east coast, travel

My Travels: East Coast Adventure

My aunt and I enjoy going on vacation together so over a year ago when we were talking about where we wanted to go next, the east coast was mentioned and we talked about what we wanted to see. New York had been at the top of my list for a while and I thought it would be neat to see some of Massachusetts too. Not long after, we booked our hotels in Cape Cod and New York! Time flew by and we spent 8 wonderful days exploring the east coast.

Portland to Boston is almost six hours and while the flight was nice,  the getting from the airport to our dinner destination was a stressful experience. East coast driving is definitely more aggressive and cars were trying to make their way into our lane from all directions, most weren’t that friendly when it came to merging and at times you couldn’t even tell where your lane was! It was crazy and we were grateful when we finally made it out of the city.

I watch the Wahlburgers on A & E and trying their burgers was on my to do list so we made our way to Hingham to have dinner. I had the Our Burger, with lettuce, tomatoes, house made pickles, government cheese & Paul’s wahl sauce and some tots. Both were delicious! It is very cool inside, with the ceiling having the names of movies and TV shows that Donnie and Mark had been in. It was very fun to see the places that are featured on a show that I enjoy!

From there it was a three hour drive to our hotel,  the Cove at Yarmouth. I had found this place through my Mom’s time share and it was pretty decent. It has two pools, a restaurant, laundry area and the rooms came with a keurig, microwave and mini fridge. It was in a good spot, in between the towns of Yarmouth and Hyannis, and easy to find.

We spent the next day exploring Cape Cod. There is a main highway that goes all the way up the cape and it is surrounded by trees. Being fall, they were all different colors and the drive was beautiful. Unfortunately you can’t see anything off the exits so you basically have to pick a town and start exploring. We chose Provincetown, at the very top of the cape, as the place to start. We spent the morning walking the town and checking out all of the fun shops. It is a cute place right on the water and has a cool Pilgrim monument that you can go to the top of,  which we chose not to do, but you can see the whole thing from town.

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Provincetown

We made our way to the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitors Center and Race Point. The visitors center has some really pretty views and you can see the Pilgrim monument from the observation deck! We did hit the beach at Race Point, but not for too long as we had more places to go. There were so many spots to stop and see the ocean or just walk around. I was in awe of how beautiful everything was.

While trying to find a place for lunch, we found that it was common for most  places to be shut down for the season. Someone told us later that most places close right after Columbus Day since it isn’t too busy during the fall/winter months. We made our way through Chatham to see the lighthouse there and ended up at the Skipper Chowder House in south Yarmouth where I had my first lobster roll. I am not a seafood person, but vacation is a time for trying new things! It was pretty tasty and I also had a cup of delicious New England clam chowder to go with it.

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Lobster Roll & chowder

 

We headed back to Boston the next day to explore a little bit of the city and take a whale watching cruise, which had been on my bucket list for a long time. I had been reading ‘Patriots’ by AJ Langguth, which is about the American Revolution and I was eager to see all of the places in Boston that had come up in the book. We started out near the harbor and followed the Freedom Trail from the Old State House (the site of the Boston Massacre) to Faneuil Hall (where the patriots would meet in secret), past the Old North Church, to the Paul Revere statue and his house. I loved seeing all of these historical sites and I could have easily spent the day seeing more of them. I hope to go back to Boston one day and finish the trail!

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Faneuil Hall and the statue of Samuel Adams

Along the way, we ended up in Little Italy and came across a gelato/cannoli shop that we had to stop in and try both! The place was filled with a bunch of older men speaking Italian and we sat for a few minutes to listen to them. It was pretty neat and the cannoli was delicious!

We made our way back to the waterfront to the New England Aquarium, the place I had gone to online to get our tickets, and took a boat out to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The website promises to see whales on every trip and they delivered! It was a nice, clear day and there were plenty of them out feeding. One even came up next to the boat for a few minutes and put on a show! It was a very cool experience.

 

For our last day on the cape, we took a ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard. We decided not to bring the car and ended up taking the bus around the island, which there were stops  in each town and buses showed up frequently. It was convenient and cheaper than taking the car on the ferry, but we didn’t have time to see everything and couldn’t stop to see sights (like the Jaws bridge!). We stopped in Vineyard Haven and Oaks Bluff to look around and had lunch in Edgartown. There weren’t many shops open, so we ended up just walking around and it was a cool place to see.

