Roaming New England

Wandering adventures from the mountains to the sea, and everything in between!


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Summer Concerts at Jonathan Edwards Winery

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One of our favorite local summer events is the concert series at Jonathan Edwards Winery in North Stonington, CT.

*Disclaimer – I don’t know shit about wine.  But I DO know shit about having a good time.  If you’re looking for a real winery and wine review, you should google that.  We got a bottle of white because it was surface of the sun hot outside and the very thought of drinking red made me sweat.  That will be the extent of the wine talk *

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Aforementioned glass of white.  Stone table white to be exact.  My expert opinion?  It was tasty!

We are extremely lucky to live close to this beautiful winery.  On Sunday nights throughout July and August they host a summer concert series with, some pretty fantastic acts (This year included G. Love, Jonathan Edwards (the musician), Keller Williams, Donavon Frankenreiter, and Martin Sexton).  We’ve been hitting the tent for some music, wine, snacks, and fun for the past few years now – it’s a great time! Perfect for a chill night with a group of friends, or a pretty great date night.

Yesterday we saw Donavon Frankenreiter, our favorite – which luckily has become a yearly tradition.

The music magic happens in a big white tent on the winery grounds.  “Doors” open at 5:30 – get there early to set up your spot, either under the tent or scattered on the surrounding lawn.  Be prepared to show your ID (they scan them, the Sunday concerts are 21+) and for a bag/cooler check (no outside booze allowed).  Then grab a bottle or glass of wine (both are for sale – but really – just get a bottle to share) and take a relaxing stroll through the vineyard.   The show starts at 6:30 with the opening act (another one of our favorites yesterday, Will Evans), and runs until 9:30.  Look around – you will probably see the artists strolling the grounds, chatting with the crowd and enjoying a glass of wine.

Last night’s show was stellar.  The music was rockin’, the artists’ energy was electric, and the weather was beautiful!  We couldn’t have asked for a better evening.

If you are looking for a relaxing evening in a beautiful setting with some great tunes, look no further!  Tickets can be purchased at the Jonathan Edwards website, and shows often sell out.  Next up is the last show of the summer, Martin Sexton on August 21.

In addition to the Sunday shows the winery also hosts a Thursday night concert series (The JE Cares Summer Concert Series) , with each show benefiting a different charity.  These are family and dog friendly, so bring the family and a picnic for some fun and support some great causes!

Can’t make it to the concerts?  Stop by for a tasting, tour, and enjoy some “New England Charm & Napa Style”.   Love wine?  Join their wine club for special events and discounts for members.  There is also a yearly lobster bake and their Harvest Festival at the end of the year, with bands, vendors, and of course – wine.

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Where:  Jonathan Edwards Winery, 74 Chester Maine Rd. North Stonington CT

When:  Check the event page on their website for event dates and times. Sunday concerts 6:30-9:30, grounds open at 5:30.

Know before you go: Bring chairs or a blanket to set up camp.  Small fold out tables are also a great idea, the spreads are impressive! No outside booze allowed, but bring some snacks and your choice of nonalcoholic drinks.  Get there early to set up your space (starting at 5:30).  Bring cash for wine (around $20-$30 for a bottle and $8-$10 for a glass, wine glasses are included in your ticket price).

 

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Sunflowers for Wishes – Buttonwood Farm in Voluntown, CT

Every year at the end of July, the fields surrounding Buttonwoods Farm Ice Cream in Griswold, Connecticut come alive with thousands of sunflowers.  It is an incredibly beautiful site – and even better, an extremely successful fundraiser.  Through sales of the sunflowers and ice cream during this week they have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Make a Wish Foundation.   The 2016 Sunflowers for Wishes runs from July 23-31.  Come on out and be sure to bring your camera to capture the stunning scenes! (it is especially pretty at sunset).  There are also hayrides and a cow train ride on paths weaving through one of the fields.  It is a spectacular site for a great cause.  After the week is over, their very happy cows are let loose in one of the fields to feast on the sunflowers – an event all it’s own!   If you are anywhere near southeastern Connecticut, you have a few days left to get there.   Enjoy!

Where:  473 Shetucket Turnpike; Griswold, CT (route 165, near the intersection of rt. 201 and 165)

When: July 23-31, 10AM-Dusk (insider tip – there is a huge field of sunflowers across the street from the ice cream stand.  While you can’t buy any of the flowers and merchandise or take a cow train ride outside of the above hours, you can always stop to enjoy the beauty and snap some pictures.  Just make sure to come back for some ice cream later and support the cause!)


