Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Two Reader Questions on New England Travel

 One reader question:

I am loving these pictures Muffy. I had a quick question. If you wanted to visit Maine and the town, where would you stay and what’s the closest airport. Thanks and enjoy your day. 

 And another:

I'm currently looking at visiting your general bit of the world and wondered if you'd have any recommendations on where to go? Probably starting and finishing in Boston but NY would also be a possibility. Would very much like to do a coastal tour of some sort, probably lasting about a week. Anything Nautical would be high on my list to visit, Mystic Seaport springs to mind (no idea where that is in relation to you to be honest), maybe some of Cape Cod, Lighthouses etc - any suggestions most welcome and nothing set in stone, I've to take in Nashville in the same trip oddly.


  1. Camden, Maine is the prettiest coastal town and we'll located to visit other places, IMNVHO.

  2. For the second writer I would say Mystic Seaport (maybe 120 minutes from Boston) is very worthwhile. Food = Abbott's Lobster in the Rough in Noank and Sift Bake Shop in Mystic.

    In New Haven (about 45 minutes from Mystic) the Yale campus, Rare Book Library, Art Gallery, and British Museum are great and free. Food = 2 New haven icons are Louis Lunch and Sally's Apizza.

    For Nashville (nowhere close to New England) the Country Music Hall of Fame and RCA's Studio B are musts. The Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ole Opry are great. Food = Pancake Pantry in the Hillsboro neighborhood and City House in the Germantown area.

  3. For the Bar Harbor area, CapeAir flies from BOS to BHB. If you're flying on a larger jet, BGR--Bangor International Airport is about a half hour to Bar Harbor area and easy access to the coast: Camden, Rockland, Rockport.
    Maine also has PWM---Portland Maine, our largest airport. If you're interested in beaches, PWM would be your best bet. Portland area is also fun to explore. Bar Harbor gets extremely crowded during peak season as does Camden.

    1. Drivr from BGR to Bar Harbor is about an hour, hour and fifteen min.

  4. Abbott's is great and yes, definitely rough. An unadvertised highlight, watch Stripers 'beg' for food scraps. Who knew! But unfortunately, single use plastics kind of ruin the otherwise tasty seaside experience.

  5. As a born and raised Cape Codder, I think it's a hard region to see and appreciate quickly. One could just do P-Town and National Seashore (Taking 6A east) in a night or two for a teaser, though. But many love it because they pick a town or two and explore it deeply.

    Otherwise, starting and ending in Boston, I think Cape Ann would be a great choice, especially given all the lighthouses/ships around Gloucester and Rockport, the ease of viewing all the gilded age seaside homes and relative compactness compared to Cape Cod.

  6. Maine in the summer is bursting with lobster festivals, oyster festivals, blueberry festivals, beer festivals, arts festivals, not to mention regattas, harborfests, lobster boat races, etc. Most offer a charming slice not only of New England but of small town America. I would consider taking this into account in your planning.

  7. Someone looking to fly into Maine from outside the region would be better off flying into Portland. A few national carriers fly regularly into Bangor and Augusta on limited schedules and with higher ticket prices. Bangor is a few hours drive from Portland for purposes of comparing cost vs. convenience. Places to stay? too many nice small towns to get into that. Figure out places you'd like to visit, then do some homework. I'm not a fan of AI, but I gather it can provide a helpful starting point for mapping out vacations if you're sufficiently specific - though it may not capture some smaller, more intimate, and more pleasant lodging possibilities.

    Same response for places to visit in coastal New England. Narrow things down - do you prefer the islands like Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket? North Shore closer to Boston (out toward Gloucester)? Cape Cod, and if so, more populated areas or less-inhabited? (after Labor Day strongly recommended if you prefer a more peaceful experience on the islands or the Cape); Maine coast, and if so, closer to Boston, or up the coast in the Camden to Bar Harbor area? You could spend a nice vacation in any of these sub-regions, and each offers a slightly different feel from the other.

  8. What month will your trip be taking place? It can matter.

  9. Hello all, I’m question number two, I appreciate the answers already and thought I’d give a little more context: In late May/early July I shall attending an event which will be in/around Nashville, where I’ve been before, no advice needed thanks, won’t be there for more than a couple of days. I’m starting in Ireland, so open to fly anywhere as long as it has direct service from either Dublin or Shannon airports and a connecting flight to Nashville or surrounds, Boston seems like the logical choice but there may be alternatives.
    My background is as a Boatbuilder and Shipwright (I’m a former employee of Muffy favorite Arthur Beales’ too, when they were still on Shaftesbury Av) and although no longer in the industry, still hold a candle for it, hence Mystic Seaport being high on my list. I also happen to come from a long line of lighthouse keepers, I rather “collect” lighthouses in some way, which explains that particular interest.
    The current rough idea is to fly in to wherever from Ireland, pick up a connecting flight to Nashville, do my couple of days there, before heading back up north and spending whatever remains of a short fortnight or long week with a hire car in the general New England area or possibly further afield. Thanks for the answers thus far and hope this provides a little more info.