We left Cape Cod after four amazing days and headed to Newport, Rhode Island. We spent the day checking out the famous mansions that reside on the coast. The tour packages included either five houses or two. Since we had to be in Providence by the afternoon, we chose to do two and toured The Breakers and Rosecliff. The Breakers, built by the Vanderbilt family,  has an Italian Renaissance style and had some amazing art pieces all over the house. Rosecliff is not as big, but is still impressive and my favorite room was the ballroom. Both houses were stunning and had amazing views of the ocean. It was an audio tour and it was fun to learn about the history of the homes.

The rest of the day was spent walking around Newport and driving to Providence to take the train to New York. It was a quick three hour trip and I was glad to be done with driving. The train ride was smooth and the views were amazing, with most of the route being along the coast. The best part of the ride was getting into New York and seeing the lights of the city! This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It had been a long day of traveling, but seeing those lights got me excited and I couldn’t believe I was in New York!

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Sunset from the train

We spent four amazing days in the city. I was a little nervous, mainly due to how big it is, but after the first day we easily got to know the area we were staying in and managed to figure out the subway. We stayed at Hotel St James, is an older hotel and had small rooms, but came at a decent price. One thing we hadn’t counted on was how there was no air conditioning in our room! They had taken all of the units out in anticipation of the fall weather, but it ended up being warmer and more humid than we were prepared for. The staff were very helpful though and found us the last fan! Overall it was an okay place to stay and you couldn’t beat the location! It was only a few blocks from Rockefeller Center and Times Square, so we spent the majority of our time in that area.

30 Rock is a really cool building with a lot of shops and places to eat inside, there were subway stations close by and there was a nice spot outside by some fountains to just sit and people watch. The NBC store inside was really cool and had a lot of merchandise from some of my favorite shows. I definitely spent a little too much money in there! We spent a lot of time in Times Square and it was such a fun area to be in.  There were SO MANY people! New York is definitely not a place for someone who has crowd anxiety, but it is a fun place to people watch! For me the coolest part of the crowds was hearing all of the different languages being spoken!

We had bought a City Pass before the trip, which gave us tickets to a bunch of major attractions for a decent price. We used our pass to go to the Top of the Rock and take a Circle Line Cruise on our first day out. Both offered amazing views of the city with being able to see all of Central Park and Manhattan from the Top of the Rock. The Circle Line Cruise allowed us to see the major buildings from the river and we learned a few things, like which dock the survivors of the Titanic landed at and where the US Airways flight landed on the river.

The rest of the day we spent time in Central Park, had lunch at Shake Shack  and went to the Museum of Natural History. It was kind of a bummer though because we only got to see one exhibit and an IMAX movie because of an event happening later in the evening that caused most of the museum to be closed off.

Our second day started at  the Today show! Matt Lauer and co. don’t come outside until 8am, but it is a good idea to be there at least by 6 so you can check in and get a good spot near the cameras. I don’t think we made it on TV, but it was fun to watch them film part of the show.

We spent the rest of the morning at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which is a very emotional experience. The museum is heartbreaking and insightful. There are a few exhibits inside that include damaged fire trucks, the last steel of the twin towers, plus pictures, documents, videos and audio that you probably can’t see or hear anywhere else. Both the memorial and museum are respectable tributes to the victims and should be seen while in New York.

We finished the day with a nice walk on the Brooklyn Bridge, ate some New York cheesecake and went to the top of the Empire State Building. It was foggy out that night so we couldn’t see anything from the very top, but the inside of the building is still neat and we had a little bit of a clear view from one of the lower floors.

Our last day was very rainy! We had breakfast at Ellen’s Stardust Diner (where there are singing waiters!) and by the time we made it to the Plaza Hotel and walked a little more of Central Park, it started to pour! We ended up going to a movie and finishing our shopping in Times Square. When the rain finally stopped we finished the day with taking the subway to Grand Central Station and having dinner with a friend. Despite the rain, it was a great last day of the trip.

Overall, this had been one of the best trips I have taken. All the places we went to were beautiful and there were so many things to do and see. Cape Cod and Boston were amazing and if I go for another trip, I would stay in Cape Cod again and just drive around Massachusetts. There is a lot of history all over the state and there is definitely more to see along the Freedom Trail.

 

I loved New York so much and had the most amazing time there! My favorite part  was the Top of the Rock and walking the Brooklyn Bridge. Both had the best views of the city. Everything I ate was amazing; the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery, the pumpkin cheesecake at Junior’s and the burger, fries and beer at Shake Shack were my favorite! My only regrets in New York were not seeing a Broadway play and not taking the NBC Studio Tour. By the time we decided to do the tour, they were all sold out and the next one wasn’t until a few days after we were gone.  Next time, I will do both, plus go to Brooklyn, look in all the fancy shops on Madison Ave, find the Friends building and eat more! I can’t wait!

 

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