a robust and diverse schedule of Newport historical holiday events, including the annual (and always popular) Holiday Open House, an author talk, and a holiday-themed living history event. A series of walking tours, such as the Holiday Lantern Tour, rounds out their festive and historical offerings.

Holiday Lantern Tour 

Hear the history of early American holiday traditions on an evening walk and learn how colonial Newporters recognized the holidays. Departs from the Brick Market: Museum & Shop, 127 Thames Street, Newport, RI, and costs $15 per person. The $25 ticket includes a historic-style hurricane lantern with a flameless candle to use during the tour. Reservations encouraged, space is limited. 401-841-8770. 

November 25 & 26, December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 30 at 4:00pm

Discover Colonial Newport Tour

Hear stories of entrepreneurship, African American heritage and religious diversity during Newport’s colonial period. Departs from the Brick Market: Museum & Shop, 127 Thames Street, Newport, RI, and costs $15 per person. Presented by Newport History Tours. 

Saturdays in November and December at 10:30am

Golden to Gilded Tour

From Newport’s colonial Golden Age to Gilded Age summer colony, discover the transformation of the city and its people. Departs from the Brick Market: Museum & Shop, 127 Thames Street, Newport, RI, and costs $15 per person. Presented by Newport History Tours.

Sundays in November at 10:30am; December 4, 11 and 18 at 10:30am

Rogues & Scoundrels Tour

See where scoundrels lived, pirates profited and criminals were punished. Find out why this colony was known as “Rogue’s Island.” Departs from the Brick Market: Museum & Shop, 127 Thames Street, Newport, RI, and costs $15 per person. Presented by Newport History Tours.

Mondays and Fridays in November and December at 10:30am

Newport Historical Society’s Holiday Open House

Visit the 1739 Colony House before Christmas in Newport’s opening ceremony. Join a revival of a Newport holiday tradition, a reading of the 1957 children’s novel The Christmas Tree Hessian. This tale by Cora Cheney explores life and Christmas in Revolutionary War-era Newport thorough a child’s eyes. Presented in partnership with the Newport Restoration Foundation. Admission is free, donations welcome. 

December 1, 2016 4:00pm-6:00pm

Common Burying Ground Walking Tour

Explore the Common Burying Ground. Learn about the stone carvers, their art and the diverse people buried there who helped shape Newport’s history. Departs from the Brick Market: Museum & Shop, 127 Thames Street, Newport, RI, and costs $15 per person. Presented by Newport History Tours. 

December 3, 2016 at 11:00am

The Launch of Rhode Island’s Revolutionary Artillery

J.L. Bell, author of The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War, will discuss how Rhode Island’s artillerists became one of the most respected units of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. This talk takes place at the Newport Historical Society, 82 Touro Street, Newport, RI. Reservations requested, please call 401-841-8770. General admission costs $5, $1 for Society members and military with ID.

December 8, 2016 at 5:30pm

Christmas with the Whitehornes

Experience 1813 Christmas festivities at the Whitehorne House. Meet costumed interpreters portraying members of the Whitehorne family as they prepare for the Christmas season. Learn about the differences between holiday celebrations past and present, from decorations to dining and even Christmas trees. Attendees will receive authentic recipes from Mrs. Whitehorne’s own Sugar House Book. Presented in partnership with the Newport Restoration Foundation. Tickets cost $8 for adults, $5 for Newport Historical Society Members and active duty military with ID, children under the age of 18 are free.

December 10, 2016 from 10:00am-2:00pm

For additional details on Newport historical holiday events, visit NewportHistory.org, NewportHistoryTours.org or NewportRestoration.org.

Portland Ice Skating

As the weather turns chilly in Maine and we stash away our suits and towels for another year (sob), it’s time to embrace outdoor activities that celebrate winter. Maine winters can be cold and snowy, yes, but the sun shines frequently, which means great weather for getting out and enjoying the winter wonderland. One new project in particular, The Rink at Thompson’s Point, has snow-loving Mainers looking forward to the first flakes of the season.

Portland ice skating at Thompson’s Point, a short drive from Pomegranate Inn, is a recently redeveloped point of land just west of Portland’s peninsula on the Fore River. Beer fans will know it as the home of Bissell Brothers Brewing, and Cellardoor WineryStroudwater DistilleryBig J’s Chicken Shack, and the Cryptozoology Museum have all recently moved in too. Summers at The Point meant food trucks and concerts, but now that winter is knocking, visitors will be looking at an ice skating rink and a snow tubing hill.

Last year, during the rink’s inaugural season, Portland ice skating proved to be exceedingly popular, encouraging the founders to expand the rink’s size and extend its season by several months. The rink is open from November 11th until February 5th this year, with 2-hour sessions from 2 until 9 p.m. A snow tubing hill will make its debut this year, a 2-story, artificially-cooled slope with room for 5 lanes of tubers. Tubes are included with each session and ice skates are available for rent.

Best of all? When you need a break from the cold, the warming hut awaits you, where beer and winter treats are for sale. With The Rink at Thompson’s Point now open, never before have we been so excited for the onset of cold weather.

Newport Cafés

Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

Whenever I spend a few days away, the first thing I do is pinpoint a few spots that will allow me to set up a routine of sorts to balance out the ever-changing itinerary. This usually involves great coffee, a reasonable selection of pastries, air conditioning, comfortable seating, and Wifi. Ok, now that I list them out I see that I’m actually pretty high maintenance but I can also say that Empire Tea & Coffee fits each of these criteria nicely in terms of a Newport café. While their coffee, a Peruvian medium roast on each of my visits, was quite good, and they DO have a pretty hardcore espresso machine and drink list, the emphasis is arguably on tea. The tea menu, offered hot or iced, is broken down stylistically by black, green, white, herbal, oolong, chai, and wellness – in addition to fruity and somewhat texturally challenging bubble tea (some people are obsessed, so don’t knock it til’ you try it). They even offer a honey upgrade for $0.75 from a local producer in Aquidneck. The space is cool, clean, and minimal, with a fully stocked pastry case as well as the prerequisite fruit, yogurt, and granola cups and fresh juices. 

Empire Tea & Coffee | 112 William Street | Newport

A slightly less conventional Newport café stop – usually right after leaving Empire, is Meg’s Aussie Milk Bar. Modeled after the traditional social venue/snack bars that are prevalent throughout Australia, they stay painstakingly true to form, from the décor down to the meat pies, sausage rolls, and Vietnamese Banh Mi. On one visit I sample the “Aussie Brekkie Sandwich,” a griddled bulky roll with fried egg, tomato, and bacon, as well as the “Aussie Iced Coffee,” a mix of espresso, ice cream, and chocolate sauce that is basically an Affogato gone Down Under. There is also the option of lamb sandwiches, Vegemite on toast, and a smattering of breakfast dishes featuring prawns. What really kept me coming back daily are their fresh squeezed juices, notably the blend of kale, parsley, green apple, lemon, and cucumber known as the “Lean and Green.”

 Meg’s Aussie Milk Bar | 111 Bellevue Avenue | Newport

— Joe

Newburyport Raw Bar

Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

Billing itself as “New England’s first oyster, crudo, and chop bar,” the menu at Brine certainly lives up to the diverse nature of that claim. The first order of business at this Newburyport raw bar is to definitely secure a reservation in advance, especially for their popular Thursday night “Buck-a- Shuck” where $1 oysters are offered from 5-7. 

The dining room is narrow, with a pristine marble bar running almost the entire length from which patrons can observe the evening’s assortment of oyster species being prepared to order. There is the option of upgrading to the “Power Tower,” a galleon of plump, briny raw oysters, littlenecks, and jumbo shrimp, perfect as an appetizer alongside a bottle of slightly chilled Chablis. 

Other raw dishes include composed crudo plates including halibut with meyer lemon, crème fraiche, shallot, and hot peppers, as well as a superlative steak tartare that utilizes prime meat. The warm lobster salad with cauliflower, curry, and tarragon buttermilk is the perfect “surf” to precede the “turf” of their 16oz bone-in ribeye with cheddar potato dauphine and horseradish crema. 

The wine selection at this Newburyport raw bar is appropriate, leaning towards Burgundy, Alsace, and Austria for the whites, while favoring more new world producers with the reds – or if you may be in the mood to manhandle a few Coors Lites they can accommodate that craving as well. 

It is refreshing to see that Brine offers traditional Russian-style caviar service, serving both American Hackleback, as well as a rotating nightly feature, by the half ounce. It arrives with the proper mother of pearl spoon, with a setup of minced shallot, crème fraiche, and chopped boiled egg, all to be piled along with the caviar on to buttermilk blini (which are actually quite delicious just on their own). 

While this Newburyport raw bar can get a little pricey, each week they feature a 2-course meal for $25 per person on Wednesday nights.

25 State Street | Newburyport | (978) 358-8479 | brineoyster.com

— Joe

Kennebunk-area Breweries

With over 80 breweries spread out across the state of Maine, the booming craft beer scene is a big reason to visit Vacationland. Tasting rooms and brew pubs welcome visitors of all types from ardent beer geeks to families and couples looking for a spot to hang out for the afternoon. Here are three Kennebunk-area breweries — an old favorite and two relative newcomers — within a short drive of our boutique hotel Captain Fairfield Inn:

Federal Jack’s Brew Pub | 8 Western Ave., Kennebunk | (207) 967-4322

Located in Kennebunk’s Lower Village, “Feds,” as it’s known to locals, is the original home of Shipyard beer, one of Maine’s first craft breweries. While the larger Shipyard facility has moved to Portland, brewers still produce Export, Fuggles IPA, and Old Thumper ESB on site for the brewpub. The restaurant offers a full menu with something for everyone, while pool tables and games in the back room are great for a rainy afternoon.

Banded Horn Brewing | 32 Main St., Biddeford | (207) 602-1561

In nearby Biddeford, the town’s empty textile mills are undergoing a revitalization as artists and makers move into the empty warehouse spaces. One such business, Banded Horn, made the move in 2013 and provided a much-needed space for the community to relax, enjoy a beer, and a game of table tennis. Year round styles include the hoppy Veridian IPA and the flavorful Pepperell Pilsner.

Hidden Cove Brewing | 73 Mile Rd., Wells | (207) 646-0228

If your trip doesn’t include a pilgrimage to Freeport’s much sought-after Maine Beer Company, consider a stop at Hidden Cove in Wells, where the former head of MBC now works. Hop-forward IPAs are the focus here, as well as seasonal ales brewed with unusual ingredients like jalapeños and hibiscus then aged in used tequila barrels. Visit the tap room Friday through Sunday.

Dogsledding in Stowe

Dogsledding in Stowe is an exhilarating way to experience the terrain during your next stay at our boutique hotel, Field Guide.

Pulling their tug lines taut, they yap and whine, anxious to hit the trail. When the driver finally hitches the sled to the harness, a full 8-dog chorus breaks out, an in-unison howl of pleasure and excitement. These pups want nothing more than to run.

And so they do. 

As they head for the hills they gradually quiet, shifting into work mode and perfecting their pace and rhythm. The air smells raw. Exhilaration hits as 700 pounds of dog, human, and sled speed down a hill, around a curve and over a bridge. It’s impossible not to feel the joy and energy.

“They truly live to run,” shouts Ken Haggett, sled driver and owner of Peace Pups Dogsledding, “which is why Siberian Huskies are perfect sled dogs. If they don’t run they expend their energy in less productive ways, like chewing on seat belts,” he says, pointing to Pax, a 7-year old troublemaker, who is currently running in the right rear, or “wheel” position. Wheel dogs play the crucial role of pulling and steering the sled, so despite his naughtiness, Pax is a powerhouse.

In season, Haggett and his band of 28 canine athletes take turns making three runs a day with two sleds carrying two guest riders each. Often a ninth dog shares the burden on the final run of the day. Served Inukshuk, a professional dog food high in protein and fat, the pups have plenty of fuel to handle this schedule four days a week.

For human thrill seekers looking to dial the experience up to 11, Haggett offers a more intensive “Mushing 101” training run that must be booked well in advance. Double the sled time (and almost double the price), these lessons cover everything prospective mushers need to know to start driving dogs on their own — from harnessing, to sled set-up, to actually driving the team along the trail.  

Whether you choose to snuggle up in the sled’s canvas cocoon and simply enjoy the ride, or take the plunge with a mushing lesson, Haggett and his furry crew offer an afternoon of snowy, adventurous fun

Peace Pups Dogsledding2173 Hardwood Flats Road | Wolcott, VT 

Whale Watching

Portsmouth whale watching Captain Pete Reynolds says staring straight into the eye of a great leviathan never gets old. A slap of a powerful fluke or a perfect arcing breach may delight the crowds, but for a whale watch boat captain — it’s all about spyhopping. A spyhopping whale holds itself vertically out of the water using its pectoral flippers to keep afloat, similar to a person treading water with her arms. A behavior biologically tied to searching for food, it’s evolved into something else entirely in the modern age of whale watching.

As owner and head captain of Granite State Whale Watch, Reynolds ranks an afternoon with two spyhopping humpbacks as his best experience on the water bar none. “It was beyond thrilling,” he says. A female humpback named Owl kept diving underneath the boat and spyhopping up on the other side. “Another female humpback joined her, and they swam back and forth for over an hour.”