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Waterfront Dining in Camden, Maine

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One of my favorite places in New England (ok, the world really) is Midcoast Maine.  We have been visiting this little slice of paradise for several years now and come home kicking and screaming every time.  The salty air, downtown streets full of quirky shops, galleries and…. good food and drinks.  Lots of ’em.  We have a multitude of retirement homes picked out.

A big reason we (and everyone else) love the Maine coast is, well, the coast.  Being on the water, whether on the ocean or tucked in to one of a multitude of picturesque harbor areas, is incredibly relaxing.  Camden’s harbor is one of the prettiest and most vibrant, in my opinion.  Locals and tourists mingle on streets overlooking a harbor filled with everything from enormous private yachts, sailboats, schooners and windjammers heading out on charter cruises,  working lobster boats, and everything in between.  And when you’re done strolling, shopping, lounging, or sailing – you’ll be hungry.  And thirsty.  So where to go?

If waterfront dining and imbibing is your idea of the perfect way to wind down the day then look no further.  Here are a select few of my favorite places to kick back harborside in Camden.  Cheers!

 

Rhumb Line (59 Sea Street, Camden Maine)

IMG_1068(1)Rhumb line (which is also a navigational term – google it) is a new addition to the Camden dining scene.  Described as an “industrial clam shack”, Rhumb Line is tucked into a boatyard on the other side of the harbor from downtown, it is a bit of an adventure just finding the restaurant – but that is part of the fun! (tip – head down Sea Street.  When it curves around to the left, stay straight.  boatyard and Rhumb Line are down to the right.)

They offer an indoor as well as outdoor seating area and bar.  Outdoor seating was a mix of large picnic tables and some “regular” tables along the perimeter along the edge of the wharf that seated 4.  There were also some high top tables made from re-purposed crates along the outside bar – the seating areas really gave some cool character to the setting.  It was a very mixed crowd, family friendly and casual.

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We headed down on a Saturday evening and were seated right away (being flexible helped – there were only two of us and we were seated at the end of a picnic table that already had a group dining.  Worked out great!).  Service was excellent.  I wish I could remember our waiter’s name as he was super friendly and helpful! (I’m TERRIBLE with that). Drink list had some great looking cocktails as well as a nice selection of local craft beers.  I opted to rehydrate with this dinner and went with a nonalcoholic (*GASP* – I know, RIGHT?? Who AM I?) ginger mint lemonade that was freakin’ delicious.

The food menu had some good seafood options as well as a burger that a lot of people seemed to be getting and looked pretty tasty.  I opted for a cup of clam chowder and a lobster roll, and the husband got the fish tacos. The chowder was…. ok.  Clam chowder to New Englanders is a very personal experience, and everyone has their favorite type.  This one was a cream based but thinner broth.  I just prefer the thicker ones.   Lobster roll was good.  A little on the small side compared with others around (I eat a LOT of lobster rolls so they had some stiff competition here) but tasted good.  I’d probably skip it next time around and try out some of the other menus.  The fish tacos were reeealllly good.  I had total meal envy over these and snuck a few bites.

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Overall, we really enjoyed Rhumb Line and will most definitely come back.  Great setting and casual waterfront vibe.  Find your way there and check it out!  A word of caution – parking is outside of the boatyard and there is a short walk down a hill into the boatyard to get to the restaurant along the wharf.  This could be difficult to those who have difficulty walking long distances or who are mobility impaired, so plan accordingly.

Waterfront (48 Bayview Street Camden, Maine)

This is a fantastic spot, just down the street and slightly off the beaten path from Camden’s main street.  Easy to find with signs directing you back to the restaurant, which has a large deck overlooking the harbor.

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View of the harbor from our table

We found Waterfront after a day of mountain biking and I was STARVING.  There are a few different seating options – we sat on the “bar side” of the deck (the deck is split in half with more casual seating and a bar menu only area, and slightly more formal restaurant seating on the other side.)  We opted for bowls of clam chowder which were really great – nice thick chowdah with tons of clams, exactly how I like it.  It was so good that I inhaled it before getting a picture! (it was that or chew my arm off – don’t judge).  In addition to the soup we decided on sharing some appetizers and settled on the Ducktrap River Sampler (sort of a smoked seafood “fish-cuterie” plate), cheese plate, and order of steamers.  Everything was great!  We washed these down with a Baxter IPA and Allagash White.  I may or may not have eaten the entire order of steamers myself (again – no judging – I’m a hungry girl!)

 

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We thoroughly enjoyed Waterfront in Camden and definitely plan to return!

