This is the third installment of my four part trip report from New England. To see the other three posts, click on the links below:
Day 3 – Portsmouth, NH and Salem, MA
- Taking the scenic route
In the morning, we treated ourselves to another free breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express (this one offered warm cinnamon rolls!) and then hit the road. Since we had time to spare, we took the scenic route to Portsmouth and drove along the coast on Route 9 and then Route 1. We happened upon the little town of Kennebunkport and stopped for a quick shopping break. It was a typical, cute New England town that had a main street lined with boutique shops…very picturesque. Fun fact: we also discovered that George H.W. Bush had a summer home nearby and was often spotted in town. I ended up buying a bag of taffy from the candy store, even though it was 10am. It was a complete impulse purchase when I saw they had unique flavors such as smore’s, cake batter, and caramel corn!
We continued along Route 1 and meandered through town after town bursting with antique shops and thrift stores. Much to my mom’s dismay, we didn’t stop at any (while the menfolk rejoiced). I would love to go back sometime and devote a day just to browsing these little shops. That may have to be a future mother/daughter weekend!
- Portsmouth, NH
When we eventually arrived at Portsmouth, I directed us to a free parking lot just off the downtown strip. Clearly many other people had the same idea, since we were forced to circle the lot for a while before finally stalking a lady to her car and grabbing her spot. Can’t beat free parking! The downtown area was full of more shops and restaurants and encompassed a few blocks. We grabbed lunch in the State Street Saloon’s dining room. The food was decent, but nothing to write home about.
Afterward, Jay and I split off from my parents to do some exploring on our own. We spent an hour wandering around the area enjoying the beautiful sunny day. The only downside of Portsmouth is, unlike Portland, the downtown area is a few blocks from the water, so we didn’t have a chance to see much of the harbor at this stop.
- The House of the Seven Gables
By early afternoon, we took off for Salem, MA and The House of the Seven Gables. None of the Salem Witch Trials attractions seemed particularly worthwhile, so we skipped them all. I was hoping for a historical and educational option to recap the events of that time period, but everything seemed a bit hokey and staged based on the descriptions. It turns out, focusing instead on the House of the Seven Gables was an excellent decision.
Admission price was $12.50 and included a 35-40 minute tour of the house. However, ours ended up lasting over an hour, which quite pleased us. Our guide was knowledgeable and funny and entertained us with stories of the house and Hawthorne’s experience in it. He also pointed out the parts of the house that coincided with scenes from the novel. I won’t spoil the surprise, but there was one part of the tour that was an absolute highlight of the trip. You’ll have to visit yourself to see what I mean!
Admission also included access to the gardens and a few other buildings on site. We were all impressed with this unexpected gem and thought it was well worth the special stop in Salem.
- Last night in New England
Just before dinnertime we set off for our final hotel, a Hampton Inn located in Sturbridge, MA. At the recommendation of the hotel clerk, we ate dinner at Teddy G’s Pub & Grille, one of the few places actually open on a Monday. The food lived up to the recommendation and we enjoyed the broccoli chicken alfredo, caprese salad with grilled chicken, and pizza. The only issue was the white pizza, which could’ve used more cheese and more flavor. With food to spare, we headed back to the hotel to crash for the night. Our last day of the trip, Part 4 will be coming soon!