Several reader questions follow a similar theme:
- Dear Muffy, I recently found your blog and have enjoyed it quite a bit. My daughter just moved to a small town in Westchester County, NY. We'll be visiting her over the next few years and want to tie our visits into exploring that part of the world. We've driven up the coast of Maine to Bar Harbor and recently visited Newport, RI and Cape Cod. My son-in-law's family is from Marblehead, Massachusetts and spending a few days there was wonderful - but we don't know much about anything else in New England. We try to avoid tourists in season. I was wondering if you have any suggestions about places to visit...places that might be a bit off the beaten path. Or places thundering herds of tourists haven't discovered and ruined with tacky shops filled with things made in China. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.
- Muffy, I just recently discovered your blog. I'm excited to say that my wife and I have decided to vacation in New England. This will be our first trip to New England. What would your recommendations be on places to go and things to see? We were planning on trying to stay in a centralized location in order to see as much as we can during our trip. Any suggestions from a native would be appreciated. Thank you for your time on this matter.
- My family and I are looking at relocating to New England this summer; my husband is originally from New Hampshire and has always wanted to move “back home.” Could you please recommend some quaint preppy towns in southern ME, NH or MA to look at? Is there any place that stands out to you as….reasonable, an excellent deal for your money, yet retain charm and class? Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.
Any effort here is necessarily incomplete, certainly overwhelming, and thereby (in as much as it is covered in this blog) at best done cumulatively. Further, one could reasonably construct an ontology around places to visit for a few days, places to summer, and places to live. (Even this is muddied by the fact that when we travel, if at all possible we stay with friends or family, rather than hotels, inns, or resorts.)
Hopefully, some of the past posts, including Favorite Clothing Shops and Great Places to Eat Afterwards, and the post label of Muffy’s Atlas begin to populate this topic.
Given that, and with some overlaps of past posts, here are some places to start:
Camden and Bar Harbor have plenty of places to stay but are thick with tourists in season. We stay with friends in Southwest Harbor and on Isleboro Island instead. Blue Hill is a lovely, and quieter, destination with The Blue Hill Inn.
It is more difficult to find an out-of-the-way place in Southern Maine. There is the well known White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine. Prouts Neck is a lovely old summer colony but you do have the Black Point Inn.
|Portland, Maine: My favorite New England City.|
And well hidden on Georgetown Island is the Grey Havens Inn.
The coastline here is small so one can go inland to Lake Winnipesaukee and the beautiful town of Wolfeboro, and then south to the Peterborough and Dublin area. And the New London, Hanover areas to the north and west are also lovely, to live as well as to visit.
Portsmouth is a vibrant small city with a good deal of texture.
When I think of nice places to live in Massachusetts, Marblehead, Marion and Hingham come immediately to mind, as do the Boston suburbs of Wellesley, Concord and the like.
|The City of Boston|
And while it is difficult to find an unattractive spot on the Cape it can also be somewhat difficult to ge around, there are so many people in season. The same can be said for Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. My husband’s parents have had a summer house on the Vineyard for many decades, but the hassle has made our visits less frequent.
There is the obvious Newport, but clogged with tourists. I like visiting friends in Watch Hill and Little Compton. Both are better for summering and year-round living.
Old Lyme has the lovely Bee and Thistle Inn and Essex across the Connecticut River has The Griswold Inn. Fenwick in Old Saybrook is one of the most genteel spots, but it is a private summer colony.
Stonington is great for visiting, but nearby Noank might be better for living.
Guilford is desirable for year-round living.
Stony Creek is a highly textured fishing enclave, but you really need to know someone there. The well known Thimble Islands are packed with summer residents in season.
|I look for places that are low-key, dog-friendly, and with natural beauty. (Our Golden Retriever, Bristol, at Pemaquid Point, 1992.)|
This just scratches the surface. I will add entries on interesting places in posts to come.