Veteran whale watching captains like Reynolds and Richard Thornton, owner and head captain of Anchor Charter Boats near Mendocino, CA, grew up on the water. Reynolds worked in the snack bar of a whale watch boat at 14, earned his captain’s license at 19, and bought out his boss 12 years ago. At 29, Thornton is a third generation captain of his family’s two whale watch and fishing boats. Both say they can’t imagine doing anything else, and speaking to them about their profession is like talking to two giddy little boys.

“I could tell you whale stories all day,” laughs Thornton as he launches into his all-time favorite anecdote. “When I was 12, I was out on the boat with my dad when a grey whale joined us and began rubbing up on the boat, diving back and forth, and spyhopping. At one point, my dad reached down and scratched the whale with a scrub brush. She seemed to love it. I decided to get a closer look, so I leaned over the side and at that exact moment she exhaled. I was doused in the face from the force of her blowhole — so hard that my hair flew up.”

Communing with whales is a transformative experience that Thornton and Reynolds urge everyone to try at least once. While whales migrate so close to the shore in Northern California that you can spot them from land, there is no for the up-close-and-personal perspective that comes from a whale watch boat. 

Portsmouth, NH | Granite State Whale Watch | 800-964-5545

Mendocino, CA | Anchor Charter Boats | 707-964-4550 

Year-round Edgartown Bars

Fall is the perfect time to visit Edgartown—the crowds have thinned and the foliage is peaking, but many of our favorite restaurants shutter their doors until spring. So where to cozy up for a drink after a day spent walking the beach or exploring the galleries downtown? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our favorite year-round Edgartown bars. Enjoy the magic of the season on Martha’s Vineyard by unwinding at these spots with a drink:

Alchemy | 71 Main St., Edgartown | (508) 627-9999

We love the atmosphere at this cozy bistro that serves upscale comfort food. Its extensive speciality cocktail list contains many winners, made using fresh juices, local spirits, and housemade liqueurs. We love warming up with an Irish coffee if the weather is chilly while The Conundrum, made with tequila, muddled orange, black cherries, fresh ginger, fruit juices and a salted rim, transports to a warmer clime.

l’etoile | 22 North Water St., Edgartown | (508) 627-5187

You won’t have to venture far from our boutique hotel to enjoy a drink at the island’s premier fine dining destination and year-round Edgartown bar. Located on the first floor of The Sydney, l’etoile’s bar is the perfect place to pop into before heading out for the night. Sip on a Whale’s Tale Pale Ale from Cisco Brewers on neighboring Nantucket or the complex Whistle Pig Sour, made with rye whiskey, lemon, maple syrup, and a splash of merlot.

Newes From America | 23 Kelley St., Edgartown | (508) 627-4397

There are few year-round Edgartown bars cozier than this Colonial-era pub at The Kelley House with its brick hearth and hearty pub fare. The Newes is known for its rack of beers—a paddle of 5 hefty pours of draft beer. The tap list largely features New England-made beer, with several even kegged exclusively for the Newes.

On the Lookout for Kennebunkport Lobster

No trip to Maine is complete without a taste of our state crustacean, so no doubt you’re on the lookout for Kennebunkport lobster. Fall is the busiest time of year for lobstermen, as those sneaky creatures move to deeper waters. These lobsters shed their shells in the spring and have since grown to fill their new, larger shells. This means these hard-shell lobsters are bursting with sweet, dense meat—perfect for enjoying steamed or stuffed into toasted buns. When you’re visiting our boutique hotel in Kennebunkport, check out these three places that offer a mix of classic and unique takes on Maine’s favorite seafood:

Salt & Honey | 24 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport | (207) 204-0195

Relatively new to KPT, this cozy restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the second floor of a set of shops overlooking Dock Square. You could opt for the traditional lobster roll, but lobster tacos offer something unique. They’re topped with a kicky combination of jalapeno apple slaw, cilantro, and Sriracha aioli.

Spat Oyster Cellar | 27 Western Ave., Kennebunk | (207) 204-0860

Visit Chef Rebecca Charles’ newly opened oyster bar over the river in Kennebunk’s Lower Village. Also the chef and owner of New York’s Pearl Oyster Bar, one could argue that Chef Charles’ played a meaty roll in spreading the love of the lobster roll beyond our state borders. Go for the classic roll here — a classic toasted bun overflowing with lobster alongside a pile of impossibly crispy shoestring fries.

The Wayfarer | 2 Pier Rd., Kennebunkport | (207) 967-8961

Venture out to Cape Porpoise for a relaxing evening at The Wayfarer, run by southern chef Brendan Levin. Start your meal off with crunchy pan-fried lobster cakes served over watercress and tomato ragu and topped with chipotle jam. Those looking for the full Kennebunkport lobster experience without the mess should try the lazy lobster — meat from a whole 1-1/2 pound lobster that’s been poached in butter and served with mashed potatoes. Decadent and delicious.

Stowe Craft Beer Bars

Vermont is known for its fine selection of craft beer — in fact, Vermont produces the largest amount of craft beer per capita in the United States. Much of it is only available within the borders of the Green Mountain state, so beer lovers should be sure to take advantage of the great selections while visiting. Here are three of our favorite Stowe craft beer bars near Field Guide where you can grab a cold pint of some local Vermont brews: 

Prohibition Pig | 23 South Main St, Waterbury | (802) 244-4120

This brewery in downtown Waterbury brews close to 10 different styles of beer from a pilsner to a hoppy blonde ale. The tap list also offers other local craft beers, recently featuring Lawson’s Finest, Hill Farmstead, and even a locally-brewed root beer. As you would expect from the name, this barbecue restaurant’s menu is meat-heavy with pulled pork, burgers, and cracklins on offer (veg lovers need not worry, there’s some hearty salads too).

The Blackback Pub | 1 Stowe St, Waterbury | (802) 244-0123

Between the decor and the tap list, this subterranean bar functions as a shrine to the owner’s love of fishing and craft beer. Over 20 taps include beers from the holy trinity of Vermont breweries: The Alchemist, Lawson’s Finest, and Hill Farmstead. Other recent tap options include selections from Vermont breweries River Roost, Zero Gravity, and Idletyme.

Picnic Social | 433 Mountain Rd, Stowe | (802) 221-4947

Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Stowe craft beer bar right underneath our roof! Our signature on-site restaurant Picnic Social serves sharable plates, cocktails, and of course, craft beers. Chef Justin Perdue is turning out comfort food classics like grilled cheese, tomato soup, and chicken pot pie, washed down by an array of Vermont beers (plus a few of our favorites from around the country). Recent pours include Vermont’s Fiddlehead IPA, Lost Nation gose, and Zero Gravity’s lager.

Salem Harvest Fest

With so many great craft beers, wine, and meads coming out of the North Shore of Massachusetts, it can be hard to keep up with the latest and greatest. Enter the Salem Harvest Fest, a celebration of all things local and alcoholic, to help you out. This year marks the 10th annual happening of this beer and wine festival, held in downtown Salem just off the Common. Get your $30 ticket for October 22nd and sample some of the best harvest brews that New England has to offer. 

This year, the Salem Harvest Fest is hosting 18 breweries, 6 wineries and 6 meaderies/cideries. Salem’s Notch Brewing Company and Far From the Tree Cider will be pouring, along with New England breweries Rising Tide, Clown Shoes, Two Roads, Victory Brewing, and many more. Sample everything from a tart gose and hopped cider to IPAs and berry mead at this great celebration of New England’s boozy harvest.

Tickets include beer, wine, and cider samples; live music from local act Qwill; and snacks to keep you fueled up. There are two sessions: an afternoon one from 2-4:30 p.m. and in the evening from 5-8:30 p.m. Bonus: the festival is only a 10-minute walk from our boutique hotel The Merchant so you can enjoy yourself at the festival without worrying about the drive back.

Portland Restaurant Recommendations

Our boutique hotel, The Pomegranate Inn, is located in Portland’s historic West End neighborhood, where mature, leafy trees shade the brick sidewalks in front of picturesque rows of historic townhouses. Unique shops, restaurants, and markets are sprinkled throughout the neighborhood, and if you don’t know where to look, you might miss some of our favorites. Here are three of our top Portland restaurant recommendations, all within walking distance of The Pom.

Portland restaurant recommendations

Caiola’s | 58 Pine St, Portland | (207) 772-1110

This cozy bistro is a longtime Portland favorite, with new chef/owners at the helm. Chef couple Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez, who also own Piccolo and Blue Rooster Food Co., are still turning out the comfort food classics that Caiola’s has long been known for. Tuck into eggplant parmesan with spinach salad or classic seafood paella loaded with chicken, chorizo, mussels, clams, and shrimp. Whatever you do, don’t pass on dessert—Ilma’s desserts are legendary. Indulge in a sugar cookie sandwich filled with buttercream frosting or some of the evening’s gelato flavor.

Tandem Coffee + Bakery | 742 Congress St, Portland | (207) 805-1887 

Coffee super fans will love Tandem Coffee‘s lightly-roasted, single origin coffees, and simply everyone will love its housemade pastry offerings. Those with an extra large sweet tooth should try the enormous cinnamon bun or if you’re lucky, a slice of the chocolate and coconut cream pie. Swing by at lunchtime for a sandwich and keep your fingers crossed the selection includes the vegetarian banh mi with loads of fresh herbs and sliced hard-boiled eggs.

Bao Bao Dumpling House | 133 Spring St, Portland | (207) 772-8400

Craving dumplings, bao, and hot noodles on a chilly day? Head over to one of our favorite Portland restaurant recommendations, Bao Bao, for Asian-inspired comfort food and delicious speciality cocktails to boot. The short but succinct menu offers several kinds of dumplings from spicy Kung Pau chicken to thread cut haddock and burdock root. At less than $9 for an order of six, you can afford to cover your table with plates of dumplings. Start with the zippy and fresh Asian slaw, loads of sliced cabbage mixed with pea pods, carrots, shallots, and peanuts.

Lunch in Newburyport

We invited Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of that state’s acclaimed Down East and Dispatch magazines, to go on a few larks this year. Follow along as he shares his perspective on things to do, eat, and drink on Nantucket. With writing credits from Bon Appetit, Vice, The Guardian and Boston Magazinewe hope you enjoy his unique voice and insights.

It happens to all of us – you’re excited about spending a long weekend relaxing beachside and drinking Champagne on the private balcony in your Ocean View Lark Suite, and you’ve arrived several hours early for check-in. Next stop? Lunch in Newburyport.

Luckily, there are several options for a leisurely and delicious midday meal. Head down towards the waterfront and check out the Black Cow Tap & Grill. The large, airy dining room is accentuated with rich, dark wood furnishings, and in the warmer months you can dine al fresco while taking in the stunning views of the marina. Their interpretation of the lobster roll involves a soft, buttery croissant packed with sweet lobster meat that has been augmented by the addition of chopped tarragon, while classic dishes like baked haddock stay true to New England tradition, down to the Ritz cracker crumble. Crunchy fried oysters are super fresh, topped with Cajun remoulade and a perfect accompaniment to a tall can of Old Speckled Hen. 

54 Merrimac St | Newburyport | 978-499-8811

 

If you’re in the mood for something more old-school for your lunch in Newburyport, you’d best make your way to The Grog, a historic, two-story pub that offers a positively massive array of dishes on the menu. It is recommended that you begin with a bowl of their silky clam chowder while you ponder dishes like mussels in red curry sauce, fish tacos, shrimp scampi over fresh linguine, and a thick-cut ribeye steak smothered in truffle butter. The ever-rotating selection of beers on draught encompass local New England brewers such as Riverwalk and Allagash, and beer nerds will be pleasantly surprised to discover gems such as the Cuvee du Tomme, a wild ale aged in bourbon barrels from Lost Abbey in California.

13 Middle St | Newburyport | 978-465-8008

 

Bottom line, after a delicious lunch in Newburyport, you’ll be more ready than ever to pull up a recliner on Blue’s private beach and let the serenity begin.

— Joe

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

Point Cabrillo lighthouse, just a few miles up the road on Route 1, is a perfect side trip during a stay at Blue Door Group. The Point Cabrillo Light Station includes the lighthouse, three keepers’ houses, oil house, and a blacksmith and carpentry shop that now houses an aquarium and a marine science exhibit. The showpiece, though, is the lighthouse lantern’s flashing lens, first illuminated in 1909 and, after loving restoration, now back at work warning ships away from the craggy coast .

Staffed by enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers, Point Cabrillo Light Station is one of only a handful left on the California coast with an operational Fresnel lens and one of only three lenses in the United States made by the English company Chance Brothers. (The team of greeters are just as familiar with the local marine life, often directing your attention out towards albino sea lions, which look like patches of snow, resting on an island in the cove.)

Invented by French physicist Augustin Jean Fresnel (pronounced Fruh-nell) in 1820, the Fresnel lens was a huge technological breakthrough that’s still used today. A Fresnel lens rotates around a single light source. The arrangement of its many prisms—including distinctive bull’s-eye patterns—creates the appearance of a flashing light, which can be seen from great distances. The four-sided Point Cabrillo lighthouse lens makes one full revolution every 40 seconds, creating a flash (called a signature) every 10 seconds.

