Tag: Maine

Five Places to Travel This Summer in the Continental United States

The United States is quite amazing – each state offers a unique landscape, climate, culture, and attitude that is worth exploring beyond a fifth grade textbook. While I believe that traveling the world is worthwhile and I have the goal to visit as many countries as I can afford before finally kicking the bucket, I also strongly believe in traveling within the United States. Our enormous country offers a variety of landscapes that are as beautiful as they’re unique. Fun big cities, charming small towns, and people from all walks of life. As much fun as international travel can be, it’s important not to discount adventures within the United States. So for those looking for places to travel this summer within the United States beyond Myrtle Beach, the Grand Canyon, and Disney World – this list is for you.

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Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan

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The are very few places in the world that I find more beautiful than the Leelanau Peninsula in northwest Michigan. The vast sandy beaches, crystal blue/turquoise water, and incredible scenery rival any beach in the United States. If you’re like me and love cherries, northern Michigan is a little slice of heaven – or at least a slice of cherry pie. Stay in Glen Arbor, run down the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, make your way across the Leelanau County Wine Trail, and kayak along the Crystal River.

Ogunquit, Maine

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Continually voted one of the best US beaches, Ogunquit has three and half miles of white sand beaches along with rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean. Walk along The Marginal Way, take a lobster charter boat from Perkins Cove, eat at the Lobster Shack, and spend the afternoons on the beach. This is New England. This is Maine. This is heaven.

Kansas City, Missouri

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Sigh. Who knew that Kansas City would hold such a special place in my heart? Not only is it a great place to live – it is a fantastic place to visit. Go treasure hunting in West Bottoms with a beer in hand, eat BBQ at KC Joes, catch a show at Kansas City Live! in the Power & Light District, and wander around Union Station. If you have time – catch one the major league sporting events. And don’t leave town without visiting the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Dahlonega, Georgia

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Nestled in the North Georgia mountains, Dahlonega was the site of the first major gold rush in the United States in 1828. Also known as the heart of North Georgia wine country, the surrounding area has multiple vineyards and wineries that welcome visitors. Historic downtown Dahlonega has fantastic restaurants (you can’t go wrong with Bourbon Street Grille), wine tasting rooms, art galleries, antique shops, and bars. As far as where to stay, there are multiple cozy bed & breakfasts in town (check out Yellow Daisy and Mountain Laurel Creek), rent a cabin in the woods (like Cavender Creek), or even sleep in a yurt.

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

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Located in Cascade Mountains in southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park offers hiking trails, ranger programs, scene drives, and some of the darkest skies in America on moonless nights. Stay in the park at Crater Lake Lodge or the Cabins at Mazama Village and see for yourself what John Wesley Hillman called the “Deep Blue Lake.”

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Obviously this list is nowhere exhaustive and only serves to spark some ideas of places in the United States that one may not immediately think of when brainstorming summer travel destinations. Whether you visit the Pacific Northwest, the West, the Great Plains, the Midwest, the South, New England, or the mid-Atlantic, there is beauty and adventure to be found. Happy and safe travels.

Our New England Adventure – Newport, Cape Cod, and Ogunguit

During the summer of 2014, we took a weeklong tour of the New England coast. We returned to northern Virginia with bellies full of fresh seafood and as much of a tan as the Massachusetts and Maine sun allowed.

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We’re apparently machinists because we chose to drive through New York City and Connecticut on a Friday afternoon. In June. It quickly became obvious that we weren’t the only ones heading to the shore that weekend. I’m sure the big city hotshots in Maseratis (we spotted five!) were rolling their eyes at our Subaru with a car top carrier but that’s how we roll – we’re so pedestrian that it hurts. After about 10 hours, we finally arrived in Rhode Island.

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The next day, we drove over the largest suspension bridge in New England to Newport and spent the morning exploring one of the oldest cities in the United States. Newport also has a strong Navy presence so as is the case with most Navy towns we visit, we cursed the majority of Army locations throughout the world (Fort Polk anyone?).

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We ate on the water, enjoying a lunch consisting of fresh steamers, grilled shrimp, and a hot lobster roll.

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After lunch we walked around the harbor some more before getting back on the road. We left fans of the smallest state and hope to return someday. After leaving the Ocean State, we rolled up the coast along Route 6, marveling at the quaint architecture found in New England, specifically the Shingle Style, Colonial Revival, and of course the Cape Cod. Before long, we were in Massachusetts.

