She’s Nauti and Nice [A Weekend Getaway to Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod: Highlights]

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There’s something about her that just seems to capture the hearts of those she comes into contact with. With pristine beaches, blue ocean waters, and the breezy salty air to sweep you off your feet, it’s easy to get carried away by the lure and the charm of Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod.

One trip, let alone one day, is hardly enough to do it justice, but a short and sweet encounter is better than none at all. Recently, a group of friends and I — mostly hailing from the metro-DC area or further south — hoped to scratch the surface on what the northeast has been keeping secret from us all this time.

Since, A and I are based in Boston, we were the resident “guides” spearheading this trip. Our friends flew from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia and arrived on a Thursday, allowing us a nice long-weekend stretch for maximum adventuring and eats.

Our first full day was dedicated to our daytrip to Martha’s Vineyard. Because our homebase was in Cotuit, it made the most sense for us to drive for the ferry from Woods Hole in Falmouth first thing in the morning by parking our van at the dedicated off-side lot (approximately 4 miles away), and take the shuttle from the lot to the terminal. The ferry ride certainly played a big part in the build up to our vineyard experience. It was so peaceful and so beautiful, and just the perfect distance to enjoy without any fear of motion-sickness (knock on wood).

Once we made it there, it was truly all that I had imagined a quintessential New England small beach town would be. In Oak Bluffs, was our terminal of choice and therefore where we spent our first and last few moments in the island. The area was very walkable and chockfull of surprises. Although there were a handful of businesses closed for the season post-Labor Day, a good bit of seaside activity remained for locals and non-peak season visitors. Edgartown wins the popularity contest for sure, and is home to the Vineyard Vines. However, if you look hard enough and are patient enough, many things lie off the main streets and back roads of these quaint towns. By far the highlight of our trip in my opinion was our pursuit of Bad Martha Beer.

For a day trip, our focus was to enjoy our time together within the three main towns at the tip of the island – Edgartown (our farthest point), Vineyard Haven, and Oak Bluffs. We made sure we had ample time to hit the mandatory sights, such as the Gingerbread Houses/Cottages and Trinity Park Tabernacle, and leisurely stroll around the neighborhoods following our instincts for food and drink stops as well.

As for the remainder of our weekend, we weren’t quite as lucky with the weather, and had to make plans for colder temps. What’s great about Cape Cod and the islands in this case is the multitude of options for groups, couples, families, and adventurers of all comfort levels to create the experience you’re seeking. For equal parts of adventure and solitude, we spent a morning biking along the Cape Cod Rail Trail courtesy of our Dennis Cycle Center rentals. I have not touched a bike in YEARS but they made the process so easy, and the trail right next to the store had a couple of appealing pitstops (hint: one is a winery along the trail!). Well worth the exercise, I tell you.

We of course couldn’t miss an afternoon in the classic town of Chatham for some a lighthouse sighting, beach time, and sunset (or close) cocktails. This vacation life could have lasted forever, in my opinion, but alas we knew it had to end. At least for now.

What’s your must-do/favorite part about Cape Cod and the islands? I have yet to make it to Nantucket so that’s certainly on my list!

I’m sharing our al fresco finds on the trip as well as our quick getaway guide + recommendations based on insight from our Cape Cod-based friends, prior research, and what worked for us on this trip.

Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or check out the Travel + Leisure features on Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, MassVacations.com the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce and the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce websites. Feel free to link up with your post or favorite related links as well!

Thanks for reading!

x,

Valerie

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Day Trip to Plymouth

For our anniversary this year and our first chance for a mini break for “spring” in New England (I add the quotations because that day hardly felt like we were over winter, which I suppose is very New England in itself), Alex and I made plans to take a little day trip out of the city and celebrate.

The fourth year is traditionally commemorated in fruit and flowers. We took our own little twist and went for fruit wine and the Mayflower instead. See what we did there? 😉

Plymouth fit the bill perfectly. A short 45-minute drive from Boston, it was a sweet escape, long enough for Alex and I to continue our discovery quest of New England as fairly new residents and close enough to give us room for spontaneity. We weren’t quite sure the weather would cooperate for a full historic experience to satisfy our inner nerdy tourists (which sadly, it didn’t), but we were quite pleased with how easy it was to fill our day there. Naturally, we plan to return for a more comprehensive tour.

We started with lunch at Dillon’s Local, a few steps from the central downtown strip. I enjoyed a Bloody Mary with our delicious meat pizza (read: duck confit and pork belly) while Alex went for their Cuban. Yum.

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Afterwards, we took a stroll down Water street hoping to catch a glimpse of the Mayflower. Though it was MIA that day, we did catch some other sights of Plymouth, and also some rays when the sun occasionally peaked through the clouds, much to our surprise.

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We found some of the lobsters sprinkled throughout the downtown area as part of the Plymouth Lobster Crawl, each very distinct and beautifully crafted.

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For an easy pitstop, just a hop and a skip away from the water was Plymouth Bay Winery. Pam greeted us right as we walked in and gave us a casual yet intimate tasting experience with Plymouth Bay’s selection of fruit wines and jellies. Their whole approach adds a healthy dose of fun to the craft and authentic opportunities for local partners to showcase what Plymouth has to offer. There was no way we could leave there empty handed; it was hard enough to narrow down our choices to a bottle of Cranberry Blush and Blue Sin jelly. So good.

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We took one last stroll before heading back to Boston, taking in the fresh air and all the memories that have brought us to that moment. Did I mention that Alex also celebrated his 2nd year of living in the city — thus beginning his love affair with Boston — this year?

