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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Christmas in Newport, RI

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With its gilded history, inherent charm, and Stars Hollow feel, Newport was all sorts of perfect for a Christmas family getaway.

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We picked the Hotel Viking for its location, seated in the heart of Newport’s Historic Hill. It felt like a destination in itself with a highly-rated restaurant, beautifully decked halls and trimmings, and amenities. There didn’t seem to be a wrong turn in any direction from the hotel, which would suit wandering souls like my hubby and myself. So a-walking we went.

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It was early afternoon on Christmas day when we arrived and went exploring in Newport. I particularly enjoyed the serenity which served as a perfect escape from the usual hustle and bustle of a city. It felt like we had Newport all to ourselves. Save for the Starbucks that was likely the only place open that day, of course. It was brimming with all the caffeine addicts that could sniff it out from a mile away. On Christmas, we chose the quiet and surprisingly not-so-painfully continued our stroll empty handed.

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There were sweet decorations to behold at almost every corner. Even when the shops were closed, the holiday spirit of Newport continued to softly flicker and keep it alive.

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Quaint alleyways and nooks such as this gave us the magical feeling of being in Hogsmeade or a fairytale.

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I saw this patio and lovely seating setup outside of the Black Pearl and – wait for it – an outdoor bar. It was closed but I knew we had to come back when they opened the next day.

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Such a gorgeous spot to dine or drink in! And just a few steps down was this quaint marina off of Bannister’s Wharf. Perhaps my favorite spot in all of Newport. Bonus points for the coffee shop right next to it, the Coffee Grinder.

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My pops was tickled by the name of this boat – little did he know it’s an actual brand – since it had both my (pet name) and Alex’s names. Sort of.

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This anchor was a fun little touch. You best believe Alex and my dad tried to climb it, and confirmed that it had a safe rubber landing suited for all climbers, the young or the young-at-heart.

That evening, we had originally planned Christmas dinner at Sardella’s with the family, a short walk from our hotel. Since my mom wasn’t feeling herself at all, we ventured over to the restaurant to explain our circumstance and they happily accommodated. We waited at the bar, which offered a warm welcome and set a friendly vibe to the restaurant as soon as we walked in. Around us was an intimate interior and an air of nostalgia that came with the tasteful depiction of being at grandma’s, in my view. The kind that Alex and I get so emotionally attached to right away.

A few drinks at the bar and we were off, lugging our Christmas dinner in paper bags and pizza boxes to bring back to the hotel. It wasn’t ideal, but it had everything that mattered most to us especially at Christmas: family.

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The next day, we bulked up with brunch at the One Bellevue restaurant before going exploring. We continued to keep our activities less strenuous given that my mama was still fighting off a bad cold. Now I’m relieved I got my flu shot this year! What was nice about Newport though is that we were able to be creative with our site-seeing. They have a “10-mile drive” that includes a drive-by view of the mansions, historic landmarks of the city, and parts of the Cliff Walk. We were to see an overview of Newport from the comfort of our cozy car and keep my mom rested. There were portions of the drive that we could pull off for the overlook and snap away.

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By the end of our trip, though my parents decided to recuperate back at the hotel, the husband and I trekked our way to The Black Pearl. It was just what we were hoping for and more. The bartender whipped up some “Magic Elixir” for his patrons which was a hardy dose of hot ciders in 2 blends and whiskey. With a hot cup of cider, a view like this to marvel at, and a wild chance to stay outdoors over the holidays, I was in my happy place. I may have been in the clouds a little too much though because I totally missed my chance to order a bowl of The Black Pearl’s award-winning clam chowder from the bar. We’ll be back.

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By the time we got hungry, we were ready for some warmth. We walked back towards Thames St. and found Wharf Pub. It had space for al fresco dining and drinking but was closed that day. Inside, the restaurant was reminiscent of Southern-style home-cooked meals. Tater tots. Fish and Chips. Wings. Ah, SO good.

Our first Christmas in Newport was loaded with family time, rest and relaxation. We have so much left to see and are looking forward to be back to experience its most vibrant season in the summer, most charming time over the holidays, or both.

Hope you had a magical Christmas/ Hannukah/ Kwanzaa/ holiday!

Valerie


Accommodation: Hotel Viking | Featured Attractions: Bannister’s Wharf, Ten mile Drive, clips of the Cliff Walk | Food Stops: One Bellevue, Sardella’s, The Wharf Pub | Al Fresco Find: The Black Pearl