The Point Cabrillo Light Station was manned until 1972, when a new beacon was installed on the lighthouse’s roof and the last keeper retired. The California State Coastal Conservacy purchased the light station in 1992 to protect the land from development. A photo exhibit inside the lighthouse chronicles the politics behind the effort and the extensive preservation work that followed.

In 1999, the lantern room restoration was completed and the Fresnel lens was reinstated in time for the Port Cabrillo Light Station’s 90th anniversary. Modern electronics help ensure that the lens is as reliable as location beacons used in airports.

The Point Cabrillo lighthouse is open from 11am to 4pm daily. An accessible half-mile trail from the parking lot takes you to the lighthouse.

The Point Cabrillo Lighthouse Station State Historic Park includes the 30.5-acre light station surrounded by a 266-acre nature preserve. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.

45300 Lighthouse Road | Mendocino, CA 

Belfast Day Trip Part 3

This post is part of a three-part article by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine, on a day trip from our Camden Maine hotel to the quaint town of Belfast, 30 minutes north. Click here for the first and second installments.

The religious fervor in which Owl & Turtle Bookshop & Café owners Rick and Elaine night maintain their mantra of “Fiercely indie, truly local” is quite impressive. This Camden independent book shop goes to great lengths to support local artists, writers, and craftsman, while keeping alive the near-extinct craft of curating an independent bookstore. This, as many know, is a monumental task given the current state of affairs, but once you’ve shopped here and experienced the fanatical love they have for selling books, it is hard to go elsewhere. And then there is the coffee. The only place in town to find quality pour-over, from a diverse selection of single-origin coffee beans, they also feature espresso drinks, excellent baked goods, and the all-important free Wi-Fi.                        33 Bayview Street, Belfast

Right next door you will find Camden Cone, the locals’ favorite go-to for cold, sweet sustenance. They offer Round Top Ice Cream, from Damariscotta, in flavors like apple pie and “Indian summer,” as well as the usual suspects. For those who may be confused, they provide very simple ordering directions: Flavor. Size. Cone. Good to go! 31 Bayview Street, Belfast

On your way back to Whitehall from this Belfast day trip, there is one more stop for all the romantic provisions that truly matter, Lily Lupine and Fern. As the name would suggest, they are a full-service florist, offering custom arrangements with a special emphasis on not offering carnations, a flower that is commonly hated amongst people who love flowers. The shop’s wine selection numbers over 2000 bottles, and rewards spending a bit of extra time digging deep, as you never know what random vintage you may unearth. The missing link thus far, great cheese, is offered in abundance as well, along with olive oils, coffee, chocolates, and other necessities. 11 Main Street, Belfast

— Joe

Portsmouth Historical Society at Discover Portsmouth

Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

After a crisp morning of perusing a staggering array of shops along the main drag, chances are you’re going to want to take in a bit of culture – and in that regard the Portsmouth Historical Society at Discover Portsmouth is like one-stop shopping.

Not only the is the Portsmouth Historical Society staff extremely friendly, but they are also passionate about you not missing a thing during your stay in this historic port city. Acclimate yourself with a brief video about Portsmouth, and take a moment to enjoy their museum shop which showcases the best artists in the community. From here there are guided walking tours that encompass the plethora of historic mansions, as well as the iconic Black Heritage Trail which serves to memorialize and raise awareness of the slave trade once present here, and how that involved into a very important New Hampshire Civil Rights movement.

Discover Portsmouth also boasts an ever-changing gallery exhibit, and I was fortunate enough on a recent visit to see one of their most impressive shows to date, a celebration of the works of American impressionist painter Edmund C. Tarbell. Commissioned for portraits by the likes of powerful figures like Woodrow Wilson and Harry Frieke, Tarbell was also very well known for rich, vivid depictions of landscapes, as well as being heavily influenced by fellow American legend John Singer Sargent.

10 Middle St. | Portsmouth | (603) 436-8433 

— Joe

Seeking Newport Seafood

Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

In every coastal New England community there must exist the quintessential “seafood restaurant.” They are generally marked by a raw bar, chowder, a selection of a la carte fish, and, for some reason, a slew of Italian American pasta dishes. This being said, within this archetype, what generally separates the good from the forgettable is the quality and freshness of the seafood and how little it is manipulated. 

Scales and Shells is hands-down the local’s favorite Newport seafood spot — for both their own dining experiences as well as where they send out of towners. I can see why, it has all of the quintessential elements in place with the added bonus of a fully open kitchen and two raw bars (the second of which is billed as a sister restaurant of sorts, an oyster bar called “Half Shell.”), as well as displaying the entire menu scrawled onto a massive chalkboard. This is always entertaining because you inadvertently become aware of each diner’s quality of vision, as some are comfortable viewing from the table while others scrutinize the board from a vantage point about two inches away.

The basis for the menu is definitely the mesquite wood grill, from which come seven or eight different species of fish, ranging from bluefish to tuna belly, served by their lonesome with a choice of side. Simple cookery such as this goes back to the need for quality and freshness because there isn’t much to hide behind. The raw bar features staples like cherry stone and little neck clams, shrimp cocktail, and four different types of oysters. There is also a “broiled” alternative to the grill, available for scallops, scrod, and salmon. 

Stalwart pasta dishes like linguine with clams, shrimp scampi, and mussels marinara are provided for those looking to leave the restaurant painfully full after utilizing the entire loaf of table bread as a conduit for rogue sauce. One preparation stands out, the Lobster Fra Diavolo – at $62 it is billed as “for two” but I think, if you’re ambitious enough, you can alter the billing to “as a spectacle for one.” 

527 Thames Street | Newport | (401) 846- 3474 

— Joe

Nantucket Brunch

Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

The hands down favorite of chefs throughout the island, Proprietors serves up a decadent Nantucket brunch, but get there early because it fills up FAST. 

One of the most interesting elements of the brunch menu is that each week the whole kitchen crew gets together to formulate new ideas for this Nantucket brunch, resulting in creations like the “PIG MAC,” essentially a Big Mac with griddled Johnny Cakes subbed in for the buns and pork sausage for the burger patties – all perfect with a side of pig ear fries with cilantro, chile, and lime. Another nap-inducing invention is General Tso’s chicken nugget with poached eggs, served over very good fried rice – which gets even better once it is permeated with egg yolk –  and pickled bok choy to help cut through the fat. 

An appropriate prequel to all of this, besides strong black coffee and a pint glass full of club soda with bitters, are grilled banana muffins served with whipped honey and peanut butter that you could literally put on anything to make it better. Might as well throw in a pile of maple chili chicken wings and start perusing the well-thought out selection of wine and beer. Again, you will be pleasantly surprised with manner in which this Nantucket brunch deftly executes a menu that is all over the board stylistically. 

9 India Street | Nantucket, MA | 508-228-7477

— Joe

Breakfast in Oak Bluffs

Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

In order to fuel up for a day of relaxation or exploration, you’ll want to find breakfast in Oak Bluffs. The first — and some would say most important — meal of the day takes several incarnations as the sun rises over our island.

Breakfast in Oak Bluffs

Linda Jean’s is definitely the old stand-by, serving up proper greasy spoon favorites like hash and eggs, steak and eggs, green eggs and ham – you get the idea. They also have signature plates like The Alabama, a slab of chicken fried steak smothered in rich gravy with eggs, and The Mess, a hardy scramble of Swiss cheese, spinach, onion, and, you guessed it, eggs, that is surely meant to cure those whose condition mirrors the name of the dish. Either way, the coffee is strong and bottomless. 25 Circuit Ave | Oak Bluffs | (508) 693-4093

A peculiar yet captivating option for breakfast in Oak Bluffs is Beetlebung, a sleek, multi-cultural restaurant by night that becomes a sleek, multi-cultural espresso house during the daylight hours. All you’ll need is a freshly baked scone, a cup of superlative black coffee, and an Acai berry smoothie, made to order, and you’ll be completely prepared to face another day of relaxation and consumption. 53 Circuit Ave | Oak Bluffs | (508) 696-0053

Lastly, if you’re the type who can hold out until 11AM for a boozy brunch on Sundays, then you’re going to be amongst like-minded folk at Park Corner Bistro. Inspired yet unpretentious comfort foods come together with lethal martinis and bloodies that will help you straight down the rabbit hole once again. 20 Kennebec Ave | Oak Bluffs | (608) 696-9922

— Joe

Made in Mendocino

Mendocino is known for its artists and makers who apply a high level of care to their work, be it art, crafts, or speciality foods. From painters and sculptors inspired by the beauty of the coast to chefs and producers that search for the best way to show off the area’s unique produce, Mendocino is home to many handmade goods that capture California’s essence. Here are a few of our favorites made in Mendocino souvenirs to consider when visiting this coastal artist haven.

Mendocino Jams & Preserves | 440 Main St, Mendocino | (707) 937-1037

Take home a taste of California from this sweet mom-and-pop shop located on Mendocino’s waterfront main street. Jams like olallieberry, huckleberry, and wild cherry are crafted from unique Californian fruits and would make a great gift or way to relive your NorCal vacation when you’re back home. Mendo Jams’ products have less sugar than typical store-bought jams, so the true fruit flavor really shines through.

Compass Rose Leather | 45150 Albion Street, Mendocino | (707) 937-5170

When you first step into this shop, the first thing you notice is the warm, rich smell of finished leather. With a wide selection of leather belts, purses, bags, and even diaries, you’re sure to find a beautiful handmade reminder of your time in Mendocino. The owners provide great customer service, even customizing belts with holes punched to fit. This is the perfect place to find that travel bag you’re just realizing you need!

Rising Tide Sea Vegetables | (707) 964-5663

Hand-harvested seaweed, excuse us, sea vegetables are the next big thing in wild foods. Add a taste of the California coast to your cooking with Rising Tide‘s products, from nori sheets for sushi to umami-packed dulse flakes which go great in macaroni and cheese. Try the addictive “Sea Snacks” where the sea greens are added to energy bars made with ingredients you can feel good about eating. Find these made in Mendocino products at Corners of the Mouth natural foods store and Harvest Market at Mendosa’s in downtown Mendocino.

Bad Martha Brewing

While Martha’s Vineyard may have been named by its first English settlers for the prolific grapevines that once covered the island, it’s not wine but beer that’s produced at Bad Martha Brewing in Edgartown. One of two breweries on the island, Bad Martha Brewing uses many local and wild-grown ingredients to infuse its wide variety of beers with the spirit of the island. Visit the brewery and tasting room on Upper Main Street in Edgartown for a relaxing afternoon spent enjoying a true taste of Martha’s Vineyard.

The brewery and tasting room neighbors a plant nursery, so the brewery is landscaped with beautiful native plantings, including those famed grapevines. Inside the striking Amish-built barn, you’ll find at least 10 styles of beer from a light golden ale to an ESB. Brewmaster Jacobi Reid uses locally-grown and foraged ingredients, like beach plums, honey, and even oysters, to create these unique brews. Staying true to the island’s namesake, every batch of Bad Martha beer contains island grape leaves. Fall brings several heartier styles of beer to the menu like Pumpkin Pie Bock, Imperial Oyster Stout, and naturally, an Oktoberfest.

Beers are available in free samples, flights, and by the glass. Find something you like? Fill a growler to take home and enjoy later.

While the beer and scenery provide the makings of an enjoyable afternoon, the tasting room at Bad Martha also has a small menu of cheese, charcuterie, and crudité; board games; and frequently live music and trivia nights. The brewery is open from 12-9pm, seven days a week through the end of October.

Bad Martha Brewing | 270 Upper Main St, Edgartown | (508) 939-4415

Our Favorite Salem Coffee Shops

With all that there is to do in Salem—from world-renown museums to tour, shops to explore, and restaurants to enjoy—you’re going to need a lot of energy for your trip. Or perhaps you’re going to need a place to stop and relax while out and about in downtown Salem. Either way, we’ve got you covered with our favorite Salem coffee shops that provide a much needed pick-me-up or a place to put up your feet and rest:

Front Street Coffeehouse | 20 Front St, Salem | (978) 740-6697

This funky shop is located just a block away from our boutique hotel, The Merchant. Embrace the season and order up a pumpkin spice or maple latte. While you wait, check out the rotating collection of art on the walls contributed by local artists. Should hunger strike, order one of the many creative sandwich combinations, like the Pippi Longstocking, a grilled cheese with dill Havarti, muenster, spinach, pesto, roasted red peppers, and tomatoes.

Gulu-Gulu Cafe | 247 Essex St, Salem | (978) 740-8882

Gulu-Gulu meets all your needs at any time of day, open from 8AM until 1AM with a full menu of brunch items, European-themed entrees, and wine, beer, and cocktails. Serious coffee lovers won’t want to miss the creamy iced coffee on nitro, and the menu of creative specialty lattes like Russell Stover (chocolate and coconut) will warm you up on a cool day.