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If there was only one thing that could prove that we made it to Plymouth, it was none other than finding Plymouth rock. And there she was. We have officially made it to America’s Hometown.

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What’s your favorite way to celebrate or escape for the weekend? Feel free to share your go-to road trip ideas or all-time favorite destinations below! And if you ever make it to Plymouth, I’d love to hear what made it to your must-see and must-do list!

 

Valerie


For more information, check the Plymouth Visitor Website at www.seeplymouth.com.

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Top 5 Most Memorable Al Fresco Moments of 2016

Ah, yes, the first Monday of the month. How awesome is it though that we have a more pleasant, easy start to the week!? One less “Monday blues” for the year.

It’s been a little quiet around these parts. With my parents back in VA after a week-long visit with us, there’s a lot less buzz in our home to keep it warm and cozy. I’d keep the holiday spirit going forever if I could, but the peace and normalcy that follows a lovely time with the family, and the craze from the end of the year, can offer a sense of comfort too.

As I look back, I see how hectic yet somehow more organized, trying but oftentimes enlightening 2016 has been for me. I can easily come up with a wishlist, a bucket list, AND a “conquered” list to enumerate all my desires as I look on with hope every new year. I find myself, however,  enjoying a nice night-in for NYE this time around, and most inspired by the places and the memories that truly stayed with me. They’ve been my ‘happy pill’ and they’re mine to keep forever shared with people that, in those moments and beyond, touched my life.

What’s been the most rewarding and exciting about my little passion project here is the story behind every photo I get the share with you all. A wise friend once told me that the journey is the destination. On top of the wonderful food and places I’ve been fortunate enough to experience, I can’t forget about everything and everyone that have led me there. So inevitably, I’m sharing with you Al Fresco moments that brought me a lot of joy, usually in the form of happy-dancing tastebuds, a full belly to carry me through the next week, and sore cheeks from smiling ear to ear and laughing (never) too much.

With that, I give you my most memorable Al Fresco moments of 2016:

1. The Black Pearl, Newport, RI (see my post here, or their website here)img_3167

The hubby and I found the Black Pearl by chance, on a stroll around Bannister’s Wharf while in Newport over Christmas, and it was love at first sight. It’s hard to beat a view like this, a “Magic Elixir” concoction, and award-winning clam chowder. A source tells me that they’re not only closing for winter break but also demolishing the 40-year-old outdoor bar for renovations. Now we have this photo for keeps and are eager for a chance to go back!

2. Old Angler’s Inn, Potomac, MD (see my post here, or their website here)img_2722

Old Angler’s Inn in October was a scenic drive and would be a worthwhile post-hike reward through Great Falls Park which just happens to be its friendly neighbor. We could catch a glimpse of their outdoor garden from our patio seating, though it was closed that day. Everything from the butter, the salad, the seafood and the desserts were tastefully and thoughtfully done. They also have an excellent service team that moved our table inside as smoothly as they could when it started pouring on us mid-meal. It turned out to be the perfect opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and the charming, historic interior at Old Angler’s Inn.

3. The Ruby Slipper Cafe, New Orleans, LA (see my post here, or their website here)dsc00505

I don’t think I gave the Ruby Slipper Cafe enough credit in my original post for the mouth-watering food my girlfriends and I were able to enjoy. Because of its popularity, it is common to wait in line for seating at the restaurant, at either location, but our experience with their Magazine St. location was excellent. We were able to easily access their “no wait” feature and keep track of our place on their list in real time and be notified once our table was ready. I’m a sucker for chicken brunch dishes, and their Chicken St. Charles did not disappoint (wish that was the picture I could show you!). Instead, this is a glimpse of my mimosa that I was sipping with the girls as we were getting ready for our table. New Orleans is awesome. The Ruby Slipper Cafe (and the mimosas/bloodys) is certainly worth the wait .

4. Buz and Ned’s Real Barbecue, Richmond, VA (see my post here, or their website here)img_2710

As part of our trip back to VA, the hubs and I made it a point to have as much good barbecue as we could get our hands on. Our friends who grew up in the Richmond area highly recommended Buz and Ned’s – for good reason. Richmond’s Best BBQ has been put to the test by ‘Throwdown with Bobby Flay’ and ‘Man V. Food,’ and local foodies. The best part is the deliciousness and serving side that you get for the price. It was so get a real taste of home.

5. Boston Winter, Boston, MA (see my post here, or their website here)img_3263

Some of my favorite forms of eating “al fresco” are street style. There is no lack of that at Boston Winter, with a variety of ‘themed’ food and all the enticing smells to reel you in. It’s the perfect, and surprisingly delicious, way to get your belly warmed up as you pick your poison: mulled wine, or other varieties of wine, or your choice of beer. It should keep you warm as you stroll around, drink in hand (yes, sip and stroll within the premises), right in the heart of Boston.

 

And because I feel like it deserves it’s own category in my book, my favorite almost Al Fresco moment of 2016 is:

Pickety Place, Mason, NH (see my post here, or the website here)

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Hard to compare this sweet setting with anything else I’ve experienced before. And if not for a friend’s invitation, Pickety Place would still be completely off my radar. It’s kind of what I like about it. I felt as stuffed as the big bad wolf by the end of my meal, but also totally in heaven. Now I’m up for the challenge of maintaining VIP Lunch Club status for a free lunch after 6 visits within 12 months. Sounds like a good 2017 resolution to me 😉

 

What are you looking forward to in 2017? I hope that this new year brings you lots of adventures and memorable moments to last you a lifetime!

 

Valerie