    1. Hello Question Number Two! If you want to dig into the boatbuilder and shipwright angle, Mystic Seaport is a *must*. It is unparalleled in the US as both a maritime museum and a working wooden boat shipyard. It easily merits a half-day to full-day visit. It has my highest recommendation. The museum is somewhat less than two hours southwest of Boston by car taking the interstate highways.

      Since you have the time, however, you might consider a leisurely nautical-themed drive south from Boston along the coasts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, perhaps ending at Mystic Seaport before taking the interstate back to Boston for your flight back to Ireland. You can easily cover the highlights in a long week. In my humble opinion, those highlights would include (from roughly north to south):

      US Naval Shipbuilding Museum (

      New Bedford Whaling Museum (

      Maritime Museum at Battleship Cove (

      The Herreshoff Marine Museum and America's Cup Hall of Fame (

      International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) (

      Newport Harbor Light (

      Rose Island Light (

      Stonington Lighthouse Museum (

      Mystic Seaport Museum (

      This itinerary avoids Cape Cod and the islands off of New England. As much as they merit a visit, I think it might be too much even for a fortnight.

      I hope you enjoy your visit to our neck of the woods. Bon voyage.

  10. Check out Historic New England for historic homes to tour throughout New England. Check out Campobello which is neither Maine or Canada--technically a no-mans land. FDR's summer home is there. It's also where he contracted polio... allegedly. Lenox, Mass. is also a great town. Williams College has a SPECTACULAR art collection.

    1. Sorry to be one of *those people,* but the SPECTACULAR art collection in Williamstown is at the Clark Art Institute, which is not owned or operated by Williams College. Williams has its own little art museum and it is a very nice one-- but no better than Amherst's or Mount Holyoke's, for example, and not even in the same league with either Dartmouth's or Smith's.

  11. For a week long trip, you can easily do Mystic and Cape Ann. Fly into Boston Logan, head south to the CT & RI sites (fun fact, my husband installed the America's Cup boat outside the Herreshoff Museum) that Matt mentions above and then back up through Boston the north shore. Plenty of lighthouses along the way - Marblehead has the only steady green on the east coast and boatbuilding - Lowell's Boat Shop in Amesbury is the oldest boat shop in America.

  12. There are some fabulous suggestions here. I would take nothing away from them. But if pushed to it, there are only two places in New England I yearn all the time to visit. One is Roque Island, way down east in Maine and only accessible only by boat, so out of the question here. The other is Acadia National Park. True, in summer it's crazily over run with tourists. But there is nothing so spectacular on the east coast as the Park Loop Road which wends its way along spectacular cliffs overlooking the ocean. It is easy to escape the crowds by taking advantage of the gracious old carriage roads and trails in the park. The carriage roads are only open to bicycles, horse carriages and walkers and the trails, while not daunting, are a happy challenge and provide a little touch of wilderness. As far as places to eat and stay, it used to be that two old resorts, the Asticou Inn (Northeast Harbor) and the Claremont Hotel (Southwest Harbor) were the best places on Mount Desert (home of the Acadia National Park) to use as headquarters. They have recently fallen on hard times lately, but the Claremont is now fully resorted and the Asticou has just been purchased by the owner of the Claremont so the prospects of it coming back to its glory is promising. These inns were both built in the 19th century and some complain about no elevators and claw foot tubs, but others still love them for the air of graciousness and old fashioned charm. The same could be said about the once revered Jordan Pond House which serves tea and popovers on the lawn in front of Bubble Pod in the afternoons.

    It's definitely worth checking out recent reviews of these locations for up to date information about them. Good luck and enjoy your trip!

    1. The Schoodic part of Acadia is much less overrun with tourists

  13. Hi lighthouse keeper, I know this wasn’t your question, but you might consider Michigan in the summer. So much coastline and so many lighthouses. Hemingway used to summer in Petoskey. You could stay in traverse city and see Mackinac Island…

  14. For Boston and Maine-- on such a trip I based myself in Portsmouth, NH. Highly recommend! Only around an hour's drive from Logan Airport, and just over the line from Maine. (Take advantage of the NH tax free shopping too!)

    Not far from Nashville is the Hermitage (home of Pres. Andrew Jackson)-- also highly recommend!


  15. More suggestions to fulfill a boat building jones:

    In New Hampshire, Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth :

    In Maine, The Landings School in Arundel, somewhat similar to the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, RI.

    The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath.

    There are assorted day trips aboard schooners and powered passenger boats out of Portland, Rockport, Boothbay Harbor and Camden. Most will take you close a number of lighthouses.

    The Apprenticeshop in Rockland:

    Further downeast is Brooklin, self-styled 'Boat Building Capital of the World'

  16. I live in Ellsworth, Maine, gateway to Acadia. Tourist traffic is close to the scale of Cape Cod in the summer. To get away from it all I bike around Isle au Haut, Isleboro, Cape Rosier, Deer Isle, and remote places along the coast in Washington County.


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