Jaho Coffee & Tea | 197 Derby St, Salem | (978) 744-4300

Seek out Jaho after you’ve explored the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and the waterfront. Relax with a Scary Mary Mocha latte, made with cinnamon and caramel, or “chaider,” a combination of chai tea and cider. Between the board games, free wi-fi, and gelato, you may have trouble tearing yourself away from Jaho in order to experience the rest of Salem.

Newburyport Restaurants: Fall Favorites

Fall is here, and it’s reflected in the changing foliage of Plum Island and in the kitchens of our favorite Newburyport restaurants. As the weather cools and the beach crowds thin out, chefs start to gravitate towards heartier vegetables, slow-cooked meats, and rich sauces. Here are three restaurants in Newburyport where you can warm up with some fall flavors after a day spent enjoying the beautiful weather:

The Poynt | 31 Water Street, Newburyport | (978) 358-8501

This hot new restaurant from frequent Iron Chef contestant Peter Hansen delivers small plates, wood-fired pizzas, and hearty entrees. Start with a fall-inspired honey baked squash salad with a cider reduction, pumpkin seeds, and goat cheese. The lamb bolognese features housemade pappardelle and local ricotta—and goes perfectly with a glass of the Prunotto Barbera.

Ceia Kitchen + Bar | 38 State Street, Newburyport | (978) 358-8112

Ceia really shines in the fall and winter, with its cozy dining room and menu full of comforting European dishes. The menu changes frequently here, but you can bet that chefs are always embracing the season’s harvest. Recent autumnal winners included a pork croquette with chanterelles, shaved squash, and tuna and a beet salad with baby mustard greens and roasted cipollini onions.

Purple Onion Cafe | 44 Inn St, Newburyport | (978) 465-9600

The Onion is perfect for packing a fall beach picnic or grabbing a quick bite when you’re on the go. The daily soup specials reflects the cooling weather: beef chili and cheese tortellini in a tomato broth. This casual café loves fall so much that it keeps the “Autumn Wrap”—sautéed chicken with apple-cranberry chutney and stuffing—on the menu year round.

Cork Wine Bar & Market

There is something decidedly comforting about having the privilege to discover a new style of wine at a bar – and then have the option to purchase a bottle of it right then and there. 

In this regard, Cork Wine Bar & Market succeeds admirably, curating a wine list that is accessible while being a bit off the beaten path, stylistically. By the glass selections do well to represent the archetypal characteristics of varietals like Arneis, Negramaro, and Grillo, giving the drinker a solid foundation on which to base other producers of the same grapes.

The décor is brightly lit, sleek, and minimal, accentuated with the occasional white fur throw and an intricate set of modern-style light fixtures. The bar is flanked on each side by a small dining room as well as a cushier lounge, while the storefront houses the retail wine section.

Because it is a wine bar, it is important to note the focus on superlative boutique producers, like Porter Creek and Copain, while highlighting natural wines, most notably by famous Sicilian producer Frank Cornellison, who ages his Mt. Etna wines the very old fashioned way in amphora. Not your cup of tea? Go for a glass of rich, fruity Bread and Butter Pinot Noir from California. Of course, the staff is knowledgeable and happy to assist if you start to feel overwhelmed.

The small, pairing-friendly food menu consists of composed dishes, like mussels sautéed in white wine with local bleu cheese, prosciutto, and a trio of alliums, as well as creamy Maple Brook Burrata served with balsamic reduction, high quality olive oil, and their Elmore Mountain Bread. Those in search of a more basic snack can choose from an à la carte selection of cured meats and cheeses, served with cornichons, mustard, and a dash of truffle honey.

Cork is a busy and welcome addition to your après ski options, and a perfect jumping off point for a long night eating and drinking your way through Stowe.

36 School Street | Stowe, VT | (802) 760-6143 

Day Trip to Portland’s Casco Bay Islands

Fall is the perfect time to enjoy a trip to Maine—the summertime crowds have thinned, the temps are cool and dry, and the changing fall foliage is putting on a spectacular show. One of the best ways to get out and enjoy the glorious weather is to take a day trip out to the Casco Bay Islands. While there are over 200 islands in the bay, only a handful of them are reachable by the city’s ferry system.

The most populated island of the bunch is Peaks Island. Its proximity to Portland (only 3 miles) makes it a popular island for a day trip, as well as for summer and year round residents. The ferry trip takes about 15 minutes and lets you off at Jones Landing. From there, head up the hill for the day’s provisions. Grab a cinnamon bun and a coffee from Peaks Café to enjoy while overlooking Portland Harbor. Once you’ve fueled up with a midmorning snack, don’t miss the Umbrella Cover Museum, which is as quirky as it sounds. Explore the island by bike with a rental from Brad’s Bike Rental or on foot. History buffs, kids, and the young-at-heart will love exploring Battery Steele, an abandoned World War II military fortification, which offers great views from the top and a spooky trek through its interior.

For a quieter jaunt, visit Great Diamond Island, only a twenty to thirty minute ride on the ferry. While the island is largely private, the Inn at Great Diamond Island has a restaurant where you can soak in island culture and enjoy a nice meal. Diamond’s Edge Restaurant is housed in the former Fort McKinley, offering further evidence of the islands of Casco Bay’s role in military defense. Enjoy dinner at the waterside or a beer and a snack inside at the livelier bar.

If you’re only looking to enjoy the view of the Casco Bay Islands from the ferry, the Mailboat Run is for you. Yes, it actually delivers the mail to the islands, but also doubles as a sightseeing cruise for passengers. A 2-1/2 to 3 hour trip, the boat visits five islands while offering a narration about the history of the area. Pack lunch or snacks and enjoy the view from the top deck.

Historic Tours in Kennebunkport

When visiting coastal Kennebunkport, you might be interested in learning more about the rich history of the area. Between the historic shipbuilding and fishing industries, there’s plenty to take in if you know where to look. Even our boutique hotel, the Captain Fairfield Inn, has its own unique history, so be sure to ask our staff about the story of the Captain and his family. History buffs should check out these three historic tours in Kennebunkport where you can learn about the Mainers and those “from away” that shaped the area.

Kennebunkport Historical Society | 8 Maine St, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-2751

This Victorian-era mansion at the top of Spring Street was once the home of Charles and Celia Perkins, who made their living from the area’s thriving shipbuilding industry. Tours of the house, with its period furniture and wallpaper, are offered daily on the hour from 10am to 3pm. The house is also home to the First Families Museum, which covers the history of these sea captains families to the area’s most famous family, the Bushes.

Intown Trolley Tours | 21 Ocean Avenue, Kennebunkport | (207) 967-3686

Take a load off and roll around town with Intown Trolley. Meet in Dock Square, hop aboard, and enjoy an hour long tour narrating the history of the area. Stops include the Franciscan Monastery, Walker’s Point (home of the Bush’s summer compound), and several historic hotels. These historic tours of Kennebunkport leave daily on the hour from 10am to 3pm, and passes are good for a day of transport, allowing you to hop off at any stop that needs further exploration.

Brick Store Museum | 117 Main Street, Kennebunk, ME 04043 | (207) 985-4802

OK, this tour is actually in neighboring Kennebunk, but the Brick Store Museum is worth the trip to enjoy a walking tour of the historic homes of the area. Learn about the historic district of Summer St. where six distinct architectural styles are on display or take a tour of the Kennebunk Beach area, which covers the history of life at the beach in the early 20th century.

Lunchtime in Belfast

This post is part of a three-part article by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine, on a day trip from our Camden Maine hotel to the quaint town of Belfast, 30 minutes north. Click here for the first installment.

When lunchtime in Belfast rolls around, you have a few options – starting with the local favorite, Rollie’s Bar and Grill. A lively, no frills sports bar, they offer a full range of draught selections which are perfect alongside a plate of their beer-battered chicken strips, which are strangely addictive – and of course if they have great tenders you know the wings can’t be far behind! Rollie’s Bar and Grill | 37 Main St | Belfast

On a hot day, you would be well-advised to take a seat on the patio overlooking the water at Laan Xang Café for a tall, sweet, vividly-colored glass of Thai Iced Tea. Nothing goes better with a plate of their Laotian sausage, Sai-Ghock, flecked with garlic, lemongrass, and lime leaves, served with a small basket of sticky rice and housemade chili sauce for dipping. Other home-style favorites include Mok Pla, a Laotian preparation of steamed fish pockets with curry, served on a bed of banana leaves. Laan Xang Cafe | 19 Main St | Belfast

Regardless of where you end up for lunchtime in Belfast, you must make time for Meanwhile in Belfast for one, or three, of their sourdough, Neapolitan-style pizzas. Located in the historic Ocean House, this is the real deal, we promise – the man behind the pizza is recognized by the Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana. The crust is truly Elysian, maintaining a wonderful flavor and perfect balance of crispy to chewy, and quality of the toppings follows suit. The “Hot Summer,” is laden with hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes, spicy salami, fresh mozzarella, and Taggiasche olives, a perfect accompaniment for an icy cold bottle of Arneis. At lunchtime, you an even get yourself one of the Puglia’s famous wood-fired sandwiches, Puccia, done with a variety of toppings that are all beyond reproach when enjoyed with a glass of St. Feuillien Farmhouse Ale from Belgium. Meanwhile in Belfast | 2 Cross St | Belfast

–Joe

Newport’s Best Burger

We invited Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of that state’s acclaimed Down East and Dispatch magazines, to go on a Belfast day trip while staying at Whitehall. Follow along as he shares his perspective on things to do, eat, and drink in Portsmouth. With writing credits from Bon Appetit, Vice, The Guardian and Boston Magazinewe hope you enjoy his unique voice and insights.

Normally, when presented with the option of a burger joint that could in any way be perceived as “upscale,” even in regards to ingredients, I’m cautious. I don’t think I’m alone in my opinion that fast food style burgers always taste best, and when you mess with the formula too much you end up with an overpriced and underwhelming mess. So off I went in search of Newport’s best burger.

I was very pleasantly surprised when I took my first bite of the “Mickey D’s” burger at MissionMade of high quality beef that ground in-house, the burger has just the right fat content and a patty thickness reminiscent of the backyard cook-out. They do not overthink the bun, which is griddled to maintain structural integrity while staying soft throughout. There aren’t “100 wacky topping choices,” just hamburger, cheeseburger, chili-cheeseburger, and the aforementioned Mickey D’s (an homage to McDonald’s of sorts). 

Even the hot dogs are ground in-house, resulting in flavorful meat with casing that has the kind of snap that is the hallmark of a good dog. Again, choices are traditional – sauerkraut, relish, Chicago-style, and chili, with the option of melting cheese on any of them. Fries are hand-cut, medium thick, and crispy on the outside while staying fluffy on the inside. Even the falafel is superlative, served on a toasted pita with tzatziki, radish, fennel, and preserved lemon – so you can feel ok about having vegetarians in tow when all you want is a festival of meat. 

They have wine in cans, water in boxes, and a hefty assortment of beer because, when all is said and done, few things are better with three hot dogs on a sweltering, 90-degree day. 

And most importantly, they do not make their own ketchup. Even though they make Newport’s best burger, they recognize that it doesn’t get any better than Heinz and focus their efforts elsewhere on more worthwhile endeavors. 

— Joe

29 Marlborough Street | Newport | (401) 619-5560 

 

Nantucket Off-road Driving

Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

Easily one of the most exciting and unique things you can do while you’re staying with us is take advantage of some prime Nantucket off-road driving action. If you didn’t bring your own set of wheels over on the ferry, the easiest thing to do is contact the good people at Affordable Rentals to secure a Jeep. We suggest you splurge on the 4-door Rubicon model –  because you deserve it, after coming all this way.

Even if you’ve never done this type of thing before, beyond maybe playing in Rally Car mode in Gran Turismo on Playstation, the crew at Affordable Rentals will give you the step by step, and they even have beach chair, cooler, and umbrella rentals available for when you reach your scenic destination. 

The best Nantucket off-road driving is on the beach going out towards Great Point, where you’ll come upon a historic lighthouse, first built in 1784 (a few mishaps and rebuilds since then, but you get the general idea). Once you drive out on to the dunes, preferably in the early hours to catch the sunrise, you stop and let air out of the tires using the small, pen-like tool provided until the Rubicon’s electronic tire pressure monitors register 16. Now put her in 4WD, and you are ready to cruise along the beach with the top down as the waves crash right outside your window. 

Once you reach the lighthouse, set up for a picnic as you observe groups of seals running up and down the beach, while remaining cautious to defend your provisions from potential seagull attackers. On the drive back, simply stop at the roadside air pump and fill those tires back up before heading back to the hotel in time for dinner. A truly unforgettable island experience. 

— Joe

In Search of Late Night Eats in Oak Bluffs

Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

Say you’ve enjoyed an early dinner and then decided to check out the local bar scene. After having a bit more of a good time than you had initially expected at The Ritz (4 Circuit Ave | Oak Bluffs | (508) 693-9851), an iconic island dive bar, you’re on the hunt for late night eats in Oak Bluffs. Good thing there are two options close by that span two very basic human needs. Just be sure to hit an ATM so you have cash on hand for both.