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I’ll admit that before this trip, my knowledge of Massachusetts was pretty much limited to American Revolution history, The Departed, and Mitt Romney but not surprisingly, we fell in love with Cape Cod.

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One of the first things that struck us was just how large Cape Cod is – for some reason, I pictured it to be much smaller. We learned that Cape Cod originally only referred to the very tip of the peninsula, but over time the name become synonymous with area known today. After crossing the Cape Cod Canal, we drove along Route 28 until we reached our resort in South Yarmouth – a Red Jacket Resort.

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 We checked into our room and promptly changed for the beach.

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 Where this little girl proceeded to take her first steps.

Go Violet, go!

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The little guy spent his time on the beach building sand castles and digging holes.

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We absolutely loved staying on the beach. There is nothing I like more on vacation than being able to walk to the water. While the resort wasn’t anything fancy, it had a private beach, an outdoor pool with a splash pad area for kids, an indoor pool, and plenty of chairs, umbrellas, and toys free for use.

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We did leave the resort to eat at local restaurants and explore the area but we spent the majority of our time at the beach.

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We were only in Cape Cod for two days so seeing the Cape Cod National Seashore was our top choice for an afternoon outing. We never made it to Provincetown or the tip of the cape but I know we will travel to Cape Cod again at some point. We were able to visit Marconi Beach free of charge due to our National Parks Pass courtesy of the military, which was a pleasant surprise. Marconi Beach is known for its sand cliff (also called a scarp) that fills you with a sense of solitude because there is not a building to be seen on the horizon.

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We had a wonderful time in Cape Cod (even if Weston’s face tells another story) and had trouble wiping the drool off our chins when seeing some of the available real estate. Having a vacation home in New England does sound quite nice, doesn’t it? But Maine was calling our name.

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As we crossed the Piscataqua River Bridge, we were welcomed to Vacationland. A quick drive up Route 1 and we reached our destination – Ogunquit, Maine, which means “Beautiful Place by the Sea”.

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 Quite deserving of the name, right?

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We checked into our hotel and immediately walked to the beach. Clay grew up vacationing in Ogunquit every summer and has many childhood memories tied to the seaside town. Continually voted one of the best US beaches, Ogunquit has three and half miles of white sand beaches along with rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean. We sat on the beach with our toes in the sand, watching the tide come in before heading back to hotel for dinner. After putting two tired kids to bed, Clay and I sat out on the balcony watching the waves while savoring a cocktail or two.

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Weston and Violet had us up early the next morning so we set out to walk the Marginal Way soon after sunrise. A little over of a mile walkway from downtown Ogunquit to Perkins Cove, the Marginal Way came to be when Josiah Chase Jr. donated his land back in 1925. Described as rocky, rugged, and wild, the path itself is paved but there are plenty of rock-lined coves to explore along the way.

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Obligatory family photo.

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One of the many coves on the Marginal Way we enjoyed climbing up and around.

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Gorgeous Perkins Cove.IMG_6120

Once in Perkins Cove, we found a lobster boat departing with the hour and quickly reserved seats. We ate breakfast at a cute little coffee shop on the water while waiting to come aboard and before we knew it, we were off on our very first family lobster adventure.

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 Being out on the water in Maine was about as amazing as you’d imagine it to be.

 

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After our time on the water, we ate lunch at The Lobster Shack and the meal was easily in the top three of our entire vacation and they won our award for Best Clam Chowder (it is obviously a highly coveted award – ha!). The restaurant is unpretentious, casual, and the epitome of Perkins Cove. Go there. Now.

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 Photographic evidence.

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 We spent most of our afternoons in Ogunquit at the beach.

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One morning we drove south to York and checked out Nubble Light, the Cape Neddick Lighthouse.

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Thankfully there was only one afternoon/evening of rain. We didn’t mind too much because it gave us the perfect excuse to drive around and explore. We ended up in Portland, walked around the harbors, and ate lunch at Duck Fat, which will now make every fry I ever eat again pale in comparison.

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Clay was also super excited to introduce us to Congdon’s Doughnuts. I am happy to report that they live up to the hype and are every bit as delicious as Clay’s family herald them to be – simply marvelous. I had the maple cream and I am still dreaming about the delicious morsel of perfection.

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Coastal Maine is magical. I will forever hold the memories of this vacation close to my heart. I can’t wait to go back and explore further north on the Maine coast. And I don’t just want to return during warm weather because as Paul Theroux writes, “Maine is a joy in the summer. But the soul of Maine is more apparent in the winter.” I’d love to find out for myself.