A Week in New England: Boston, Maine and New Hampshire

A recap of our trip to New England for my little brother's wedding, with stops in Boston, Acadia National Park, Portland and New Hampshire! 

View from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

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A few weeks ago, the hubs and I spent a week road tripping through New England. My little brother was getting married in Boston, so we decided to make a trip out of it and drive up the coast to Acadia National Park before the wedding weekend! I've always wanted to go to Acadia, and now I'm determined to get back there again to see the leaves change. Any of my dietitian friends want to road trip up when we're in Boston for FNCE? ;)

We flew into Boston the Saturday night before the wedding and spent the night with my brother and my now sister-in-law, who live in Fenway Park. After catching up over wine, we walked a few blocks away for an incredible meal at Hojoko. It's a kind of hipster-y tavern that sells fancy cocktails and has a Japanese influenced tapas menu. Everything was SO good and I really wish I got pictures, but we were much too busy eating and enjoying being together for the first time since my brother moved to Boston. Some of the highlights were a foie gras and pineapple sushi roll, bacon, shiitake and yam okonomiyaki, crispy chicken tails with truffle salt and spicy salmon rolls with smoked pasilla chile mayo.

The next day, while my brother and SIL were wrapping up last minute wedding stuff (I promise we offered to help!), Scott and I took a walking tour of Boston following the Freedom Trail. It's a 2 1/2 mile trail through Boston that links the most important historic sites like Boston Common, the Granary Burying Ground (resting place of basically everyone from 6th grade American history class), Paul Revere's house and the Old South Meeting House, where the Boston tea party was organized. We stopped a couple times along the way for refreshments, first at the extra touristy Cheers in Faneuil Hall for a beer and to cheer on Arsenal, our favorite soccer team. We got a good giggle over the irony of cheering on British guys in red while visiting some of the most important Revolutionary War sites. Then we took a brief detour off the trail for lunch at Boston Public Market. There were SO many delicious looking food stands it was hard to decide, but ultimately we took my brother's recommendation and got a smoked bluefish roll and smoked salmon burrito at Boston Smoked Fish Company then a vanilla bean Union Square Donut for dessert.

Granary Burial Ground

Boston Common

Cheering on Arsenal at Cheers! Go Gunners!

Smoked bluefish roll and smoked salmon burrito

Vanilla Bean Doughnut

After our tour, we picked up our rental and started our trek north, first stopping in Merrimack, New Hampshire where my aunt and uncle live. My little cousin was there too, healing after she fell off a mountain in New Zealand (I kid you not). We enjoyed an incredible Venezuelan fish stew made by my uncle from a recipe my grandpa taught him (he wasn't Venezuelan, just adventurous in the kitchen, especially for a man born in the 1920s).

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The next day, we slept in a bit then hit the road for Maine, first stopping in Portsmouth New Hampshire, one of the many adorable little coastal port towns. It was really windy and cold that day, so we grabbed coffee and a bacon scallion scone at a cute little coffee house then wandered around the Strawberry Banke museum, a neighborhood of restored homes built in the 1600-1700s.

We stopped just across the river from Portsmouth in Kittery, Maine for lunch at When Pigs Fly Pizzeria, where we got crispy soy sesame brussels sprouts and a wood fire pizza topped with mozzarella, dates, sopressata, and spicy honey. It was SO good! They also run a bakery next door that sells 40 different types of bread. Most of them out for sample so I think my husband, who is weirdly obsessed with bread, was in heaven! I'm surprised they didn't kick him out for oversampling! 

Crispy soy sesame brussels sprouts

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Going back for thirds...

Detour to Nubble Light House on our way to Portland

We then drove another hour to Portland, Maine. It's basically a mecca for craft brews and since Scott and I love craft brews, you know what we spent the rest of the day doing ;) Unfortunately, most of the breweries were closed on Monday, but we were able to check out Shipyard and Rising Tide for a couple flights.

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After hitting the breweries, we took a long walk along the Eastern Promenade, eyeballing all the old Victorian houses we wished we could afford. For dinner, we went to Portland Lobster Company on the recommendation of basically everyone. We enjoyed our first and favorite lobster of the trip, dubbed Lionel, along with a bowl of lobster stew and fried clams.

Strolling the Eastern Promenade

Real estate envy...

Before

After

We woke up bright and early the next morning, which wasn't too difficult since our hotel was filled with sunlight by 5 am. So, we went for a 3 mile run along the promenade, ending with a big breakfast at Local Sprouts Cooperative. We couldn't decide so I got an egg sandwich with local oyster and shiitake mushroms, greens and sharp cheddar, Scott ordered heuvos rancheros with Maine baked beans and we split an order of the most heavenly vegan pancakes.

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From there, we hit the road to Acadia, stopping in Camden along the way. Y'all, Camden is one of the cutest towns I've ever seen. For my fellow Gilmore Girls fans, it's like Stars Hallow on the water. After walking around town and enjoying a lobster roll and Asian fish taco from Harbor Dogs on a bench at the pier, we drove to the top of Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park. The view was EVERYTHING. You could see all of Preboscot Bay and even parts of Acadia across the bay, which was still another couple of hours (scenic) drive away.

Check out that claw meat ;)

Camden

Camden Hills State Park

We arrived in Acadia National Park midafternoon. After a brief stroll around Bar Harbor and a snack on fried local seafood at Thirsty Whale Tavern (I swear we did more than eat and drink...), we drove the Park Loop Trail, a 27 mile road that takes you through the prettiest part of the park. I think we stopped at every overlook along the way! Sandy beaches do nothing for me, but rocky coastlines give me all the feels!

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It was kinda cold! Decided against copying the Canadians at the beach and hopping in!