Late Night Eats

First, you can stop by Giordano’s Pizza Room (18 Lake Ave | Oak Bluffs | (508) 693-0814) for a big slice of thin, Neapolitan-style pizza – the kind that only gets better when you heap on the grated parmesan, oregano, and chili flake. For the sake of your expensive silk resort wear, we recommend neatly folding the slice and consuming while standing up for maximum grease control.

Your other option is to do as everyone else does and get in line for Back Door Donuts at Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Café & Bakery (5 Post Office Square | Oak Bluffs | (508) 693-3688), where they start serving out of the back window at 7PM and don’t stop until 1AM (well, 12:58 to be exact). What is the reward for braving the line? It could be an impromptu acapella performance, it could be other tourists grumbling about how long it’s taking, but it will DEFINITELY be a big, warm apple fritter or cinnamon bun (among other choices) that will, in the immortal words of PM Dawn, “set you adrift on memory bliss.” They are so good, in fact, that you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself queuing up at the bakery the next night, in search of another fix of late night eats in Oak Bluffs.

— Joe

Family-friendly Restaurants in Edgartown

After spending a day at the beach, it’s nice to head to a family-friendly restaurant, where the kids will find something to eat and parents can relax with an adult beverage. So while Edgartown has its fair share of fine dining restaurants, you may be wondering where the best places for the whole family are. You know, a place that hits that sweet spot between good food and yet someone won’t give you dirty looks if your little lets out a shriek or two. Here are three of our favorite spots in town that will please everyone in your group, no matter their age.

Lucky Hank’s | 218 Upper Main St., Edgartown | (508) 939-4082

This bistro is a quieter spot, away from the bustle of downtown, but kids are still welcome. They’ll love the cozy seating in the renovated house or a table on the screened-in porch. Loads of local vegetables and comfort foods dominate the menu, and kids will enjoy grilled cheese and tomato soup or meatloaf, while adults can feast on scallops with risotto or lobster mac and cheese.

Sharky’s Cantina | 266 Upper Main St., Edgartown | (508) 627-6565

Those looking to get into the festive mood of the Island should head to Sharky’s, where the menu is full of kid-friendly foods like quesadillas and nachos. Should your kids not be into Mexican food, there’s a standard kids’ menu, where each entree comes with coloring books, crayons, and a toy shark. Regularly voted the Island’s best family dining, the Cantina delivers a good time for everyone.

The Seafood Shanty | 31 Dock St., Edgartown | (508) 627-8622

You’ve got to get your lobster roll and fried clam fix in while on vacation, so head to the Seafood Shanty, where a kids’ menu makes this an official family-friendly restaurant. Request a table upstairs, where the bird’s eye view of the harbor will keep the kids busy until the food comes. The Shanty is conveniently located across the street from the Scoop Shack, so you can end your night on the town with an ice cream cone.

Sips in Salem

A day spent touring the rich art, maritime, and witch trial history of Salem can certainly work up a thirst. Check out these three places for drinks in Salem that specialize in craft cocktails, from a classic waterfront seafood spot to Salem’s newest (and quirkiest) arcade-themed bar. Look for drinks featuring locally-made Deacon Giles gin and rum and Privateer rum, made in nearby Ipswich. Bonus: these three bars are within walking distance of our boutique hotel, The Merchant.

Opus | 87 Washington Street, Salem | (978) 744-9600

Head downstairs to the bar, a Moroccan-style lounge dubbed Opus Underground where unusual cocktail ingredients like absinthe and brennivin reign supreme. Regularly voted best cocktail bar in Salem by the readers of Northshore Magazine, the bar’s cocktail menu offers over twenty unique drinks. Try the refreshing Climbing Rose: grapefruit vodka, Combier rose liqueur, lemon, orgeat, and housemade grenadine.

Sea Level Oyster Bar | 94 Wharf Street, Salem | (978) 741-0555

Head to this waterfront raw bar and grill for harbor views, chilled seafood, and nautically-themed cocktails. Housemade ingredients and infusions are standard here, like jalapeno-infused pineapple vodka and basil simple syrup. The Navy Grog on Shore Leave, made with spiced rum, passion fruit rum, black pepper infused honey, lemon juice, soda water, and mint will get you in the vacation spirit.

Bit Bar | 50 Saint Peter Street, Salem | (978) 594-4838

Salem’s newest bar takes you back to your childhood, with arcade games and a themed food and drink menu to match. One key difference from childhood? Bit Bar puts a distinctly adult spin on video game time with its creative cocktail menu for those seeking out drinks in Salem. Take a break from playing Super Mario Bros. or Pac-Man to enjoy a tropical Dankey Kang, made with Crème de banana, Privateer Silver rum, blue curacao, cream of coconut, and coconut water or an Ecto Chaser, a bright green rum-based concoction.

Mendocino’s Water Towers

Sitting high on the headlands, the coastal town of Mendocino sports some unusual landmarks that may have visitors scratching their heads over their original purpose. Several of these tall, wooden tower-like structures can be found around town, hinting at the logging and milling industry that first attracted settlers to the area. Mendocino’s water towers, built at the turn of the 19th century, provided necessary water to the town’s new residents.

The woodsmen who first ventured north from San Francisco to the Northern California coast in 1852 found plenty of wide rivers and fast-moving streams to support their village and sawmills. But the water table of Mendocino is very close to the ground’s surface. This geological fact means that in-ground fresh water storage was near impossible. Unlike its neighbor to the north, Fort Bragg, Mendocino has no central water supply, and so these towers collected and stored rainwater for year round use. Their height, from 30 to 60 feet tall, provided the necessary pressure to feed water to the pipes below, while a windmill provided the power to run the pump.

Today, most of Mendocino’s water towers have been renovated, a process necessary to preserve them 100 years after their construction. Most have been repurposed into gift shops, artist studios, or residences. Their distinct profile high over the town of Mendocino is yet one more unique feature of this picturesque seaside town. Visit the oldest still-standing water tower at the corner of Ukiah Street, a yellow one surrounded by an artist’s garden and sculpture. You can even fulfill your dream of sleeping in a water tower, outfitted all the necessities: plush bedding, a wood fireplace, and a private bath, by visiting our JD House, part of the Blue Door Group. Sleep well under soaring ceilings with the sounds of the ocean waves crashing nearby, surrounded by the history of the Mendocino’s water towers.

Looking for Lunch in Oak Bluffs

Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

All that island beaching and shopping, coupled with relaxing on the deck at Summercamp, is going to leave you famished and in need of lunch in Oak Bluffs. What is it they say about 6 meals a day helps you lose weight? Just go with it.

There are several local options to satisfy the all-important craving for ice cream, but there is something very special about Ben & Bills Chocolate Emporium. While they have myriad flavors to satisfy every palate, from salted caramel to cake batter to electric-green pistachio, what really makes them standout is the dense and creamy texture which is reminiscent of superlative gelato. It is also advised that you purchase chocolates to stock your hotel room…just in case.

20A Circuit Ave | Oak Bluffs | (508) 696-008 

If you’re looking to induce the perfect afternoon siesta, we recommend making your way over to Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches  to pick up Cuban Sandwiches. Served on a griddled sub roll with the prerequisite but well-executed ham, pork, pickles, and spicy mayo, the quality of this sandwich will leave you wanting to go back and see if their steak bomb equally holds up. It does.

12 Circuit Ave | Oak Bluffs | (508)693-5281 

Whatever you choose, a trip to Jim’s Package Store and Island Market for few bottles of Mumm Napa to wash down the tasty sandwiches is in order. It is worth noting that this store will save your life on more than one occasion while intown. 

27 Lake Ave | Oak Bluffs | (508) 693-0236

Lastly, if you want to enjoy a few icy cold beers along with lunch in Oak Bluffs along the docks, there is no better option than Coop DeVille. They are known for their stuffed Quahogs, and with good reason – they are everything you could ever want them to be, and only get better when you douse them with a liberal amount of drawn butter. 

12 Circuit Ave Ext. | Oak Bluffs | (508) 693-3420

— Joe

Fine Dining in Newport

A visit to Newport, with so many dining options, calls for a special evening out and some fine dining. Take a break from touring art museums, mansions, and shops to delight in the best seafood, produce, bread, and cheese that Newport farmers, fishermen, and chefs have to offer. Your only difficulty will be narrowing down the options from the multitudes of great restaurants in downtown Newport. For fine dining in Newport, we suggest these three restaurants, but the list is by no means comprehensive!

Fine Dining in Newport

The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar | Sayers Wharf, Newport | (401) 846-2260

Those looking to experience the best of Newport’s seafood should head to The Mooring for dinner. The kitchen offers a staggering array of seafood preparations, from oysters on the half shell to tuna tartare to grilled Atlantic swordfish. The “Bag of Doughnuts” appetizer—lobster, crab and shrimp fritters with chipotle-maple aioli—has become a fan favorite. There’s also plenty of choices for landlubbers too.

Tallulah on Thames | 464 Thames Street, Newport | (401)849-2433

A 15-minute walk from our boutique hotel, the Attwater, Tallulah on Thames is open for dinner only on ThursdayFriday, and Saturday evenings. The menu, a 5-course tasting menu for $78, changes frequently and is a celebration of Rhode Island cuisine. A recent summer menu included charred octopus served with smoked yogurt and cherry barbecue sauce, and local striped bass with corn puree, coconut foam, and chanterelles. The dishes’ modern plating will delight all of your senses.

22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grille | Bowen’s Wharf, Newport | (401) 841-8884

22 Bowen’s is reminiscent of a classic steakhouse with its menu that includes French onion soup, a wedge salad, and many thick cuts of beef. Dig into the extensive wine list (with 650 bottles!) or sip a cold martini while you watch the harbor traffic cruise by. Dine al fresco for lunch or pop into the bar for a waterfront taste of fine dining in Newport.

Stowe Pet-friendly Accommodations

Fido, meet Field Guide.

Vermont is a beloved year-round destination for people and pets alike, and we’re thrilled to announce we’ve added several pet-friendly accommodations!

Stowe Pet-friendly Accommodations  

We have three dog-friendly Cottage Suites with private exterior entrances. If you are traveling with your canine friend who is under 70 lbs, please be sure to let us know when making your reservation. There is a pet charge of $35 per dog per day. Dogs must never be left in a guest room alone.

While we love dogs, we recognize that not all of our guests feel the same way. For this reason, we welcome furry guests in our pet-friendly rooms but not in other interior public spaces. For your friend’s comfort, we will happily provide a dog bed.

There will be a $250 cleaning charge to the registered guest if any pets are found in rooms or areas not designated as pet friendly.

With the addition of these Stowe pet-friendly accommodations, we hope you enjoy planning your next trip to this outdoor wonderland with your pooch in tow.

Nantucket Coffee Shops

Here’s another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

If you’re up in the wee hours, there are some excellent Nantucket coffee shops for enjoying the sunrise. One of the plush chairs at The Bean Coffee Shop is an ideal perch to slowly let your senses come back to life with a mug of single origin brew from Nantucket Coffee Roasters. Make it a “light breakfast” with one of their poppy seed bear claws or a warm Danish.

If you’ve opted to rent bikes and spend the day burning calories, you’ve earned your reward of a mountain of cake batter ice cream, piled into a delicious, hand-rolled waffle cone at Juice Bar. If it’s particularly warm out, you simply cannot go wrong with their milkshake made with fresh orange juice, squeezed to order, and vanilla ice cream. 

In the afternoon, head on over to Handlebar Café, another one of Nantucket coffee shops, to enjoy a triple espresso and a coconut water out on their front patio. The staff is friendly, the Wi-Fi is strong, and they don’t’ mind if you hang out for a bit. This is the perfect oasis before heading back to the hotel for a much-needed nap, or spending an hour perusing the captivating selection, or just hanging out with the staff at Nantucket Book Works

— Joe

Belfast Day Trip

We invited Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of that state’s acclaimed Down East and Dispatch magazines, to go on a Belfast day trip while staying at Whitehall. Follow along as he shares his perspective on things to do, eat, and drink in Portsmouth. With writing credits from Bon Appetit, Vice, The Guardian and Boston Magazinewe hope you enjoy his unique voice and insights.

On a Belfast day trip, there are few sights more breathtaking than staring down Main Street in this small maritime city, when the early morning sun reflects off the old Federal-style buildings and the myriad shops begin to whir to life. 

Only a 30-minute drive from our Camden Maine hotel, you would certainly be remiss not to set aside a day to experience a part of Maine that easily rivals Bar Harbor, Kennebunkport, or Portland in its beauty, and where there is surprisingly good food to be found everywhere. Incorporated in 1853, it was an epicenter for the shipbuilding industry and enjoyed great wealth through that century, the remnants of which still remain. 

On the way, you will pass through Lincolnville where an ideal pit stop would be Green Tree Coffee & Tea (2456 Atlantic Highway, Lincolnville Beach) to caffeinate while checking out their on-site roaster. They also have an impressive selection of loose leaf tea, available by the pound, which is worth stocking up on, particularly the Oolong and Sencha varietals. 