Tap & Vine (9 Bayview Landing, Camden)

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Tap & Vine is another new addition along Camden Harbor, tucked in the corner at the end of the boardwalk.  This was one of our favorite spots to sit, relax, and have a beer and we visited a few times.  They have a rotating tap list as well as selections of wine on tap, and a small food menu. We came only for the drinks, and it was a perfect place to sit and unwind with a cold beer.  They are dog friendly and the crowd varied from couples, groups of friends, and a couple of families.  They are just starting out and the tap list wasn’t huge, but offered a solid selection of (mostly Maine) craft beers.   The deck has some covered seating areas to keep you shaded (or dry) and a few indoor tables as well.  The staff was very friendly and attentive and the view can’t be beat! We lingered for quite a while, chatting, drinking, and watching the boats (and tourists) come and go.

So there you have it.  A snippet of a few of our favorites in waterfront drinking and dining from our most recent trip to Camden.  If you find yourself heading their way – 1.  I’m jealous.  2. Consider checking them out!  Cheers, and happy travels!

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Wandering the streets of Camden


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Weekend Getaway in Portsmouth, NH

Weekend Getaway

This weekend my mom, sister, and I took to the streets of Portsmouth, NH for a little girls’ weekend getaway.  Even in the dreary weather Portsmouth was beautiful.  A small and easily walkable city tucked on New Hampshire’s tiny coastline just over the border of Maine, Portsmouth offers something for everyone!  Great food, craft beer, gardens, history, small local shops, live music are all steps away.   Here are some highlights from our trip! (click the headers for websites with more info)

Prescott Park

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The park is a great place to take a stroll.  There are frequent concerts and festivals to take in, in addition to the many gardens.  We wound around the flowers and through the display gardens with the sound of a children’s theater performance of “The Little Mermaid” in the background.  Even in the clouds and drizzle the area was full of families enjoying the show and people walking the park.  It isn’t very big, but it was beautiful, with a path that leads along the waterfront.  It is also adjacent to the Strawbery Banke Museum – for the art and history buffs out there this area is a must see.

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Strolling Downtown

Downtown Portsmouth was very easy to walk around and navigate.  There were plenty of cute shops to browse and lots of great bars and restaurants to pop into to cool off and enjoy a pint on a hot summer day, or escape a rainstorm if you need to… it is New England after all.   Our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Portsmouth was centrally located and an easy walk to everything downtown had to offer.

Food and Drink

There are a LOT of options for chowing down and quenching your thirst in downtown Portsmouth.  It was very tough to narrow it down, but we were very happy with our choices and have a list of others to try out next time!

Surf Restaurant

Surf (on Bow Street, just off Market Square) was our first stop for a light lunch and drinks.  Nice atmosphere with windows overlooking the harbor.  Tap list had some nice local offerings and the wine list seemed to have a good selection (says the NON wine connoisseur.)  I chose a Tuckerman’s Pale Ale (a favorite that’s not available in CT!) and the others got red sangria, which was tasty.  They had a nice raw bar and sushi selection as well as plenty of seafood and sandwich offerings for lunch.  Between us we had the crab louie salad, smoked haddock and corn chowder, and a special that was grilled shrimp over a cold ramen salad.  The shrimp special was the winner at the table, but all was good.  I was starving, so I forgot to snap some food pictures.  Oops!

Portsmouth Book & Bar

I LOVE bookstores.  And craft beer.  So a place where you can have both at the same time may just be the best thing ever.  Enter Portsmouth Book & Bar.  We kicked back with a couple of craft beers and browsed the shelves here.  They also have a food and coffee menu offering espresso drinks and small plates, sandwiches, etc.  There is an outdoor seating area as well, and some evenings there is live music or events.  Great place!

Breaking New Grounds

Our noses led us straight through the doors of Breaking New Grounds for an afternoon caffeine buzz.  The coffee smells wafting out into their outdoor seating area were irresistible and our tastebuds most definitely agreed.  My cappuccino was fantastic! Nice seating areas inside and out.

 

Cafe Mediterraneo

Dinner was Italian.  Again, I forgot to snap some pictures.  Atmosphere was fairly laid back with families, a bachelorette party, and some obvious date nights all dining together.  It was nice without being too fancy or stuffy which was perfect.  Plenty of wines and cocktails to choose from and a menu that was just big enough without being overwhelming.  We dined on salads (house and cesar), bread with seasoned olive oil for dipping,  eggplant parmesan, lasagna (which was raved about), and calabrese.

Popovers on the Square

After walking off our pasta we decided to re-carb load with some desert at Popovers.  Lots of delicious desserts to choose from, plus coffee and some drinks and craft beer on tap.