Because we're those weird people who get really excited about tents and sleeping bags and campfires, we decided to camp in the park. Plus, by letting Scott think he talked me into it, I convinced him I deserve a fancy meal and a bottle of rose ;) We went to McKays Public House, a farm to table restaurant in a historic Victorian house on the main drag. We split lobster baked brie with leeks for an appetizer and a triple duck dish of roasted duck breast with duck sausage and sweet potatoes cooked in duck fat (holy coronary!). Then on the lighter side, a salad topped with hazelnuts, golden raisins, gorgonzola and a truffle dressing.

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The next day was our mountain climbing day - we climbed three of them! But they were all less than 1,000 feet so don't let me sound too impressive ;) First up was Beehive, a super steep trail that requires climbing up metal rungs and scooting along cliffs. It was SO much fun but maybe not the greatest for those who are afraid of heights! Our next stop was North Bubble and South Bubble which overlook Jordan Pond, this gorgeous glacial lake. At the top there's a massive glacial erratic, this huge granite boulder precariously balanced at the edge of a cliff. It looks like you could tap it and it would fall right off, but it's been there for over 10,000 years. Still, even knowing that and how many tourists have taken the same picture, I was kinda nervous I'd be the one to send it crashing!

The Beehive from below

Scrambling up the Beehive

View from the Beehive of Sand Beach

We made it!

Bubble Rock

Jordan Pond from the top of the bubbles

For lunch, we stopped at Jordan Pond House for seafood stew and popovers (Scott) and pepita crusted scallops with kale, bacon and quinoa (me). Definitely recreating that one! After lunch, we drove on the western, more populated side of Mount Desert Island to hike Acadia Mountain then visited the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. If you're doing the same trip, right nearby is a place called Thurstons Lobster Pound where you pick your own lobster and they steam it for you. We got a ton of recommendations from instagram followers and friends, but unfortunately they weren't open for the summer when we were there - sad! So, we went to Geddy's back in Bar Harbor for a big bowl of steamer clams and a pizza topped with shrimp, scallops, spinach and roasted garlic.

View of Jordan Pond and North and South Bubble from the Pond House

Pumpkin seed crusted scallops

For sunset, we drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain (hey, we hiked enough mountains that day!) and watched the most incredible sunset. It was a perfect end to the day! We debated going back for sunrise, since it's one of the first places to see the sunrise in the United States, but we just didn't get our act together. Another reason to go back!

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The next day, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Cafe This Way (the omelette with smoked trout, red onions and tomatoes - do it!) then started the long 5 hour trip back to Boston. We broke up the drive with a quick stop in Cape Elizabeth, where one of my dietitian friends here in Columbia is from. We went house shopping on Shore Ave. (with the two million dollars we don't actually have), stopped at the Portland Head Light, and snagged yet another lobster lunch at The Lobster Shack. 

 

Once we got back to Boston, the wedding festivities began! My brother is just 18 months younger than we, so we oscillate between hating each other and being best friends. His now wife, Skyler, is absolutely wonderful - between her and Scott's sisters, I've seriously lucked out in the sister-in-law department! Everyone who was in town that Thursday met up at Harpoon Brewery, then our huge group went to the Barking Crab for dinner. Fried clam roll for me - no such thing as enough seafood when in New England!

My newest seester!

The next day we slept in a bit and after a late brunch at Paris Creperie, where all the crepes have pop culture references (see below), we took a long walk across the river to Harvard. It was graduation weekend so the campus was bustling. We decided to play a game we called "Smart Kid, Family, or Regular Bostonian." We'd like to think people thought we were Harvard grads and not tourists ;)

Top: thyme mashed sweet potato, pesto, avocado, goat cheese and red onion. Bottom: sharp cheddar, avocado, broccoli, asparagus and spinach

Too much

Doing my best Haaaavad impression

After the rehearsal, we had a HUGE family style Italian meal for the rehearsal dinner at La Famiglia Giorgio's followed by a late night at a nearby bar. It was a small wedding so it was great to catch up with family, Skyler's friends who I met at the bachelorette, my brother friends I've known since elementary school. Even my grand little from my sorority at Clemson was there after her fiance and my brother randomly became close friends in law school!

All rehearsed and ready to get hitched!

On Saturday, we had a good bit of time before the wedding so we snagged brunch with my friend Kara (aka The Foodie Dietitian) and her fiance at Zaftigs, a Jewish deli. We met as roommates at Blog Brulee almost two (!!!) years ago and have kept in touch ever since. It was so great catching up!

Lox and potato cakes with dill cream

Blog Brulee roomie love!

After brunch, Scott and I walked down to the Gardner Museum, an art museum founded by the socialite and art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner in a mansion she designed to display her collection to the public. It was probably the most unique museum I've ever been to. It felt like we were sneaking around a rich person's house! Plus it was really neat learning about Gardner, who was kind of a bad ass. There's one story they tell about how she threatened an art collector with a knife to get him to sell a piece that she wanted - can you imagine a wealthy woman in the early 1900s doing such a thing?

Inside the courtyard of the Gardner museum

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Finally came the big event! They got married in a cute little park in their neighborhood with perfect weather and a really sweet ceremony officiated by a close friend. I read an poem during the ceremony and tried really hard not to laugh because I had been threatening to do it in an accent. The reception was held at Mistral where we had an incredible meal. It was really the perfect night for the two of them!

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Salmon with clams and bacon

Hope you enjoyed getting a peek into our travels! Any other Boston recommendations? I'll be going back for the Clemson vs. Boston College game and our national dietetics conference in the fall, so I could use more recommendations of things to do and of course places to eat! Feel free to share in the comments!

 

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