Upon arrival in Belfast, we advise working your way down Main Street, starting with Chase’s Daily (96 Main St, Belfast) for breakfast. Farm eggs, cooked perfectly so that, when broken, the rich yolks saturate thick slices of toast from freshly baked bread, along with tender, crisped potatoes that will make it very difficult to go back to the home fries prepared anywhere else. In addition to the café, they are also a bakery, a gallery, a florist, and, in growing seasons, a small farmers market. They do maintain fairly tight hours, so plan accordingly. 

While readying yourself to eat again during your Belfast day trip, walk it off for a bit and check out the array of antique shops, like Epoch (69 Main St, Belfast). Here you will find painstakingly restored furnishings, art, and other rare finds. If there is room in the car, you may as well purchase that Victorian mermaid chandelier you’ve been eyeballing. Another sanctuary where one could easily whittle away several hours’ treasure hunting the shelves is Old Professor’s Bookshop (99 Main St, Belfast), where the array of used books comes straight from the owner’s personal collection. 

— Joe

Portsmouth’s Strawberry Banke

Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

After achieving a state of caffeinated nirvana at your coffee shop of choice, it’s time to take a step into the past at Portsmouth’s Strawberry Banke outdoor history museum. 42 historic buildings, most of which are standing on their original foundations, take up 12 acres and represent four centuries of American life. The structures and their casts of actual living human role players bring the whole affair into detail in a resolution that far exceeds anything you will find on Netflix.

For instance, when you visit the Pitt Tavern, situated firmly back in 1777, you will hopefully encounter both Mrs. Stavers, the wife of the tavern’s proprietor, as well as her daughter, Mrs. Mary Fraser. Both will elaborate on the current state of 1700’s politics while administering appropriately blank stares upon being informed that they are now the star of your newest story on SnapChat.

A quick jaunt back to the future lands you in 1943, where you will visit the Little Corner Store and meet its shopkeeper, Mrs. Abbott, and her employee/neighborhood staple Mrs. Tucker. After learning about the manner in which the country came together to ration our resources in a successful effort to battle the Axis powers, you can inform them how not too far into the future they will be purchasing almost all of their drinking water in bottles made up of something called plastic – which will of course have devastating effects on the planet’s eco system.

Before you head back to the hotel, no trip to Portsmouth’s Strawberry Banke is complete without a visit to the beautiful gardens tended by Mrs. Goodwin, wife of the New Hampshire Governor in 1870, and her daughter. It’s a such a pleasant day, maybe for this last one we can leave all that future talk alone and focus on living in the moment, with the iPhone firmly tucked away.

— Joe

14 Hancock St. | Portsmouth | (603) 433-1100

The Kennebunks’ Newest Restaurants

With so many perennial favorites for dining in Kennebunk’s Dock Square and Lower VIllage, it can be hard to break from routine and try a new restaurant. Why risk missing out on fish tacos at Pedro’s, cocktails on the deck at the Arundel Wharf or Bandaloop’s mac and cheese in the name of an unknown? Several new restaurants have opened up in town recently, and we’ve done the legwork for you. Here’s three new restaurants in the Kennebunks worth a visit: 

The Spirit Restaurant | 4 Western Avenue | Kennebunk 

Any visitor to Dock Square has noticed the 125-foot schooner parked in the river behind the Pilot House. Its retrofit from sailing vessel to bar/restaurant has taken a while, but the hatches are finally open, welcoming diners and drinkers who fancy themselves a bit nautical. Sit topside at the bar and enjoy a speciality cocktail or a local draught beer or dine down below, where the cabins have been fitted with cozy booths. Naturally, fresh seafood dominates the menu; start with local oysters on the half shell and don’t miss the small plates of fish crudo or poke. 

Toroso | 149 Port Road | Kennebunk | (207) 204-0454

Longtime visitors to the Kennebunk area will remember Kennebooks, the town’s only independent new bookstore. While we mourned its closing, diners can rejoice that the space is now in the capable hands of Chef Shannon Bard’s team. Bard and her husband Tom run the upscale Mexican eatery Zapoteca Restaurante y Tequileria in Portland, and Shannon once won the Food Network’s Kitchen Inferno competition. Her newest project, Toroso, is a Spanish-inspired tapas restaurant. Fans of international food will love the Mediterranean dishes like seared calamari with black crab rice and caramelized Spanish goat cheese with pistachios and a sherry reduction. 

Ports of Italy | 4 Western Avenue | Kennebunk | (207) 204-0365

Located right on the main drag of Lower Village, Ports of Italy opened last year, serving Italian fare that’s more than your typical red sauce joint. Chef German Lucarelli has lived all over the world and brings his international culinary skills to the menu, focusing on handmade pastas, breads, and Neapolitan pizza. The antipasto misto makes for a nice starter, with cold cut meats, cheeses, olives, and peppers served over grilled flatbreads. For those looking to enjoy Maine lobster, the spaghetti with a 1-1/4 pound of lobster meat, tomatoes, and basil will hit the spot. 

Stowe Wine & Food Classic

When people think of Stowe, fall foliage and snow are usually the first things that come to mind. But did you know that it also plays host to a major food and wine festival every summer? The Stowe Wine & Food Classic is a three day affair (8/26-28) that caters to foodies and oenophiles alike while raising funds for local organizations such as Copley Hospital, the Stowe area’s regional hospital, and Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, which serves children affected by cancer.

Now in its 18th year, the 2016 festival will be hosted by Spruce Peak at the base of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. Below is a brief schedule of events, and tickets are available online and onsite (if there are still any left!). Book your room at Field Guide now so you can wine and dine in style!

Friday, August 26, 6:00pm – Blues, Brews, & Food Truck Crews 

Kick off the weekend with some of the best Vermont Food Trucks, washing down tasty fare with Vermont craft beers while you enjoy the powerful vocals of Vermont’s own Kat Wright and her funk and soul Indomitable Soul Band. 

Saturday, August 27, 6:00pm – Stowe’s Classic Taste of Vermont

Start your evening overlooking Mt. Mansfield as you sip sparkling wine on the patio of Stowe Mountain Lodge. Guests will move inside for a locally- and regionally-sourced five-course meal, featuring expertly paired wines. Grippo Funk Band will provide live music, complete with dancing opportunities. A live auction of one-of-a-kind items, ranging from rare wines, vacation getaways, and luxurious lifestyle items will follow. 

Sunday, August 28, noon–4:00pm – Grand Tasting

One of the most popular events of the weekend, the Grand Tasting features over 30 chefs and restaurants, craft beers, more than 100 premium international wines, and unique localvore gourmet food. Live cooking demonstrations, wine tasting seminars, and a silent auction take place against the musical backdrop of Vermont’s own Starline Rhythm Boys

Explore Portland’s “Yeast” Bayside Neighborhood

Portland is known for its craft beverage scene, especially beer, but increasingly distilled spirits. One neighborhood in particular has become an incubator for growing craft beverage makers, thanks to the availability of industrial space. Portland’s East Bayside has started attracting beverage enthusiasts looking to learn about the process of brewing beer, cider, distilling spirits, and even fermenting kombucha. Dubbed “Yeast” Bayside, because of the prevalence of these fermented beverage businesses, the area is home to four breweries, a distillery, a meadery, and a cider/kombucha maker. There’s even two coffee shops for those who may need a pick-me-up after a few rounds. 

To begin a tour of the neighborhood, start on Washington Avenue at Maine Mead Works. This meadery will change the way you view honey wine, producing seasonal blends like strawberry, apple, and cranberry that are light and far from the sickly-sweet versions you may have had before. Beer lovers should try the hopped mead, which gives the wine an herbally, citrus flavor. Pop in next door to Oxbow Blending & Bottling for one of the flagship Farmhouse Pale Ale or a refreshing summery saison. 

Venture down Fox Street to the intersection with Anderson Street; hang a right to explore Bunker Brewing and Lone Pine Brewing. Bunker, so-called for the bunker-like appearance of its squat brick building, is the home of the popular Machine Chez Pilsner, which will make you rethink your opinions of light beer. Lone Pine is one of Portland’s newest breweries, making Portland Pale Ale and What What Wheat Ale. Friday nights bring a summer concert series, where the $5 cover also includes your first pint. Across the street is the Urban Farm Fermentory, where you’ll find beer, hard cider, and kombucha on tap.

Further down Fox Street is Rising Tide Brewery, now celebrating its sixth year of operation. This recently expanded tasting room is a great summertime hangout, as large garage doors open up to the parking lot with covered tables, corn hole boards, and live music on Sundays. Try a sampler of four of the beers on tap, like the Daymark, an American Pale Ale, or the MITA ale, a hoppy session ale. Next door, Maine Craft Distilling brews up harder stuff, using as many Maine-grown products as possible in its spirits. Try the Blueshine, a grain-based alcohol flavored with Maine blueberries and maple syrup.

Wondering how you’ll manage to drive safely after an afternoon in Yeast Bayside? Take a Maine Brew Bus tour, which offers guided tours of four of these businesses and includes samples at each stop.

Get a Jump Start on Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport

With temperatures (and leaves) falling by the day, now is the time to start thinking about Christmastime in Kennebunkport! This year marks the 35th anniversary of Christmas Prelude, and as always, Kennebunkport’s holiday festival will be brimming with cheer. During the first two weekends in December, residents and visitors will mingle at tree lightings, caroling, open houses, craft fairs, public luncheons and suppers, and everyone’s favorite — Santa’s arrival via lobster boat.  Most of the events are inspired simply by the season and are offered for free or for a donation to a local charity. Set in this picturesque seaside village, Prelude is truly a Rockwellian holiday festival.

Our Kennebunkport inn is located just a short walk to many annual Prelude events:

  • Candlelit caroling at the Franciscan Monastery
  • Firehouse lobster bake at the Washington Hose Fire Station
  • The Dock Square Christmas tree, decorated with lobster pots and topped with a red wooden lobster
  • Tour of the 1853 Nott House, elegantly decked to the nines
  • Historic trolley rides on an electric streetcar through the Maine woods
  • Fireworks over the cove, right in the center of Kennebunkport

At Captain Fairfield, we want our guests to have a Prelude weekend that is as full and festive as possible.  So whether you’re lounging at Goose Rocks Beach or strolling through Dock Square, consider getting a jump start the holiday season by booking your room for Prelude today!

Historic Mansions of Newport

Any visitor to Newport knows the city’s appeal, with its cooling sea breezes, scenic shoreline, and the fresh New England air. You can easily imagine how the area became en vogue with rich Southern families looking to escape the summer heat. These families built “cottages” on Bellevue Avenue, but they’re anything but cottage-like. Today, they’re known as the Newport mansions, and many are maintained as museums. Touring these mansions is a must when in Newport, with their meticulously maintained period furniture, lush landscaping, and grandiose architecture. The Preservation Society of Newport County lists 11 museums open to the public, but here are three of our favorites:

Chateau-Usr-Mer | 474 Bellevue Avenue | Newport

Literally “House on the Sea,” this mansion was one of the first ones in the area, with construction completed in 1852. Due to a significant renovation at the turn of the 19th century, Chateau-Sur-Mer displays several architectural styles, acting as a time capsule for the trends of the times. George Peabody Wetmore, the son of the original owner, went on to become Rhode Island’s Governor and although a native Vermonter, actually lived year round in the mansion.

The Breakers | 44 Ochre Point Avenue | Newport 

The most palatial of the Newport mansions, The Breakers is also the city’s most visited, with over 300,000 visitors a year. A summer retreat for the Vanderbilt family, the oceanfront mansion is named for the breaking waves on the cliffs below. The 70-room mansion boasts a Great Hall with 45-foot high ceilings; a gold room — which was built in Europe, shipped, and reassembled in Newport — and a carriage room with period equine equipment. 

The Elms | 367 Bellevue Avenue | Newport

You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to tour this estate, as the grounds and gardens are just as elaborate as the French furnishings inside. The Elms was commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Berwind, a young couple from Philadelphia, after their first summer cottage proved to be too small to host the large parties they threw. A “behind the scenes” tour offers a look at the lives of the many employees that ran the mansion, as well as a rooftop view of Newport.

Lark Hotels Partners with Digital eBook Service

Readers rejoice! No one wants to lug around bulky paperback books on vacation anymore, do they? That’s why we’re thrilled to announce a new partnership with Scribd — a digital library and e-book, audiobook, comic book, and sheet music subscription service — that will put over 1 million titles in the palm of your hand during your next stay with us.

When you check into any Lark Hotel, you’ll enjoy 7 days of free access* to this “Netflix for books.” All you have to do is pack your personal e-reader, smartphone, or tablet, and we’ll send you the login link in our welcome email after you check in. No credit card needed, and you can access materials through your browser or the new app. It’s everything you want to read, anywhere you want to go. It’s really that simple! 

We can’t wait for you to try out our newest amenity during your next getaway, joining the other 80 million monthly readers already hooked on the service. Together, they’ve logged nearly 18 million hours of reading! That’s some serious digital page turning. Should you decide to join after your 7-day trial, a subscription costs $8.99 per month – less than the cost of an old school paperback.

For more info on how to use Scribd on your particular device, visit their extensive online support center here.