District

Sunday brunch found us at District.  We initially tried a couple of top brunch listings on Yelp (Friendly Toast and Colby’s Breakfast and Lunch) but there was an hour wait and we were WAY too hungry for that.  We chose District instead and were definitely not disappointed!  We were seated right away inside – there was also a covered outdoor seating area that was dog friendly.   The coffee was great and there were plenty of bar options also. I had a Korean spiced fried rice topped with a fried egg and kimchi that was DELICIOUS. We also munched on a Belgian waffle topped with blueberries, and more standard breakfast fare of a veggie omelet and eggs and toast.  It was all really great and I wouldn’t hesitate to brunch here again for sure.

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We capped off our weekend with a quick trip over the bridge into Kittery, Maine for some bargain hunting at the Kittery Outlets and then headed home.  Portsmouth was perfect for a quick weekend getaway and there is a whole lot more to explore when we come back! (especially the craft beer – I’m already planning a stop back to check out the Portsmouth Brewery  and Thirsty Moose (huge tap list!)

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Thanks for a great weekend Portsmouth!!

 


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Hike New Hampshire – The Hancocks

**As I work to set up this blog, I am migrating over a few old posts from my other blog – the posts that inspired me to start Roaming New England!  New content coming soon, until then – some oldies but goodies from past adventures**

On May 5, 2015 my hiking partner in crime and I decided to head up to NH and check off some peaks on our new quest to hike all of New Hampshire’s 48 4000(+) foot peaks.  With the help of a fantastic Groupon deal at the nearby Woodstock Inn, we arbitrarily settled on May 5-6, crossed our fingers, and hoped for some decent weather.  

We REALLY lucked out… what a beautiful day!!  Bright blue skies, plenty of sunshine, and temps in the 60s with very minimal wind.  Short sleeves the whole way.  

We decided on the Hancocks, an approximately 10 mile hike that would bag two peaks.  We headed out at around 10:45 after driving up to the trailhead that morning.  We started out at the Hancock Trailhead at the hairpin turn on the Kancamagus highway.  

We headed up the Hancock Trail, to the Cedar Brook Trail, to the Hancock Loop Trail.  We chose to summit North Hancock first, traverse to South Hancock, and then descend from there and return.

The early portions of the trail were pretty moderate.  The trail was not very steep, initially clear with increasing snow, ranging from the spring monorail to deeper and deeper snow as we gained elevation.  The  higher elevations of the hike had a few feet of snow remaining.

This was a really fun hike, and very challenging with the terrain.  The climb to the summit is short (less than a mile) and steep (no matter which peak you hit first), and the snow added another layer of difficulty for sure.  We definitely did some post-holing as the day warmed up and the snow softened (I didn’t bother to stop and change from micro spikes to snowshoes…. So occasionally found myself buried to my hip in snow. Oops.).  The water crossings were tricky also- the warming weather was melting the snow and steadily increasing the water levels – there were some sections that I could see can potentially get scary, especially if you are inexperienced. 

We were able to cross all of them without any significant difficulty, but resigned ourselves to wet feet for the last couple of miles and just walked through some of the last sections of water crossings.  I think this was a safer (though not ideal) option, as the temps were warm and we were almost done.  Trying to wander around and find rocks to hop across would have taken unnecessary time and made the risk of slipping and falling much worse.  So, damp feet it was!  



 

The weather was phenomenal, and the views from the summits beautiful.  Being in the mountains is so peaceful!  Overall this was a great hike.  The snow and water crossings made it very challenging wit he warming temps… I would definitely be VERY cautious if attempting this as a spring hike.  This took us over 7 hours (counting photo stops and lunch break), so it was slow going!

We rounded out the day with a drink and snack stop at the Common Man in Lincoln NH, and then spent the night at the Woodstock Inn Station and Brewery.  The rooms were cute and plenty of room for two of us, with options like old-fashioned canopy beds if you want.  We stayed in the building right across the street from the main inn, which also has guest rooms as well as the brewery, restaurant, and breakfast area.

They are a functioning brewery, and brew and sell their own beer here (Most New England craft beer drinkers have had a Pig’s Ear Brown Ale at least once I’m sure). We enjoyed a tasting with dinner (and another pint of course – couldn’t pass up the 4000 footer IPA).  Sadly, we didn’t have time to do the brewery tour.  The breakfast there (included in the room rate if you are staying) was PHENOMENAL – and not just because we were hungry hikers!   Check out the pictures below, and tell me you’re not drooling!  

So much fun, can’t wait to head back North!!

Cheers!!

Front of the Inn, from our guest house

Not just any pancake – tropical pancakes, with banana, coconut, and walnuts.  Note the crumbs where that cinnamon bun was on that little plate.  Seriously good stuff.