*Offer does not apply to current Scribd subscribers

Art Galleries of Mendocino

The Northern California town of Mendocino is well-known as an artist haven. With many art galleries, an artist co-op, and a summer arts festival, Mendo residents and visitors alike love to celebrate the natural beauty of the California coast through art. Mendocino is a walkable town, with all of the galleries a short walk from any one of our boutique hotels in the Blue Door Group. Here are three galleries where you can get a feel for the town’s art scene, and even one where you can get in on the action yourself.

The Highlight Gallery | 45094 Main St, Mendocino | (707) 937-3132 

This gallery on Main Street overlooks Mendocino Bay, so the view from inside the shop is as good as that of the art on the walls. Formerly the Guild Store, founded to display the work of the Mendocino Woodworkers and Weavers, the Highlight Gallery still focuses on handcrafted furniture, sculpture, and other American crafts. Fans of fine woodworking will be in seventh heaven here.

Artists’ Co-op of Mendocino | 10400 Kasten St, Mendocino | (707) 937-2217     

This artist-owned gallery relocated from the second floor of a nearby quilt shop to its current space earlier this year. The diversity of the work on display represents that of the member artists, from traditional work to more contemporary styles. The second Saturday of every month brings a reception in the evening, with an artist talk at 5:30PM.

Mendocino Arts Center | 45200 Little Lake St, Mendocino | (707) 937-5818

Don’t just look at art while you visit Mendo, get those creative juices flowing and make your own at Mendocino Arts Center. The center offers classes and retreat-style workshops in ceramics, fine art, fiber arts, jewelry making, and more. Don’t miss the galleries showcasing the work of California artists and Arts Center members either.

Thai Adventure at Camden’s Long Grain

Long Grain, an intimate restaurant on Elm Street in Camden, offers a delight of bright Asian flavors, a far cry from your typical takeout restaurant. While there’s always a time and place for tried and true Thai favorites, Long Grain’s menu takes your favorite dishes to new places, using seasonal and local ingredients.

Run by husband-and-wife duo Ravin Nakjaroen and Paula Palakawong, Long Grain’s menu is actually more than just Thai, drawing from many Asian traditions. There’s Thai curries, pho-like noodle soups, and Chinese-style barbecued spare ribs. Every dish uses local ingredients wherever possible—and while many restaurants pay lip service to this idea, at Long Grain they really mean it. The servers are well-informed about sourcing, so they can answer any of your questions about the small farmers that supply the restaurant. 

Don’t miss the street chicken wings to start, marinated, fried, and topped with with crispy fried garlic. Balance out that fried food with drunken noodles, laden with local red and green kale. Or try one of the seafood options: a squid salad, topped with fresh, bright herbs; mussels in a lemongrass curry broth with a spicy chili jam; or curried fish cakes, made with local cod, peas, and Kaffir lime leaves. Wherever your appetite takes you, you’re sure to find bold flavors and a celebration of the Maine seasons.

And definitely don’t miss dessert—Paula’s coconut panna cotta in particular. The creamy custard is topped with a sugary crust, creme bruleé style, served on a bed of sweet sticky rice. To fully enjoy this gem of a restaurant, be sure to make a reservation. The 30 seats fill up nightly and long waits can ensure. Long Grain is a short drive or a 15-minute walk from Whitehall.

Long Grain | 31 Elm Street | Camden | (207) 236-9001 

A Conversation with our Edgartown General Managers

Ever wondered what goes on behind the front desk of our Edgartown boutique hotels? We get nearly as many questions about what drew our general managers to the hotel life as we do about our design, amenities, and things to do in the area. Just for you, here’s a quick conversation with Marla and Julie, general managers of both Edgartown Lark Hotels, The Christopher and The Sydney

Q: What drew you to hotel management?

A: We love to travel, explore, be creative, and meet new people, so hospitality seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine them all into a career with staying power. We genuinely love what we do!

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

A: You name it, we enjoy it. But we especially love cooking and baking our curated small plates breakfast, creating memorable experiences for our guests, and working so closely together.

Q: What do you think is special about your location?

A: Both hotels are located on Water Street, right in the hub of town. It’s the ideal launching spot for an island adventure, whatever that means to each guest.

Q: What’s your favorite island beach?

A: In full disclosure, we are certified beach chasers! We’re in the process of hitting them all, but our favorite so far is State Beach.

Best Cup of Joe in Stowe

There’s so much to do this time of year in the Stowe area: biking on the recreation path, canoeing one of the area’s many lakes and rivers, fishing on the Winooski River, or a game of minigolf with the family. Adventure-filled days like these call for some serious energy, so fuel up with some caffeine at one of Stowe’s best coffee shops. Here’s three spots in town where they do lattes, espresso shots, and a regular cup of Joe just right:

Black Cap Coffee and Beer | 144 Main Street, Stowe | (802) 253-2123 

What better combination than a cozy coffee shop and a craft beer store offering all of your favorite Vermont (and more) microbrews? That’s what you’ll find at Black Cap Coffee and Beer, so stop in for a maple latte and a six-pack for later. Don’t miss the pastries either—from brown butter blueberry tarts to flourless chocolate cake.

PK Coffee | 1880 Mountain Road, Stowe | (802) 760-6151 

Stowe’s newest coffee shop is run by two passionate coffee lovers, Katrina and Matt. Katrina returned to Vermont after soaking in the coffee culture of San Francisco, while Matt quit his teaching job to pursue his love for a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. They serve Counter Culture Coffee, a third-wave roastery in North Carolina, in many different “coffee nerd” styles. Try The Mason, 2 ounces of espresso with an ounce of milk, served in an adorably wee mason jar.

Green Goddess Café | 618 South Main Street, Stowe | (802) 253-5255 

This cute café has something for everyone—big breakfasts for those who want to fuel up and fresh-pressed juices and smoothies for those looking to go light. Coffee isn’t an afterthought at this breakfast and lunch spot either. Try an iced cup of Joe on one of these hot Vermont summer days.

Lark Hotels Adds Family-Friendly Beach Amenity

Our marketing accounts manager Amanda weighs in on our new partnership with Beachmate:

As a mom of two small kids I can tell you…going to the beach with the little ones is no easy task. Gone are the days of throwing a book and a towel in a beach bag and laying around for a couple hours soaking up the rays. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still loads of fun, but ohhhhhhhh, the stuff you have to bring. And carry all by yourself, likely while toting a child or two.

So when the mates of Beachmate — a New England husband and wife duo with three small kids of their own and a forth on the way — contacted Lark Hotels about their new beach tote product we were pretty intrigued for our New England boutique hotels.

And they easily won us over, even the non-parents at the meeting. Their brand-new Beachmate system, new to the market this summer, may just be that perfect family-friendly beach item for toting all your beach gear you’ve been waiting for. It’s lightweight, washable, and includes durable sand toys made out of industrial-strength plastic, a removable soft-sided cooler, and velcro straps to attach towels. It even has a strap for attaching the whole system to your backpack beach chair to make the whole affair hands-free (remember that toddler who wants a “pick up” all the way to the car?).

We were so sold on the product, and we knew guests at our family-friendly hotels and beachfront locations would be, too. If you’re staying at Summercamp on Martha’s Vineyard, 76 Main on Nantucket, or Blue on Plum Island in Newburyport, MA you can check them out for yourselves. At a few of our locations you can even purchase one to take home and they’re also available retail directly from the company. 

Happy summering!

Post-Beach Provisions on Plum Island

Let’s be honest, summer in Newburyport is all about the beach, that gloriously long stretch of sand just steps from our Plum Island boutique hotel. But even the heartiest beachgoers may need a little pick-me-up after a long day spent seaside. That’s why we suggest popping by one of these wine and cheese shops in Newburyport post-beach to gather an elevated picnic. Enjoy it al fresco in one of our Adirondack chairs or inside your comfortable guest room.

Grand Trunk | 53 Pleasant Street | Newburyport | (978) 499-4441 

An excellent wine and cheese shop in its own right, Grand Trunk also offers delicious edible items and terrific to-go panini. The purveyors of this family-owned shop take great pride in bringing delicacies from around the world back to the North Shore for everyone to enjoy.

Joppa Fine Foods | 50 Water Street | Newburyport | (978) 462-4662 

You’ll find a curated selection of fine items here, both locally sourced and from abroad. Featuring cheeses, cured meats, wines, craft beers and hard-to-find pantry items. Stock up for a stay in the Blue Suite

Leary’s Fine Wines | 202 Merrimack Street | Newburyport | (978) 462-4451 

Voted the number one wine shop in the area for 12 straight years, Leary’s is the North Shore’s oldest purveyor of wine and spirits. The shop also carries a selection of fine cheeses, pâtés, sausages, marinated meats, and pizza (takeout and delivery).

Finally, although it doesn’t fit into the wine and cheese category, no day at the beach would be complete without a trip to the ice cream shop.

Simply Sweet | 12-16 Inn Street | Newburyport | (978) 462-3226

With an overwhelming array of flavors (100+) and preparations, not to mention a full chocolate shop, Simply Sweet is a simply perfect way to end the day.

Dinner at Nantucket’s Black Eyed Susans

Here’s another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

Though there are a plethora of sleek, high-end dinner options on the island, what you really need above all else is delicious, well-executed food and attentive service (and bread, but we’ll get to that later). If you take these two elements out of any restaurant, the meal will be a failure. In this regard, Black Eyed Susan’s delivers on all counts. It is an intimate space, set up not unlike a traditional diner car with the entire kitchen laid out before your eyes – and this being said I can certainly recommend sitting at the counter. 

The fact that they are cash-only is offset by their BYOB policy – certainly a fair trade off. Whether you opt for a bottle of Grand Cru Burgundy or Sutter Home White Zinfandel, your needs will be tended to in an identical fashion. They do get insanely busy, so it is best to call about dinner reservations just in case.

A basket of warm, crusty sourdough served with soft butter sets the stage for the kind of comfort food they do best here. Some of it is very straightforward, like a plate of spaghetti tossed with fresh Quahog clams and a heap of garlic or superlative tuna tartare with griddled scallion pancakes. Other dishes put a more thought-provoking spin on pub staples, most notably the beer and cheddar soup. In this case they employ aged cheddar and Redhook Ale, garnishing with pretzel croutons, edible flowers, and Kobe beef hotdogs that have been basted with apple butter. All of this is, of course, a perfect conduit for that last slice of bread you’ve been eyeing for the past 5 minutes. Just eat it. It’s REALLY good bread. 

Before heading out to watch yet another mesmerizing beach sunset after dinner you might as well enjoy a bowl of their blueberry cheesecake ice cream served with cinnamon sugar flatbread, a dessert that is nostalgic in exactly the right ways.

— Joe 

Maine Reads

What better time to dive into a few good reads than a fall getaway in Maine, when the crisp weather begs you to soak up some sun and stick your nose in a book? Head to The Book Burrow at 21 Western Ave (not far from our Kennebunkport, Maine inn) and ask for one of these Maine authors’ works.

Lifesaving Lessons by Linda Greenlaw

A Maine native and fisherman best known for her role in the story of The Perfect Storm, Greenlaw has written several books about her time at sea fishing for swordfish and lobster. In Lifesaving Lessons, though, she turns to a more personal subject: the adoption of her teenage daughter. Fans of straightforward, yet heartwarming memoirs will love this tale of life on a northern island.

The Lobster Coast by Colin Woodard

A book about lobsters is almost required reading for a vacation in our great state. In The Lobster Coast, Colin Woodard explores the laws and unspoken codes that shape Maine’s lobster industry. More than the expected “day in the life of a lobsterman” tale, Woodard puts his background in journalism to use as he delves into the ways Maine lobsterman have managed to work together to protect the lobster population to ensure a thriving industry.

Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr. 

If you’re ever blue about your life’s circumstances, consider the main character in this novel, born knowing the world is going to end in 36 years. Currie manages to keep this apocalyptic tale light with wry humor and a surprisingly upbeat ending. Fans of Kurt Vonnegut will love this quirky novel, full of familiar New England references.

We hope you enjoy these great Maine reads on your next visit to Kennebunkport!

Portsmouth’s Prescott Park Arts Festival

What could be better than stumbling onto an outdoor, waterfront performing arts event while you’re on a lark? Not much in our opinion. But that’s just what might happen when you visit one of our Portsmouth NH boutique hotels, The Hotel Portsmouth and Ale House Inn, each just a very short walk away from Prescott Park, Portsmouth’s gem of a waterfront public park and garden area. 

The Prescott Park Arts Festival is located in a shady, picturesque grassy area on 3.5 acres in downtown Portsmouth. Celebrating its 42nd anniversary this year, the Festival presents music, art, theater, and dance on the banks of the Piscataqua River.

A charming and impressive production of The Little Mermaid musical is perfect for the whole family and runs through most of the summer. Each Wednesday night (and other nights throughout the season), you’ll find national musical acts such as Taj Mahal, Bela Fleck, The Wood Brothers, Judy Collins, and Lucinda Williams and more. They have a Monday movie night and in September they present a full production of the ballet Swan Lake. And there’s much more.

Did we mention the events are donation only with no fixed admission?! (Though we can assure you, by the time you leave you’ll likely have found yourself making a bigger donation or becoming a member, so enchanted will you be by the experience.) There’s even food on site… and The Prop is NOT your standard park snack bar – think homemade ice cream, local burgers, falafel, veggie tofu rice bowls, and much much more. Bring your own blanket or lawn chair (you can also rent or buy them) or do it in style and rent a VIP table. The experience is not to be missed. 

Photo from www.seacoastonline.com

Camden Summer Reads

What better time to dive into a good read than summer in Maine, when the weather begs you to soak up some sun and stick your nose in a book. Head to Sherman’s Books and Stationery on Main Street (not far from our Camden, Maine hotel) and ask for one of these Maine authors’ works.

Lifesaving Lessons by Linda Greenlaw

A Maine native and fisherman best known for her role in the story of The Perfect Storm, Greenlaw has written several books about her time at sea fishing for swordfish and lobster. In Lifesaving Lessons, though, she turns to a more personal subject: the adoption of her teenage daughter. Fans of straightforward, yet heartwarming memoirs will love this tale of life on a northern island.

The Lobster Coast by Colin Woodard

A book about lobsters is almost required reading for a vacation in our great state. In The Lobster Coast, Colin Woodard explores the laws and unspoken codes that shape Maine’s lobster industry. More than the expected “day in the life of a lobsterman” tale, Woodard puts his background in journalism to use as he delves into the ways Maine lobsterman have managed to work together to protect the lobster population to ensure a thriving industry.

Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr. 

If you’re ever blue about your life’s circumstances, consider the main character in this novel, born knowing the world is going to end in 36 years. Currie manages to keep this apocalyptic tale light with wry humor and a surprisingly upbeat ending. Fans of Kurt Vonnegut will love this quirky novel, full of familiar New England references.

We hope our suggestions get you in the mood for your visit to our Camden, Maine hotel!

Summer Reads for Maine

With the recent announcement of a new one opening soon, Portland will soon boast four independent bookstores, illustrating Mainers’ love for local businesses. What better time to dive into a good read than summer in Maine, when the weather begs you to soak up some sun and stick your nose in a book. Head to Sherman’s Books and Stationary, Longfellow Books, or Letterpress Books and ask for one of these Maine authors’ works, sure to give you that summertime Maine feeling.

Lifesaving Lessons by Linda Greenlaw

A Maine native and fisherman best known for her role in the story of The Perfect Storm, Greenlaw has written several books about her time at sea fishing for swordfish and lobster. In Lifesaving Lessons, though, she turns to a more personal subject: the adoption of her teenage daughter. Fans of straightforward, yet heartwarming memoirs will love this tale of life on a northern island.

The Lobster Coast by Colin Woodard

A book about lobsters is almost required reading for a vacation in our great state. In The Lobster Coast, Colin Woodard explores the laws and unspoken codes that shape Maine’s lobster industry. More than the expected “day in the life of a lobsterman” tale, Woodard puts his background in journalism to use as he delves into the ways Maine lobsterman have managed to work together to protect the lobster population to ensure a thriving industry.

Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr. 

If you’re ever blue about your life’s circumstances, consider the main character in this novel, born knowing the world is going to end in 36 years. Currie manages to keep this apocalyptic tale light with wry humor and a surprisingly upbeat ending. Fans of Kurt Vonnegut will love this quirky novel, full of familiar Maine references.

Outdoor Exploration on Martha’s Vineyard

Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

Martha’s Vineyard has so many nooks and crannies that beg tfor exploration. Whether you’re looking to stretch your legs on land or take in a seaside perspective, one of our suggestions below is sure to fit the bill.

Given that you are on an island, the most obvious choice would be to charter a craft from Martha’s Vineyard Leisure Boat Charters. You can customize your own journey, from just sitting back and soaking in the rays to tours of the Gay Head Cliffs, complete with a therapeutic bentonite clay bath.

52 Pondview Dr. | Vineyard Haven | (508) 889-1711 

Or, if you prefer a more hands-on experience, contact Island Spirit Kayak and rent a paddleboard to see the island from a very different angle. 

290 Seaview Ave | Edgartown | (508) 693-5727 

One of the most important groups on the island is the Land Bank Commission, who have painstakingly conserved the natural beauty of designated areas, with their efforts funded by the island residents. They are open to the public, and the best way to maximize your experience is to participate in one of their guided walks. Check out their website at mvlandbank.com for maps and availability. 

Lastly, if nature isn’t your thing or it turns out to be a gloomy, rainy afternoon, there is nothing better than an afternoon of exploration at the Oak Bluffs Game Room. A full-on arcade, featuring over 75 different games ranging from pinball to old school shoot em’ ups. Just be sure to get ice cream beforehand because these places only get better when accompanied by a proper sugar rush.

— Joe

19 Circuit Ave | Oak Bluffs | (508) 687-9179 

The Sweet Life Café

We invited Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of that state’s acclaimed Down East and Dispatch magazines, to go on a few larks this year. Follow along as he shares his perspective on things to do, eat, and drink in a variety of lark locales. With writing credits from Bon Appetit, Vice, The Guardian and Boston MagazineJoe has a unique voice and perspective. His insights into the culinary options at our destinations, in particular, are sure to enlighten. 

It is widely regarded that the real litmus test for a chef’s skill is the manner in which they prepare a simple roasted chicken. We can safely say that Chef Carlos Montoya, who cut his teeth at Aureole in New York City under Charlie Palmer, effortlessly passes this test, and then some at  Sweet Life Café. Moist, flavorful meat contrasts against crispy, buttery skin, and the richer elements of the dish such as pillowy gnocchi and a silky pan gravy are heightened by vividly colored carrot-ginger puree and a garnish of wildly addictive curried granola. 

While the restaurant itself is situated in a beautifully maintained Victorian house, the softly lit outdoor garden patio is second to none. This is also where you will find one of the restaurant’s hidden gems – a small, 4-seat bar where the full dinner menu is available and the service is top-notch. Careful inspection of the wine list reveals very special bottles like Chateau Rayas “La Pliades” from the Rhone Valley, the black pepper and tamarind notes of which are brilliant alongside boldly flavored dishes like their deep-fried Scotch egg, as well as lamb meatballs spiced with harissa. 

The Sweet Life Café has also become a favorite haunt of President Obama’s when he visits the island, which is understandable given that there are few better respites from the stresses of daily life, or daily presidential obligations, than a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Vintage Gold Label and a plate of plump, seared sea scallops enrobed in a blanket of lobster buerre blanc and garnished with brandade-stuffed zucchini blossoms. 

— Joe

63 Circuit Ave | Oak Bluffs | (508) 696-0200 

Edgartown’s Ice Cream Shops

New Englanders love their frozen treats, and no summertime visit to Martha’s Vineyard would be complete without a scoop (or two) of some freshly churned, sweet cream in your favorite flavor. While the island has a Dairy Queen (and we’re not afraid to say we love a Blizzard!), here are our four favorite local spots:

Mad Martha’s | 7 N Water St | (508) 627-8761

By far the island’s most popular ice cream shop, with 2 other locations in Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, Mad Martha’s draw is their great flavors and large portions. Expect a long line during peak times, so consider taking advantage of their late night hours (open until 1:30AM) to snag a scoop. Try the blueberry ice cream, recommended by former president and frequent Vineyard vacationer, Bill Clinton. 

Vineyard Scoops | 56 Main St | (508) 627-4736

With ice cream, frozen yogurt, soft serve, gelato, and sorbet, this shop is perfect for a group who wants variety in their frozen treats. There’s plenty of seating so you can relax and enjoy your desserts out of the summer heat. Try popular s’mores and butter crunch in a housemade waffle cone.

The Scoop Shack | 22 Dock St | (508) 627-7829

We dare you to get out of the Scoop Shack with ice cream alone, with salt water taffy and other classic candy to tempt while you wait. The ice cream is made with local ingredients, like the Green Tea flavored ice cream with organic local island honey, mint, and crumbled ginger snaps. Hawaiian shave ice offers a nice alternative to dairy on a hot summer day.

Ice Cream & Candy Bazaar | 11 Dock St | (508) 627-8735

This waterfront shop is the perfect place to grab a scoop and then enjoy the perfect summer weather by walking along the docks. Kids will love the retro penny candy selection and fudge galore. Try the fruit-filled peach or black raspberry scoops or the unique Indian pudding—vanilla ice cream flavored with molasses, cornmeal, nutmeg and raisins—a New England tradition.

Set Sail from Newport Harbor

Located on Narragansett Bay, Newport is home to numerous boat tours that will help you explore Newport Harbor and beyond. There’s a tour for everyone, whether you want a faced-paced sail, a historic lighthouse cruise, or kid-friendly boat tour. Check out our recommendations to find your cruising style:

12 Meter Charters | 12 Bowen’s Wharf | 401-851-1216

Sailors interested in the history of the America’s Cup should spend an afternoon or an evening on one of 12 Meter Charter’s two racing yachts. Sail aboard Columbia, the first 12 Meter to win America’s Cup in 1958, or Heritage, the 1970 champion and the last wooden America’s Cup boat built. Guests can help set sail, steer, or simply come along for the ride while learning the history of these beautiful race boats and the world’s most prestigious sailing race. 

Classic Cruises of Newport | Bannister’s Wharf | 401-847-0299

For a different kind of history tour, hop aboard the historic Rum Runner II, a classic motor yacht that used to smuggle alcohol during the days of Prohibition. Join the crew early for a mimosa and lighthouse tour, visiting several lighthouses in Narragansett Bay. The cocktail tour, offered in the evening, offers views of the mansions of Newport, lighthouses, and Fort Adams, all best enjoyed with — you guessed it — a cocktail in hand.

Fish n’ Tales Adventures | 31 Bowen’s Wharf | 401-619 4431

Families will love setting sail with Captain Rob and first mate Leah on the 50-foot fishing boat Northeastern. On the lobstering tour, watch as the crew hauls lobster traps and then help them sort their catch. You’ll learn about the different species of Narragansett Bay and the lobster industry, then rebait the traps and help set them for the next tour. Fish n’ Tales sails combine learning, fun, and sightseeing which is sure to please the whole family.

A Taste of Tuscany in Salem

Another installment by Joe Ricchio, a Maine bon vivant and food editor of the state’s acclaimed Down East magazine. We hope you enjoy his unique perspective.

There is something decidedly comforting about the lost art of a server describing the evening’s specials with such enthusiasm that it changes your entire ordering strategy. In this regard we were very happy to have taken the suggestion for the whole roasted Branzino, served with perfectly roasted vegetables and stuffed, very simply, with lemon and herbs. 

Firenze Trattoria, the brainchild of two brothers from Florence, embodies the archetypal eatery from the Tuscany region with its close-quarters dining room, dim lights, and muted earth tones. It is not difficult to understand why it has become one of the most sought after reservations in Salem. Soul-warming renditions of classic Ribolita soup, pappardelle with wild mushroom ragu, and trippa alla Fiorentina are complimented by a wine list highlighting celebrated red wine producers like Altesino, Castello di Nieve, and Zenato. White wines tend towards more aromatic varietals like Falanghina and Verdicchio, an ideal pairing for Capellini tossed with superlative olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes. 

Service is highly personalized yet not overbearing, leaving you to focus on lively conversation while tucking into a platter of creamy, decadent burrata cheese with delicately spiced sopressata. Prices are moderate, making Firenze a much welcome alternative to Boston’s North End, with no sacrifice in quality.

Oh, and if you opt for the whole fish, which on our visit had been caught in Greek waters two days prior, remember that even though they will offer to filet it for you, half the (rewarding) adventure is in earning that taste of Tuscany yourself. 

— Joe

2 Lynde St. | Salem | (978) 219-1188 | firenzesalem.com

Hiking Camden’s Mount Battie

For those who seek a little outdoor adventure while on vacation at our Camden, Maine hotel, Mount Battie offers a moderate hike with beautiful views of Penobscot Bay from the top. The longest route is about 5 miles round trip, so it should take you about 2 hours (not including the time spent at the top taking in the views). It’s the perfect activity to make you feel like you’ve earned that cocktail from Pig + Poet.

To start, head north on Route 1 from Whitehall for one mile. You’ll see the large parking lot for Camden Hills State Park on your left. Walk past the entrance gate until you see a sign for the Megunticook Trail on your left. This trail takes you up to Adam’s Lookout, where you can take the Tablelands Trail to the summit. Once at the summit, you have the choice of backtracking or taking the shorter (but steeper) Mount Battie Trail back down. Remember, you can also drive to the summit, so don’t be too surprised when you arrive at the top and see cars and people far less sweaty than you!

At 800 feet above sea level at the top, you’ll understand why Camden’s motto is “where the mountains meet the sea.” Panoramic views of Camden harbor, the islands of Penobscot Bay, and on a clear day, Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, will spread out before you. You’ll also find a stone tower built in 1921 to memorialize the men and women of Camden who served in World War I. Near the tower, you may also notice a plaque inscribed with an excerpt of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem Renaissance, which she wrote on the summit while overlooking her hometown of Camden.

For more information on hiking Mount Battie (including a trail map), visit the Camden Hills State Park’s website.